Slowing traffic by setting up living spaces in the street

Ted Dewan was tired of cars zooming down the residential street in front of his house, so he designed a series of "DIY traffic-calming happenings," including living room furniture sets in the middle of the road.

"These type of "DIY traffic-calming happenings" are described by their creator as "roadwitches" and have included an 11-feet high rabbit, a big bed (for a sleeping policeman), a Casualty-style fake crash scene for Halloween and the setting up of a living room in the middle of the road. "There's an element of fun and mischief, but underneath is the ambition to encourage people to re-examine how roads are used," says Mr Dewan.

"With the living room, it was the most direct way of saying 'We live here. This is our living space.'"

And he says that residents really enjoyed the strangeness of being able to relax outside in their own street, rather than feel it was a place only belonging to the cars that race up and down it."



clock Posted Wed Nov 30th, 2005 - 11:55pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Innovation Canada

Check out the Canada Foundation for Innovation's online magazine.


clock Posted Tue Nov 29th, 2005 - 3:47pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Identify the mystery fish At Cryptomundo

Loren Coleman asks if anyone can identify this mystery fish found on an old postcard...

From the blog:

The men in the picture look like military servicemen. The surroundings look like this photograph was taken on a beach or island. The fish appears to be about six feet long (notice the yard or meter stick lying next to it). But where are the fins on this cryptid (or even a tail)? What is it?



clock Posted Mon Nov 28th, 2005 - 10:12am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Some Guy gets 5,000+ channels on 12 dishes

Al Jessup of Beckley, West Virginia, has 12 cheap satellite dishes stuck to his house, which pull in over 5,000 free-to-air channels from satellites all over the sky. He is retired, and delights in odd and foreign programming.

Because the programming is free, it changes regularly, he noted.

Sometimes, a program he likes will disappear and something he dislikes will be put in its place, or vice versa. For example, he once had three ABC stations from Wyoming only to have it reduced to one. "One day it may be here, the next day it may be gone, the next day it may be back," he said. "You never know."

Jessup said some programming includes things he likes, like racing or music, and some of it is, well, "weird."

Soon, he plans to add a 13th dish to his collection, he said. He may later get a "fancy" satellite dish that is basically like 16 dishes in one. This could eliminate some of the dishes outside his house -- or enable him to get even more channels.

"I could point them toward the east where there's a bunch of satellites running around," he said. "I don't know what I would get there."


clock Posted Sun Nov 27th, 2005 - 9:41pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Clifford Pickover's Gods blog

Psychedelic mathematician and author Clifford Pickover, who maintains the excellent Reality Carnival blog, has launched a new mind-tweaking blog called Godlorica. The site relays "breaking news on God and other higher beings in this world and the world to come." Recent posts are about the Rapture Index, Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study, and a game that models heaven and hell.

From the blog:

United States Patent Application 20050212207

Edward Gilhooly patents a "game board apparatus" having a game board horizontally divided into two sectors representing heaven and hell. The start position is at the bottom of the hell and the finish winning position is situated at the top of the heaven. The players use playing pieces to traverse spaces in the heaven and hell sectors, the amount of advancement being dictated by indicia provided on decks of question cards and answer cards.



clock Posted Sat Nov 26th, 2005 - 7:59am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Aspartame Causes Cancer

I Knew it! I told you so!!!



Nutrasweet: What is Aspartame?


clock Posted Fri Nov 25th, 2005 - 1:44am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Key day for United Church union push

CBC News

The Canadian Auto Workers union will announce Friday whether it can start a certification effort for United Church ministers in Ontario.

A group of clergy members and their spouses has spent the last year trying to sign up at least 60 per cent of all the United Church ministers in the province. They have until the end of the day to reach their target or the current sign-up drive expires.

Ministers working for Canada's largest Protestant denomination are expected to put in long hours and sometimes face harassment from parishioners, the organizers say. They claim the church hasn't done enough to protect them, so a union is needed.

"We're talking about ministers who've had their lives threatened. We're taking about [having] their families threatened," said Rev. David Galston, one of the organizers. "Is that part of the job? Don't we deserve protection [from] that?"

The Hamilton minister said the job comes with a lot of stress.

"Sometimes the congregation uses the minister as a kind of conduit to God. And if God doesn't do what you want God to do, then you take it out on the minister."

Another organizer, Karen Patton-Evans, said the response from ministers asked to sign union cards has been strong.

Even if they don't get the 60 per cent they need in order to certify the union on Friday, she said they'll keep trying.

