Friday, June 27, 2008

"It's a Google": John McCain's top ten vice-presidential choices

1. Charlie Crist The popular governor of Florida would be a massive boost to McCain's chances of taking the state, a key battleground with 27 electoral votes on offer. At 51, his youth could counteract concerns about McCain's advanced years, while his shock of dazzling white hair and permatan make him both telegenic and instantly recognisable. Florida's attorney-general before becoming governor in 2006, he has a reputation as a hardliner on law and order, while his strong conservative credentials on issues such as gun rights, abortion and marriage could help shore up the Republican right. Crist was invited to a gathering at McCain's Arizona ranch along with a handful of other VP hopefuls last month, and has recently appeared alongside the nominee at Florida campaign stops.

Follow the money: 8/1

2. Tim Pawlenty Again, the governor of a key battleground - this time Minnesota. The state offers fewer electoral votes that Florida, but rival Barack Obama is performing far better here in the polls, with a comfortable lead that McCain needs to peg back. Pawlenty has solid conservative credentials which could help win over right-wingers alienated by McCain's moderate stance on issues such as immigration and civil unions. McCain aides have suggested Pawlenty is near the top of the shortlist - I would have made him number one had he been invited to the nominee's Arizona "audition". However his absence could simply indicate that he is the man to beat.

Follow the money: 6/1

3. Bobby Jindal This rising star took over as governor of Louisiana in January, becoming the first American of South Asian origin to be hold such office. A staunch social conservative, he opposes human embryonic stem cell research and abortion in any form, and favours the teaching of intelligent design in schools as an alternative to evolution - positions that could help win over the religious right. At 36, he is considered by some to be too young for the VP spot, but has been widely tipped as a favourite and was one of the favoured few at the Arizona gathering. He has also appeared alongside McCain at recent campaign stops in Louisiana.

Follow the money: 6/1

4. Mitt Romney Rumours of animosity between Romney and McCain have led some to discount this former Massachussetts governor, but he remains a strong all-round contender. A former opponent in the nomination race, his solid conservative credentials proved a big draw for right-wingers , while his business experience as head of private equity investment firm Bain Capital and CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City would assuage concerns over McCain's ability to manage a struggling economy. Fears that his Mormonism could harm him among Christian evangelicals do not seem to overly bother McCain, who invited Romney to his gathering of VP favourites.

Follow the money: 5/1

5. Mike Huckabee A Baptist pastor with huge appeal to the religious right - a group with whom McCain has severe difficulties - Huckabee staked his claim to the VP spot when he took a swathe of southern states during the primaries. But his staunchly conservative views on religious and social issues - he does not believe in evolution, for example - were not mirrored by a hardline stance on economic matters during his ten-year stint as governor of Arkansas. He does however have a certain amount of charisma - or perhaps quirk appeal - having made regular campaign appearances with his Christian rock band Capitol Offense. Huckabee received an invitation to McCain's ranch - but did not attend.

Follow the money: 10/1

6. Tom Coburn A rock-solid conservative, Coburn's tough stance on issues such as immigration could allay concerns about McCain's liberal voting record. The pair have similar views on fiscal conservatism, a matter on which they have worked together before. However he is not particularly charismatic and as a senator represents Oklahoma, which is not expected to be a battleground state this year.

Follow the money: 25/1

7. Condoleezza Rice Her strong national security credentials - she was National Security Advisor to President Bush before taking over from Colin Powell as Secretary of State - will appeal to McCain. Meanwhile her status as a black woman could go some way towards negating the Obama factor and attracting women voters, including disgruntled supporters of Hillary Clinton. Considered a conservative Republican, she could also bring those in the party who are disenchanted with McCain back into the fold.

Follow the money: 14/1

8. Sarah Palin The telegenic governor of Alaska has a down-to-earth persona which would appeal to rural Americans. At 44, she is energetic and devoted to her family, which could help win over the soccer mom crowd. Her life-long membership of the National Rifle Association would make her immensely popular with the gun lobby, while she also has strong credentials as a social conservative. Known for her maverick governing style, McCain could see in her something of a kindred spirit.

