Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sarah Palin: Vikaren--the substitute (president)

Republican vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, reminds me of the substitute teacher in the Danish movie, Vikaren (The Substitute). The substitute teacher in the movie can appear both nice and evil at the same time.

YouTube clips in Danish only:

Based on the YouTube clips, I hope to see Vikaren in Canada either at the theatre or on television. At the same time, I hope I won't see Sarah Palin as the vikar president. Excuse me if my Dansk ain't LEGOOD.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Islamists, er-r-r, Catholists find frog art blasphemous

Museum defies pope over crucified frog
By Philip Pullella
ROME (Reuters) - An Italian museum Thursday defied Pope Benedict and refused to remove a modern art sculpture portraying a crucified green frog holding a beer mug and an egg that the Vatican had condemned as blasphemous.
I'm all for frog speech everywhere!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My 2008 Canadian federal election seat prediction

Conservatives - 143 seats
Liberals - 68 seats
NDP - 41 seats
Bloc - 56 seats
Green - 0 seats
Other - 0 seats

I think the Conservatives will focus their campaign on families who live in rural and suburban Canada. They will also maintain their focus on western Canada. This will be a narrowcasting campaign where they will ignore half of the Canadian voters and spend their campaign resources on select voters. For example, the environment may be an important issue to many Canadian voters, but not to people voting Conservative. Income and sales taxes may be more important.

The Liberals may have a good environmental Green Shift tax plan. However, they will be spending much of their energy trying to explain it to voters rather than attack Conservative promises and past policies. A few voters may switch to the NDP and Greens. The Liberals may lose some seats to the Conservatives and NDP because of a loss of a few voters.

The NDP will have that confusing task of whom to attack: Harper or Dion. The NDP may gain a few seats, not because of great NDP campaigning, but because of poor campaigning by the Liberals.

The Bloc Québécois will maintain their seats in Quebec.

The Greens will gain votes from Liberals in safe Liberal urban ridings. However, these votes won't translate into seats for them. The Greens may even get more votes than either the NDP or Bloc. Unfortunately for the Greens, these votes won't become seats. The Green vote will still be spread through Canada.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Harper and the Governor-General: he and his cabinet could resign from her government

I just figured out that Prime Minister Stephen Harper can get around asking Michaelle Jean, Governor-General of Canada, to dissolve parliament before the so-called fixed election date. Harper can inform her that he and his cabinet will be resigning from her government. Theoretically, it will be up to her to decide if she should ask Stéphane Dion if his party can form a governing coalition with the NDP and Bloc Québécois. Or she can dissolve parliament and announce an election date. Informally, I think the governor-general will seek the advice of Stephen Harper and announce an election date of his choosing.

In essence, Harper will not be asking for an early election. He'll just be announcing that he and the cabinet will be resigning from the government.

Friday, August 22, 2008

"Speedo Launches Sustainable Product Packaging," huh?

You gotta love this headline: Speedo Launches Sustainable Product Packaging. (G-rated website)

It sure beats Viagra!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

1968-1969: Two men in Prague remember the Russians. Why Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are against Russia

In the photo, one can see a small memorial on display in Wenceslas Square in Prague. This memorial is in honour of two men, Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc, who commited suicide in 1969 to oppose the Soviet (Russian) occupation and repression of their former Czechoslovakia. While this particular memorial is small, it is powerful enough to remind anyone why the peoples from Estonia to Georgia appreciate their hard earned freedom. They do not wish to lose their freedom under present or future Russian occupation and repression.

For further reading: Toronto Sun: The death of Prague Spring by Peter Worthington (August 21, 2008). The link is good for about one week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Is er iemand in Nederland weten deze mensen?

Google Translation from English:

Ik voel me vreemd te vragen of iemand kent die mensen uit Nederland. Ik ontmoette hen in Jabonec nad Nisou in de Tsjechische Republiek. Ik heb geprobeerd e-mail te sturen ze deze foto van vorig jaar, maar ik had geen geluk te versturen.

Does anyone in the Netherlands / Nederland know these people?

I feel strange asking if anyone knows these people from the Netherlands (Nederland). I met them in Jabonec nad Nisou in the Czech Republic. I tried emailing them this photo last year but I had no luck sending it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Re: Bouquets of Gray: more astroturfing for Christ (perhaps 37 or 36?)

