Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Slow Death of the Canadian Political Blogosphere



I must admit that when I flew to Scotland a few weeks ago to attend a friend's wedding, I had no idea that it would lead to my longest break from blogging in almost twelve years.

But then who knew that after a few wild days in Edinburgh, I would find myself in the rugged Orkney islands, listening to old tales about Vikings, giants, and evil dwarfs, rather than reading about the latest exploits of the insane monster Donald Trump.

Or that while racing back to Edinburgh my motorcycle would hit a patch of black ice and I would have to spend two days in hospital, and almost a week recovering at my family's home in the highlands.

Too battered to blog, and unaware that one of the aggregators that has published this blog for years had just died.



For sadly Canadian Progressive Voices had passed away quietly almost five years to the day it was born. 

A number of good blogs appear to have gone down with it. And if you consider that the once mighty Blogging Tories are now little more than the walking dead. 

It's pretty clear that the Canadian political blogosphere is heading for oblivion.

As this article makes clear, there are many reasons why blogging has declined since its golden age.

Blogging seemed to happen in a tumble in Canada. One day there were newspapers and they were everything. The next, there were blogs. It was a remarkable time to be a young writer, and a reader too. The bounds of what seemed possible were so suddenly loose. In an instant, it seemed, the web was flooded with petty fights, partisan dives and quite a bit of smart commentary too.

Facebook changed the game. Many old bloggers have moved to Twitter or other social media platforms.

No one thing killed blogging in Canada. Twitter played a role. Much of the old blogosphere energy now gets expended on Tweets. The structure of the Internet changed, too. Between maybe 2003 and 2009, when blogging was huge, the Internet was more about websites. Today it’s all about platforms like Facebook and YouTube.

Others simply succumbed to exhaustion.

The Japanese even have a word for all those dead or abandoned blogs, ishikoro, or pebbles. 

They litter the landscape like these old stones in the Orkney Islands...



And like them most offer no clues about why they were abandoned. 

But the good news is that Progressive Bloggers is still very much alive, still attracting some new bloggers. Even though it's not hard to see what could eventually lead to its demise.

For where once it helped rally and unite progressives to overthrow the Harper regime, now mainly thanks to a cabal of old bloggers the aggregator often spends more time attacking progressives, Justin Trudeau in particular, than it does attacking the Cons.

It's sad, it's pathetic. I thought Warren Kinsella described the Twitter version of those people well in this post the other day.



Humourless, pious people who are online hall monitors, perpetually tsk-tsking everyone else, and acting like God made them the arbiter of all that is morally/ethically/politically correct.

And in a different world we could simply laugh at them. 

But in the absence of a better leader than Trudeau, all they are doing is helping the Cons. We all saw how the alt-leftists in the United States helped elect Donald Trump.

Now some in France seemed determined to repeat that mistake.

And all I can say is that a left that cannot find common cause in the fight against the growing fascist menace is doomed to be destroyed. A progressive aggregator that spends more time attacking progressives than it does attacking Cons will not attract young bloggers.  

And without them no aggregator will long survive, so all those old geezers are really doing is cutting their own throats, and ruining it for everybody.

As for me, I must admit that I have been tempted to give up blogging, and focus more on Twitter, so I can spend more time working on a novel, and my different video projects.

But I believe that a Canadian blogosphere is something worth fighting for, I'm not  ready to abandon all the readers and friends I have made over the years.

So I think I'll stick around, at least for a while longer.



I'm sorry for disappearing for so long without a word of explanation. But now you know what happened.

It's a wild world out there, I'm sometimes a little wild myself, and I definitely should stay away from motorcycles.

But hope really is everything, the Cons of this world must be defeated.

So let's continue this journey together...

46 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:07 AM

    Welcome back! I've been checking your site every day.

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    1. Hi anon....thank you for your loyalty and your friendship. I really should have made more of an effort to explain why I was unable to blog. I'm sorry about that and I won't make that mistake again...

