29 June 2007
Joe and I got into San Fran on Thursday, a day after most of the crew had already arrived. After some quick shopping on Ellis and Market Streets, we did a quick trip up to the Castro District and did some more touring around the shops. After dinner in the Castro, we relaxed in Hotel Fusion on Thursday night and prepped ourselves for a day of touring on Friday.
Friday morning, we all headed up the hill on Powell St. to a breakfast place called Roxanne's. Afterwards we took the Muni to Haight-Ashbury District and walked the length of Haight to Golden Gate Park. On the way, we toured lots of the quirky boutiques and shops along the way, where the guys found lots of things to check out. We caught a bus up to the Golden Gate Bridge and spent the remainder of the afternoon on the Bridge before taking a very crowded transit bus through Chinatown back to the hotel.
Friday night was the Blogger Reunion party organized by Darrin, Jimmi and Dan. It was in a bar near AT&T Park near Darrin's house. Joe and I headed home early as I needed to get some rest for the Pride 10K in the morning. Patrick had arrived at the hotel on Friday as well, but we missed him while travelling around on Friday night.
Saturday morning, Patrick and I took the train to Golden Gate Park for the annual Pride Run. It was a beautiful morning and approximately 600 people showed up to run either the 5K or 10K. I ran a 38:40 which was good enough for third overall and first in the Men's 30-39 category. Afterwards we hung around for food and medals and proceeded to work our way back to the hotel downtown to get a rest and some food before the festivities of Saturday night.
The gang broke into several groups for dinner and then rejoined before heading to the Castro again for the Street Party. They had closed down six or seven blocks of Castro St. where tens of thousands of revellers had collected to party, dance at numerous DJ stations, watch the 'shows' from the second-storey apartment windows and meet and visit new people. We stopped briefly at one of the blogger's condos nearby that Jeff knew for a bathroom break and a refill on the drinks before heading out on the street again. The Muni trains and buses were packed by the end of the night so we all proceeded to walk back downtown along Market.
I woke up Sunday morning near death. I had caught Skybar's cold and along with a hangover and the sore muscles from the day before, I had only enough energy to endure the Pride Parade and walk through the Street Fair at the Civic Center Grounds before returning to the hotel and bed for the rest of the night. The rest of the gang went out to a bar named Metro in the Castro. I wish I had gone, since that was the only night that Joe and I were there that anyone went out to a gay bar!
Oh well. Monday was my shopping day, and we hit up some stores on my list in SoMa and the Financial District. Monday night everyone was feeling pretty tired and we hit the sack early. Tuesday, Joe and I went for breakfast and toured through the Financial District to the Embarcadero and Ferry Terminal, took the trolley to Pier 39, toured around there then walked through the Anchorage and Cannery areas and Ghirardelli Square before catching the trolley back to the hotel. We finished off our shopping, ate Vietnamese and prepped for the trip back to Calgary.
All in all, a very interesting and exhausting trip. Six days flew by like that! It was fun to have all the gang together and I can't believe how quickly everything came and went. We have lots of memories and shopping items to remember the trip by!
20 June 2007
The gang are headed to San Francisco this morning. Joe and I head out tomorrow and Pat leaves on Friday. On top of all the parties and events this weekend, we're planning a wine country trip to Napa Valley, and Pat and I are running in the SF Frontrunners Pride 10K on Saturday morning in Golden Gate Park. I can't wait. We'll be back next week!
19 June 2007
By Jay Dyckman
I get it. It's over. At this point, I am not going to be Punk'd, and my ride will not be Pimp'd.
In the world of marketing, there are persons between the ages of 18 and 34, and then there are the comatose. The 18-to-34 demographic, unfailingly described as the "coveted" market, is fickle, elusive and, most important, open to playing the field when it comes to brand loyalty. They are sought after with an obsession that would embarrass Captain Ahab. They are tastemakers, they are trendy, they are cool.
And, soon enough, they will no longer be me. I am aging out of this demographic. As life milestones go, this one is not so fun. I suppose it could be seen as a sign that my tastes have become so sophisticated that I am beyond manipulative advertising campaigns. But it feels a lot more like the day you realize that you qualify for the senior discount. A Pyrrhic victory if there ever was one.
I WANT TO STILL BE COVETED
I made this depressing discovery recently after reading about the new TV shows this season and realizing that I won't be part of the target audience for much longer. Marketers, who will spend millions of dollars on advertisements during these shows, are desperately trying to capture those urbane twentysomething consumers and not, say, my father, who, if given a bottle of Axe body spray, most likely would use it to lubricate a squeaky door or to de-flea the cat. OK, so I might not want to spritz myself with artfully packaged room freshener, but I do want them to think that I do. I want to still be coveted.
The tragedy of demographic marketing is that when you age out, it's like getting dumped by all of corporate America. It's like Colonel Sanders called to say, "Sorry, I'm just not that into you anymore." Or, as if Xbox sent a note explaining, "It's not me -- it's you." And, although I don't really have any loyalty to these brands, I'd prefer that they not give up on me. Who is Mountain Dew to say that I'm no longer a catch?
THESE BRANDS HAVE MOVED ON
Even worse, though, is that I'm positive many of these brands would prefer that I not even purchase their products. Abercrombie and Fitch certainly doesn't want a couple of high school seniors whispering, "Ew, check out that old guy wearing the A&F sleeveless T-shirt."
These brands have moved on to someone else, someone who is younger. At this point, I'm just the stalker ex-boyfriend who can't let go. I'm almost afraid I'll be watching TV one day and a message alert will pop up: "Oh, no, Mr. Dyckman, Laguna Beach really isn't for you. Have you checked out Lou Dobbs, though?" I am no longer considered hip. Instead, I'm supposed to worry about breaking one.
So, I relent. I get it. It's over. At this point, I am not going to be Punk'd, and my ride will not be Pimp'd. I'll move on and start tuning in to the Golf Channel. Does anyone know who's on Larry King tonight?
Old. Halfway to death. Not even manipulative by marketers. But smrt? Maybe the marketers know that I now see through their thin facades.
How old am I? Old enough to know I am not allowed to wear A&F tank tops in public anymore!
