After the Kids leave

Three wild women and a beaver: In which we begin a new adventure

Dear Readers, Some of you might remember that last spring, Karen and her trusty sidekick Buckminster K. Beaver travelled to London for a (far too short) visit with Wendy. We crammed more sights and activities into that trip than most people manage in a month, including but not limited to: A memorable visit to Marx’s …

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Posted on 22 April 2014 | 4:03 am

Buzz Feed

23 Ways You're Really Penny Lane From "Almost Famous"

“I always tell the girls never take it seriously.”

Press play.

"The Wind" by Cat Stevens.


You're a free spirit.

You're a free spirit.

DreamWorks Pictures / Via

The most important relationship in your life is with music.

The most important relationship in your life is with music.

DreamWorks Pictures / Via

You embrace life and its spontaneous moments.

You embrace life and its spontaneous moments.

DreamWorks Pictures / Via

View Entire List ›

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Posted on 22 April 2014 | 3:44 pm

How to survive life in the suburbs

Warning: Mini Egg Shortbread Cookies Are Dangerous…

…..for your thighs! Wondering what to do with the leftover Easter Candy?  Wait, do you have leftover Easter Chocolate because we did not.   So I did what any good chocoholic in the Suburbs does; I went to the Bulk Barn and stocked up on mini eggs!  Why?  Simply so I could re-create the best, most […]

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Posted on 23 April 2014 | 12:01 pm

Barbara Kay

Barbara Kay: Send your kid to school by himself

Taking age-appropriate risks in childhood allows children to develop greater confidence as adults

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Posted on 23 April 2014 | 4:01 am

Progressive Bloggers

My journey with AIDS...and more!: Drop-kicking HIV/AIDS stigma to the curb

“This December I found a mass the size of a cantaloupe in my lung…I used social media to express my feelings without having to burden my family and friends. I’d like to write a feature…that explores the way the Internet has changed the way we view illnesses, both visible and invisible, and how it’s changed […]

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Posted on 23 April 2014 | 5:55 am

Bird Droppings

Ball busters, crotch grabbers and other Easter weekend musings

As tiresome as Hockey Night in Canada's pro-Tampa theme has become three games into the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, there was at least one element of Sunday's coverage that gave Montreal its due.  Toronto-based filmmaker Tim Thompson's game-opening musical montages have become as much must-see as Coach's Corner, but certainly not because of the train wreck factor that draws a substantial portion of Don Cherry's viewers.  Thompson's montages are carefully crafted works of art, and for a non-Montrealer, he demonstrated uncanny touch with Sunday's opening segment.  Set to the strains of local chanteur Michel Pagliaro's "Some Sing, Some Dance", the two minute and 10 second homage tapped perfectly into the relationship between the city and its hockey team, and was a welcome departure from Hockey Night's usual insincere and ham-fisted attempts to feign respect for the Canadiens.

After six days and nights of edge-of-your-seat Stanley Cup playoff fare, I'm more convinced than ever that the comparative dreck that passes for regular season hockey is criminally overpriced.  Hundreds of dollars for a pair of good seats to a mid-January snoozefest is a rip-off, but by today's economic standards, the same money is well worth it for an overtime barnburner in the post-season.  Therefore, I propose a business model whereby ticket prices are determined AFTER the game by an impartial arbitrator with equal amounts of expertise in hockey and economics who can decide what represents fair value for the dollar.  I get one percent of the gate for coming up with the idea.

It doesn't matter that the five thousand dollar fine assessed to Bruins thug Milan Lucic for spearing Detroit's Danny DeKeyser in the groin is pocket change for Lucic.  What's important is that by getting caught on camera pulling the same stunt twice in the last three weeks, Lucic has been exposed as a serial offender of the most despicable act one man can perpetrate on another.  Karma and the hockey code (such as it is) will take care of the rest.

Remarkably, while Lucic was only fined 5 grand for a vile and deliberate attempt to injure, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville was docked 25k for the obscene but relatively harmless act of grabbing his own crotch during a loss to St. Louis.  Comparisons aside, both gestures added a new phrase to the hockey lexicon: if you can't beat 'em, scrotum.

