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If Harper Ordered Four F-35s, He Ordered More, a Lot More.

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 12:31

Word has leaked out of the Pentagon that Stephen Harper has ordered four F-35s for delivery in 2017.

He didn't order four.

No one would order four warplanes like the F-35.  Harper would have ordered a lot more.  Think in multiples of 12.  24 or 36 at least.  It's those sort of numbers that would be the minimum necessary for an operational F-35 unit.

The operating and service costs of anything less, such as just four, would be prohibitive.  In other words, if you've ordered four, you're ordering more.

For Harper, the F-35 is the safe bet.  It satisfies the main issue, the political factor.  The F-35 is ultimately a political decision.  It's politically advantageous to buy and politically problematic to reject.  When it comes to this sort of thing, Canada's political and military leadership are all "go along to get along" types.

From a military perspective the bloom is off the rose.  The F-35 sacrificed a lot of capability for a limited, frontal-aspect only stealth masking.  It sacrificed speed, agility, range and payload for supposed invisibility.  It doesn't even have supercruise.

It's still years away from being operational in any meaningful numbers and already the intended adversaries have developed countermeasures and worked up tactics that the Americans acknowledge will defeat the F-35's stealth qualities. There's a reason, a very good reason, that the US Air Force and Navy are pushing hard to expedite a replacement before the F-35 even enters service.

The value of the F-35 and its apparent premature obsolescence  (stillbirth) don't trump the political decision.

Kinder Morgan: Message From Ralphie

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 11:31
This is my mad face:

Kinder Morgan wants him charged with assault.Recommend this Post

Rafe Makes the Case for Direct Government Control of Canada's Energy Resources

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 11:10

Rafe Mair writes that it's time for Canada's federal and provincial governments to drop the failed free market capitalism approach to our nation's energy resources and take control back from the private sector.  He's not advocating nationalization, but...

...daily the civilization threatening collision of fossil fuels and the environment becomes more evidently real. The latest forceful confirmation is the report released last week by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Decades back, as the connection between fossil fuels and the threat of climate change were becoming obvious, we began hearing passionate and forceful statements that we must and we would "wean ourselves off fossil fuels." Folks wondered just how the resultant changes would be accommodated. But, by God, we would do it!
In fact, nothing of the sort happened. If anything, the manufacture and sale plus dependence upon fossil fuels substantially increased. The private sector tightened control over the manufacture, sale and export of energy and our governments have meekly "gone along."
The public begins to stir.
Take, for example, British Columbia, where the public has risen against two proposed pipelines from the Alberta tarsands to move highly toxic bitumen through their wilderness, and ship it by tanker out of their fjords to Asia. The resistance has extended far beyond environmental activists and is so widespread that both pipelines are now in serious difficulty.
The governments in Ottawa and Victoria are enthusiastic about liquefied natural gas (LNG) but the public is not nearly so enthused.
Despite Victoria's best efforts to cover up the environmental impact of LNG, the public realizes that it is only marginally less greenhouse-emission causing than oil and coal, and in fact, may not even be that. The public sees, too, that Premier Christy Clark has displayed utter ineptitude in dealing with the industry.
...As the public wakes up -- which it is happening very quickly these days -- governments are going to have to do something. The question is, what?
This won't likely mean massive changes in the system of governance but considerable government involvement and regulation in the energy business.
This brings horror to the boardrooms. Be that as it may, energy, in its manufacture and sale, has become a public matter. This rubs against the grain of all who hate to see the bloody government further involved in anything. Yet the fact is that no government can allow this enormous sector to simply do what it pleases any longer.
...Corporations are simply not equipped to do the "public good." That's not in their nature nor should it be. Shareholders are only interested in seeing the company spend money on what's necessary to run the business and the dividends. To expect that energy companies will see the light and become concerned about global warming and the public weal is akin to believing in Santa Claus.
It therefore must always be assumed that corporations will hack and drill, transport and sell fossil fuels without constraints except for those imposed by the marketplace or the government (while spending fortunes on PR to convince us of their righteousness).
If industry won't concern itself with the public good, who then will? There is only one answer.
The trick now will be for the public to ensure that their control over energy through their government does not confer upon that government powers that were not intended.
That will be a big trick indeed.

A Government Corrupted

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 10:47
There's no trace of hyperbole in denouncing Stephen Harper as the Great Corrupter.  He is corrupt and he corrupts whatever he touches whenever and however it suits him.

The proof is pretty much everywhere but a shining example is the National Energy Board.   Take it from Marc Elieson, an energy executive and former CEO of BC Hydro.