OMG! Did you see Stephen Colbert freaking out like a Price Is Right contestant on the Report tonight? Holy crap that was hilarious! He wants President Bush to elect Bob Barker as the new President of the World Bank now that he is retired. Nigerian debt relief through a round of Plinko. I couldn't stop laughing!
18 June 2007
"I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from their evil oil profiteering. Thinking of soccer moms weighted down by $3 a gallon gasoline brings tears to eyes. My constituents demand that we nuke Iran, and as a humble servant of the people I agree."
Joseph Lieberman wants to spread the joy of Hanukkah by making a nuclear Menorah over Tehran.
Slaughtering people of other faiths is the best way to show that you have the superior belief system.
15 June 2007
From the Desk of Farley Mowat
Dear Green Party Friend:
Eighty-six years as participant and observer have convinced me we are facing an ecological and environmental crisis that could precipitate the greatest die-off in the history of our planet.
The current situation is so ominous and the potential for disaster so diverse and imminent as to threaten not just human life but all of animate creation. If this sounds like Chicken Little, it is because this time the sky truly may be falling.
The unwillingness of the powers-that-be to accept the scope and urgency of the threat convinces me that the cement-heads who currently control our destiny are incapable of responding to the approaching tornado. They will remain engrossed in their own self-interests, trusting that a consortium of super-science, technology, and the Entrepreneurial Gods will see them safely into Heaven on Earth.
I don’t believe it will. Which is why I am now giving my support to the Green Party, the only political entity demonstrating a real and potential effective concern for the planet and its myriad inhabitants.
All of its inhabitants!
For it is not just we human beings who are at risk. We are all in the same crucible together – and the temperature is rising rapidly, both figuratively and actually.
The Green Party, led by Elizabeth May, is the one political party clearly committed to averting the catastrophic consequences of our continuing to treat the Earth as mere dirt beneath our feet, so it is imperative that we elect Green Party members to our next parliament. This cannot happen without a lot of help from a lot of us.
The Harper Conservatives boast of their war chest of $15 million, and their War Room from which they will send out their Attack Ads and fire their Media Barrages. The Green Party and its leader, Elizabeth May, have only the Green Hope Chest, which at the moment is virtually empty. Nevertheless, they are promising a peaceable campaign focused on the survival of a peaceable kingdom.
I very much want them to succeed and I hope you do too, so I invite you to join me in making it financially possible for the Greens to vanquish the vandals and thereby help re-establish a viable future for life on Earth.
PS: Click here to donate online (www.greenparty.ca/donate). Alternatively, you can make a donation by calling the Green Party toll free at 1-866-868-3447, or by sending a cheque by mail to the Green Party of Canada, PO Box 997, Station B, Ottawa, ON K1P 5R1.
This moved me to action. And so did this story about the polymers in the 'ocean fill'. I signed up as a member of the Green Party today. They are on the right track -- the only ones that are, IMO.
Wednesday next week is the first day of vacation, and we're off to San Francisco on Thursday morning. The trip is going to be so great -- Patrick just got his arrangements together today and will be meeting us there on Friday, so we will end up being a gay gaggle of seven Calgarians roving the scene in San Fransicko! Mothers - lock up your sons! LOL
Yesterday, I got Patrick and I signed up to do the San Francisco Pride 10K Run in Golden Gate Park on Saturday morning, and I also signed myself up for the Calgary Marathon Half Marathon on July 8. That will give me a few more races in the near future to train and behave for. I like the Calgary Half course too, which will make it interesting.
Last night after Thursday night racing at the track, I met up with my old friend Betty-Ann at the Ship for a couple of beers. After doing some catch-up and reminiscing, our conversation devolved into an analysis of Facebook! That stupid distraction pops up everywhere! Betty-Ann told me of the first instance of Facebook-induced personal tragedy I'd heard of -- the breakup of two relationships of friends close to her due to a Facebook message that was read by the wrong party. It's sure good to know that there are many people out there WAY more addicted and sucked a lot further into Facebook Vortex than I am!
This weekend is the Ride for the Wild Roses Criterium at Currie Barracks Saturday night, and also the Arbour Lake Triathlon/Duathlon on Sunday. I am not sure what I'm going to do yet, although I'm not sure I want to completely rip my legs apart on Sunday morning doing the duathlon. The late entry fee with insurance is around $110. Blech. Is that a high price for a lot of pain or what? I think I've missed the deadline anyways. The clincher with the RFTWR Crit is that signup closes at 4:45pm, and then the Cat 1/2 men don't race until 8pm. What are we supposed to do until then? Fuck it. Maybe I won't race at all this weekend.
I have to go hunting for a spacer off my Giant seatpost for my trackbike that fell off when the bolt loosened off last week during training warmup. I've raked the infield grass at the track looking for it, but with no luck. I'm not too excited about shelling over $200 for a new one since it doesn't look good that Giant will have any parts available (they like selling full units intact for some reason). I'm going to go to Ridley's and Pedalhead tomorrow and see if I can find the part I need on a cheaper post, buy the damn thing and use the spacer I need on my good post. Pretty stupid, eh?
Actually tomorrow is Joe's day off so I might leave that errand until Sunday.
I think everyone is intending to lay low this weekend in anticipation of SF, however Skybar mentioned going out Saturday night. The Pride Dance is Saturday night as well, but after last year's debacle I refuse to set foot into another Calgary-organized Pride Dance. I don't want to sound sexist or ageist here, but the gay men and the lesbians have to start having their own dances. Sure, all the organizers here gush about how special the Calgary gay community is in that we can all socialize and celebrate together, but come on -- the truth is that the younger gay men want something completely different out of our Pride dance than the lesbians do, and that's why you're finding declining numbers of gay men going to the event with each successive year. Entry for $25? Are you kidding me? For 80s crap music we've heard a hundred times before and country music? For shitty Molson beer? Pul-leaze. The organizing committee, bless their encompassing hearts, try to be everything for all demographics at Calgary's Pride Dance every year, and in the process end up not satisfying anyone. If they even did something as subtle as bring in a 'new' DJ that isn't someone we've been hearing in the Calgary gay clubs for the past 15 years, I might reconsider going, but not in this current incarnation. Not this century, anyways. But hey, if you're going, have fun and make the best of it!