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Posted on 22 April 2014 | 10:34 am

Trashys World

Hudak vows to cancel full day Kindergarten

As a volunteer on a not-for-profit childcare centre Board, I can say with some authority that the FDK horse has left the barn. There has been some bumps on the road to implementation, but it has overall been a success. Furthermore, cancelling it now in its final stage of implementation would not only throw Ontario […]

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Posted on 12 April 2014 | 2:50 pm

The Galloping Beaver

Ukraine thoughts

So now that NATO is rediscovering why it exists and squaring off against Putin's Russia, and RCAF is redeploying CF-18s to the Soviet Russian frontier in Europe, does anyone wanna argue for why the still-undeployable F-35 is the best warplane out there? Back to the Ukraine, the media is still reporting Russian troops in Eastern Ukraine as "pro-Russian activists". There are pro-Russian activists

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Posted on 20 April 2014 | 6:09 pm

Michael Geist

Access Copyright Urges Copyright Board to Ignore Bill C-11's Expansion of Fair Dealing

As I noted in a post yesterday, Access Copyright has filed its response to the Copyright Board of Canada's series of questions about fair dealing and education in the tariff proceedings involving Canadian post-secondary institutions. Yesterday's post focused on how Access Copyright has urged the Copyright Board to ignore the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling on the relevance of licences to a fair dealing analysis. Today's post examines the collective's response to the Copyright Board's question on the effect of the fair dealing legislative change in Bill C-32/C-11. Access Copyright engages in revisionist history as it seeks to hide its extensive lobbying campaign that warned that the reforms would permit mass copying without compensation.

For two years during the debates over the bill, Access Copyright stood as the most vocal opponent of the expansion of the fair dealing purposes to include education. Given its frequent public comments and lobbying efforts on the bill, one would think its response to the Copyright Board, would be pretty straight-forward. For example, it created a copyright reform website - - that warned:

the education exception will permit mass, industrial-scale copying (equivalent to millions of books every year) without compensation to the creators and publishers who invested their creativity, skill, money and effort to produce this content.

In the 2010 digital economy consultation, Access Copyright told the government much the same thing:

New exceptions, which create a sudden increase in uncompensated uses of works, will result in significant lost sales and millions of dollars in revenue losses to Canadian content owners from collective licences alone.

Maureen Cavan, then the executive director of Access Copyright said:

Schools won’t have to pay to make reproductions of textbooks and other materials developed to meet the requirements of provincial curricula...the education exceptions may permit mass, high-volume copying (equivalent to millions of books every year) without compensation to the creators and publishers who invested their creativity, skill, money and effort to produce this content.

Access Copyright was asked during the Bill C-32 committee hearings to specify the likely cost.  Roanie Levy, the current Access Copyright executive director, responded:

Based on our study, we believe that about $60 million is at risk as a result of the scope of fair dealing in the education sector, as well as other education-related exemptions provided for in Bill C-32. This is revenue that COPIBEC and Access Copyright collects today for the copying of a chapter here, a page there, for the distribution of works in class, for the use of works in exams. It also includes the royalties that certain film distributors collect from the education sector.
So we're talking about a minimum of $60 million at risk, but you also have to consider that, when a use or reproduction becomes free of charge, an increase in that type of reproduction follows. There will also be a revenue shortfall that will be more difficult to quantify as a result of a decline in sales of texts intended for schools.

Unequivocal positions, which the government rejected by adding education as a fair dealing purpose with no limitations or restrictions. 

Yet when Access Copyright is now asked about the effect of the change, it claims that the legislative change that it once warned would cost $60 million was not a change at all. Instead, its response to the Copyright Board is that the legislative change did not change the law but rather codified the existing law as expressed in the Supreme Court of Canada fair dealing decisions. For example, its response includes the following:

In effect, the majority of the Supreme Court of Canada jurisprudentially expanded the meaning to be afforded "research" and "private study" to include instruction. This decision expanded what was once understood to be limited allowable purposes of private study and research to include copying performed for the purpose of instruction or education. This expansion of the allowable fair dealing purposes was later codified in the amendments to section 29 of the Act. The coming into force of the statutory amendment in November 2012 did not serve to further expand fair dealing because the Supreme Court of Canada had already interpreted the exception as including that purpose. Simply put, and contrary to the apparent position taken by a number of educational users that the legislative amendments further expanded fair dealing in education, the legislative inclusion of education as an express allowable fair dealing purpose simply now accords with the jurisprudence.

