Thursday, July 30, 2009

Normally I wouldn't

But I just found this funny. I got linked to this story from Emails From Crazy People, the latest addition to the lolcats/loldogs/failblog group. Gary has a Landlord of the Flies--a thoroughly crazy man that he rented a room from for a month. The story is fairly short--so far--and is really worth reading. Go. Have fun.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This Smells

I'm glad to see that its recent near-demise has taught those oh-so wise powers-that-be at GM the error of their ways, that they must make products that people want, and that make sense in the new economic and environmental paradigm. Their first new offering since billions of taxpayers dollars bailed them out? The Cadillac men's fragrance line.
"Cadillac, the new fragrance for men is part of the recent Cadillac renaissance: Hot new products and redesigns that capture the mantra of life, liberty and the pursuit," said Alwyn Stephen, a director of Beauty Contact, the company that holds the fragrance licence. "Our fragrance is a relevant extension of the Cadillac lifestyle. The design pays tribute to the opulence and extravagance of past eras, as well as the luxury and ease of today."
According to the Toronto Star, the line includes a spray, aftershave lotion, deodorant stick, hair and body wash. Some products will come in translucent glass bottles with sleek metal caps. The retail price for a 100 millilitre bottle of the eau de toilette fragrance will be $73.
Ferrari tried this a few years ago -- they couldn't give their cologne away. Porsche and BMW tried and failed at this idea as well. No doubt the deodorant will be popular because this stinks. Did anyone run this by GM's new owners which are, um, me?

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hope in Strange Places

I've been finding hope in strange places for a while now. This year my editor Kathy (praise her with great praise) assigned me four books to write for high school libraries. Thus began my "hippie books" as my daughter calls them, or my "green books" as I was inspired to call them when trying to pitch a new title to yet another press. (Word so far: nope. Back to the kayak and re-think that particular book proposal while commuting out to Flower Island and back."

Writing the hippie books, or the green books, meant reading a number of other books currently available in order to find quotes to include in the text. It's amazing the statements that will be accepted by my editor (praise her) when they're a quote from someone else. I can't tell oil company executives, "You should be ashamed." But I can sure quote someone else's book in which an expert does exactly that at a public hearing. And in the bibliography, I have to include books I used for reference and for quotes, even if the title is an inflammatory statement that I could never get into the text, as in Edwin Black's Internal Combustion: How Corporations And Governments Addicted The World To Oil And Derailed The Alternatives.

One of the books I read was a copy I picked up at Bolen Books. Hardcover. Don't boggle. Yes, I buy fewer than a dozen books a year, though I read between two and three hundred at the library. But after hearing podcasts of Gwynne Dyer talking on CBC Radio's program Ideas for three hours on his book Climate Wars, I had to have a print copy to flip through to get the exact quotes needed for my green book on Biofuels.

Now that I'm done with Climate Wars, I handed it on to my partner Bernie, who handed it on to John. And if you look on the Twitter for our shared blog you can see that now John believes we as a species are doomed. Doomed, I tells ya, he adds with a wry grin.

Is John falling into despair? Heaven forbid. This book gave me real hope. We'll have to get John the podcast of Ideas with the special guest James Lovelock. The line that opens that show is Lovelock saying, There's just no way that I can see more than twenty percent of us surviving at the end of the century.

That statement gave me even more hope.

To think that within ninety years, there may be as many as twenty percent surviving of the teeming billions of us now alive... wow. That's the best prognosis we've had in forty years. Anyone who doesn't think so just hasn't been paying attention. And with the news this month of the USA and Russia signing an agreement to reduce their nuclear arms stockpile by a third, well, I'm celebrating. There is real, honest hope to be had for the future. And my hope is restored by writing my green books, my small part in making accessible the knowledge needed for that future.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Oldest Trick

Days after announcing her intention to step down as the Governor of Alaska, two new ethics complaints were filed against Sarah Palin. She and her staff were quick to respond.
“Although the governor would not have thought it possible, the latest complaint rises to a new level of absurdity in alleging that she has been paid for interviews that she has given to the news media. It is amazing to me that anyone could think that, let alone put their name behind it and once again seek to distract state officials and needlessly increase their work load. The state is losing the value of some of its expenditures when public servants are pulled away from important assignments to deal with far-fetched and mean-spirited allegations,” Palin’s chief of staff Mike Nizich said in a release announcing the filing of the recent complaints.
Palin herself said this: “The only saving grace in this recent episode is that it proves beyond any doubt the significance of the problem Alaska faces in the ‘new normal’ of political discourse. I hope this will be a wake-up call – to legislators, to commentators and to citizens generally – that we need a much more civil and respectful dialogue that focuses on the best interests of the state, rather than the petty resentments of a few.”
Strangely enough, at no point did Palin or her chief of staff ever deny the charges.
Smoke, meet mirrors.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

80% of What...?

One fact is being left out of today's announcement that the G8 nations will lower their greenhouse gas emissons by 80% by the year 2050.
One thing, though: 80% of what? I can't find the baseline that they're using in any new report. Is it 80% of 2009 emissions? Or 2006 emissions as outlined in the Canadian government's 2007 legislation (whose mandatory emissions targets don't actually begin until 2012)? Or are they using 1990 emission levels as perscribed under the Kyoto Protocol? (Canada is obligated under Kyoto to cut it's emissions 6% from its 1990 levels; by 2006, our emissions had increased 21.7%.)
Saying its an 80% cut is meaningless without knowing where you starting from, but no media outlet has figured that out.
More egregious are the words of our so-called Environment Minister, according to the CBC (emphasis added):
Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice said achieving the lower emissions by 2050 is only an aspirational goal of the developed countries. But it meshes well with Canada's plan to reduce its emissions by up to 70 per cent by 2050, he said.
Canada will not need to change its policies to achieve that goal, he added.
Fire this man immediately. He clearly has no business being our environmental steward.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Is It Getting Warm In Here?

According to this story by the CBC, Canada ranks dead last among the G8 nations in the WWF's annual Climate Change report. The article states:

"Nowhere else on Earth do fewer people steward more resources, yet Canada now stands dead last amongst the G8 nations in protecting our shared home from the threat of dangerous climate change," said Keith Steward, director of WWF-Canada's climate change campaign, in a statement Wednesday.
Canada's greenhouse gas emissions are steadily increasing, and its per capita emissions are already among the highest in the world, says the study, conducted by Ecofys, a renewable-energy consulting firm.
"A plan to curb emissions was developed last year but has not been implemented," the report says.

Germany, the UK and France top the list as they have already achieved their Kyoto targets, whereas our Prime Minister seems to think that they are unattainable.

2009 rankings in the G8 Climate Scorecard (WWF/Allianz)
1. Germany
2. UK
3. France
4. Italy
5. Japan
6. Russia
7. U.S.
8. Canada