Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I heard it through the grapevine…

A capella. Wow.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Republican answer to Obama-girl

It is not only Barak Obama who has admirers who are musical. It seems that Sarah Palin has also become a muse for a young artist on the other side of the world:

Friday, October 17, 2008

An idea whose idea has come

Ignorance offsets:
    Ignorance Offsets TM (patent pending) allow you to offset your own or someone else's ignorance by supporting the increase of knowledge elsewhere. Our ignorance offsets include either an electronic certificate delivered via e-mail or a physical certificate mailed to the Ignorance OffsetTM recipient. You can also include a personalized message with the Ignorance OffsetTM.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Virtual genius

Re-creating a master-piece in Second-Life:

Not much different then

The new parliament is more or less where it started. Harper has more seats, but his situation is essentially unchanged. Before the election, to defeat Harper in Parliament required the Liberals, NDP, and BQ to vote together. So, too, now. There are a few new faces, and the loss of some old ones.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A strategic voting trio: Ancaster, Oshawa, Saanich

Scott Tribe encourages to vote strategically to defeat Harper. In the spirit of this, I offer three ridings where voters should vote strategically in favour of a Liberal, an NDP, and a Green, respectively.

In Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale (part of western Hamilton), NDP and Green voters who want to defeat Harper should vote Liberal, as is clear from earlier election results:
      2000*2004 2006
      Lib 41.2% 39.7% 34.5%
      NDP 7.8% 20.9% 21.3%
      Green n/a 4.8% 4.4%
      Con CA: 31.6%
      PC 19.5%
      34.6% 39.1%
In Oshawa, Liberals and Greens should vote NDP.
      2000*2004 2006
      Lib 34% 30.5% 24%
      NDP 8.8% 32.3% 33.4%
      Green n/a 3.9% 3.8%
      Con CA: 22.9%
      PC 11.9%
      33.3% 38.6%
In Saanich—Gulf Islands, the NDP-candidate has withdrawn; NDs and Liberals should vote Green.
      2000*2004 2006
      Lib 32.3% 26.8% 26.0%
      NDP 8% 21.6% 26.6%
      Green n/a 16.7% 9.9%
      Con CA: 43.1%
      PC 10.28%
      34.6% 37.1%
    *In 2000, the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative party had not yet merged, and some of these ridings were differently configured.

Handy Peter Kent (Thornhill) controversy index

Peter Kent ThornhillA Toronto candidate seems to be increasingly accident prone. Peter Kent's (CPC candidate in Thornhill) proposed expanding private health care at a debate, forcing Stephen Harper to respond. (News story: Peter Kent wants more private medicare).

This shortly after he had a commercial blow up in his face. Peter Kent, who was once a CTV journalist, ended up having CTV deny that Pamela Wallen and Lloyd Robertson had endorsed him, after he released a video featuring them and implying otherwise (and here).

Given the proliferation of Peter Kent stories, I thought it would be useful to bring them all into one post.

A few weeks ago Dawg and I had a series of questions after it had become clear that Kent had served in various capacities with the anti-Muslim group, the Canadian Coalition for Democracies (on which see here and here and here):
(I'll add to this if more stories appear that I missed.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Troopergate report says Palin "abused her power"

The Republican dominated legislative panel responsible for the Trooper-gate prove has voted unanimously to release the report of the investigation into Governor Sarah Palin.

The report finds that Palin "abused her power" illegally.

See Dawg for analysis.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

How to tell when a politico is lying

There have been allegations that Norm Coleman, an incumbant senator seeking re-election in Minnesota, has had suits purchased for him. His spokesman handles the query:

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Copy-gate averted: Harper platform plagiarism free!

So, the Harper platform has been available for ... what ... six hours and no-one has found any plagiarism yet? Oh, well, give it time.

For the plagiarism-obsessed, you can check these posts:

Conservative website down?

It looks like the Conservative website is down, probably because they misjudged the number of people who would want to download their platform.

Competence issues?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Buckets has google fame!

Meanwhile, if you search google for "Harper plagiarism" you get my post Still more Harper plagiarism, this time about the Wheat Board.

It's just too bad about this.  and this.  

Ghost-writer admits to copying

… his own work.