There are at least two obvious problems with Access Copyright's attempt to revise history.  The first is its record - in the media, in lobbying campaigns, and before Parliament - that the fair dealing reform in the bill was a significant change that would "permit mass, industrial-scale copying (equivalent to millions of books every year) without compensation to the creators and publishers."

The second is that Access Copyright is attempting to deceive the Copyright Board by suggesting that the legislation came after the Supreme Court of Canada decisions. As it well knows, the Supreme Court of Canada decisions actually came two weeks after Bill C-11 received royal assent. Access Copyright deceptively uses the coming into force date to misleadingly suggest that the law simply codified the court's decisions, when the court's decisions predated the legislative reform. Bill C-11 could not have codified the Supreme Court rulings since the bill passed the House of Commons, the Senate and received royal assent before the release of the Access Copyright decision by the Supreme Court.

Why is Access Copyright attempting to revise history?  Once again, the reasons are obvious. First, the government would not have added education to the fair dealing purposes if it had no meaning at all.  Rather, it was clearly the government's intent to expand the scope of fair dealing to cover more than research and private study. Second, Access Copyright is seeking to deflect attention from the fact that it has already told everyone what it thinks the legislation means. To again repeat its own words from the advocacy site it used to encourage people to speak out about the bill, the reforms "permit mass, industrial-scale copying (equivalent to millions of books every year) without compensation to the creators and publishers."

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Posted on 17 April 2014 | 4:24 am

Montreal Simon

The Rise and Fall of the Porky Action Plan

Uh oh. Hold the bacon. It looks as if the Cons have finally realized that their Porky Action Plan ads are NOT as popular as they had hoped.

And although they have spent gazillions of OUR tax dollars to promote THEMSELVES.

Now they don't even dare ask Canadians what they think of them. 
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Posted on 22 April 2014 | 10:18 am

Ghost of a Flea

Designers' Worlds: Jean Paul Gaultier and Antoine de Caunes

"Following on from last week's Jennifer Saunders special, today we're delighted to reunite the...

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Posted on 22 April 2014 | 12:27 pm

The Disaffected Lib

Here's the Deal

I'm packing in this blog for a while.  It's simply not worth it.  I have other things deserving of my attention that have been too long neglected.   One of these entails churning through studies and research papers pertaining to a form of carbon sequestration that holds the promise of significant benefits to the western provinces and states.  I've been exploring this idea for about two years and it's now time to see if it can be put through a feasibility study.

Another is to pursue some writing opportunities that I've been skirting around for some time.  Trust me, I can write far better than the fare that's been dished up on this blog, most of which never gets proofread.

I want to become directly involved in the effort to stop the Northern Gateway and, if possible, Kinder Morgan also.  Writing about it isn't going to make a meaningful difference.  That much has become clear to me over the past three years.  Elizabeth May alone stands against these pipelines and she isn't going to be able to convince the NDP or the Liberals to place Canada ahead of their partisan political pursuits.

I think our children and theirs are in for a very bumpy ride over the next several decades.  Change is setting in far faster than anyone had envisioned just a few years ago.  Democracy is no longer safe in my country and I can't see that improving in the future.  Hard and uncertain times lie ahead.  On the world scene we may be lapsing into another Cold War, this one focused on the South China Sea instead of the Fulda Gap.  We don't seem to have the will - or the goodwill - to prevent this from happening.

See you all later.

What follows is a post, "The Cult of Living Large" from March 2 that somehow got taken down.  I think it's a worthwhile read.  I managed to recover it from another site where it had been cross-posted.

2015, we're told, is the year the developed world (that's us) and the emerging economies (China, India, etc., etc., etc.) will close ranks to formulate an effective plan of action to fight climate change.  It's going to be Kyoto on steroids, a true hallelujah moment, a meeting of minds, a global joining of hands, a flexing of collective muscle and sinew.

Yeah, right.

2015 is probably our final chance to reach some sort of meaningful, global consensus.  In case you haven't noticed we're already being overtaken by climate change impacts, and this is the 'early onset' stuff.

