28 October 2005

Hummer musings

http://fuh2.com/

This is the best site to vent your Hummer frustrations on.

F U H2!

F U H2 2!

Did you know there is a Hummer cologne line out now?

At Sephora.com

[As quoted from Mark Morford]: It's cute, in a smash-your-head-with-a-rock, I-hate-breathing sort of way. Cute the way the marketing copy for the Hummer fragrance suggests rugged adventurousness, a manly outdoorsy off-road hunkiness in which not a single solitary Hummer owner actually partakes, in which "the smooth richness of tonka bean acts as the 'axle' that links and balances the fresh and warm notes, creating an olfactory sensation that can only be Hummer™."

I am not making this up. It really says that: "an olfactory sensation that can only be Hummer™." Which is a bit like saying, "A flavor sensation that can only be Rubbermaid™."

It does not stop there. Not satisfied with insulting your senses on 10 different levels, the geniuses in GM's marketing department went ahead and dredged up Hummer H2, a "spicier" scent that "carries the same family lineage of the original Hummer Fragrance for Men, but takes on a racier red side." Isn't that adorable? What "red" means in the context of the Hummer brand is anyone's guess. The blood of all the crushed passengers in those other small cars? The embarrassed flush of your cheeks as you block traffic for 20 minutes trying to parallel park? The color you see every time you drop 85 bucks to fill your tank? One can only wonder.

Happy Halloween!


If you need any inspiration not to eat too much candy!

Once the candy is burned off post-Hallowe'en:


Is this better?

27 October 2005

TheHammer.ca

TheHammer.ca is another funny-in-a-Canuck-sort-of-way satirical site, like Rabble, but not so serious. More like a Canadian version of The Onion. Check out the hilarious stories on the Alberta "Screw You, Canada" prosperity cheques, and Ralph Klein's cucumectomy.

Drunk thoughts...

So, of course I headed to Swan's tonight, considering I haven't really seen Joe since the weekend. I got into a talk with Dale -- it's a Wednesday night and shitty weather, so the bar was practically dead. Only the regulars. So, anyways to Dale -- he's this really eccentric guy. He's in his late 40s/early 50s, lives by himself, doesn't look the part of an intellectual but is very interesting to talk to. He's a member of Mensa, yet he is a drywaller and has done physical labour most of his life. What is so fascinating about Dale is his collecting. His life is consumed by reading and collecting. He owns 15,000 books. He checks out flea markets and garage sales every weekend, dumbfounded by the 'potential' value of the things people want to get rid of. He's all about the first edition of this and the oddity of that that might be rare and valuable in the long future. He obviously collects books, but also pop memorabilia, newspapers for the front covers, magazines from up to 100 years ago, first edition lunch boxes, shampoo bottles, spice bottles -- everything. He has already made a lot of good money selling obscure stuff from the early part of the twentieth century.

While he was telling me about the range of stuff he has stored away in multiple places all over the city (he even has boxes marked 'do not open for 20 years' in various places), I couldn't help thinking of the future and wondering what society would be like in 20 or 30 years and whether there would still be a market for collectibles. It's things like this innocuous situation where I start suddenly analyzing my thoughts about such issues as Peak Oil and climate change and how much our society 'might potentially possibly concievably be transformed' in such a way in the future in such a way that we wouldn't recognize today. I'm getting consumed by the inevitable deterioration of the over-extensions of the past 50 years. Like, 30 years ago, things weren't much different from today, but that's not to say that 30 years from now things won't be insanely different. I wonder how things are going to unfold once the playing card of cheap energy is removed from the game? Is anyone even going to be concerned about collecting memorabilia? Maybe it will be the hip thing to do! I really, really hope so. I just think Dale is expending a lot of energy on a possible future that could very easily be wiped out by some sudden change in status quo that renders everything we regard as normal suddenly inconsequential. He's throwing a big crapshoot. Maybe he'll win big. Maybe he won't.

It seems a virtue of a over-privileged society that is able to afford collecting kitsch from the past. But who am I to judge about excessive lifestyles? I own five bikes and rubber clothes, for chrissake! No one should judge how a person should set themselves up for a future that may or may not exist. Their guess about how things will happen are as valid as mine are. Am I going crazy with worry? That this starts to consume all of my thoughts? That I worry about the course of humanity and that we are about to witness something radically tranformative within our lifetimes (as I've said many times before)? Yes, I blame Dale for these thoughts tonight...Oh yeah, I forgot, I'm drunk....zzzzzz......

26 October 2005

Princess Update


Kylie and mother Carol

Kylie mulls mastectomy: report
Tuesday Oct 25 18:23 AEST
Kylie Minogue has been joined by her mother Carol in Paris as the singer recovers from breast cancer and considers the possibility of a mastectomy.

Minogue, 37, is now resident in the French capital with boyfriend Olivier Martinez and has been undergoing chemotherapy at the Institute Gustave-Roussy.

The Australian star has had a lumpectomy to remove cancerous tissue from a breast, and is also facing the possibility of a mastectomy, according to the Daily Mail in England.

Carol Minogue also paid a visit in August and was with her daughter when she returned home to Melbourne for treatment earlier this year.

Kylie Minogue has doused reports that she was being treated by alternative therapies and that she was depressed.

"Despite the wealth of rumours to the contrary, Kylie is in good spirits and is as healthy as can be expected whilst undergoing her treatment regime in Paris," a statement on behalf of the singer said.

Quoting a "close friend", the Mail said the singer, her boyfriend and mother will return to Australia in December for Christmas.

"At this time I think any woman in the world would want their mum with them and likewise there is nowhere her mum would rather be - Kylie and her mother are incredibly close," the close friend was quoted to say.

"Olivier has been tremendously supportive.

"He has cancelled every project that he can and is spending so much time with Kylie, keeping her spirits up - but obviously she wants her family around her as well."

©AAP 2005

I had to find out how Kylie was doing. She's looking pretty harsh in the picture, but she's been doing lots of breast cancer charity, visiting children's hospitals, writing letters, etc. while convalescing. I hope to Gob that she bounces back and returns to form. The world is a 'little bit' happier place because of her, and it would be devastating if this was the end of Kylie. I'd be devastated. I am devastated.


Kylie at Melbourne Children's Hospital
courtesy Darenote Ltd.

25 October 2005

Those crazy cyclists...

Check out this video of a bike courier race through NYC. Some of these guys are missing some brain cells. Great bike handling skills though. And big cajones.

Sweet Pea


Is this cute or what??? Nothing funnier than being a vegetable for Hallowe'en!

My cousin Scott's youngest, Hailey is a pumpkin this year. Between her and Treslie, It's a veritable Anne Geddes overdose of cuteness!

24 October 2005

***Insert blog here***

Nothing is happening. I have nothing to post. It was 19C today so I cut out of work early and went for a ride with Reid. It's supposed to be 20C tomorrow so I'm going to try the same thing again. However, I've talked to cp and it might be a track night tomorrow - woo-hoo! I'll have no problem falling asleep early tonight to heal more from the weekend of debauchery I went through. Friday night at Swan's Pub, Saturday night neon bowling for Nick's birthday, then Twisted and then Pulse and then Arena (DJ De-koze from Toronto was playing and I fortunately know the owner - got in gratis). Last night I ended up at Swan's again with Ryan, waiting for Joe to get off work.

We ended up winning our curling game on Saturday too. Queer Eye for the Cute Guy is 2-0!

Oh yeah. I'll have pics of Treslie in her Hallowe'en costume to post tomorrow.

That's all. Nite nite.

GM needs an extreme makeover

Opinion -- Few sickly companies have ever cost-cut their way to glory. GM's extraction of health-care concessions from the UAW may be a tourniquet, but it is hardly a cure. Even GM's intention to sell a controlling stake in its captive and profitable finance subsidiary, General Motors Acceptance, will only capitalize the subsidiary's earnings. Nor has adequate liquidity been GM's problem. Its holdings of cash and cash equivalents have remained above US$24 billion this year. GM hasn't become a corporate basket case because of a need for more capital. What it needs is a way to make its capital productive, rather than bleeding it away. GM is an organically sick enterprise, one that has been in decline for more than three decades, and one that has never seriously come to grips with itself. Its defects have lately become more evident simply because increasing competitive encroachment has exposed them. Even the heavily highlighted legacy-cost burden would be much more bearable if the core business, selling vehicles in North America, were heading north instead of drifting steadily south. The company is certainly a victim of its history -- but the legacy costs grabbing center-stage are far from GM's only self-inflicted problems. There are others: inadequate corporate governance; culture of management non-accountability; technological followership; brand proliferation; and vision failure.

The internal culture at GM has reached a dead end. This vast company, once cited by Peter Drucker as the best-managed entity on the planet after the Roman Catholic Church, will not reverse course by cost-cutting, shutting down redundant capacity or re-enacting the tactics that have brought it to where it is today. At GM, the perennial turnaround prayer resides in next year's lineup of presumed hot -- but ultimately lukewarm -- new products. Yet the interests of shareholders, employees, suppliers, dealers, customers and, ultimately, the nation at large, point to the need for a real corporate makeover. The experience of 30 years strongly suggests that it isn't going to come from the executives within GM or from the culture that formed them.
(Wall Street Journal 051024)

I tells ya, the North American car folks are in BIG doodoo here. They are getting annihilated by the Asian companies, while trying to limp along with their bloated carcasses resembling a corporate culture. Doom, I tells ya, doom!

22 October 2005

Hung Up Video Clip



A 15 second taste...

Powered by Castpost

21 October 2005

Eek! Bird flu 2!

Avian flu found in parrot in UK

A parrot that died in quarantine in the UK has tested positive for avian flu, the government has said.
A highly pathogenic H5 strain of the disease has been found, but it is not known if it is the H5N1 variant which has killed at least 60 people in Asia.

Because the bird - imported from south America - was in quarantine, the UK's disease-free status is not affected.

Meanwhile, poultry imports from Croatia are being banned by the EU after the virus was found in six swans there.

Disease-free status

So far bird flu - in some cases the H5N1 strain - has been found in Europe in Romania, Greece and most recently, Croatia, as well as in a nearby area of Turkey.

It is thought it was carried to those countries by wild birds migrating from Asia.

The parrot - which was being held in a bio-secure unit at an undisclosed location - is the first confirmed case of avian flu in Britain since 1992.

UK chief veterinary officer Debby Reynolds said: "The confirmed case does not affect the UK's official disease free status because the disease has been identified in imported birds during quarantine."

The bird was part of a mixed consignment of 148 parrots and "soft bills" that arrived on 16 September. They were also in quarantine with a consignment of 216 birds from Taiwan.

We have had similar incidents in the past where disease has been discovered but successfully contained as a result of our quarantine arrangements

Debby Reynolds, chief veterinary officer

All the birds in the quarantine unit are now being culled, said the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and those who had come into contact with them are being given antiviral treatment as a precautionary measure.

Ms Reynolds said the incident had shown the importance of the UK's quarantine system.

"We have had similar incidents in the past where disease has been discovered but successfully contained as a result of our quarantine arrangements," she said.

Europe-wide action

It comes as Croatia confirmed positive results for the H5 type of avian flu on Friday, after twelve swans were found dead near a pond in the village of Zdenci, eastern Croatia.

It is not yet clear whether the remaining six have been tested for the virus.

In a statement the EU executive said the Commission was preparing a decision "to ban the import of live poultry and poultry products from Croatia which will be adopted by urgent procedure on Monday".

The Croatian government has assured the Commission it would not dispatch any poultry to the EU.

A new case of bird flu was also detected in Romania on Friday.

The H5 bird flu virus was found in a heron near the border with Moldova - the H5N1 strain has already been found in two locations in Romania's Danube delta.

Across Europe, many countries are taking steps to counter the spread of the virus, although scientists say the disease does not appear to be able to spread between humans.

The Swiss government, following similar action in Austria and Germany, has ordered poultry farmers to keep all their birds indoors. The ban on free-range farming will last until the middle of December.

European Union health ministers have been holding a second day of meetings to discuss their response to the disease.

Relevance to today's lamentations

So, here we are today analyzing our lives and our work and trying to find worth in what we do. Here is an article that outlines the problem and an approach to improving the situation.

The mid-career lament: 'I'm bored'

Are you bored with your work? Speaker and organizational career management consultant Barbara Moses says her research indicates that a good half of you would answer yes to that question. It is a paradox of our times that we can be both overworked and under-stimulated. Although we often think it's a lack of things to do that causes boredom, in truth the content of the work we do and the degree of intellectual challenge it provides can be just as important. And we've been feeling bored for some time. The Yankelovich Monitor, a consumer survey, concluded in 2000 that we are in the midst of a “boredom boom.” Sixty-nine per cent of respondents agreed that “even though I have so much to do, I'm always looking for something new and exciting to do.” In fact, boredom is one of the most common complaints of professionals. For many professionals, career progression is simply a question of widening their arena of influence, while staying put with the technical skills being used. So, for many mid-career workers, the prospect of spending the next 15 years doing essentially the same type of work carries no excitement at all. Many people are motivated by a desire to learn and be stretched professionally. But by the time they hit 40, many professionals feel they have gone as far as they can or want to in their area of expertise. Their malaise is exacerbated by the fact that most organizations have truncated career ladders and are not investing in staff development.

Self-employment is not necessarily an escape route from boredom and predictability, as it often poses exactly the same challenges. If you're good at what you do and have been doing it for some time, there is little someone can ask you to do that you haven't been asked to do a thousand times before. But is it really boredom? These days, many of us seem to have the attention span of a gnat. We are addicted to being busy and the adrenaline of the new. We've become conditioned to constant excitement and stimulation, and feel flat when it's missing. We have also become lazy. We skim information and don't force ourselves to really make sense of it. So perhaps the issue is not so much boredom as it is not allowing ourselves to experience the moment, to stop rushing to move onto the next "to do" on the list. In other words, we bore ourselves by closing down the potential to engage deeply with a person or task at hand. It's also sometimes true that when we say we are bored, what we really mean is that we feel empty. Then we rush to fill ourselves up, thinking another job or some other form of distraction will do it. But the problem may be not a lack of intellectual stimulation in the work as much as a restless discomfort with ourselves. Boredom in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, as it often drives creativity. Look around and you will find plenty of opportunities for deep engagement.
(full version of article: Globe and Mail 051021)

***Sarcasm alert*** I guess I think everything is wrong and everyone is stupid simply because I don't engage them deeply enough. Works fine for some things, but I still think a lot of things are boring and stupid (like pop culture) and therefore aren't worthy of my engagement. Screw that. Feh.

S.A.D.

Is everyone in a blue funk these days? There appears to be a pattern of depression and frustration coinciding with the shorter days, cooler weather and the full moon this week. I get bouts of seasonal affective disorder (the PC term for end-of-summer funkiness) at this time of year as well as in late January-early February (when we're all anxious for the warm weather again). My remedy? More exposure to dance music, the arts, vibrant colors, comedy, and lots of sex. Maybe even throw some wine into the equation once in a while. Try new exciting things, and plan a trip somewhere warm and sunny (or at least drunk and friendly) to get your mind off of your innane daily zombie routines.

20 October 2005

Treslie pics

Here are some new pics of Treslie.


Fun times with Cody and Jayce (Chloe's nephews)


Three months old now...

Fortune


Words of wisdom...thanks Graeme!

It's getting closer!

China, Europe report new bird flu outbreaks
Last Updated Wed, 19 Oct 2005 12:49:24 EDT
CBC News

Now, the claims are that hoarding Tamiflu is an exercise in futility since it won't be effective on a newly-mutated H5N1 strain that would move from human to human (whether air- or water-borne). China is just now releasing it's reports on numbers of affected livestock, etc. Who knows for sure what the numbers actually are?