We have already seen that there a section of Harper's speech about the Canada Wheat Board was copied more or less verbatim from the essays of Craig Docksteader of the Prairie Policy Institute.

We know learn that the ghost-writer is none other than Mr. Docksteader himself!

Docksteader, apparently, runs a web-design company on the side and left a message on his own contact page a few hours ago claiming that he had written Harper's speech. Here is what he said:
    A blog has referenced a speech given by Stephen Harper on November 6, 2002 and has suggested that a small portion of that speech was taken from my own writings.

    The speech referenced was one that I worked on for Stephen Harper while working for Member of Parliament David Anderson's office in Ottawa in fall of 2002. I distinctly remember this because it was the only speech for Stephen Harper that I worked on.

    I am not surprised to see that I used some of the same lines because they were good lines that I used repeatedly in these discussions, both in my work at the Prairie Centre and in my work for David Anderson at the House of Commons.
(The ultra-suspicious might note that the address for the web-design firm coincides with that of the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy, where Docksteader works.)

And that, as they say, is that.  

There are, of course, other sections of other speeches that are suspicious.  Given, however, that Liberal leader Stephan Dion has now been hoisted a bit on petard of his party's making, I doubt whether anyone will be much interested in them.

Update.  Balbulican discusses Dion's plagiarism, and finds that it isn't.

Still more Harper plagiarism, this time about the Wheat Board

Harper plagiarism of Wheat BoardThe other day, J-Rad exposed Harper's plagiarism of Mike Harris' speech, and yesterday Harper dismissed criticisms of this plagiarism on the grounds that what he had borrowed was mere boilerplate: empty political phraseology, essentially empty of meaning, that can be used and reused as needed. (Which raises the question: if they're unimportant words, why not compose your own?)

How, one might wonder does he explain the following. To the right is a section of his speech on the Canadian Wheat Board (Nov. 6, 2002); it copies sections from two essays by Craig Docksteader of The Prairie Policy Centre, a rightwing think tank. (One written in 1998 with the Harper-parallels in yellow, and one in 2002, green).
Prairie Policy Center, 1998*:

In the first place, the CWB has no monopoly on world wheat sales. In fact, Canada grows only 5 percent of the world's wheat production and holds only 20 percent of the world wheat export market. This means for every CWB agent out there peddling a bushel of wheat, the competitors are lined up with four times as much wheat to sell. Some monopoly.

Prairie Policy Center, June 2002**:

The CWB has spent hundreds of thousands of farmers' dollars attempting to justify this myth.

Despite their best efforts, however, they've never factored in the lost opportunity costs, the cost of failing to develop niche markets, the cost of inefficiencies in grain transportation and handling stemming from a bureaucratic system which stamps out market signals, the cost of defending the CWB monopoly in international trade disputes, the cost of endless commissions, hearings, studies, and panels on the issue, and the exorbitant cost paid by many farmers to fight the for the basic economic right to sell their own property....

Harper, Nov. 2002:

... The fact is the CWB has no monopoly in the context of the world market. Canada grows only 5% of the world's wheat and holds only 18% of the world wheat export market. This means that for every CWB agent out there peddling a bushel of wheat the competitors are lined up with four times as much to sell. That is some monopoly.

On the basis of data the Wheat Board keeps secret, the Liberal government also claims that it has done studies which prove the CWB obtains better prices for farmers. However it never considered all the costs. Costs it does not factor into the study are such things as the lost opportunity costs for farmers who want to add value; the costs of failing to develop niche markets; the costs of inefficiencies in a bureaucratic grain handling and transportation system; the costs of endless commissions, studies, panels and hearings on this issue; or, finally, the exorbitant costs paid by many farmers to fight for the basic economic right to sell their own property. ...

Now, one wonders how Mr. Harper will explain this. The texts that he is copying are hardly boilerplate, and Harper's speech borrows their arguments and reproduces them with the same facts and figures, and exactly the same language, right down to its imagery, which offers a lone CWB agent out peddling a single bushel of wheat, and being overwhelmed by competitors described in exactly the same way (blue). Where Harper departs from these the thinktank's words, his departures involve very minor rephrasing only (note the red). And in "some monopoly", even Harper's sarcasm is borrowed.