Follow the money: 6/1

9. Mark Sanford The governor of South Carolina is youthful enough, at 48, and conservative enough, with a lifetime rating of 92/100 from the American Conservative Union, to provide a good counterbalance to McCain. His early support helped the Arizona senator to a primary win in the state, while his Southern appeal could pull in voters there. But some argue that McCain should have little difficulty in the South regardless of his running mate, while concerns have been raised over his lack of name recognition.

Follow the money: 12/1

10. Joe Lieberman If there's anyone to whom McCain owes the VP spot, it is Joe Lieberman. An Democrat-turned-independent, sometimes described as an Independent Democrat, Lieberman crossed party lines to throw his full weight behind McCain early in the primary season. Since then the pair have often seemed inseparable, and on many aspects of policy there is certainly little distance between them, particularly when it comes to defence and foreign policy. Far from being a strength, however, this could prove Lieberman's greatest drawback. As an independent he might burnish McCain's appeal to swing voters, but his selection would certainly not help - and could well harm - the nominee's efforts to woo conservative Republicans.

Follow the money: 20/1

Terrorism Beyond Islam

There's just one thing that most Americans and Osama bin Laden seem able to agree on: that the attacks on the World Trade Center arose somehow from Islam. Whether the purest form of Islam or the most perverted, it so enveloped the hijackers in religious zeal that the centrality of Islam to the attacks is hard to deny.

So let me try.

It is easier to try that here in East Asia. The kind of defiant and violent antagonism to the West that we now associate with Islamists was for centuries linked instead to places like Japan, Korea and China.

The vocabulary of the rejectionist movements varies with the country and the time -- the Koran in today's Saudi Arabia, Kim Il Sung ideology in today's North Korea, and a mix of Confucianism and secular xenophobia in the Japan, China and Korea of the 17th through 19th centuries. But these religions and ideologies seem to reflect something deeper: frustration at the humiliating choice faced by once-great civilizations heartsick at the pressure to discard bits of their own cultures to catch up with the nouveaux riches in the West.

East Asians killed those who came to them, of course, rather than taking jet planes to kill infidels in their home countries. But the (sometimes feigned) superiority of 17th-century Japanese, Koreans and Chinese, the all-out rejection of Westernization, the glorification of their own culture, the brutality inflicted on those perceived as pro-Western -- all these are remarkably parallel with Osama bin Laden and those like him in the Islamic world today.

Today Westerners come to Japan and soak naked in the glorious outdoor hot springs. But similar pools were used to torture Christian missionaries. Francisco de Jesus, a Spaniard, suffered fairly typical hospitality after his arrest in 1629: he was executed by being plunged into a boiling pool for 33 consecutive days.

Richard Cocks, a 17th-century English visitor to Japan, described the country as ''the most puissant tyranny the world has ever known,'' adding about the treatment of Japanese Christians, who were seen as a fifth column for Europeans: ''I saw 55 of them martyrized at one time in Miyako. Among them were children of five or six years, burned alive in the arms of their mothers.''

Yet none of this was really about religion. Indeed, Hideyoshi, the Japanese ruler who first banned Christianity, supposedly had earlier toyed with the idea of becoming a Christian himself, deciding not to when he learned that he would then be limited to one wife. Rather, it was about social conservatives trying to protect their way of life from a Western onslaught.

Of course, the faith of Al Qaeda's warriors runs deep and makes it easier to accept ''martyrdom.'' But Muslims have no monopoly on suicide tactics; think of all the Japanese kamikaze pilots in World War II.

When I lived in Egypt in the early 1980's, I often heard in the voices of anti-Western Muslims a mix of emotions -- pride in their past civilization, frustration at their present poverty, scapegoating of the West -- that echoed when I moved to Asia and talked to North Koreans or hard-line Chinese Communists.

