The Quick Brown Fiox

How to Write Great Dialogue workshop, Sunday, Oct 19, in Ottawa

“How to Write Great Dialogue”
~ The writer’s most important tool ~
Sunday, October 19, 2014
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Tentative venue: Nepean Sportsplex, Hall E, 1701 Woodroffe Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario (Map here.)

Accessible to beginners and meaty enough for experienced writers, this workshop will show you how to use dialogue to make your stories more dynamic and dramatic.  

Whether you’re writing fiction or memoir, you need to be able to write great dialogue and need to know how to mix your dialogue and narrative so that your characters come alive.  Come to this workshop and learn both the basics and the best tricks of the trade so that you'll never write a lifeless scene again.

Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He publishes Quick Brown Fox, Canada’s most popular blog for writers, teaches creative writing at Ryerson University and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Charlottetown. But his proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get their first book published and launch their careers as authors.

Clint Eastwood gets some of the best movie lines of all time.
Fee: 40.71+ 13% hst = 46 paid in advance
or 43.36 + 13% hst = 
49 i at the door

To reserve a spot now, email:

See Brian’s full schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Barrie, Brampton, Bolton, Burlington, Caledon, Cambridge, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Niagara on the Lake, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Stouffville, Sudbury, Toronto, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

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Posted on 24 July 2014 | 11:05 am


James Garner: Séduisant Maverick.

James Scott Baumgarner est né à (Oklahoma), le 7 Avril 1928. Sa mère, Mildred Meek,  est morte alors
qu'il n' a que 5 ans. Il avait deux frères Charlie (192?-1985) et Jack (1926-2011).
Après un bref mariage (avec une marâtre), leur père William Weldon Baumgarner déménagea à Los-Angeles avec ceux-ci. James travailla dans la marine marchande, puis, comme mannequin  avant de s'engager dans l'armée. Il participa à la guerre de Corée, où il fut blessé deux fois. De retour, il fit de la figuration à Broadway, puis au cinéma, alors qu'il signa un contrat avec la Warner et tourna son premier film "The Girl He Left Behind" (1956) sous le nom de Garner.
Il épousa  Lois Clarke, en 1956, qui était maman de Kimberley et qui lui donna un fille  Greta Scott (Gigi).
En 1957, il fut engagé pour un épisode de la série western "Sugarfoot" avec le rôle de Bret Maverick ce qui entraîna la création de la série "Maverick" avec comme co-vedette Jack Kelly. Série qui lui vaudra un Golden Globes et un Emmy (1957-58). Il tourna, ensuite, plusieurs films: " The Children's Hours/ La rumeur" (1961), "The Great Escape/ La grande évasion", "The Thrill of It All/ Piment de la vie" (1963), "Duel at Diablo/ La bataille de la vallée du diable", "Grand-prix" (producteur et acteur, 1966),  "Hour of the Gun/ sept secondes en enfer"  (1967), "A Man Called Sledge/ Un homme nommé Sledge" (1970), "One Little Indian/ Un petit indien" (1973) et "The Castaway Cowboy/ Un cowboy à Hawaï" (pour Disney, 1974).
En 1974, il revint à la télé dans le rôle d'un détective privé dans "The Rockford files", il gagna un Emmy, en 1977.
 Après, "Victor, Victoria" (1982),  James fut nominé aux Oscars, en 1985, pour le film "Murphy's romance", "Sunset/ Meurtre à Hollywood" (1988).  En 1994, on tourna la version cinématographique de "Maverick" et James a l'honneur d'y jouer un rôle. Se derniers films: "Twilight/L'heure magique" (1998), "Space cowboys" (2000), "Atlantis: The Lost Empire/ Atlantide, l'Empire perdu" (2001), "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood/ Les divins secrets" (2002),  "The note book/N'oublie jamais"(2004) et "The Ultimate Gift" (2006).
James Garner est mort le 19 Juillet 2014 d'un arrêt cardiaque.

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Posted on 23 July 2014 | 10:47 pm

Other Food - Daily Devotions

What we can learn from an unloved wife

"Leah and Rachel" by Johann Friedrich Overbeck
"Leah and Rachel" by Johann Friedrich Overbeck
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 29:21-35

TO CHEW ON: "And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, 'Now I will praise the Lord.' Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she stopped bearing." Genesis 29:35

Trickery ran in the family it seems. Just as Rebekah had set up Jacob to trick Isaac about his identity, so Laban, Rebekah's older brother, set up Leah to trick Jacob about her identity on his wedding night. I'm sure the irony wasn't lost on the groom.