Marc Eliesen  ...has quit his role as an intervenor in the federal review of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline and oil tanker expansion project, calling the National Energy Board "a truly captured regulator."
Eliesen has worked in the nation's energy sector for 40 years. In addition to running the nation's largest hydro utilities, he served in a variety of senior positions in both federal and provincial governments of all stripes, including as Ontario's deputy minister of energy.
Now retired and living in Whistler, B.C., the 73-year-old Eliesen resigned from his intervenor responsibilities after the board repeatedly demonstrated what he called a "lack of respect for hearing participants," as well as a disregard for "the standards and practices of natural justice that previous boards have respected."
Today's National Energy Board is bent.  It's a stacked deck, utterly corrupt.  It more closely resembles the courts that tyrants like to establish to do their dirty business.  It makes ruling after ruling barring relevant evidence and excluding unwelcome participation.   It sees only what it wants to see, it hears only what suits its predisposition.  
Let's put it this way: you don't go to these lengths to cheat if you have any chance of winning fairly.  A national regulator should not be a den of skulduggery, a rubber stamp of perfidy.
Why on Earth then should British Columbians accept the perverse rulings of this "truly captured" regulator or its soiled process?  Why should we take it as anything less than an admission that we're being set up so that out-of-province interests can have their way with our coast?  

Breathe Deeply, Mr. Harper. As Deeply as You Possibly Can.

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 08:07
The APEC summit is underway in Beijing and the atmosphere is just perfect for an inveterate fossil fueler like Stephen Harper.  May Furious Leader indulge his respiratory system in Beijing's particulate-enriched air.  There's no extra charge either.

The Guardian reports the Chinese have done what they can to make the air in Beijing fit for human consumption but, darn, it didn't work.

They banned the burning of funeral offerings, closed restaurants and factories, halted deliveries and took millions of cars off the roads. But Chinese leaders were unable to achieve blue skies for this week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meeting in Beijing, with data from the US embassy showing air pollution at six times the World Health Organisation’s safe daily limit.

Apparently frustrated by their lack of success the Chinese thought of one more thing.  They've blocked normal public access to the US embassy stats substituting their own showing Beijing's air to be "lightly polluted."

See, they can learn from us.

It's Not a Vortex, It's an Invasion.

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 07:50
I know, I know - you were told just a couple of weeks ago that eastern provinces and states were in for a mild winter.


Winter is still weeks away but how about an early trip down Memory Lane?  The bad news is there's a big Arctic storm on the way.  The good news is that NBC isn't calling it a Polar Vortex.  No, this one they've branded a "Polar Invasion." There, isn't that better?

Meanwhile there's a real bastard of a superstorm raging in the Bering Sea, said to be the worst on record.  A drop in the mercury of 24 millibars in 24-hours is the measure of a "weather bomb."  The current storm saw drops of between 50 and 60-millibars in 24-hours.

The Bering Sea storm is the remnant of typhoon Nouri.  The British Columbia coast got hit last week with the leftovers of hurricane Ana.  It's kind of weird watching these tropical storms get so far into the northern latitudes.  Maybe that's part of our new "normal."

dispatches from the community of readers' advisors: r.a. in a day 2014

we move to canada - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 07:00
Last week I attended "R.A. in a Day," an annual one-day mini-conference on readers' advisory - that is, finding books for readers.

It happens that the manager of my own "Readers' Den" department is one of the principal hosts of the conference, and the Mississauga Library was well-represented in the audience. More than 100 people attended from libraries throughout southern Ontario.

It was a joy to spend the day focusing on the singular pleasures of reading and the experience of people who read. Part of what makes doing readers' advisory fun is that you're already talking to a reader. You're not trying to convince anyone to read; you're a bridge between a reader and books. There are more passive forms of RA, such as book displays. But the active, one-on-one RA that this conference focuses on is - as you know - a part of my job that I really enjoy.

I'll highlight three speakers from the event.

Catherine Sheldrick Ross, into the minds of readers

Making this day especially noteworthy to me, the keynote speaker was a library hero of mine: Catherine Sheldrick Ross, the name in research on reading.

Some years back, I blogged about a book she co-authored, Reading Matters: What the Research Reveals about Reading, Libraries and Community. A chapter had been assigned reading, and I enjoyed it so much that I hunted down the book and read the whole thing. Let me tell you, in library school, that was a rare experience for me! I was so pleased to meet Dr. Ross and tell her I had blogged about her book. I'm going to send her the post, and I'll also read her newest book, The Pleasures of Reading: a Booklover's Alphabet.

An excellent and engaging speaker, Ross highlighted some of the results of her thirty-year inquiry into the minds of avid readers. Ross' research - in-depth interviews about the reading experience - has formed the basis of RA practice. Indeed, understanding the reader's experience is the key to good RA.

And that understanding begins with reflecting on our own experience. As you read these questions, think of how you read.

Are you a selective reader, feeling your time is very limited and what you read must always be very good and worthwhile? Or are you an ominvorous reader, reading everything from quality literature to genre novels and books others dismiss as "trash"?

Do you read only fiction, only nonfiction, or both?