"Most unions take at least two years to organize, and that's in a traditional workplace. We're introducing the concept to North American churches and so it is going to take us longer."

Leaders of the United Church have said they don't understand the need for a union.

The church's general secretary, Rev. Jim Sinclair, said he's committed to working with his ministers to solve any workplace issues that concern them.


see also: Protestant clergy prepare to unionize (CBC | Nov 2004)

see also: Stressed out United Church ministers looking to unionize


clock Posted Thu Nov 24th, 2005 - 2:46pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


The Great Divide

Your War Profiteers at Work

(Compiled from material by the Centers for Corporate Policy and Public Interest, and posted by claudialong on Nov 22)

If you really want to get a sense of what the Iraq ‘war’ is all about, you need only look at who in our government is a supporter of it – and what’s in their stock portfolios and campaign chests.

There was a time, of course, when making a profit on a war where our young men and women were sacrificing their bodies and lives was considered dishonorable and immoral. But today, apparently, it’s just not a big deal. Making a profit – no matter at whose expense – has become the new American Way, unquestioned, indeed – expected.

How else to explain the fact that Dick Cheney, for instance, the most vociferous, bloodthirsty cheerleader for the occupation, has seen the value of his Halliburton stock increase over 3000% in the last year, to the tune of $9 million and change – and our ‘mainstream media’ has remained very, very quiet. Whatever happened to the quaint notion of a ‘conflict of interest’? Dead – along with shame, the public good, and outrage.

A number of firms are deeply enmeshed with elected officials –- and many are making stupendous profits on taxpayer-paid, no-bid contracts in Iraq, some with shoddy or even nonexistent work to show for it. But their intricate web of connections guarantees no questions will be asked. Here’s just a sample: ...

see the rest here


clock Posted Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 - 3:17pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


'Ugly dog' Sam dies at 14

Canine gained celebrity as winner of ugliest animal contest


SANTA BARBARA, California (AP) -- Sam, the dog whose ugliness earned him TV appearances, limousine rides and even a meeting with millionaire Donald Trump, has died, the Santa Barbara News-Press reported Tuesday.

The pooch with the hairless body, crooked teeth and sparse tuft of hair atop his knobby head died Friday, just short of his 15th birthday, said his owner, Susie Lockheed.

"I don't think there'll ever be another Sam," she said, adding wryly, "Some people would think that's a good thing." (Watch Sam's bizarre gait and hear him howl -- 3:04)

Sam became an international celebrity after winning the ugliest animal contest at the 2003 Sonoma-Marin Fair in California -- a victory he twice repeated. The purebred Chinese crested hairless made appearances on TV in Japan, radio in New Zealand and in Britain's Daily Mirror tabloid, stayed in luxury hotels and met Trump on a talk show set.

Lockheed marketed his visage on T-shirts, a calendar and even a coffee "ugly mug."

At the time of his death, Sam was scheduled to be filmed for a Discovery Channel series on the world's ugliest species.

Lockheed said she was initially terrified of Sam when she agreed to take him in as a rescue six years ago on a 48-hour trial basis. Although she fell in love with him, his appearance repulsed her then-boyfriend and prompted the man to break up with her.

Later, however, Sam became a matchmaker by bringing together Lockheed and her current beau, who saw a picture of the two on an online dating site.

Lockheed said she had Sam euthanized after a veterinarian told her Sam's heart was failing.

She said she's felt a little lost ever since, and is sleeping with Sam's favorite toy -- a stuffed bear he picked up and carried home.

"I have snuggled Sam under my blankets on my bed for six years," said Lockheed, who has three other dogs named TatorTot, TinkerBell and PixieNoodle.


Rest in peace, little dog.  (Sniff)


see previous post: World's Ugliest Dog Contest


clock Posted Tue Nov 22nd, 2005 - 4:56pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Pioneering rock guitarist Link Wray dies

CBC Arts

Early rock pioneer Link Wray, who invented the power chord and thus influenced some of the genre's most famous musicians, has died at the age of 76.

The American-born Wray died in Denmark, where he has lived with his wife since 1978.

In a statement on Wray's website, Wray's wife and son said the guitarist died at home in Copenhagen on Nov. 5. Though they gave no cause of death, they said his heart was "getting tired."

They buried Wray on Friday, after a service at Copenhagen's Christian Church. 

Frederick Lincoln Wray was born in Dunn, N.C., in May 1929. In the mid-1950s, he and his brothers Vernon and Doug formed the band Lucky Wray and the Lazy Pine Wranglers, which later became the Palomino Ranch Hands and then the Ray-Men. His career had its ups and downs throughout the decades, as music executives tried to clean up his sound and image.

