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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Audience-satisfaction survey

UPDATED: Gah! I tried to post an update and the survey disappeared. I'll try to get it back. In the meantime, what is it specifically that you don't like? The colours? The layout?

Is this what now passes for religious journalism?

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Trying to tell the truth in a news story.

Nope, for once this is not about Name of Paper Withheld. I was surfing the Internet today when I discovered this lovely "news" story from LifeSiteNews. If you've ever explored my links list, you can probably see the connection.

This is one of those "news" stories that is just awful. Actually, don't click on that link. I don't want to increase their hit count.

Canadian Territorial Court Rules Catholic Schools Must Accept Non-Catholic Trustees

By John-Henry Westen {NAME OF TOWN WITHHELD}, NWT, May 25, 2007 ( - The Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories (NWT) ruled Wednesday that the {name of town withheld} Catholic School Board may not refuse non-Catholics to sit as trustees governing the board.

Yup. That's right. But this story starts lying at the very first word. See that all-caps town name? That's called a dateline. It's supposed to tell you which town the reporter filed his story from. If it says Name of Town Withheld, it means that the reporter actually travelled to Name of Town Withheld for this breaking story. Somehow I don't think that's what happened here.

The issue brings to the fore the increasing trend to deny Catholics in Canada their rights to Catholic education supported by the education tax dollars of Catholic rate-payers. Already in Newfoundland and Quebec the right to Catholic schooling supported by education taxes from Catholics has been removed.

Nope. That's wrong. Nobody is denying Catholics their right to Catholic education. John-Henry is just trying to get you all upset.

In the current case, Justice J.E. Richard of the NWT Supreme Court ruled that when in 2006 the Board Superintendent tried to nix the candidacy of two non-Catholics who were seeking to run for election as Catholic school trustees, he was outside the law. The returning officer rejected the Superintendent's notice that non-Catholics Amy Hacala and Debora Simpson were ineligible to run for election, ignoring the crucial role of Catholic trustees to ensure the Catholicity of their schools, a role Hacala and Simpson would highly likely not be equipped or motivated to fulfill.

Lovely. From the way John-Henry describes it, you would think that the superintendent was in charge of the election and the bossy returning officer imposed her will on him. Could someone please remind me: who's in charge of an election?

One of the pair, Amy Hacala, was elected to sit on the Catholic School Board. The Board however took the returning officer's decision to court for a ruling. Of note, Brendan Bell, the Attorney General of the NWT sided with the returning officer in denying the Catholic Board the right to limit its controlling officers to those of the Catholic faith.

Hmmm. Why is it noteworthy when the government responds to a court action that names the government as a respondent? That's not noteworthy, that's a line in the job description.

Lawyer Phil Horgan, the President of the Catholic Civil Rights League wondered if during the election, Catholic electors were informed that two of the candidates were non-Catholics.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Indeed, he might wonder! The way to confirm or deny his theory, of course, would be to ask someone who lives in Name of Town Withheld. And believe me, this was all we heard for several weeks before the election. Name of Paper Withheld covered it extensively, with a nice hatchet job on one of the non-Catholic candidates right on the front page.

Horgan analyzed the ruling finding that it failed to honour long-standing denominational rights in the Territory. "This technical ruling which distinguishes the NWT from provinces which enjoy these denominational rights," said Horgan, "ignores the settled history of these school boards."

"The judge says that the residential requirement did not extend to a Catholic ratepayer requirement for eligibility to stand for election," explained Horgan. "However, the judge does not rely upon any evidence to suggest that non-Catholics have served as trustees of Catholic school boards in the NWT in the more than 100 years of their existence."

That's nice. If Mr. Horgan had decided to talk to anyone in Name of Town Withheld before he started to "wonder" about the election, he might have discovered that both non-Catholic candidates were former trustees on the board.

Horgan concluded, "To then assert that it was the settled intention of the drafters of this legislation to allow non-Catholics to serve as Catholic school board trustees ignores that history."

Has this fellow even read the court decision? Because the judge went back through the history of the eligibility criteria in pages 9-13.

While the school board has not yet officially announced an intention to appeal the ruling, sources at the school board told an appeal is likely. Local Bishop Denis Croteau was unavailable for comment on the ruling.

I don't know why I would expect more from LifeSiteNews, but somehow I did.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The only song Michael hates

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Would the mainstream media curl up and die already???

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: How to be really super "with it" and "groovy".

God, I love it when reporters discover the Internet. It's not just Name of Paper Withheld anymore. Now the CBC's in on the game, and they are SO COOL. As Nancy Wilson assures us in this clip, you're only a "yu-rell" away from being part of an important civics experiment.

You will never guess what the important experiment is, but go ahead and try.

Nope, they're not providing better access to local, provincial or national government.

Nope, they're not throwing open the door to exciting new rights for minorities or women.

The CBC has -- wait for it -- set up a Facebook page. Yes. Pick yourself up off the floor. It gets better. The CBC has discovered Web 2.0, and they're planning to use it to get story ideas. Interesting Facebook denizens will be interviewed on radio and TV. Shout it from the rooftops, CBC! This is a big step. Next thing you know, you'll be able to get rid of reporters entirely and just turn your entire news organization over to YouTube. Wait, am I getting cynical?

Until the CBC set on its latest campaign to debase itself as much as possible, I didn't think I could simultaneously respect an organization for its mandate and employees' efforts while despising its management and public face. Now I see that I can definitely do this. Man, they make me sick.

