Africa on my Screen


A live video feed (with sound) on the Inter­net from a water­ing hole in Botswana. I opened up the link to hear the grunts and squawks of strange birds, and see this ele­phant calm­ly drink­ing. It’s about 8:37 AM there, which hap­pens to be the peak view­ing time. I’ll say.This is eerie and won­der­ful all in the same moment. The Inter­net just keeps amaz­ing me.

Canadian Comedy

I was watch­ing a lit­tle TV this evening, around 7 PM. On the Cana­di­an Com­e­dy Net­work (which often airs shows like the US Com­e­dy Central’s The Dai­ly Show, Crank Yankers and South Park), a Cana­di­an Sketch com­e­dy pro­gram called Roy­al Cana­di­an Air Farce aired. At first, there was noth­ing too con­tro­ver­sial. I caught a guy with green hair (the green paint was a prod­uct that cov­ered grey) on a date/commercial. Some oth­er silli­ness. Then, right near the end, they had three of the male cast mem­bers in cam­ou­flage uni­forms and hel­mets. After some more sil­ly talk, they announced who had won the “Roy­al Cana­di­an Air Farce Chick­en Hawk Tar­get Award”. It was Bush. Well, that was just the begin­ning. They then load up a big can­non with all kinds of nasty ‘metaphor­i­cal’ ingre­di­ents includ­ing oil, feces, some­thing from a can, and final­ly after many oth­er dis­gust­ing addi­tions, add some ‘sug­ar so that every­thing ends up seem­ing all nice’. Then they shoot the whole mess point blank at a big pho­to of a smirk­ing George W. Bush. The crowd goes wild. “Try and invade that, George W.!” says the cast mem­ber play­ing a sort of Gen­er­al.

Things must have real­ly got­ten bad, when even friend­ly neigh­bor­ing coun­tries lit­er­al­ly shoot shit at the US Pres­i­dent. Then I was even more shocked to learn that this was filmed in 2002! With the CBC strike, Cana­di­an Air Farce, which is a CBC pro­gram, is in reruns until the labour dis­pute is set­tled. So this is what the irrev­er­ent come­di­ans were doing to cheer­ing crowds 3 years ago. I can’t even imag­ine what they’d be air­ing today in new shows. This 2002 spot made The Dai­ly Show’s Jon Stew­art look pos­i­tive­ly def­er­en­tial.

I have to admit that I had mixed feel­ings watch­ing this. Part of me was think­ing ‘Hey, this is great! They agree with me! A whole coun­try on my side!’ But then it began to sink into me (per­haps the old con­di­tion­ing that goes back to kinder­garten and first grade, where we placed our hand on our hearts and pledged alle­giance to the flag). The US Pres­i­den­cy is still some­thing that some­where in the recess­es of my mind, I hold as some­thing ele­vat­ed, to be respect­ed if not liked. To see a US Pres­i­dent, even one who I hate more than any of them in my life (even Nixon, who I remem­ber with as much loathing as a twelve year-old’s mem­o­ry can bring forth), shot with excre­ment from a can­non… That glee some­how began to melt into shame. I didn’t vote for that smirk­ing buf­foon, and even left the coun­try due in a large part to him, but I couldn’t bring myself to hurl (or shoot) crap at his effi­gy. At least not with­out a good evening’s worth of drink­ing.

Another Follow-Up Graphic

In hon­or of the indict­ment of Tom Delay, the new rev­e­la­tions of insid­er trad­ing by William Frist, the con­tin­u­ing sto­ry of incom­pe­tent crony Michael Brown, and of course, the CIA-out­ing Karl Rove, as well as the rest of the Bush gang, I offer this mar­velous ad par­o­dy by 2 Polit­i­cal Junkies . It just doesn’t get any bet­ter (or worse) than this, folks:

Oh, to be a Party Member with a Credit Card...

Just when I thought the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion couldn’t get any more cor­rupt, they actu­al­ly use anoth­er dis­as­ter to befall Amer­i­cans on their watch (Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na) to help them fur­ther their own crony­ism. This one even reached CNN:

About 250,000 fed­er­al employ­ees have gov­ern­ment cred­it cards, which typ­i­cal­ly have a pur­chase lim­it of $2,500.
At the request of the Bush admin­is­tra­tion, Con­gress increased the cred­it line to $250,000 as part of a mas­sive Kat­ri­na recov­ery bill approved last week. The aim is to make it eas­i­er to speed aid to vic­tims.
Sen­ate Finance Com­mit­tee Chair­man Charles Grass­ley, R-Iowa, said the “out­ra­geous increase” was “slipped” into the bill. He is seek­ing to insert lan­guage in a Kat­ri­na health bill that would reduce the lim­it in most cas­es to $50,000.