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    2. Anonymous9:06 PM

      It's OK to take a vacation! But next time maybe you should go somewhere with no black ice. :-)

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  2. I am glad you're back and staying for awhile.

    The Galloping Beaver has a notable aggregation of fine bloggers. It's how I've found my way around.

    The possibilities are endless, Simon.
    When one door closes...

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    1. Hi liberalandlovingit...thanks for your good wishes and that handy tip. I used to have a list of progressive blogs in my sidebar, maybe now would be a good time to restore it....

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  3. Anonymous9:16 AM

    Welcome back Simon! I was worried but I'm so glad you are OK. Our blogosphere would be so boring without you.

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    1. Hi anon....thank you for caring about what might have happened to me, and you're right, as my latest tour of Scotland proves, I'm certainly not boring. After that one I'm waiting for a call from circus to offer me a job as a clown.... ;)

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  4. Love the Orkneys but detest motorcycles.

    Down with Motorcycles!
    Down with Cons

    Welcome back.

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    1. Hi jrkrideau...well I'm not going to disagree with you, not with all the bruises all over my back. But I did dodge a bullet, because I narrowly avoided being decapitated by a fence. Can you imagine how my enemies would have enjoyed that one. It was a Muslim fence, it was a Muslim fence!!! But yes, seriously, the Orkneys are beautiful and motorcycles are dangerous....

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  5. Anonymous10:04 AM

    Welcome back. Wondered where you were.

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    1. Hi anon....thank you, as I told another commenter I really should have explained what had happened to me, and why I wasn't able to blog. It was thoughtless of me and I won't make that mistake again....

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  6. Welcome back, Simon, and I'm glad you are okay.The blogosphere would be much diminished without you. That being said, and I say this with deep respect for your efforts, I don't agree that Trudeau should not be considered fair game for criticism. In my view, we cannot let part affiliation or putative labels (some would really question how progressive Justin is) be the arbiter of who we criticize.

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    1. Hi Lorne...thank you for your kind words. But let me be clear, I'm not saying that Justin Trudeau should be above criticism. I just object to the tone of some of that criticism, which I consider hysterical and hateful, and most un Canadian Trudeau may not be as left-wing as you and I might wish, but he is not a monster. He is a decent person, he has restored Canada's reputation in the eyes of the world, and he well represents what is after all a centre left country, not the People's Republic of Canadonia. Alas ;)
      You seem to think that Justin should bear the entire blame for Canada's admittedly wishy washy climate change policy, while ignoring that this is a country of people who love their cars, and shutting down the oil sands overnight could lead to massive economic suffering and even the break up of this country. You can ignore that from your fundamentalist pulpit, but no Prime Minister can. A good example of your exaggerated hatred of Justin Trudeau is the way you praised the U.S. environmentalist Bill McKibben when he compared Trudeau's climate change policies to those of Donald Trump. Which is absolutely absurd, as these Canadian environmentalists point out here:

      http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/claredemerse/trudeau-climate-change-trump_b_16236856.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-politics&ir=Canada+Politics

      But what I object to the most is that when you violently criticize Trudeau, in a manner Ezra Levant would be proud of, is that you offer up no alternative better suited to defeat the Cons. And since we need to live in the real world, that is absolutely unforgivable. For not only does that favour the Cons who need I remind you are the real enemy, and in the matter of climate change would return us to the dark ages. Or take us back to the fifties on the questions of women's and LGBT rights. You may not be concerned about that, but along with millions of other good progressives I am.
      And by constantly criticizing instead of offering up realistic solutions, and inspiring hope you can demoralize the rising generation and encourage apathy which is the worse thing any older person can do. The right wing fascists are threatening to overrun us, and you should be focusing your attacks on the real enemy.

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  7. Anonymous10:32 AM

    as soon as I got to 'insane monster', I knew our champion was back! Take care, and carry on blogging, please!

