Breaking a leg in London: Wendy’s theatre year in review
Posted on 12 December 2013 | 5:02 am
13 Cringe-Worthy "LOTR" Pick-Up Lines To Get You In The Mood For "The Desolation Of Smaug" Premiere
Are you the ring? ‘Cause I’ve got my eye on you.
"My love is like Lembas bread, one taste to get your fill."
New Line Cinema / Via iluvatarss.tumblr.com
"Gimli a piece of that!"
New Line Cinema / Via nolifeonlygames.tumblr.com
"You know what they say about big feet.."
New Line Cinema / Via l-o-t-r.tumblr.com
"I last longer than Boromir."
New Line Cinema / Via tumblr.com
Posted on 12 December 2013 | 8:55 pm
Missing The Sweets and Treats ~ Azul Beach
Posted on 12 December 2013 | 12:04 pm
Barbara Kay: Hard truths about abortion
Posted on 11 December 2013 | 5:01 am
Blunt Objects Blog: Graphics, Maps, and the Colourblind
One concern of mine, always in the back of my head, is it the things I do are accessible. I make a lot of maps; that’s kind of “Teddy’s Thing” around here, but I always fear that the colourblind are unable to enjoy them.
I’ve been tweaking the colours of my map. Using the new Riding by Riding poll in Montreal I updated the map. You’ll notice two things in the image below.
First, I’ve redone the palette for the map. I’ve switched Green with “Other 1*” as the latter includes parties like Wildrose, Social Credit, Reform; all of which (Read more…)
Posted on 13 December 2013 | 4:29 am
Deciphering the hockey code: good luck with that.
The notion of an unwritten code implies a standard of personal conduct based on honour. There was nothing honourable about what Shawn Thornton of the Bruins did to Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik this past Saturday in Boston.
And spare me the claptrap about mitigating circumstances, like Orpik's refusal to fight Thornton earlier in the game or Pittsburgh's James Neal fanning the flames by kneeing Boston's Brad Marchand in the head. Neal was penalized at the time of the play and subsequently suspended for five games without pay, meaning he'll forfeit $128,000 and change from his $5million annual salary. I don't care how much money you make - 128k is a hit for anyone. You could argue that Neal deserved a stiffer suspension and heftier fine and you might be right, but it's not relevant to the Thornton-Orpik scenario.
Which brings us back to "the code". According to hockey's old guard, Orpik owed it to the code to drop his gloves and fight when challenged by Thornton after Orpik leveled Boston's Loui Eriksson with a devastating bodycheck. Where that argument goes off the rails is that there was no penalty on the hit. I understand the part of the code that says you have to answer for cheap shots, but since when does the code dictate that you have to entertain the local cementhead's dance invitation because you laid out his teammate with a clean hit? Thornton's post-whistle, blindside attack on Orpik is inexcusable under any circumstances, and the suggestion that Orpik brought it on himself because he violated the code simply doesn't hold up - unless the code has been rewritten to hold players responsible for hard but clean bodychecks, which would suggest to me that honour is no longer part of the equation.
There's another time-honoured element of hockey - more axiom than code - that preaches "keep your head up." The Orpik hit marked the second time in six weeks that Loui Eriksson paid the price for being caught unaware of his surroundings on the ice. I know what you're saying: "That's blaming the victim!" Indeed. Not unlike saying it's Brooks Orpik's fault that he was criminally assaulted by Scott Thornton.
I'll leave the last word to Don James, who said it best on Twitter:
Posted on 10 December 2013 | 3:32 pm
Well, it’s plausible, I guess…
Posted on 12 December 2013 | 1:26 pm
Nelson Mandela scholarships
Posted on 11 December 2013 | 3:54 pm
The Great Con War on Christmas
Well I see the Cons have finally found a good way to use our Parliament eh?
It may be a lousy House of Democracy, but it does make a great Christmas ornament.
And it does send out a powerful message to its rabid base: there will be no War on Christmas here.
Read more »
Posted on 12 December 2013 | 4:47 pm
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
Posted on 12 December 2013 | 1:48 pm
It's Time We Realized That Our Fight is With Our Own Governments
It's time we realized that Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Gas are not the enemy. They're corporations simply doing what corporations do. They make money and maximize profits for their shareholders. They just happen to be trading in high-carbon commodities of the sort that are steadily making life on our planet untenable.
They're not your enemy, not really.
Your enemy are the men and women who regulate and license, empower and defend the Fossil Fuelers. These are the people who populate our provincial legislatures. These are the people who sit on both sides of the aisle in our House of Commons. These are the people in whom we vest all the powers needed to protect us and our kids and grandkids and generations beyond. These are the people who, holding our collective power and the legal duty to exercise it as trustees for us, do not use it to protect us.