China reported a fresh outbreak of a deadly strain of bird flu on Wednesday amid new reports of the avian illness in Russia, Romania and Macedonia.

China's state news agency, Xinhua, reported Wednesday that 2,600 birds died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu in the country's northern region.

Xinhua said the birds were discovered in a breeding facility near the village of Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia. The news agency didn't provide any details other than to say that the "epidemic is under control."

China had earlier outbreaks of bird flu this year in Qinghai, Xinjiang, and Tibet.

In neighbouring Russia, agricultural officials are waiting for final confirmation of the H5N1 strain in wild ducks near Moscow. Hundreds of birds died suddenly in the country's Tula region, about 200 kilometres south of the capital.

If the tests are positive, it would be the first time the virus has shown up west of the Ural Mountains, in what is European Russia. Authorities have already killed 60,000 birds to stop the spread of the disease in earlier outbreaks.

European Union officials said Wednesday that bird flu is suspected in a small village in southern Macedonia. Macedonia borders Greece, where another bird flu outbreak is under investigation.

Macedonia officials plan to kill 10,000 chickens to contain the outbreak.

In Romania, tests have confirmed the deadly H5N1 virus in a second location in the eastern Danube Delta region.

The strain was first confirmed in the same region last weekend. As many as 45,000 birds were destroyed.

The Danube delta is Europe's largest wetlands and a major migratory area for wild birds between Europe and Africa.

Health officials stress that the H5N1 strain of avian flu is not easily transmitted between human beings, and that all human cases have taken place in Asia among people are in close contact with birds on a regular basis.

The illness has killed 60 people in Asia since 2003.

Scientists fear the H5N1 could mutate into a form that could be passed between humans, causing a global flu pandemic.

*(Power)Balldrop*

Unknown Oregonian is $340M richer
Last Updated Thu, 20 Oct 2005 10:44:10 EDT
CBC News

Someone who bought a Powerball lottery ticket in Oregon woke up $340 million US richer Thursday morning.

A single winner picked all six numbers and beat odds of 146 million to 1 to win the second-biggest jackpot in U.S. history.

The winner hadn't come forward by Thursday morning.

Powerball officials said they can't tell exactly where in Oregon the ticket was purchased. The tickets are sold in 27 states.

The prize pot had been building for 10 weeks, with nobody winning the big prize in Powerball's twice-weekly draw.

Whoever won the $340-million prize Wednesday night won't get to keep the whole jackpot. The U.S. government taxes such winnings.

The biggest lottery jackpot ever awarded in the country was $363 million. Two ticket holders shared the prize in 2000.

What would you do with $340 million? Comment. I think I'd donate about $300 million to my favorite charities, put the remaining $40 mill in an interest-bearing trust fund, sell all my stuff, move to Tuvalu and secede from the rat race.

19 October 2005

Madison Madness

These are two AVIs I took at Track Nationals this summer. These are both from the Elite Mens Madison Race on July 3.



Madonna - Hung Up (Single Edit)

Time goes by so slowly for those who wait...



Those who run seem to have all the fun...

I can't keep on waiting for you
I know that you're still hesitating
Don't cry for me
'cause I'll find my way
you'll wake up one day
but it'll be too late

I know most of you would argue for not reading too deeply into Madonna lyrics, however a few message boards have brought up the idea that she is commenting about the Catholic Church in 'Hung Up'. I don't know how this relates to her new beliefs in Kabbalah and mysticism, but the words seem relevant enough to the RC worldview though...or rather, peoples' reaction to RC dogma and its complete irrelevancy in today's social and political climate.

...or it could simply be about a young girl (or boy) stressing out about a stupid, deadbeat boyfriend and regretting her decision to wait for him to shape up his loser ass.

18 October 2005

Today's wrongness

Big 3 face ominous sales gridlock

Column -- Eric Reguly writes that supermarket economics are straightforward. The profit margins on everything from tinned soup to hot dogs are wafer thin. Pile the items high and deep and push them out the door on a conveyor belt and the profits roll in. It keeps working so long as sales don't fall. Think of the Big Three auto makers as supermarkets. The margins on your dad's Buick Roadmaster or Electra were as plump as their chrome bumpers. No more. Margins have fallen, which in itself is not a disaster so long as sales remain high. But look what's happening now: Sales are in decline. If the decline goes from shallow to deep, Detroit could turn into the new Rust Belt. GM's tentative deal with the United Auto Workers to reduce its health care bill is a good start at hammering down costs but it won't be enough if sales go into the tank. There are some ominous signs that the next downturn in the industry could be gruesome. The first is that incentives may be losing their punch. The next thing to worry about are fuel costs, and not just to fill the tank. The US Department of Energy recently said it expects households to pay 71% more for natural gas this winter. Heating oil costs might go up by a third while the price of electricity might go up by 17%. Scotiabank's economics team says overall energy costs in the US will chew up 8% of household disposable income. That's the highest level since 1981 and almost double the amount of the early 2000s. Combine this little reality with the fact that household debt-servicing costs are at a record level compared with disposal income and you have a scenario where discretionary purchases are put on hold. The softening economy and skittish investor wouldn't be so bad for the Big Three were it not for the barrage of competition from Japanese and South Korean auto makers. The Asian players are taking sales away from Detroit in every auto product category. Reguly concludes that any progress on cost reduction is good news. But trimming costs - and so far it's just trimming - doesn't address the revenue side of the equation. The consumer is showing signs of stress and the current sales slump could turn into a 1970s- or 1980s-style collapse. Whoever is buying GM shares needs his cranial oil changed.
(Globe and Mail 051018)

Stupid lazy North American car companies. They're doomed.

Canada lags, productivity ranking says

Canada is sliding in global stature, partly because of sagging productivity and because governments are doing little but talk about improvements, the Conference Board of Canada says in its annual report on the country. “Our story is that we're kind of snoozing,” said Anne Golden, president of the Conference Board. “In this world, snoozers are losers.” The board ranks Canada and other industrialized countries for their performance in economy, innovation, environment, education, health and society. While Canada has gained in environment and education, it has slid in the other areas. In the economy area, Canada has dropped from third place in 2003, to sixth in 2004, and now 12th. Canada's economic position is deteriorating because of its lagging productivity, a lack of investment and because other countries are improving. "Canada's relative size and status in the global economy is slipping. With an aging population and our economic growth potential slowing, Canada will find it hard to avoid falling farther in the global rankings," warns the Conference Board report, to be released today. While the report stresses that Canada is one of the best places in the world to live, and is a better place to live now than a decade ago, "Canada is not living up to its brand as a wealthy, environmentally responsible, socially conscious, healthy society."

Meanwhile, recent polling and focus groups conducted for the federal Finance Department suggest the country's lagging productivity growth does not weigh heavily on the minds of Canadians and many are skeptical about whether it's really a problem. More than half of Canadians surveyed, or 55%, believe "the level of productivity is high," according to polling conducted by Decima Research this August. In fact, Canada's productivity growth has been anemic in recent years. Only one in 10 respondents polled rated the level of productivity in Canada as low. Focus groups found people didn't readily accept the suggestion that Canada's productivity is at risk. "A significant challenge lies in actually convincing Canadians of the productivity issues that lie ahead," an executive summary says of July research. "For the most part, participants were ready and willing to challenge any claim that suggested that low productivity was a problem for Canada."
(Globe and Mail 051018)

Stupid lazy Canucks. They're doomed too.

