Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Foreign Currency Exchange; how to get rich quick?

As a public service announcement, I would like to shine some light on the latest fad in "get rich quick" schemes, the "Forex" market. Since the collapse of the housing bubble last year and its shake-up of the equity markets, a significant number of traders have shifted into currency exchange as the best way to take big risks for a potentially big reward. In the building where I work, a very talented computer programmer has dedicated himself to writing a computer program that will buy and sell currencies with the objective of getting rich as soon as possible.

While I do follow the relationship between the Canadian and American dollars, I had never really ventured into these currency exchange markets to do any research. I have since learned that there is quite a large population of people who speculate on currency pairs and make "bets". These are not importers or exporters who exchange currency to engage in international commerce, they are just making bets. As this gentleman at work explained to me how his brokerage account is set up, I became skeptical in very short order. He was talking about how you can make these highly leveraged bets at $200 for every dollar you actually physically own, and then make these "cascading" trades, and with "stop-loss" orders you can make enormous gains without taking any real risk. My response was that it is ostensibly like playing "musical chairs", and when the music stops playing and you don't have a place to sit down, that's all she wrote.

I don't want to discourage him; I am just trying to inject some logic and reality into his persistent optimism. He is convinced that he will get rich by doing what he's doing, but his skill is as a programmer and he does not have any grasp of mathematical economics. I tried explaining to him how if really bad news hits the market and there is a sudden drop in value, the price of the currency can "jump" the stop loss, and in that instance because you are leveraged at 200 to 1 you can lose your entire account. Then other "experts" take a graph and show how you can make abnormal profits, but they fail to mention that the window they are showing you is just a 1 in 100 situation and the other 99 times the market will behave differently. The smart play is to go for the slow and steady profits, and when you try to go for too much too fast you are playing a dangerous game.

For fun, I asked him to give me a data set of the last 2500 day end close prices of the American dollar in British Pounds (that is his prefered currency pair). I did a simple probability analysis. If the price went up in the past 24 hours, what is the probability that it will go up in the next 24 hours? Or more plainly put; if for the last the last 10 years each morning, each time the US dollar increased in value relative to the British Pound yesterday, I bet $1 that it would go up today. How much money would I have made in a decade? A whopping $6. If you want to fit a 3rd order polynomial to intraday trend data and ride waves, then perhaps it might be possible to figure out a winning system. There is just so much unpredictability in this particular market that unless you study what makes the currencies go up and down, you will drive yourself nuts!

This co-worker is a person of faith and the other day he was telling me how he believed that everything happened for a reason and that there were no coincidences. I said "like you embarking on a mission to conquer Forex and shortly thereafter a graduate in Mathematical Economics is transferred to your job site? Especially when we mathematicians are such a rare breed, but thankfully we do occur in nature." Then I remembered that scene in Braveheart where the crazy Irish guy saves Wallace's life and I said to my colleague "are you sure the almighty didn't send me to watch your back?"

You may notice that no place in this post do I actually say how to get rich by playing Forex markets (other than fitting higher order polynomial trend lines to data sets, which you can do in a few easy clicks in Excel without having to use Newton’s Interpolatory Divided Difference formula). Because as stated above, it is too high risk, and for every investor who turns $1000 into a million dollars in Forex, I will show you a thousand who lost everything. But win or lose, your broker will make money. Just invest in the stock market. Oh oh, I hope Peter Mansbridge doesn't hear me say insensitive of me to encourage investing in a about your most overblown contrived controversies of all time...

I am also curious how many hits I get from Google searches intended to make the "searchee" rich.

Subsidize Forestry?

I couldn't help but notice today that forestry subsidies are back in the public sphere of debate, namely from the leader of the opposition who is flailing to get his feet back on solid ground in Quebec. On forestry, I would refer you to a post that I wrote in June titled "when they can't see the forestry sector through the trees" that says all that needs to be said on pumping government subsidies into an industry that has experienced an irreversible loss of demand. Or as I said in that piece:

"You can’t force demand and if you attempt to subsidize a reduction of it, you are pumping tax money into a black hole."


I endeavour to make economics as entertaining to read about as possible, with zingers like

"Canada was overwhelmingly in favour of Obama and the Democrats in this past American election, so those people can’t be shocked that suddenly we see trade barriers erecting faster than Pee Wee Herman at an adult theatre."


Ignatieff's Failed Strategy

Winston Churchill used to say "However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results." To those Liberals who disagreed with the "blanket-opposition scorched earth" strategy that their Czar was about to embark on up in Sudbury, I am pleased to announce that you can say "I told you so". Look at the polling results. As I was watching Ignatieff withdraw support for the government in the frozen north, I blogged that it was a tactical error to blindly oppose every piece of legislation. I had Liberals return fire with "you are a Conservative blogger and therefore the Liberal party should do the opposite of what you think." A scholarly rebuttal to say the least...

Have you been following opinion polls? The Liberals were flying high when they were making government work. Ekos even had a poll where the Liberals were within striking distance of a majority! I wrote about Ignatieff's Poll Dancing in April, back when he was setting the terms for his support of government legislation. The Prime Minister took some flak from his own side for stepping to the left and overspending to reach Iggy's terms. The Liberals were active participants in government while Jack Layton was bleeding support in part for his blanket opposition.

The Sudbury speech and resulting strategy was a mistake. I am having flashbacks to the film Patton. There is a scene where Patton lures Rommel's top Panzer division into a trap, and as the Krauts are being crushed he screamed:

"Rommel you magnificent bastard! I READ YOUR BOOK!!!"

Gerard Kennedy

When I look at Gerard Kennedy, I see a politician whose heart is in the right place. I think he believes what he says, though I feel his beliefs are somewhat misguided. I don't feel any animosity towards the man. My "spider sense" does not tingle when he speaks. Having said that, how hilarious is it that the Liberals stuck him in the corner of the room like a toddler on a timeout! Like they said to him "your poor judgment gave us Dion, but you have some value, take a corner seat and a junior portfolio and drive yourself nuts."

I don't mind Gerard. I don't want to see him ever run a government ministry, but he doesn't elicit negative emotions from me.

The "Lost" Czar and the French

Ironically it was not until after this Coderre insurrection happened that I began to remember how much Ignatieff adores his own Russian roots. He has studied his own family tree more than a Mormon on "speed". He loves his Czarist ancestry. Again with the irony; at University I minored in History because "those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it" right? I took a course in the History of France: Revolution to De Gaul. My term paper was titled "Scorched Earth: Napoleon's failed invasion of Russia." I earned an A+.

I of all people should have seen the parallels. I'm sorry that I didn't see this yesterday. Those Czarist ancestors that Iggy loves so much were mortal enemies of the French and ended the French Golden Age by innovating a "scorched earth" policy. Is that not what he's doing right now? He is obsessed with what his grandparents did, how can that not seep into his political strategy? I'm just saying...

I would direct you to my post True Patriot Abandonment...I think it is some of my best work.

Hodgson and Kadri

To both Leaf and Canuck fans alike, your two top prospects being returned to junior is not a bad thing. Kadri is a year younger, and maybe could have had some success, but neither of these guys are an Ovechkin or a Crosby who are great right away. Hodgson is a year older, and I wanted to see him make the Canucks this year because I wanted to watch him play. I wanted to see his progress live on TV. They don't televise Brampton Battalion games in Vancouver. But we found out right before training camp that he had sustained a back injury while training and wasn't skating. Add to that he played like 150 games last year. It was shaping up to be another Gilbert Brule, who got knocked way off track by being rushed. Then in preseason Hodgson never looked right.

Kadri put up a few highlights in camp, but really it was the safe play to play him against teenagers next season, let him play a prominent role in the World Juniors, and come back next year bigger and stronger. Detroit allows its prospects to develop properly in junior and minor pro, and look where they are as a franchise. They lost several key role players, and have a slew of hungry, talented young prospects just chomping at the bit to get on the ice in the NHL. They have had access to Detroit’s training staff for a few years, are put on off-season regiments, and play in the NHL when they are ready to play in the NHL. Peak performance is in and around 27 years old for hockey players. Start him at 18 if he is physically ready or you need him to help you win now, but look at what Ken Holland does. I was 10 years old the last time Detroit missed the playoffs. Detroit has never missed the playoff with Ken Holland making their personnel decisions.

I expect to see Landon Ferraro returned junior and spend a couple years developing in Grand Rapids. I have him penciled in for a roster spot in 2012, joining a playoff team that will be a contender every year. It will hurt when Lidstrom retires, but I am a huge fan of Kronwall and Ericsson. Rafalski is still producing at a high level. He is a lot like a Neidermayer who does not show his mileage. Detroit also has some blue chip prospects that you haven't even heard of yet. I will take all the Zetterberg, Franzen, and Datsyuk I can get my hands on for the next 7 years. Fillpulla has game. Watch out for Helm, Leino, and Abdelkadder. If the Leafs had even a taste of Detroit's organizational depth, they'd be competitive. Detroit has drafted very efficiently, and they never rush anyone. What does that get you? Playoffs. Lots of Playoffs. How many playoff games have the Red Wings won since the last time the Leafs made the playoffs? 100?

But I digress. The point of my little bragging session above, is that sending Kadri and Hodgson back to junior was the right thing to do. To Landon Ferraro I say don’t be disappointed that you dropped to the second round, be excited that you were drafted by Ken Holland. He does it the way it needs to be done.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Duceppe in Question Period

I am currently watching Question Period on mute, and I have some observations. I enjoy muting Question Period, because otherwise it can be painful to watch. I like to read the body language of the speakers. Volume ruins Question Period for me.

1) Duceppe seemed to have his "swagger" today. His "outrage" was going seamlessly back and forth between the Tories and the Liberals, and he was on his game. I have no idea what he was talking about, and frankly I don't really care. I know what he is.

2) Ignatieff was doing that thing with his eyes, which others have pointed out represents some sort of "tell".

3) The Prime Minister is a "smooth operator"

4) Layton has not been the same since the Coalition collapsed, almost like he lost a part of his soul. He has been an empty vessel ever since. Today he had a little more "life" albeit fleeting. You can tell when he is at his best because his eyebrows move and his arm movements become more pronounced. They moved a few times today. I saw a few jabs directly at Ignatieff. Good to see Jack regaining his fighting spirit, but he is still far from his old energetic self. I have no idea what he was saying in the Commons, and frankly I don't really care. I know what he is.

5) Baird seems to be the only one who actually enjoys Question Period! Every party needs a pit-bull like Baird. He is like Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now, and I am very happy that he's on my team. I would almost guess that when the Commons gets really "hairy"; he sits back in his chair and thinks to himself "I love the smell of napalm in the morning."