It's sort of like hiring an armed guard to secure the bank door who, instead, unlocks the door, opens the vault and ushers the robbers in. What can we do about it? That's the focus of an essay by Jeremy Brechert calling for "A Non-Violent Insurgency for Climate Protection."
Scientists and climate protection advocates once expected that rational leaders and institutions would respond appropriately to the common threat of climate change. As Bill McKibben said of Jim Hansen and himself, “I think he thought, as did I, if we get this set of facts out in front of everybody, they’re so powerful — overwhelming — that people will do what needs to be done.”
That, as we know, didn't happen. This year sees the fifth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC. Diluted but nonetheless dire warnings are given. Our enemies, from their legislative pulpits will murmur gravely that this is indeed the greatest threat facing mankind and, after an appropriate moment of solemnity, will turn on their heels and ignore it.
Twenty-five years of human effort to protect the climate have failed even to slow the forces that are destroying it. On the contrary, the rate of increase in carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels tripled between the release of the first IPCC report in 1988 and today.
Too many of us still think of political leadership as we understood it back in high school. We haven't recognized how much it has changed or what that means for us and the future of our country. We think that Justin Trudeau or Tom Mulcair is going to put Canada back on the right track, to lead us out of the perils that seemingly loom in every direction. That's garbage, they're not. That doesn't happen in a corporatist state. The United States is what happens in a corporatist state. It is a nation in which a corporation is vested with political rights and soon perhaps even human rights.
The globalism that Reagan, Thatcher and Mulroney did so much to implant and nurture has led to corporatism and the inevitable corruption of democracy required in the evolution of corporatism. Corporatist states don't need leaders. Technocrats like Stephen Harper suffice. Complex issues such as climate change, equality, peace are beyond their remit and, hence, are simply shuffled into the wings to gather dust. This reality reinforces Brechert's call for a non-violent insurgency.
Insurgencies are social movements, but movements of a special type: They reject current rulers’ claims to legitimate authority. Insurgencies often develop from movements that initially make no direct challenge to established authority but eventually conclude that one is necessary to realize their objectives. To effectively protect the earth’s climate and our species’ future, the climate protection movement may have to become such an insurgency.
The term “insurgency” is generally associated with an armed rebellion against an established government. Its aim may be to overthrow the existing government, but it may also aim to change it or simply to protect people against it. Whatever its means and ends, the hallmark of such an insurgency is to deny the legitimacy of established state authority and to assert the legitimacy of its own actions.
A nonviolent insurgency pursues similar objectives by different means. Like an armed insurgency, it does not accept the limits on its action imposed by the powers-that-be. But unlike an armed insurgency, it eschews violence and instead expresses power by mobilizing people for various forms of nonviolent mass action.
After closely following the massive strikes, general strikes, street battles, peasant revolts, and military mutinies of the Russian Revolution of 1905 that forced the czar to grant a constitution, Mohandas (not yet dubbed “Mahatma”) Gandhi concluded, “Even the most powerful cannot rule without the cooperation of the ruled.” Shortly thereafter he launched his first civil disobedience campaign, proclaiming “We too can resort to the Russian remedy against tyranny.”
The powers responsible for climate change could not rule for a day without the acquiescence of those whose lives and future they are destroying. They are only able to continue their destructive course because others enable or acquiesce in it. It is the ordinary activity of people — going to work, paying taxes, buying products, obeying government officials, staying off private property — that continually re-creates the power of the powerful. A nonviolent climate insurgency can be powerful if it withdraws that cooperation from the powers-that-be.
Social movements that engage in civil disobedience often draw strength from the claim that their actions are not only moral, but that they represent an effort to enforce fundamental legal and constitutional principles flouted by the authorities they are disobeying. And they strengthen a movement’s appeal to the public by presenting its action not as wanton law breaking but as an effort to rectify governments and institutions that are themselves in violation of the law.
For the civil rights movement, the constitution’s guarantee of equal rights meant that sit-inners and freedom riders were not criminals but rather upholders of constitutional law. For the struggle against apartheid, racism was a violation of internationally guaranteed human rights. For war resisters from Vietnam to Iraq, the national and international laws forbidding war crimes defined civil disobedience not as interference with legal, democratic governments but rather as a legal obligation of citizens. For the activists of Solidarity, the nonviolent revolution that overthrew Communism in Poland was not criminal sedition but an effort to implement the international human and labor rights law ratified by their own government.
The Legal Case for Insurgency.