The modern guitar style Wray developed over albums like 1958's Rumble, 1959's Rawhide and 1963's Jack the Ripper is widely considered a blueprint for the development of punk and heavy metal music.

A host of iconic rock and rollers – including Pete Townshend, David Bowie, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen – have said that listening to Wray inspired them to become musicians.

"He is the king; if it hadn't been for Link Wray and Rumble, I would have never picked up a guitar'," Townshend wrote on one of Wray's albums.

Wray's music also experienced a revival when it was included on several movie soundtracks in the 1990s, including Pulp Fiction and Desperado. In 2002, Guitar World magazine named Wray to its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.


clock Posted Mon Nov 21st, 2005 - 8:26pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Severe shortages might spark 'water wars' 

by MARGARET MUNRO | CanWest News Service

Severe water shortages loom in many regions of the world, including the Canadian Prairies, say scientists who warn one-sixth of Earth's population relies on water from glaciers and snowpacks that are disappearing.

The Prairies are in line for more frequent and prolonged droughts in coming decades that could put agriculture at risk, a report by leading climate and water researchers says. They also say Canadians will face "heightened competition" for the dwindling water supply. Wetlands and lakes need water, and commitments to thirsty, energy-hungry Americans will have to be met.

Under a 1969 agreement, Alberta must allow 50 per cent of stream flow to cross the border, the report says, one of three climate-related papers published in the journal Nature today, two of them dealing with water and one with human health.

The deaths of an estimated 150,000 people a year can already be attributed to the extreme weather and medical problems associated with climate change, the health report says.

Heat waves and the spread of disease-causing microbes and insects are forecast to take a much bigger toll in coming decades.

The reports are depressing but important, said climate scientist John Smol of Queen's University. "People don't want to hear bad news. Well, get used to it."...  (continued...)


read the rest here

see also


clock Posted Sun Nov 20th, 2005 - 9:14pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Quebec seizes yellow margarine

Raids turn up 72 tubs. Inspectors descend on four Wal-Marts in Quebec City area

by KEVIN DOUGHERTY | The Gazette

Agriculture Department inspectors swooped down on four Wal-Mart stores in the Quebec City area yesterday and seized 72 plastic tubs of yellow Becel margarine with an estimated street value of $179.28.

The margarine is butter yellow, which makes it illegal for sale in Quebec.

The measure is intended to protect the province's 3,000 dairy producers.

Andre Menard, spokesperson for acting agriculture minister Laurent Lessard, said 44 of the contraband margarine containers were seized at the Levis Wal-Mart, across the river from the capital.

Another 28 were discovered at a Wal-Mart in the borough of Beauport, he said.

"In Quebec City (proper), we think they withdrew them before we came," Menard added.

On Thursday, Maxime Arseneau, agriculture critic for the Parti Quebecois, tabled a margarine tub in the National Assembly and charged that Unilever Canada Inc., which makes Becel, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Canada were conspiring to bring yellow margarine into the province.

"This is serious," Arseneau chided reporters who found the situation humorous... (continued...)


read the rest here


I missed this article on the 5th of November -- please be on the lookout for evil yellow margarine in Montreal stores!


See my previous entry: Keep the Lid on Distinct Society


clock Posted Sat Nov 19th, 2005 - 12:22pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


'My Lobotomy': Howard Dully's Journey

NPR | All Things Considered

On Jan. 17, 1946, a psychiatrist named Walter Freeman launched a radical new era in the treatment of mental illness in this country. On that day, he performed the first-ever transorbital or "ice-pick" lobotomy in his Washington, D.C., office. Freeman believed that mental illness was related to overactive emotions, and that by cutting the brain he cut away these feelings.

Freeman, equal parts physician and showman, became a barnstorming crusader for the procedure. Before his death in 1972, he performed transorbital lobotomies on some 2,500 patients in 23 states.

One of Freeman's youngest patients is today a 56-year-old bus driver living in California. Over the past two years, Howard Dully has embarked on a quest to discover the story behind the procedure he received as a 12-year-old boy.

In researching his story, Dully visited Freeman's son; relatives of patients who underwent the procedure; the archive where Freeman's papers are stored; and Dully's own father, to whom he had never spoken about the lobotomy.

"If you saw me you'd never know I'd had a lobotomy," Dully says. "The only thing you'd notice is that I'm very tall and weigh about 350 pounds. But I've always felt different -- wondered if something's missing from my soul. I have no memory of the operation, and never had the courage to ask my family about it. So two years ago I set out on a journey to learn everything I could about my lobotomy."  (continued...)