6) Every time I see Bryson on TV, he's pissed off. I feel like he's talking directly to Peter MacKay every time he vents his anger in the Commons. I think he blames MacKay for the fact that he was "snared" into the LPC. For the record, should I ever happen to be a delegate at a Tory leadership convention, MacKay has my vote (assuming Mike Harris is not a candidate).

The Passion of the Gibson

I wrote this in early August of 2006, in the immediate aftermath of his anti-Jew DUI. Since I have blogged recently about Jews and William Wallace, I figured that I should re-affirm how I feel about that loon Mel Gibson.


Well, I went out and rented The Passion of the Christ, and it literally nearly made me puke. The question is not is the movie a little anti-Semitic, it is radically anti-Semitic! Rome controlled the area with overwhelming military force, but could do precious little to stop the Jews from killing a Jewish Messiah? So a Jew who was a political threat to Romans, was an individual the Romans wanted to save? I am not buying it...Jesus was a Jew, he threatened Roman power, Rome wanted him dead, had him killed, then wrote history to blame the death on the very people that Jesus championed. And Herod, who was king of Judea at the time was an Arab in bed with the Romans.

I had no interest in watching the movie until Mel Gibson's true colours were exposed. All I know is that if Adolf Hitler was alive today, he would love Mel's movie. Mel helped write the screenplay, he bankrolled the movie, then produced and directed it. He portrayed the Jews as demons and blood thirsty animals. The sad thing is how many people watched this movie, and accepted it as historical fact, almost like a documentary.

I am the kind of person who strikes conversations with strangers about politics, history, philosophy, and religion. I have met a number of devoted Catholics who pretty much quote the Passion of the Christ to justify the Holocaust. As one Eastern European Catholic on my job site said to me, "There is always some truth to everything. Maybe Hitler had the right idea..."

I stopped him mid-sentence to tell him, "you'd be smart never to say that again."

Maybe Mel Gibson does not agree with his father that the Holocaust never happened, but he has written, produced, and directed a blockbuster movie that attempted to justify it...This film does shine a light on the source of Western anti-Semitism.

Your favourite historical figure

I would just like to update people on my poll of which historical figure you would most like to visit for an opinion on the world today and Winston Churchill is running away with it. I am disappointed with Adam Smith only earning 8% of the popular vote despite my endorsement. Wouldn't we all love to ask the Scottish father of modern economics what we got wrong? I don't believe he ever intended for sub-prime mortgages. Maybe my own "Excellent Adventure" would be the most excellent if I were allowed to go retrieve Adam Smith and Charles Darwin, lock them in a room with a decade worth of newspapers for a year, and see what they have to say about our economy as it is. God only knows what they would have to say about "too big to fail". Once upon a time people believed the Titanic was too big to sink. It sunk and we got over it.

I am also a big fan of Winston, and he is 2nd to Adam Smith as my prime candidate...

"My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite - smoking cigars and also the drinking of fine Scotch before, after, and if need be during all meals and in the intervals in between them..."

-Winston Churchill on dining with the abstinent King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabiato

The biggest winner on Monday was Thomas Mulcair

I have been following this latest insurgency in Outremont, and my initial reaction to the Coderre resignation was that the big winner is Thomas Mulcair. This increases his probability of retaining the seat. We can debate which candidate would give the Liberals the best chance of winning, a former Liberal Cabinet Minister who held the seat for a decade or a local high profile woman, but as the French military genius Napoleon Bonaparte would say, an enemy divided is easier to conquer. Mulcair's opponent is divided. No matter how the Libs choose to spin this, it is all bad news. It may not spill into other ridings, but winning Outremont would be a major national story (hence the level of Torontonian interference), defeating the deputy leader of the NDP in a former Liberal stronghold.

And on Ignatieff's response to this "friendly fire", that the accusation of the Toronto-centricity of the party would "make people laugh" in BC and Alberta, well yes they are laughing Mike. But they are laughing AT you Mike, not WITH you. Most centrists in the west oppose the Liberals because they are too concentrated in Toronto. These accusations confirm their bias, it does not bust it. So I agree with Mikey Ignatieff that the west is laughing, we just disagree WHY they are laughing.

I like my strategic use of ALL CAPS in this posting...

"There are but two powers in the world, the sword and the mind. In the long run the sword is always beaten by the mind."

- Napoleon Bonaparte

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ignatieff keeping the boots to the throat of the NDP

Here we go again. Lesson to the NDP, give them an inch and they will try to take a mile. This non-confidence posturing when the probability of a Liberal victory is declining just shows that the LPC remember how the NDP folded the last hand, and they are trying to push the dippers even farther. General Patton believed that if you can keep your enemy on his heels, you can control the engagement. That is all this is. It is a tactical move to press their perceived advantage. A lot of Liberals believed the big winner in the last "stand-off" was Ignatieff, and now they are simply coming back for sloppy seconds if Jack is willing to bend over and take it. But was Ignatieff the big winner in the LPC V NDP showdown? Polls don't suggest Ignatieff was the winner, despite what Chantal Herbert might declare. Beware of that annoying little thing we call in economics "diminishing marginal returns".

The Dion capitulation strategy didn't work, so now they are doing the opposite. Except that Politics is not an episode of Seinfeld, even though sometimes it feels that way. Negotiate legislation piece by piece, don't just blindly oppose everything. Some legislation is good, some is not. Judge everything on its own basis, don't simply reject it all without reading it. Layton already made that mistake once, and now it is coming back to bite him in the ass. Government legislation is not Green Eggs and Ham, okay. If you try them, you may find that they are actually really good.

This is the real world, not the wonderful world of make-believe...

2009/10 NHL Scoring Forecast

Here is my much anticipated list of NHL scoring projections for this season. For an explanation of how I do it, refer to for more details. This should be more accurate than the magazines, and not because I am better than them, but they have to print their projections in July. Those lists are not adjusted for new information that reached the public domain from July through to the end of September. I have looked at the injury reports, viewed all the preseason box scores, and here are my top 300 scorers. Please excuse the poor formatting, but I have to go to work and don't have time to fix it.

