January 15, 2013

HMCS Athabaskan finally makes port

Filed under: Cancon, Military — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:04

As reported more than a week ago, HMCS Athabaskan has been having issues getting back home to Halifax. She had been refitting at Seaway Marine and Industrial Inc. in Welland, Ontario, but the work had been extended longer than planned due to issues discovered while the work was underway. Instead of being back in service by the end of the year, the ship had to be towed back to Halifax with the work incomplete.

On the way, the tow line broke and HMCS Athabaskan drifted for several hours off Scatarie Island. At some point, the ship took additional damage (the darkened areas around the hull number below):

HMCS Athabaskan under tow in Halifax
(Screencap image detail from Halifax Shipping News)

Don Cherry: Canadian … icon?

Filed under: Americas, Cancon, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:34

In an article designed to stir up controversy over aid to Haiti, Kathy Shaidle provides a neat thumbnail portrait of Don Cherry:

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) says taxpayers must keep funding this great unwatched billion-dollar behemoth because the network has a never-hear-the-end-of-it “mandate” to “reflect Canadian values.”

Which “the Corpse” does indeed, but for just about nine minutes every Saturday night, and only during hockey season, and by accident rather than design.

That’s when Don Cherry’s red light goes on and the former Boston Bruins coach begins bellowing about the fruitcakes and foreigners destroying his beloved game.

He’s old, white, loud, and uneducated. He’s bigoted, mawkishly patriotic, and he dresses like an Edwardian time traveler stuck in 1970s Detroit trying to pass himself off as a pimp — and Don Cherry’s Coach’s Corner has also been the CBC’s highest rated… thing for generations. It’s not even a show, you see, just a segment — possibly the only “intermission” in history that prompts people to run to their seats instead of away from them.

By lucky chance, “shhhh!” is the same “word” in both official languages, and that’s the sound heard in sports bars and rec rooms across Quebec and the ROC (Rest of Canada) as the show’s familiar intro gallops into millions of ears.

To the countless Canucks who can’t stand him, however, Cherry is a perpetual outrage machine. The coach doesn’t make “Kinsley gaffes,” either — those “controversial” statements which accidentally reveal some embarrassing truth. Cherry tells embarrassing truths on purpose. His only “crime” is saying things lots of his countrymen agree with but aren’t allowed to say — or even let themselves think — anymore.

The Who-the-heck-is-who of the federal Liberal leadership race

Filed under: Cancon, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 00:03

Andrew Coyne gets in the first “who the heck is that” survey of the field of candidates for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada:

With nominations now closed for the Liberal leadership, let me be the first to cackle smugly at the cast of non-entities that have put their names forward. George Ta-who? Karen McWha? Hee hee. Ha ha. Hoo hoo.

Actually, the nine candidates (assuming Martin Cauchon’s last-minute application made it under the wire) make an impressive bunch, all in all. If several are lacking in political experience or name recognition, that should not detract from their many personal and professional accomplishments.

George Takach is a prominent Bay Street lawyer and professor with three degrees and four books under his belt. Karen McCrimmon was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Forces and the first woman to lead an RCAF squadron. David Bertschi was a Crown prosecutor and founding partner in his Ottawa law practice. Deborah Coyne (yes, my cousin) holds degrees from York and Oxford, taught constitutional law and was a central figure in the battles over the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords.

And so on. Martha Hall Findlay founded her own legal and management consultancy, and was a candidate for party leader in 2006. Joyce Murray was a minister in the B.C. government and is the owner-operator, with her husband, of a company with more than 500 employees. Cauchon was minister of justice in the Chrétien government. Marc Garneau was Canada’s first man in space.

[. . .]

But isn’t the debate over before it has begun? Hasn’t Trudeau got this whole thing locked up? With four times the support of his nearest rival (Garneau) in the polls, a massive fundraising advantage, and more endorsements of note than all of the other candidates put together, the dauphin would indeed appear the prohibitive favourite: confirmation that the monarchical principle is alive and well in Canadian politics.

But there are three months to go, and several reasons to hold off on the coronation just yet. First, there is Trudeau’s own tendency to get himself into trouble, on show of late in the matters of the gun registry and the influence of Albertans in federal politics. The five debates will offer the other candidates further opportunities to rattle him, in hopes a brick or two again falls from his mouth.

“Spending cuts” in Washington are not like actual reductions in spending

Filed under: Economics, Government, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 00:02

A. Barton Hinkle clues us in on how to save big in our budget plans:

Would you like to save $20,000 this year? Of course you would. Here’s how: Plan a month-long vacation to Disneyland, and budget $20,000 for the trip. Then don’t go. Presto! You just “cut” your family budget by 20 grand.

This sounds absurd — because it is. Yet that is precisely how Washington operates.

A couple of weeks ago, President Obama claimed on national TV that “I cut spending by over a trillion dollars in 2011.” But as many people quickly pointed out, in fiscal 2011 federal spending rose from $3.4 trillion to $3.6 trillion. Nevertheless, the President repeated the claim on Jan. 2, insisting that “last year we started reducing the deficit through $1 trillion in spending cuts.”

What he meant was that in 2011 he agreed to “cut” spending in future years, in much the same way canceling a future vacation “cuts” your own budget. It is a fiction necessary to sustain the president’s pose that he wants a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction.

That is also nonsense. Take the midnight deal to avert the fiscal cliff, which the White House says will reduce the deficit $737 billion. Of that amount, $620 billion comes from raising taxes. Some balance.

“You kids are screwed”

Filed under: Economics, Education, Government, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

Feeling optimistic about the future? Bryan Goldberg is here to slap that silly optimistic grin off your face:

Hey kids, you’ve all read “The Hunger Games,” right? Almost all young people have read the best-selling books or seen the Hollywood movie about Katniss Everdeen, a smart and ambitious young lady whose life prospects are diminished by historical events that predate her. What little hope she has is seemingly reduced to nil when a bunch of old people drop her into an arena and force her to fight with her fellow children in a battle royale to the death.

But that’s just fiction, right? Your loving parents and grandparents would never screw up their world and then throw you kids under the bus…or would they?

Actually, they already have.

Last week, the economics blog Calculated Risk ran a chart that tells a pretty compelling story. To an economist, this chart means that the magnitude and duration of the 2007 recession’s impact on unemployment outpaces that of any prior post-war recession. To young people, it simply means this…

You kids are screwed.

In fact, teenagers today probably aren’t old enough to remember the “Dot Bomb” recession of twelve years ago. But even at its peak, that really bad recession did not reach a level of unemployment that matched the one we are still currently experiencing. With the Federal Reserve losing its appetite for quantitative easing, the last bullet in their holster, and both political parties deciding to half-ass the fiscal policy debate, it’s safe to say that…

You kids are really screwed.

Pay careful attention to Lesson No. 4: it’s even more important than you think it is.

H/T to Jon, my former virtual landlord, for the link.

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