Monday, February 28, 2005

Boxer bike ban

While US Senator Barbara Boxer probably has good intentions with her bill that would designate 300,000 acres as federal wilderness, it's a shame that she believes mountain bikes have no place there. As Bicycle Retailer reports, Boxer's bill is likely to pass the Senate this week, starting the process to cutting access to 170 miles of singletrack trail in Northern California. Read the story here:

A better solution would be to accommodate mountain bikes on designated singletrack and offer stiff penalties to those who leave the trail. If the trails already exist, not much will be accomplished by chasing cyclists off of them.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Okay, already, I'll present

The only problem is no one has asked present an Oscar, that is.

And why would I want to?

Well, a news release from the Opus Hotel convinced me it might just be worth my while. The Opus, located in the ever-so-trendy Yaletown district of Vancouver, is giving away - giving away! - to Oscar presenters a $10,000 package.

Hand out an Oscar and the Opus is promising they'll hand over, among other goodies:

* Three nights accommodation in an Opus executive suite;
* Dinner for two at the hotel's "award-winning" Elixir Restaurant;
* Two OXIA oxygen personal canisters (either this is to aid you in getting your daily hit of fresh air or Oscar presenters are much older than I thought);
* Private Pilates session for two at Yaletown Pilates.

And there's more: including a stay at Whistler, free ski lifts and so forth.

I know it's shallow of me to want to present an Oscar just so I can receive this package among all the other goodies in my presenter's gift basket, but isn't that what it's all about, folks? I mean, we're talking the Oscars here. It's not like Bono getting the Nobel Prize or anything...or, er, maybe it is.

Well, whatever! as all the beautiful people who lug oxygen tanks around say.

Now excuse me, I have to practice my Oscar presenting form. Kiss, kiss.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Extra, extra!

I have several articles in print right now. One is a 3,000 word profile of Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams, this week's cover story for The Western Standard ( ). Another is a 1200-word article on the entrepreneurial spirit of Saint John, New Brunswick-based DreamCatcher Books and Publishing in the current issue of Quill & Quire (

The Standard story should be available online (registration required) in another week. The Quill story is only available on the newsstand or to subscribers.

And in today's National Post I argue on the Editorial pages that Prince Edward Island's fish law suit against the federal government is a costly folly.

P.E.I. Escalating a fish fight
National Post Fri 25 Feb 2005
Page: A18 Section: Editorials
Byline: Charles Mandel

Frustrated by years of unproductive wrangling with the federal government, Prince Edward Island has decided to turn up the heat on the fish fracas. On Wednesday, it launched a lawsuit against the Government of Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. This is the latest shot across the bow in the ongoing and acrimonious battle over fishery resource allocation.

The suit alleges that the federal Minister's failure to establish an open and accountable process for the fishery "violated the rule of law as guaranteed by the Canadian constitution, violated the Oceans Act by putting conservation at risk, failed to conform to his own policies, violated his public trust obligations and failed to exercise licensing authority in accordance with the principles of procedural fairness."

Kevin MacAdam, the Island's Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister, said Thursday that P.E.I. wants fisheries policy to be subject to a "fair, clear, open transparent process." Accordingly, the suit is designed to challenge Fisheries Minister Geoff Regan's constitutional power over the resource.

MacAdam said that although P.E.I.'s $350-million fishing industry contributes more to the federal economy than that of any other province, "we continue to be adversely affected by unfair and arbitrary decisions that affect its continued development." The province contends that its allocation of fish -- including shrimp, snow crab and bluefin tuna -- ignores such criteria as historic dependence and economic viability.

The lawsuit recalls the battle last fall between P.E.I. and New Brunswick over the herring fishery, arguing that the herring factory boat exclusion zone is misplaced and is actually putting the fishery at risk.

Federal MP Shawn Murphy, who represents the Island riding of Hillsborough, wonders if the suit is an attempt by the provincial government to divert attention away from the $31-million scandal over its loan guarantees to a fish processor.

Murphy may be right, but the Island's anger over the fishery is understandable. The dispute over the herring zone alone has gone on without resolution since 1984. In 2004, Island fishermen received reductions in snow crab catch quotas, while New Brunswick and Quebec saw their quotas increase. The story is similar with other species.