Rank Name Team Pos GP PTS
1 Sidney Crosby Pit F 80 114
2 Alexa Ovechkin Was F 80 114
3 Evgeni Malkin Pit F 80 113
4 Nick Backstrom Was F 82 95
5 Ilya Kovalchuk Atl F 80 95
6 Alexander Semin Was F 76 92
7 Joe Thornton SJ F 82 89
8 Pavel Datsyuk Det F 78 88
9 Ryan Getzlaf Anh F 79 88
10 Zach Parise NJ F 82 86
11 Marian Gaborik NYR F 70 86
12 Marc Savard Bos F 82 84
13 Jarome Iginla Cgy F 82 83
14 Rick Nash Cls F 80 83
15 Jeff Carter Phi F 82 82
16 Eric Staal Car F 82 82
17 Marty St. Louis TB F 82 81
18 Daniel Sedin Van F 82 80
19 Henrik Sedin Van F 82 79
20 Bobby Ryan Anh F 80 79
21 Dany Heatley SJ F 80 79
22 Jason Spezza Ott F 80 79
23 Patrick Kane Chi F 79 78
24 Anze Kopitar LA F 82 78
25 Mike Cammalleri Mon F 79 76
26 Jonathan Toews Chi F 80 76
27 Mike Green Was D 75 74
28 Mike Richards Phi F 75 74
29 H. Zetterberg Det F 77 74
30 V. Lecavalier TB F 76 73
31 Patrick Marleau SJ F 78 72
32 J. Pominville Buf F 82 72
33 Mikko Koivu Min F 79 72
34 Paul Stastny Col F 75 71
35 Brad Boyes StL F 82 71
36 Mike Ribeiro Dal F 82 71
37 Derek Roy Buf F 82 71
38 Corey Perry Anh F 80 71
39 Devin Setoguchi SJ F 82 70
40 Thomas Vanek Buf F 77 69
41 Brad Richards Dal F 75 68
42 Alex Tanguay TB F 78 68
43 Loui Eriksson Dal F 82 67
44 Ales Hemsky Edm F 75 67
45 D. Alfredsson Ott F 77 66
46 Olli Jokinen Cgy F 78 66
47 Jason Arnott Nsh F 77 66
48 Martin Havlat Min F 72 66
49 Simon Gagne Phi F 73 66
50 David Booth Fla F 78 65
51 Ray Whitney Car F 76 65
52 Alexei Kovalev Ott F 79 64
53 Andy McDonald StL F 71 64
54 J.P. Dumont Nsh F 82 63
55 Milan Michalek Ott F 79 63
56 Steven Stamkos TB F 82 63
57 Alex Frolov LA F 79 63
58 Shane Doan Pho F 82 62
59 Scott Gomez Mon F 80 62
60 Stephen Weiss Fla F 79 62
61 Danny Briere Phi F 70 62
62 Derick Brassard Cls F 72 61
63 Marian Hossa Chi F 67 61
64 Nathan Horton Fla F 82 61
65 Andrei Markov Mon D 80 61
66 Nik Antropov ATL F 74 61
67 Brian Gionta Mon F 80 60
68 David Perron StL F 82 60
69 Paul Kariya StL F 70 60
70 Brenden Morrow Dal F 75 60
71 Bryan Little Atl F 82 60
72 T.J. Oshie StL F 75 60
73 Patrik Elias NJ F 67 59
74 Slava Kozlov Atl F 78 59
75 Ville Leino Det F 78 59
76 Patrik Berglund StL F 79 58
77 Kris Versteeg Chi F 80 58
78 Matt Stajan Tor F 79 58
79 Travis Zajac NJ F 82 58
80 Joe Pavelski SJ F 80 58
81 Milan Hejduk Col F 80 58
82 Teemu Selanne Anh F 70 58
83 K. Huselius Cls F 77 57
84 J.Langenbrunner NJ F 80 57
85 Michael Ryder Bos F 76 57
86 Jason Blake Tor F 82 57
87 Claude Giroux Phi F 75 57
88 Jakub Voracek Cls F 80 56
89 Dan Boyle SJ D 80 56
90 Dustin Brown LA F 80 56
91 Shea Weber Nsh D 82 56
92 Dion Phaneuf Cgy D 80 56
93 Martin Erat Nsh F 75 56
94 Saku Koivu Anh F 70 56
95 Mark Streit NYI D 76 56
96 Johan Franzen Det F 76 56
97 Chris Kunitz Pit F 81 55
98 Tom Gilbert Edm D 82 55
99 Sam Gagner Edm F 79 55
100 Brian Rafalski Det D 80 54
101 P. O'Sullivan Edm F 80 54
102 Ryane Clowe SJ F 75 54
103 Michael Frolik Fla F 80 54
104 M. Grabovski Tor F 80 53
105 Jordan Staal Pit F 82 53
106 Ryan Kesler Van F 78 53
107 N. Lidstrom Det D 80 53
108 Scott Hartnell Phi F 80 53
109 Drew Stafford Buf F 80 53
110 S. Niedermayer Anh D 82 53
111 A. Ponikarovsky Tor F 82 53
112 Milan Lucic Bos F 76 53
113 David Backes StL F 80 53
114 M. Lombardi Pho F 78 53
115 Tim Connolly Buf F 60 52
116 Daymond Langkow Cgy F 82 52
117 Tuomo Ruutu Car F 75 52
118 Chris Drury NYR F 80 52
119 Todd White Atl F 75 52
120 Niklas Kronwall Det D 80 52
121 Brooks Laich Was F 82 52
122 James Neal Dal F 80 52
123 C. Glencross Cgy F 76 52
124 Patrick Sharp Chi F 75 51
125 Blake Wheeler Bos F 82 51
126 John Tavares NYI F 80 51
127 David Krejci Bos F 60 51
128 P. Bouchard Min F 75 51
129 Dave Bolland Chi F 82 51
130 Sergei Gonchar Pit D 72 51
131 Andrew Ladd Chi F 82 50
132 Mark Recchi Bos F 75 50
133 Ryan Malone TB F 75 50
134 Ryan Smyth LA F 70 50
135 A. Vermette Cls F 80 50
136 Dennis Wideman Bos D 80 50
137 Lee Stempniak Tor F 77 50
138 Brian Campbell Chi D 82 50
139 Cory Stillman Fla F 70 50
140 Wojtek Wolski Col F 80 49
141 Phil Kessel Tor F 65 49
142 Peter Mueller Pho F 76 49
143 Ryan Suter Nsh D 82 49
144 B. Dubinsky NYR F 82 49
145 Duncan Keith Chi D 82 49
146 Mike Comrie Edm F 82 49
147 Shawn Horcoff Edm F 76 48
148 David Legwand Nsh F 76 48
149 Keith Tkachuk StL F 76 48
150 Steve Sullivan Nsh F 65 48
151 Todd Bertuzzi Det F 72 48
152 Sergei Samsonov Car F 78 48
153 Erik Cole Car F 76 48
154 Erik Johnson StL D 75 48
155 Chris Pronger Phi D 80 47
156 Tomas Plekanec Mon F 80 47
157 Vaclav Prospal NYR F 80 47
158 Rod Brind'Amour Car F 77 47
159 Jay Bouwmeester Cgy D 82 47
160 Pavol Demitra Van F 65 47
161 A. Kostitsyn Mon F 77 47
162 Jason Williams Det F 82 47
163 Andrew Cogliano Edm F 82 47
164 R.J. Umberger Cls F 82 47
165 Kyle Quincey Col D 76 47
166 Rene Bourque Cgy F 75 47
167 Cam Barker Chi D 75 46
168 Steve Ott Dal F 73 46
169 P. Bergeron Bos F 65 46
170 C. Ehrhoff Van D 80 46
171 Antti Miettinen Min F 82 46
172 Rich Peverley Atl F 75 46
173 Doug Weight NYI F 70 45
174 Mike Modano Dal F 76 45
175 Andrew Ebbett Anh F 75 45
176 Ryan Whitney Anh D 74 45
177 Marco Sturm Bos F 70 45
178 Trent Hunter NYI F 79 44
179 Nick Foligno Ott F 82 44
180 Ryan Callahan NYR F 82 44
181 Andrew Brunette Min F 75 44
182 Ales Kotalik NYR F 74 44
183 Kris Letang Pit D 78 44
184 Niklas Hagman Tor F 73 44
185 Sheldon Souray Edm D 75 44
186 Zdeno Chara Bos D 79 44
187 Jarret Stoll LA F 75 44
188 Frans Nielsen NYI F 78 43
189 Tomas Kaberle Tor D 75 43
190 Nikita Filatov Cls F 65 43
191 Alex Burrows Van F 78 43
192 Mike Knuble Was F 80 43
193 Owen Nolan Min F 65 43
194 Dustin Penner Edm F 80 43
195 Martin Hanzal Pho F 79 43
196 F. Brunnstrom Dal F 80 43
197 V. Filppula Det F 78 43
198 Matt Duchene Col F 77 42
199 Kevin Bieksa Van D 77 42
200 Alexander Steen StL F 82 42
201 Tyler Kennedy Pit F 77 42
202 Chuck Kobasew Bos F 74 42
203 Alex Goligoski Pit D 75 42
204 Matt Niskanen Dal D 82 42
205 Bill Guerin Pit F 75 42
206 Colby Armstrong Atl F 82 41
207 G. Latendresse Mon F 77 41
208 J. Liles Col D 80 41
209 Marek Zidlicky Min D 77 41
210 Wayne Simmonds LA F 82 41
211 Kimmo Timonen Phi D 78 41
212 Matt Cullen Car F 72 41
213 Josh Bailey NYI F 76 41
214 S. Reinprecht Fla F 75 41
215 John Mitchell Tor F 78 40
216 Pavel Kubina Atl D 82 40
217 Marek Svatos Col F 70 40
218 Joe Corvo Car D 82 40
219 R. Fedotenko Pit F 75 40
220 Cody Hodgson Van F 70 40
221 Filip Kuba Ott D 78 40
222 Anton Babchuk Car D 76 40
223 Mike Fisher Ott F 75 40
224 Robert Nilsson Edm F 73 40
225 Blake Comeau NYI F 79 39
226 Steve Bernier Van F 80 39
227 D. Grebeshkov Edm D 75 39
228 Brian Rolston NJ F 74 39
229 Sean Avery NYR F 73 39
230 Scottie Upshall Pho F 76 39
231 Matt Hunwick Bos D 74 39
232 Dainius Zubrus NJ F 82 39
233 Chris Higgins NYR F 75 39
234 Tomas Holmstrom Det F 70 39
235 Kyle Wellwood Van F 76 39
236 D. Byfuglien Chi F 80 39
237 David Moss Cgy F 81 39
238 Nikolai Kulemin Tor F 72 39
239 Brent Burns Min D 75 39
240 Drew Doughty LA D 82 38
241 Zach Bogosian Atl D 76 38
242 Michal Handzus LA F 78 38
243 Jon Cheechoo Ott F 74 38
244 Jamie Lundmark Cgy F 70 38
245 Bryan McCabe Fla D 75 38
246 Radek Dvorak Fla F 82 38
247 Craig Conroy Cgy F 75 38
248 L. Visnovsky Edm D 66 38
249 C. MacArthur Buf F 75 38
250 M. Vlasic SJ D 82 38
251 David Clarkson NJ F 82 38
252 Alexander Edler Van D 78 38
253 Rob Blake SJ D 70 37
254 Justin Williams LA F 71 37
255 J. Wisniewski Anh D 75 37
256 Keith Ballard Fla D 82 37
257 Daniel Cleary Det F 75 37
258 Cory Murphy NJ D 70 37
259 Joni Pitkanen Car D 70 37
260 Chris Campoli Ott D 75 37
261 Chris Bourque Was F 60 36
262 Keith Yandle Pho D 67 36
263 Paul Martin NJ D 78 36
264 Ron Hainsey Atl D 79 36
265 Eric Belanger Min F 77 36
266 T.J. Hensick Col F 80 36
267 Fedor Tyutin Cls D 82 36
268 Ryan Shannon Ott F 70 36
269 Jaroslav Spacek Mon D 70 36
270 M. Samuelsson Van F 78 36
271 Matt Carle Phi D 78 35
272 Teddy Purcell LA F 65 35
273 Brent Seabrook Chi D 82 35
274 Kyle Brodziak Min F 82 35
275 Jussi Jokinen Car F 75 35
276 Mikkel Boedker Pho F 81 35
277 E. Christensen Anh F 72 35
278 Troy Brouwer Chi F 77 34
279 Tobias Enstrom Atl D 82 34
280 Kyle Turris Pho F 77 34
281 Petr Prucha Pho F 70 34
282 Jack Johnson LA D 75 34
283 Paul Gaustad Buf F 72 34
284 Ryan Jones Nsh F 70 34
285 M. Nylander Was F 70 34
286 Chris Stewart Col F 77 34
287 Michal Rozsival NYR D 80 33
288 Darren Helm Det F 80 33
289 Kris Russell Cls D 77 33
290 Kurtis Foster TB D 74 33
291 Daniel Paille Buf F 75 33
292 Ed Jovanovski Pho D 76 33
293 Raffi Torres Cls F 79 33
294 Andrej Meszaros TB D 76 33
295 Ian White Tor D 76 33
296 B. Morrison Was F 75 33
297 Joel Ward Nsh F 80 33
298 Nigel Dawes Cgy F 70 32
299 C. Colaiacovo StL D 70 32
300 Matt D'Agostini Mon F 70 32

Ignatieff in Question Period

I would like to take a short timeout from hockey forecasting (my own "quest for fire"), and offer a quick opinion. I was working on the computer listening to music with the TV set to CBC Newsworld on mute. I glance over at the muted television to see Michael Ignatieff playing his "no more Mr nice guy" routine in the House of Commons. As a commentator, let me offer my professional opinion; Iggy looks really goofy when he is acting out his "no more Mr nice guy" part. His facial expressions become more exaggerated, he very much appears to be over-acting, and it becomes even clearer when you are watching him in mute. Listen, I was a B+ student in high school drama class. I can differentiate bad acting from sincerity. Remember at that Liberal caucus camping trip up in Sudbury when he "profoundly" stated "we CAN do BETTER!!!" I imagine that most normal, pragmatic people watched him speak those words and thought "that was just weird..."

Anyway, I want to finish updating my 2010 NHL forecasts before the end of the day. I will post them on my site later on for the hockey pool benefit of my modest readership. I need to reward my dozens of fans for their clicks with some form of actionable NHL predictions that can be used in office pools near you. Trust me, I am really good at this. My "quest for fire" began when I was 9 years old, in high school I won a silver medal in the computer science division of our district Science Fair for my project "Predicting NHL Scoring Outcomes", oh and I hold an honours degree in Mathematical Economics.

Why I won't blame the Pakistani government for terrorist attacks against India

If you have been following my recent and past opinions on Pakistan, I would like to add some content. When atrocious acts like the armed attacks on Mumbai happen, I want to see the puppet masters brought to justice but I will not blame the Pakistani government. It is not in their best interests to provoke India, and as such have nothing to gain by allowing insurgents to initiate a large-scale attack on India from within Pakistan. It doesn't make any sense how Pakistan could benefit by galvanizing India into any military action.