Not that this is a bad idea; it's an OK idea. But CBC doesn't seem to understand how to communicate to what people in my business call "target audiences". This sounds like an intimidating phrase, but it really just means that you want to say different things to different people.

Here's an example: Let's say that you are putting up a Facebook page. You'll have two audiences: CBC management and CBC viewers. You are going to want to say different things to these people. Specifically, you'll want to say something like this:


  • This is an exciting opportunity to break down the stovepipes and contribute to Canadian discourse.
  • There will be no overhead costs. We should hire a contract (this word is crucial) employee to coordinate the program.
  • Regular Facebook guests could be featured on current-affairs programming in the regions. These features would take five to seven minutes and would be available weekly.
  • This will bring new voices to the CBC.
  • We need to take control of this exciting new medium in an effort to bring new viewers to our shows.
  • This page could create buzz and get people talking about the CBC.
  • Hey, check out our Facebook page.
Was that hard???

Monday, May 28, 2007

Reply to Air Canada

Dear Ms. Greenan,

Thank you for your reply.

I do not have receipts for meals; I paid cash and did not keep receipts. However, my banking records show that I withdrew $118.40 Canadian immediately before the series of unfortunate events that was my travel with your company that day. They also show that I paid $51.84 Canadian ($45 US) for the cab ride.

I will forward copies of these records, with all non-relevant information blacked out.


Another response from Air Canada

Poor service from Air Canada: April 19, 2007

Discussion Thread
Response (Marian Greenan) - 05/28/2007 03:30 PM
Dear Ms. {name withheld},

Thank you for your e-mail and your patience while awaiting our response.

Please accept our apologies for the inconveniences you and your son experienced when traveling with us on April 19, 2007. Your email is a clear indication of your disappointment and we regret the poor impression we may have created during your recent travel experience. Customer Relations' primary role is to review and respond to concerns regarding many aspects of our service. Although we have not addressed your concerns in detail, I am pleased to bring your valuable comments to the attention of our senior management team.

We are aware that our operation is judged primarily by the image and service of our public contact personnel. All employees are expected to perform their duties in a courteous, friendly and efficient manner with a full appreciation of our customers' needs. Air Canada recognizes the value of customer satisfaction and therefore, we continually monitor and address the performance levels you should expect to receive from us.

In order to review your request for reimbursement for the meals and cab, please forward the original receipts for the meals purchased for yourself and your son on April 19, along with the original receipt for the cab fare between airports to my attention at:

Canada Customer Relations
P.O. Box 64239
5512 4th Street NW
Calgary, AB
T2K 6J0

Of necessity, a transportation company’s liability for expenses incurred due to schedule interruptions is limited. While a ticket provides a guarantee of transportation, the schedule itself is not guaranteed. Consequently, airlines do not accept responsibility for consequential expenses incurred as a result of such a delay or intangibles such as loss of time or enjoyment. Respectfully, we must decline the request for reimbursement of pay for the lost day of work.

We look forward to receiving your receipts at your earliest convenience.


Marian Greenan
Customer Relations

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Like a record, baby, right round, round round

Glen is mocking me for competing with a six-year-old, but I'd like to state one thing for the record:

I won.

Post #500: Back in Time

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I can easily understand how you could easily take my man

I knew this day would come, but somehow I didn't expect it to be quite so painful.

I'm used to being the most important person in his life. He'd be happy to see me at the end of the day. Proud to show me off.

Now that's all over.

It started slowly. First, he didn't want me to kiss him in public. Then he met someone new. Someone named Daniel. Then he started spending all his time after school with Daniel. Now he wants to spend every waking moment with Daniel.

The last straw was when he decided that he didn't want me to teach him how to ride a bike. Daniel could do that. He didn't need me any longer.

Daniel lives across the road, on the other side of the playground. He's a lovely fellow, and he and Michael have a lot of fun together. And they're good together -- they don't get into trouble or cause problems for the neighbours. But I'm not used to playing second fiddle.

I tried to negotiate myself some more time yesterday. Michael reassured me that I could still see him before school, but he would prefer to spend his afternoons and evenings with Daniel. Clearly, I am not going to win this one.

Friday, May 25, 2007

It is finished

The battle over schools in Name of Town Withheld is over. The Catholic board will be buying portable classrooms instead of renting space or stealing a school from the public board.

What a relief. For the benefit of would-be character assassins, I'll go on to state that I am not relieved that we won't be sharing space. I continue to believe that we could have shared space quite nicely.

No, I'm relieved that there is finally an end to the problem. They've made a decision, so parents can make plans for next year knowing what their choices are.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ublaakut, animal-rights activists

UPDATED: The Humane Society of the US's take.

They're back.

Man, I just love it when people complain that traditional Arctic culture is horrible. It's even better when these people have absolutely no idea what they're talking about.

The battle over polar-bear hunting has been going on for a while, but now the American government wants to get involved. They want to make it illegal to bring trophies from a polar-bear hunt back to the U.S. It's illegal to hunt polar bears in the States, so wealthy American hunters come to northern Canada to hunt the bears.

I can already hear the complaints from John Kerry. Isn't this horrible? Americans shooting polar bears? How offensive! Plus, polar bears are great models for ads! But no, he's NOT opposed to aboriginal subsistence hunting! That's totally different!