Leah, who was probably a willing participant, ended up being the third wheel in this marriage—at least affection-wise. But not otherwise. For in the area of having babies, which mattered a lot in that culture, she conceived and birthed son after beautiful son for Jacob.

Her reaction to each is interesting:
- "Now my husband will love me," she said after Reuben, son #1.

- "Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also," she said after Simeon, son #2.

- "Now this time my husband will become attached to me," she said after Levi, #3.

- But after son #4, her focus shifted from her husband to God. "Now I will praise the Lord," she said and named the baby Judah which means 'praised.' Jacob later blessed Judah with the highest blessing of all his sons (Genesis 49:8-12). And indeed, King David and Jesus are descendants of Judah.

Some lessons from life we can take from Leah's story:

1. Our choices have consequences. They can last a lifetime.

2. We can praise God in spite of our circumstances—in our circumstances, as Leah did. After Judah's birth her focus was no longer on what, in the situation, she wanted to change, but on God.

3. God can bring good things out of bad. Unloved Leah was the mother of both Levi—the ancestor of Moses, Aaron and all Israel's priests, and Judah, the ancestor of David and Jesus. My Bible's study notes: "God's love for Leah is displayed in her becoming mother to the priestly and kingly tribes, Levi and Judah" - R. Russell Bixler, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 44.

One aspect of bringing good out of bad is conveyed by the word redemption. One of my favorite redemption passages underlines God's abilities here:

"So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
The crawling locust,
The consuming locust,
And the chewing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the Lord your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And my people shall never be put to shame."
- Joel 2:25,26

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to consider my choices carefully, mindful of the consequences they hold.  Help me to praise You in the middle of right now, whatever my right now holds. Thank You that You can redeem  any situation. Amen.  

Subscribe to my newsletter coming September 1st. 

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Posted on 24 July 2014 | 5:00 am

Anglican Samizdat

Christianity in Iran

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Posted on 23 July 2014 | 10:09 pm


Project Speed Up!!

I did my first running exercise after the quarter marathon and I ran 20 minutes with the pram. Even if I felt I could have ran longer the heart rate was higher than usual and I ran even slower than usually. 

I have been behind my weight losing goals for eight weeks already which is shockinly longer time than I had been thinking it was and even if it stands there in my weigh-in table I haven't realised that this project has been so unsuccessful so long time. But after the last week's weight gaining and running event I have got new power to concentrate on weight losing again and this time I'm pretty sure that I do better weigh-in result next week than for long time! I'm sure that if my weight losing was in schedule I would have ran faster in the last week's event. Now I want my weight down faster to break my half-marathon record in September.



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Posted on 23 July 2014 | 3:03 pm

After the Kids leave

Kate Middleton, give my style back!

Dear Karen, This week, I became a trend-setter.  Kate Middleton,  the Duchess of Cambridge, copied my style and may I be so bold as to say, it suits her.  I just wish she’d asked before going out and buying my dresses.  I mean, what if we were at the same party, in the same dress?  […]

The post Kate Middleton, give my style back! appeared first on After the Kids Leave.

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Posted on 24 July 2014 | 12:02 am

Buzz Feed

19 Problems Only Disney Princesses Will Understand

They got one more, one more problem.

When your custom-made shoes won't stay on.

When your custom-made shoes won't stay on.


Walt Disney Pictures / Via

Only having one outfit.

Only having one outfit.

~so not hot~

Walt Disney Pictures / Via

What if you don't speak animal?

What if you don't speak animal?

~can't even~

Walt Disney Pictures / Via

You can't even see the lanterns on your birthday.

You can't even see the lanterns on your birthday.

~but whyyy~

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / Via

View Entire List ›

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Posted on 24 July 2014 | 11:38 am

How to survive life in the suburbs

Subway Surfing: WW

What happens when you take a group of girls and put them on the subways of Toronto for the very first time?  They make a scene, and subway surf.  Of course.  First, you look for “the train”! Then you cheer when it arrives, and hold your breath as the subway takes off. Is there anything […]

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Posted on 23 July 2014 | 8:01 am

Progressive Bloggers

DeSmogBlog: Australian Press Watchdog Criticises Climate Report From Rupert Murdoch’s Flagship Newspaper

The headline on The Australian newspaper’s story about a leak of a major United Nations climate change report read “We got it wrong on warming, says IPCC”.