Conversely, if there are extremist elements within Pakistan who endeavour to overthrow the Pakistani government, it benefits the bad guys to convince India that they are under attack by Pakistan. Therefore when I see India attacked by fringe elements within Pakistan, I do not blame the government for the incidents. I want to see the Pakistani government respond with appropriate force, but I will not blame them for the origin. What I will say is that the fringe element in Pakistan needs to be put down. Again, it reminds me of Old Yeller. NATO can't do it, India shouldn't try to do it, and the Pakistani military CAN do it. The Pakistani military is one of the best trained fighting forces on the planet. Those guys can kick some serious ass. I want to encourage their leadership to keep their boots to the throat of the bad guys.

The British oversaw the Partition of India and Pakistan once upon a time, and it could have been handled better. The animosity that exists between the two countries was born of their emergence from British colonialism. You all need to put that behind you. I don't know how to solve the problem of the disputed territories, but we need to start building a friendship between Pakistan and India. I am of Scottish descent, and my ancestors put down their weapons after centuries of conflict with the British and learned not only how to get along, but how to prosper from the friendship. When Scotland and England finally made a lasting peace, a little something happened that many call "the Scottish Enlightenment" (where the world was gifted with Scottish scholars like Adam Smith). Both sides benefited from calming down, and I believe we need a similar armistice between the government of India and the government of Pakistan. I know it is complicated, but I believe it needs to happen.

The real enemies are the aggressive insurgents in the Himalayas who want to collapse the entire Western economic model. Those bad guys know no borders. The world would be a better place if Pakistan could de-escalate from the border with India and crack some heads along the border with Afghanistan.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Re: Pakistan

In light of my plea today to those of Pakistani origin living in Canada, you should perhaps read the piece I wrote in April about that crisis in the Swat Valley. Read what I wrote in March when considering what I wrote in September.

My plea to Pakistani Canadians

I have met a number of Pakistani Canadians in my life time, and I proudly declare myself a strong supporter of this demographic in Canadian society. They are hard working, intelligent, and when you get the opportunity to engage them in a thoughtful conversation it is often a rewarding experience. If more Pakistani people want to move to Canada, then I would support increasing the quota.

But to paraphrase Tom Hanks in Apollo 13, "Islamabad, you have a problem." The armed revolutionary movement in the north of your country has become rabid and needs to be put down. The problem spilled into the Swat Valley this year, and the Pakistani military responded with appropriate force. Pakistan has a very potent military, and the only chance NATO has of defeating this "insurgency" in Afghanistan hinges on Pakistan maintaining the offensive. When Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, I was very sad. When her obituary was featured in Time Magazine Jan 14, 2008, I not only purchased the magazine, I framed it and put it up on my wall to honour her memory.

To Pakistani Canadians who still have family in Pakistan, I would encourage you to go down to your local video store and look for copies of a North American classic called Old Yeller. Maybe send a few copies back home. This film is perfect allegory for your problem with the militant Pashtuns. You feel a natural kinship with them, and once upon a time they helped save you from harm, but once they become rabid and turn on you, they must be put down.

Old Yeller. Available at a video store near you.

Which historical figure would you choose for your own "Excellent Adventure"?

I am running a new poll on my website for my dozens of devoted fans. My popularity in Whitehorse continues to grow. This week's question is: if you had access to a time machine and could travel backwards in time to visit a historical figure, bring him or her back to 2009, show them the world as it is now and ask them for their opinion; whom would you choose? This is of course in honour of the film Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, where they acquire a phone booth that does exactly that. They go retrieve all the historical figures to help them study for an important test, if my memory serves me correctly.

I will just briefly explain why I chose each nominee. I do include some left wing options for my left wing viewers. In hindsight, I should have added one of the Greek philosophers, a Chinese Emperor, an African King, a Montezuma, an Einstein, or so on and so forth. But once you start the poll, you can't add or change entries, and these were the first names to pop into my brain when I sat down to find a replacement for my expired Dennis Miller or Glenn Beck poll.

Adam Smith - This was who I voted for. The Scottish father of modern Economics. I chose him for my own Excellent Adventure because I want to ask him "we did all this based on your ideas, what did we get wrong?" I imagine he'd start with sub-prime mortgages, move on to pay day loans, and go from there.

Karl Marx - If you like him, you could use his advice these days.

Charles Darwin – I have a copy of Origin of Species on my bookshelf. I want his theories translated into Economics.

Cleopatra - I wanted some female nominees, and fortunately for the planet Aung San Suu Kyi is still alive, but don’t try to go to her house to ask her questions, or the military junta will extend her prison sentence even further. I nominate the Myanmarese military junta for some “Mike Ignatieff style” targeted executions.

Napoleon - I have readers in Quebec, and he does represent the peak of French influence in the world. As a Scottish Canadian, I don't vilify the “little King” the same way the Brits do.

Winston Churchill - It was hard not to choose Winston for my vote. He is my favourite politician of all time, well next to Mike Harris. I will never abandon my dream of having "Iron Mike" become PM and defeat CUPE once and for all.

Martin Luther (the Protestant) - I would want his opinion of religion today, specifically how we should feel about some of the serious problems over there with a fringe element of Islam, and how we can convince mainstream Islam to turn on extremist Islam. I would recommend mainstream Islam (particularly in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) view the film Old Yeller for an opinion on how to deal with the extreme elements that hide among them.

Octavian Caesar - I needed a Caesar on the list, and while Julius is the most famous, his nephew Octavian was arguably the most effective leader that the Romans ever had. I loved the HBO series Rome. If Octavian were immortal, there is a reasonable probability that the Roman Empire would never have collapsed.

William Wallace - I would mostly like to know what he was really like, which is likely somewhere in between the Mel Gibson version and the British historical accounts. Braveheart is one of my all time favourite movies, but we later learned that Mel Gibson is not who we thought he was. The passion of the Gibson diminishes my feelings of Nostalgia for his "Scottish Pride" film.

Alexander the Great - Nobody ever conquered more with less. Arguably the greatest military genius that has ever lived. But I was not much a fan of the Oliver Stone version.

Joan of Arc - the next famous female to pop into my brain.

John Lenin (the communist) - Honestly I just wanted to split the Karl Marx vote

JFK - A Liberal that a lot of Conservatives liked.

Germany Votes

This morning when I woke up, I dusted off the remote control for some “Lazy Sunday” channel surfing. I am a professional channel surfer. Seriously, if channel surfing were an Olympic sport, I would be on the podium. Despite the PGA Championships and NFL football, I started my day with live video from the BBC covering the Elections in Germany. I was very pleased to see that one of my favourite women on the planet, Angela Merkel won another election. As an aside; I’m sorry Angela but you will never unseat Aung San Suu Kyi as my nominee for greatest woman alive. Maria Sharapova is also very high on my list, but for entirely different reasons...

The Germans do a fascinating thing on election night; they gather the leaders of all the political parties in a media moderated roundtable discussion of what the country needs to do now. I watched Merkel speak her piece live on the BBC, and I felt a feeling of comfort. I have never met Angela Merkel, and I have never been to Germany. She has been in the international spotlight for a few years now and it feels like the more I listen to her, the more I trust her. What is exciting is that the “center-right” Libertarians won enough votes that she can craft a more natural coalition. She does not need to appease socialists, and now has the freedom to govern more pragmatically. Thank you Germany. I’m still a tiny bit “unsettled” about that whole Nazi blunder, but I really like where you’re heading. There is room for Christian Conservatives and Libertarians to get along and govern.

Anyone who is educated in international economics knows how much Germany matters. The “made in Germany” label is arguably the highest quality on the planet. They don’t just shit out a ton of cheap goods like China does; Germany makes the best high grade products. If you need some new ferries, buy them from the Krauts. Don’t try to make them yourselves. Don’t give the contracts to your friends at the ship workers union who don’t build fast ferries to build cutting edge technology. That is a disaster waiting to happen (and yes, I am talking to you BC NDP, you heard me). My grandmother was "made in Germany" (but as I've said, her parents had the good sense to get the hell out of the Deutschland BEFORE the World Wars).

I also take comfort in the general European political trend line. They are transitioning out of a socialist cycle. They tried it out, experienced it, thought about it and have been experiencing “buyers remorse”. I am cheering for you Europe. In the big picture, we are on the same team. Canadian Liberals are trying to convince us to elect a Czarist-Englishman to be Prime Minister, but nobody is buying it.

"In Critical and baffling situations, it is always best to return to first principle and simple action"

- Sir Winston S. Churchill

Can we bust this "Holocaust never happened" myth?

I will refer you to a rant that I wrote in September 2006, in and around the time that Iran was hosting their "Holocaust never happened" conference. How do I feel about the Jews? Well as someone who is 1/4 German (my great grandparents left Germany for the New World 20 years before World War One); I feel guilt watching Schindler's List. I don't know any Jews, I can scarcely recall ever meeting any Jews, but I strongly support Israel. My 1/4 German guilt is a factor, but my 3/4 Scottish Protestant side empathizes with the atrocities that the Romans inflicted on the old Jewish State. Romans invented the Catholic Church, and the Counsel of Nicaea wrote religious history. The Protestant dominant part of me looks at the Jews and says "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" which ironically enough is an old Muslim saying. Look, the Holocaust happened. If you don't believe me, take Hitler's word for it. Watch the interviews with the Allied soldiers who liberated concentration camps. Their words alone should tell you everything that you need to know.

Here is my 2006 rebuttal to allegations that the Holocaust never happened:

Holocaust: Fact or Fiction?
Wednesday September 6, 2006 - 06:13pm

Iran will be hosting an international conference on the Holocaust in the coming weeks, asking the question of whether or not it ever happened, or was greatly exaggerated. This is an opinion expressed by Muslims, hardcore Catholics, and other assorted bigots and idiots around the world. The Arab hatred of the Jews is a no-brainer. Jews hail from the same region, and both claim Jerusalem as a cultural capital. Catholic hatred of Jews is also a no-brainer. Romans had Jesus killed, turned him into a Martyr, then made him the center of their religion and blamed the whole thing on the Jews.

Why Hitler hated the Jews so much, I am not exactly certain. I'm sure religion had something to do with it, but whether he was manipulating the prejudice of the German people or he himself had some reason to hate them, history does not know. This is what we do know for sure; Hitler preached hatred of the Jews. Between his election in 1933 and the five year build up to WWII, his government seized Jewish assets and began arresting prominent Jews. I think that the prominence of the Jews in the banking community, and the fact that the Jewish collection of precious metals shielded them from the brunt of the Great Depression created animosity between them and the majority. Think about it. The stock market crashed because people borrowed too much money without real assets to back it up. The people that survived the Depression unharmed were the people with precious metals and tangible assets to back up their holdings. Jews did that.