Read and hear the story here.


clock Posted Fri Nov 18th, 2005 - 10:13am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Puns for the day

1. Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married. The ceremony wasn't much, but the reception was excellent.

2. A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, "I'll serve you, but don't start anything."

3. Two peanuts walk into a bar, and one was a salted.

4. A dyslexic man walks into a bra.

5. A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and says: "A beer please, and one for the road."

6. Two cannibals are eating a clown. One says to the other: "Does this taste funny to you?"

7. "Doc, I can't stop singing 'The Green, Green Grass of Home!'" "That sounds like Tom Jones Syndrome" "Is it common?" "Well, 'It's Not Unusual.'"

8. Two cows are standing next to each other in a field. Daisy says to Dolly, "I was artificially inseminated this morning." "I don't believe you," says Dolly. "It's true, no bull!" exclaimed Daisy.

9. An invisible man marries an invisible woman. The kids were nothing to look at either.

10. Deja Moo: The feeling that you've heard this bull before.

11. I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day but I couldn't find any.

12. A man woke up in a hospital after a serious accident. He shouted, "Doctor, doctor, I can't feel my legs!" The doctor replied, "I know you can't - I've cut off your arms!"

13. I went to a seafood disco last week...and pulled a mussel.

14. What do you call a fish with no eyes? A fsh.

15. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. The one turns to the other and says "Dam!".

16. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.

17. A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. "But why, "they asked, as they moved off. "Because", he said, "I can't stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer."

18. A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named "Ahmal." The other goes to a family in Spain; they name him "Juan." Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal. Her husband responds, "They're twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal."

19. Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him... (Oh, man, this is so bad, it's good)... a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

20. And finally, there was the person who sent twenty different puns to his friends, with the hope that at least ten of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.

clock Posted Thu Nov 17th, 2005 - 2:46pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Salmon-flavored soda, anyone?

Jones Soda adds a Pacific Northwest twist to its Thanksgiving flavors, and it smells fishy.


For beverage connoisseurs tired of turkey-and-gravy or green-beans-and-casserole-flavored sodas, there's a new choice being offered this year by specialty U.S. soda manufacturer Jones Soda Co.: salmon.

Jones Soda, the Seattle company that scored a hit during the last two holiday seasons with its turkey-and-gravy-flavored sodas, said it is offering the orange-hued fish-flavored drink this year in a nod to the Pacific Northwest's salmon catch.

"When you smell it, it's got that smoked salmon aroma," said Peter van Stolk, chief executive of Jones Soda.

The artificially flavored salmon soda will be offered as part of a $13 "regional holiday pack" that also includes other unusual sodas such as turkey & gravy, corn on the cob, broccoli casserole and pecan pie.

While those bottles will be offered locally, Jones Soda is also selling its similarly-priced "holiday pack" of turkey and gravy, wild herb stuffing, brussels sprouts, cranberry and pumpkin pie sodas across the country.

Thanksgiving, a U.S. holiday that falls on the fourth Thursday of November, typically features a dinner with turkey, gravy and other condiments.

Van Stolk, who built his Seattle-based soda company by selling traditional sodas as well as exotic flavors such as green apple, bubble gum and crushed melon, said that "the most important thing (about Jones Soda) is that we can laugh at ourselves."

Asked whether he liked his new salmon soda, van Stolk said: "I cannot finish a bottle, I just can't."


Mashed potato-flavored soda, anyone? Click here.

How about turkey soda? Click here.


clock Posted Tue Nov 15th, 2005 - 11:00am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


When I Grow Up, I Want to Play Like John Renbourn

John Renbourn is a legendary British acoustic guitarist and founding member of Pentangle.


clock Posted Mon Nov 14th, 2005 - 9:25am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


They're Soft and Cuddly, So Why Lash Them to the Front of a Truck?

Today's New York Times has an article about people who tie stuffed animals to the front of their trucks and vans. This photo is by Robert Marbury of the esteemed Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists. In 2000, Robert photographed hundreds of trucks with plushies on the grill.

From the NYT article:

By ANDY NEWMAN | New York Times

A bear with a prominent grease spot on his little beige nose spends his days wedged behind the bumper guard of an ironworker's pickup in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn. A fuzzy rabbit and a clown, garroted by a bungee cord, slump from the front of a Dodge van in Park Slope. Stewie, the evil baby from "Family Guy," scowls from the grille of a Pepperidge Farm delivery truck in Brooklyn Heights, mold occasionally sprouting from his forehead.