Unfortunately, antagonism to Western-style change leaves countries lagging further and further behind. I once came across a 19th-century Chinese account of a goldsmith who challenged the powerful craft guilds by flouting their rules so he could boost production and gain market share. The other goldsmiths were outraged, so 123 of them banded together to punish him. One had the bright idea that if they bit him to death it would not be a crime, since no one bite could be shown to be the fatal one. Thus each goldsmith took a bite out of the entrepreneur, and none were allowed to leave without showing bloody gums. It was an early setback to Chinese economic reforms.

Eventually, Asia did transform itself, of course, beginning in Japan in 1868 with the Meiji reforms, which ended feudal rule and led to widespread Japanese modernization. In country after country, contempt for the West became something closer to a bear hug, or at least -- of all things -- ''practical.''

The Islamic world today is ripe for its own Meiji period, and it should find the experience of Asia reassuring. The lesson of the Far East is that it is possible for a troubled civilization to regain its footing only by integrating sweeping change into its society, and that this embrace of modernity does no dishonor to a national heritage.

Cindy McCain v Michelle Obama

America's two prospective first ladies could scarcely be more different. Here we take a brief look at the lives of Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain and consider what qualities each would bring to the White House.

Cindy McCain

Background: After growing up a wealthy Arizona heiress, McCain, then Hensley, eschewed a role in her father's beer distributing business to embark on a career teaching children with learning difficulties. She later founded the American Voluntary Medical Team, leading 55 emergency assistance missions to countries such as Iraq, Nicaragua and Vietnam. During a visit to Mother Theresa's orphanage in Bangladesh in 1991, McCain arranged to bring a child to the United States for medical treatment, later adopting the girl. Upon her father's death in 2000, she became chair of the now $300 million a year Hensley & Co, the third largest distributor of Anheuser-Busch beer in the United States. She continues to be active in the charity world, serving on the boards of organisations such as CARE and the HALO Trust.

The marriage: The former cheerleader and rodeo queen met John McCain, married and 18 years her senior, at a military reception in Hawaii in 1979. The pair quickly embarked on an affair but Cindy was not to be cast as the "other woman" for long, as in February 1980 McCain divorced his first wife, clearing the way for their marriage in May of that year. She suffered several miscarriages before giving birth to their first child, Meghan (now an active blogger on her father's campaign) in 1984. She went on to have two other children, Jack and Jimmy, before adopting Bridget. A stay-at-home mum for several years, Cindy also helped further her husband's political career, introducing him to family contacts and campaigning with him door-to-door during his successful first bid for Congress in 1982.

First lady?: Cindy McCain has adopted a supporting, rather than actively campaigning role, in her husband's presidential bid. Attractive and glamorous, she nevertheless projects a homely, maternal persona - the perfect combination of political wife and soccer mom. Would be unlikely to get openly involved with policy-making, instead using her position to campaign on charitable issues. But make no mistake - she has no shortage of ambition where her husband's career is concerned and would certainly be his closest confidante.

On the campaign trail: Her past addiction to opioid painkillers - which ultimately led her to steal drugs from her own medical charity - has attracted unwelcome media attention. So has her involvement in the Keating Five scandal, which saw her husband accused of pressuring investigators to drop a fraud probe into a long-time friend and business associate of the couple - a charge of which he was later largely exonerated. She also drew criticism after it emerged that recipes she had submitted to the McCain campaign official website had in fact been ripped off the Food Network - an affair that became known as Pasta-gate.

While Cindy has largely kept quiet on the campaign trail, she has at times aimed blows at Michelle Obama, most notably after her rival's wife commented that she was proud of her country "for the first time in my adult life." She also recently posed for Vogue in a pair of size zero jeans - not bad for a 54 year old.

Michelle Obama

Background: A distinguished career woman in her own right, Michelle Obama grew up in a blue collar family on Chicago's South Side before attending Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She was then joined the law firm Sidley Austin as an associate specialising in marketing and intellectual property, before taking up a variety of positions in the public sector and non-profit organisations, first in the Chicago Mayor's office and most recently at the University of Chicago Hospitals, where she still serves as Vice-President for Community and External Affairs. She has recently cut back her professional responsibilities in order to participate in her husband's campaign and to devote more time to motherhood.