So imagine everyone in a country is driven into poverty, but a culture of people originally exported as slaves from their ancestral homeland to your homeland had protected themselves from the collapse? Might this upset you? Might you be easily roused by an elected government preaching their demise? I believe that the majority of Germans in WWII supported the seizure of Jewish assets, but not the genocide of the entire race. Why did the Third Reich kill so many Jews? Well, imagine that you committed terrible crimes involving forced labour, and murder and torture designed to increase the efficiency of your labour force. The order to kill as many Jews as possible was not executed until it looked like the Germans might lose the war. Instead of leaving millions of people alive who witnessed how fucked up you were, why not try and kill them all to leave no witnesses? I have actually had a number of conversations with Catholics about religion and world politics who were convinced that I am Jewish. My answer; I am a Celtic Protestant, so I have more beefs with the Catholic Church than the Jewish people...

To anyone who tries to tell me that the Holocaust did not happen, to them I say lets dig up the earth surrounding these forced labour camps and do a CSI Poland. Oh wait, historians already did that. After debating facts that we already know to be true, there will not be any doubt that the Holocaust was indeed fact, not fiction. The President of Iran is playing political chess, trying to forward a view that discredits his enemy. This comes not long after he put further restrictions on freedom of the press, and fired a number of teachers and professors at some of Iran’s most prominent schools and universities who oppose his power. Using force to eliminate the opposition of your own people in your own country to your power is counter-productive to the well being of your nation. Iran had their "Night of the Long Knives".

Gustavsson a reverse jinxs?

I wrote this piece in August, at such time when the Leafs had dim hopes and would benefit from finishing in dead last. Now that they have Kessel and no 1st pick this year, there is no benefit to tank and they have to try to win.

And tonight Monster led the Leafs to a preseason defeat of my Red Wings. Albeit PRESEASON, but the Monster played great. I don't know what displeases me more, the Leafs making the playoffs, or the Leafs getting the number one overall pick. But now that they don't have a pick, the world can revert to normal and I can cheer the Leafs to lose. The question remains, did my prophecy of "hoping for a Monster season" charmatically assure the Leafs of a playoff spot? I hope not. At the same time, Leaf fans are so beat down; I think it could help the game somewhat if they were competitive.

Damned conflict of interests...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Storming the beaches of Burnaby Mountain

This evening I golfed a round at the Burnaby Mountain Golf Course. They did warn me when I called that they had done some form of "sand blasting" to the course earlier in the week, but the price was right so I didn't care. Once I got out onto the course, I understood why they were warning everyone. It is part of some re-sanding and re-seeding process that sets everything up for the next season. It was like golfing on a beach, which is nice that the ball slows down, but on fairways most of the time you don't want it to slow down. The Normandy jokes got some mileage.

I shot a 124, but the guys I was golfing with (whom I met for the first time in the proshop) were outstanding players. 90% of the holes I golfed this season were par 3s, for budgetary/value reasons. There are some tremendous values in the par 3 courses in Vancouver proper, if you are golfing on a budget. I won't say them, because promoting them means I would have to stand in line longer and they don't pay me. I am happiest when nobody else is there. You can play longer courses for more money, and we do that every so often. Today out of the tee box, I was embarrassing. As I stated at one point, "my 3 iron is more radioactive than Chernobyl". I tend not to use my driver, because it is extremely erratic and a formula for losing a lot of golf balls. Basically I was hitting 3-4 shots to get to the other players first shots.

Everything changed however, at every hole, when I got to within 120 yards. My 8 iron and I are in a serious relationship. I hit my ace with my 8. As I say this, my pitching wedge is getting jealous. My pitching wedge is a deadly weapon. I am forgetting my putter. I was 2 putts or less on 60% of the holes. This is the hazard of playing too many holes of “pitch and putt”. You get great in a range and terrible outside of that range when you get to a full length course. It was funny though, because when we all totaled our scores at the end of the day, I was not as far behind the guys who crushed 270 yard drives as I would have guessed. They still kicked my ass, but by 20 strokes, not the 40-60 you might have predicted if you looked at nothing but our opening tee shots.

I don't know how interesting this post is to the "blogging Tories", but if you are even still reading at this point, you "get it".

On every hole, I was terrible until I got to the 150 yard marker.

The little liberal who cried NATIONAL UNITY CRISIS!

Why is it that every time I turn on the news, I seem to see Michael Ignatieff declaring every thing a national unity crisis? Notwithstanding the fact that someone who spent most of his adult life abroad becoming an expert on "national unity", I see this alarm sounding as inherently dangerous. I forsee one of two things happening, neither of which is very appealing.

1) You create a self fulfilling prophecy whereby people hear the words "national unity crisis" so much that they believe there really is a "national unity crisis" the hysteria over which actually creates a "national unity crisis".

2) It follows the story of the little boy who cried wolf, and people become tone deaf on the words "national unity crisis" such that if there actually were to be a "national unity crisis" the country would not respond with appropriate action.

Obviously the Liberals have to resist changing the seat distribution in the Commons because it will harm them. The eastern population (myself including) have been slowly and gradually migrating west for years, where the Tories enjoy higher support. But ultimately the threat of separation should not allow Quebec to extort a larger bounty from the fed than is fairly owed to them. Seats should be based on population. That is completely fair. If the migration of labour from traditionally liberal areas to traditionally conservative areas is not a "canary in the coal mine" indicator for the economic vulnerability of local economies with larger proportions of liberals, I don't know what is. Or by saying that am I creating a national unity crisis?

Redistribute the seats. I'm not so much for adding seats as shifting them. We have enough MPs in Ottawa, we don't need to buy more. We may have too many politicians as it is.


Can anyone tell me the current state of cryogenic technology in the world? Have we yet developed the ability to freeze people in time and thaw them out alive later? Can we get moving on that? It may seem asinine or foolhardy of me to ask, but I think that this would be very cool technology to have available, pun intended. If someone came to me and asked "we will freeze you in time and wake you up when we are flying around in starships", I would be very tempted. And yes, I am a Trekker.

Moreover, wouldn't it have been cool if we had this technology in place hundreds or even thousands of years ago. If immediately after the surrender of Germany, we went to Churchill and Patton and said "look, we are going to need you again some day. Lets freeze you in time, and we will wake you up at the onset World War 3 for a few more years of distinguished service." Maybe I just watched Encino Man at a young and impressionable age and thought it was really cool how Brendan Fraser woke up in modern times and had to learn about the world. Martin Luther, great job challenging the Catholic Church, but can we freeze you? We may need you again some day. The list of examples is endless. William Shakespeare, Alexander the Great, Charles Darwin, Christopher Columbus, William Wallace (and not as Mel Gibson), Octavian Caesar, Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, and so on and so forth.

I'm just thinking out loud in a public forum. Hopefully somebody is listening.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Crisis Prevention

I am proud to say that I am now officially certified by the Province of British Columbia for Non-violent Crisis Prevention. Which is how to calm people before they get out of control, and how to physically subdue them without hurting them if they become violent. In the event that it becomes necessary to subdue a person who has become aggressive or violent, there are a variety of techniques that are used to restrain them, but the goal is to avoiding causing injury to that person.

At the same time, how you proceed depends on the individual and each situation is unique. When you are in a live situation with a violent individual, you must measure the risks on the spot as the situation evolves. If the person is armed with any kind of weapon, even a stapler, the circumstances change. You would be surprised how many objects can be wielded with lethal force by the right individual. It is easy for civilians to say how they would have responded in any specific situation, but until you actually experience violent incidents in person, you will never truly appreciate how difficult it is to measure these risk variables on the fly in a matter of minutes or even seconds. Police don't want to hurt you. They would obviously prefer it if every suspect or agitated individual behaved rationally and cooperated. They don't want to use the taser, much less their fire arm.

Which reminds me of my training in hand to hand combat. It wasn't martial arts, just general arm bar, wrist lock, takedown, and submission techniques that cause the least amount of long term damage. It was funny because we had an expert in these techniques come in to teach the course. I volunteered to be the guinea pig where the instructor would demonstrate the techniques on me. He said "say stop when it hurts, and I will stop". A little background info on me, once upon a time I won a gold medal at the Ontario Winter Games for weightlifting, the 100kg division. I was an offensive lineman in high school football, and was a team captain. Our team won 2 Championships based laregely on the strength of our running game through the O-Line. My legs can generate roughly 700 to 800 pounds of force when necessary. The instructor tried all of these techniques, but could not hurt me. Evidently I am also some form double jointed. In high school I competed in 5 sports and the only injury that ever took me out for a game was a popped appendix and I was back in a week.

The point is, not only could the non-violent techniques not hurt me, but I could get out of pretty much any submission hold, either by twisting and shifting my arms and elbows at the joints, or by brute force. It would take a team of trained officers to take me down for the count. Fortunately for society I am one of the good guys, who does not commit crimes and is respectful of police officers, but if someone of my physical attributes decided to resist detention, the only option would be a team of police gang tackling him, a taser, or a gun. If the officer(s) were forced to engage this individual in any form of hand to hand combat, then suddenly that officer(s) are at risk of serious injury. If we are going to pay these guys to protect us from society's wolves, then we have to give them some leeway in their threat assessment. When their own safety is at risk, I absolutely support their right to zap that offensive lineman with a few volts to entice the weightlifter to disengage and de-escalate from their aggressive behavior. It is better than shooting them, and it is better than putting the officers at risk of harm.

I support the use of tasers by police. But yes, if any officer uses any weapon when it is not necessary, they should be subjected to some form of disciplinary action. Bottom line is that 95% of the time, I trust the officer to make the best decision based on the available information.

Boo Red Wings?

I was coming home from the golf course today decorated in Detroit Red Wing fan merchandise, and at the grocery store a young clerk gave me a dirty look and said

"Boo Red Wings"

I responded with,

"Really? It's about winning championships. I have personally witnessed my favourite team win four Stanley Cup Championships in my lifetime. How many have you seen?"

He bowed his head in shame and said,


To which I replied,

"Exactly. Know your role, respect the authority, and dread the red baby!!!"

I got back to my car and started laughing. Canucks fans are such easy marks, though Vancouver is my second favourite team in the league. I worked for the franchise for two seasons. I cheer when they score. Allan Vigneault will not last the duration of his new contract. Coaches tend to experience diminishing marginal returns on their motivational speaking. They kind of had to give him the extension so the players would take him more seriously. If they thought he was a lame duck, they would be more likely to tune out the yelling and screaming.

Bill Simmons interviews Matt Stone

My favourite sports commentator recently interviewed my favourite cartoon writer Matt Stone on his podcast. If you have an IPod, download the BS Report (I also strongly endorse the Adam Carolla and Dennis Miller podcasts). If you don't have an IPod, go to and look for the BS Report. Matt Stone has a large following of self described "South Park Conservatives", and trust me when I say that you want people like him voting Conservative when they vote. A lot of people really like South Park. Matt Stone is on record as saying "I hate Conservatives but I really fucking hate Liberals".