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    1. Hi anon....thanks for your sweet comment, and there I thought I was being polite by calling Trump a monster ;) I've always had trouble toning down what I think of that disgusting bully thug, and the more I see him the harder that becomes. But don't worry I intend to keep blogging, so we can all celebrate together the day he hits the ground with a sickening thud...

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  8. Anonymous10:54 AM

    Glad you're back Simon. Reading your blog is part of my morning routine.

    -MC

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    1. Hi MC...thank you and it's great to hear from you again. We may not agree about many things, but you too are part of my daily routine, and our blogging family....

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  9. As one of those who spent almost 10 years blogging about Harper excesses I will admit to being tired of the whole political thing and 'taking a break'. This is not to say that I am not watching those brain dead Twits to the south who cannot decide whether to start a trade war, a civil war or a world war and wondering how it will all impact upon us up here. I can only say that I am VERY glad that we have a largely 'progressive' Liberal government and to those 'Progressive Bloggers' now busy slamming everything they do simply ask “and what is the alternative?” Be careful what you wish for!
    Keep on Blogging Simon......

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    1. Hi Rural....nice to hear from you, and I completely understand why you are taking a break from politics. After the nightmare of the Harper years, being hit with the horror of Trump is the last thing we needed and incredibly depressing. But as you say, we do have a relatively progressive government which although it's not perfect has at least restored most of our Canadian values which in my book at least is something worth celebrating. If you could see what the Cons in Britain are doing to that country's social and Medicare networks it would make you weep. We must never forget who the real enemies are, and as you say never forget to remind those who would tear down our own leaders, be careful what you wish for or you might regret it forever....

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  10. Anonymous12:32 PM

    I was concerned and for damn good reason.
    Motorcycles are quite often a window to our lives. The awe inspiring freedom of the open road gives one the exhilaration of being in the moment, not merely seeing it from a car window.
    By itself it's generally safe, but when obstacles or unseen hazards are thrown ones way, the consequences can be tragic.
    I was very lucky 26 years ago when my motorcycle was reduced to a crumpled heap of metal. I haven't rode one since. I hope you don't either Simon. Your relevant and always entertaining contributions via this blog would be sorely missed by many including myself.
    Welcome back my friend.
    JD

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    1. Hi JD....how nice to hear from you again, and yes everything you say about motorcycles is true. I should know better but when I saw my brother's old motorcycle in my parent's garage I just couldn't resist. And boy did I pay for it. Two days in hospital, six days at home being treated like a ten-year-old by my Mum, and now three days in the doghouse for violating my solemn oath to Sebatien , who didn't travel with me, never to ride a motorcycle again. Because just like you, I have some motorcycle mishaps in my past, including one that almost killed me. As you say, they are a lot of fun until something goes wrong. And now I too have learned my lesson. And from now on I'm sticking to go carts...;)

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  11. Marty: The last time Tap toured America, they where, uh, booked into 10,000 seat arenas, and 15,000 seat venues, and it seems that now, on their current tour they're being booked into 1,200 seat arenas, 1,500 seat arenas, and uh I was just wondering, does this mean uh...the popularity of the group is waning?
    Ian: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no...no, no, not at all. I, I, I just think that the.. uh.. their appeal is becoming more selective.

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    1. The three young boys and one young girl who held a sign 'Women For WMP', appeared to me as if they were being indoctrinated. (Because actually they were- at his floundering 'campaign-speech' event.)
      The young comic was terrific at the WHCA Dinner, and was a delight to listen to after President l'orange fire-stormed us all again.

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    2. hi Terry...thanks for that one. I loved that movie and laughed until I was blue in the face. And I must say it's a great consolation. Who says the blogosphere is dying? Our readers are just more selective....

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  12. Simon?
    I hope we don't ever lose you to Twitter. Too many, like C.C. for instance, have gone that way and I believe it reduces our ability to know the context of the person with the message. After awhile it becomes a steaming pile of one-liners, and although witty - how helpful is it? It is one thing to govern by tweetstorm, but surely it doesn't mean that we have to fall into the trap of communicating like that. Tweeting reminds me of passing notes in grade-school.