Flu pandemic 'catastrophe' for Canada

A bird flu pandemic could paralyze Canada's manufacturing sector for more than a year and cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars in medical costs, the Conference Board of Canada says. Sketching a worst-case scenario, the board warns up to 1.6 million Canadians - and between 180 and 360M people worldwide - could die if a global pandemic is triggered by the H5N1 avian influenza virus. Hitching a ride on migrating birds, the virus has already travelled from Asia to Europe and yesterday, in preliminary testing, was identified in Greece. The steady westward creep prompted the World Health Organization to say yesterday that, while the virus can be expected to spread to other countries, the biggest threat of it mutating into a human virus that could kill millions remains in Asia. The Conference Board's forecast far exceeds other casualty estimates, including those by Frank Plummer, lab director of the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, who said yesterday a human strain of the avian flu will kill up to 50,000 Canadians. Despite the uncertainty over the numbers, experts agree the threat is enormous. "There seems to be a consensus - there is a catastrophe coming," Conference Board president Anne Golden told a Toronto Star editorial board meeting yesterday.

Last July, Ontario's chief medical officer, Dr. Sheela Basrur, told delegates to the 15th World Conference on Disaster Management that an influenza pandemic could affect between 15 and 35% of Ontario's population, resulting in 2,900 to 19,700 deaths. Efforts to wall Canada off from the global pandemic will be futile, the Conference Board warns in its report, Performance and Potential 2005-06. "This long-awaited flu virus is expected to be so contagious that any attempt to close off borders and control migration would be ineffective," the organization said in its 10th annual performance report, which identifies steps Canada should be taking to increase economic productivity. The report came as leaders in the worldwide fight against avian flu warned yesterday of the need for global co-operation in stopping the virus from spreading, and eradicating it. Dr. Michael Ryan, director of WHO's department of epidemic and pandemic alert and response, warned the world's oceans will provide no safety. "There's no question that we will expect further outbreaks of avian disease in different countries," Ryan said. "The Americas, Africa and the Middle East are also very much in our minds." US Health Secretary Mike Leavitt, too, sounded a warning. "It would be my assessment that no nation is adequately prepared for a pandemic avian flu," Leavitt said. But, he added, "I believe that most nations are improving, and preparation is increasing."
(Toronto Star 051018)

Stupid mutating viruses. Stupid host birds. Viruses are the only others ones that consume, destroy, change -- much the same way as humans exist as well...

17 October 2005

Thank you for the music!


New Stephen Klein promo picture

How Madonna’s new single will give Abba their greatest-ever hit
October 16th, 2005
In 1979, while she was a struggling singer who had to pose naked to make ends meet, they were the world’s biggest band. Now Madonna is set to give Abba what is likely to be the biggest-selling record of their career.
At 5pm GMT tomorrow, the American singer’s new single, Hung Up, which heavily samples Abba’s 1979 hit Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, will premiere simultaneously on national radio stations around the world.
The broadcast is part of a multi-million pound marketing strategy designed to re-establish Madonna as the Queen of Pop. But the sales of the single, which is expected to top the charts around the world, could also generate millions of pounds for Abba’s songwriters, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus.
The pair agreed to let Madonna use their most famous disco hit after striking a lucrative copyright agreement that observers say will give them a significant share of royalties from airplay.
"Gimme, Gimme, Gimme is the essence of the new song and we have agreed to split the copyright with Madonna and her co-writer," Andersson said. He declined to go into details and insisted that financial concerns were not the primary motive for the decision to give Madonna permission to use the track.
"We get so many requests from people wanting to use our tracks but we normally say 'no'. This is only the second time we have given permission.
"We said 'yes' this time because we admire Madonna so much and always have done. She has got guts and has been around for 21 years. That is not bad going."
Andersson said he thought the new single was "wonderful" and joked it was his favourite Madonna song to date. "Hung Up is really good. If it wasn’t any good we would not have said 'yes'. It is a wonderful track: 100 per cent solid pop music."
Madonna, who has enjoyed 54 British top 10 hits including 10 number ones, has sold more singles in this country than Abba.
Hung Up is regarded as one of the most commercial songs of her career and will easily outsell the 1979 original which reached Number Three in the British charts but was not given an American release.
The worldwide broadcast of the single is part of an ambitious strategy designed to re-establish the 47-year-old mother-of-two as the most successful act in the world. Madonna is to spend an unprecedented £5 million buying up television, billboard and cinema slots for her new album Confessions On A Dancefloor, which will be released on November 14.
The publicity drive also involves ground-breaking deals with firms such as Orange, MTV, Virgin, Vodaphone and Apple.
The companies have become virtual partners in the album’s release in exchange for the rights to provide audio and visual downloads of the singer’s new material and her huge back catalogue of hits.
John Reid, the head of marketing at Warner Music, said: "Madonna has nailed it with this record and we are rolling it out very big indeed."
Madonna’s last album, American Life, which was released in 2003, sold four million copies and was the lowest selling release of her career.
Hung Up’s radio debut will mark the first time the record has been heard in its entirety, but it will, in fact, be just the latest stage in a sophisticated campaign. The song has been available as a telephone ringtone since September 19 - the first time a star of Madonna’s stature has released material as a ringtone before an actual record.
Madonna’s recent riding accident would appear not to have reduced the number of her planned public appearances.
She has declared herself fit and well to perform Hung Up at the MTV Music Awards in Lisbon on November 3, and she is believed to be planning performances in Britain, America, Japan, Holland and Germany.
source : telegraph.co.uk

I found the single edit version of "Hung Up" online here today. It's everything I dreamed it would be! This is one of those times when you're damn glad to be gay! We're going to be bopping to this classic in the clubs for some time to come...

16 October 2005

"Hung Up"


"Hung Up" single cover art

30 second clip of Madonna's new single here.

Scenes from Banff Ekiden 2005

Saturday was the 16th Annual Ekiden. The Calgary Alpine Frontrunners running group has been doing this race for the past five or six years. It is always a lot of fun, as it starts late in the morning on Saturday so we drive up in the morning from Calgary, and the setup of the race makes it very spectator-friendly. It's a five person relay and each stage's start and finish are all at the same place in front of the Banff Centre. In previous years we have booked condos or hotel rooms in Banff and spent Saturday night there, going out for dinner and hitting one of the Banff nightclubs, but this year everyone had plans for Saturday night, so we just made a day out of it. The two men's teams were neck in neck through the entire race, but Greg and I were racing the final anchor leg and I managed to pass him on Tunnel Mountain climb. It was nice to see that the women were motivated enough to field their own team. Great work everyone!

Stage One: Cave and Basin (6.8 km)
Stage Two: Golf Course (12.8 km)
Stage Three: Tunnel Mountain Short (5.0 km)
Stage Four: Canoe Docks (5.7 km)
Stage Five: Tunnel Mountain Long (12.4 km)

Three of the legs head into the Banff townsite and the other two head up Tunnel Mountain. There are 120 teams (600 runners) that participate every year.


Banff Ekiden 2005 Teammates


The start of the race


CAF Rainbow Warriors


CAF Rainbow Connection


CAF 268 Or Bust

Of course, this race always bring out the really fit teams XC and running teams as well. Teams such as the Junior Canadian XC ski team always win the race every year and it's always a pleasure to see the delicious athletes in their glory.


Shameless perverted eye candy shot 1


Shameless perverted eye candy shot 2

After the race there is a meal and awards. We left early since I had to curl with Bryan, Aaron and Tim in the afternoon and do the DC Upgrade production test over night.

Bar Announcement

Thursday was our friend Patrick's call to the Bar. He is now officially a lawyer. The signing took place at the Calgary Court of Queens Bench and the party afterwards took place at Barclay's in the Eau Claire Sheraton Suites. It was a lot of fun!





Patrick on his new controversial career path?


Gay cowboy lawyer...










A lovely rendering by Jerry and Tim...


Photoshop can be so cruel...

Homeland Security for Tots

Might as well get your child accustomed to the New World Order as soon as possible....

Link to product here


Do YOU have anything to declare, blockhead?