Embrace the authority...

They love me in Whitehorse

I recently signed up for this StatCounter feature, which is fascinating technology, particularly when it tells you where your hits are coming from. This makes it that much more fun to be a blogger. Understandably the majority of my hits come from Ottawa, as can be expected of a politically themed blog. What has blown me away is that Whitehorse is in my top 12 cities for hit counts. On a per capita basis, evidently I am very popular in the Yukon. I have had twice as many hits from Whitehorse as Hamilton, ironic because I have dedicated thousands of words to lobbying for Hamilton to get a NHL team. Thanks Hamilton, thanks a lot. I dedicate my time and effort to get you a team, and despite all of that I generate twice as much interest from a city with 96% fewer people?

That's it; my new passion in life is to relocate the Phoenix Coyotes to Whitehorse. The Yukon has a proud tradition of hockey and terrific people. We can call the new team the Whitehorse Golddiggers. Can somebody start a webpage dedicated to getting a franchise for the Canadian arctic?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Canadian RCMP

I am employed in the Public Safety business. I endeavour to keep ordinary people free from harm for a living. The nature of my job includes working with police officers whenever they require my assistance. Tonight a teenager was stabbed near where I work, and I spent an hour and a half working with RCMP officers in the immediate aftermath of this incident. The victim is okay, and the suspects were apprehended in a very short period of time. I would just like to take a moment to say how impressed I was at the intelligence, diligence, instinct, and all around professionalism of the fine men and women who serve the public good as police officers. I have a traffic ticket that I am still upset about (NHL fan merchandise partially covering my registration sticker), but that notwithstanding I have the utmost respect for the Canadian Police forces.

I don't know that it needs to be said, but I feel compelled to say it. Thank you for doing what you do. I know that there is an element of Canadian society that is scornful towards our police officers, probably people more likely to engage in criminal behavior, but I have nothing but the highest praise for our police. To those who oppose the use of tasers by police, I say that they are less lethal than guns, and if you don't want to be tased, don't resist. If you don't flee from the police, if you are respectful to the police, and if you don't resist arrest, you will never be tased. And if you do decide to engage in aggressive disobedience, being zapped with a few volts is better than being shot.

"Never in the face of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few."

- Winston Churchill

My last minute plug for Dennis Miller

As my dozens of fans have been following, I am running a poll of which comedic pundit you would go to first when a news story is breaking. Miller, Beck, Stewart, or Colbert. Yeah, I could have added names to the list like Maher, Tucker C, or O'Reilly, but I was in a hurry. Beck has pulled out to a 23 point lead against Miller. So to my dozens of fans, watch this and vote.

The Best of Dennis Miller

Of Scots and Sheep...

I have a question. Why is it that any time I proudly pronounce my Scottish genealogy to an Englishman in a competitive work environment, I am then subjected to allegations of sexual acts with sheep? Personally, I do not experience any form of sexual arousal in the presence of farm animals, but what is the story behind this urban legend that Scottish people are more likely to have sex sheep than any other culture? Why not goats? Germans are into a lot of kinky stuff in the bedroom, so why are they not accused of going out to the barn to "clean the pipes"?

I brought up this subject with my buddies on the golf course the other week, and we talked about it for 3 holes, 25 minutes. The question was, is there something in the Celtic DNA whereby sheep emit some form of pheromone that elicits arousal in Celtic males, or was there simply a period in Scotland where there were an over abundance of young single males and sheep where this stereotype became folklore?

By the way, if you are Celtic and offended, I am 75% Celtic and 25% German (and by Celtic I mean a combination of Scotland and Ireland, the DNA is not far apart). I am allowed to ask these questions. I have been subjected to the jokes, but farm animals don't turn me on. I have had co-workers allege that I have sex with sheep for no other reason than I am of Scottish ancestry.


Why Polygamy should be illegal

Is Polygamy not already illegal in Canada? Why are charges being dropped against this Mormon pig in Bountiful? My opposition to polygamy is not on moral grounds, although when the women are not allowed to leave, then it becomes slavery. As I understand it, that happens quite often. The reason that I believe Polygamy should not be protected by the charter of rights and freedoms can be best explained by the mathematician in me.

This is not a focus on the family breakdown. If it becomes legal, then what stops it from seeping into the mainstream? What if professional athletes were allowed to marry as many women as wanted to marry them? There are lots of women who would willfully enter into such an agreement for marital access to the athlete and all his "resources". The Libertarian in me wonders, if both people really want it, why not allow it? Because if you allow the men at the top to cluster large numbers of women, that reduces the number of women available to the rest of the male population. It slowly becomes more and more difficult for males to settle into pair bonding, increasing the number of young males full of piss and vinegar without an outlet to release their "steam". Large numbers of young single males can be very dangerous in a society.

This is why Polygamy should be illegal. Don't let the case hinge on whether or not he married a girl under age, if he has multiple wives that alone should warrant a prison sentence. End of story. If it is not already a law, it should be. Let's get federal Parliament to do this when they back together again. If the Supreme Court says the law violates the Charter of Rights, then invoke the damned notwithstanding clause! Polygamy should be illegal. How much do you want to bet that when male children of these Mormon brigades hit puberty, they are either shunned out of town or segregated from the female population?

The Harper Government should put this legislation to parliament at the nearest opportunity. That would help boost his popularity in British Columbia, where he has a pending problem with enticing Campbell to envoke the HST. I would love to see the Liberals vote in favour of Polygamy, but Ignatieff can't be that stupid.

Muamar Gaddafi

If anyone didn't already believe the Dictator of Libya is crazy, his speech at the UN definitely clinched it. What does it say about the world that people like him, Aquavelvajad, Kim Jong Ill, Robert Mugabe, or any number of other lesser known warlords are allowed to reign over a large population of human beings? Just because they have the most guns and are the toughest S.O.Bs inside their borders does not mean that they should be allowed to inflict suffering on the local populace. Gaddafi is certifiably crazy, but remember when Bush invaded Iraq and Muamar shit his pants and turned over his entire nuclear program? He was trying to build a bomb under Clinton's reign, Bush kicked the shit out of Saddam, and fear enticed Gaddafi to turn over all his nuclear equipment that he bought from the guy who built the Pakistani bomb.

You gotta wonder what was going through Obama's head when he heard Gaddafi's "Obama should be President for the rest of his life" endorsement. I was thinking of running for public office, and I really want to seek a public endorsement from Charles Manson. That this tyrant masquerading as a leader wants Obama to be President forever, should be some sort of indicator. Under Bush, Muamar was afraid and turned over his nuclear program. Tupac Shakur used to say that when you are dealing with dangerous people, fear is stronger than love. Granted, he was shot to death in a gangland style street shooting. He didn't have much to say about it after that.

I look at Gaddafi, and I would really like it if Michael Ignatieff would elaborate on his targeted assassination belief. Which crazy world leader would Michael Ignatieff most want to have offed?

The South Park guys said it best in this speech in Team America. I don't think the left understood what the South Park guys were trying to say. The left treated it like it was a gay joke, but the South Park guys are generally Libertarian and were just trying to express how they viewed the war on terror while making a joke.

"Because if you don't let us fuck this asshole, we will have our dicks and our pussies, all covered in shit"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Talk about a hole in one!"

Golf is a game that is frustrating to learn, but once you can start making nice shots, it's worth the trouble. There is nothing like the feeling of satisfaction when you make a great shot and a hundred fold when you make the perfect shot. For example, a few weeks ago I shot a hole in one. Let me describe the experience; 8 iron from 100 yards, 10th hole. It was hot and dry, so the fairways were playing fast. I shot a 3/4 swing with an iron so that I could get a low arc and roll it up to the green. We call that a "bump and roll". I could tell when the ball was in the sky that it was going to be a good shot. It struck the earth 20 yards in front of the pin and starts heading for home. As Kevin Nealon said to Happy on the putting green in Happy Gilmore "his bags are packed, he's at the airport, just send him home."

As it rolls, I scream "GET IN THE HOLE" so loud I'm pretty sure they heard me up in the space station. It rolls into the cup, I scream "YEAH" like I am Howard Dean at the Iowa caucus. Then I proceed to start running and jumping towards the hole like I am Joe Carter running for home in the last inning of the World Series. I get about 15 steps and realize that my buddy still needs to shoot. So I stop, turn around and say, "That’s why you play the game!"

That was weeks ago, but that memory won't go away. I can be having a shitty day at work and all I need to do is recall that memory to bring a smile to my face.

Unfortunately when I am playing well, I can be somewhat of a dick. If you don't take it personally, it can be funny. Here are some of my "zingers" from this season. Feel free to use them on a golf course near you.

"You've been hugging that tree line tighter than the Vietcong!"

"I don't care if your caddy were Jacques Cousteau, you ain't finding that ball!"

"Ann Coulter thinks you hooked that too far right!"

"Hey Marco Polo, it's lost, give it up!"

"That shot sucked harder than Sarah Palin on date night!"

"If I take out my driver, I'll start spraying shots like Dick Cheney duck hunting with an oozie!"

"Down 5 strokes after 2 holes? Gordon Campbell thinks you're running a big deficit!"

"Phil Mickelson at Wingfoot thinks that was a bad club selection!"

"Len Mattice thinks you're melting down!"

"You fucked that up worse than the British Army at Sterling Bridge!"

"The Hindenberg think you blew that landing!"

I have a whole slew of Chernobyl and 3 Mile Island zingers, but I'll save those for another day...Oh, and my sand trap jokes.

"You're pounding the sand harder than the Allied forces at Normandy!"

Can we trust media that put their own self interest above the public interest?

It was interesting to go through this past election scare and watching it unfold in the mainstream media. I tend to rely on the National Post and the Globe and Mail for my online consumption. For television, I tend to put on CBC news world on low volume in the background while I am on the computer or doing chores around the house. If there is a breaking story of interest, I turn up the volume, and then I go to the National Post or the Globe and Mail for the real story. If the story elicits an opinion from me, I sit down and bang out a blog post. Sometimes I let a news story linger for a few days before I chronicle my opinion. Often times, I will be watching a live speech or live coverage of question period and bang out my opinion as it happens.

I watched Iggy’s speech live when he pronounced he would no longer support the government. I posted Call Their Bluff within moments of the speech being over, which basically said they can’t possibly win, this does not make any sense, they have to be bluffing. I didn’t need to send that to an editor for revision, or go through bureaucracy; I just pumped it out at 11:05am pacific time. It was online before Iggy was done taking questions. If you are an opinion reporter at the Globe or Post, you can logically come to the same conclusion as the blogger without ever reading the blog. But once it is out there, it is popping up on blackberries across the country. At which point when the paid opinionist gets his piece approved by his editor and posted, that conclusion he reached as been in circulation for hours.