John, let me explain something simple that might change your mind. The American sport hunt does not result in the death of any additional polar bears. It's also part of the aboriginal subsistence hunt. Does that make you re-think your position?

I hear you. You don't understand how this is possible. You imagine that the polar-bear hunt is much like the illegal ivory trade in Africa. You suspect that headless bear carcasses are strewn across the permafrost, because American hunters are only interested in taking the head. You're sure that the hunt will contribute to the collapse of the species, because people are indiscriminately shooting bears so they can feel like real men.

Let me explain how it really works.

Sport hunting is basically nothing more than taking a rich American along on a hunt that would have happened anyway. Every year, a certain number of "tags" are distributed to communities in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Let's imagine that Sachs Harbour gets five tags, meaning that the people who live there can kill up to five bears. They can choose to do the hunt with or without a rich American along for the ride. The difference is that the rich American will pay $10,000 US for the privilege of coming along.

It's true that the sport hunters are only interested in the bears' heads. So they take the heads. The local hunters take the rest of the bodies back to the community.

So if you've been following this, the choices are:

  1. Aboriginal people kill a set number of polar bears and use the meat, skin and fat.
  2. Aboriginal people kill the same number of polar bears, use the meat, skin and fat, and make $10,000 US.
Which offers a better chance for "subsistence"?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Actual Google keywords people are using to find the Uriel blog

  • JPod Jesus
  • chariots of flame hell
  • JPod hell
I love my site tracker. Not only has it tipped me off that this blog is under surveillance by the forces of evil (you know who you are), but it tells me how people get to the site. The Uriel blog gets some interesting visits through Google. I wonder what these people are really looking for and what they think when they get there.

Presented without further comment from the public record

If you've been following Amy's case through the courts, you will definitely be interested in this link.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Michael the reluctant movie star: Take 2

Does this work better?

Public-service announcement

UPDATED: Welcome, Weingarten fans. You can find the archive of Little Miss Know-it-All posts about grammar and journalism at this link.

Little Miss Know-it-All calls your attention to this important news story.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Michael the reluctant movie star

(Introducing Jim, the homeless woolly mammoth.)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Does this make me a loser or a non-loser? I really can't tell.

Would someone PLEASE tell me what I'm supposed to be doing on Facebook that is so potentially addictive? For the life of me, I can't figure it out.

I have an account. I have "friends", although most of them aren't my real friends and, frankly, I would prefer that they didn't get a message every time I add a picture of Michael to my photo album. I log in every day. And then I -- well, I don't do much of anything. Am I supposed to just sit here refreshing the page in case someone I know logs in? And then what do I do if someone does log in?

Facebook has an e-mail program, but I already have one of those. In fact, I already have four separate e-mail programs: one at work, one at home and two that came along with Yahoo Messenger and MSN.

Facebook also has a "groups" program that links me with other people with similar interests. This is a problem: you see, I hate other people with similar interests. I'm a boring person, and I don't need to be reminded of that by being hooked up with people who also want their husbands to replace the toilets. You can imagine the drama:

  • Did he replace the toilet yet?
  • Nah, but he ordered it from Sears.
  • Right on!! That's super fab!
  • Yeah, but how long will it sit there before he installs it? *poke*
  • Oh, MAN! I totally hadn't thought of that! *poke*
The only group I want to see is the I have property for sale on Lake Wassookeag group, but apparently it has yet to be created.

I feel like I must be a loser, because everyone who's anyone has a Facebook page. This is part of the problem: everyone I ever knew has now started to bug me about becoming "friends". This does not mean that they actually want to be my friends. This means that they will get a running update of every single change I make to my profile. Steve recently switched his Religion indicator from "Atheist" to "Scientology" in an effort to keep the denizens of Facebook from trying to convert us, but this was unsuccessful, because we then got messages about Scientology.

I've been rejecting potential "friends", which seems very harsh but is apparently necessary. In real life, you never have to tell anyone that you don't want to be friends. You both just figure it out. Until I joined Facebook, I'd never been asked point-blank if I was someone's friend. Well, except the times when someone at work will disparagingly refer to one reporter or another as my friend -- my response is always Well, Richard's not exactly my friend. Now I'm faced with the possibility that I'll one day have to say Well, Richard's not exactly my friend. I mean, we've both posted it on the Internet that we're friends with each other, and I've given him full access to my family photos and he gets a little message whenever I go to the bathroom, but we're not really friends. Perish the thought. I have to get out of this somehow.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Friday, May 18, 2007

A question for you

OK, guys. Do you want to see labels on the blog? I've been getting an increase in searches through the handy "search blog" button up at the top. I think I know where some of this is coming from, and I don't consider these folks to be my core audience, but I'll put in the effort if it's something my regular readers want to see.

If you're going to keep coming back after a certain court case is over, I want to hear from you.

I could tag posts with labels like "Michael" or "Little Miss Know-it-All" so you wouldn't have to search for the most common topics: you could see every post just by clicking on the label. This, however, would not help you if you were looking for a really specific post. I wouldn't label everything, just the posts that are clearly part of a larger category. I'm not creating a separate label for Michael's pirate entries.

Let me know.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Throwing down the gauntlet

Today’s episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Things you should just know.

Someone – I’m not saying who – has put enmity between Glen and me. Actually, I’m probably the one at fault. I just can’t stop picking on Russell Smith. Glen, for his part, has suggested that Russell would cut me down with one disparaging glance at my wardrobe. This is probably true, but I cannot let him pretend to be a grammar expert any longer.