Stuff going on at work

I was in at work last night testing a Domain Controller upgrade project that has gone horribly wrong. We attempted this routine procedure a couple of months ago, and although this upgrade has been performed thousands of times for many different companies, it was our screwed-up computing environment that caused problems. When the upgrade was complete, none of our dotNET web applications no longer functioned, so the changes had to be rolled back and an investigation opened. Between the software supplier (the BIG one), Vendor #1 (web servers are outsourced to them), Vendor #2 (DC servers/infrastructure are outsourced to them), and my company, this investigation has been going on FAR too long. Last night we were supposed to run a bunch of network traffic captures and logs of various sorts, and send them to Software Supplier for analysis. The process was taking much longer than anticipated, and by 3am, we were 2 hours behind schedule on the project plan. Mission was aborted, so now I have the joyous anticipation of doing this again some weekend in the near future.

As an aside to this, we have a web server (good ol' X) that appears to randomly crash and reset itself several times a week, if not every day. This has been going on for almost six months and no one can figure out what the problem is. Luckily we've moved most of our high-volume, business crucial applications onto a more stable server. We have this running inside joke that we should mimic the scene from 'Old Yeller' where the boy goes out to the barn with the shotgun to finish off the rabid dog:

"Don't worry mama, it's my server, I'll do it".


I hate you web server...

14 October 2005

Reid Needs!

  1. Reid needs just one good movie role
  2. Reid needs your help to pass moral budget
  3. Reid needs a spanking by death nougat
  4. Reid needs extra room for shoes
  5. Reid needs to roll with it
  6. Reid needs Europe to silence his critics
  7. Reid has no social security plan
  8. Reid says he doesn't plan to filibuster
  9. Reid needs to stop whining about how reporters hate her and won’t leave her alone and how they will "write anything they can and always in a derogatory way"
  10. Reid needs to sweeten his offer to pick off wavering Republican moderates
  11. Reid needs five more tackles for 100 for his career.

12 October 2005

Is there a limit to how much one can smoke?

So, I was walking home from work this afternoon. I stop at the lights at 12th Ave. and there's this guy standing on the corner with a big bag of cigarette tubes. Once I got looking again there were TWENTY boxes of tubes (is there 200 in each?), two huge packets (sleeves?) of tobacco and a Costco sized box of chewing gum. How strange. He finished a cigarette just as I approached the corner, and before the Walking Man lit up to tell us to go, he had lit up another cigarette. I wonder how much he smokes a day? How many pieces of chewing gum does he chew a day to keep his throat moist and lower the pain? How many people smoke this much anymore? Insane.

How I know that fall is finally here

The days are getting shorter to the point that I wake in darkness and it will be soon that I come home in darkness as well. Something I keep forgetting year to year is how dark our bedroom is in the morning, and how difficult it is to find matching colors in the dim light. I try not to wake Joe in the morning, so I usually find myself stumbling around in the dark, selecting clothes by feel and pretty much having to rub them in my face to determine what color they are. It's REALLY REALLY hard to distinguish colors in dim light when you're as old as me, even vibrant ones. Alas, I was in a hurry this morning and got the wrong color of socks to match my clothes. I am at work today with black pants and sweater, and nice bright blue socks. Brilliant.

11 October 2005

Hey, I'm not just a newsclip poster!

Although it is much easier to post new clips during the workday, I know posting a message here in the flesh is long overdue.

In all honesty, not much went on this weekend. It was the quietest Thanksgiving weekend ever for me. I slept a lot which was great but I did miss out on turkey which I really regret. I talked to my mom last night and she was going on and on about all the big meals that they served or were invited to over the long weekend (actually the gorging started on Thursday...). They had lots to celebrate though, and we all know how much small town people like to celebrate! Owen and Chloe were there with Treslie (her first big trip), and the Wilsons (my dad's sister's family) have about five birthdays all at the beginning of October, so there were parties and eating and drinking all over the place. I was starting to regret that I didn't go! But alas, I got some long-overdue rest out of the deal, which would not have happened out there.

Jeff, Nick, Ryan, Raymond, Joe and myself went out to Twisted on Saturday night. I really don't feel very sociable in that bar anymore. I see all of the same guys in the bar that are my age, and I realized that they are still there, like, every freaking weekend, and it made me sort of sad. Sad that they thought of no alternative but to be at the bar on a Saturday night, but also that I was as old as them. Oi.

Joe had the whole weekend off which was great. We got to spend a lot of good time together, which is rare these days. Good news on the work/strike front -- Joe's company and the union have reached a tentative deal, so after the union vote in two weeks, they will most likely be back to work.

I got to have my happy-fun-shiny-cheer-cycling time yesterday. It was 20C out so I couldn't resist. I hooked up with Frank and we went for a 102km trip around Cochrane, and did a very euro coffee stop at a cafe on the way back in. Good times...

Of course I got time to read more 'alternative' news reports, essays, blogs, etc. this weekend which got me thinking again. Oh NO! I really don't think the things that will happen to us in the future are going to be either horrible or rosy, just somewhere in between as they always are. But that shit on the Arctic ice melting and changing global climate? Geez crap! It's so obvious that it would affect things in ways that we don't even know or understand on a global scale (it's been there, regulating global climate for over a million years), and it appears to be happening very, very quickly. Some experts think that it works sort of as a self-feeding loop, and now that it has begun, the melting will cascade into something that can't be stopped -- or that it may be irreversible already. *hyperventilating* I think I'm losing it! What to do...What to do...I think as I fritter in the corner, rocking back and forth, back and forth.....

I also came to terms with the fact that we've been set up to be on this path to our economic vs. environmental vs. social destiny for fifty years or so post-World War Two with foundations to the path beginning in the 1800s, so why should I worry about it? There's absolutely nothing I can do but make those choices on a personal level that I feel will make a difference. That's all that any of us can do and should do. There's no doubt that we will witness something globally transformative in our lifetimes. I just don't think it's going to be something good. There's were my essential pessimism lies. I don't know what to do to protect myself from it, and it's sort of hard when you don't know what to protect yourself from. More mortality musings...I'm much calmer now.

Why the hell is Jon Stewart not doing live shows again this week? I'm so pissed off! That guy takes as much time off as GWB! I jest. No one comes even close to him.

I might as well head to bed. Nite nite.


[Voice of the Wicked Witch from 'the Wizard of Oz'] Help me! I'm melting!

Melting ice cap sounds alarm bells

By KATHERINE HARDING

Thursday, September 29, 2005 Posted at 4:41 AM EDT

From Thursday's Globe and Mail

Edmonton — Andy Carpenter has only to walk out his front door to see that the Arctic's thick blanket of snow and ice is melting, drip by drip.

"It's impossible not to notice this," said the mayor of Sachs Harbour, a remote hamlet of 120 on the shore of Banks Island in Canada's Western Arctic. "What worries me is that people are starting to get used to it."

An alarming study released yesterday shows that the rapid decline of the floating ice cap covering the Arctic Ocean is showing no signs of reversing.

The U.S.-based National Snow and Ice Data Center presented data showing that the dramatic decay has continued for the fourth consecutive year, with 2005 being a record year for sea-ice shrinkage.

The researchers, who used satellite images and were assisted by NASA and the University of Washington, also predicted that if the current rates of decline in sea ice continue, the summertime Arctic could be ice-free before the end of this century.

A thawed Arctic region would have massive implications for Canada's economy and sovereignty claims.

Mark Serreze, a researcher at the Colorado-based centre, said it's been so warm in the region this year that the legendary Northwest Passage was largely open during the summer.

"It's certainly a rare event. . . . It's becoming easier to get through," he said. "Could this become one of the positive impacts of global warming? It all depends on your perspective."

In recent years, some have predicted that the treacherous waterway, which is normally clogged with ice, could become the much sought-after shortened trade link between Europe and Asia.

Mr. Serreze said he is worried that the decline of sea ice can never be reversed.

He said that historically, the ice cap recuperates during the winter, but that isn't happening any more.

Instead, because large, dark sections of the Arctic Ocean are exposed, the energy from the sun is being sucked into its waters instead of being bounced back into space by the ice cap.

"That is warming the water up," Mr. Serreze explained.

The centre's study concluded that human-induced global warming is at least partly to blame.

"It's still a controversial issue . . . but we've got to be considering greenhouse gases as part of this whole event," Mr. Serreze said.