The marriage: The couple married in 1992 after meeting at Sidley Austin; she had been assigned to mentor Barack Obama when he was a summer associate at the firm. They later had two daughters, Malia and Sasha, with whom they live in Chicago. The pair appear extremely close and rely on each other for professional advice - she reportedly once asked him to meet with a prospective boss before deciding whether or not to accept a job offer. Her public comment that Barack is "snorey and stinky" when he wakes up at the morning were seen by some as demeaning but greeted by others as endearing. She was reportedly reluctant about the prospect of her husband running for the White House, and granted her support only in exchange for a promise that he would quit smoking.

First lady?: An Eleanor Roosevelt. A fiery public speaker, Michelle Obama has become a force in her own right on the campaign trail, and would likely take an active role in her husband's White House, using it as a platform to advance causes about which she is passionate. She would also restore a little Kennedyesque glamour to Pennsylvania Avenue, having been widely praised for her understated elegance on the campaign trail. In July 2007, she was listed among "10 of the world's best-dressed people" by Vanity Fair.

On the campaign trail: Notoriously outspoken, Michelle Obama has drawn both criticism and admiration for her conduct during the primary campaign. Her declaration that she was proud of her country "for the first time in my adult life" drew charges of anti-Americanism, while she displayed a less gracious attitude than her husband towards his then rival Hillary Clinton. Insiders have suggested that efforts will be made during the presidential campaign to head off such controversies in future, perhaps by restricting press access to her.

An intelligent and forthright woman, however, she has also provided a big draw to many voters, energising rallies and making confident appearances with Oprah Winfrey, Caroline Kennedy and Stevie Wonder, among others. She is said to be her husband's closest adviser, though she has repeatedly made clear that this is not in any official sense.

Special Thanks to the Times Online

Obama, Clinton appeal for Democratic unity in N.H.

Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton sought Friday to turn the page on their bitter, history-making fight for the Democratic presidential nomination, declaring the next chapter is about beating Republican John McCain.

Choosing a small New Hampshire community aptly named Unity for their first joint appearance since the campaign ended, Obama and Clinton stood on a platform before thousands of cheering, shouting supporters and took turns praising each other and urging party solidarity. She called the nominee-in-waiting a standup guy and he declared: "She rocks. She rocks."

They came together in this hamlet where each won 107 votes in January's primary. Body language rivaled campaign rhetoric as attention-getter of the day. And a pair rendered distant by a marathon campaign acted like teammates, alternately exhorting the rank-and-file to put any recriminations behind them.

Clinton noted that they had stood "toe to toe" against each other in a primary season fight that began almost two years ago and declared the time has come to "stand shoulder to shoulder" against the GOP. They seemed equally determined to regain a White House that their party hasn't seen since her husband, President Clinton, left at the start of 2001.

"To anyone who voted for me and is now considering not voting or voting for Sen. (John) McCain, I strongly urge you to reconsider," said Clinton, beseeching her supporters to join with Obama's "to create an unstoppable force for change we can all believe in."

In turn, Obama praised both Clinton and her husband as allies and pillars of the Democratic Party.

"We need them. We need them badly," Obama said. "Not just my campaign, but the American people need their service and their vision and their wisdom in the months and years to come because that's how we're going to bring about unity in the Democratic Party. And that's how we're going to bring about unity in America."

Moments earlier, the two snaked their way through some 6,000 people who gathered in a wide-open field and overflowed some bleacher seats in this town of 1,700.

Obama is seeking to become the country's first black president; Clinton had sought to become the first woman to win the White House.

The reunification of these campaign rivals wasn't without its awkward moments.

Despite the praise and smiles between the two, some in the crowd still sensed a space between them. Their embraces were slightly awkward, and Clinton stood with her hands clasped formally in front of her as Obama spoke.

Eileen Quill, a 64-year-old retired teacher from nearby Sunapee who had supported Clinton, said: "I think she's usually a wonderful public speaker, and so is he, but she looked a little stiff and the whole thing wasn't entirely comfortable."