The best part is that Russell’s copy editor is still refusing to correct his shoddy grammar and is now placing grammatically-incorrect headlines on his columns. As you can imagine, this has put Russell into a difficult position. He must defend the errors while maintaining that he is the resident grammar expert at Canada’s Newspaper Of Record.

I think this is hilarious. Glen is unimpressed and thinks I am being unnecessarily harsh. I pointed out that Russell had to look up the meaning of the word “that”; Glen responded by asking me to define the word.

I thought for a moment and realized that I couldn’t come up with a snappy definition. I responded that “that” is a word that people should just know how to use. I then turned to my trusty dictionary, which did not provide a definition but provided a few dozen usage examples. Unsurprisingly, I am forced to conclude that I was right: there are some things a writer should just know.

Russell didn’t come up with a definition when he checked his dictionary, either:

The patterns for that and which are made up of strange rules that took me a while to master even as an adult. I get it wrong all the time. The standard explanation involves saying that you use which for a "non-restrictive clause" and that for a "restrictive clause." Well, that's helpful, isn't it?

{Preening self-congratulatory pap about how Russell is smarter than everyone else withheld.}

Here's the simplest demystifier I can come up with. First, note that if you are looking this one up, you are looking up "that" as a relative pronoun, not as an adjective, an adverb or a conjunction. Then, when you come across all this bafflegab about restrictive and non-restrictive (sometimes called defining and non-defining), think of it rather as essential versus non-essential.

Ah, Russell, what would we do without you? Today’s column is fabulous. I love the way you’ve taken up all of the available space with your ridiculous argument that grammar mistakes are OK when they’re in or near your column. It’s almost as if you have no idea how to admit that you were wrong.

My dear readers, you deserve better than this.

Newspaper space is precious, so copy editors need to cut columns like Russell’s down to size. Even on the best of days, his column is nothing more than a celebration of self: Look at me. Man, I’m good. Go ahead, ask me how I tie my shoelaces. Ah, you want to know how I carry my umbrella? Of course you do. Don’t complain about the way I use commas: I’m on the cutting edge of grammar. Hold on a second while I look up the proper way to use capital letters.

Sorry, Russell. There are some things you should just know. If you don’t know them, you’re not an expert, you’re just a poser.

What's in my CrapPod?

Sorry, I'm a bit sensitive today, I guess.

Although I have yet to confirm this with Uriel, I suspect that this might fit on a JPod. Or maybe not. Uriel's friends turned their backs on Amy Grant when she released an album in the '90s that wasn't overtly religious. They are fickle folk.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Throwing open the floodgates

READER-SUBMITTED COMPLAINT: Your taste in music sux. I don’t know why anyone would ever look up to you. You probably like Tears for Fears ha ha ha ha.



Man, transparency is hard. You guys are mean. I’m doing my best over here, folks. Go ahead, beat me down. I can take it.

The last time I checked, the blog was not being broadcast on a telescreen. You don’t have to come here, you don’t have to click on a link, and you don’t have to watch any of the videos. If you don’t like Kurt Cobain, you don’t have to watch him. I won’t know if you stop the video.

The great thing about blogs is that they encourage two-way communication. I’m thinking specifically of polite communication, but given Little Miss Know-it-All’s penchant for vicious attacks on the grammatically-challenged masses, I suppose I can take some criticism about my Michael W. Smith collection.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me

today me and my frend daniel went to the parck. we fownd treshur i bring it home.

from michael


Jerry Falwell has died.

Thanks for all the letters of support you've sent to Uriel. She is too distraught to speak right now.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Response from Air Canada

Response (Leslie Anne Macalister) - 05/14/2007 11:26 AM
Dear Valued Customer:

We have received your email and extend our apologies for the delay in responding.

Regrettably, much of Canada and the United States experienced a great deal of weather related and subsequent operational issues during the early months of 2007 and into Spring. This resulted in an unprecedented volume of feedback from our valued customers and our ability to communicate in a more timely manner.

Thank you for your continued patience. You will be hearing from us soon regarding your concerns.

Midnight, not a sound from the pavement

The video in the last post sent us on a trip down memory lane. I am honestly not sure if people in the States know who Rowan Atkinson is -- you may know him as Mr. Bean. I just checked, and he does not have a Conservapedia page, so I'm guessing that he is irrelevant to American society, being a Brit and all.

Throughout high school and university, my best friend was a first-generation Canadian whose family had moved to Bay Roberts from England. She ate Polos (they're like Life Savers, only better), drank tea and Ribena, and loved Rowan Atkinson. I watched a lot of his videos at her house.

Since I joined Facebook, people I haven't seen in ten years have been asking me about her. This is a reasonable thing to ask: we were best friends for six years and went to university together. The truth is that I have no idea how she's doing. Soon after we graduated, I moved to the Arctic and she moved to England. I haven't heard from her in years, and I haven't seen her since the year 2000.

But I can't resist this video:

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A new feature

Reader-Submitted Complaint: I'm mightily offended by Uriel. I'm not just offended by the things she says; I'm offended that you of all people would create such a character. This is hate speech and I am clearly a part of the oppressed minority that you are so mercilessly mocking. If I created a character to mock gay people or women, you wouldn't like it either.

Yeah, that's probably true.

