This week's edition "comes" from newly minted minion Chrystia Freeland:
As a former business journalist, I know a thing or two about deadlines. And the one coming up is big.
There are just five days left to fundraise in 2013 -- and now the Conservatives have raised the stakes.
After you helped us raise $1-million earlier this month, the Conservatives have said they're going to raise $2-million before December 31.
That's right -- they set a $2-million goal because they can't bear the idea that you are closing the fundraising gap.
Five days is not a lot of time to meet -- and exceed -- this head on challenge by the Conservatives.
But when I look at the hard numbers, I don't just see a deadline, I see an opportunity to make history.
I guess that's one way of putting it. Just so you get the right idea, the e-mail provides this handy chart:
In a round about way the taxpayers of Canada are subsidising between 50% to 75% of the cost of political party operations. So let's follow this bouncing ball. There are three major political parties in Canada, two and a half of those parties spend their time, energy and other people's money advocating statism. They urge the government to spend more money while receiving an indirect government subsidy. It's kind of a vicious circle. You waste money now so you can waste more money later.
PJ O'Rourke famously quipped that you shouldn't vote, it only encourages the bastards. With the per vote subsidy gone that direct form of encouragement is gone. Amending the sentiment slightly we can say: Don't donate to the bastards, it just encourages the bastardy. Unfortunately whether you donate to the NDP, the Liberals, the Tories, or no one at all, you're still picking up the tab.
“In the future, as phones merge with wristbands and smart watches, the land line will become a curiosity and houses will be built without them. Certainly, kids born today will take their kids to Heritage Park to see one.”
Traditional cable TV packages — and the hefty monthly bills that accompany them — are also on their way out, experts predict, as Canadians increasingly gravitate toward cheaper services such as Netflix that enable viewers to watch what they want, when they want it.
I dropped off my Rogers box some months ago. I have not missed it one bit. My decision to cut the cord came when I noticed that Sun News has a great video page. Since that was the last television channel I was still watching, out went the box. If the good people over at SNN asked me to pay, let's say about $10.00 a month, to get Ezra & Co. on a subscription basis, I'd gladly sign up. Think about it. That's money flowing from my pocket to Brian Lilley's pocket's via Quebecor. A more suitable arrangement than having that same money filter through the greedy and inept paws of Ted Rogers' heirs.
Let's do some simple math. SNN's operating costs are in the $20 million range. If anyone has better information they're welcome to drop it in the comments. If SNN charged $10/month that would be $120 per year per subscriber. With about 170,000 subscribers the network would be breaking even, assuming not a cent in ad revenue. Since there would be ad revenue, and those ads could be targeted quite carefully given the demographic info that would be picked up during the sign up process, the network might break even with 100,000 subscribers. Keep in mind that the Toronto Sun alone has a paid circulation of 180,000. I don't know the real numbers. I suspect only Kory Teneycke really knows the whole picture.
Now expand the concept a bit. One of the best American political websites is Ricochet. Part of the site is free, part of the site requires a subscription of $29.95 a year. In order to comment and "join the conversation" with other members you need to subscribe. The site also has an extensive list of high quality podcasts. At one point some of the podcasts required you to be a member. All are now freely available. The site is still a work in progress.
Think of merging the concepts of Ricochet and Sun News Network. Traditional cable television is dying. Good riddance. Subsidising mediocre or incompetent programming just so I can get one decent channel is so 1987. The shovelling of taxpayer money into the CBC was barely plausible in 1937. Today? Seriously? The MSM needs some good old fashioned Schumpetering. Cable television, which is highly regulated, acts as an semi-indiscriminate subsidy to the dull Leftist rubbish of modern culture.
The biggest barrier to having a purely online SNN is its demographics. The typical fan of Ezra & Co is past 55. Now some in this slice of the demographic pyramid are abreast of new technologies. My father, who watches the network, was born in 1936 in a farm house without running water or electricity. He did actually walk several miles to school each day. Today he has two laptops, a desktop and an iPad. I offered to buy him an iPhone but the lettering is too small for his seventy-seven year old eyes. I just recently taught him how to print documents wirelessly and set up Apple TV. How many SNN viewers are as savvy as him? I have no idea, but I suspect he's in the minority.