Under the guise of ‘mak­ing it eas­i­er to speed aid to vic­tims’, all of the checks and bal­ances on abuse, the built-in encour­age­ment to help Women and Minor­i­ty-owned busi­ness­es and local busi­ness­es go out the win­dow if your expense is less than $250,000.
So, let me get this straight: With lit­tle to no over­sight, a fed­er­al employ­ee with a gov­ern­ment cred­it card could pret­ty much finance the build­ing of a house, if they want, no ques­tions asked. Or maybe they could charge a trip to tour facil­i­ties in, say, Las Vegas, to get an update on the lat­est con­struc­tion tech­niques (wink, wink). If we thought the rebuild­ing of Iraq was a gift to Hal­ibur­ton in no-bid con­tracts, try mul­ti­ply­ing that by 250,000 peo­ple, all with carte blanche (although I assume the cards they have are Visas or Mas­ter­cards). Appar­ent­ly there was a minor update to this after Grassley’s uproar, and they need a ‘sig­na­ture’ from anoth­er gov­ern­ment offi­cial for expen­di­tures over $50,000. Oh that changes every­thing.
Here in Cana­da there was a huge uproar over cor­rup­tion by the Lib­er­al Par­ty for fun­nel­ing about $81 mil­lion (CAD) in funds to an adver­tis­ing agency with ties to their par­ty for lit­tle or no work. To put that in per­spec­tive, Hal­libur­ton, which has pret­ty close ties to the cur­rent admin­is­tra­tion, was again in the news about their con­tracts in Louisiana. And as for their ster­ling rep­u­ta­tion in Iraq:

All told, Hal­libur­ton has earned more than $12 bil­lion in Iraq. Pen­ta­gon audits released by Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty in June showed $1.03 bil­lion in “ques­tioned” costs and $422 mil­lion in “unsup­port­ed” costs for Halliburton’s work in Iraq.
— from a report pub­lished Sept. 22, 2005 by Prat­ap Chat­ter­jee, an inves­tiga­tive writer who is cur­rent­ly Direc­tor of

All in all, I’d say that Cana­da has a lot to learn in the cor­rup­tion game. $81 mil­lion? Heck, I’ll bet that Hal­libur­ton has that kind of pock­et change fall out as they lean over their rigs in Bag­dad. As Croc­o­dile Dundee said: “That’s not a knife…”
Maybe if the Gov­ern­ment of Cana­da gave, say, a quar­ter of a mil­lion of their employ­ees a cred­it card with a quar­ter of mil­lion dol­lar cred­it lim­it, then we’d be talk­ing scan­dal.

Or maybe it’s just busi­ness as usu­al in the coun­try to the south of us these days.

Get out there!

Grouse on the way up

We real­ized that this Fri­day very will might be one of our last days of warm weath­er, and it was an unchar­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly clear day (as you can see). So on a whim, we hopped on a #4 bus to down­town, con­tin­ued on the Sky­train a cou­ple of stops to Water­front sta­tion, got on the Seabus to Lons­dale Quay in North Van­cou­ver, and prompt­ly stepped on the #236 bus to Grouse Moun­tain. I men­tion these details because it’s remark­able that all of these unplanned con­nec­tions gave us a trip time of no more than 50 min­utes, door to gon­do­la.
Grouse Moun­tain is a unique attrac­tion. I don’t think I know of any oth­er place where you get a nice high peak that looks out on cities, oth­er moun­tains, a riv­er and an ocean, and is reach­able sole­ly by pub­lic trans­porta­tion with no pri­or plan­ning. It’s also well main­tained and com­fort­able. After a spec­tac­u­lar gon­do­la ride, up top we ate a nice lunch at the Alti­tudes Café (includ­ing some absolute­ly won­der­ful fish soup that was chunky and spicey). We saw a bit of the lum­ber­jack demon­stra­tion (a charm­ing bit of Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios-style ham­ming it up), and gawked at the white wolves, griz­zly bears (and I saw first­hand that bears do not nec­es­sar­i­ly shit in the woods, but some­times do it very much in plain view of hun­dreds of tourists, for­tu­nate­ly behind an elec­tric fence). We saw paraglid­ers and heli­copters take off, and walked all the way to the sum­mit to take in a pret­ty stun­ning panora­ma. The air was thin and a bit chilly, but not uncom­fort­ably so.

Tomor­row is the annu­al ‘Grouse Grind’, where thou­sands of Van­cou­verites walk up the moun­tain for char­i­ty. I’m glad we didn’t run into that. I’m also glad that we did final­ly make it to Grouse, though. We had orig­i­nal­ly planned it for my birth­day, but the smoke from the Burns Bog fire (which was final­ly put out a cou­ple of days ago after burn­ing for 11 days) and an affair that took over the facil­i­ty kept us until today. There’s a slide show on flickr of our trip at: