Weekly Reckoning: Checkon Yourself Before You Reckon Yourself Edition

weekly-reckoningIt’s a reckon every second around here.

WENCHES WELCOME HERE Local vanity project owner Jason Hall is in hot water this week after an ad for event staff at Kitschbomb Stonehall Castle asked for applicants’ measurements. Hall seems to be under the impression that his reputation as a landlord is making him a target for ire, rather than the fact that he asked for women’s exact measurements.

FINALLY, SOMEONE WITH THE RIGHT IDEA Slate’s Daniel Engber takes a look at the state of the world and decides that the best solution is to eradicate all of the mosquitoes. What a great idea! Even if they’re not showing up to the party with Zika and malaria and chikungunya and that old dengue fever, they’re still making off with our blood and leaving nothing but itchy bumps behind. Let’s whip these welters.

I’M STARTING TO THINK THAT FLINT IS JUST DYSTOPIA’S TEST LAB You think that lead content in Flint’s water is a disgrace? It’s so much worse than that.

Y IN THE SKY January 28 marked the 30th anniversary of the Challenger shuttle explosion. Jason Kottke has a round-up of stories on the disaster.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU: CETAPHILE? I’m aware of how tortured and ridiculous that pun is, but these are ridiculous, torturous times. Especially when you discover that Justin Trudeau wants to ratify the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement, or CETA.

Daily Aggregation Programming Note

daily-aggregation-2Alert readers might have noticed the absence of Dog Blog’s staple news round-up column in the past week. Sadly, a mighty combination of staff illness (not me) and Too Much Stuff To Do (definitely me) has sabotaged my ongoing efforts to write this thing most weekdays.

But do not mourn this popular feature, my friends — while Daily Aggregation has fallen, it will someday rise again.

Like, maybe Thursday. Thursday sound good? Awesome.

Spam Of The Day: “Blog Regarding”

This gem popped up in last week’s never-ending Canada Post thread:

Whoa, incredible weblog arrangement! How much time have you been blog regarding? you have made running a blog glance uncomplicated. The whole start looking of your web site is great, seeing that intelligently because the subject material!

Good one, “How You Can Help”. Very, very good one.

We Haz Grey Cup! Must Drink! Here’s How!

WE WON ALL THE FOOTBALLZ! Ha ha! Now let’s go find some alcohol! BUT WAIT! It’s mental out there! There are line-ups! Confusion! Pandemonium! What to do? Fear not, for Prairie Dog has advice for this situation in our Unofficial Grey Cup Manual — and I’m reprinting it below so you don’t have to scroll all the way through our whatever-thousand word feature to find it.

LISTEN UP. During the Grey Cup, there will be a massive increase in dining, imbibing and other indulging. The local establishments will do their part to keep the town fed and watered, but don’t forget: THIS IS A TWO WAY STREET. There are rules, guidelines and things you just need to keep in mind. Such as:

1.) PLEASE BE PATIENT If you waited in line to get in, then the place is packed. The staff are working their butts off so you can get in and out. WE ALL WANT THE SAME THINGS. Large parties and big groups; be understanding. You may wait longer for seating, you may not  all be able to sit together, and you may not receive separate checks. I’m sorry.

2.) ALWAYS HAVE YOUR ID ON YOU Wedding rings, facial hair, a sense of entitlement, etc. do not count as government issued identification, and are not going to get you served alcohol. Don’t be surprised or offended when we ask for it.

3.) DON’T BE A JERK WHEN YOU SIT DOWN Pick a table that is appropriately sized to accommodate your party. Two people at a table for 10 is selfish and ignorant.

4.) HOLLERING DON’T DO IT! No whistling, no snapping, no grabbing, no sexual harassment, and no my name is not “Bro” or “Babe”.

5.) WHAAAT DO YOU WAAANT??? Know your order. Feel free to ask questions, but have some sort of idea what you want. I am not telepathic, and I probably have a lot of other tables to get to.