Clearly someone has some explaining to do.
    • *Prairie Policy Center (Sept. 7, 1998): Craig Docksteader, "A Price You Can’t Refuse" (via
    • **Prairie Policy Center (June 2002): Craig Docksteader, "Living on Borrowed Time" (pdf).

Update. See Balbulican for a discussion as to why Dion's plagiarism, really isn't.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

When spell-checkers run amok

Meanwhile, down-under, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation has noticed Harper's second plagiarism (here), this time of that well-known former Premier of Intro.  Here's the screen-cap, just in case they get around to fixing this.

And while we're at it, I've found a third plagiarism that I'll be posting about tonight or tomorrow.

And whatever you do, don't throw away the wrapping paper

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Won't someone please think of the children? (The Harper-Harris plagiarism case)

Yesterday J-rad explosed Harper's plagiarism of a speech of Mike Harris in Montreal.

Today the Globe and Mail reports that Harper is dismissing the new allegations of plagiarism against him:
    Conservative Leader Stephen Harper brushed off fresh charges of plagiarism Saturday, saying phrases in one of his speeches — lines apparently first spoken by a former Ontario premier — are nothing more than political boilerplate.
Harper's response is disappointing on a number of grounds. Harper doesn't actually deny copying them from Harris, he merely asserts that copying is OK in this case because … the words were "boilerplate".

To which I can only say. Kids, don't try this at home … or (more to the point) … don't try this at school. A hard-ass professor will fail you for this, and the penalties for repeat offenders are pretty serious.

Update. BCer in TO wonders whether Conservatives are plagarizing themselves now?.

Update II.  Jared, who broke the story of Harper's plagiarism of Mike Harris' speech, brings everyone up to date.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Plagiarism revisited: Mike Harris and Steven Harper duet

Earlier this morning j-rad broke the story of Harper's plagiarism of Mike Harris' 2002 speech in Montreal. There was a video of the speech, however. And now the clever kids in the Liberal warroom seem to have put together a youtube of Harris and Harper singing a duet. Enjoy!

More Harper plagiarism, this time from Mike Harris

Stephen Harper, Mike Harris, plagiarism
Well, well. I suppose we should have expected that. Fresh off the news that Stephen Harper's Iraq speech was copied more or less verbatim from that of Australian Prime Minister John Howard, it was bound to happen that people had a look at his other speeches. Sure enough, j-rad has now discovered more evidence of plagiarism, this time from Mike Harris. Several sentences from Harper's speech in Feb. 2003 on the Federal budget are lifted straight out of a speech of Mike Harris to the Montreal Economics Institute.

Several questions arise. First, and most obviously, who is responsible? Harper found a convenient scape-goat to fall on his sword: Owen Lippert, who resigned. Is he also responsible for for this mistake? Or is there another bumbler on Harper's speech writing team?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

How tech support used to work

What every household needs (pt. 2)

Meanwhile, over at Ebay, one has the unique opportunity to purchase a Roman siege catapult or ballista. To quote:
    The ballista weighs approx 12 tons so postage or even buyer collection is not an option. Fully built, it is approx 7.5 metres tall and 8.5 metres long.

    Originally, this cost over £120,000 to build – so we are only looking for serious bidders.

    Our reserve price of £25,000 includes the cost of essential repairs to bring it back to a condition where it could be displayed, and includes delivery to any mainland UK destination.

    Please note: if erecting is required at the buyer’s site, it will cost an additional £17,500 to the purchase price. It is essential that the site has adequate space for the crane and space for setting up. This will not fit in your average garden!!

Why would you want one?
  • The ballista could be an excellent and unique tourist attraction for a wide range of public venues.
  • It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a unique recreation of a Roman war machine.
  • If you have aspirations to overthrow a neighbour’s castle, the ballista isn’t ideal, as even though it is potentially capable of throwing a stone ball over 100 yards, it is now not in firing condition. (Please note that even if it were, you would need a team of several skilled operators in order to do this, and these are very hard to find today. You may also find that advances in weaponry since this was designed place you at a considerable disadvantage on the modern battlefield.)

A less expension version (here).