This is not intended as an attack on the media, because I rely on the National Media to break news stories which I then view and compile my opinion. I’m not a beat writer on the street chasing stories. I watch the news, filter it, think about it, and communicate how I feel about it. I don’t want to undermine the media because we all need them to continue to exist. I also buy and read newspapers, and I am a frequent visitor to their websites, running up their hit totals which allows them to charge money for businesses to advertise where I am viewing. I buy my golf balls at Perfect Lies in North Vancouver because they advertise on the TEAM 1040 that I listen to on my way to work. As a consumer I choose to consume what I consume from businesses who advertise with media outlets that I enjoy reading. It is just me doing my part to support the media outlets that I rely on for information. The next time I need a hotel, I will look for a Marriot because they advertise with the National Post.

And yet, the main stream media model currently in place appears to be broken because they are hemorrhaging money and losing their audience. In response, the media is evolving into new mediums, such as live opinion writing online by columnists that used to have the whole day to meet a deadline for tomorrow. People who want to read the news want to read breaking news as it happens. The Internets are making the printed product yesterdays news. The business is evolving, and they need to properly monetize the new mediums. But there is another complicating factor, people like me. People who write their opinion on websites. I don’t get paid to do this. There are no advertisements on my page and nobody pays me to write my opinion. I post links to websites that I use all the time, because they don’t make me pay so it is my way of paying it forward.

I have a full time job, I blog before work or after work. People who are employed have a limited amount of time to consume the news, and suddenly the mainstream news outlets are losing viewers to blogs. As a blogger, I can track my view counts. I know how many people are reading individual posts, and there is a big variance in hit count. I wrote a short piece “Are Harper and Pelosi new best friends?” which got over 1000 hits. It was a short piece that simply asked why the hell she seemed so happy. Then I write a long piece that I crafted over a number of days about Libertarianism, and it got less than 100 hits. One piece was long, cleverly crafted, I thought about it over several days, while the other was just a quick hit, why was she so happy. I can write 1500 words on the problems in Somalia that gets 50 hits, but if I write a post titled “Obama the Marxist” and write 100 words of nonsense, I’d get thousands of hits. I have posted that Obama is a Marxist in the past, but that's because I believe it. If my site were monetized and I followed the path of greatest hits because it was my livelihood, I wouldn’t write the best most well thought story, I’d just constantly post whatever gets hits.

Which then gets me back to this past election. The pundits at the National Post were saying that an election doesn’t make any sense, but “pay per view” pundits from struggling news outlets were saying that an election was imminent, and I even read that a Quebec paper was getting its election team mobilized under the pretense that it was going to happen. During an election, more people pay attention to the news and watch the news, be it at CBC, the National Post, or their local news outlet. Suddenly the media is representing their own interests above the public interest. This did not happen at the Post because they are in better fiscal shape and don’t need an election to make money. But other outlets put their own interests above the public interests, and the public did not want an election.

I am closing in on 1000 words, so let me whittle this down to my final conclusion. Can you trust news outlets that put their interests above the public good? The National Post embraced the public interest and called the Liberal bluff, but others were touting an election for their own benefit. I’m not sure that I have a solution to the problem outlined above, other than read the National Post if you want to read the story the way it is. There is a link to them on my website. What do we do as citizens, as bloggers, to eliminate the problem of self interest being put above the public good? I don’t know that I know the answer, but it is a question that I would like to see asked.

“I just don't trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn't die.”

Mr. Garrison, South Park (referring to women and their periods)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Phil Kessel acquisition forces Burke to alter course

Last week’s acquisition of Phil Kessel will force Burke to alter course. The benefit to tanking the season is gone when you don’t have your first round pick. Taylor Hall will not be putting on a Leafs jersey on draft day (barring a trade or miraculous collapse of his value), and as such Burke has to be setting his sights on the playoffs. Without the draft pick, there will not be pressure from the fans to tank the season for a top pick, fans frustrated with not being good enough to make the playoffs, but not being bad enough to get a franchise changer like Crosby or Ovechkin.

Kessel is a great young talent who is fun to watch and at 23 years old still has not reached peak performance and has the potential to score 50 goals in the NHL. I'm only going to say this once, good on you Leafs for doing this. I believe that is fair market value for a known entity. A draft pick however valuable is not a guaranteed sniper. He'll be fun to watch, meaning that the watching of Leaf games won't be so painful as to qualify as torture under the Geneva Conventions. I thought I remembered hearing a story that authorities at Gitmo prevented a terrorist attack because extracted high level intel by subjecting a suspect to Leaf hockey in a continuous loop. Sadly, it caused permanent psychological damage that no amount of therapy can reverse.

The Leafs are now a better team, and without their draft pick have no incentive to tank the season. This will be a more entertaining team than last season, and they may even challenge for 8th spot only to get slaughtered by Washington. The catch is that they would have been better off trading the Kadri pick and Kaberle at the draft. But now that they have Kessel and no 2010 pick, they have to try to win so suddenly it benefits them to play Kaberle. They still have too many D so they have to move somebody. We will see what happens. One thing is for certain, this hurts Kessel's value in hockey pools this season. Surgery, plus he goes from one of the league's best teams to one of the league's worst teams. His numbers have to take a big hit.

The Libertarian Right

I happened upon this article recently at the National Post by Terence Corcoran, which was apparently written in April but on the main page for Canadian Politics in September regarding a speech Mr. Harper gave to a partisan crowd. This speech bothered me more than the one in the Sault that Liberals were fawning over. In the speech the Prime Minister takes some very pointed jabs at Libertarians.

As someone who generally identifies himself in political conversations as a member of the "Libertarian Right", I am not pleased about the pushback against "Libertarianism" coming from the right in both the United States and Canada. I can recall Laura Ingraham after the Republicans got trounced in November went on a tirade against Libertarians, in response to the suggestion that Conservatives could make inroads in the center if they embraced more Libertarian values. What is a Libertarian? As Corcoran points out it is not clearly defined, but in my experience tends to include people who are socially Liberal and fiscally Conservative. I suppose the most famous politician of this persuasion is Ron Paul.

Most people would agree that Ron Paul takes Libertarian Doctrine like Milton Friedman's Free to Choose too literally, and preaches an extreme position. He would dismantle most levers of government, and diminish it to its smallest possible size. He would completely deregulate financial markets in an embrace of economic Darwinism, which would open a potential opportunity for increased predatory behavior. Lions and gazelles, sheep and wolves. I certainly don’t support disbanding the CIA. Sometimes I hear Ron Paul speak and I think he’s brilliant, sometimes I hear him speak and I think he’s crazy. Some right wing pundits like Coulter and Ingraham push back hard against Libertarians because they see it as a threat to traditional conservatism because Libertarians are:

1) more likely to be agnostic or atheist

2) less likely to oppose gay marriage (I don’t care if people want to marry farm animals, but that may be the product of my Scottish genealogy, and yes I am speaking in hyperbole)

3) more likely to support decriminalizing marijuana

4) more likely to support legalized prostitution

5) more likely to be pro choice, hell, Milton Friedman’s Libertarian doctrine is called “Free to Choose”

But a lot of these people, and there are a lot of us, vote conservative because:

1) we want to pay the lowest amount of taxes possible

2) we despise wasteful spending of said tax dollars

3) we don't want the government to tell us what to do

And those 3 fiscal beliefs outweigh the 5 points of departure on social policy. There exists a Libertarian left who emphasize the differences on social policy over the agreement in fiscal policy. How big is the Libertarian left and how big is the Libertarian right? Nobody knows for sure. There is a demographic in the United States who identifies themselves as “South Park Conservatives”, which you understand if you have ever watched South Park. Of the two creators of the cartoon, one is a Libertarian and the other is a Conservative. The latter, Matt Stone once said:

“I hate Conservatives, but I really fucking hate Liberals…”

I could not have said it any better myself. I would encourage the social conservatives to refrain from pushing back against Libertarianism. You can’t assimilate everyone into your agenda, and by moving towards compromise you are moving towards the center. There are a lot of votes in the center. If the population has a normal distribution, then 2/3 of voters should be within one standard deviation of the center, with the mode being right on the center line. It is a balancing act, and when you need all the votes you can get, it is not wise to take jabs at people who vote for you.

And on the jab that Libertarians are responsible for the recent collapse of the Stock Markets, I have a simple response. A single regulation could have prevented it. Don't loan money to people who won't be able to pay it back. Boom, catastrophe averted. Unfortunately Barney Frank got his chubby socialist fingers into the American housing market.

"I think that parents only get so offended by television because they rely on it as a babysitter and the sole educator of their kids."

-Kyle, South Park

Monday, September 21, 2009


The immortal words of then New York Jets coach Herm Edwards I believe can be applied to the NATO status in Afghanistan. I am hearing more and more voices saying that we can't win and we should withdraw, and I mean that it is coming from all NATO partners. I understand that it is terrible when our troops are killed, but there was a reason that we sent our young men and women over there. I support rotating other NATO troops into the more volatile areas to ease the burden Canadian soldiers have been bearing, but is withdrawing NATO really the best road to follow? For all the sacrifice so many NATO soldiers and families have paid, I believe that their sacrifice was for a noble cause. And that cause is no less noble today when 8 years have passed and the Taliban are still alive because they hide in caves and get sanctuary in Pakistan.

Do you recall the Behind the Veil documentary about just how insane the Taliban was? Their oppression of women ranks among the most horrific crimes against humanity that I have seen in my lifetime. I always believed that the liberation of women would do more to transform the male dominated culture of Islam than 1000 bunker busters. Unfortunately those changes are generational, and you do not see the real progress in the short term. Any culture that treats their women as slaves deserves to get their asses kicked.

Ultimately the road to long term success goes through India and Pakistan, but that would take some top rate diplomacy to salvage that relationship. I don't even know if the Messiah could pull off that miracle. By all accounts the Pakistani military have been killing bad guys in the north since that little SWAT crisis, and we should encourage them to continue. I know that people love to say "if you kill a terrorist you only create 3 more terrorists in the future", but I believe in killing bad guys. Maybe it incites some toddler to pick up an AK47 when he's a teenager, but I will take my chances with killing as many bad guys as we can in the near term.

I think it would be more constructive to discuss winning strategies than discussing a complete withdrawal. Yes democracies trend against wars the longer they are fought, but we went over there for the right reasons and I believe that like Herm, you play to win the game!