Many scientists argue that the Arctic is widely considered a regulator of climate around the world. When its weather shifts dramatically, changes elsewhere are bound to take place.

Last year, a landmark environmental study by the Arctic Council, which is made up of representatives from several northern countries, found that temperatures in the Canadian Arctic have risen by three to four degrees over the past 50 years.

It also announced that sea-ice cover has declined 10 per cent over the past 30 years.

Federal Environment Minister St├ęphane Dion told reporters in Ottawa that the mounting research about the melting ice cap is a "terrible concern."

He said it could raise water levels in the world's oceans, causing massive problems for countries such as Bangladesh.

He expects the topic to be discussed at a United Nations climate-change conference in Montreal this fall.

Mr. Carpenter, who was born and raised in Sachs Harbour, just hopes the "the rest of the world finally wakes up to what's going on."

As a boy during the 1950s, the large harbour in front of his home used to freeze up every September.

"You used to have to break the ice just to get in," he said. "Now it's just open water until winter hits.

"It's been gradual, but our world is definitely changing," he added.

Lately, all I've been seeing in the media related to this story are articles with titles like "Melting ice revives polar dreams" and "The Golden Age of Northern shipping routes". I can't fathom how people can't see alarm in this prospect. So shortsighted and money-grubbing. The Arctic sea ice is a major climate moderator for the entire globe, and has existed in some form or other for ONE MILLION YEARS. Once it is gone, as predicted, the heat absorption in the Arctic Ocean will throw things topsy-turvy all over the globe. 10% of it has disappeared in THIRTY YEARS. It may already be affecting weather patterns and be partially responsible for the crazy weather we've had this year. If we are able to survive the post oil age, then this phenomenon will certainly finish off whoever is left.

American urban critic slags 'beige' Calgary

Critique called 'drive-by shooting'

Charles Mandel and Emma Poole
For CanWest News Service and Calgary Herald

Friday, October 07, 2005

With new subdivisions of half-million-dollar houses opening every month, Calgary "is the North American tragedy in microcosm."

That's the opinion of James Howard Kunstler, an outspoken urban affairs writer who recently visited the city and posted his less-than-flattering impressions on his highly regarded web blog.

Calgary is "an archetypal city of immense glass boxes in a sterilized centre surrounded by an asteroid belt of beige residential subdivisions," Kunstler wrote.

"The vast suburbs ooze out onto the prairie to the east, along with their complements of strip malls, power centres, car dealerships and fry pits," writes the acerbic and acclaimed author of several books on suburban sprawl and New Urbanist development.

Kunstler was even less charitable when reached by phone at his home Thursday in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

"I thought it represented pretty much all the banality of bad choices that we continue to make in this part of the world."

Some Calgarians believe Kunstler's description is unjust and spiteful.

A recent survey by the Economist on global quality of life placed Calgary third in a tie with Toronto, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Zurich.

It left some professional planners wondering: How could a city so great to live in, allegedly be so ugly?

"I would say he hasn't been in Calgary long enough. He's sort of done a drive-by shooting here," said local architect Wade Gibbs of Gibbs Gage Architects. "There's more attention to design in Calgary than in most other North American cities. It's unfair to summarize Calgary . . . in just eight lines (in the blog)."

Kunstler said he doesn't mean to single out Calgary, only that the Western metropolis is typical in its poor urban design, featuring a core of uninteresting glass towers from which radiate districts comprising cookie-cutter homes and big box stores.

In his most recent book, The Long Emergency, Kunstler argues the depletion of fossil fuels will cause cities to become denser in the core while the suburbs collapse.

Gibbs said Calgary's downtown core is built using "corporate-driven architecture."

Behind every tower design is a client, a budget and a vision, said Gibbs.

Just because Kunstler doesn't like the look of the area, doesn't make it a bad design, he said.

While it might seem Kunstler has it in for Calgary, the former writer for Rolling Stone isn't any more forgiving of other Canadian cities. The only thing he noticed on his last visit to Vancouver was that the downtown apartment towers tended to sit on podium-like structures with blank walls at their base.

Ottawa, he said, was overburdened with experimental modernist buildings that sit in the city like objects lost in space, and Windsor is "banal and boring."

Edmontonians shouldn't get too smug about Kunstler's description of Calgary. While he enjoyed the northern Alberta city more, Kunstler said: "It was interesting to be in such a substantial town so far away from anything."

It's that antagonistic attitude that has Calgary city planners scoffing at Kunstler's radical views.

"He uses the same language when he describes any city in North America," said Brent Toderian, manager of city-centre planning and design for the city.

"In many cases I agree with him, but sometimes he goes too far," he said. "He's not totally off, but he's not aware of the strides we've made."

Toderian said Calgary is doing better at creating centres of activities within communities.

As well, he said, local architects and planners have designed top-quality projects Kunstler wouldn't have seen from the highway.

Communities such as McKenzie Towne, Garrison Woods and The Bridges are examples of thriving urban and suburban planning.

"There's been a lot of beige in the past. We realize that the centre city architecture could be improved," said Toderian. "We're an extremely successful and exciting city and our architecture should reflect that. We have to avoid cheesy theming."

Is there any place the author likes?

"I don't think North America is in very good shape now anywhere," Kunstler groused, but added, "Some places are not as bad as others."

He cited Toronto and Montreal as two of the better cities because they have lively downtowns and strong public transit systems.

But overall, Kunstler has little good to say about the state of North American cities. He said no quick fix exists for poorly designed urban centres.

epoole@theherald.canwest.com

07 October 2005

Doing everything at 85% is good enough

This one came in my Inbox from Calvin. It speaks volumes of truth!

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

"Not very long," answered the Mexican.

"But then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, play the guitar, and sing a few songs...I have a full life."

The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you! should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat."

"And after that?" asked the Mexican.

"With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise."

"How long would that take?" asked the Mexican.

"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years," replied the American.

"And after that?"

"Afterwards? Well my Friend, That's when it gets really interesting," answered the American, laughing. "When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions? Really? And after that?" said the Mexican.

"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings doing what you like and enjoying your friends."

And the moral is:
Know where you're going in life...you may already be there!

06 October 2005

Gasoline surge leads to pedal power

Group expects sale of 20 million bicycles this year, approaching record years set in early 1970s.
October 6, 2005: 6:32 AM EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A spike in gasoline prices is fueling what could be the biggest year for U.S. bicycle sales since the Arab oil embargoes more than three decades ago, a leading bike association says.

"For bicycles, high gasoline prices are a good thing," said Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong, a national coalition of bicycle suppliers and retailers.

U.S. gasoline prices struck an all-time record above $3 a gallon after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, shutting several oil refineries, though prices have eased slightly since then, according to government surveys.

"People's eyeballs pop out when they see the gas pumps and they say they need to do something. One of the options is biking," Blumenthal said Wednesday.

"Independent dealers, specialty sporting stores and big-box stores have told us that since Aug. 1, bicycle sales have jumped dramatically," he said.

Gasoline prices have been on the rise for months due to high crude prices and a crunch on global refining capacity, and higher summer demand along with the recent hurricanes have pushed them to new peaks.

Close to 20 million bicycles are likely to be sold this year, approaching the record hit after a cut-off of Arab oil triggered gasoline lines in the United States.

"It should be close to 20 million units. If you look back historically, the three best years for bike sales were 1972, 1973, and 1974," Blumenthal said.

Last year's U.S. bicycle sales were just under 19 million.

Travel and motorist group AAA said it has noticed Americans are looking for ways to cut their fuel consumption by using more fuel-efficient vehicles, or by using public transportation and bicycles.

"AAA is beginning to think that consumers may finally have tired of expensive gasoline," said AAA spokesman Geoff Sundstrom.

U.S. fuel demand over the past four weeks has fallen nearly 3 percent below last year's levels, the U.S. government said Wednesday.

Demand for gasoline averaged 8.8 million bpd, or 2.6 percent below last year, while distillate demand averaged 3.9 million bpd, or 3.8 percent below last year, the Energy Information Administration said.