6.) ANTICIPATE YOUR NEEDS Order rounds of drinks, not just one at a time. If the server is at the table and you will need a drink in the next 10 minutes, order. Avoid over-complicating your order.

7.) CASH IS KING Always have cash or be prepared to throw down a card for that tab. NO DEBIT AT THE BAR!

8.) TIPPING Industry average is 20 per cent. There are a slew of folks (cooks, bartenders, bussers, hosts, dishwashers) that get a portion of this tip. Good service should be rewarded — and so will good tipping. WINK! No, not that kind of wink, you idiot. Don’t be gross.

9.) BE NICE, GOD DAMMIT All jokes aside, the nicer you are to a server, the better your service will be. If a server likes you, strings can be pulled. It’s not all about money… being polite gets you a long way. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. With all that in mind, have fun. Be safe. Don’t drink and drive. Tip your cabby. Peace.

This concerned message was brought yoby two anonymous local servers.

In conclusion, woooooooooooooo!

On The Alleged Senate Shenanigans Of Mike Duffy (With Bonus Rob Ford

Exiled Conservative senator and former Conservative fund-raiser Mike Duffy is now accused of paying a friend $65,000 for what is technically known as “???”. The friend, former TV technician Gerald Donohue, says he did “internet research and provided verbal advice” to Duffy, which RCMP Cpl. Greg Horton said he believes was “little or no apparent work.” From CBC:

The documents show there might be more to the Duffy investigation than just his living allowance. The RCMP need Duffy’s banking records to prove where the $65,000 went, Horton wrote, because Donohue says he never saw any of it, and that it went to his business. The money was paid by cheque, the court documents state. “The supporting documentation relating to the bank transactions will assist investigators in identifying where the money went after it was deposited, and who received the money if Donohue did not,” Horton wrote. The affidavit also notes that Nigel Wright, who was Harper’s chief of staff until he resigned over a report that he repaid $90,000 of Duffy’s Senate expenses out of his own pocket, turned over hundreds of pages of emails to investigators on Aug. 21.

rob-ford Meanwhile, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford might be under police investigation and his driver and pal Alexander Lisi, who was arrested last week for drug trafficking, allegedly offered weed for the return of Ford’s stolen cellphone. Whuuuaaa? Don’t even know what to make of this (besides the fact that weed should be a legal recreational drug, not a currency for stolen goods).

In any case, Canada’ conservative politicians seem to be winning the political corruption arms race these days. Outside of Quebec, anyway.

Satanists Turn Westboro Baptist Founder’s Mom Gay For All Eternity

gawkersatanistsI have nothing to add to this story that you can’t read on heavy metal website, The Gauntlet. Or on the Huffington Post. Or Gawker. In short, a group of Satanists performed a pink mass over the grave of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelp’s mother that, they say, will make her gay for all eternity.

From the Gauntlet article:

The Westboro Baptists, famed for their bombastic “God Hates Fags” anti-homosexual activism, raised the ire of the Satanic Temple months previous. “The idea for the Pink Mass ceremony and website came during the aftermath of the tragic Boston Marathon bombings, during which time the WBC were threatening to protest the funerals of the bombing victims,” explains [Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves]. “Members of The Satanic Temple were in Boston, waiting for them, but they failed to show. Later, the WBC issued a statement that they had been present ‘in spirit’. We decided that a same-sex couple celebrating ceremony at the grave-site of Fred Phelps’s mother was an appropriate way to meet the Westboro Baptists, ‘in spirit’, but this time on our terms.”

Explaining the ceremony itself, Greaves continues, “The Satanic Temple now believes that Fred Phelps must believe that his mother is now gay, in the afterlife, due to our Pink Mass… And nobody can challenge our right to our beliefs.”

The Satanists in question have a website, westboro-baptist.com, with photos and commentary on the ceremony. It also includes a Gaying Post-Mortem, which reads…

Other same sex couples are invited to respectfully and tastefully express their mutual affection at Ms. Johnston’s gravesite. After a Pink Mass has been performed, every time a same sex couple kisses over a gravesite, the now-gay deceased is pleasured in the afterlife.