Between now and when SNN online becomes a reality, with the CRTC left in the dustbin, is probably 5-10 years in the future. If the network can hang in that long, it has a very bright future. When people can spend less to inform and entertain themselves, and target that money at those services that provide genuine value, that holds the possibility of a revolution. Just something to keep in mind as we slip gingerly into 2014.
Earlier this year, the federal government announced that it has named two Royal Canadian Navy joint support ships that will be built by Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Seaspan Marine awarded a nearly $8-billion package to construct the navy’s next-generation non-combat vessels.
Those supply ships will be named HMCS Queenston and HMCS Chateauguay, after two War of 1812 battles.
Ken Hansen, a research fellow with the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said that represents a “very poor choice” for names because the War of 1812 was “militarily insignificant” to Canada.
If the British-Canadian forces had lost at Queenston Heights there would likely be no Canada. That seems pretty "significant" to Canadian history.
Defence researchers spent almost $14,000 on a survey that asked whether superheroes can leap over skyscrapers.
The study for the research arm of National Defence also asked 150 people online whether superheroes can fly through the air; see through walls; hear whispers from miles away; become invisible; and walk through walls.
For those keeping track that's $93.00 per online response. A level of inefficiency that would seem extraordinary for a small time blogger, yet is taken as par for the course in government departments. For a lot less than $14,000 you could have gotten hundreds of responses from living breathing people on the streets of Toronto. But that would have required common sense. Bureaucrats don't make a living through common sense, otherwise they'd have to fire themselves in great numbers. But the story actually gets much more interesting:
"This work will not only allow cultural scientists to better understand the spread of non-natural and religious concepts but also allow the Canadian Armed Forces ... to design messages that are more memorable for their target audiences," says a summary of the research.
The armed forces have "no modeling or analytic capability to understand how its actions will impact the psychological meaning space of individuals."
Whoever wrote the above almost certainly spent close to a decade getting graduate degrees. How do I know that? Because normal people with real jobs don't talk or write like that. Not even bureaucrats. Academics do. My immigrant father, with his four years of formal education, was fond of saying that people who use big words often have very little to say. Then again he never worked for the Canadian government and his sole experience of university was watching me pick up my degree at Convocation Hall.
The final touch in the story was this:
She added: "To ensure best value for taxpayers, the study was offered in a competitive process."
On the night of Oct. 8, 1942, the ripping sound of the Schmeisser submachine-gun bolts being pulled back seemed but the stuff of another post-Dieppe nightmare. Then, through the pre-dawn darkness, came the guttural “Raus! Raus!” of armed guards slamming open barracks’ doors. Private Stan Darch’s fear that he and his comrades had survived the cauldron of Dieppe only to be massacred on a cool German night seemed all too true when they heard that the Germans were taking “reprisals on the Dieppe force.”
The Honourable Gail Shea, Member of Parliament for Egmont and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, on behalf of the Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, today announced funding for a project by the Innovation and Technology Association of Prince Edward Island (ITAP) that will prepare women for leadership roles in the technology sector.
"The number one priority of our Government is jobs, growth and long-term prosperity," said Minister Leitch. "This project is one of many that we are supporting across the country to equip women with the skills they need to succeed in the digital economy."
One midsummer’s day in 1750, a man had a seizure in front of the main gate to St James’s Palace and collapsed onto the pavement. Some passers-by promptly carried him into the nearest building which, unluckily for him, turned out to be White’s Chocolate House. For inside, through thick plumes of perfume, smoke, and chocolate steam, the rakish company of dukes, earls and lords showed scant concern for the man’s wellbeing. Instead, as Horace Walpole, who found the whole thing thoroughly entertaining reported, they ‘immediately made bets whether he was dead or not.’ When some customers rushed to his assistance, ‘the wagerers for his death interposed, and said it would affect the fairness of the bet.’ The man died shortly afterwards. It was just an average day at White’s, ‘the most fashionable hell in London’, a hotbed of decadence, depravity, and destruction powered by a thick, luxuriant and exotically spiced glop called chocolate.