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    1. hi liberalandlovingit...Don't worry, I only think of switching to Twitter when I'm feeling lazy. I enjoy trying to be witty and sharing my silly little graphics, but I like writing too much to give up blogging. And some of the ugliness on Twitter really turns me off...

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  13. Sorry to hear of your biking woes, Simon. Never a good idea to hop on a bike and go. That's tempting fate. If you haven't ridden for a while, stay off bikes until you've completed a motorcycle safety course. You have to put your head in the right place before you throw a leg over the seat.

    On the second point, I'm a fierce critic of Trudeau. By any reasonable interpretation of "progressive," he's not. I champion progressivism but it's based on principles. It's not just being slightly left of the right wing. Neoliberalism, which Trudeau embraces just as Harper did, is antithetical to progressivism. If you're content with continuing the neoliberal order, great, Trudeau's just fine and he takes pretty pictures. But there's nothing remotely progressive to his administration. Take a read of Teddy Roosevelt's "Square Deal" speech. There you'll find a helpful restatement of progressive principles. Note them, take them down, and then use them as a yardstick against which to measure the current government.

    I didn't expect Harper to be progressive but, perhaps foolishly, I expected better from a Liberal successor. I was a Liberal for more than 40-years and I recall clearly when the party had a solid progressive wing. The LPC parted company with progressivism, certainly under Ignatieff and now under Trudeau. That's why there's no vision of a Canada for the 21st century, a Canada for future generations.

    I think it's natural, understandable and eminently sound to be more critical of our own kids than the neighbour's. We expect more. We're entitled to expect better which makes the disappointment that much greater. We have to do better than the other guys and not just a bit here and a bit there. We have to be a lot better especially now. What's worse, the critic or the apologist?

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    1. hi Mound...I have taken courses on motorcycle safety, and I'm not a reckless rider. But while it's true I haven't been on a bike for quite a few years, I don't thin anything could have saved me from what happened. As for your position on Trudeau we'll just have to agree to disagree. I refer you to what I told Lorne. I don't object to you criticizing Justin I find your tone out of whack and bordering on the insane. You sound like you want Trudeau dead, and at a time when the prime minister is the object of so many death threats, that couldn't be more disturbing. Try to understand the country we live in and don't be such an extremist. As we all know when it comes to misogyny and homophobia you are a deeply flawed human being. So who gives you the right to decide who is progressive and who isn't? What infernal arrogance. Come down from your high horse, and stop acting like a pompous ass...

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    2. What gives me the right to decide who is progressive? No one, Simon, nor have I suggested that I'm such an arbiter. That, frankly, is pure sophistry on your part, particularly after I gave you a reference to what is probably the best overall pronouncement on progressivism. I don't claim to have created any principles, my friend. Others, decades before me, did that, beginning with Lincoln. Your problem is you haven't read those writings. You would rather slag those who have. Now, do tell me, who is indulging in "infernal arrogance"? I'm pretty sure it's not me. BTW, insanity isn't rooted in knowledge and reality. It nests in ignorance.

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    3. Anonymous8:02 AM

      People like Mound are going to hot take Canada into an impoverished, health care free, and nationalistic hell.

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  14. Anonymous4:50 PM

    Welcome back Simon. Glad you mentioned the French election, it's been driving me mad. Left wing fuckwits who can't see the difference between a fascist and a Yanis Varoufakis endorses centre left candidate with bank experience. I loathe these people

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    1. hi anon...the situation in France is truly disturbing, and while Le Pen is the the greatest danger, her opponent isn't too great either. And even if Macron wins the situation may not improve and could actually get worse. So yes, France and Europe are in terrible danger and the left is going to have to get its act together if it wants to avoid disaster...