But I'm more concerned by the suggestion that any of my readers would identify with Uriel to the point of feeling offended by the things she says. To be more precise, they agree with the things she says and are offended by the idea that I would think they are funny. (This is never explicitly stated on Flame of God, by the way. In theory, you could just bookmark her site and forget that I'm the creator.)

This is a new development. Until now, readers have been quick to point out that they don't actually believe the things she says -- and I know that, right? Right?

So this is new.

It is sort of like watching Saturday Night Live with someone who identifies with the Church Lady. I'm not totally sure how to react. Am I perhaps afflicted by humour impairment? Did I miss a joke?

Uriel's not as easy to write as you might think. For starters, she's not your typical Christian. I'm not totally convinced that she is Christian, anyway. She wouldn't post a picture of Jesus: all of the pictures on the site are of Uriel herself. She doesn't spend time pondering the intricacies of life like some philosopher kings I know. She does her "research" on the Internet, like Dr. Dino's followers.

Uriel's an offshoot of the people you'll see starting flame wars in the comments section of YouTube. She's great fun, but she's hard to write. I have to be in the right frame of mind. Usually, someone's hypocrisy will rile me up to the point that I get a story idea. It might be someone who wants to keep kids from being vaccinated against HPV, or it might be someone who thinks it would be GREAT to start a nuclear war because it would be a way to get Armageddon started. Uriel's on record as agreeing with these people, by the way.

She's not particularly interested in anything but making other people do what she wants: when she can't frighten them into compliance, she turns to the courts or the government and expects them to force people into it. She hates everyone who disagrees with her, and she takes great pleasure in imagining their punishment.

I'm really not sure what to say to anyone who agrees with Uriel. It seems that you'd have bigger problems than my puny little blog.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Instructional Video

Friday, May 11, 2007

This confuses me even more than the crocoduck

So the geniuses at The Way of the Master have been hard at work putting their videos back up on YouTube. I'm pleased to see that they're reloading the footage of their "debate" with the atheists, but I'm not so pleased to see what they've done with it.

They originally loaded about 10 separate videos, each about 9 minutes long and labelled "1", "2", "3" and so on. You could start at "1" and watch all the way through if you wanted to. I personally watched it over on, but I was really pleased to see this approach to transparency. This is part of the reason I was so impressed with Kirk.

It might go without saying, but the atheists did not take the same approach to transparency over on their YouTube account. They posted a 13-minute video that included selected clips from the "debate". Not that this is bad -- it's definitely not -- but it wasn't in the same spirit of openness that I was applauding from WOTM.

I discovered that WOTM wasn't quite so open this afternoon when I clicked on the embedded link I'd posted on my blog. The video had been removed. In fact, they'd removed all of their videos of the "debate".

I did a search on their account a moment ago and discovered that they have reloaded some of their videos -- but they are shorter now. WOTM has edited them down, and I'm not entirely sure why. Surely it's not to remove the deer-in-the-headlights stares from Ray and Kirk or to make them look like they did better in the "debate"?

Hmmm, that would make them no better than Brian and "Kelly".


UPDATED: Maybe I don't respect Kirk so much after all. His staff have pulled their clips off YouTube. I'll try to find another clip of the crocoduck, bullfrog and sheepdog.

UPDATED AGAIN: Link re-directed and edits made to the next post so you can find your way to the right spot on the video.

It's a bit late for an update to the last post, so a new one is in order. I am not saying that I have a new respect for Kirk Cameron because his argument about evolution is so great. It's clearly laughable. SnarkBitch's partner in atheism was pretty polite throughout the 90-minute discussion but lost his patience when Kirk hauled out the sketch of the crocoduck.

I'm also not saying that I think Kirk won this faux debate. He was the one who said he could prove his claims, and he was the one who set the ground rules (no references to the Bible). It wasn't up to SnarkBitch to prove anything: that was Kirk's job, and he didn't do it.

My new respect for Kirk comes from the way he handled himself on stage -- and yes, I know that he is a professional actor. That was a tough crowd. You could tell from the applause that the group was not exactly the church-going type. I don't know if the atheists managed to get a bigger crowd in or if this was just the group that happened to be available for the taping. Some of those guys were pretty angry. And I don't know if I could have put up with "Kelly"'s tone and eye-rolling for an hour and a half.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Kirk Cameron

UPDATED: The Way Of The Master pulled all of their clips down from YouTube, so I've re-directed the link to a video that still exists. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), this means you won't be contributing to WOTM's hit count, you'll be contributing to BS Alert's hit count.

A while ago, I promised that I wouldn't re-write history: I wouldn't pull any posts down from the blog, and if I changed my mind I'd say so.

Time to fess up: I have a new respect for Kirk Cameron, and not just because I used to know him as Mike Seaver.

I was going to do this over on the Uriel blog, but I just can't work up to that level of anger after watching Kirk deal with SnarkBitch's eye-rolling for an hour and a half. (Sorry, feminists: That woman was not very nice. I don't think she did herself any favours by acting like a brat. She should have let her partner do most of the talking. He was much better.)

I still think the banana guy is ridiculous, but I feel sorry for Kirk.

Kirk's staff at Way of the Master have uploaded the entire discussion to the show's YouTube account. This is just a small part of it. UPDATED: Not anymore. They pulled it down. You can watch the whole clip if you want to (for example, if you haven't met your eye-roll quota for the day -- SnarkBitch is prominently featured), but I'd like to draw your attention to the very end, starting at around the eight-and-a-half-minute mark. UPDATED: On this new video from BS Alert, you'll be looking for the 1:20 mark (40 seconds remaining).