All are soldiers in the tattered, scattered army of the stuffed: mostly discarded toys plucked from the trash and given new if punishing lives on the prows of large motor vehicles, their fluffy white guts flapping from burst seams and going gray in the soot-stream of a thousand exhaust pipes.

Grille-mounted stuffed animals form a compelling yet little-studied aspect of the urban streetscape, a traveling gallery of baldly transgressive public art. The time has come not just to praise them but to ask the big question. Why?

That is, why do a small percentage of trucks and vans have filthy plush toys lashed to their fronts, like prisoners at the mast? Are they someone's idea of a joke? Parking aids? Talismans against summonses?

Don't expect an easy answer...


Read the rest of the article here


clock Posted Sun Nov 13th, 2005 - 9:33pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Back to the '70s: GM hot on custom vans

Now that SUVs are getting less popular, maybe we'll all love vans again.

By Peter Valdes-Dapena | CNN/Money

Remember when vans were cool? No, not minivans. Those were never cool. I mean custom vans. You know, wheel-to-wheel carpeting. Wood trim. Lots of stereo speakers.

If you're old enough, you remember some other things that were cool around that time, too. Disco music. "Keep on truckin'" T-shirts. Big hair.

Well get ready, because the folks at General Motors are betting that we might be ready for a bit of a comeback. Not the hair, this time. Just the vans.

GM is investing a fair amount of time, money and effort in a bid to convince Americans that custom vans are, indeed, still cool (though this time they're to be called "conversion vans.")

The real killer blow to custom vans was one GM dealt largely to itself: SUVs. While we were all turning onto SUVs and dropping out of vans, we just forgot all they have to offer.

But large SUVs are now declining in popularity. Meanwhile, one major competitor in the market, Dodge, has stopped making its Ram vans. That leaves just GM and Ford making the bare-bones "plumber's vans" that are the elemental core of custom vans.

So, given that vans are extremely profitable, GM got together a group of 23 van "upfitters," the small companies that do the work of making a van a "conversion van," and formed the "Conversion Van Marketing Association." The 23 upfitters do the conversion work and GM sells the basic vans and does marketing for them. The resultant custom vans are sold, as always, at GM dealers.

So far, with all the marketing support and a significant reduction in competition, conversion sales have not gone up. But they have at least stopped declining, which GM sees as a good thing.

The market for conversion vans, under the best of circumstances, is not huge. GM expects to sell half of the 23,000 to 24,000 custom vans sold in 2005.

What for? To understand why anyone would buy a conversion van, you have to understand that most custom van shoppers are considering the purchase as an alternative to an SUV. They want a truck, but one with lots of room inside.

If you compare a custom to a minivan for day-to-day use, even the most ardent fan of big vans -- that would be Ross Hendrix , GM's marketing director for commercial truck and van fleet sales -- will admit that a custom van comes up short.

The big conversion van drives, as you might expect, like a big van. GM pitches the custom van as a "living room on wheels," and, if you can imagine driving your living room, that pretty much sums up the experience.  (continued...)

Read the rest of the article here


clock Posted Sat Nov 12th, 2005 - 3:55pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


MIT study on aluminum foil hats

Earlier this year, MIT engineers conducted an empirical study on the efficacy of aluminum foil helmets to block mind control rays. They've published the detailed results of their experiments online.

From the abstract:

Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified. These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities. We theorize that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.

Link (via Fortean Times)


clock Posted Thu Nov 10th, 2005 - 8:11pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Charles Colson's Christian-based prison project on trial in Iowa

Prison Justice Ministries' InnerChange Freedom Initiative is a 'government-funded conversion program' says Americans United's Barry Lynn

by Bill Berkowitz | Media Tranparency

It isn't celebrity-laced like the trials of OJ Simpson, Michael Jackson or Robert Blake. It hasn't drawn the attention of CNN's Nancy Grace or the Fox News Channel's Greta Van Sustren, television's mavens of mystery. It appears to have little to do with whether or not President Bush's faith-based initiative is achieving "results." Nevertheless, the outcome of the legal proceedings currently underway in federal court in Des Moines, Iowa, could have a major impact on issues related to the separation of church and state for years to come.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and its co-plaintiff, Jerry Ashburn, an inmate at Iowa's Newton Correctional Facility, located about 23 miles east of Des Moines, have filed suit against the Virginia-based Prison Fellowship Ministries and its Christian rehabilitation program, the InnerChange Freedom Initiative. The suit, currently being heard in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa Central Division in Des Moines, argues that the state gives preferential treatment to inmates enrolled InnerChange -- a program that has been operating at the Newton facility since 1999. According to Baptist Press, "the Iowa legislature has appropriated $310,000 in the current fiscal year for a 'value-based treatment program' at the Newton facility."