"An appeaser is a man who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last"

-Winston Churchill

Dennis Miller V Glenn Beck

I have set up a poll on my website over which American pundit you would most like to listen to for opinion on a breaking news story. I selected Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Dennis Miller, and Glenn Beck as the options. The first three are comedians who talk about the world, and Glenn Beck often acts like a comedian. Two left wingers, two right wingers. I am pleased to see that Dennis Miller has started to pull away with a 13% lead over Beck. I listen to the Miller podcast every day, and I would say of all the opinionists in the culture, I agree with him the most. I used to like Beck when he was on CNN, but he has become loonier on Fox. It can be tough to take him seriously sometimes, but that is not to say that he is wrong. Stewart and Colbert aren't really pundits, except that many young people treat their spoken words like the gospels. Stewart just takes news clips and runs them out of context while Colbert pretends to be Bill O'Reilly. It is both astounding and alarming how many young people take them seriously.

Pig Flu Commercials?

Iggy is on my TV talking right now about how abhorrent it is for the Government to spend more money promoting their Economic Action Plan than on commercials to warn people of the pig flu. This is intended to cement the argument that the Liberal Party cannot possibly negotiate legislation with the Tories. Seriously? We need to run television commercials to warn people about the pig flu? The virus is no more lethal than the normal flu. Do we really need to whip the public into hysteria over the flu? Remember what happened to Toronto with SARS? It paralyzed the economy. The harm inflicted by the hysteria did far, far more damage than the virus itself. The Government should be buying vaccine for distribution to high risk citizens, yes. But television commercials? If we have never run ads for the regular flu, why should we do it for a bug with comparable mortality?

This brings me to the promotion of the Economic Action Plan. Have you ever heard of something called “consumer confidence”? When consumers are confident, they are more likely to engage in commerce. If we want to help speed this economic recovery, we are going to need to have the people of Canada participate. Setting up a webpage to tell people how they can save money or qualify for grants is a noble venture. The “sky is falling” PR strategy of the Liberal Party does more harm to our economy than the absence of “wash your hands and be afraid” commercials about the pig flu.

I do agree with Michael on the HST. That may not have been the brightest move by the Feds. Gordon Campbell says he only did it to extract the bounty from Ottawa.

PETA to protest Vancouver Olympics?

I understand that I am not breaking news with this post, and that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have long been planning protests of this year's Vancouver Olympics because seals are hunted on the other side of the country. The CBC ran this story in June. It was not until a session of Canadian Parliament was crashed by seal protestors recently that this story popped up on my radar. I googled "Vancouver seal hunt" to research a piece that I was writing titled Seals; my contempt for a voracious predator, and all that popped up was petitions and articles about the Vancouver Olympics, most of those hits were linked to PETA.

The information that I was searching for was about Vancouver and its seal hunt. Why? Because the left coast banned its seal hunt years ago, and what did we get for our trouble? An explosion in the seal population. The population did not explode so much "out to sea" where they'd be orca food; it exploded up the river system where killer whales don't swim. Guess what happens in the river system? Salmon spawn. Now we have environmentalists saying that we need to start culling seals annually to save the fish population. If I were making a measured calculation on what is "ethical" and what is not; what's the difference between culling predators to save their prey and allowing a quota controlled commercial hunt?

I don't know what it takes to start a protest, but I would like to encourage someone (preferably first nations) to lead a counter protest. SAVE THE SALMON, HUNT THE SEALS!...The signs will read. Other than the hypocrisy of protesting a city for something that someone else is doing, the real story is that we need to culling seals to save our commercial fisheries.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Natural Governing Party?

I wrote this in May, but it is every bit as applicable today as it was then. The myth that the Liberals are the "Natural Governing Party" of Canada deserves at least some scrutiny, if not outright mythbusting...

I keep hearing that the Liberal Party is the "natural governing party" in Canada. When you look at modern history, the past 30 years, we have had 10 elections. Recent memory calls to attention nearly 12 years of Liberal majorities, 3 elections where the Conservative Party was split in two. With two Conservative Parties, the Liberals were 3 for 3 in winning majorities. What about when there has been a united right in the past 30 years? There were 7 elections producing one Liberal majority and one Liberal minority. That means that the Conservative Party has won over 70% of elections with a united right in the past 30 years. This then begs the question, who is the natural governing party in recent history? The Liberals can only conquer when their enemy is divided, so to all those Mulroney loyalists under our tent, I say it is okay to be frustrated but you need to relax.

I already know what the response of Liberals will be to the diatribe above; that the Liberals have done what they have done with a divided left. To that I have two rebuttals:

1) Use that as an excuse as much as you'd like, but until the NDP ceases to exist, there is nothing that you can do about it. You can elect a leader who can attempt to outflank the NDP on the left (like a Dion), but in doing so you lose the center where most Canadians are. You can try to merge with the NDP, and to that I say good night and good luck. In the meantime, the NDP isn’t going anywhere.

2) There is no evidence that NDP voters would all move unquestionably to the Liberal Party if disbanded. The NDP is a Trade Union party more than the bleeding heart Marxist idealism of Jack Layton. The NDP will always behave in a manner that funnels as much money as possible to their base, unions and poor people. I draw a distinction because the two key demographics of the NDP base because many people in unions make really good money. I have worked on jobs at unionized sites, construction, factory, etc. Based on my own experiences, I would say that a substantial number of unionized blue collar workers, if they were to sit down and debate social policy with Jack Layton, they wouldn't agree on all that much. Layton is an idealist, not a roughneck.

The interesting data comes in the form of New Found Land. Danny Williams ran his "Anybody But Conservatives" campaign, which cost the Tories about 60,000 votes. Many of those people just didn't vote, and a large majority voted for the NDP. The Liberals did not experience any statistically significant gain. This suggests that there is indeed a bridge between the Tories and the NDP. It may not manifest itself in the words of their leadership, but rather in the ballot box.

Are Pelosi and Harper new best friends?

I am a few days late with my opinion on the Harper visit to Washington, but I did watch the footage of Harper and Pelosi. My first thought was that Pelosi seemed unusually happy, as though Stephen Harper signing the guestbook was the coolest thing that she had ever experienced. I am not a body language expert, this is simply my opinion. Did the PM tell her a funny joke before they walked out for the cameras? I am assuming that she understands he is a Conservative and opposed to about 75% of her agenda? Or did her handlers tell her to act really happy to score some political points? Did she take an extra prozac in the morning?

I still can't figure it out. Why was Nancy Pelosi so happy to be photographed with Stephen Harper? Our PM had a smile on his face, but you could tell that he was mildly uncomfortable around Nancy. I am a part of the large demographic that believes Nancy Pelosi being Speaker of the House is not good for the World.

Green riding selection, free to choose?

I can figure out why Saanich was chosen as May's next battleground without doing any independent polling. In terms of simple probability theory, if you assume that she is still recognizing some level of the armistice she signed with Dion and will only run in a Tory riding, then you first have to look at the Tory seats. Of the Tory seats, if you calculate how far behind the Green candidate was behind the winning Tory in percentage of popular vote and rank from smallest to largest, then Saanich shows up at 13th on the list. She might have had a better shot at Central Nova, but if the Liberals run a candidate that erases any possible 1 in 15 long shot to virtually zero.

Would Ignatieff run a similar tactic to Dion, embracing May and signing a tactical armistice in exchange for her trying to unseat a Tory cabinet minister? The problem with the Dion strategy from the Liberal perspective is that they elevated the Green's status such as to bleed votes to them in Ontario. Its not easy bleeding green. Ignatieff has to win back voters that they lost to the Greens, not continue to hemorrhage. Raise the profile of May, pull a Liberal candidate to attempt to unseat a Tory cabinet minister, and if successful elevating her status to an even higher level? It would appear by the 2006 to 2008 trends that Liberal voters are more easily seduced by the Greens than Tory voters. If the Liberals pull their candidate in Saanich, she would have a shot at beating Lunn. I don’t see why the Liberals would forfeit Saanich to the Greens because the Grits should want to win that seat.

As a Tory voter with some Greenish leanings, I like all that clean water, clean air, reduce pollution, reduce waste, recycle, recycle waste, and clean cheap abundant energy agendas. I see carbon more as plant food than some evil form of "Agent Purple". The Greens have jumped a little too on board with the Kyoto Accords for my comfort. Some of these environmental activists have become exceptionally loony. Also, since when did socialism become part of the Green agenda? It just seems like since May came to power, she slipped that little caveat in under the radar. Minimum Guaranteed Incomes? It blows my mind how anyone running for elected office could not see the moral hazard in guaranteeing everyone 30 grand a year no matter what. In economics moral hazard is defined as when an insurance policy actually increases the probability of incurring a loss. People at the margins get sucked into the dark side reducing their ambition to succeed. It is just an idea that sounds enlightening in a class room that is not sustainable when applied to reality.

That's where the Green Party lost me. If the Greens are being honest and want to run in the riding where they have the best chance of winning a Tory seat where the Liberals field a candidate, then she should be running in Owen Sound against Larry Miller. Dick Hibma is the answer to the trivia question which Green party candidate earned the most votes in the 2008 election. Nunavut and Pontiac have smaller gaps between Tories and Greens than Saanich, but for tactical reasons she would have a hard time winning either of those seats.

Even my riding of West Vancouver has a higher probability of Greens winning than Saanich. Former Liberal MP turned Green Blair Wilson scored a respectable 8644 votes in the green sympathetic sea to sky country. The NDP even got 9000 in West Van after their candidate was on YouTube smoking weed talking about something crazy like how much fun it is to drive a car while high on acid. Poor NDP vetting in both Saanich and West Van have opened up a window in the left wing of these two ridings. The difference being that Gary Lunn sits in cabinet and John Weston does not. It’s not just about the best chance of winning, because she had a better shot of winning my riding, but rather it is about defeating a big name. It is more difficult to unseat a cabinet minister than a guy who is never on TV. They are lying that it is their best chance, because it is not.

Granted if the Liberals agreed to pull their candidate wherever she runs, that changes the math. Assuming that deal is not in place, Owen Sound and West Vancouver are the best shots against Tory MPs. Central Nova and Saanich are her best shots at a Tory cabinet minister. But other pundits have been correct to point out that she unquestionably had a better shot of beating the Liberal MP in Guelph than beating any Tory anywhere else. As it happens I am a U of G alumnist, where I earned this little piece of paper that says you have fulfilled the requirements for an honours degree in Mathematical Economics. Most of the economics professors there are cut from the Libertarian cloth, but some really pump that Keynesian model. Ironic how I revile Elizabeth May, and yet graduated from University in the riding she has the best chance to win, and currently live in one of the ridings where she would have the best shot at beating a Tory.

If she ever knocked on my door asking for my vote, she would not get a receptive audience. Please Ms May, do not take this blog posting as an invitation to run in West Vancouver. I don’t want to ever see you on TV again, let alone in person.