Wouldn't it be great if everyone would ride a bike and our cities were infrastructurally supportive of this (fantastic) alternative form of transportation?

05 October 2005

Online Petition Against CITT Recommendations

As many of you already know, On September 1st, 2005, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal ("CITT") recommended that the Government of Canada impose a 30% surtax on certain bicycles primarily imported from developing countries.

We believe that this recommendation should be rejected because it is not in the public interest. Please go HERE and sign the petition.
Thank you

Growing Gulf Between Rich and Rest of US

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services
Published on Monday, October 3, 2005 by CommonDreams.org

by Holly Sklar

Guess which country the CIA World Factbook describes when it says, "Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20 percent of households."

If you guessed the United States, you're right.

The United States has rising levels of poverty and inequality not found in other rich democracies. It also has less mobility out of poverty.

Since 2000, America's billionaire club has gained 76 more members while the typical household has lost income and the poverty count has grown by more than 5 million people.

Poverty and inequality take a daily toll seldom seen on television. "The infant mortality rate in the United States compares with that in Malaysia -- a country with a quarter the income." says the 2005 Human Development Report. "Infant death rates are higher for [black] children in Washington, D.C., than for children in Kerala, India."

Income and wealth in America are increasingly concentrated at the very top -- the realm of the Forbes 400.

You could have banked $1 million a day every day for the last two years and still have far to go to make the new Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans.

It took a minimum of $900 million to get on the Forbes 400 this year. That's up $150 million from 2004.

"Surging real estate and oil prices drove up several fortunes and helped pave the way for 33 new members," Forbes notes.


Middle-class households, meanwhile, are a medical crisis or outsourced job away from bankruptcy.

With 374 billionaires, the Forbes 400 will soon be billionaires only.

Bill Gates remains No. 1 on the Forbes 400 with $51 billion. Low-paid Wal-Mart workers can find Walton family heirs in five of the top 10 spots; another Wal-Mart heir ranks No. 116.

Former Bechtel president Stephen Bechtel Jr. and his son, CEO Riley Bechtel, tie for No. 109 on the Forbes 400 with $2.4 billion apiece. The politically powerful Bechtel has gotten a no-bid contract for hurricane reconstruction despite a pattern of cost overruns and shoddy work from Iraq to Boston's leaky "Big Dig" tunnel/highway project.

The Forbes 400 is a group so small they could have watched this year's Sugar Bowl from the private boxes of the Superdome.

Yet combined Forbes 400 wealth totals more than $1.1 trillion -- an amount greater than the gross domestic product of Spain or Canada, the world's eighth- and ninth-largest economies.

The number of Americans in poverty is a group so large it would take the combined populations of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas, plus Arkansas to match it. That's according to the Census Bureau's latest count of 37 million people below the poverty line.


Millions more Americans can't afford adequate health care, housing, child care, food, transportation and other basic expenses above the official poverty thresholds, which are set too low. The poverty threshold for a single person under age 65 was just $9,827 in 2004. For a two-adult, two-child family, it was just $19,157.

By contrast, the Economic Policy Institute's Basic Family Budget Calculator says the national median basic needs budget (including taxes and tax credits) for a two-parent, two-child family was $39,984 in 2004. It was $38,136 in New Orleans and $33,636 in Biloxi, Mississippi.

America is becoming a downwardly mobile society instead of an upwardly mobile society. Median household income fell for the fifth year in a row to $44,389 in 2004 -- down from $46,129 in 1999, adjusting for inflation. vThe Bush administration is using hurricane "recovery" to camouflage policies that will deepen inequality and poverty. They are bringing windfall profits to companies like Bechtel while suspending regulations that shore up wages for workers.

More tax cuts are in the pipeline for wealthy Americans who can afford the $17,000 watch, $160,000 coat and $10 million helicopter on the Forbes Cost of Living Extremely Well Index.

More budget cuts are in the pipeline for Medicaid, Food Stamps and other safety nets for Americans whose wages don't even cover the cost of necessities.

Without a change in course, the gulf between the rich and the rest of America will continue to widen, weakening our economy and our democracy. The American Dream will be history instead of poverty.

Ahhh....more propaganda for you!

The brilliant government that recently had lucrative tax breaks for new SUV and Hummer purchases now unveils...

http://www.energyhog.org/

(And no, we're not talking about Karl Rove's conservation of mass.)

We really need another Colorado Springs...

New Orleans Must Clean Up Its Gay Image Evangelist Says
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: October 4, 2005 5:00 pm ET

(New Orleans, Louisiana) Evangelist Franklin Graham said Tuesday that Hurricane Katrina could lead to a spiritual rebirth of a sinful New Orleans.

Graham, the son and designated successor of the Rev. Billy Graham, said the city's Mardi Gras revelry and ties to voodoo were adverse to Christian beliefs.

"New Orleans has been known for years as a party town," Graham said in an interview with The Associated Press from his office in Boone, N.C. "It is a city that has strong ties to the gay and lesbian movement, and these types of things."

On Monday, Graham delivered a similar message in an appearance in Lynchburg: "There's been satanic worship. There's been sexual perversion. God is going to use that storm to bring revival. God has a plan. God has a purpose."

Graham's comments, reported by The News & Advance of Lynchburg, were made at Thomas Road Baptist Church's Super Conference 2005 at Liberty University. Both the church and the university were founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell.

But Graham said he doesn't believe the devastating storm was a punishment from God.

"I'm not saying that God used this storm as a judgment," he said.

Do you think they get it yet?

I think we're seeing the beginning of the end of the North American car manufacturers as a dominant force in the global car market. Amazing what 30 years of obliviousness will do to you, right Rick Wagoner? Bill Ford?

Are Ford, GM fit to survive post-SUV world?

The good news is that big summer discounts helped ailing North American auto makers clear out most of their sport utility vehicles. The bad news is that their factories are still geared toward cranking out hulking autos that buyers no longer want. September's auto sales figures confirmed the end of a 15-year North American love affair with the SUV. Sales of the oversized autos plunged last month as car buyers reacted to the sudden spike in gasoline prices that followed hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The challenge now for US auto makers - most notably Ford and General Motors - is to retool for the new market reality: Gas miserly is in and the behemoth is out. "US companies have never been good at making small cars," said Susan Helper, an auto industry expert and economics professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. "So it's an adjustment in mindset as well as technology." And the industry has to undergo this transformation at a time of extreme financial stress.

One option for Ford and GM is to curtail production of its SUVs, while adding extra shifts at plants that make more fuel-efficient vehicles, such as the Ford Focus or Saturn Ion, Prof. Helper said. And to some extent, that's what they are doing already. Ford has just halted production of the Excursion, the 6-metre-long king of the company's SUV line. But that isn't a long-term solution, she said. Ultimately, the auto makers will have to revamp their entire marketing mix, and move aggressively into production of more fuel-efficient, but high-margin vehicles. That transformation could take as long as five to 10 years, Prof. Helper warned. Meanwhile, Asian and European brands - sedans and SUVs alike - continue to gain market share at the expense of domestic brands. SUV sales at Nissan were up in September. SUV sales at Toyota and Honda were down, but not nearly as precipitously as at Ford and GM. "The market may still be underestimating the implications of deteriorating market share and mix for US auto makers," DeutscheBank analyst Rod Lache said in a report to clients. “US auto makers have limited ability to mitigate these declines through the use of incentives. We do not see the discounting strategy as being a viable option.”
(Globe and Mail 051005)

The world has gone freakin' insane!

Indiana Considers Ban On Lesbian Pregnancies
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: October 4, 2005 7:00 pm ET

(Indianapolis, Indiana) Legislation has been introduced in the Indiana legislature that would prohibit gays, lesbians and single people in Indiana from using medical science to assist them in having a child.

The bill has the support of Senator Patricia Miller, the chair of the Health Finance Commission where the legislation is currently being considered.