13 June 2007
World oil prices will rise sharply in the second half of 2007 unless OPEC increases production, the International Energy Agency said yesterday, as some analysts predicted that crude could top US$80 a barrel later this year. In a report, the IEA raised its forecast for crude demand this year by some 200,000 barrels a day, and lowered its expectation of non-OPEC supplies by 100,000. However, officials from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries have so far resisted frequent calls from the IEA - which represents 26 industrialized consuming countries - to open the taps to reduce pressure on prices. "We would very much hope that OPEC production is at its seasonal low at the moment," David Fyfe, analyst at the IEA, said. "We definitely do need more crude oil." Despite a steep runup in prices, the agency forecast the global demand will increase by 2% this year - or 1.7 million bpd - to 86.1 million. China is expected to lead the growth, with oil demand there rising by 6.1%. Analysts said both crude oil and product markets remain tight, with inventories abnormally low for this time of year, though they are building ahead of the peak driving season. "Global markets on the global oil side have tightened up quite a bit," said Bart Melek, a commodities analyst with BMO Nesbitt Burns. "I do think we're going to get $70-plus crude as summer driving season peaks." But he added that, unless OPEC increases production, the market will be undersupplied in the second half of the year. "I think we could easily get to $80, depending on the circumstances of course," he said, adding geopolitical tensions between the US and Iran, or hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico could spark price spikes.
Despite the bullish reports, crude prices fell yesterday, as traders anticipated a US Energy Information Agency inventory report that it expected to show a modest increase in stocks. But that relief could be short lived. Francisco Blanch, a commodity analyst with Merrill Lynch, said OPEC production is now at its lowest level in three years, after steep production cuts earlier this year. But he said demand will outstrip supply with the outset of the summer driving season, and global inventories will be drawn down rapidly. "OPEC needs to ramp up production to meet the shortfall, and fast!," the analyst wrote in a report yesterday. Without a production increase, any minor supply disruption could cause prices to spike above $80 a barrel in the second half of this year, he said. Blanch recently raised his long-term oil price forecast - covering 2009 and beyond - to $60 a barrel for Brent and West Texas Intermediate grades, up from $47.50 previously. In adjusting his forecast upwards, he cited strong global economic growth, improved discipline among OPEC members, lower-than-expected non-OPEC supply growth, and the apparent unwillingness or inability of consumers to reduce demand in the face of high prices.
(Globe and Mail 070613)
"OPEC needs to ramp up production to meet the shortfall, and fast!"
Hmmm...makes you wonder, eh? Why wouldn't those penultimate capitalists, the rulers of OPEC, not want to be dumping as much crude on the market as they can right now at current spot and futures prices? Sure it would cause supply increases and thus lower the price, but it is controllable. Everyone non-OPEC has been wanting them to open the spigots more, but for some reason OPEC won't do it. Do you think maybe it's because they CAN'T?
BP reduces oil reserves estimate
BP has lowered its estimate of the world's proven oil reserves, for the first time in more than a decade, in its annual Statistical Review of World Energy published on Tuesday. This year's review, which covers the period to the end of 2006, included an assessment of the size of Canadian oilsands for the first time. They stand at 163.5 billion barrels. Global reserves are more than sufficient to meet current production levels for more than 40 years, although accessing the oil is getting tougher due to high exploration and production costs and also to more state control of production, BP said. World reserves stood at 1.208 trillion barrels at the end of 2006, fractionally lower than 1.209 trillion at the end of 2005. The one billion-barrel reduction reflected declines in reserves in Mexico and Norway, partly offset by increases in Russia and Brazil. Christof Ruhl, deputy chief economist at BP, said the last time the annual reserves figure had fallen in the statistical review was in 1990. Ruhl said the overall 2006 figure could be revised upwards as more data became available. BP's original figure for 2005 had been 1.200 trillion barrels until it was revised upwards after more countries published reserves data.
(Calgary Herald 070613)
Notice how they don't include projected consumption levels? This article may make it sound like everything's fine. If they added projected increases in consumption (currently estimated at 2% annually -- 50% increase over the next 20 years), it would quickly show that demand destruction is required, and probably inevitable very soon since the current year is where it is expected demand will outstrip supply (and why the price is going forever up and up from this point on).
11 June 2007
Felix ended up winning the Men's 1/2 Omnium, with good showings by Mike, Frank and myself. Brad ended up second in the Men's Cat 4 Omnium, and Natasha and Steph were 1/2 in the Women's A. Our new juniors also represented well -- Patrick, Derek, Elise and Gina. cp provided much-appreciated tactics and support.
Here are some pics and videos from the weekend:
Felix - Flying 200m
Mike - Flying 200m
Frank - Flying 200m
Cat 1/2 Men's Points Race
Big happy family
In the spirit of "Pride season", when all the Pride parades and festivals around the world gear up, here are two societies with diametrically opposed views on being gay and celebrating the diversity of humanity.
Sao Paulo holds Gay Pride parade
The crowd was in party mood as it progressed through the city.
Hundreds of thousands of gay, lesbian, transgendered and transvestite people have taken part in a Gay Pride parade in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo.
Organisers said the number of people taking part had exceeded last year's record of 2.5 million marchers.
The parade is said to be the largest of its kind in the world.
Costumes, floats and music dominated but activists say they also have a serious message, calling for a world without discrimination.
"We want to address machismo, racism and homophobia [...] which still exists in Brazil," said the president of the parade, Nelson Matias Pereira.
According to activists, between 1980 and 2006 some 2,680 gay people were murdered in Brazil, the majority thought to have been killed because of their sexuality.
The parade received official backing for the first time and was attended by Brazil's ministers for tourism and sport as well as local officials.
The city's first parade, staged in 1997, attracted just 2,000 people.
Gay Pride is taking place just days after around one million Evangelical Christians held their annual demonstration in Sao Paulo, during which one minister addressing the crowd linked homosexuality with Satanism.