But an investigation by Australia’s press watchdog has found that in fact, it was the Murdoch-owned national newspaper that “got it wrong”.

The Australian Press Council has upheld complaints about the coverage, led by a story from the newspaper’s environment editor Graham Lloyd.

The council also found the newspaper’s attempts to correct its story had failed to meet the press standards.

Lloyd’s original story, published on page one in September 2013, was an echo (Read more…)

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Posted on 24 July 2014 | 9:15 pm

Bird Droppings

When no news is bad news (and other Monday musings)

I don't know if it's a measure of his family's ability to guard their privacy or a rare example of media respect and decency, but very little information has been made public about the diagnosis and prognosis for Michael Schumacher nearly seven months after the Formula One legend suffered critical brain injuries in a skiing accident.  Even an attempt to sell Schumacher's stolen medical records found no takers among journalists, whether for ethical or legal considerations.  Sadly, it's not unreasonable to speculate that if Schumacher were doing well and on the road to a full recovery, there would be no need for the level of secrecy surrounding his health.

Dan Hawkins probably can't help but feel vindicated as he watches the Alouettes' early season misfortunes from afar. Whether or not new head coach Tom Higgins has a firmer grip on the team than Hawkins did before he was unceremoniously fired five games into the 2013 schedule, the results are essentially the same.

It's tough enough to survive in the modern media at 50-plus years of age without adding to your own burden by deliberately being a contrarian, especially just for its own sake. Hockey broadcasters and columnists who go out of their way to denigrate the advanced stats community are revealing themselves as being out of touch. Increasingly, fans, journalists and NHL teams are embracing statistics like Fenwick and Corsi as relevant measuring sticks and valuable scouting tools. Fancy stats are rapidly becoming mainstream, and media blowhards who believe otherwise are going to find themselves on the fringes - if they're not already there.

Rory wasn't the only McIlroy who cashed at the British Open yesterday. The 2014 champion's father collected 170 thousand dollars(US) on a bet he made in 2004, when Gerry McIlroy got 500-1 odds against his then 15 year old son winning the Open by age 25.  I tried to get the same odds 10 years ago on my son passing Grade 9 math but the bookies weren't biting, which is just as well because I had to drop him off summer school today. 

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Posted on 21 July 2014 | 11:56 am

Trashys World

Stuff I didn’t know before…

Like… New Brunswick is a province that is stuck in the Dark Ages when it comes to access to abortions. An abortion must be be deemed “medically neccesary” before it can be performed. And… that Beelzebub is alive and active in Fredericton. As for the first new piece of knowledge… I learned this upon hearing […]

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Posted on 20 July 2014 | 1:25 pm

The Galloping Beaver

Dear assorted Ukrainian and Russian machomen,

I hope the loss of MH17 and her passengers puts your pathetic and utterly unjustifiable little war in perspective and causes you to end it. ----------- Commentary. I think it is likely that either the Russians supplied the rebels with advanced surface to air missile systems (SAM), or the rebels acquired them from actions against the Ukraine military. I think it is possible but unlikely that

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Posted on 18 July 2014 | 11:09 am

Michael Geist

Why Has Bell Remained Silent on Its Subscriber Information Disclosure Practices?

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court of Canada's Spencer decision, several leading Canadian ISPs have publicly announced that they have changed their practices on the disclosure of subscriber information (including basic subscriber information such as name and address) to law enforcement. For example, Rogers announced that it will now require a warrant or court order prior to disclosing information to law enforcement except in emergency situations. Telus advised that it has adopted a similar practice and TekSavvy indicated that that has long been its approach. SaskTel says that it will release name, address, and phone number.

Unlike its competitors, Bell has remained largely silent in recent weeks. In media reports, the company says little more than that it follows the law.  In fact, the Toronto Star's Alex Boutilier tweets that the company is now declining to respond to journalist inquiries about the issue. In the past, the company was a clear supporter of disclosing "pre-warrant" information in some circumstances to law enforcement. As detailed in this Canadian Bar Association article:

The post Why Has Bell Remained Silent on Its Subscriber Information Disclosure Practices? appeared first on Michael Geist.

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Posted on 24 July 2014 | 9:41 am

Montreal Simon

The Con Regime Goes After Pen Canada

We always knew he was the most disgusting bully this country has ever seen.