Bouquets of Gray did some investigating on three Christian organizations that demand that Supreme Court Justice Beverley McLachlin be dismissed. Bouquets found that three of the organizations share the same address and phone number making one to conclude that all three one in the same:

Canada Christian College
Evangelical Association
Institute for Canadian Values.

Since Bouquets of Gray does not have the comment section activated, I will leave my short comment here:
  • That's what I call a holey trinity!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Russia-Georgia War

It is highly unlikely that Georgia will win the current battle with Russia. However, Georgia has exposed Russia as an occupational force in Georgia's South Ossetia region. The Russians are not peacekeepers. They are occupiers that have not only attacked Georgian positions in South Ossetia, but Georgia outside South Ossetia.

Georgia can withdraw from South Ossetia and ask the United Nations for non-Russian international peacekeepers in South Ossetia.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Christie Blatchford G&M column: the iron hand behind the magic show

I read Christie Blatchford's column about the spectacle called the Beijing Olympics. I also read the general comments linked below Blatchford's column. Several people commented about the Americans occupying Iraq, how Iraqi society has been dragged down because of the American military presence. Others talk about Blatchford's racism against the Chinese which I couldn't infer from her column. She did make one very good point about China:
My friend was sick at heart by what he considered the fawning coverage of the
opening on the CBC. “China may have a lot of new Ronald McDonald statues and
wave a lot of hankies in unison,” he said, “but they still don't let their
people think, vote, talk. We don't know.

China could have the biggest and best democracy in the world. For those who say that now is not the time, just remember that women in Canada and the United States heard that phrase before when they wanted the right to vote.

There will come a time when the Chinese citizens get tired making household items for our dollar stores for slave wages. The Chinese standard of living will never rise to Western levels unless they be given the right to think freely and creatively, and get the right to vote.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Enjoy the Olympics

The Beijing Olympics are brought to you by

the other sponsors,
and the lucky number 8.

Let's celebrate the Olympics!

Moe's Tavern: next target of breastfeeding lactivists

Moe Syzlak, you're next.

Will Moe find true love?

H&M breastfeeding protest

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Reference link for Attawapiskat school children photo and YouTube link

If you wish to include a photo on your blog with a reference link to YouTube, here is a code I made:

[a href=][img border="0" width="220" alt="Attawapiskat" src="" height="165"/][/a]

Change [ ] to < >.

I hope it works. It took me some trial and errors to get it right. I'm not a code-master.

Look to the right to see a photo of the children from Attawapiskat. Click to get a YouTube link.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New Brunswick's French as a Second Language program

New Brunswick's education minister, Kelly Lamrock, presented at a news conference his public consultation results on French as a Second Language programming in English language schools.

The revised FSL program will consist of the following elements:
  • Universal K-2: all children will learn together and will be introduced to French culture and language through a series of learning modules integrated into the curriculum (introduced to Grade 1 in January 2009, and to kindergarten and Grade 2 in the fall of 2009);
  • Grade 3 immersion: a program beginning in Grade 3 and built on an early immersion methodology, with the majority of instruction in French (available in September 2010);
  • English Prime: the non-immersion program for students in grades 3 through 5;
  • Pre-Intensive French: a component of Grade 4 in the English Prime program in which students will have 150 minutes per week of French in blocks of 50 to 60 minutes (available September 2009);
  • Intensive French: a component of Grade 5 in the English Prime program in which students will learn French through a literacy-based approach for about 70 per cent of their day over half the school year; the other half of the year will be conducted in English, with an accelerated curriculum and French instruction in concentrated blocks;
  • Grade 6 immersion: a program beginning in Grade 6 and built on the late immersion methodology with the majority of instruction in French;
  • English Prime with Post-Intensive French: the non-immersion program for students in grades 6 through 10 in which students take 200 minutes of French in two or three concentrated blocks each week in grades 6 through 8, and students will take one course per year in grades 9 and 10;
  • Blended High School: the three programs (Grade 3 immersion, Grade 6 immersion and English Prime) will conclude at the end of Grade 10 with an oral proficiency test in French; all students who score intermediate or higher will be eligible to take FSL courses in any available subject in grades 11 and 12. Students who do not attain intermediate proficiency at Grade 10 will have course options to improve their French, and may be retested.

Mr. Lamrock's suggests his (de-marketing) proposal will improve literacy results and French language proficiency in more students than just those who are currently taking the French Immersion program.