Both sides agree that the outcome of the lawsuit could have profound consequences for the future of government-funded faith-based programs. (Continued...)

Read the article here


Canadian Troops capture Danish flags from Hans Island in Secret operation

by Adrian Humphreys | National Post

Canadian soldiers captured two Danish flags during their recent mission to Hans Island as a demonstration of Canada's sovereignty over the barren Arctic rock, according to previously classified military documents.

The flags were first taken to a Canadian military base in Yellowknife and then at least one of them was hand-delivered to Denmark's ambassador in Ottawa three weeks later. The next day, the ambassador personally repatriated it to Copenhagen, according to Danish officials.

"The first foreign items to be located on Hans Island were two Danish flags. One flag was flying on a flagpole and the other was located in a barrel near the flagpole," says a post-mission report obtained by the National Post under the Access to Information Act.

Taken from the island was a Danish national flag called the Danneborg, meaning "the cloth of the Danes," and a similar flag used only aboard naval vessels, according to the documents.

The series of mission documents -- some of which are labelled "SECRET Canadian Eyes Only" -- say the flags were later "examined and photographed" at the Canadian Forces Northern Area headquarters.

Photographs included in a report prepared for the Department of National Defence six days after the July 13 mission show two flags, one in tatters, presumably from the harsh winds in the frigid area.

But Foreign Affairs officials with both countries spoke only of one flag, the Danish national flag, being returned. No one in either country could confirm the fate of the other flag yesterday...   (continued)

read the rest of the article here


clock Posted Wed Nov 9th, 2005 - 6:41pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


the Return of H.R. Pufnstuf

'Sigmund' and Other Krofft Shows Resurface on DVD

by Barry Gordemer | NPR Morning Edition

Sid and Marty Krofft created some of television's most memorable hits -- and disastrous flops. They were best known in the '70s for psychedelic Saturday morning kids shows. Among them, H.R. Pufnstuf, the story of a boy, a magic flute and a dragon with white boots and a Southern drawl.

The Kroffts also created primetime song and dance programs, including the Donny and Marie Show.

The Kroffts are experiencing somewhat of a resurgence as many of their most famous creations are re-released on DVD.

Sid and Marty Krofft kids' shows were colorful live-action cartoons. Real actors played opposite an array of talking creatures and inanimate objects.

There was Lidsville, a land occupied solely by hats that walk, talk and sing. Sigmund and the Sea Monsters told the story of two boys and their friend -- a pile of seaweed that washed up on the beach. The most famous Krofft kid's show was H.R. Pufnstuf.

The Krofft shows all had two things in common. They were colorful and a little bit weird.

Most of the Krofft characters were larger-than-life puppets. The brothers Krofft came from five generations of puppeteers.

But Sid and Marty went beyond puppets. They also struck gold with variety shows in the mid-70s.

The Kroffts ventured into primetime with Donny and Marie Osmond. Their variety show was a big hit. They scored again with yet another variety show -- this one featuring country music superstar Barbara Mandrell.

In between there were some unfortunate creations, like The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.

But the Kroffts have been resilient. Right now, they're developing a Pufnstuf movie. They're also working on a big-screen version of their science fiction series The Land of the Lost.


clock Posted Tue Nov 8th, 2005 - 1:36pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


When Cleaner Air Is a Biblical Obligation


In their long and frustrated efforts pushing Congress to pass legislation on global warming, environmentalists are gaining a new ally.

With increasing vigor, evangelical groups that are part of the base of conservative support for leading Republicans are campaigning for laws that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which scientists have linked with global warming.

In the latest effort, the National Association of Evangelicals, a nonprofit organization that includes 45,000 churches serving 30 million people across the country, is circulating among its leaders the draft of a policy statement that would encourage lawmakers to pass legislation creating mandatory controls for carbon emissions.

Environmentalists rely on empirical evidence as their rationale for Congressional action, and many evangelicals further believe that protecting the planet from human activities that cause global warming is a values issue that fulfills Biblical teachings asking humans to be good stewards of the earth.

"Genesis 2:15," said Richard Cizik, the association's vice president for governmental affairs, citing a passage that serves as the justification for the effort: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it."

"We believe that we have a rightful responsibility for what the Bible itself challenges," Mr. Cizik said. "Working the land and caring for it go hand in hand. That's why I think, and say unapologetically, that we ought to be able to bring to the debate a new voice."  (continued...)