I’m sure some people may find this post-death forced reorientation offensive. But who knows? Phelp’s mother has been dead a while. Maybe this switch will help break up the monotony of an eternal afterlife.

Rob Ford Resigns, Dies Or Gets Arrested Official Pool Update

rob-fordIn case anyone’s wondering, Peakay and Aquarabbit have been eliminated from the two-week pool because their time slots passed without Ford resigning or dying. Still alive: April Bee, commentator Brad, Paul Dechene and John Cameron. I’m hanging in too but only because I bought the “Rob Ford Gets Arrested” bonus square.

Frankly, and I don’t like typing this, it’s looking pretty good for Cameron right now. He was smart to bid high on the “Ford Lasts More Than Two Weeks” bonus square.

In other Canada’s shittiest mayor news, Ford just hired his radio producer to work for him in the resignation-plagued mayor’s office. Relevant career skills include DJ-ing and being a lifeguard.

Today In Rob Ford: The Recappening

Well, more staff quit today. And Ontario’s information commissioner wrote Ford a stern letter about government transparency and Ford’s alleged orders to his staff delete e-mails. Oh, and we learned that Rob Ford , well, uh…

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford told senior aides not to worry about a video appearing to show him smoking crack cocaine because he knew where it was, sources told the Star.

Ford then blurted out the address of two 17th-floor units — 1701 and 1703 — at a Dixon Rd. apartment complex, to the shock of staffers at a city hall meeting almost two weeks ago, the sources said.

The mayor cited “our contacts” as the source of his information, according to insiders familiar with the unusual May 17 session in his office.

Staffers were alarmed by the implication of hearing so precise a location, sources said.

Also, the Ontario PC party says the mayor’s brother, Doug “Hashman” Ford, is no longer seen as a potential Tory candidate in the next provincial election.

It’s all so wacky that even the “we don’t care about anything beyond our borders” U.S. media is following this page-turner of a tale.

And on top all all this, Ford says “everything’s fine” and not only is he not going to step down, he’s going to run again in the 2015 Toronto election. Well, that sure puts a dent in my “Rob For Quits/Dies/Gets Arrested Pool” chances. I have this afternoon and evening. There’s still time, Mr. Mayor! Help an editor win a couple bucks, wouldja?


St. Vincent 2012

Hey there sports fans! In the spirit of sassiness and sweet tunes photographer Kim Jay and I are making the mighty trek to The Gorge, Washington, USA to take in the four-day Sasquatch Music Festival.

Reputably one of the most laid back, accessible music festivals for Canadians to enjoy (Canadian beer brand Kokanee is the major beer sponsor) Sasquatch Music Festival plays home to cool evening temperatures and beautiful scenery. The natural amphitheatre nestled amongst the curves of the Columbia River has potential to make for a most magical four days.  Continue reading “Sass-Quatch!”

Harper Chief Of Staff Resigns

Canadian ParliamentA few days ago it was revealed that Nigel Wright, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, had picked up a $90,000 tab that senator Mike Duffy had rung up for expense account irregularities related to him representing PEI as a senator while living in Ottawa. Initially, Wright tried to portray the act as one of charity on his part in service of the public interest. But Opposition MPs viewed the matter in a different light, alleging that it was a behind-the-scenes attempt by the Conservatives to short-circuit a Senate investigation into Duffy’s actions.

When the scandal first broke the PM released a statement expressing support for Wright.  But today it was announced that Wright had resigned from his position as chief of staff. With Harper set to jet to South America on Tuesday for an official visit to Peru and the Pacific Alliance Leaders Summit in Cali, Columbia May 22-23, the PMO released this statement concerning Wright’s resignation:

“It is with great regret that I have accepted the resignation of Nigel Wright as my Chief of Staff.  I accept that Nigel believed he was acting in the public interest, but I understand the decision he has taken to resign.  I want to thank Nigel for his tremendous contribution to our Government over the past two and a half years.

“Our Government’s top priority is, and will continue to be, securing jobs and economic growth for Canada.  This is the focus of all our efforts and attention.”