Do you re-read books, feeling that books are old friends who should be re-visited and re-understood? Or do you feel that there are so many books to read and so little time, that you never or rarely read a book more than once?

How do you find your books? Do you have an organized system that you employ, or do you find books more randomly and haphazardly from an eclectic group of sources?

Through questions like these, we in the audience began to reflect on our own reading practices. We then did an exercise, each table discussing a different dimension of reading, and then sharing with the group. I am pleased (and kind of amazed) to say it was one of the more useful library exercises I've done. We could have gone on for twice as much time.

Many insights into the reading experience are nearly universal. Our choice of reading varies not only at different times in our lives, but at different moments, depending on what's going on in our lives at any particular moment. And reading is an enduring paradox. It takes us away from our own lives, into another world - the infamous "escape" that is often denigrated. Yet at the same time, reading broadens our scope, enriches us, strengthens our connections with the world. (Did you know that people who read tend to have more empathy than non-readers?)

Ross has written about a phenonmenon that most readers will relate to: she calls it "finding without seeking". You are reading a book for pleasure. Perhaps you picked it up randomly or were drawn to its beautiful cover, or read a review. You're reading it for pleasure, not information. But as you read it, you recognize something of yourself in the book: a relationship, or a dilemma, a conflict. You reflect on your own experience, and you end up learning, and growing. Ross says:
Readers choose books for the pleasure anticipated in the reading itself but then, apparently serendipitously, they encounter material that helps them in the contex of their lives. (Ross, Finding Without Seeking, 1999)Although learning about RA begins with reflecting on our own experience, the most important dictum of RA is four little words: It's Not About You. Keeping our own opinions and judgements out of the picture can be challenging! Dr. Ross says: "RA is a conversation, and the library is the place that fosters that conversation."

Claire Cameron, The Bear

Claire Cameron, a Canadian author, read from her current book The Bear, and talked about her sources and her writing process. She was a wonderful speaker and reader. I must confess that I began reading The Bear about a month ago, and put it down, feeling it wasn't for me. But after hearing Cameron read, I'm going to give the book a second chance.

The inspiration for The Bear was an actual bear attack that took place in Ontario's Algonquin Park in 1991. It was a very unusual attack that gave rise to a great deal of publicity: a healthy bear attacked and killed two people. The bear was not threatened, he was not starving - the couple was cooking dinner and the bear left the package of ground beef untouched. What's more, the couple were experienced campers who did everything right. It appears that the bear went out of its way to hunt and kill people.

Using this event as a jumping-off point, Cameron imagines the story from the point of view of a five-year-old girl, hiding with her younger brother - their father manages to hide them in a camping stove while trying to fend off the bear - then surviving in the woods, alone. (There were no children in the actual incident.) The story itself is gripping and suspenseful, and ultimately hopeful. Readers I speak to in the library are recommending it highly.

Cameron had a great deal of experience as a hiker, climber, canoer, and adventurer before becoming a writer. One of her best stories at RA in a Day was about her return to Algonquin Park, with her two sons, after the publication of The Bear. If you're intrigued, there's a good profile of her here.)

Peter Mendelsund, What We See When We Read and Cover

The final speaker of the day approaches the reading experience from an entirely different perspective. Peter Mendelsund is a book designer and art director for Alfred A. Knopf Publishers in New York. Check out the very impressive catalogue of book covers he has designed: Mendelsund.

Mendelsund has just published two books simultaneously: a coffee-table retrospective of his work, called Cover, and a meditation on what the experience of reading feels like, called What We See When We Read.

Mendelsund's talk was a departure and a great end to the day. A fast-talking, witty, literate New Yorker, he jolted us alert after a long, slow afternoon. Most of us love book covers, and Mendelsund's talk was a fascinating peek into the process of their creation.

In response to a question, Mendelsund mentioned that his least favourite projects are usually books expected to be very popular, where authors have earned huge advances. In those cases, there are a lot of stakeholders, high expectations, sales pressure, and many opinions to contend with... and thus much less creative control.

On the other hand, Mendelsund's favourite projects are usually classics that are being reprinted. The author is dead, the publishing house has little investment, and he gets to do pretty much whatever he wants. These books are often being published in a series, an authors' complete work, for which Mendelsund designs an overall concept, then variations for each book. With a slide show, he walked us through the process of designing this series of the work of Franz Kafka. Also, check out his designs for James Joyce, especially that most inspired Ulysses.

Mendelsund's references were more literary than those of most public library workers. He was name-dropping Melville, Joyce, Dostoyevsky, and Foucault, and I suspect that went over the heads of many people in the room. But his famous cover design of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo probably made up for it.