Yet the lawsuit seems unlikely to succeed, as it challenges Ottawa in an area -- resource protection -- where judges typically grant governments broad discretion. In the meantime, the case will drag through the courts for years, providing employment for batteries of well-paid lawyers. The cost of all this is something that a tiny province running an estimated $125-million deficit can ill afford.

As frustrated as the province is, it should drop the suit and return to negotiations before the people of P.E.I. find themselves on the hook.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Send money

Are you looking to become the next William Randolph Hearst? Thirsting for a media empire of your own? Then check out Posting for Profit in today's UK Guardian online(,3605,1423439,00.html ).

Writer Bobbie Johnson details a number of bloggers who are cashing in with commerical blogs. Some are grabbing book contracts; others are moving into punditry; and still others are crossing blogging with print media to try and create new products.

A few even hold fund-raising drives and have convinced their readers to send in donations.

"Thanks to these high-profile success stories, thousands of bloggers hold out hope of turning their hobby into a paying job,'' Johnson writes.

What's next? Lock-out sites available only to registered users? What's that? You want to read Buddy's Online Journal (apologies if such a blog exists)? Not so fast. You'll need to purchase a subscription.

Personally, I'm waiting for the inevitable round of IPBOs (Initial Public Blog Offerings) that will result and the subsequent second-generation online boom.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Bike dope

It might be Millar Time again, reports VeloNews European correspondent, Andrew Hood. ( Disgraced time trialist David Millar, who admitted to taking the banned substance EPO on three separate occasions, could return to Tour de France racing as early as 2006.

The wrinkle? The Court of Arbitration for Sport is pondering a new rule that would mandate any rider found guilty of doping would have to serve a time equal to their original racing ban on a continental team before returning to a pro team.

Hood notes that many might complain the additional time is unfair punishment, but fans fed up with cycling's tarnished image from all the drug scandals could just as easily argue that the harder the line on doping the better.

Millar lost both his win in the 2001 Vuelta and the 2003 World Time Trial Championships for EPO use.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Fear and Loathing at the NY Times

As suspected yesterday, the New York Times misstated Hunter S. Thompson's birth date and age, prematurely aging him two years at the time of his death. Here is the correction from today's Times:

• An obituary of the writer Hunter S. Thompson in some late editions yesterday misstated his year of birth and his age. Public records show his birth date as July 18, 1937, not 1939, making him 67, not 65. A more complete obituary ( is available online today. (Registration at the NY Times is required.)

Just for the record, the mistake wasn't only "in some late editions,'' but also on the Times' Website all day.

Monday, February 21, 2005

ReLit Awards long list

And the long list is...well, long.

Hard to believe, but the ReLit Awards is now in its fifth year. Run by Newfoundland author Ken Harvey (perhaps best known for including samples of his own flesh in a limited run of his book, Skinhound), the ReLits pay tribute to books from independent Canadian publishers.

This year jurors include novelist Paul Quarrington and short story author Margaret Gunning.

Among the 30 long list nominees for a short story collection are John Metcalf, Chris Gudgeon, and Alexandra Leggat. Notables among the 32 novelists vying for a prize are Leo Furey, Bill Gaston, Natalee Caple, Stephen Henighan and Ray Smith.

The poets top out at 51 and include: Bill Bissett, Keith Garebian, Aislinn Hunter, Steven Heighton and Jan Zwicky.

For those who count those kinds of things, ECW ( and Turnstone ( lead the publishers, with six nominations each.

The shortlists will be announced in mid-May and the winners are announced at bonfire beach parties in Newfoundland and British Columbia in late June.

No word on a rain date....

Hunter S. Thompson - 1937-2005

What a kick in the head that was to wake up this morning and read the news.

"My life has been the polar opposite of safe, but I am proud of it and so is my son, and that is good enough for me. I would do it all over again without changing the beat, although I have never recommended it to others. That would be cruel and irresponsible and wrong, I think, and I am none of those things.

"Whoops, that's it, folks. We are out of time. Sorry. Mahalo." - from Hunter S. Thompson's introduction to Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century (2003).

Incidentally, the NY Times is reporting Thompson's birth as 1939, so far the only media outlet to do so. Either every other journalist screwed up or the Times will be running a correction. Still, the paper has an excellent package of articles, including reviews, photos, a book excerpt and an interview, up at: (Registration required).

Let's hope Thompson is somewhere around heaven when the drugs start to take hold....