Both Duffy, and senator Pamela Wallin from Saskatchewan, whose expense account claims are also being scrutinized by an auditor, have withdrawn from the Conservative caucus.  The Opposition, meanwhile, is pressing for further investigation of what it regards as a serious breach of ethics.

As for the government, maybe the Conservatives should consider expanding the scope of their mandate beyond “securing jobs and economic growth for Canada [or at least their backers in the resource sector]” to include principles like honesty, integrity, compassion, peace, stewardship of the environment, promotion of knowledge, creativity and innovation and other ideals that have  served this country reasonably well over its 140 plus year history.

They’re Calling It The “Rob Ford Crackstarter”

This crazy thing keeps getting crazier. From Gawker:

As you may have heard, Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, smokes crack cocaine. We’ve seen a video of him smoking crack cocaine, and the people who have the video would like to sell it. Through the miracle of crowdfunding, you can help. Please consider donating to the Rob Ford Crackstarter.

How Much Do We Need? $200,000. That’s what the owners of the video want. That sounds like a lot of money. The good people at Indiegogo believe that, with the appropriate amount ofvirality, that goal is achievable.

Christ, That’s a Lot of Money. Yes, it is. But they’ve got the video! And it’s not all about greed, though of course most of it is. The owners of this video fear for their safety, and want enough money to pay for a chance to get out of Toronto and set up in a new town. Their fear is not entirely unwarranted. Rob Ford is a powerful if buffoonish man, and he was wrapped up in a drug scene that purportedly involved many other prominent Toronto figures.

What Will We Get? A crystal clear, well-lit video of the mayor of Toronto smoking crack cocaine, published on Gawker for the world to see. We will also be throwing in some perks, for specific donation amounts. But the main thing is the video of the mayor of Toronto smoking crack cocaine.

This is going to end with Ford fighting biplanes at the top of the CN tower, isn’t it? Oh Gawker. Oh Internet. Oh Rob Ford.

More Saskatchewan Goofiness

“Kickstart My Heart” is a good tune, but outside of that I’m not a big Motley Crue fan. In fact, I’d probably consider myself a bit disdainful of the band because of their over the top Hollywood glam lifestyle. So I wasn’t heart-broken in the least when the band bypassed Regina on its swing through Saskatchewan opting for stops in Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Estevan instead.

The Estevan gig was last night at Spectra Place. At some point in the concert a fan, described variously in media reports as “crazed” and “a raging moron”, jumped  up on stage, knocked over 62-year-old guitarist Mick Mars and then tried to hug singer Vince Neil before being subdued by security. Mars suffers from chronic arthritis so the fan’s action was not only stupid, it was also dangerous to Mars.

If you click on either link above you’ll be able to see video of the incident.


Happy Day Of Reason: Why Psychic Powers Can’t Work

Down in the States, it’s National Day of Reason. That’s a holiday held in protest of their National Day of Prayer so not something that’s been a big deal up here in Canada as yet.

Considering though how Harper and Co. have been doing great work in the service of irrationality — what with their muzzling and defunding of scientists and general hostility towards any intellectual pursuit beyond producing specious justifications for Conservative policies — maybe a Day of Reason is exactly the kind of thing we need in the Great White North.

But that’s not why I bring it up. Really, these “Days” marking “Things” don’t do much for me (International Cocktail Day being a notable exception). National Day of Reason though has given me a perfect excuse to post a video by physicist Sean Caroll.

You can also consider this is a response to psychic Chip Coffey who’s left a couple angry comments on the piece I wrote in advance of his show here on Sunday. You’ll note that in his comments he accuses me of being a shabby journalist and he also accuses the other source I had for that story of trying to sneak into a Coffey Talk show with a forged ticket. That’s about the extent of his response, so far.

What Coffey doesn’t do is address what I would consider the substance of the article: that being that psychic powers don’t exist — you can’t read a persons future, you can’t contact spirits in the afterlife — and anyone who claims the contrary is either mistaken or lying.