Kirk is explaining why evolution is impossible. He believes that evolution is the reason people don't believe in God. From what I know of evolution, it's neutral on the question of whether God exists, but Kirk and I respectfully disagree. His main argument is that there are no transitional fossils. I've heard this argument before, mostly like this:

omg dont you even read teh bible!!11!! there r NO transishonal fossils!!1!! read what kenthovind has to say he isa frickin genus!

Now, these people are highly credible right from the start -- you may already have been swayed -- but I had trouble following their logic. It seemed that all life forms were obviously transitional whether they were living or fossilized, so I couldn't understand why anyone would say there are NO transitions.

Kirk has cleared this up for me. The reason he believes there are no transitional forms is that he has re-defined "transitional form" to mean that a cat would give birth to a chicken with fur. This is actually very helpful for me. I hadn't thought that the transition-seekers might be looking for bullfrogs and sheepdogs.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Busy day

It's been a long day and breaking news requires that I turn my attention to the Uriel blog today.

Two notes for those who are boycotting Uriel and other fundamentalist whackos (and really, who could blame you?):

  1. It's funny that everyone thinks my last entry is about them. What, is there something you want to tell me?
  2. In case you're not following Lonelygirl as closely as I do, Bree and Daniel have totally gone off the deep end:

UPDATED: Uriel's opposed to YouTube, so if you go over there and want to see the videos, you'll have to click the link and watch them from inside ABC's player. This was a 90-minute debate hosted by journalist Martin Bashir and aired on Nightline and I haven't seen it all -- ABC is holding part of it until tomorrow -- but I think the woman on the stage was rather rude and should have shown Ray and Kirk the respect they showed her. Maybe she was nervous, but I didn't like her attitude and thought she could have made the same points in a different tone. It sent a bad message.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I need to make a respectful request.

Please stop harassing me about the choices I’ve made. My choices are not evil, or wrong, or selfish. Yours are not permeated with divine approval. That’s right, I’m judging you for being so judgmental.

I can already tell from the responses I’ve received in the past few years that you are not going to like this, but here goes: It is possible for intelligent, reasonable people to make different choices than you do. If I talked to you about your choices in the same way you talk to me about mine, you’d be horrified. You’d probably rave about me for a while and then, realizing how you look to others, say that everyone’s picking on you but it’s OK, you’ve dealt with it for years and you can continue to bear this heavy burden.

One of these days I’m going to snap and grab Little Miss Know-it-All’s beheading knife.

My favourite front-page editor’s note EVER

The story promoted in Friday’s {name of paper withheld} for today’s front page, “Councillors call for better bike racks,” has been held in favour of the breaking news on White Stripes ticket sales. The bicycle rack story will appear in Wednesday’s {name of paper withheld}.

This is the first time I’ve ever heard it called “breaking news” when people buy tickets to a rock concert.

Monday, May 07, 2007

For the maenad

Summer People

This is the lake where my brothers and I have been talking about buying property. When we were younger, we lived about a quarter of a mile from it. My grandfather still lives there, and it's where my dad and his brothers grew up.

The summer people would show up every year and set up their cabins. Now we want to be summer people.

Steve is alarmed about this. He didn't mind when it was just a silly idea we batted around every few months, but when we actually started looking at real-estate guides, he got nervous. Property values around the lake have shot up to insane levels, and cabins with water frontage cost more than our house did when we bought it two years ago.

Anyone want to sell a cabin on Lake Wassookeag? We're in the market.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Welcome, Steve

No, not this Steve:

THIS Steve:

Steve Dawe is an old friend of mine and an even older friend of my husband's (who is also named Steve -- try to keep up, would you?).

I asked what he would like me to write here, and he said (and I quote):

I've renounced the heresies prevalent in the North American Anglican Church and am now a refugee within a Baptist congregation. Oh, and I'm extremely handsome, intelligent, humble and witty.

He's been pestering me to set him up with my girlfriends since 1993. If you're a hot single Christian girl, please apply directly to Steve.

For new readers

Welcome! I'm so glad you're here. I've created this post to answer some of the most common questions from new readers, in no particular order:

Who are you? I'm a wife and mom. I care about grammar and journalism. I live in a small town in northern Canada.

Do you have an RSS feed? Yes. You can click here to subscribe, or you can use one of the buttons on the right.

Did you name your blog after the Stevie Nicks song? Yes, sort of. I think it's a particularly good name for my blog for a number of reasons, the most obvious being that this is a personal blog that's written in the north. On another level, it's a song about a woman who is thinking about making changes in her life and watching other changes go on around her, and I really identify with that. I think most people can.

Why do you call your town Name of Town Withheld? Just to thwart the search engines, really. I'm not hiding from anyone, but I don't like to come up in search results for the name of my town, either. This is also why I don't use my last name on the blog.

What is the CBC? The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is the national broadcaster and a former employer of mine. I sometimes call it the MotherCorp.

Do you really think David Hasselhoff is the sexiest man alive? I'm not going to dignify this with a response. If you really need more information about this, please look here.

Who is Uriel? Uriel is a fundamentalist Christian, I think. Don't worry, she's not real. She's a joke. I banished her to a separate blog because many, many readers didn't get the joke.