The Justinian Code, issued by the Roman Emperor in 535 A.D., defined the concept of res communes (common things): “By the law of nature these things are common to mankind — the air, running water, the sea and consequently the shores of the sea.” The right of fishing in the sea from the shore “belongs to all men.”
Based on the Justinian Code’s protection of res communes, governments around the world have long served as trustees for rights held in common by the people. In U.S. law this role is defined by the public trust doctrine, under which the government serves as public trustee on behalf of present and future generations. Even if the state holds title, the public is the “beneficial owner.” As trustee, the state has a “fiduciary duty” to the owner — a legal duty to act solely in the owners’ interest with “the highest duty of care.” The principle is recognized today in both common law and civil law systems in countries ranging from South Africa to the Philippines and from the United States to India.
The sad fact is that virtually all the governments on earth — and their legal systems — are deeply corrupted by the very forces that gain from destroying the global commons. They exercise illegitimate power without regard to their obligations to those they claim to represent, let alone to the common rights beneficiaries of other lands and future generations to whom they also owe “the highest duty of care.”
But protecting the atmosphere is not just a matter for governments. Indeed, it is the failure of governments to protect the public trust that is currently prompting the climate-protection movement to turn to mass civil disobedience. Looked at from the perspective of the public trust doctrine, these actions are far from lawless. Indeed, they embody the effort of people around the world to assert their right and responsibility to protect the public trust. They represent people stepping in to provide law enforcement where corrupt and illegitimate governments have failed to meet their responsibility to do so.
I expect these arguments will be the foundation for Canada's first true, non-violent insurgency for climate protection, the fight against the Northern Gateway pipeline. When that happens, the question you will need to ask yourself is whether you, whose lives and future they are also destroying, will acquiesce and thereby enable them to crush the insurgents. It makes no difference where in Canada you live. You'll have to decide.
Posted on 12 December 2013 | 5:59 pm
I think we need a new watchdog
Posted on 12 December 2013 | 3:59 pm
Federal Pipeline Safety Agency Approves Startup of Keystone XL Southern Half
DeSmogBlog has learned that TransCanada cleared the final hurdle for the southern half of its Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, receiving a green light last week from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) following a review of several safety concerns.
TransCanada announced this week that it has begun injecting oil into the southern half of its Keystone XL pipeline in preparation for commercial operations.
Will TransCanada respond to greivances raised about dents, faulty welding, pipeline material designated "junk" and other issues raised in the consumer advocacy group's November investigation? And what about September 10 and September 26 warning letters obtained by Public Citizen raising similar concerns from PHMSA to TransCanada?
Both TransCanada and PHMSA have provided DeSmogBlog answers to these questions.
Rebranded the "Gulf Coast Pipeline Project" by TransCanada, the 485-mile Cushing, Oklahoma to Port Arthur, Texas Keystone XL southern half — approved via a March 2012 Executive Order from President Barack Obama — is set to open for business by mid- to late-January.
PHMSA's Initial Concerns
In September, PHMSA drafted two letters to TransCanada expressing concerns over the integrity of the pipeline during its construction phase.
"During the months of June and July 2013, a representative [from PHMSA]...inspected the construction of the Keystone Gulf Coast Project," reads a September 10 warning letter from R.M. Seeley, Director of PHMSA's Southwest Region Office to TransCanada's Vice President Pipeline Safety and Compliance, Vern Meier. "As a result of the inspection, it appears you have probable violations of the Pipeline Safety Regulations, Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations."
PHMSA's September 10 warning letter said TransCanada had done a suboptimal job installing Keystone XL's southern half.
PHMSA also wrote that the coating utilized for Keystone XL's southern half could easily degrade over time in the September 10 letter.
Two weeks later, PHMSA sent another warning letter to TransCanada on September 26, calling out TransCanada on its poor welding procedures.
PHMSA could fine TransCanada up to $2 million, along with additional enforcement actions, if the company had failed to comply with PHMSA's dictates outlined in both warning letters.
PHMSA Delays FOIA Response
After playing the "bad cop" role in its two September letters to TransCanada, PHMSA's Southwest Office has backed off a bit.
In response to a FOIA request submitted by Public Citizen upon learning of the two September letters, PHMSA responded that, due to commercial reasons and the possibility of an ongoing investigation, Public Citizen will likely not be eligible for many of the records requested.
PHMSA Gives KXL South Green Light
TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard told DeSmogBlog he believes all is safe and sound with Keystone XL's southern half.
"The fact that the anomalies on the exterior of the pipe were discovered in the first place is a direct result of the 57 special safety conditions we agreed to implement on this project and Keystone XL, many of which are not required by regulation but are standard practice on all TransCanada pipeline construction projects," said Howard. "None of these issues that TransCanada identified involve the quality of the pipe itself, and the Gulf Coast Pipeline will be the safest pipeline built in the United States to date."