So why am I writing this off?  That's simple, it's not going to work. We're focusing on a symptom, not the disease.   That's right, - climate change, anthropogenic global warming, call it what you like - is a symptom, a major symptom to be sure but just one aspect of the really lethal malady that lurks beneath it.

Let's consider another symptom - population.  We're now at 7+ billion and headed to 9-billion and more.  That's nearly triple the number of mouths to feed than we had when I was born.  There's something stirring inside that 7+ billion, an emerging middle class of gargantuan proportions.  It's said there's a larger middle class in India than in the United States.   China has an even larger middle class.  It's a phenomenon of social mobility that's sweeping every emerging economy in Asia, South Asia, Africa, South America, pretty much everywhere.

Here's the thing.  This emerging mega-middle class wants the same things we have.   They want more and better food, bigger homes, they want cars and consumer goods of every description, they want travel and luxuries.  They want more, a lot more.  And, as they get what they want, it consumes more energy, more resources especially freshwater, and produces more CO2, more waste and more pollution of every variety.

In the half century following the end of WWII, India added roughly a billion people to its population. The United States, during this same interval, grew by about 100-million.  Here's the thing.  A hundred million people in the ultimate consumer society had about the same overall environmental footprint as those billion Indians.  So you can see where I'm going with this emerging mega-middle class issue.

Now, consider this.  Even before this onset of the mega-middle class, mankind, our global civilization was using about 1.5 Earths worth of resources.  We're using resources at an ever growing rate that's already one and a half times greater than our planet's ability to replenish them.  That's impossible, isn't it?  Well eventually it will be but for now we've come up with some conjuring tricks to keep the party rolling.

There's a term for it.  We're 'eating our seed corn.'  Instead of settling for what nature puts on the table before us, we're also raiding the pantry and we're hitting it hard.  You can see it with the naked eye from space.  Astronauts can see the state of deforestation as we raid our forests, the 'lungs of the planet' to satisfy all that middle class demand.  We can see rivers that no longer flow to the sea.  We can see the dust plumes that rise in China and now cross the Pacific to North America.  We can see the encroaching deserts.  We can see the tailing ponds of Athabasca.  We can monitor the collapse of one global fishery after another as our commercial boats, responding to middle class demands, 'fish down the food chain.'  We have satellites that can now measure surface subsidence triggered by our exhaustion of groundwater - aquifers.  

We even awarded a Nobel prize to the fellow who came up with the greatest conjuring act of them all, the Green Revolution.  His idea was that a country that was food insecure could boost agricultural production by tuning up its marginal farmland through the use of irrigation and the application of modern fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.   It worked.  India, for example, once beset by periodic famines, became a major food exporter.  The bounty was so wonderful that nobody paid much mind to what awaited in the long term.  Now, just decades later, the land is becoming exhausted.  In some places more than twice as much fertilizer is needed to grow crops and, worse yet, the groundwater resource is in distress.  If you pump out water at many times the natural recharge rate, you're heading for 'empty.' 

We usually overlook the critical fact that not only does nature put food on our table, she also empties our bedpans.  The biosphere cleans our waste.  It always has and, if it hadn't, we wouldn't be here having images of bedpans run through our brains.  Rain cleans pollution from our atmosphere.   Rivers are magnificent at cleaning waste as they run to the oceans.  Our oceans suck CO2 in massive tonnage from the atmosphere.   Soil, the microbes and chemicals within it and the plants that grow from it,  absorb and then clean waste in a variety of ways.  It's just another vital function of our biomass.  But, here's the thing.  It's a finite planet, remember?  That means our biosphere has a finite limit to the amount of waste it can process.  Once it reaches capacity, waste backs up, accumulates.  We're familiar enough with polluted rivers and lakes, polluted air.  China is now hitting a major soil contamination problem, the result of massive industrial pollution of some really bad stuff like arsenic building up in soil to the point where crops are unfit for human consumption.  We've got all sorts of this going on in just about every corner of the world, especially the heavily populated hot spots. 

We've engineered a global cult of living large.  The high priests mass in the financial districts and legislative assemblies of every major centre on the planet.  They lead us in the worship of growth.  If we have a problem they teach us that the solution lies in growth.  Their liturgy is founded in 18th century neo-classical economics, 19th century industrialism and 20th century geo-politics.  There you will find the faith, chapter and verse.  That this might be madness almost never occurs to us.

