Canada catches Russian spy, then does something really stupid

The Canadians have caught a Russian spy.

Canadian intelligence services say a man arrested trying to leave the country last week is a Russian spy with forged identity papers. 

The man, who used the false name Paul William Hampel, will appear in court in Montreal on Wednesday with authorities calling for his deportation.

So, let me get this straight.  They’ve caught a spy trying to leave the country, arrested him, put him on trial, and are calling for the court to… throw him out of the country.

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Captain Picard sings!

Patrick Stewart as you’ve never seen – or heard – him before. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Jean Luc Picard, Captain of the USS Enterprise, singing A is for alphabet:

Apparently, the song was filmed as a birthday tribute to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenbery.

While I’m on the theme (sorry) of Picard singing, I thought I’d also take the time to bring you the rather moving Picard’s Song:

(Can you tell that I’ve spent this evening procrastinating?)

Palestinian human shield policy to backfire?

In an effort to prevent further Israeli airstrikes, Palestinians have begun forming human shields around target buildings, taking advantage of the Israeli policy of sending telephone warnings that give occupants 10 minutes to evacuate.

The Christian Science Monitor calls the new tactic:

perhaps the most effective act of nonviolent protest in the six-year Palestinian uprising

But I wonder if it is actually one of the least effective. 

The Israeli policy of telephoning warning was one of the most positive developments in the otherwise pointless conflict in Lebanon.  It was one more step in the long road taken by democratic countries towards limiting civilian deaths through conflict.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was certainly better than bombing target buildings where civilians were sheltering.

But now Israel can’t send warnings to civilians about which buildings it will bomb.  Instead, if it feels it needs to destroy a building, it will need to attack it while civilians are still in residence.  The results will be awful, and the death toll among innocent bystanders will increase.

This is a victory for Palestinian civilians?

How to tell if Al Gore is running for President

Al GoreHow will be be able to tell if Al Gore’s going to run for President? Mick La Salle has the answers:

“An Inconvenient Truth will probably be nominated for an Oscar. It’s the third highest grossing documentary in history and the most successful documentary of 2006. It will probably win. If you see a chubby, happy Al Gore standing next to the producer and director, celebrating the win at the Oscars, forget it, he’s not running. Nothing to do with Hollywood plays well in the heartland… However, if Gore chooses not to be there — if he’s at the spa that day — then you can take it to the bank. Big Al’s running.”

He has a bunch of other reasons, some serious, some not.  For me, I think he should run.  Whether he’d win the race for President, or even the Democratic nomination, I don’t know. 

But Gore today is once again a political heavyweight.  And to see him standing against someone like Hiliary Clinton, or John McCain can only enhance the level of debate in US politics. 

Plus –  these days, with his grey hair and all, he just looks statesmanlike.  And that’s always a good thing. 

Roseanne Barr teaches Larry King a lesson

Roseanne Barr (yes, she of Roseanne fame) attempts to convince a somewhat sceptical King of the benefits of the internet. Larry is not convinced:

By the way – did you know Roseanne has a blog? Here’s a sample of Roseanne’s thoughts on those pesky Jews:

The jewish organizations in germany helped to round up all the jews and deport and kill them. It could not have happened without jewish help. In this country right now, jewish leaders are selling the peace and the security of jewish citizens of America.

Note how “America” gets a capital letter, while “jewish” and “germany” are afforded no such respect.

Blue Screen of Death – redux

Old PC hands, like myself, remember the sickening lurch of the stomach that accompanied the appearance of the dreaded ‘Blue Screen of Death’, for it meant that whatever work I’d just been doing had met a horrific death.

So, just for fun, some sadist has re-created it – as a screensaver:

Blue Screen of Death

And can you guess who is so generously revisiting this horror upon us? 

Why, Microsoft, of course. 

Review Me (a paid review)

Review Me logoNew startup, Review Me promise to pay bloggers cold hard cash in return for writing reviews of… well… whatever people will pay them to write reviews of. 

In an attempt to prove their faith in the model, they’ve invested $25,000 in paying bloggers to write reviews of Review Me.  Never one to turn down the opportunity to earn easy money, I’ve signed up for the site, and taken the Review Me shilling.  So, here’s my experience so far.

Heard about the site yesterday and signed up immediately.  The signup process is very simple – just provide a few details about yourself and your blog.  The hardest part was signing up for my first ever paypal account!

Once signed up, they take a quick (presumably automated) look at your site, to check that it’s been around for a while, and that a few other people like it enough to link to.  Then – and here’s the bit I was really waiting for – you get to find out how much they’ll pay you for each review.  The scale runs from $20 for the smallest blogs to $250 for the biggest blogs (although Review Me charge advertisers double that and pocket the substantial amount of change).  Anyway, I think you can guess which end of the price scale this blog comes in at. 

Then, click on the big flashing sign that says $25,000, write a 200 word review of Review Me, sit back and wait for the cash. 

Took me about 15 minutes to write this review of 305 words (on Taking Aim you get 50% extra free!), the largest part of which was taken up with battling with the broken keys on my keyboard.   So, $80 per hour, pro-rata.  Not too shabby.

The only question is – will anyone other than Review Me actually pay for reviews?  Time will tell.

The cost of travel

Ken Livingstone and Hugo Chavez.jpgKen Livingstone recently went on a trip to Venezuela, to sign a major oil deal with his favourite democrat – President Chavez.  Well, he would have done, if Chavez hadn’t played him for a fool, courting him assiduously until he was offered a trip to London and a headline grabbing oil deal, then dropping Ken like a stone, the minute he was no longer useful.

And the cost?

Mr Livingstone said the cost of the trip was “modest”.

The mayor and four officials stopped in Cuba, at a cost of about £20,000, including £16,991 in flight tickets.

When Mr Livingstone’s plans to go to Venezuela fell through, the four officials carried on at a cost of nearly £16,000, including £12,948 on flights.

Ouch.  That’s a lot of money to spend for the London taxpayer to spend on Ken’s humiliation.  

It’s really tempting, as one of those taxpayers, to say that I consider the money well spent.  But instead, I’m wondering whether its time I set myself up in the travel agency business.