But of course, it would be rather difficult to dispute those points seeing as you’d have to produce convincing proof of something that doesn’t exist.

As evidence of the non-existence of paranormal stuff, I offer that Sean Carroll video I promised at the outset. It’s titled “Sean Carroll Refutes Supernatural Beliefs” and in it he shows how there is no room within science for the kind of phenomena Chip Coffey trades in.

He also does a pretty good number the afterlife. And it only takes 10 minutes. Isn’t science something?

The Dark Side Of Coffey: An Interview With Mentalist Mark Edward

As soon as Chris up at Planet S suggested I do a piece on psychic, Chip Coffey (complete Coffey interview here), I knew I wanted to talk to a professional magician who has some first-hand knowledge of how psychics work.

And I was lucky enough to get a hold of Mark Edward. He works as a mentalist and magician and also as a psychic entertainer — that’s someone who puts on readings and seances but doesn’t pretend that what he’s doing is in any way supernatural. He lets the audience know that it’s all tricks and craft.

He also works with the Center For Inquiry and recently published Psychic Blues: Confessions of a Conflicted Medium, a memoir of his time working the 900 lines as a psychic, learning the secrets of the industry.

Last year, Edward was ejected from a Chip Coffey show in Los Angeles for giving out cold reading tip sheets.

He refers to Coffey as a “grief vampire.”

Below the fold, an excerpt from our interview.¹

Continue reading “The Dark Side Of Coffey: An Interview With Mentalist Mark Edward”

Me Being A Duplicitous Bastard: My Interview With Psychic, Chip Coffey

Chip's people sent me this image to use in the article so I'm not breaking any rules posting this image here.Tonight, renowned paranormal-television personality, Chip Coffey, will be at the Sask Hotel showing off his skills of a psychic.

I interviewed him for the most recent issue and as I mentioned in the resulting article, “Psychic Coffey“, I am not a believer in the spiritual mumbo-jumbo that Coffey is selling so it was maybe a tad on the shitty side for me talk to him without tipping him to my skepticism.

But I’m unrepentant.

I find that whole mediumship schtick of claiming to contact the dead friends or relatives of grieving people to be a pretty egregious misuse of a talent for cold reading.

But Coffey took things a step or seven further with his A&E show, Psychic Kids, in which he convinced teens and pre-teens that their normal feelings of weirdness and adolescent confusion are actually signs of psychic powers. That was a despicable sideshow of child exploitation. These were kids who needed a sit down with a trained psychologist, or, more likely, a hug and a hobby.¹

Instead they were encouraged to chase chimeras.

I did ask Coffey about the show and the criticism he’s received. And he defended himself in the way you might expect.

After the jump, a transcript of the interview.

Continue reading “Me Being A Duplicitous Bastard: My Interview With Psychic, Chip Coffey”

Here’s Your Damn Booby Video

Greg’s Pick Of The Day today is a big fat fucking tease. “I intended to finish off this post with a Boob-themed video but when I went to YouTube and searched “Boobs” I got 1.6 million hits,” he wordily writes. “By the time I plowed through them all to find out which one was best (like Steve typically does with his Friday afternoon pet videos) I was out of time. So sorry about that.”

It’s probably just as well because I’m not sure I trust Greg’s taste in boob videos. I DO, however, trust MY taste in boob videos. So to make up for Dog Blog’s cruel boob video deficit, here’s the UNRATED, BOOBY-FILLED, NOT SAFE FOR WORK video by musician Robin (son of Alan) Thicke that blew up the Internet last week. Is the video for “Blurred Lines” art? Is it playful and harmless? Is it creepy and sexist? Is it ruined because everyone’s fucking sick of men calling women “bitches”? I dunno. You guys (and girls) can unpack its sexism (or lack of) in the comments.

But Jesus Christ, naked ladies are pretty as hell. (It’s a catchy tune, too.)