We knew that he was using Revenue Canada to try to intimidate his political opponents.

Or anyone who disagreed with the foul policies of his depraved regime.

And now that monstrous political thug is going after Pen Canada.
Read more »

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Posted on 22 July 2014 | 9:15 am

Ghost of a Flea

Iris Van Herpen - Biopiracy

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Posted on 23 July 2014 | 6:18 am

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 | 12:08 pm

De Smog Blog

After Rancher's Death, Calls for Fracking Health Study Grow Stronger

Last month,  Terry Greenwood, a Pennsylvania farmer whose water had been contaminated by fracking waste, died of cancer. He was 66 and the cause of death was a rare form of brain cancer.

His death drew attention from around the globe in part because Mr. Greenwood was among the first farmers from his state to speak out against the gas industry during the early years of the state's shale gas rush.

Mr. Greenwood went up against a company called Dominion Energy, which had drilled and fracked a shallow well on his small cattle ranch property under a lease signed by a prior owner in 1921. In January, 2008, Mr. Greenwood had reported to state officials that his water supplies had turned brown and the water tasted salty. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection subsequently found that the company, whose gas well was drilled 400 feet from the Greenwoods' water well in 2007, had impacted the Greenwoods' water. State officials ordered Dominion to temporarily supply the family with drinking water.

Mr. Greenwood's death was mourned by environmentalists around the world. In London, for example, attendees at a fracking education event recorded video messages for the Greenwood family and raised over $500 for Terry's survivors.

“Terry Greenwood was one of the most compelling people you could ever listen to,” wrote filmmaker Josh Fox. “There was just something about the way he spoke, there was a decency and a positivity that shone through every word no matter how distressing or disturbing the subject matter was.”

But the story of Mr. Greenwood's fight against the drilling industry and lax oversight by state regulators does not stop there. In the weeks since his death, there has been a steady stream of further revelations about ineptitude by state environmental and health officials in protecting the public from the type of threats that may have killed Mr. Greenwood. These revelations are both a reminder of the importance of Mr. Greenwood's fight and an reiteration of how little has changed. 

Last week, Dr. Eli Avila, formerly Pennsylvania's health secretary, made headlines when he told the Associated Press that the state had neglected health impact studies.

The lack of any action speaks volumes,” Dr. Avila, now Orange County, New York's public health commissioner, told the AP. His perspective was shared by other health experts. “Pennsylvania is 'simply not doing' serious studies into possible health impacts of drilling, Dr. Bernard Goldstein, who has five decades of public health experience at hospitals and universities in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania” said, the AP reported.

The lack of oversight and transparency has been endemic to Pennsylvania and its handling of fracking.

In 2011, Governor Tom Corbett's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission recommended that the state begin tracking health effects, through a registry that would monitor the health of people living within a mile of natural gas drilling or production sites, like well pads and compressor stations.  The Commission called for “the timely and thorough investigation of and response to concerns and complaints raised by citizens, health care providers or public officials.”
But funding for the initiative – including $2 million originally included in the state's key drilling law, Act 13 – never materialized.

Meanwhile, requests for information about health risks from state officials often seem to hit a brick wall. In response, local organizers have resorted to published lists of hundreds of state residents who say that they've been harmed by the drilling rush.

This official silence comes against a larger backdrop of stonewalling. Retired state health officials recently alleged that the Department of Public Health barred them returning phone calls from residents with potentially fracking-related concerns and had circulated a list of buzzwords that might indicate a call was related to the shale drilling frenzy.

We were absolutely not allowed to talk to them,” Tammi Stuck, who worked as a Fayette County community health nurse for nearly four decades, told StateImpact.

The state initially denied that a list of buzzwords existed. But after StateImpact obtained copies of the buzzword list, the agency confirmed that the documents were authentic, changing its story to say that their goal was not to suppress complaints but to ensure “that we are speaking with one voice.”  Although state officials are supposed to coordinate between agencies to handle residents' concerns, locals described a frustrating process in which complaints were bounced from agency to agency.

Farmers have for several years said that, for all that is not known about fracking, one thing is certain: livestock are being affected. Mr. Greenwood knew this peril first hand.