Aides said the atmosphere on the bus from the airport to the rally was "festive," but said the two avoided talking about the campaign for the 90-minute ride. As they and their staffs ate a lunch of sandwiches and salads, Obama and Clinton made small talk, at one point commiserating and comparing stories about how difficult it is to live life under a microscope, as public figures do.

Friday's joint appearance capped a turbulent Democratic primary season and tense post-race transition as the two went from foes to friends — at least publicly. This was the most visible event in a series of gestures the two senators have made over the past week to heal the hard feelings — between themselves as well as among their backers.

"Unity is not only a beautiful place as we can see, it's a wonderful feeling, isn't it? And I know when we start here in this field in Unity, we'll end on the steps of the Capitol when Barack Obama takes the oath of office as our next president," Clinton said from a podium as Obama sat next to her on a stool, coatless with his white shirt sleeves rolled up. She wore a powder blue pantsuit; he wore a light blue tie.

Wasting little time pressing Obama's case, Clinton noted that McCain and the GOP probably hoped she wouldn't join forces with Obama.

"But I've got news for them: We are one party; we are one America, and we are not going to rest until we take back our country and put it once again on the path to peace, prosperity and progress in the 21st century," Clinton said to cheers.

Echoing Obama's pitch, Clinton said McCain offered nothing more than a continuation of President Bush's policies.

"In the end, Sen. McCain and President Bush are like two sides of the same coin, and it doesn't amount to a whole lot of change," Clinton said. "If you think we need a new course, a new agenda, then vote for Barack Obama and you will get the change that you need and deserve."

"I've admired her as a leader, I've learned from her as a candidate. She rocks. She rocks. That's the point I'm trying to make," Obama added, responding to cheers from the crowd. "I know firsthand how good she is, how tough she is, how passionate she is, how committed she is the causes that brought all of us here today."

Fox News slammed over "Obama's baby mama" jibe

Just 48 hours after being forced to demote an anchor for describing an Obama hand gesture as a "terrorist fist jab", Fox News has jumped right back into the fray, this time drawing outrage with a racist reference to the Democratic nominee's wife.

During an interview with conservative commentator Michelle Malkin on a Republican video attacking Michelle Obama, the network repeatedly flashed up a graphic describing the prospective first lady as "Obama's baby mama".

Fox has since attempted to dampen the uproar, saying in a statement to Politico that the producer involved exercised "poor judgment". Now that's got to be a contender for understatement of the year...

Politico cites a Fox staffer as saying that others internally were bothered by the use of the offensive epithet - derogatory hip-hop slang for "the mother of your child(ren), whom you did not marry and with whom you are not currently involved", according to the Urban Dictionary.

Malkin, a paid Fox News contributor, defends the use of the term by noting that Michelle once referred to Obama as her "baby's daddy." Not quite the same thing, but nice try.

Watch the video below:

Special Thanks to The Times Online

Ramsay orders seasonal-only menu

Gordon Ramsay says he does not want to see asparagus served in December
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay says British restaurants should be fined if they serve fruit and vegetables which are not in season.

He told the BBC that fruit and vegetables should be locally-sourced and only on menus when in season.

Mr Ramsay said he had already spoken to Prime Minister Gordon Brown about outlawing out-of-season produce.

He says it would cut carbon emissions as less food would be imported and also lead to improved standards of cooking.

'Out of control'

The TV chef said it was "fundamentally important" for chefs to provide locally-sourced food.

"Fruit and veg should be seasonal," he said. "Chefs should be fined if they haven't got ingredients in season on their menu.

"I don't want to see asparagus on in the middle of December. I don't want to see strawberries from Kenya in the middle of March. I want to see it home grown."

Ramsay, whose London restaurants include Petrus, The Savoy Grill and Maze, added that Britain had become a nation of lazy eaters, following trends and fads, rather than substance.

He also said chefs became "lazy" when excited by "frills", and making out-of-season produce illegal would raise "levels of inspiration".

"There should be stringent laws, licensing laws, to make sure produce is only used in season and season only," he said.

"If we don't restrict our movements within this industry of seasonal-produce only, then the whole thing will spiral out of control."