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    2. Anonymous7:10 AM

      I disagree with you on Macron, I've been following the campaign since late 2016, the guy is solid. Ideologically much like Trudeau and an opponent of Merkel and ally of Varoufakis during the Greek debt crisis. He has not pandered to the public on any issue, not even the issue of a factory closing in his home town where he could have scored easy points.

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    3. Hi anon....don't get me wrong. If I was a French citizen I would happily vote for Macron. He is a fresh figure on the political scene, and I wish him all the best. That said however, what I fear is that he is underestimating the dark forces swirling around France and other European countries. I worry when I see him being booed in his hometown and Le Pen getting cheered. And most of all I worry when I see him vowing to maintain an open door policy for immigrants and refugees. I have spent my life fighting racism, but at this point in time an open door policy can only help Le Pen. The left needs to stand up for human rights, but also reassure those who feel that immigration threatens their way of life or the racists could eventually be elected. It's ugly but we need to be ruthless if we are going to destroy the fascists....

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    4. Anonymous10:54 AM

      Simon, the anglo press is reporting badly. Macron was booed, but he later came out and spent over an hour listening to the workers. He lost the initial news cycle badly but won the next couple of days. Le Pen looked like a fake and lost her momentum and her distant chance at a comeback.
      Macron understands that terrorism in France is being committed by French nationals and not refugees. It's a tough nut to crack and like the economy I appreciate the man's unwillingness to tell people only what they want to hear. At the very least his victory stops the populist narrative in its tracks. Le Pen is the most formidable fascist in Europe and France has been rocked by terrorism and a stagnant economy and she still can't win. His victory will be a moment to enjoy before we go back to fighting fascists.

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  15. Anonymous10:17 PM

    Welcome back Simon. I knew that you had not simply rode off into the sunset and that you had experienced some sort of physical or emotional trauma.
    Black Ice seems to be everywhere these days, not just the Scottish highlands! Seems the Leary one detected a real nasty patch and decided to bail before crashing into the swamp. Wonder if he would share his secret? The world is in dire need of fail proof Bullshit and Slippery slope detectors but until that time we need to do it the old fashioned way in the hopes that progressive reason will eventually float to the surface.
    RT

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    1. hi RT....it's great to talk to you again. And I can only say what I have said to some of the other readers. I wish I could have found a way to let you know why I couldn't blog. Black ice isn't usually a problem at this time of the year in the part of the highlands where the accident happened. But the weather has been up and down like it has here, so I probably should have been more careful. However, the good news,as you point out, is that Mr Amazing also seems to have hit a rough patch and has tumbled out of the Con leadership race in a most embarrassing manner. He is still insisting he is going to run for Parliament, and that he will help the Boob from the Beauce become leader of the loser Cons. I can't wait to see that one, it should be hilarious...

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  16. Simon?
    I have no dog in any fight except the good fight for human rights.
    I would respectfully suggest that we need- and must learn from- the wisdom, experience and strength of our elders. What we do not or can not understand, we put on the shelf for another time.
    I also find that reading writers in the spirit of what is meant by the writer to be much more helpful than when, from my own personal experience in the lower 48, one is slagged and/or mocked for the presentation, rather than the idea itself.
    I am not saying you do these things, at all. I do however, find encouragement and appreciation on these political pages to be lacking and we need all that we can inspire. Let us not be fractured. (Like the Cons with their tea-partiers acting out their most horrendous fantasies while the chokeleadershipchoke of the Repugnant Party do their damndest to accommodate such unworthiness.)

    Thank you.

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  17. Anonymous3:47 PM

    Sorry to hear about your accident Simon, I hope you're soon feeling 100%. I'm also really glad to have you back! Please, please, don't ever leave again! Every day I look forward reading your blog, your intelligence, your wit and your optimism!

    I think there's a natural cycle for political blogging. When you have a progressive government, progressives get confused and find they have nothing much to say. Left or right, blogs are inherently rage-fueled opinion columns. In desperation some may simply see themselves as keeping the ruling party honest (why progressive bloggers spend so much time attacking Trudeau) while others just retire.