Miller says that assisted pregnancy is totally unregulated. The bill would bar any doctor from assisting in a pregnancy through intrauterine insemination, donation of an egg, donation of an embryo, in vitro fertilization and transfer of an embryo, and sperm injection without making a number of "determinations" about the "suitability of the candidate.

Women seeking treatment would have to provide a certificate of satisfactory completion of an assessment required under the bill.

Among the determining factors is a requirement that the women be married to a person of the opposite sex. The assessment would contain a description of the family lifestyle and automatically exclude lesbians. Women would also have to provide proof that they have participated in faith-based or church activities.

A judge could not establish parentage of a child born through assisted reproduction without the assessment certificate and a separate certificate from the physician involved.

Courts would be prohibited from granting a petition to establish parentage if the parents have been convicted of crimes such as murder, reckless homicide neglect of a dependent felony battery, or have a drug conviction.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana president Betty Cockrum calls it chilling and government intrusion on a person's private life.

The Health Finance Commission will vote October 20th on whether to recommend the legislation to the full General Assembly.

Why do you think the determinant factors are what they are? Is this an implication that athiests or agnostics, single or common-law, gay or straight are unfit for assisted pregnancy and by extension, parenthood? Fuck them! Is someone at the top trying to push an agenda? Methinks so. Remember that the next time you hear such a phrase as, "the gay agenda" -- as if the religious right doesn't have a larger, better-funded one. What a bunch of narrow-minded, arrogant hypocrites.

This makes me feel so much better....

Scientists re-create deadly pandemic virus
Last Updated Wed, 05 Oct 2005 14:46:14 EDT
CBC News
Scientists in the United States say they have re-created the lethal influenza virus that killed 50 million people in 1918 and 1919. And they have concluded that the bug probably originated as an avian bug and then spread to people.

The researchers from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and Mount Sinai School of Medicine reported their findings Wednesday in the Journals "Nature" and "Science".

The findings may suggest that the threat of an avian flu pandemic is even greater than previously thought.

At least 66 deaths already have been attributed to the so-called "bird flu", a fierce virus that is widespread in poultry and has been turning up in humans in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia since late 2003.

The growing fear of a flu pandemic led U.S. President George Bush to speculate Tuesday on possible American reactions to such a crisis, including quarantines of infected groups of people.

Jeffrey Taubenberger, the Armed Forces Institute researcher who led one the studies, told The Wall Street Journal that getting to the bottom of the 1918 influenza catastrophe is no longer an academic or historical exercise.

The historical virus, created in a secure CDC lab by one of the research teams, was called "exceptionally virulent".

According to Terence Tumpey, a senior scientist at CDC who led that research team, it quickly killed embryonated chicken eggs and mice.

The team also discovered that the 1918 bug had an unusual ability to penetrate cells deep in the lungs that flu bugs don't normally reach, providing a clue as to why its symptoms were so severe.

Dr. Tumpey said the virus experiments were approved by two CDC committees and conducted under strict safety and security standards.

04 October 2005

Death to the Big Three!

SUV sales tank as gas soars

Soaring gas prices sent sales of sport utility vehicles into the tank in North America last month. Sales of the biggest SUVs tumbled as hurricanes Katrina and Rita and fears of gas shortages sent fuel prices soaring to well above $1 a litre across most of Canada and US$3 a gallon south of the border. “These ultra high gas prices are taking a toll on the larger, less fuel-efficient light trucks,” said industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers, who heads DesRosiers Automotive Consultants in Richmond Hill, ON. The slide hit large SUVs in particular. Sales in that category, which includes such behemoths as Dodge Durango, Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon and Nissan Armada, slumped 50% last month in Canada from year-earlier levels, according to data released by the auto makers yesterday. That compares with an overall decline of just 2.4% in the Canadian vehicle market last month. The market also suffered from the end of discount programs at some auto makers that allowed consumers to pay the same price as employees for their new vehicles. Overall, sales in Canada fell to 124,175 vehicles, from 127,233 in September of 2004. Each of the Big Three reported a drop, with Ford and GM noting large declines in truck sales. At DaimlerChrysler Canada, car sales fell, while truck sales rose, sparked by a big jump in sales of minivans.
(Globe and Mail, National Post 051004)

I swear the automotive companies are handi-tarded. Or at least their Marketing departments are. Are they seriously still intent on focusing on the SUV market after seeing how fickle the buyers are?

Ford, GM placed on credit watch by ratings firm

Citing falling sales of sport utility vehicles, ratings firm Standard & Poor's placed both General Motors and Ford on credit watch, saying that the ratings of both of the two companies could be lowered by mid-January. S&P credit analyst Scott Sprinzen said the decision stems from the fact that the 2007 vehicle lineups for both Ford and GM are heavily dependent on SUVs and trucks amid high gasoline prices and cooling demand for big, gas-guzzling vehicles. Sprinzen cited the sales performance of the two companies in September as "the immediately precipitating factor," combined with GM and Ford's already weak financial performance. Sprinzen said the firm will decide to lower or affirm the ratings on GM and Ford after the two companies report their fourth-quarter earnings. "We'll be looking closely at the third quarter numbers and sales performance over the next couple of months," Sprinzen said.
(Wall Street Journal 051004)

Temporary blip in the evolutionary process...

90%? Yipe. This is obviously a very disturbing trend, but it's certainly not the 'shape' of things to come. Human physiology is still meant to eat nuts and berries and made to move. Obesity is directly linked to our oil-consuming society and car culture which immobilizes us and makes us ridiculously lazy. Once this mess is cleaned up or at least realized, this trend will end. It's unfortunate for those who are already caught in the trap -- they will be the ones who have to endure the problems associated with obesity for a lifetime.

Most Americans risk obesity
Last Updated Mon, 03 Oct 2005 21:42:34 EDT
CBC News
U.S. researchers said Monday unless something drastic changes, 90 per cent of American men and 70 per cent of American women will eventually become overweight.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which paid for the study, said the older they get, the more likely Americans are to put on the extra pounds that take them out of the healthy weight class and make them overweight or obese.

"National surveys and other studies have told us that the U.S. has a major weight problem, but this study suggests that we could have an even more serious degress of overweight and obesity over the next few decades," said Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, director of the institute.

The report which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that over 30 years, nine out of ten men and seven out of ten women taking part in the Massachussetts-based study became or stayed overweight. More than a third were obese or became obese.

Dr. Ramachandran Vasan who led the study at the Boston University School of Medicine said the results are worrisome. "If the trend continues, our country will continue to face substantial health problems related to excess weight," he said.

Nabel said she hopes the study will serve as a wakeup call to Americans of all ages. "Taking simple steps to make sure that overall the number of calories you consume do not exceed the amount you burn can play a major role in lowering your risk for many chronic condititions.

03 October 2005

Weekend (Party) report

The weekend was a write-off weatherwise, but we heated up the best part of it with a wicked party on Saturday night. It was for Joe's birthday, but generally everyone was there because it seemed like nothing else was going on and people had nothing better to do but get out for a good time!


Some people I don't know...


Poor Jeff...too much time in the Prayer Room...???


A gaggle of gays

I got Joe a Spongebob Squarepants ice cream cake from DQ, but we didn't bring it out until the party had already peaked and there were only enough people left (the best people, of course) so that there was enough cake for everyone!

Sunday was the Bow Fietscross Cyclocross race at SAIT. Here are some pics from the race:

Bow Fietscross '05 - the beginning...


Long hard slog up the hill...

And last but definitely not least, Jeanette and Sean finally had their baby girl, Rhylee Grace on Saturday night. Congrats guys and welcome to this crazy place, Rhylee!

COAD Update


Official (British) album cover

Here is the track listing for the new album, to be release on November 15:
1. Hung Up
2. Get Together
3. Sorry
4. Future Lovers
5. I Love New York
6. Let It Will Be
7. Forbidden Love
8. Jump
9. How High
10. Isaac
11. Push
12. Like It Or Not

I can't wait!