With more than 70 Gay Pride parades taking place around the country, there are some signs of changing attitudes, our correspondent says, with a few states publicly expressing opposition to discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.
However, civil unions between same sex couples are only recognised in one state in the south of Brazil and change on this issue remains a key demand of gay rights activists.
Wow. Two and a half million people coming out for a party. Now that's a diverse society! On the other hand...
From Montreal Simon:
Thousands join Tel Aviv gay pride parade
By JPOST.COM STAFF
While fur continues to fly over a gay pride march planned in Jerusalem at the end of June, Tel Aviv's gay pride parade drew some 10,000 participants on Friday, and was largely peaceful.
The parade set out from Kikar Rabin at noon, passed through the streets of the city and made its way to Gordon Beach, where marchers continued the festivity with a beach party.
The event was funded solely by the Tel Aviv Municipality, mainly because many sponsors of previous years declined to chip in, fearing a haredi boycott of their products.
Some 20 right-wing activists protested the event, after police approved a counter-demonstration on the condition that the number of participants would not surpass 50.
The demonstrators held signs that read: "This is an abominable, anti-Semitic march sponsored by the High Court against God!"
An Army Radio reporter claimed to have heard one of the protesters address the paraders with the words: "It's a shame the Nazis didn't finish you off!"
Right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir told Army Radio that the alleged remark came in response to provocations made by pro-gay activists, who reportedly called the right-wing demonstrators "Nazis." Ben-Gvir stressed that it would never have occurred to him to use such harsh terminology.
He said the actual statement was, "Indeed, the Nazis were averse to you."
Earlier Friday, Ben-Gvir was quoted as saying that "they want to spread abomination in Jerusalem; it won't hurt if we spread some holiness in Tel Aviv."
Earlier this week, the Knesset passed a preliminary reading of a bill that would give municipalities the authority to prevent parades or marches deemed inappropriate, legislation that would effectively quash the planned Jerusalem march.
Gays seeking equal rights will no longer be allowed to congregate and demonstrate in Israel. The Knesset passed two bills through their first reading last week. If enacted into law, these bills will forcibly silence gay rallies across Israel.
This curious denial of rights is a hypocritical irony, demonstrated most succinctly by an anti-gay demonstrator during what will probably be Tel-Aviv’s last gay pride parade. According to an Army Radio reporter, a religious protester shouted to the marchers: “It’s a shame the Nazis didn’t finish you off.”
Meanwhile, Badatz, an Orthodox sector of rabbis, placed a curse on gay rights marchers and the police who maintain order during their demonstrations:
All those involved in the matter [of gay rights rallies], those of impure souls and those helping them and guarding them, they will feel in their souls a curse, a bad spirit will come over them and haunt them, they will never be cleansed of their sins from the judgment of God, in their bodies, their souls and their finances.
From Slap Upside the Head:
Spooky stuff. Who knew Orthodox rabbis were so practiced in their evil curse casting skills?
Once again religion fucks everything up. I can't believe how completely ridiculous these political and religious leaders are. With all the hypocrisy that spews from the mouths, how are any of them to be taken seriously? It's especially disheartening coming from a nation such as Israel. After all they've been through, if they can't recognize institutional tolerance, then who will? That's what you get when you allow religion to dictate your civic life.
This is so threatening?
Compared to this????
Published: Monday, June 11, 2007 | 12:37 PM ET
BRIGHTON, England (AP) - With strategically placed helmets and slogans painted on bare skin, scores of people shed their clothes and rode through this seaside resort on their bicycles Saturday to promote cycling as an environmentally friendly mode of transport.
"It is time more motorists stripped off their armor plating and moved around more gently on this earth," said Duncan Blinkhorn, 45, one of the event's organizers.
More than 200 cyclists in various stages of undress took part in the World Naked Bike Ride in Brighton and Hove, sister cities on the southern coast of England, to promote cycling.
Cyclists met with police chiefs ahead of the seven-mile ride to seek their advice about avoiding problems or formal complaints about the nudity.
"This is a fun, if outrageous, way to make the serious point that we should not have to tolerate roads, cities and a planet dominated by the brutishness of cars that routinely foul the air we all breathe, destroy lives and impoverish the environment," Blinkhorn said.
"Bikes and naked bodies harm nobody. Car fumes and accidents kill tens of thousands every year in the UK alone and are driving us all to climate chaos."
Similar events took place Friday in the cities of Manchester, York and Southhampton, and were expected in other countries, too.
If you feel like you need to express yourself and get the message across about living a less-impactful lifestyle on two (or three or four human-powered) wheels, there are different ways to get involved that don't involve nudity! The next Critical Mass ride in Calgary takes place on Friday, June 29th at 5:30pm at the Eau Claire Festival Market plaza.
07 June 2007
Detroit's Big Three auto makers are making a concerted effort to slow the push to raise fuel-economy standards, in a test of the industry's weakened but still considerable political clout. The ceos of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler met with lawmakers in Washington yesterday amid an escalating energy debate that is playing a central role in the 2008 presidential election. The companies are weighing in as they struggle under the weight of deep losses in North American operations and falling market share. As early as next week, the Senate will debate a bill requiring auto makers to build cars and trucks that achieve a fleet-wide average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, a considerable jump from the current corporate average fuel economy standard, known as CAFE, of about 25 mpg. After that, the bill mandates 4% annual mileage increases for several years after. Detroit's auto makers and Toyota have said such a drastic increase will be costly and could force companies to build cars Americans aren't willing to buy. One Bush administration estimate put the cost of 4% annual in mileage standards between 2010 and 2017 at US$85-billion for the Big Three.