    Oh to live in the delusional world of the wingers! Even when they've got the government on their side, they can always complain about how it's all gone to hell because of the lefties, or their brown neighbors or something other than their own ideology of failure.

    I used to love reading the US blogs during W's reign of terror but when Obama came along it just boring. Things have recently started getting more interesting south of the border again, for some reason.

    But then writing is an art. I find art, in all its forms, is just better when there's an authoritarian-bent government in power. Anger gets that passion going. Too bad it's such a high price to pay - I'd probably vote con every time.

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  18. Just came across this as I did not know you were back. As a fellow rider I can only say I am so very glad you are okay.

    And .. of course, extremely glad to have you back blogging. All the very best, Simon!

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    1. hi UU4077...thank you, I'm glad to be back, and feeling a bit foolish about having let down the motorcycle fraternity. I was supposed to be trying to get the Moray to join the fight for independence. But instead I ended up in my parents unionist castle, and having to deal with the news that the Cons could steal the SNP seat in the next election. Woe is me... ;)

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  19. Den Esau10:39 AM

    I thought it was me.
    Glad to have you back.
    Please heal.

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  20. e. a. f.9:09 PM

    glad you're back and had an "interesting" vacation. Blogging is alive and well in B.C. However, they do pace themselves. Some are retired and even go on vacation for weeks at a time and don't blog. In B.C. if we want the truth, you check the blogs.

    if Warren Kinsella's blog dies, well too bad, so sad, he's a good writer, but alas will not print one negative comment regarding the photo op queen of B.C., Christy Clark, a b.c.c lieberal. They're not actually liberals, they're lieberals with 25 of Stephen Harper's former staffers working for her or around her. Has an incredible rate of child poverty, shovels money off the back end of the truck for her pay to play pals, yes the premier raised $12M for the war chest which she is now spending in the B.c. election. You paid $10K to $20K to attend a soiree with her present and then she got to skim the take. She finally stopped the skimming when the public got too sick of it, but not before she skimmed $300K. All the while she thought the disabled ought to live on $908K a month, plus $21 and a bus pass. Oh and she managed to run up $150BILLION in debt, had 8 kids die in care, 4 people die in a month due to "death by hospital" and one health researcher kill himself. Yes the election is 9 May. if she is defeated It might finally be the end of the harper train.

    /ALABAMA still has a couple of bloggers who print news. Legal Schauzzer was the one who broke the news about their governor which eventually led to his empeachment.

    I think blogging is alive and well and will continue to be relevant. You can't get it all out in 105 characters.

    welcome home and becareful on motor cycles.

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    1. hi e.a.f... thank you and it was an "interesting vacation." I do intend to pace myself a little better than I have in the past, and after what happened I have been forbidden to even look at any passing motorcycle... ;)

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  21. I echo most people's sentiments in welcoming you back,Noddy, you were sorely missed.
    No shortage of grist for your mill though - we live in troubled times.
    You have been in the wars recently, what with your operation and your recent motorcycle accident.
    Probably Stephen Harper sticking pins in your doll effigy.
    I love the idea of motorbikes and riding my KLR650 at 140kph on a long straight Alberta country highway, going to Southern Alberta on a hot day in late July is as close to heaven as an atheist gets.
    Those days are over for me; anticoagulant drugs and texting "millennial" drivers force me to put the bike up for sale.
    A 1997 Kawasaki KLR650, "Swiss Army Knife" of motorcycles.Teal, 22000km $3000.
    All issues fixed including the "doohickey"!
    Ready to ride to the Yukon and Alaska.
    Fly to YEG and I'll even pick you up at the airport and help you get started.
    Welcome back!

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    1. hi hinofan...thank you for your kind words. I do feel like I have been in the wars. And in fact the ward I was in had two soldiers also recovering from an accident, so it was like a military school reunion. Like you I had a long and romantic relationship with a motorcycle once, until I was hurt in a far worse accident. So I think from now on I'm going to stick to bicycles... ;)

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