Solzhenitsyn Dead of Heart Failure

Alexander Solzhenitsyn died of cardiac arrest today at his country home in Russia at the age of 89. Solzhenitsyn was known for his celebrated works like The Gulag Archipelago and A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich that documented the brutality of Stalin’s concentration camps. Sadly, he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970, thereby completely invalidating his accomplishments and rendering all of his creative efforts entirely worthless.

Noted in Passing…

A fossilized penis bone from an extinct walrus isn’t the usual kind of artifact to hang above the mantel. Maybe that’s why it sold at auction for $8,000, far below the expected price. The 4½-foot-long item, covered with weathered skin and dry muscle tissue, was sold to the company that runs the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museums. “Their corporate office bought it and they’ll probably display it around the country,” said Josh Chait, director of operations for the I.M. Chait Gallery auction house.

Related: Right-wing propagandist and shameless Harper knob-gobbler Sandy Crux launches new website touting Tory government’s “accomplishments”…

北京國家游泳中心

Originally designed by the Australian firm PTW Architects, the Beijing National Aquatic Center (aka “The Water Cube”) is comprised of a steel space frame clad with 100,000 sq m of ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) bubbles that are only eight one-thousandths of an inch in total thickness. This transparent plastic film absorbs solar radiation and reduces thermal loss allowing for more light and heat penetration than traditional glass, resulting in a 30% decrease in energy costs over conventional materials.

Taxing Carbon: Some Initial Thoughts

Campaigns of Hope & Fear

Aside from posting on some of the more frivolous aspects of the Liberals’ proposed “Green Shift” (not to be confused with eco-friendly urinal cakes, napkins and disposable coffee cups bearing the same trademarked name), I haven’t really delved into this pivotal issue to date, but now that I’ve finally gotten around to reading through the plan in its entirety, I’d like to explore it in some more detail over the coming weeks.

In following the “debate” since the plan’s release, I have to say that I’ve found the largely uninformed, knee-jerk reactions of “Conservative” politicians and supporters to be both needlessly alarmist and deeply pessimistic. And at the risk of vastly oversimplifying the matter, to a certain extent it doesn’t seem entirely unfair to regard the contrasting views of Stéphane Dion and Stephen Harper about the issue as those of “hope” and “fear” respectively.

Conservatives would have us believe that a carbon tax is nothing more than a nefarious “trick” that will, as Stephen Harper put it so eloquently back in June, “screw everybody” (especially those in “the West”), but to me, the reasons why this is automatically assumed to be the case seem founded more on an irrational paranoia and a deep-seated distrust of government rather than being based on any empirical evidence or sound economic principles. Quite to the contrary, most economists agree (in itself a somewhat unusual occurrence) that taxing carbon is a sensible idea and some, such as Don Drummond, the chief economist of the TD Bank Financial Group, have even described the Liberals’ carbon tax plan as “a good start” that will, at least in his estimation, leave the general Canadian taxpayer “better off.”

Of course, it would be entirely foolish to blindly place bets on the side of “hope” without failing to mention that the Liberals haven’t always been noted for their sound management of complex government programs in the past. One only has to look back to monumental boondoggles like the scandalous waste associated with the Human Resources Development grants program or the long gun registry to see how badly things can go wrong in this regard. While those are certainly more than fair enough points to raise by way of objection to the Liberals’ “Green Shift” proposal, I want to leave that aspect aside — at least for the time being — and focus instead quite strictly on the principle of the matter.

So, if you have any ideas on how you’d like to see this discussion run, I’d be more than open to suggestions. By way of full disclosure, I may be participating in a conference call with Dion about this issue in the coming weeks, so what transpires here will likely help to inform my questions about the program and its implementation in the rather unlikely event of a future Liberal government.

Harper in Victoria!

I understand that the Dear Leader will be in town on Monday to open the BC Day festivities. Apparently, he’ll be at the Legislature accompanied by his dwarven Minister of Natural Resources at noon. If I’m feeling sufficiently energetic that day, I might live-blog the event (weather and connectivity permitting), or at least post my impressions afterwards from a nearby tavern.