In private meetings yesterday with lawmakers, GM's Rick Wagoner, Ford's Alan Mulally and Chrysler's Tom LaSorda told Congressional leaders that a 35 mpg fleet-wide target isn't cost-effective or technologically achievable, according to people familiar with the matter. Instead, the industry lobbied for lower targets and asked for government investment in biofuels and advanced batteries for plug-in hybrids, these people said. Stopping the momentum could be difficult. Democratic senator Byron Dorgan criticized the auto industry for running ads in newspapers saying that Congress is looking to force consumers to drive smaller cars. He said instead of running those ads, Detroit should be working with Congress on raising fuel-efficiency standards. Wagoner said auto makers have raised fuel-economy as required under the 30-year CAFE program. “Thirty years later, we've done our part.” US dependence on foreign oil has grown nevertheless, he told senators, including presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. Still, Wagoner acknowledged the momentum toward tougher mileage standards, saying “my sense is there will be increases in CAFE, but we hope they will be responsible levels.” The auto maker hasn't outlined its specific desire for such legislation, but allies in the Senate are scrambling to push softer legislation, while also pushing Detroit's call for government subsidies to develop further-out technologies, such as batteries and hydrogen fuel cells. In prepared remarks delivered to senators, Wagoner pointed to a Japan trade ministry announcement last week that it will spend US$1.7-billion, to help develop that country's next generation cars and fuels to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the main gas blamed for global warming. Other proposals include a potential amendment by Levin and newly drafted legislation in the House. Levin's plan would allow auto makers to avoid fuel economy regulations altogether if they demonstrate they intend to build vehicles that would get far better mileage than required by CAFE, such as gasoline-electric hybrids and flex-fuel vehicles capable of running on E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline.
(Globe and Mail 070607)
No one should feel any reason to give the Big Three any concessions on what we all know needs to be done. They have shit in their own bed and it is their responsibility to clean up after their own mess of greed and mismanagement that they have let run amok for the last 15 years. Their CAFE standard is only 25mpg? Pul-leaze - it wouldn't have been a big step to get to 35 if they had even been trying to be good corporate citizens for the past decade. But no, they needed to get around the standards because upgrading and new technologies would hit the bottom line, so what did they do? Build and market big behemoths that don't even apply to the same standards, market them as personal vehicles, and voila! Instant fat profits with no regard required for emissions standards or anything. Easy, squeezy, right? Well, now that they have to pay for their consequence-free existence over the past fifteen years, they are fighting tooth and nail to slow down what they in part created -- an environment where stricter regulations are mandatory. They've flooding the N.A. market with their gas-guzzling products and now they're not selling at the pace they were anticipating because the price of fuel is up and consumers are looking for more efficient options, so now the Asian and European manufacturers who have been building these lines of vehicles well for the past decade already have the upper hand and are severely kicking the asses of the Big Three.
They've shot themselves in the foot, let them look after it themselves. There shouldn't be any pandering to the Big 3 at all. But there will. Who am I kidding? Isn't the statistic like, one out of every five or six jobs in North America is directly or indirectly linked to the automotive manufacturing sector? You can just imagine where this is all going. The Big 3 might be wounded right now, but that will only make them more resolute to push their political clout around even more forcefully than they have in the past. Idiots. They deserve squat.
06 June 2007
Passing off Creationism as "Science" in a "Museum", eh? I don't care whether you want to put together displays of your Pink Unicorns or Flying Spaghetti Monsters and convince people to pay to see them either, but please, don't insult our intelligence by associating it in any way, shape, or form with Science. It is the furthest thing from it. Don't try to legitimize your 'undebateable' belief system by naming it something it is not...a theory supportable with evidence.
Massive plan would capture carbon
A 14-company group has a blueprint for making Canada a world leader in underground disposal of carbon-dioxide emissions blamed for global warming. "We could do it in five years if we started today," said Stephen Kaufman, a Suncor Energy executive who is chairman of Integrated Carbon Dioxide Network or ICO2N for short. The group proposes a national greenhouse-gas collection, pipeline and storage grid with roots in the Alberta oil industry and branches across the country from British Columbia to Nova Scotia. The technology -- known as carbon capture and storage, or CCS -- is proven to work. Since the 1970s, a 3,980-kilometre pipeline grid in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas has delivered millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide for injections into oil reservoirs to keep aging wells flowing. A 330-kilometre pipeline transports carbon dioxide from a coal plant in North Dakota to southern Saskatchewan for similar life-extending injections into EnCana's half-century-old Weyburn oilfield. Monitoring by an international scientific team since the Canadian project started operating in the late 1990s has confirmed the greenhouse gas stays underground in the geological formation after oil is pumped out. But prolonged studies and regional uses of the technology also taught its supporters an inconvenient truth. Going green on the large scale required to make a significant contribution to climate-change policy will be expensive.
Besides his Suncor, the group includes Agrium, Air Products Canada, Canadian Natural Resources, ConocoPhillips, Epcor, Husky Energy, Imperial Oil, Keyera, Nexen, Shell Canada, Sherritt International, Syncrude Canada and TransAlta. PM Stephen Harper made a down payment when he visited Edmonton in March to announce a $155.9-million federal grant and creation of a task force to study creation of a large carbon pipeline and storage network. But much more is sought. Building the national greenhouse-gas disposal grid would burn cash like an oilsands megaproject, say research council estimates. Federal and provincial governments would put in more than $5 billion if they agreed to split two-thirds of the network's costs and industry paid the remaining one-third, Gunter's teams estimated in a detailed 2005 study. Harper's contribution to date works out to about 3% of the proposed government share in costs of the carbon disposal network. Alberta has yet to make commitments beyond supporting Gunter's research.
The ICO2N plan calls for a web to gather carbon dioxide processed into concentrated form from industrial emissions sites across Canada such as oilsands, power, natural gas processing, petrochemical, metal, forest products and cement plants. The industry group and the research council envision the grid as making a modest start in central Alberta, helped by sales of carbon dioxide to oil companies for injections into aging wells. The carbon capture and storage web would expand by stages over a 10-year period across Alberta and into BC, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. An international dimension would eventually be added, with pipeline branches delivering greenhouse-gas deposits from Central Canada into geological reservoirs in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio.
(Edmonton Journal 070606)
Cheap like we're used to? - not. Complicated, convoluted and expensive? - yes. We've never before in the history of economic expansion ever had to invest as much (or more) into disposing of our industrial outputs as we have investing in our profit-making inputs...typically it's been much, much less intentionally. There's a sea change in how things are done --culpability for the crap we spill out the backside -- the reckoning is nigh!