 “They was drilling and all the water was running into the field and the cattle was up there right in their pasture drinking the water,” Terry Greenwood told Josh Fox in footage from roughly 2009 that the filmmaker released as part of a video memorial. “And I called DEP and I says 'they [the cows] shouldn't be drinking that water,' I said, 'what's in that water?' Cause I didn't know nothing about all this at first, and they said 'there's nothing wrong with it.' My cows started having calves, there was 18 cows. Calves was starting to die. You know, 18 cows that were having calves, I lost 10 of them.”  

“So what did DEP say?” Mr. Fox asked, referring to the state Department of Environmental Protection. “'That's a farmer's luck,'” Mr. Greenwood replied.

The DEP later attributed the deaths to e coli bacteria in the pond, but Mr. Greenwood remained skeptical that bacteria was the true cause of the deaths. “”I said, 'Them cows have been drinking out of that pond for 18 years and I never had this problem before,'” Mr. Greenwood told a local newspaper in 2010.

And the following year, things got worse. In 2011, not a single one of the Greenwoods' thirteen remaining cows gave birth to a live calf, Mr. Greenwood later said.

The symptoms Mr. Greenwood reported in his cows seem generally consistent with incidents tied to fracking wastewater across the country. Animals like cows and deer are particularly drawn towards drinking the toxic wastewater that flowsback from natural gas wells after fracking because of the water's salty taste.

“Cattle that have been exposed to wastewater (flowback and/or produced water) or affected well or pond water may have trouble breeding,” veterinarian Michelle Bamberger and Cornell Professor Robert Oswalt wrote in a 2012 peer-reviewed paper. “Of the seven cattle farms studied in the most detail, 50 percent of the herd, on average, was affected by death and failure of survivors to breed.”

Scientists have called for greater attention to the effects on animals from drilling and fracking, saying that animal health could serve as warnings for effects on human health.

“As part of an effort to obtain public health data, we believe that particular attention must be paid to companion animals, livestock, and wildlife, as they may serve as sentinels for human exposures, with shorter lifetimes and more opportunity for data collection from necropsies,” Drs. Bamberger and Oswald wrote.

No one can say for sure whether fracking chemicals killed Mr. Greenwood or his animals. But advocates say that they have a right to know and they say one of their biggest frustrations is the state's silence on the matter. 

But the lack of public health information has advocates calling for a full investigation into the state's investigatory failures.

“The legitimate questions of Pennsylvania citizens concerning their health or that of family members as a result of natural gas drilling activity cannot be discounted or dismissed outright,” a statement signed by five of the state's leading environmental groups said last week.  “The fact that the [D]epartment [of Environmental Protection] originally denied the existence of a “buzzwords” list, and the fact that Gov. Corbett has refused to weigh in with a forceful response, leaves us no choice but to call for a full investigation.”

Friends said Mr. Greenwood was one of the first people to speak out against the shale gas drilling rush in Pennsylvania and had made the phrase “water is more important than gas” his personal motto following his experiences with the shale gas industry.

“We had two springs, a well for drinking, and a pond,” Mr. Greenwood explained to film-maker Josh Fox in a video filmed roughly five years ago that Mr. Fox released as a memorial in June.  “The pond's no good, the well ain't fit to drink, original well's gone and the spring for the cattle is gone. There's a little spring for the house and that's all that's left on this property.”

“So I have a farm, and it's useless,” he added. “When they take this water buffalo, or whatever happens to this water buffalo, I don't know what's gonna happen.”

Photo Credit: Cow Grazing at Oil Refinery factory, via Shutterstock.

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Posted on 24 July 2014 | 12:48 pm


2014 RotoRob NFL Draft Kit: Quarterback Rankings

The Broncos are built around the passing game and Manning is so smart he knows where he is going to throw the ball before it's even snapped. He might not break his own NFL records this season, but he has proven beyond any doubt that his prime is not over.

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Posted on 23 July 2014 | 7:12 pm

North by East West

The Wilderness of Manitoba Announce New Album, Share MP3

The Wilderness of Manitoba have announced that they will release their new album Between Colours on September 16 via Pheromone Records. To celebrate, they’ve shared a free stream of ‘Leave Someone’; The band has been characterized by their evolving sound with each album. From the four part harmonies of their debut album Hymns of Love
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Posted on 23 July 2014 | 8:49 pm

Canadian Living

Travel planning: Expert tips for booking hotels and flights

From booking your plane ticket to booking your hotel, three travel experts reveal how to get the best deal on your next vacation.