Here's the thing.  China may zoom off the charts with 10% annual growth in GDP but we in the West target about 3% annual GDP growth.  It's compounded growth.  We expect the current year to be 3% larger than the previous year.  Now let's run the math.  As a scale let's use a hypothetical adult lifetime of 50-years - 35 working years, 15 years of retirement.  Let's begin at Year 1 of lifetime 1.  By the time lifetime 1 is over, at year 50, 3% annual GDP growth would mean the economy had grown 4.4 times larger overall.  At the end of lifetime 2, the economy would have grown over 19 times larger than it was in Year 1.  After lifetime 3, GDP would have swelled by 84 times.  At the end of lifetime 4, Year 200, GDP would have grown 369 times what it had been in Year 1.  Not 369 per cent larger.  No, 36,900 per cent larger.  369 times larger.  That would be reflected in commensurate massive increases in consumption of energy and other resources and massive increases in consumption of goods and services and massive increases in waste and pollution of all sorts.  How do you squeeze all that growth into a finite world?

You do it by eating your seed corn, raiding the wine cellar and, eventually, you empty the pantry.  What then?  Well, at that point, your options are narrowed considerably.  You start wondering what your neighbour might have left in their pantry.  If you're tribal, you might go raiding.  Happens all the time.  Eventually something has to give.  Usually the strong take from the weak, the rich take from the poor.  Hell, rich countries are already buying up the best farmland in food insecure countries like Somalia where we routinely have to provide famine relief.  Go figure, eh?

This essay started with climate change.  That morphed into a look at population and the approaching plague of the mega-middle class and then into rapacious excess consumption and finally into our addiction to growth and how that leads us to the edge of a cliff.  See, they're all connected.

Climate change is not a disease.  It's a symptom of the disease that underlies all of these other symptoms.  That disease is the lethal and dysfunctional manner in which we, as a global civilization, have become organized - socially, economically and politically.  We have crafted institutions and modes of interaction based on a bountiful supply of cheap energy and the remarkable advancements in technology and science.  We have evolved into a civilization of "because we can" with scant regard to whether we should.

Fighting climate change is like a needle exchange programme for heroin addicts.   It's harm prevention and that's really, really great and wonderful and necessary.  It reduces the transmission of HIV and other diseases that create enormous costs to society.  It does not, however, remedy the addiction itself.  Fighting climate change isn't going to save us any more than a clean needle will save a junkie from the inevitable ravages of addiction.  It may buy us time and that's a good thing but, with everything else that's building, it probably won't be much. 

There are solutions - logical, equitable, justifiable solutions if we, as a global civilization want to take them.  Rapidly decarbonizing our economies and societies is one and it's essential.  We have to get rid of our fossil fuel addiction. 

Getting free of our toxic, growth-based, neo-classical economics model is just as essential.  We need to shift to steady state or 'Full Earth' economics.  I can refer you to several good texts on this or you can get the idea from consulting Wiki.

 Population.  What to do?  We must calculate our biosphere's population carrying capacity.  It is said that we began exceeding our planet's resource replenishment rate in the second half of the 70s at between three to four billion people.  Much has changed since then.  We've not only packed on another three plus billion in numbers but we've also significantly increased our per capita consumption, our environmental footprint which means we're probably looking at a maximum very close to the three billion mark.

How do we get from 7-billion to 3-billion.  There's just one way that I can think of short of resorting to mass annihilation.   We gradually phase out globalized agriculture, a trade as old as civilization itself.  Each country should curb agricultural exports by something in the range of 5 to 10% each year.  Eventually the nations of the world, rich and poor, are left with a reality of self-sufficiency.  That would be a shock to countries like the U.K. that have found it cheaper to import food than grow it domestically and now rely on 75% imported food.  It would entail rationing in some countries and the diversion of investment from financial and industrial growth into agriculture.  I just cannot think of any other way to drive depopulation.

We need institutions to oversee and enforce the protection and allocation of common resources including global fisheries.  No longer can we have massive commercial fleets pillaging our oceans.

In effect there are real solutions, not just the cheap and dirty fixes we have used in the past but real solutions.  We need the resolve to take them.  If we don't do this on our own terms, we'll reach the same point in other ways.   That would be insanely tragic.  We have a choice.