Where will all the sulphur go?
Along with the mid-20th-century explosion in world consumption of fossil fuels has come a burgeoning by-product, bright yellow elemental sulphur refined out of the hydrocarbons taken from the bowels of the Earth for fuel. There are blocks of it, trainloads of it, 50,000-tonne marine bulk carriers crammed with it. Millions of tonnes are stacked up in specially formed granules and pellets, or piped and hauled as a liquid. Sulphur is removed from oil, natural gas and bitumen to protect human, animal and plant health from the effects of sulphur dioxide and other compounds produced when fuel is burned. While those compounds are toxic, the sulphur itself is harmless when separated in its pure, elemental form. Alberta has about 12 million tonnes of sulphur stockpiled, according to market information experts PentaSul. Although production from gas plants is declining, it is growing exponentially from the oilsands. PentaSul calculates there was 1.45 million tonnes of sulphur produced from the oilsands in 2005. The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board pegs Alberta's 2015 output at 4.1 million tonnes per year. The Alberta Chamber of Resources predicts output could reach 10 to 12 million tonnes by 2030.
Upgrader plants remove about 90% of the sulphur in bitumen as they produce refinery-ready synthetic oil, and new processes are raising the percentage, the energy board says. Concern about where all the sulphur is going to go has been growing along with the number of applications to build upgraders between Fort McMurray and Edmonton. There's no infrastructure for moving it out. Although prices have improved this year, the cost of trucking it to Edmonton and shipping it to West Coast ports still exceeds its market value. If refinery owners can't ship the sulphur anywhere, it's pointless to build the upgrader. They could readily move their plans to US locations, taking jobs and revenue with them. Canada handles six million tonnes a year of solid sulphur safely, but residents of the Edmonton-area counties where upgraders are being planned are worried about the unknowns and have safety concerns. The problem might be about to go away, though, with the approval in May of a West Coast sulphur handling and storage facility slated for Ridley Island, the industrial port at Prince Rupert, BC As the closest North American port to Asia by up to 58 hours of sailing time, Prince Rupert is ideally situated to allow Canada -- the leading exporter of sulphur globally -- to satisfy fully half of the demand of the No. 1 importer, China. It already services coal exports to China. A high-capacity container terminal with an extensive rail yard is under construction at Prince Rupert. The port will readily accommodate CN tanker cars filled with molten sulphur. Construction of Phase 1 is to be completed late this year.
The Ridley Island terminal is the project of ICEC Terminals in collaboration with Crown corporation Ridley Terminals. ICECT is taking over a facility abandoned in mid-construction by Sulphur Corp. of Canada in 2001. The plan is to receive molten sulphur by railcar, unload it into a liquid sulphur storage pit, dry it into a soft solid, form it into prills (pellets) and load the dry bulk sulphur onto ocean vessels for export overseas. Capacity is to be 800,000 tonnes per year, potentially expanding to 1.4 million tonnes per year. ICECT and Ridley terminals' environmental assessment takes into account a multitude of considerations, including dust, sulphur compound vapour emissions and cross-contamination with other bulk products.
(Edmonton Journal 070606)
I think they should barge it all out to the North Pacific Gyre and use it as the base layer for our new floating resort! Once the layer of sulfur is down, we can lay the sand and voila! New vacation destination!
Green's call for carbon tax draws attacks
Elizabeth May's proposal of a $50-per-tonne carbon tax, which could drive up gasoline prices by 12¢ per litre, drove a wedge between her Green party and the other federal opposition parties. The proposed carbon tax, which could climb to $100 per tonne by 2020, is at the heart of a climate change plan unveiled by May that she called the only way to avert a climate catastrophe. Revenues from the new tax would be used to reduce income and payroll taxes, and to establish income supplements and other incentives to encourage deep reductions in the greenhouse gas pollution that is linked to global warming. "The fundamental key point is that we need carbon taxes," May told a news conference. "Right now, the Green Party of Canada is the only Canadian political party prepared to state this obvious reality. We will use those carbon taxes to reduce taxes elsewhere."
In Parliament, the Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois members agreed with the principle of May's plan, but distanced themselves from the idea of the carbon tax of $50 per tonne. "We support putting the charge, the financial charge, on to the back of the polluters," NDP leader Jack Layton said. "We're talking here about the big polluters that cause most of the pollution in Canada. That's the place to start." Even so, they stuck with their own joint proposal to create an investment fund to which companies could contribute at a rate of $20 to $30 per tonne in order to offset their pollution. Liberal leader Stephane Dion said the measure would not be a carbon tax because the money goes back to industry when they reduce their emissions. "We share the same goals but we have different means," Dion said. "What we propose, as you know, is a carbon budget -- a deposit that the industry would put in a green investment [fund] and the money would [go] back to the industry if they decrease their emissions. I think it would be much more effective than what she proposed, but we agree about the goal." The Conservative government has proposed to establish a technology fund that allows companies to offset their pollution at a cost starting at $15 per tonne over the next decade. It also sets limits that gradually decrease the amount they can contribute over time. A oil industry spokesman said May's plan was not realistic and would grind most of the economic activity in the country to a halt. (National Post 070606)
This is a great statement for a first step. We must wrest the control on this money from the polluters and bring it back to the people. The polluters need to pay a fair reflection of their true impact on the environment and society, which they have been able to avoid for decades.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I think May and the Greens are on the right track, unfortunately they lack the clout to have a big voice in what the reality actually turns out to be. We probably need something more dramatic than even the Greens are proposing, however we will end up with something much less ballsy or effective.
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 6, 2007 | 12:51 PM ET
Canada's skies are vulnerable to another attack against passenger travel unless tougher cargo controls are implemented on the ground, an aviation security expert testified at the Air India inquiry Wednesday.
"The answer to airline security is on the ground. Once the plane is in the air, it's too late," said Col. Kathleen Sweet, a professor of homeland security management at the University of Connecticut.
The inquiry is looking into security lapses that allowed B.C.-based Sikh extremists to plant a bomb in luggage loaded aboard an Air India jet in 1985. The device exploded as the plane neared the coast of Ireland, killing all 329 people on board.
