Thursday, December 22, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Two guitar players missed

BCL (and others) have been discussing Rolling Stone's recent list of the top guitarists, pointing out glaring omissions, including Django Rheinhardt. Here are another two who were somehow passed over.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Orwell as Nostradamus


"She had without exception the most stupid, vulgar, empty mind that he had ever encountered. She had not a thought in her head that was not a slogan, and there was no imbecility, absolutely none that she was not capable of swallowing if the Party handed it out to her."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Estimating crowd sizes

There has been rather different estimates of how many people are in this picture:


The CBC report that the police estimated this crowd at 5000 (here); Lifesite claimed 15,000 (here), and the National Post, 20,000 (here).

Crowd estimation isn't too difficult a business. The basic procedure is to multiply the crowd density by the area (see the discussion here, from Obama's inauguration)
"A loose crowd, one where each person is an arm's length from the body of his or her nearest neighbors, needs 10 square feet per person. A more tightly packed crowd fills 4.5 square feet per person. A truly scary mob of mosh-pit density would get about 2.5 square feet per person."
How many square feet? Google Earth pro does the calculation for us.

It looks to me like the center walk falls roughly in the 10-square feet per person, and the two sections on the lawn on either side perhaps half that.

My rough guestimate, then, is
  • 3200 people in the center (32,000 sq. ft. divided by 10 sq. ft. per person)
  • 2550 people in the right-hand wedge (51,000 sq. ft. divided by 20 sq. ft. per person)
  • 2100 people in the left-hand wedge (42,000 sq. ft. divided by 20 sq. ft. per person)
This puts the total at c. 8000 -- though probably less, since the left- and right-hand wedges are probably smaller and less densely occupied that the above estimates suggest. On the whole, it looks to me like the CBC is closer to being accurate than either Lifesite (who seem keen to inflate for reasons that escape me.)

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Strategic voting in Ontario

There has been some talk about strategic voting. Here are my suggestions for how strategic voters might best cast their ballots in Ontario. These are cases where incumbants are vulnerable and there does seem to be a three way race.

Ten ridings where strategic voters should vote Liberal

  • Eglinton--Lawrence, where Joseph Volpe had 43.99% in 2008, just 4.74% ahead of the Conservative. (The NDP was at 8.42%)
  • Mississauga South/Mississauga-Sud, where Paul Szabo had 44.22% in 2008, just 4.63% ahead of the Conservative. (The NDP was at 8.85%)
  • Brampton--Springdale, where Ruby Dhalla had 41.04% in 2008, just 1.71% ahead of the Conservative. (The NDP was at 11.57%)
  • Brampton West/Brampton-Ouest, where Andrew Kania had 40.33% in 2008, just 0.43% ahead of the Conservative. (The NDP was at 13.6%)
  • Guelph, where Frank Valeriote had was at 32.22% in 2008, just 3.04% ahead of the Conservative. (The NDP was at 16.49%; Greens were at 21%)
  • Kitchener--Waterloo, where the Liberal in 2008 was at 36.03% in 2008, just -0.03% behind of the conservative, who was elected. (The NDP was at 14.73%)
  • Mississauga--Erindale, where 42% in 2008, just -0.71% behind of the Conservative, who was elected. (The NDP was at 8.55%)
  • Oak Ridges--Markham, where 41.52% in 2008, just -0.72% behind of the Conservative, who was elected. (The NDP was at 9.4%)
  • Kitchener Centre/Kitchener-Centre, where 35.94% in 2008, just -0.76% behind of the Conservative, who was elected. (The NDP was at 18.09%)
  • London West/London-Ouest, where 35.42% in 2008, just -3.67% behind of the Conservative, who was elected. (The NDP was at 14.57%)

    Three ridings where strategic voters should vote NDP

  • Sault Ste. Marie, where Tony Martin (NDP) had 40.43% in 2008, just 2.71% ahead of the Conservative. (The Liberals were at 16.76%)
  • Welland, where Malcolm Allen (NDP) had 32.91% in 2008, just 0.59% ahead of the Conservative. (The Liberals were at 27.93%)
  • Oshawa, where Mike Shields NDP had 34.73% in 2008, just 6% behind of the Conservative, who was elected. (The Liberals were at 16.05%)
  • Monday, April 25, 2011

    How much access does neo-nazi psychopath have to Conservative data

    The ARC points out that Michelle Lisson (aka Michelle Erstikaitis), pictured right, seems to be working for Toronto Centre Conservative candidate, Kevin Moore. (Confirmed by BCL; see also DrDawg)

    Two questions.

    First, does Kevin Moore know this about Ms. Erstikaitis/Lisson:
    TORONTO — A disturbed and violent convict who idolizes sex killer Paul Bernardo and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh told a judge yesterday she wanted to consent to being declared a dangerous offender.

    Michelle Lyne Erstikaitis, 30, a diagnosed psychopath, told Justice Todd Archibald she wanted to plead guilty to assaulting her boyfriend and agreed to being declared a dangerous offender -- which means an indefinite sentence.
    Second, what material does she have access to? Given that the Conservative Party has a voter-tracking database that tracks what party's lawn sign is in front of whose house, and what kind of pictures are displayed on whose facebook pages, should voters in Toronto Centre be concerned?

    Update. Erstikaitis has been removed from the Conservative campaign (here).

    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    Is Conservative Wally Daudrich against government health care?

    Wally DaudrichConservative Candidate in Churchill Wally Daudrich is providing some interesting fodder for bloggers:
    Indeed, I've already pointed out a few eye-brow raisers from Wally's facebook page:
    Now, indeed, the Press has taken notice. See Anti-abortion Tory candidate called Obama worst U.S. president, biggest liar by Jim Bronskill of the Canada Press, who noted this troubling post from Wally Daudrich's facebook page:

    Wally DaudrichBig City Lib is surprised that this was the post that got press' attention. It strikes me, however, that what is especially important is not so much the name calling as the context.