Read the rest of the article here


clock Posted Mon Nov 7th, 2005 - 2:37pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Quebec seizes yellow margarine

Raids turn up 72 tubs. Inspectors descend on four Wal-Marts in Quebec City area

by KEVIN DOUGHERTY | The Gazette

Agriculture Department inspectors swooped down on four Wal-Mart stores in the Quebec City area yesterday and seized 72 plastic tubs of yellow Becel margarine with an estimated street value of $179.28.

The margarine is butter yellow, which makes it illegal for sale in Quebec.

The measure is intended to protect the province's 3,000 dairy producers.

Andre Menard, spokesperson for acting agriculture minister Laurent Lessard, said 44 of the contraband margarine containers were seized at the Levis Wal-Mart, across the river from the capital.

Another 28 were discovered at a Wal-Mart in the borough of Beauport, he said.

"In Quebec City (proper), we think they withdrew them before we came," Menard added.

On Thursday, Maxime Arseneau, agriculture critic for the Parti Quebecois, tabled a margarine tub in the National Assembly and charged that Unilever Canada Inc., which makes Becel, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Canada were conspiring to bring yellow margarine into the province.

"This is serious," Arseneau chided reporters who found the situation humorous.

The PQ research team bought the yellow margarine in one of the stores where the Quebec inspectors did not find any.

Unilever had gone all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to challenge Quebec's ban on yellow margarine - and lost.

The company denied yesterday it is using backdoor tactics to flood the Quebec market with illegal margarine.

John Coyne, vice-president and general counsel of Unilever Canada, called the situation "really weird."

But he said the company is abiding by the Supreme Court decision in May to uphold Quebec's ban on yellow margarine.

"We're not trying to do anything underhanded," he said.

Coyne explained that, from time to time, the wrong kind of margarine might be shipped to Quebec stores. "When it happens, we hope that people can alert us so we can get the stuff out of the stores."

But he added western Canadian producers of canola and other oil seeds that are used in making margarine recently won a decision by an interprovincial trade disputes panel of the Council of the Federation calling on Quebec to drop the ban.

The council, composed of all 10 provinces and three territories, was created in 2003 at the suggestion of Premier Jean Charest with the purpose of presenting common positions in negotiations with the federal government and resolving trade disputes among its members.

Coyne said Alberta and Saskatchewan could consider retaliatory measures if Quebec does not comply.

Menard noted the PQ considered lifting the ban in 1997, when they were in power, then backed off. Quebec's powerful farmers' union - the Union des producteurs agricoles - is a strong defender of the ban.

Yesterday, Menard said Quebec has no intention of lowering its guard and allowing yellow margarine to infiltrate Quebec grocery stores. "There is nothing (like lifting the ban) on the radar," he said. "Period."

clock Posted Sun Nov 6th, 2005 - 9:06pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


CAW fails in bid to unionize United Church

By MICHAEL VALPY | Globe and Mail

Hold the organ renditions of Solidarity Forever -- for now. The union organizing drive in the United Church of Canada failed to sign up enough clergy by yesterday's deadline to trigger a certification vote for Ontario ministers.

The general secretary of the country's largest Protestant Christian church said he wasn't surprised the drive failed. But the organizers said it's not a matter of "if" but "when" the clergy unionize, and Buzz Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto Workers, said he will meet with organizers shortly to kick off a new drive.

Under Ontario labour law, 60 per cent of workplace members have to sign union membership cards within a 12-month-period to initiate certification. If that percentage isn't reached, the signed cards become void and the organizers have to start over.

Although the pro-union clergy eventually want to form a national body, they decided to campaign province by province because union organizing rules vary from province to province...

Read the entire article here


clock Posted Sat Nov 5th, 2005 - 7:22pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


A Former President Warns of 'Endangered Values'

by Terry Gross and Steve Inskeep | NPR

Blurring the line between church and state threatens civil liberties and privacy, says former President Jimmy Carter. That's the case he makes in his new book, Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis, which draws on Carter's experiences as a president and a Christian.

Carter was the 39th president of the United States. In addition to his work to help ensure the fairness of elections around the world, he founded the Carter Center, a conflict resolution organization. In 2002, Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end violence and spread human rights.

Those achievements have come to overshadow the difficult years of Carter's presidency, which was marked by a Republican resurgence culminating in his defeat by Ronald Reagan in 1980.