To prevent another such tragedy, Sweet suggests various levels of security training for all airport staff — from vendors and janitors to cargo handlers and pilots — and to have them retrained with the latest information every year.
"Unless we get on this quickly, a plane's going to go down," she told the inquiry.
The September 2001 attacks against the United States orchestrated by al-Qaeda have left her with "great fears," she added.
"We tend to fight the last war. We're not going to have terrorists attempting to board with box cutters any more."
The next threat would likely be a bomb that ends up in the cargo hold, rather than suicide hijackers in the passenger compartment, Sweet predicted, "and we're going to be fighting the next war.
"I believe Osama bin Laden has a penchant for the aviation industry."
She says "simple training" like photos of people on intelligence search lists or common indicators that things are wrong, such as someone wearing a bulky jacket in stifling hot weather, could help prevent another attack.
Sweet said without training and refresher courses, security could miss new threats, citing the example of bombs being hidden in new ways, for example in sex toys and teddy bears.
What about the bomb detectors in every airport that screen every piece of luggage going on a plane? Why has this idea never been implemented fully? I know those machines are expensive, but come on....
If the staff at the airports is representative of anywhere else in this tight labour market, where anyone with a pulse and can do the work will suffice, then lorb help us all. All the training in the world isn't going to stop a determined terrorist from planting a bomb in some luggage. You need definitive screening techniques and technology to fill in the gaps where human error creeps in.
Flash floods grip city
UPDATED: 2007-06-06 01:46:41 MST
Lightning strikes and torrential rain cause unparalleled chaos across Calgary
By NADIA MOHARIB, SUN MEDIA
Emergency crews waded into deep water yesterday in a city drenched by torrential rains which left roads closed, motorists stranded in semi-submerged cars, people literally swimming in the streets and basements flooded.
But while water stranded hundreds of Calgarians -- and delayed thousands in their travels -- many were soaking up kindness offered by Good Samaritans.
Sylvia Langlois and co-worker Nina Silverman were nearly waist-deep in water trying to push their car out of a massive puddle in the northeast when several strangers stopped to help.
"It was up to our waist," Silverman said, standing under an umbrella after several people helped get their car to higher ground.
"The car was floating."
Mark Belmonte and Rod Onoferychuk, helped the women get their car out of the water and then gave them a lift home.
"We saw these ladies in the water trying to push their car and people were just driving by," Onoferychuk said while a soaked Silverman and Langlois warmed up in his car.
"I don't want to get religious but that's what you do."
Insp. Luch Berti said citizens went out of their way to help emergency crews in the aftermath of what will, no doubt be, a memorable day for many.
"I think officers will talk about this years from now," he said.
"I think they will tell stories about submerged vehicles, and checking to see if people got out."
He said some officers were calling to see if they should take off their boots and put guns in the trunk so they could get to people needing help.
One man stuck in traffic, surrounded by water and running low on oxygen in his tank was rescued by cops who arrived in a 4X4, he said.
"I've never seen so many roadways shut down by officers that felt they were impassable," Berti said.
At the same time Berti said it was shocking to see a number of people putting themselves in potential peril by braving the waves and trying to travel down water-logged streets rather than using common sense and waiting out the worst of it.
Glenmore, Macleod and Deerfoot Trails were among major thoroughfares hardest hit while many cars were abandoned in deep water.
Lightning also posed problems, with two people taken to hospital after an apparent strike.
Flights at Calgary International Airport were delayed as well, due to concerns over lightning strikes.
And fire broke out at an apartment block in the 2400 of 17 A St. S.W., as well as a house in Tuscany, after they were hit by lightning.
Calgary Board of Education spokesman Ted Flitton said people were at John G. Diefenbaker school, at 6620 4 St. N.W. to clean up after an apparent blocked drain flooded the roof causing about 10 ceiling tiles to collapse pouring water in to the building.
Flitton said damage should be cleaned up by today.
05 June 2007
Former inmate says Paris Hilton must do without beauty aids in jail
Tue Jun 5, 4:57 PM
LYNWOOD, Calif. (AP) - One thing's for certain about Paris Hilton's time in jail, she'll look different coming out than she did going in.
The mug shot taken when she surrendered to authorities will be the last time her hair and face will look glamorous, suggests a former inmate at another LA county women's jail. She tells the New York Daily News that all the accessories Hilton is used to are banned.
No curling irons, rollers, hair brushes, hair sprays, hair dye, tweezers, razors, hair removal wax and no mirrors.
She says Hilton will be "pretty hairy" by the end of three weeks and chances are her dark roots and unplucked eyebrows will be noticeable.
And the world mourns in anguish with the knowledge that Paris will be without her beauty products for a few weeks.
Jeez, world! Why? Why? Why is this news? This is a specific example of why I think the entire human race is totally screwed. *deep breath*
Holy frick - it's amazing the distractions that we will fixate on to forget our own shitty lives. I had hoped this disgusting bitch would fade into obscurity a long time ago, but her shameless self-promotion keeps her at the top of the media's frenzied quest for whore-ratings. Horrible whore! Doesn't anyone remember how she came to infamy? A night-vision sex tape? What class!
And that's my first and last reference to Paris Hilton on this blog. Maybe she'll be killed in prison. If not, one can only wish for a drug overdose, so her and Anna-Nicole Smith might finally move out of the public consciousness for good.
As I'm now housebound for the evening my attention turned to the Internet (oh Internet, how I fucking love you). And Facebook, of course. Where else in the world, other than porn sites, could a person squander so much of their valuable time? It's such a freakshow. I do love the application attachments though. I spent a good half-hour updating my iLike music list, and then I started browsing through everyone's groups. There was the "Where the Hell is Grandview, Manitoba?" group that I joined, of course, and then there was "I Dont care How Comfortable Crocs Are, You Look Like A Dumbass." which linked to This Hour Has 22 Minutes skit.
I could go on and on ("I judge you when you use poor grammar." has 150,000 members), but I think you all know what I'm talking about.
The other two groups of note? "I hate Facebook and Groups are stupid" and "Facebook is stifling my productivity". 'Nuff said.