Public Citizen Texas Officer Director Tom Smith offered a rebuttal to Howard's statement.
"Forty of the 57 conditions that TransCanada says constitute unusual safety measures are just standard practice. The other 17 are insignificant measures that do improve the quality and safety of the pipeline," Smith remarked. "Meanwhile, the 50 percent weld rejection rate – 205 of 425 welds on a single section of the pipeline -- sited in PHMSA’s warning letter to TransCanada is not insignificant. There is nothing more critical to pipeline safety than the quality of welds."
On December 4, TransCanada wrote a point-by-point letter in response to PHMSA's concerns obtained by DeSmogBlog.
"[TransCanada] hereby certifies to [PHMSA] that it is ready to introduce hydrocarbons into the TransCanada Gulf Coast Pipeline for the purpose of commencing line fill," reads the cover letter for the document addressing PHMSA's concerns from TransCanada's President of Energy and Oil Pipelines, Alex Pourbaix.
"TransCanada now has provided responses and supporting documentation with respect to all questions and requests posed by...PHMSA. TransCanada confirms that all requirements precedent to commencing line fill of the Pipeline have been satisified and it is our intent to commence line fill on December 5, 2013, pending receipt of PHMSA's concurrence."
PHMSA confirmed to DeSmogBlog that it had received TransCanada's response, and that the agency is sufficiently satisfied to allow the company to begin commercial operations.
"PHMSA’s safety inspectors have spent over 150 days inspecting the construction of the Gulf Coast Pipeline project overseeing welding, coating, installation, backfilling, testing and all other construction activities to ensure that the newly constructed pipeline will operate safely," Jeannie Shiffer, PHMSA’s Director for Governmental, International, and Public Affairs told DeSmogBlog.
"Now that the construction phase is complete, PHMSA will continue to monitor TransCanada’s compliance with federal pipeline safety requirements and keep the public updated on our safety activities."
Critics Chime In
With the debate still raging over Keystone XL's prospective northern half, it appears the debate over its southern half is coming to a close.
Yet former TransCanada engineer-turned-whistleblower Evan Vokes believes the PHMSA response is inadequate.
"The pictures collected by Public Citizen and Tar Sands Blockade indicate systemic problems with the south half of the pipeline's coating quality," Vokes told DeSmogBlog. "PHMSA said nothing about the evidence of this systemic problem."
Agreeing with Vokes, Public Citizen's Smith offered an ever deeper critique of PHMSA's response to TransCanada's December 4 letter.
“It appears that TransCanada, in its Dec. 4 letter, is saying ‘here are your answers, we’re starting tomorrow,’" Smith told DeSmogBlog. "Has PHMSA verified that TransCanada completed all the work to the agency’s satisfaction? Has TransCanada correctly repaired the more than 200 welds, or fixed the dents and coating problems that could lead to corrosion and ultimately leaks? What can the agency tell the public about how the concerns about flaws have been addressed?"
"So far, the agency hasn’t been responsive to the public. Congress should hold oversight hearings to ensure the concerns about the pipeline have been adequately addressed”
Image Credit: Public Citizen Texas Office
Posted on 12 December 2013 | 10:45 pm
Review – Rioting Reverb – EP – High I’m Your Neighbour
Posted on 9 December 2013 | 6:00 am
Posted on 12 December 2013 | 2:37 am
Never stop, never stop
Posted on 12 December 2013 | 6:11 pm
Canada's response to the Iran nuclear deal - on the wrong side of history. Again.
John Baird echoed his PM's words, sure to be followed by cries of 'surrender monkeys' and other insults from Canada's far right, especially from the Conservative-dominated media.
Posted on 25 November 2013 | 9:37 pm
Posted on 12 December 2013 | 5:00 am
Traditional Canadian Christmas Cake or Bourbon Fruit Cake
For the Canadian Food Experience Project Challenge Seven: A Christmas Tradition on the Canadian Prairies My Great Aunt Lucille made the best white fruit cake. I preferred it when I was young. Most likely, the lack of molasses was key to my young palate, yet the candied pineapple with coconut probably added to its charm […]
The post Traditional Canadian Christmas Cake or Bourbon Fruit Cake appeared first on A Canadian Foodie.
Posted on 7 December 2013 | 4:59 pm
Death is such a sudden and jarring thing. It doesn’t matter if the person was living on borrowed time, or if death came swooping in out of the blue, years ahead of schedule, it seems we are always caught off guard. Never more so, I think, than when somebody’s child dies. Even if that child [...]
Posted on 2 December 2013 | 11:51 am