Following the chef's comments, Oxfam's head of research, Duncan Green, said he was sure "the million farmers in east Africa who rely on exporting their goods to scrape a living would see Gordon Ramsay's assertions as a recipe for disaster".

Canned insult

Mr Green added: "He [Ramsay], like all of us, wants to tackle climate change, but it is vital that we ensure that poor people who are already hit hardest by climate change are not made to suffer even further."

Meanwhile, Terry Jones from the National Farmers Union (NFU) said that, while he agrees with the chef's complaint, legislation would be going too far.

He said: "We've almost got too much legislation in food and farming as things stand.

"Really what we need to see is that passion and that commitment to seasonality being pushed into consumer education and into this commitment on menu transparency."

And the Soil Association's Food for Life Partnership director Emma Noble said the celebrity chef was right to suggest that "seasonal menus are a key step in cutting the environmental impact of our food".

Spring: broccoli, spinach, watercress, asparagus, rhubarb
Summer: tomatoes, salad leaves, courgettes, berries, apricots
Autumn: aubergine, beetroot, butternut squash, apples, pears
Winter: apples, brussel sprouts, leeks, cauliflower, celery

Famous for his bad temper, Ramsay also spoke passionately about another environmental concern - plastic bags - saying they simply "did not make sense".

Speaking to the BBC before the start of the fourth series of his Channel 4 show The F Word, the father-of-four said he plans to get the nation back into the kitchen, cooking healthy, wholesome fare.

He says the obesity problem in the UK could soon rival that of the States, and he blames parents for giving into children and not having the discipline to say no.

He also vented his anger at fellow TV chef Delia Smith, whose latest book, How to Cheat at Cooking, encourages people to mix together ready-made food rather than cook from scratch if they are short of time or on a tight budget.

He said: "I would expect students struggling on £15 a week to survive eating from a can but the nation's favourite, all-time icon reducing us down to using frozen, canned food. It's an insult.

"And it makes our lives, from a chef's point of view, a lot harder. Here we are trying to establish a reputation across the world for this

Special Thanks to The BBC

Tropics insects 'face extinction'

Many tropical insects face extinction by the end of this century unless they adapt to the rising global temperatures predicted, US scientists have said.

Researchers led by the University of Washington said insects in the tropics were much more sensitive to temperature changes than those elsewhere.

In contrast, higher latitudes could experience an insect population boom.

The scientists said changes in insect numbers could have secondary effects on plant pollination and food supplies.

In the research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the US scientists studied how temperature changes between 1950 and 2000 had affected 38 species of insects.

"In the tropics, many species appear to be living at or near their thermal optimum, a temperature that lets them thrive "
Joshua Tewksbury, University of Washington

Unlike warm-blooded animals, cold-blooded organisms cannot regulate their body temperatures by growing a coat of fur or shedding it when it gets warm. They are instead limited to either seek shade when hot or sun themselves when cool.

The scientists predicted such species would struggle to cope with the 2-4 degrees Celsius rise in tropical temperatures predicted for the late 21st Century.

"In the tropics, many species appear to be living at or near their thermal optimum, a temperature that lets them thrive," said Joshua Tewksbury of the University of Washington.

"But once temperature gets above the thermal optimum, fitness levels most likely decline quickly and there may not be much they can do about it," he added.

Although some species might be able to migrate uphill and towards higher latitudes, or evolve to cope with the warmer climate, others might eventually die out, the scientists said.

Special Thanks to BBC

Micro Fueler Is First Ethanol Kit for Brewing Backyard Biofuels on the Cheap

This morning, the E-Fuel Corporation, a Silicon Valley startup, introduced the first ethanol refinery system designed for home use. The Micro Fueler, a backyard fueling station, can create pure E100 ethanol from sugar feed stock. “It’s third-grade science,” says Thomas Quinn, founder and CEO of E-Fuel. “You just mix together water, sugar and yeast, and in a few hours, you start getting ethanol.” The $9995 Micro Fueler has a can fill its own 35-gallon tank in about a week by fermenting the sugar, water and yeast internally, then separating out the water through a membrane filter.