Who is Little Miss Know-it-All? She's me, sort of. She hates bad grammar, especially from professional writers. She was on hiatus for a while after attacking my brother for misusing the word "impacted", but that didn't last long. Fear not: Civilians are relatively safe.

Why is Little Miss Know-it-All always threatening to behead people? My friend Glen claims that she is on a journalism jihad. She has never followed through on her threats, but she has come close.

What is Name of Paper Withheld? You shouldn't protect the guilty. I would tend to agree, but again, I don't like to come up in search results. If you know where I live, this won't be hard to figure out. If you don't know where I live, it doesn't matter which paper it is. And in case you were wondering: I don't hate the people who work there. In fact, I have high hopes for them. The problem is that they don't appear to aim as high as I do when it comes to their own work.

Who is Rebecca Eckler? Ugh. She's a Canadian "writer". If you came here through Technorati, you're probably looking for this link.

Why should we care what you have in your MP3 player? You don't have to. You probably won't like half of my selections, anyway.

I think I found a secret message in one of your posts. Congratulations!

I think I might be insulted by something you've written. You've either missed a joke or you're a moron who deserves to be insulted. You pick.

Back to the main page.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

What's in my honest-to-goodness iPod?

What would be in my JPod if I had one?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Support, help and comfort all who are in danger

I received a few calls today from my true friends. They were worried about me. This is a rough time, and I thank you for your support.

I'm referring, of course, to the latest video of David Hasselhoff. He's lying shirtless on the floor, so...vulnerable.

My first reaction was HECK YEAH! No shirt -- is it possible he's not wearing PANTS, either? Where's the b-roll of this tape?

My second reaction came about five minutes later, after I'd wiped the drool off my shirt. I watched the video again and decided that it was very sad. I wish you would all just leave David alone. It's hard to be the sexiest man alive. He doesn't need your judgmental stares.

My sadness quickly turned to anger. What, have you never been so drunk that you forgot how to chew? Ahhh, how quickly the judges become the judged! It's sooooooo easy to point fingers at others. I bet that if I followed YOU around with a videocamera, I'd find a few choice nuggets.

I beg you, on behalf of the family and everyone who loves David as much as I do: Please respect our privacy in this difficult time.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Our hero

If you're not familiar with Cute With Chris, you should be. We are addicted to his twice-weekly YouTube show. He's Canadian (note the old CBC T-shirt he's wearing today) and is the reason I know what Stephen Harper's cat looks like. I've been wanting to post his stuff for a while, but he kept killing his inner child, and I thought the blood spatter might not be the best way to introduce our latest obsession. Half of my readers are already concerned for my mental state, and I didn't want to push them over the edge.

UPDATED: Aaaaand here's the video with Stephen Harper's cat:

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Tensions running high

There was a noticeable shift in the mood around town today. People are upset about the schools. I've said that before, but I was using the word "upset" to mean agitated and dismayed. Today, people are sad and distressed.

Clearly, there is some selection bias in what I'm hearing. I'm a mouthy parent, and people know my son's at YK #1. Parents who have strong opposing opinions don't usually come up to me to state their cases. Actually, that might be for the best. A friend called today and said that she was unexpectedly on the receiving end of another parent's emotional pitch for one of our schools. I might get testy if that happened to me.

Today Name of Paper Withheld had a lot of coverage about this. I'll dispense with my usual snarky grammar critiques, because I have some serious concerns about the information that's being put out there.

I am speaking only for myself, not for the YK #1 board or any group of parents (formal or otherwise).

The first story is called Education at What Price? and makes the following notable observations (my comments are in bold text):

  • Charles Dent will make one more attempt this Thursday to convince parents that shutting down one of Name of Town Withheld Education District No. 1's school is in the best interest of the students. Yeah, good luck with this. It's just not going to happen. Charles Dent is the minister of education.

  • As both schools engage in what Dent classified a "turf war," {name of paper withheld} made some calculations on what costs could be saved and redirected back into the classroom. I don't know that it really is a turf war, but I'll let the reference go. I'm more concerned about how the reporters might have calculated the savings ($400,000). Call me suspicious, but they are not exactly accountants over there.

  • J.H. Sissons students will have to be relocated in two years for those renovations regardless of whether Yk 1 chooses to shut it down this year. This was news to everyone involved. They usually don't shut down an entire school to do renovations. They relocate some students and work around the others.

  • "We were full to the rafters and with no solution," said Kern Von Hagen, superintendent of YCS, at a budget information session last Thursday. "Everyone was looked after but us." Normally, when there isn't room for more students in a school, administrators stop accepting new students. Don't they??? But I don't like this comment about everyone else being looked after. There are TWO English school boards in town. There is no "everyone else".

  • While Von Hagen said they appreciate the space, renting scattered classrooms has been a logistical nightmare and not a permanent solution. The classrooms are not scattered. They're at Michael's school. They're even all in the same wing with a separate entrance.
The second is called Parents Cry Out Against Shared Space and makes the following notable observations:
  • Von Hagen expanded on the administrative nightmare managing two spaces has been. While he said staff did their best, sharing space has ultimately taken resources and time out of the classroom with staff travelling between two schools. Wow. If it's so much work to manage a few extra classrooms, how much of a headache will it be to manage an entire extra school?

  • Von Hagen also put further pressure on Yk 1. "They would rather see half empty schools and not see that money put into programming," Von Hagen told the approximately 150 parents who came. This made me really mad. We do NOT want to see half-empty schools. We want to share our schools!