VERDICT: EXTREME TIME WASTER!!!
04 June 2007
After getting through the day on Friday, the evening was Tara's b-day party/housewarming. We started out at Ryan's place then headed west to Tara's new house in Garrison Green. She had a big crowd and a food spread to die for. We spent an inordinate amount of time praying and I think I freaked out a bit around all the strangers. I was trying to communicate things to Jeff and Doug, but then Jeff would put words into my mouth that I wasn't meaning but I couldn't respond due to my retardedness, so I felt even more like an idiot than normal. On top of that was all the food smeared on Doug's face at the end of the night. Let's just say it was a relief to finally get home after that ordeal! LOL
Saturday, I got up and went to brunch with the running group, picked up a rental van and then slipped to the track to ride out the legs for an hour or so. I spent the afternoon at home doing various things and then went to Tony's for a few hours. I was home again and in bed by 10:30. 5am was coming way too early.
I picked up Nat at 6am, then onto Craig's at 6:20. We were in Pigeon Lake by 9am. Everything was prepping just fine but just before the race, I knew I had to pee, but couldn't produce anything. I knew this was going to spell trouble later on. The race started at 10:30. It was a perfect day for a good race for me - hot and sweaty! The pace was rather sedated for the mid-50kms or so and my bladder was about to explode, but I couldn't piss off the bike after a couple of attempts (I'm not sure what was with the performance anxiety yesterday???), so I thought I would have the chance to jump off the bike, piss and catch up around kilometer 70, but it was for nought. I timetrialed as fast as I could to catch the pack, but I saw them slowly roll away from me as the kilometers went by. I eventually caught up to John Bence who was having a problem with his cassette and rode to the finish line with him, where we DNFed at kilometer 80. Oh well. I rode a 20km cool down and waited for the rest of the crew to finish. We finally got out of Mulhurst around 3:30 and were back in Calgary at 6pm. The black clouds were hanging over only the city, of course, and we were getting back just in time for the Deluge.
The rain came down so fast all of the sewers were backing up on John Laurie Blvd. We exited onto 14th St. and were planning to carry on west on Northmount but around the curve there was a minivan half submerged and all the traffic was turning around and heading back east, so we did too. We finally got to Craig's place just as the rains were letting up and by the time Nat and I got back downtown, the system had pretty much caught up with the volume again.
I went for a short run tonight on the Crescent Drive ridge and noticed the Bow was running quite high today. There was a lot of debris that had swept down the goat trails on McHugh Bluff. There definitely was a lot of water dropped last night!
I'm pretty excited about the Velocity Track Meet in Edmonton this weekend. I hope things go as well for me as they did last year. It is qualifier for Master's for the Alberta Provincial Team, so I am hoping for good things out of my legs!
So appropriate for today's political and economic elite.
By TOM MAST
Star-Tribune staff writer
AAA projected a slight increase in travel over the Memorial Day weekend, as compared to a year earlier, despite the fact prices for gasoline were near or above record levels in many parts of the country.
So despite much grumbling, the price apparently was not high enough to dissuade most would-be travelers from hitting the road. In view of the fact our social structure over the past century has been shaped to a large extent by the automobile, our thirst for gasoline is hardly surprising. But as gasoline prices continue to climb, speculation invariably begins about just what price level will trigger dramatic changes in driving habits and lifestyles.
Last year, some people thought passing $3 a gallon would be a psychological threshold presaging real behavioral change. If Memorial Day 2007 is any indication, there's still some ways to go, although an analysis by USA Today found evidence of reduced driving earlier this year.
An official with the Society of Consumer Psychology thinks $3.50 could be the magic point at which profound change will be ushered in, while a marketing professor at the University of Southern California says $4.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll found Americans would significantly cut back on driving if gasoline hits $4.38 a gallon on average.
Clearly, Americans are prepared to pay a lot before reducing use of their automobiles or switching modes of transportation.
In a USA Today/Gallup poll, people overwhelmingly said they would not move or change jobs in order to cut commuter miles, or use mass transit as their main transportation, even if gasoline prices climb to over $10 a gallon. In fact, they reportedly wouldn't take such actions no matter how high the price goes.
What might be more surprising is that 41 percent of the respondents said they would not replace their cars for models that get better mileage no matter how high the price of gasoline climbs.
Such responses probably include a heaping teaspoon of bravado. Myself, I'm thinking $5 a gallon would truly focus the mind. Of course, I don't have any better evidence for this price point than anyone else has for theirs, except to say that forking over a fin for a gallon of gas when a couple of bucks formerly sufficed would be a Zen moment for many.
And if advocates for Hubbert's peak oil theory are correct, such an awakening might be closer than is comfortable to suppose.
If global oil supplies are now, or soon will be, pretty much running down the back side of the bell curve, $3-per-gallon motor fuel in years hence might be remembered with considerable fondness and longing.
I used to think that we would not be able to replace fossil fuels with alternative fuels and just keep driving. At some point there would be a sea change in attitudes and a realization that our personal vehicle ownership paradigm is unsustainable -- too much energy usage per capita at current (and future) population rates. No matter the cost, those vehicles will stay on the road.
But now I'm not so sure. The people of America and Europe who already own cars as well as the majority of the people in China and India who desperately want to own a car will happily agree to cut down every last acre of rain forest left anywhere and replace them with palm oil plantations for biodiesel if that is what is required. Honestly, do you think a majority of people would really care otherwise? As long as their own personal 'needs' are fulfilled?
The supply of petroleum will gradually tighten over many years. Drivers will slowly adjust to $5 and $6 gas just as they have adjusted to $3 gas. Meanwhile, with gas at $6, the economic incentive to level the Amazon and plant endless square miles of fodder for biodiesel will be overwhelming.
So, no, I no longer believe that we will have to give up our cars. What we will do instead is completely and utterly destroy the ecology of the earth by razing the rainforests and whatever else is required to keep a couple of billion cars on the road. This solution will be prefered by 80% of the public.
The average joe will not give up his auto until our planet is overheated, semi-sterilized, poisoned and storm wracked and humanity is suffering a massive die off, and, even then, he won't do so willingly.