E-Fuel representatives claim that the initial cost of the machine can be offset by up to 50 percent by federal, state and local credits, and the cost of raw sugar can be brought down to $1 or below through a system of carbon trading coupons. The Micro Fueler can produce a gallon of ethanol from about 10 gallons of sugar.

Quinn dismisses many of the preconceptions about ethanol—lower gas mileage, long-term damage to automotive fuel systems and the need for a “flex-fuel” car—as just myths. Quinn claims that the E100 from the Micro Fueler can be mixed with ordinary gasoline, or even water to a 70/30 ratio—and still maintain a high-enough octane level to provide plenty of power for ordinary vehicles.

The Micro Fueler is for sale now, with deliveries expected by the fourth quarter. Obviously, there are a lot of unknown variables—fuel prices, sugar supply and distribution, and, of course, the machine’s basic reliability—that will determine the potential success or failure of the Micro Fueler. But Quinn, who has a background in the PC business, sees the personal nature of the Micro Fueler as its main selling point. “Ethanol is really the people’s fuel,” he says. “Anybody can make it.”

Special Thanks to Popular Mechanics

You Know You're Canadian When

You're not offended by the term, "Homo Milk."

You understand the phrase, "Could you pass me a serviette, I just dropped my poutine, on the chesterfield."

You eat chocolate bars, not candy bars.

You drink pop, not soda.

You know what a Mickey and 2-4 mean.

You don't care about the fuss with Cuba. It's a cheap place to go for your holidays, with good cigars.

You know that a pike is a type of fish, not part of a highway.

You drive on a highway, not a freeway.

You have Canadian Tire money in your kitchen drawers.

You know that Casey and Finnegan were not part of a Celtic musical group.

You get excited whenever an American television show mentions Canada.

You brag to Americans that: Shania Twain, Jim Carrey, Celine Dion and many more are Canadians.

You know that a Canadian was the C.E.O. of American Airlines from 1998-2003

You know what a touque is.

You know that the last letter of the English alphabet is always pronounced "Zed" not "Zee".

You understand the Labatt Blue commercials.

You know how to pronounce and spell "Saskatchewan."

You perk up when you hear the theme song from "Hockey Night in Canada."

You were in grade 12, not the 12th grade.

"Eh?" is a very important part of your vocabulary and more polite than, "Huh?"

Winter. Whenever you want it. And then some.

There's German food, Italian food, Chinese food, Armenian food, American food, but NO Canadian food.

You call a "mouse" a "moose".

You like the Americans a little because they don't want Quebec either.

Contests run by anyone other than the government have "skill-testing questions" that winners must answer correctly before they can claim a prize.

Everything is labelled in English and French.

Milk comes in plastic bags as well as cartons and plastic jugs.

Mountain Dew has no caffeine.

You spell "colour" and "favourite" with "ou" no just "o" because you know thats stupid

You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from Canada.


"Hey, I'm not a lumberjack, or a fur trader...
I don't live in an igloo or eat blubber, or own a dogsled...
and I don't know Jimmy, Sally or Suzy from Canada,
although I'm certain they're really really nice.

I have a Prime Minister, not a president.
I speak English and French, not American.
And I pronounce it 'about', not 'a boot'.

I can proudly sew my country's flag on my backpack.
I believe in peace keeping, not policing,
diversity, not assimilation,
and that the beaver is a truly proud and noble animal.
A toque is a hat, a chesterfield is a couch,
and it is pronounced 'zed' not 'zee', 'zed' !!!!

Canada is the second largest landmass!
The first nation of hockey!
and the best part of North America

My name is ________!!
And I am Canadian!!!"

Mike Ivey: Should Madison ban the drive-through?

First it was a proposed ban on plastic bags.

Now, a member of the influential Madison Plan Commission wants to ban the restaurant drive-through -- or at least restrict the ubiquitous symbol of America's auto-centric lifestyle.

"Given the concern about all the carbon going into the atmosphere, I'm not sure we should be building more places for people to sit idling in their cars," says Eric Sundquist, who was appointed to the citizen panel by Mayor Dave Cieslewicz this spring.