The final year of Carter's term in office saw him institute a boycott of the Olympic Games in Moscow, and he struggled unsuccessfully to resolve the Iran hostage crisis, in which 55 people were seized along with the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

Despite his success in brokering a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in 1979, an overwhelming number of Americans became frustrated with Carter. Since then, he has been able to remake his legacy by dedicating himself to causes from international peace efforts to domestic projects like Habitat for Humanity.

Carter has written a number of best-selling books, including An Hour Before Daylight; Christmas in Plains; Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President; and Talking Peace: A Vision for the Next Generation.

Two of Carter's most popular books are Sources of Strength, a compilation of his favorite meditations drawn from the Sunday school class he still leads, and Always a Reckoning, a collection of poems published in 1995.

Read an excerpt from Our Endangered Values.


clock Posted Fri Nov 4th, 2005 - 11:55am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


San Francisco in Jell-o


clock Posted Thu Nov 3rd, 2005 - 6:34pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Letter from China: Car Town

by PETER HESSLER | New Yorker

An upstart automaker targets the American market.

On the way to Wuhu, I drove through Confucius’ home town. I also passed the Stone Warriors of Nanpi, the Iron Lion of Shijia, and the Alfalfa Land of Jinniu. The village of Jinxiang had posted a big sign, in English, above the highway: “The Best Garlic Is from Jinxiang in All of China.” Wuhu is a new car town. A local company had recently declared its intention to become the first Chinese automaker to export to the United States, and the American partners were scheduled to arrive on Sunday. On Friday, I had rented a Chinese-made Volkswagen Jetta and headed south to meet them. Two days, eight hundred miles: a road trip from Beijing to Wuhu.

The highways were excellent—four lanes, groomed medians. Some sections were so new that they still appeared on the map as broken lines. The Chinese expressway network has doubled in length in the past four years, and in January the ministry of communications held a press conference to announce plans to add another thirty thousand miles. When asked about the purpose of the new roads, Zhang Chunxian, the minister of communications, mentioned Condoleezza Rice’s visit to the People’s Republic in July, 2004. According to Zhang, Rice told a Chinese official that she had fond memories from her childhood of vacations spent travelling in the family car. “She said those trips helped her love the United States,” Zhang explained. “By building expressways, we can boost the auto industry, but that’s only a small part of it.”

I drove past miles of shiny new billboards; they were as blank as unplugged televisions, waiting for advertisers to figure out what kind of consumers might someday pass this way. In recent years, increasing numbers of urban Chinese have purchased automobiles, but it’s still rare for them to take long trips, because tolls are high and drivers are inexperienced. The highway traffic consisted mostly of trucks, heavily loaded and braking hard on the downhills. South of Tianjin, traffic slowed and swerved; hundreds of pamphlets flapped above the road like dying birds. I pulled over and caught one. Apparently, a truck full of imported recycling materials had come unlatched. The pamphlet was a fourteen-page mortgage application for Woolwich, a financial-services company in Dartford, Kent, and it was as blank as the billboards. (continued...)

Read the rest of the article here 


clock Posted Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 - 7:14am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


Drawings from 'Love You Forever' up for sale

A Toronto gallery plans to sell the original illustrations and working sketches from the beloved children's book Love You Forever.

The colourful, mixed-media drawings will go on display at the Loch Gallery in December in an exhibit of works by illustrator Sheila McGraw.

The Loch Gallery hopes to sell the drawings, by Sheila McGraw, as a collection. Love You Forever, written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by McGraw, is the poignant tale of a mother who sings to her son as she watches him grow up.

The tender story of a parent's undying love for her child at every stage of his life is much loved around the world.

Since it was published in 1986, it has sold 15 million copies and was even featured in the final season of the sitcom Friends.

McGraw's drawings lend a gentle humour to the tale. The Loch Gallery hopes to sell the drawings as a collection, but will sell them individually if it cannot find a buyer for all of them.

McGraw's original illustrations, including a work that was only published in the first printing of the book, will be exhibited from Dec. 3 to 14.

In advance of the exhibit, the 15 drawings will be displayed on the gallery's website,

McGraw told Canadian Press she is selling the art because she believes that the drawings should be "viewed and enjoyed instead of being hidden away."

A Toronto resident, McGraw worked as an illustrator for magazines and advertising for 20 years. In 1986, she was approached by Firefly books to illustrate Love You Forever.

She kept the rights to the drawings, which are a mix of pastel, crayon, pencil crayon and marker on paper, when the book was published.

The book went on to become number one on the New York Times Children's Best-Seller List.

McGraw has since illustrated several children's books and written adult and children's craft books such as Papier Maché for Kids and Painting and Decorating Furniture.


clock Posted Tue Nov 1st, 2005 - 11:13am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page