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Posted on 13 March 2014 | 4:08 pm

Peace order and good government eh!

Saturday night blues blogging

This is Otis Rush performing at Montreux in 1986 with Gambler's Blues....

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Posted on 20 April 2014 | 1:23 am

De Smog Blog

Very Little Cheap Natural Gas in New York Marcellus Shale, New Report Concludes

For years, the shale industry has touted the economic benefits it can provide. An overflowing supply of domestic natural gas will help keep heating and electric bills low for American consumers, they argue, while drilling jobs and astounding royalty windfalls for landowners will reinvigorate local economies. These tantalizing promises have caught the attention of politicians in Washington, D.C. who argue that the rewards of relying on shale gas outweigh the risks, especially because harm can be minimized by the industry or by regulators.

But across the U.S., communities where drilling has taken place have found that the process brings along higher costs than advertised. Even when properly done, drilling carries with it major impacts — including air pollution, truck traffic, and plunging property values — and when drillers make mistakes, water contamination has left residents without drinking water or cleaning up from disastrous well blow-outs.

And as the shale drilling boom moves into its 12th year, the most crucial benefit claimed by drillers — cheap and abundant domestic fuel supplies — has come increasingly into question. The gas is there, no doubt, but most of it costs more to get it out than the gas is worth.

A new report from New York state, where a de facto shale drilling moratorium has persisted since 2008, concludes that unless natural gas prices double, much of the shale gas in the state cannot be profitably accessed by oil and gas companies.

Using public data from Pennsylvania, the researchers predict that shale gas will be far more expensive to extract than current natural gas prices would suggest. And even if gas prices double, their analysis of production history suggests only small regions of the Marcellus in New York can be profitably tapped.

At current gas prices near $4.00-4.50/MMBtu (Million British Thermal Units), the results of this study indicate that no area in New York is likely to be commercially viable,” petroleum geologist Arthur Berman and petroleum engineer Lyndon Pittinger wrote in their report, which was commissioned by the League of Women Voters of New York State, adding that at $8/MMBtu, at most 9.1 trillion cubic feet of gas can be profitably drained from the Marcellus.

Their conclusions were based on a review of production data from over 4,000 active Marcellus wells in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

These projections stand in sharp contrast to the projections described in New York state’s draft 2014 energy plan, now open for public comment. In that report, state regulators cite up to 516 trillion cubic feet of gas held in the formation, while adding in a footnote that only 10 percent of that gas is likely to be economically recoverable. The new report finds only a fraction of that can be produced even at $8/MMBtu, double what gas costs today.

If New York is building an energy plan based upon access to a resource, such as natural gas, it is critically important to know whether and to what extent that resource exists,” said attorney Elisabeth Radow, Chairwoman of the New York State League of Women Voters’ Committee on Energy, Agriculture and the Environment.

A sprint to lock down oil and gas leases in shale fields nationwide released a huge glut of natural gas onto the market over the past few years. But as the hard slow work of drilling hundreds of thousands of shale wells across huge swaths of the U.S. truly begins – in industry parlance, the shift from “land rush” to “build out” – major oil and gas companies like Exxon and Shell have admitted that shale projects are too expensive to be profitable while gas prices remain low.

Financial performance there is frankly not acceptable,” Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said last month, referring to shale projects in North America. “Some of our exploration bets have simply not worked out.”

Some industry analysts say that his comments simply show that Shell is worse at shale development than its competitors. “Whether this is a signal, as some argue, that the US oil boom is overhyped, it is too soon to tell,” said a column in November’s Economist, after Shell announced it was slashing onshore operations in North America. “What is clearer is that Shell paid dearly for unexplored land at the peak of shale mania.”

But other companies have also struggled in the shale and at times have had to admit that investors lost money over their attempts, like Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson did in July 2012. “We are all losing our shirts today,” Mr. Tillerson said. “It’s all in the red.”

Another major oil and gas company, BP, recently spun off its shale division, arguing that a smaller company would be more nimble and “compete more effectively with independents.”

But industry analysts saw a bigger trend. “Shell has failed miserably in generating any returns from US shale, and BP does not want to make the same mistake,” Fadel Gheit, an oil analyst at Oppenheimer & Co, told the Financial Times on March 4.