A former newspaper reporter in Atlanta now working as a researcher at the UW-Madison's Center on Wisconsin Strategy, Sundquist notes that several cities in Canada have recently moved to ban the drive-through coffee shop or stand-alone fast food restaurant (

"Bans haven't gotten as far in the U.S., although I know San Luis Obispo, Calif., has one," he says.

The issue came up last week during discussions over a conditional use permit for a new Starbucks coffee shop along a congested frontage road across from East Towne Mall.

The site at 4302 E. Washington Ave., in front of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, formerly housed the Frame Workshop retail store but has been vacant for more than a year. Property owner Tim Neitzel now wants to lease half of the 3,300 square foot retail building for a Starbucks that will also feature indoor and outdoor seating.

To facilitate the drive-through, developers are using a portion of the Crowne Plaza parking lot. Drivers picking up their morning coffee will have to make a circle route through the property to avoid potential traffic backups.

But nearby business owners are concerned about bringing more cars through the already congested intersection of East Washington and Continental Lane. The owner of a gas station on the frontage road said it's not uncommon for cars to wait through three traffic signal cycles to get across East Washington.

East Towne area Ald. Joe Clausius admitted the intersection is a problem and said with the Starbucks it "could get very backed up." Still, he said the corridor is badly in need of some redevelopment.

"I'm constantly getting peppered with questions from people about what is happening there and when will it happen," he says.

City officials have given their lukewarm support to the Starbucks, which is scheduled for a November opening. They say it could help create a more pedestrian-friendly atmosphere near the Crowne Plaza.

"While many future customers will likely be driving automobiles, hotel guests and residents to the north represent a potential walking customer," says city planner Heather Stouder.

Sundquist is planning to bring the issue up before the city's Long Range Transportation Planning Commission on which he also serves.

"I know a ban might be difficult so a better approach might be to restrict them," he says, noting an ordinance in Davis, Calif., puts a number of restrictions on drive-throughs, including one relating to air pollution.

Middleton hotel

There are no signs of economic distress in Middleton, where developers continue to pursue major projects.

The latest is from Central Place Real Estate, which is proposing an ambitious redevelopment of the 3.9-acre former Prefinished Millwork site at the southwest corner of University Avenue and the Beltline.

A concept plan submitted to the city of Middleton earlier this month calls for demolishing the existing buildings and replacing them with a six-story, 125-room hotel built over 32,000 square feet of retail space. A three-story office building would anchor the other end of the project.

Parking would be provided in 130 underground spaces and 150 surface stalls.

Given the poor soil and water table conditions, developers have been talking with the city about TIF assistance, according to Central Place president Rob Zache.

Northgate update

The Madison-based Alexander Company is currently finalizing purchase of the venerable Northgate Shopping Center on North Sherman Avenue, home of Dorn Hardware and the Frugal Muse Bookstore, in addition to 19 other tenants.

Currently owned by the Northgate Partnership, the property is assessed at $4.1 million.

The purchase would be the first foray into Madison's north side for the Alexander Company, which has specialized in urban infill redevelopment projects.

Detailed plans for the center haven't been released but could include building and site improvements, Randall Alexander told the Northside News recently.

Apes Deserve Human Rights, Spanish Leaders Say

Spanish apes are one step closer to receiving the same rights to life and freedom humans have.

The environmental committee of Spain's parliament approved resolutions that urge the European country to comply with the Great Apes Project — a plan developed by philosophers and scientists who say the animals deserve the same rights as their closest genetic relatives, the Reuters news agency reported.

"This is a historic day in the struggle for animal rights and in defense of our evolutionary comrades, which will doubtless go down in the history of humanity," Pedro Pozas, Spanish director of the Great Apes Project, told Reuters. "We have no knowledge of great apes being used in experiments in Spain, but there is currently no law preventing that from happening."

The new measures are the latest in what appears to be Spain's move from a conservative state to liberal trailblazer.

Under the new rules, keeping apes for television commercials, filming or circuses would be illegal, Reuters reported.