  • Gullberg mentioned two levers Dent could pull to encourage Yk 1 to hand over a school: give YCS Sir John Franklin, the only school still owned by ECE and not Yk 1, or not follow through with J.H. Sissons' planned retrofit. Nice. Shannon Gullberg is the chair of the YCS board, by the way.
  • Gullberg also reacted to Yk 1's political agenda of looking to amalgamate the two school boards; a recommendation that can be found on the Yk 1 Web Site.

    "How do you negotiate with someone who has as their goal your ultimate destruction?" said Gullberg. "We will not negotiate in a way that will result in the same way as last year." This is just silly. If YK #1 wants to destroy YCS, they want to destroy themselves as well: the recommendation to have one school board is one that I personally support in the name of efficiency. This whole dispute shows exactly why it's stupid to have two boards.

I do feel bad for YCS in some ways. They've rejected all offers and now they have no options. Their backs are against the wall and they don't want to give an inch because they're afraid of losing their position. They missed the date to renew the lease agreement, but their only Plan B was "bully YK #1 into giving up a school".

I missed the education minister's first public meeting a few weeks ago because I was trapped in an airport, but I'll be at tomorrow's meeting.

Megan is going to get you the healthiest call girl this town has ever seen

I was avoiding Facebook, and I thought I was doing a pretty good job. I spend my life on the computer anyway, and I really didn't want another Web 2.0 program to worry about. At any given time, I usually have Blogger, MSN, Yahoo! Messenger and YouTube open, plus my e-mail and iTunes. I don't have room for much more. This wasn't about hiding; I'm pretty open about myself here on the blog, but I wanted to keep things simple.

I successfully rode out the MySpace wave, or so I thought. I do have a MySpace account, but just so I can look at a few friends' blogs that were set to private.

Then Facebook started to pester me. I got my first invitation a couple of months ago. I ignored it. Glen reassured me that it's not just for students and that adults do indeed use it. More invitations followed. I ignored them.

Then two days ago an invitation arrived from a very sweet person who I have not technically met, but who I assume must be close to sainthood since she's planning to marry Steve's brother Sean.

I thought about this. It's one thing to tell real-life friends that I don't want to be "friended". It's quite another to tell a complete stranger. This seemed a bit rude. Also, a rejection could put me in the bad books with the in-laws. I couldn't have that.

I clicked the link and set up a page.

I'm still very new at this (I was chastised earlier tonight for responding to a message on my own page) and am completely lost most of the time. But one thing is already clear: Facebook is aggressively interactive. Actually, let's put an exclamation point on it, like the government of Saskatchewan: Facebook is aggressively interactive!

It was fun to find a few people, but I was ready to stop after about an hour. I'd found everyone I really wanted to find. I have a few friends, real friends, who I've lost touch with over the years. Since I made the mistake of telling it where I went to school, Facebook has been bombarding me with messages about people I have not seen in over a decade, many for good reason. I've received 34 messages since last night. In two days I have amassed 22 "friends". Just in case there are any lingering questions among my readers as to my geekiness, let me assure you: I have probably not had 22 true friends in my entire life. I tend to form close relationships with a few people, and I am friendly with everyone else, except for the few people who I loathe intensely. (Actually, I'm pretty friendly with them, too. They probably have no idea that I'm plotting to destroy them.)

But it's interesting to see who has suddenly popped up. I feel rather nostalgic right now. This should help:

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Are you only here because you want to read about the YK #1 / YCS space issue?

This link will take you to a list of all my posts about it.

More schools stuff

I'm putting the post with the links to all of my school posts back up at the top of the blog. I've been getting a lot of searches for keywords related to the current space shortage, so I figured I ought to put it back up to save people the work. If you are new to the blog, you can find all of the background there.

Last night, the Catholic school board held a meeting to talk to parents about the issue. I wanted to go, but realised that I probably would not be able to answer the skill-testing question at the door:

Burly Catholic monk with arms crossed: Name the books of the Apocrypha.
Me: Um, Enoch?
Burly Catholic monk with arms crossed: Please leave now.
Me: Can I show you my genuflection? No?

I do, however, have a few secret sources out there, so I know what happened. CBC's coverage is here. Among the more interesting reports from the meeting:

  • There is no school spirit at Michael's school, which has been sharing space with YCS students for the past year. (This was news to me.)
  • Catholic students are not allowed to use the gym or specialty rooms at Michael's school. (This was also news to me. You'll be looking for section 25 in that link.)
  • The YK #1 high school is the only school in the city that is not owned by one of the boards. It could be taken from YK #1 and given to YCS over the board's objections. (Until this year, I had no idea that the boards owned the schools. I don't know why the high school is different.)
This is not going to end well. I feel bad for YCS in some ways -- YK #1's reaction to the education minister's threat to cut their funding was basically "OK, so we'll dip into our savings. Nice talking to you." This has left YCS without many options. While everyone was arguing about whether they could take one of our schools, the deadline to renew the tenancy agreement at Michael's school passed.

The minister of education is holding another public meeting on Thursday. I think we need to figure out the following things as a community:
  • What does YK #1 mean by "share"?
  • Under what circumstances would YCS be willing to share space?
  • Do we really need two public school boards? When we say we want a choice about where our kids go to school, do we mean that we want to choose the school or choose the district office?

Glen begins his new career