If the Marcellus shale boom’s economic potential has been over-hyped, as the new report suggests, that does not mean that drilling and fracking will simply peter out. In the face of challenging economic conditions, companies find ways to adjust.

They may try to drill multiple formations at once, for example, targeting both the Utica and the Marcellus shale formations simultaneously, although the potential returns from the Utica are even less well understood than in the Marcellus and targeting the two formations would add costs for drillers.

The Utica is older and deeper than the Marcellus and while the two have areas of potential overlap, the Utica in Pennsylvania and New York becomes very deep and very hot and over-mature in a hurry,” explained Mr. Berman. “If the Utica were a viable target, people would be drilling for it right now.”

There are signs that even for smaller shale gas companies, these costs have eroded profits. To adjust, some drillers have adopted cost-cutting measures that left their business partners — investors and the people living in the gas fields who leased their land — feeling burnt.

In Pennsylvania, landowners who leased their land for drilling to Chesapeake Energy complain that the company has begun making massive and potentially illegal deductions from their royalty checks. Landowners report that their monthly royalty checks have plunged as much as 94 percent, an investigation by ProPublica found. Using these techniques, Chesapeake raised $5 billion dollars. “They were trying to figure out any way to raise money and keep their company alive,’’ one industry source told ProPublica.

For years, the company was also accused of using deals called Volumetric Production Payments to keep debt off its books. In its most recent report to investors, ProPublica found, Chesapeake for the first time revealed just how extensive those deals were: the company had $36 billion in “off balance sheet arrangements” — vastly higher than the $1.4 billion in such deals that the Wall Street Journal estimated in 2012.

Without strong regulation, drillers under financial pressure may also cut corners by failing to follow industry “best practices” — and that can lead to serious environmental harms and mistakes that cause accidents.

The simplest way for shale gas to become profitable, however, is for prices to rise. Although the EIA currently projects shale gas prices will stay at roughly $4/MMBtu for decades, their prediction would change dramatically if more natural gas export terminals are opened up across the U.S.

And if gas prices rise sharply after natural gas power plants and pipelines are built, American consumers are the ones who could wind up feeling burnt by the shale gas boom.

Photo Credit: Oil value Bubble about to explode by a needle, Via Shutterstock.

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Posted on 22 April 2014 | 7:30 pm


Video Game Review: Trials Fusion

Audio isn't as strong, however, with forgettable tunes and unremarkable voice work. There's nothing truly bad, and we never came close to muting (or even turning down) the TV, but we never felt like it added much to the presentation, either.

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Posted on 22 April 2014 | 7:36 pm

North by East West

Review – CD and show review – City Walls – Engines

This past Friday night (April 11), I had the pleasure of being invited to a show at a new venue in down-town Vancouver.  On Main Street just past the infamous intersection of Main and Hastings, I parked my car in front of the Vancouver Police Department as I figured it was super safe there (and
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Posted on 14 April 2014 | 3:46 am

Canadian Living

3 ways to be more positive

Our health editor shares how she went from a Negative Nancy to a Positive Pollyanna.

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Posted on 21 April 2014 | 12:00 am

Pro Woman Pro Life

Ah. I am not alone.

And isn’t that what this here World Wide Web is about? I was angry with the Sports Illustrated display all around me, roughly two months ago. Why is it OK to display porn like that? How many times have I been in convenience stores and wanted to turn magazines around? I need to figure out […]

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Posted on 22 April 2014 | 10:29 pm


Learning for peace and justice: The Canadian School of Peacebuilding

Talking Radical Radio

On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, co-directors Valerie Smith and Jarem Sawatsky talk about the work of the Canadian School of Peacebuilding to support students, professional peace workers, and ordinary people in developing skills and knowledge for the work of making the world more peaceful and just.

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Posted on 23 April 2014 | 1:03 pm

Let Freedom Rain

New York Times tars and feathers Harper and the Conservatives

Canada's reputation under Harper is like Mad magazine; you can no longer take us seriously. The Conservatives are hilarious for their lack of self-awareness. The New York Times nails it.

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Posted on 1 April 2014 | 4:58 pm

The Gossip Wrap-up

Nicki Minaj Finally Gets Her Makeup Right!!