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Posted on 23 July 2014 | 12:00 am

Pro Woman Pro Life

Please write a short email TODAY

As you are already aware, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is reviewing their current policy on conscience rights for doctors. They have favoured conscience rights for non-emergency procedures to date. This reasonable position is at risk of changing. What you can do: Go to this web site, and choose how you want […]

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Posted on 24 July 2014 | 3:28 pm


Dr. Jennifer Gardy on women in science and sexism in the media


Dr. Jennifer Gardy is both a scientist and science communicator. By day, she is fulfilling her childhood dream of being Dustin Hoffman in Outbreak, working in the Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Services group at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control.  As Senior Scientist, Molecular Epidemiology, Jennifer leads BCCDC's Genome Research Laboratory, where genomics and genome sequencing are used to understand how outbreaks of infectious disease begin and spread. Her group was the first to use genome sequencing to reconstruct a large outbreak of tuberculosis, and she is continuing to apply this novel technique to other outbreak scenarios.

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Posted on 24 July 2014 | 4:23 pm

The Gossip Wrap-up

Ad Campaign: Stella McCartney Fall 2014

#fashion #thecollections

Supermodel Kate Moss is again the face of Stella McCartney.

The iconic model, who recently lost the Alexander McQueen account to Edie Campbell and Stuart Weitzman to Gisele Bündchen, will be fronting the advertising campaign for the Stella McCartney Fall 2014 Collection. 

Photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, we see Kate wearing looks from the fall collection intermixed with shots of glaciers and zippers in both the print campaign and fashion film.

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Posted on 24 July 2014 | 8:19 am

Rolling Around in My Head

Really I'm Fine

" For a few seconds, or maybe a minute, I hated being me and I hated being disabled and I hated needing what I needed."

This line, written a few days ago, expressed a keenly felt moment because of a situation out of my control. I've received little reaction in the comment section of my blog to what was written but have, since then, been receiving emails, at least twice a day. The emails break down into two categories: some are worried about me; others are worried by disappointed in me - feeling my 'disability pride' stance is a sham. Both types of emails come from people who I don't actually know and who, even at a distance, care for me.

This morning, I thought it was time to address that sentiment.

I don't think having moments of self loathing (which I stated earlier in the same article) or having moments where a certain aspect of one's body, one's ability, one's personality is hated says anything about a person except that they are human.

It was a moment.

I've had moments like that before and I will again.

Just like someone who might live happy and well as an extremely tall person can have moments when they just hate the constant jokes or inconveniences. It's a moment. It happens.

And it happens over everything ... I hate it when I get so loud at a party; I hate it when I can't work up the courage to talk to someone at a party; I hate it when I get nervous and fumble my words; I hate it when I speak too quickly.

I don't think that non-disabled people get to have moments of like that and we don't. I don't think it's fair that their statements mean what the mean and ours are laden with extra meaning as those who hear slather prejudice on our words like thick marmalade on toast.

I said it.

I meant it.

It's over now.

Still disabled, still proud, still going strong.

|Moments are just moment.


I'm OK.

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Posted on 23 July 2014 | 7:16 am

A Canadian Foodie

My Urban Canadian Prairie Zone 3 Garden

The Canadian Food Experience Project Challenge 12: The Canadian Garden (May 2014) My purple Spring Garden awakens my soul every year. The vibrancy of each tenderling emerging from the cold black earth toward the warmth of the Spring sun invigorates my spirit. The vivid purples and greens revitalize the drab dead after Winter landscape with […]

** 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 20 July 2014 | 10:52 pm

Dean Somerset

How My Wife and I Get Through Doing the Dishes and Why Your Workouts Could Use a Compromise

When my wife and I started dating 10 years ago, we went through the initial learning curve of figuring out how to live with the other person that always has a few bump along the way. She didn’t like that I would throw everything into the laundry and wound up shrinking a few of her…… Read More

The post How My Wife and I Get Through Doing the Dishes and Why Your Workouts Could Use a Compromise appeared first on

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Posted on 22 July 2014 | 10:10 am

Knit Nut

100 Happy Days

GC and I were walking to the bus stop the other morning and he asked if I wanted to do the 100-Day Happiness Challenge with him.

“Absolutely,” I said. “What is it?”

So here’s what it is. You can start anytime. You register. Every day you take a picture of something that makes you happy that [...]

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Posted on 1 July 2014 | 7:58 pm