Saskatoon-Based Scientist Muzzled By Harper Government In HUGE Shocker

I’m surprised, personally. The Harper Government doesn’t like its paid scientists to disclose their research without a crash course in anti-environmentalist spin? This is all news to me:

Waiser wrote two scientific papers for Environment Canada that were published in 2011 that looked at chemical pollutants (such as phosporus and ammonia) and pharmaceuticals (such as trace antibiotics) in Wascana Creek.

Both kinds of pollution were found downstream of the Regina sewage treatment plant west of the city.

Waiser says when CBC contacted her to talk about the research, Environment Canada higher-ups lowered the boom.

“One of the first things they said after reading the two papers on Wascana Creek is that they didn’t want to upset the City of Regina,” she said.

Man, that last bit stings, doesn’t it. Though I guess it stings more if you’re a non-scientist spokesperson or “media guru” or whatever job title at Environment Canada in 2013 means it’s your job to make sure that nobody talks to the press unless they reinforce the Harper Government voter base’s beliefs that absolutely nothing has changed in the environment in the past sixty years and that human culpability in environmental issues is basically nil. Because look how snippy this guy or gal got:

Environment Canada declined a recorded interview, but in an email, a spokesperson said the department won’t comment on “hearsay.”

Zing. Is it “hearsay” when the source on this story about a government scientist being muzzled over her work is the government scientist who did the work? Is it hearsay when it’s part of a larger pattern previously addressed by international scientific journals? I guess it’s difficult to say. At least the Harper Government can take some solace in the fact that there’s no way to gain how much traction this “hearsay” actually has.

harper muzzle

Yep, no way at all. The full interview with Marley Waiser is here. Big ups to CBC Sask for digging up and running this story.

University Of Regina Board Of Governors Chair Paul McLellan Is A Very Confused Man, Please Give Him Some Space

Right on fucking cue:

If, as was approved in a council motion, there’s a request for publishing the salaries of everybody at the university, Paul McLellan wondered to what purpose this would be put? Would its release conflict with privacy laws? And isn’t much of this information – specifically, that covered by the three collective agreements for employees at the university: academic, support/maintenance and adminstrative – already available?

Holy crow. Look, dude, pardon my brusqueness, but I downed about half a litre of wine last night and so I do NOT have patience for your bullshit this morning. I am going to tear you to shreds in this post. I don’t know if you think a Twitter is something you put on breakfast cereal to give yourself more vitamins but if you do know what it is definitely don’t check mine this morning because after I finish this post I am going to be even meaner to you, and I promise that only part of it is because I am still angry that you never wrote me back after I gave you all of those nice letters. Although one of your representatives did invite me to ask permission to attend a board meeting and argue my case. After I graduated. And after I organized a sit-in and had security physically bar me from your boardroom. You make me furious.

First off, holy shit, were you busy playing Words With Friends when they sorted this all out? Item one, people would read those salaries, compare them to other salaries, and then try and figure out whether those salaries were proportionally fair and in line with the limited budget the university is able to access in this, probably the worst time for public universities since back when the biggest threat to their livelihood was Visigoths sacking them and burning down their library. Second, the release of salary information would not conflict with privacy laws; the president of the university said as much in response to someone asking that exact question. Do you not pay attention when Vianne Timmons is talking? That is very rude. Board meetings must be hell. I don’t know because I’m not allowed in them but now I’m imagining everyone throwing paper airplanes around while the three adults in the room try to sort out the horrible budget crisis facing every post-secondary institution in North America. No wonder you don’t want anyone else to see these meetings.

After the jump there is much more, because the Leader-Post piece goes on in this fashion for an incredulity-stretching amount of copy:

Continue reading “University Of Regina Board Of Governors Chair Paul McLellan Is A Very Confused Man, Please Give Him Some Space”

Music Video: Today At Lunch, Spread That Peanut Butter

Um. I hate tagging anything “NSFW“, but this video might be Too Fucking Awesome (“TFA”?) for some work places. Thought Regina might be in need of a happy-gay-lucky pick-me-up today, what with the water thing, the rising rents, electoral boundaries and everything else, please see the rest of the Dog Blog for details. Keywords for this post: sex-positive, delicious, queer as fuck.