It's been what, 5 years since Nicki Minaj came on the scene. And after five years we can finally stop and give Nicki a standing ovation for hair and makeup. Have a look at Nicki at THE OTHER WOMAN after party in Los Angeles.

I had given up hope, but ever since she shot THE OTHER WOMAN, Nicki has finally seen the light with respect to hair and makeup. Goodbye hideous pink lipstick! Goodbye crazy nose contouring! Goodbye unattractive eyeliner! SHE LOOKS GORGEOUS.

Nicki at the Los Angeles Movie premiere of THE OTHER WOMAN, earlier that night. #flawless.

Now she still can't dress to save her life, but baby steps. . . She just needs to fire her stylist like she did her hair and makeup people.

This is the second time that Nicki has worn Alexander McQueen and made it look kind of cheap. The dress is nice and looks good on her, but it looks off the rack. She should  have taken a cue from Kate Upton's choices while promoting this movie and toned down the sexy. We know Nicki as sexy, let Hollywood and mainstream America see her as just beautiful and talented. It's a pity she wasn't wearing a better dress, because Nicki looks way better than Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton. Although Kate's Dolce & Gabbana is putting their dress choices to shame.

Aside: What is Leslie Mann wearing? Nicki was right to stand next to her. 

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Posted on 22 April 2014 | 2:35 pm

Rolling Around in My Head

Perseveration Much?

The movie was better attended than we thought it would be. That surprised us. What didn't surprise us was that the one accessible seat, with the symbol all over it, was taken. There were lots of other seats available, but that one was gone.

I asked the woman sitting there if she realized that the seat was an accessible seat. She said that she did not and immediately got up and grabbed her stuff. She looked back at the seat, once she stepped out, and said, "I honestly didn't notice the wheelchair symbol." She then took a middle seat in the next row forward. We thanked her for her immediate willingness to just move a little forward.

It had been a simple and pleasant interchange.

Or so we both thought.

As we sat through the trailers and munched our popcorn, we noted that the woman seemed to be a little bit upset. I wasn't sure why. It had been a simple and pleasant interchange. She had chatted a little bit with her new seat mates, she had an empty seat on either side of her so she wasn't wedged in next to anyone. It all seemed to be so easy and so, I'll say it again, pleasant.

The movie started.

About ten minutes in, she stood up and dashed out of the theatre.

I watched the movie while running through the request I made to make use of the accessible seat space. I thought of the little chatter that happened with us, both our thank yous, the chatter she'd had with her new seatmates. It had all seemed so easy and so friendly.

This morning, I got up to write about this and realized while doing so ...

What if this isn't about me at all?

What if this has nothing to do with our interaction?

What if the two things, my asking, her leaving, have nothing to do with each other?

Why am I not trusting that my memory and Joe's confirmation that it had all been pleasant and friendly?

Is there a danger of making connections that may not be there?

Is disability sometimes not really part of the story at all?

And the most important question: Why am I still thinking of this four days later?

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Posted on 22 April 2014 | 9:54 am

A Canadian Foodie

The Canadian Food Experience Project: Round Up Eleven

Local Food Heroes: Meet Our Regional Canadian Producers and Farmers Championing artisan local producers and farmers has become my raison d’être these last several years. I am an Alberta prairie gal. Born and raised. First generation city gal, so the farm was an intimate and integral part of my formative years – just as agriculture […]

** Remember to join %% to create your own online recipe box and then click SAVE on my recipe below to add it! I use my online recipe box ALL the time! **

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Posted on 21 April 2014 | 6:54 pm

Dean Somerset

10 Ways To Increase Your Fitness Results Immediately

Before we start in on the post for the day, I just wanted to mention that my premium group is entering into the third full month, and wanted to invite you to join up. You can even enter the coupon DSWT101 to save $10 off your first month. The caveat is there’s only 4 spots…… Read More

The post 10 Ways To Increase Your Fitness Results Immediately appeared first on Dean Somerset.

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Posted on 21 April 2014 | 11:58 am

Knit Nut

Someone bought my house

Living Room

So I kind of got busy there for awhile and didn’t write much about what was going on. Among other things, we fixed up my house and put it on the market. By fixed up, I mean painted the inside from head to toe, re-faced the kitchen cabinets, replaced the kitchen floor, refinished [...]

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Posted on 30 March 2014 | 5:09 pm