A final note about Peter Mendelsund. He mentioned that his first career was as a concert pianist. (His parents were survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto, and playing classical music increased one's chance of survival.) After decades as musician, now with a family, he needed to change careers to have a more stable income and health insurance. That's not uncommon, especially in New York. But how many people buy a book on how to become a graphic designer, create a portfolio, and leap into a job as a book designer at a major publishing house? Those are some impressive talents at work, and not only the artistic kind.

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 06:53
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Barrie McKenna looks to Norway as an example of how an oil-rich country can both ensure long-term benefits from its non-renewable resources, and be far more environmentally responsible than Canada has been to date.

- Michal Rozworski discusses how the devaluing of work is a largely political phenomenon. And Paul Mason wonders what it will take for workers who now see themselves as disenfranchised to fight back again a system that's rigged against them. 

- Speaking of which, Brendan James discusses a new study suggesting that the U.S. is past the point of being a democracy in any meaningful sense of the word. Paul Buchhelt comments on the disappearance of middle-class wealth. And John Stapleton studies (PDF) how lower-income citizens are both excluded and exploited by our financial system, while Arturo Garcia highlights Matt Taibbi's continued observation that absolutely nobody has been held responsible for financial-sector criminality even when it's crashed the economy.

- Jim Bronskill reports on Suzanne Legault's efforts to save access to information from Con cutbacks. The Star slams Tony Clement's Orwellian definition of "open government", while Sean Holman writes that even in opposition the Libs' plans don't seem to be much of an improvement. And Dan Leger writes about the spread of deliberately-cultivated ignorance among citizens across the developed world:
Here are some facts to illuminate your day: violent crime is getting worse, the country is overrun with immigrants, there’s an epidemic of teenage pregnancies and we’ve become a nation of geriatrics.

And that’s not all: 20 percent of Canadians are Muslim while the Christian population shrinks. Unemployment stalks the land.

No wonder people think we need to crack down on crime, choke off border access, enforce morality on teenagers and encourage Christian family values.

The problem is, the statements aren’t facts. They are widely held but entirely incorrect perceptions and they are common across the western world.
(G)overning from the gut by capitalizing on fear of crime, economic disruption or terrorism is a Conservative stock in trade under Stephen Harper. He’s been in power since 2006, so it works pretty well.

Of course the alternative to perception-driven politics is reliable public information; the kind you would get, say, from the mandatory long-form census. The Conservatives cancelled that in 2010.

Perhaps Canada would have better environmental policies if people were fully informed about pollution and climate change? The current government forbids scientists from telling the public about their work. - Finally, Michael Harris notes that even as the Cons publicly claimed to have backed off their longstanding public push to buy F-35s which are ill-suited to Canada's purposes, they're in fact barging ahead with a plan to take delivery in the next couple of years.

The F-35 By Any Means

Northern Reflections - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 05:38


We learned late last week the the Harper government has ordered four F-35's. Michael Harris writes:

According to a Canadian Press story by Murray Brewster based on a Pentagon leak, the Harper government plans to buy four F-35s and slip the acquisition into the current fiscal year. In order to get the controversial jet by 2016 or 2017, Canada has to provide the F-35 Project Office with a letter of intent by mid-November. All this is documented in a U.S. Department of Defense slide show. Not a peep in Ottawa.

Nothing has been broached in parliament about this potentially imminent order of a jet that is grossly over-budget, grossly delayed in production, and mired in operational problems. If the story is accurate, there never was a meaningful review of the F-35 decision of 2010 — another lie.

After CP broke the story, defence minister Rob Nicholson was not in Question Period last Friday. But the government once again played silly bugger on the F-35 file when Bernard Trottier, the minister’s parliamentary secretary, rose to answer in his place.

Refusing to address the information in the Pentagon leak, he simply parroted the speaking points that no decision had been made to replace Canada’s fleet of CF-18s. Does anyone believe that if the Harper government wants to buy four of these jets that the F-35 will not be the choice to replace the CF-18? This is simply vintage Harper — getting what he wants by other means. 
Once again, Harper has shown his utter contempt for Parliament -- and by extension, Canadian voters. Despite the fact that the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Auditor General revealed that the government had lied about the cost of the jets -- and that they had supposedly gone back to the drawing board -- Harper is focused on getting what he wants by any means necessary.

If Harper is not thrown out in the next election, democracy in Canada -- like truth from the Prime Minister's Office -- will be dead.

Stephen Harper and the Great North Pole Farce

Montreal Simon - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 04:33

Who can forget how Stephen Harper shocked the world a few months ago by suddenly and loudly declaring that the North Pole belonged to Canada?

Even though it actually belongs to Denmark.

But who knew the stunning proclamation also sent shockwaves through the cowed ranks of his own civil servants?

New documents suggest that Canada's last-minute decision to stretch its claim to the Arctic seabed all the way to the North Pole took federal bureaucrats just as off-guard as it did the rest of the world.

Or that this last minute Con production was such an absolute FARCE.
Read more »


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