There will be two points of entry for French Immersion: grades three and six. I will guess that most families who are interested in French Immersion will place their children in French Immersion in grade-three. I believe few children will start in grade-six. I am guessing that some parents will try to enroll their children in Francophone schools for grades one and two. Others may try French Immersion private schooling for two years is there is such an option. Private tutoring may also work.

Mr. Lamrock talked about his desire to see children together in the early grades so that all children can benefit from de-streaming. Students who may have difficulties may benefit with the presence of regular students. I suggest that in a streamed class of twenty primary students, there may be six students with special needs. From a teacher's point of view, each of those students is equivalent to 2.5 students. That is the equivalent amount of time a teacher needs to spend with special needs students compared to regular students. For a teacher, the whole class is equivalent to 29 students. If the number of special needs students gets reduced to four in a streamed class, then that teacher will be teaching an equivalent of 26 students. The teacher can spend a little more time with all the students.

Logistically, if New Brunswick's schools are under-served, then the grade one and two students who would have gone to a French Immersion school will now be going to a regular school that will be fully attended with all the classrooms used. Since the French Immersion schools may be under-serving the school community because of the lack of grade one and two classes, some of those schools can close down and merge with others thereby saving money for the provincial government.

Will Mr. Lamrock's improve French language learning for all students? Let's hope it does. I like how he calls French instruction in grade-four pre-intensive French. I would call that Core French instruction for 150 minutes per week. Mr. Lamrock hope that students in the regular classes will achieve intermediate French by the end of high school. Those in French Immersion will perform at an advanced level. I rate the intermediate level as a B1 or B2 on the European Language Portfolio scale. The advanced level would be at C1.

I will agree with Mr. Lamrock and describe the performance of students learning French in Core French classes as abysmal. Most of these students are exposed to French for only forty minutes within the classroom. Outside, it's all English. As a sidenote, I am not fond of the text booklets that students use such as Acti-vie. There is very little cultural insight presented in these booklets. The layout seems very generic. I don't get a sense that students have ownership with these booklets. That's just a pet-peeve of mine. Students need a sense of ownership in the Core French language program. The need to communicate and feel successful. One good program that I have heard is AIM that gets students to communicate using gestures. Students and their parents need to know that if they complete French by the end of secondary school that they will be able to communicate independently and functionally in French. Core French students also need opportunities to be exposed to French outside the classroom. These opportunities should not be just limited for French Immersion students.

The irony with discussion about streaming and de-streaming is that in Alberta, the public school boards in Calgary and Edmonton offer many different kinds of programs such as French Immersion, International Languages, and gender based schooling. There are other programs. The results are that their students perform better than those in New Brunswick. Schools are tailored to the students--not the other way around.

Someday, I hope students in New Brunswick and Ontario will be able to learn other languages starting in elementary school. Students can start French in the early grades. In grade-seven, they can start learning another language such as German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, and Korean for example. Let's broaden our horizons. Let's include French and other languages together.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Blogger Christian Conservative says, "Guelphites reject negative Liberal campaign." Which Guelphites?

Blogger Christian Conservative writes in blog about a letter-to-the-editor published in the Guelph Mercury. The letter writer scolds campaign supporters of the Liberal candidate for running a negative campaign against Conservative candidate, Gloria Kovach. Based on what Christian Conservative wrote, one would assume that the letter writer is just an average citizen who doesn't like Gloria Kovach being referred as a Harper "sock puppet."

Is the letter writer, Barry Osmond, just an average Guelphite or is he in some way or manner connected to the Conservative Party? You decide.

Here's a past dinner invitation from Barry "average citizen" Osmond and friend:

Friday, August 1, 2008

Chinese close DVD shops for the Olympics (in Toronto)

The Chinese government has ordered pirate DVD shops in Beijing to close from now until the end of the Olympic games. It doesn't look good if westerners see pirated DVD's being sold. However, I wonder if the Chinese government is extending its control beyond its borders when I see owners of a bunch of Toronto Chinese DVD shops close in midday, all at the same time, in a suburban shopping mall. About ten stores closed at the same time. Hmm.

I love Chinese shopping malls in Toronto. One mall has shops along corridors named mostly after lucky numerical streets. There's 8th Street, 18th Street, 28th Street, and Pirate Avenue. White people love Pirate Avenue. Ten DVD's for $20. Without Pirate Avenue, white people wouldn't bother going into a North American Chinese shopping mall. It's bad enough trying to get into the parking lot. It's worse trying to get out. The Chinese haven't figured out the Feng Shui of parking.