Quick Hits, Quick Comments

Canada’s trade surplus slipped this past May to $3.99 billion. An increase in the consumption of crude oil in the east and heavy construction equipment in the west bolstered imports, while exports slipped by 0.5%.

I find this interesting: Alberta and Saskatchewan are importing heavy equipment to cope with their runaway oil boom, but the oil they’re generating is not heading towards refineries in the East. Why would that be? We have a strong manufacturing industry here in Ontario, you would think that we could supply Alberta with their construction equipment, even as we buy some Alberta oil for our refineries.

I think this shows that the market is becoming more and more continental as the days go by.

It’s the Market, Baby!

As negotiations towards ending the NHL lockout continue with a successful completion possibly just days away, the Star reports that the best NHL prospect since Gretzky might end up playing in Europe. The NHL might be able to get its salary cap on, only to find European leagues poaching its players with more lucrative offers.

I have to admit that I hadn’t thought of this. Professional hockey appears to be in the ascendency in Europe, with bigger leagues and bigger salaries, and the presence of increased European talent freed up from the NHL lockout hasn’t hurt matters. It’s easy to forget that it’s a global market out there, and nothing prevents those upstart European leagues from competing with the NHL (which, frankly, is on shaky ground with its unwise expansion to the American south). Europe has the money. How much are they paying soccer player David Beckham, after all?

Too many people, I find, cast the blame for the lockout solely on the “overpaid, underworked” players, while letting the overpaid, fiscally inept owners off the hook. To me, this is just a bit of union bashing. But if the European leagues turn the NHL’s salary cap into a talent-draining liability, they will have no basis in blaming the players. This is the free market in action. Learn to love it, baby.

William Poole Indicted on Misdemeanour, not Felony

After months of silence, we have news at last on the William Poole front, courtesy of Zero Intelligence. As you will recall, William Poole had been charged by police for uttering terrorist threats, using as evidence writings that may or may not have been works of fiction. This case garnered international attention when it was reported that the writings were tales about zombies, and Poole’s credibility took a big hit when it was revealed that there were no zombies in Poole’s work.

Zombies or no, Poole’s case disturbed me because it wasn’t clear that the evidence against Poole wasn’t in the form of a work of fiction. There was a lot to indiciate to me that the police were overreacting to a teenager’s violent (but otherwise harmless) journal.

The prosecution tried to have Poole charged with terroristic threatening, a second degree felony, but the grand jury disagreed. Instead, they charged him with “attempt to commit terroristic threatening”, a charge that seems silly in its flimsyness — how do you attempt to threaten something? — but one which is a class A misdemeanour, which is a lesser charge.

Thus Poole’s future is a lot brighter, even though he’s not wholly out of the woods, yet.

U.S. Modifies Daylight Savings Time

Courtesy of James Koole comes word that the United States has altered its application of Daylight Savings Time, so that it starts a month earlier (in early March) and ends a month later (in late November). So, we have to decide whether we adjust our times accordingly — resulting in 8 a.m. sunrises in March and November — or keep things as they are, putting us an hour behind adjacent states for two months out of the year.

I personally lean towards keeping time with the United States. The time zone system is complicated enough as it is; it won’t help to see New York State as an hour different from us every March and November.

But not only am I disappointed that we’ll just have to follow suit with the United States, I’m disappointed that American lawmakers didn’t decide to do something really bold, like abolish standard time altogether, eliminating this spring-forward fall-back madness once and for all.

FBI Shuts Down Cross-Border Tunnel Between BC/Washington

Good catch, guys!

Antonia Zerbisias Really Joins the Blogging Realm

Allow me to stand back a moment and appreciate how well Toronto Star columnist Antonia Zerbisias has taken to blogging. The “ascerbic” Zerb, as I’m sure she likes to be called, was likely lured online by the number of right wing bloggers fisking her columns. She won a lot of their respect when she showed up out of the blue at one of their offline get togethers, and then she started posting her wit online, for free. Even Jay Currie respects how well she’s taken to the new medium, though he disagrees with just about everything she writes.

But one thing that has held her back, in some people’s opinions, was the fact that she didn’t allow comments on her blog. Many big name/mainstream media bloggers like Warren Kinsella, Andrew Coyne and Paul Wells don’t allow comments on their sites, citing the legal liabilities involved, and the work involved in policing what was said. All of these are understandible issues, but they do serve to create a divide between these professionals, and the talented amateurs that are the rest of us.

Recently, however, Antonia has opened her site to comments and trackbacks, a considerable risk, I think, given how charged up people can get about her writing (only yesterday, she posted about her appearance on the Bill O’Reilly show). I am impressed by her courage, and I would like to welcome this self-described cyberclutz as officially becoming one of us.

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