    Daudrich's outburst came following Obama's success in convincing the American congress to pass comprehensive health care bill, a bill (once its implemented) will provide Americans with greater access to more affordable health care. Readers will remember that opponents of the bill manufactured all manner of falsehoods about the legislation, most famously about prospective death panels, but also that the Obama health care fill would fund abortion (which wasn't so, see here, but that's a little beside the point).

    And this, I think, raises a more fundamental question. If Daudrich is opposed to Obama's health care reform, which relies much less on government and much more on private insurance than the Canadian system, what does he make of Canadian medicare?

    Is Conservative Wally Daudrich a Tea Partier?

    Wally DaudrichYesterday BigCity Liberal posted twice on Wally Daudrich, Conservative Candidate in Churchill:
    I see now that deBeauxOs has also noticed Daudrich, asking Did the Con candidate Wally Daudrich learn creative writing from TeaParty?

    The answer, apparently, is yes. His facebook page (which is full of interesting stuff!) lists his activities and interests. There are a number of other eye-brow raisers, to which we may return. For now, however, it seems that Daudrich includes among his activities both the American Tea Party Patriots and its Canadian imitator the Tea Party of Canada.

    Wally Daudrich

    Conservative Wally Daudrich calls the NDP communists

    Yesterday BigCity Liberal posted twice on Wally Daudrich, Conservative Candidate in Churchill:
    We can add to this Glen McGregor at the Ottawa Citizen criticizes Wally Daudrich, for red-baiting in attacking his NDP opponent, Nikki Ashton, as a "Chinese educated socialist". The implication is clear. (She went to a Liberal Arts college in Hong Kong.)

    Sadly, this is not Mr. Daudrich's only such outburst, as a peruse of Wally Daudrich's facebook page shows:



    Calling the NDP communists? That's so, 1980s!

    Saturday, April 02, 2011

    Conservative candidate Marty Burke scrubs controversial views from website

    Yesterday Scott Tribe blogged about the controversial opinions that Marty Burke, Conservative candidate in Guelph, has shared in various letters-to-the-editor in recent years, including:
    • denouncing the war in Afghanistan "a near worthless operation" undertaken with the purpose of "saving face for a useless Liberal government"
    • making thinly veiled racist criticisms of the choice of MichaĆ«lle Jean as governor general
    Another letter (made in the aftermath of Harper's failure to gain Canada a seat on the United Nation's Security Council) seems to advocated suspending payment of Canada's dues to the UN.

    If Burke didn't understand how out-of-sync with his constituents such views are, he seems to know now. To the left is a copy of his webpage as of a couple weeks ago (webcache via Google). To the right is what he webpage looks like now. All his letters-to-the-editor seem to have been removed.

    Marty Burke
    Marty Burke

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    Vote against spam and spammers!

    Bloggers may or may not recognize the name Harry Tsai, the Conservative candidate in Scarborough-Agincourt. He seems to engage in a practice that bloggers universally despise — comment-spamming.

    So, for example, in a MoneySense article on increasing auto premiums, we find Harry Tsai commenting (here) that "You can save $$ on car insurance premium !!" Clicking on the link under his name takes you to the webpage of SID autowatch, a maker of vehicle security systems.

    Similarly, at a Money Canoe article on increasing insurance premiums in Ontario Harry Tsai leaves a nearly identical comment (here) advocating vehicle immobilizers.

    And SID autowatch? Apparently Mr. Tsai has a financial interest. Here is a picture of him manning their promotional booth at an industry function.



    Which brings us to our point: oppose comment-spam by voting against comment-spammers like Harry Tsai!

    Saturday, March 26, 2011

    This day in history.

    Frodo destroys the ring. March 25, 3019 (S.R. 1419)

    The Harper government falls. March 25, 2011.

    Wednesday, March 09, 2011

    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    Apocalypse deferred (indefinitely)


    In 2005, right-wing bloviator and professional Islamophobe Mark Steyn wrote an article for the Jewish World Review with the title ("U.S. can sit back and watch Europe implode"), which adumbrated the argument of his book, America Alone, that Europe was in the process of being overrun by Muslims. Money quote from Steyn's article:
    "By some projections, the EU's population will be 40 percent Muslim by 2025."
    These projections has never been clearly exlained (for some speculation, see here), but (as I've pointed out before) the figures are wildly wrong, as is clear from a a recent study by the PewForum (here), which places the Muslim population of Europe at barely a fraction of Steyn's number:
    "In Europe as a whole, the Muslim share of the population is expected to grow by nearly one-third over the next 20 years, rising from 6% of the region’s inhabitants in 2010 to 8% in 2030."
    The difference is, frankly, enormous and leaves Steyn's analysis is shreds.

    (h/t Dawg)

    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    Harper lowers expectations

    In today's speech celebrating his five years as Prime Minister, Stephen Harper is reported to have said: “We are in this minority government. We haven’t been able to pass what we want to pass. But that doesn’t mean we have forgotten … there will be an elected senate and we will get rid of that wasteful, ineffective long-gun registry.”

    As a wish-list for a future majority this is noteworthy for two reasons. First, it is surprisingly thin: senate reform and the gun registry are pretty small issues in an age where we have Canadian soldiers stationed overseas and a $56 billion dollar deficit.

    The second reason is that, unlike the gun registry (which Harper could kill with a majority), an elected Senate is not. Even with a Parliamentary majority, true senate reform would require a constitutional amendment, and to get that, Harper would have to negotiate with the provinces, and there is no reason to think that this is in the cards.

    Given that Senate Reform is impossible, is this all that Harper can offer in his majority? No gun control?

    Wow.