Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Sound of Silence (and Poo)

Like a great white shark to a floundering seal, CTV hopes to bite into the CBC's market share while the latter remains embroiled in a bitter labour dispute. While it should come as no surprise that CTV will attempt to take advantage of the weakened public broadcaster, some of their planned tactics are definitely unorthodox.

"By making ourselves more like the CBC," proclaimed Bell Globemedia Inc. spokesperson Petunia Bowels, "we will fill the void created in the wake of the Media Guild lockout."

To this end, CTV will adopt CBC's silent broadcast strategy. Lacking any technical staff to help televise last Saturday's CFL contest between the Toronto Argonauts and the Edmonton Eskimos, the CBC decided to broadcast the game without the usual audio commentary. Instead the only sounds to be heard were those of the game and of public address announcer Al Stafford.

Oddly enough the match actually attracted a larger than usual audience, enjoying a 10% rise in the number of viewers. "Obviously the CBC is doing something right, and we here at CTV must act now before the window of opportunity passes us by" said Bob Goodenow, who while searching for a new job decided to declare himself the new president of CTV. (He offered a simple explanation: "I miss the attention, and it's my way or the highway!")

The first shows on the regular CTV schedule to get the silent treatment will be Canadian Idol and eTalk Daily, both of which are hosted by Ben Mulroney and his massive head of hair.

"Through our focus groups we've realized that people like to watch Ben Mulroney because he makes them laugh. They just don't need to hear his voice to do so."

Reached for comment in the Star Trek isle of the local comic book store, Ben Mulroney did not seem phased at the announcement. When asked what he felt about viewers not wanting to hear any more words come out of his mouth, Ben promptly soiled his pants and said "Hi! I'm Ben Mulroney! Want to be my friend?"

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Afghanistan 2025

Wars have a funny way of dragging on long after the victory celebration dates penciled in the agendas of military planners. Even the largest superpowers tend to underestimate the tenacity and ferocity with which a people will defend their nation, their identity, and their home.

Sometimes a conflict will continue long after it should have ended simply because there is no clear objective. When you combine a lack of vision with a hopelessly ill-equipped military, you get what Canada has right now in Afghanistan.

Recently Maj.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, one of Canada's top ranking soldiers, told Canadians that "Afghanistan is a 20-year venture," effectively acknowledging that a generation of Canadian troops will press on in a war with no clear enemy, no fixed exit strategy, and no end in sight. "Every time you kill an angry young man overseas, you're creating 15 more who will come after you," he said.

We here at The Maple Lounge wanted to see just what the situation would be like 20 years from now. So we fired up the old time machine, which we've had to stop renting out to hockey-starved Canucks as per the new NHL collective bargaining agreement.

In 2012 Canada will launch a full scale invasion of Afghanistan. Our entire fleet of Sea King helicopters, which are still every bit as operational as they are now, will be sent on a bombing raid deep into Kabul. None of the helicopters will return, despite each having only recently modified been modified for low earth orbit at a cost of $9,000 billion. The once proud Sea Kings are no more. Several Afghani warlords appear on television to claim that they didn't shoot the choppers down, in stark contrast to their usual boasting. Minutes later the former Iraqi information minister appears on CNN and claims that he personally shot down each Sea King with spit wads from a cave in Yemen.

The Canadian military does have some new tactics, fresh for the Fall 2025 season. Unfortunately, even those are relics borrowed from other nations. In 2018 Canada buys the rights to the phrase "shock and awe" from the USA. If a space-borne helicopter bombing run wasn't enough to "shock and awe" the terrorists, then the newest in Canadian artillery will certainly accomplish that. Although The Maple Lounge cannot reveal future top secret information, picture a bunch of very flexible soldiers armed with cans of beans and DND issue Zippo lighters. Shocking? Definitely. Awesome? You bet. Enough to win the war? Not quite.

Our trip in the time machine came to an end before we could discover if Canada finally conquers Afghanistan. (The Google Ads on this site do not generate enough revenue for us to operate the time machine for extended periods of time, what with the price of gas and all. Of course, if you think gas is expensive today, wait until 2025!)

The initial idea was to blog from the future, but I am saddened to report that blogging as we know it no longer exists in 2025. A holographic embodiment of all the world's information told me that in 2015 the blogosphere collapsed under its own weight of horrendous poetry and cat pictures. The ensuing digital avalanche caused a mass disruption of the planet's communication systems, and 2016 blogging was outlawed by the newly elected UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Boutros Gali. As an example to bloggers everywhere, in 2017 the few remaining Blogging Tories are rounded up and shot.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Space Junk

Despite numerous problems and a few anxious moments, NASA's Return to Flight was a triumph, a mission that saw astronauts and engineers alike take unprecedented measures to avoid a repeat of the Columbia tragedy.

The shuttle Discovery is safely on the ground, the mission clock stopped at 13 days, 21 hours, 32 minutes and 48 seconds. The media throng sent to cover the landing has already packed up and left. Perhaps the only other shuttle missions to receive so much media attention, STS-51L and STS-107, did so for all the wrong reasons.

The crew of STS-114 captivated the public, led by Commander Eileen Collins, the first female commander of a space shuttle. The two-week mission will forever be remembered by a daring spacewalk to repair the heat shield on the underbelly of the craft. NASA is riding the wave of public enthusiasm and can once again actively look towards the future, wary but not frightened by the ghosts of past mistakes.

The Canadian Space Agency is hoping to tap into this momentum in a big way. The newest Canadian-built robotic arm was crucial to ensuring the safety of Discovery's crew, yielding immeasurable positive exposure for the robotics industry in Canada.

The Maple Lounge has learned that Prime Minister Paul Martin will soon make yet another spending announcement, in this case detailing a new direction and a vastly increased budget for the CSA. Our always reliable sources have provided us with an abbreviated copy of the statement Martin will make next week.

“I see Canada's destiny in the cosmos. In the next budget, I will increase the Canadian Space Agency's budget by 80 million percent. Canada will send people to the Moon by 2015! We will establish a moon base, and from there launch a manned mission to Mars! We'll show those clowns at NASA who should plant the first flag on the red and white surface of Mars!

In order to quickly catch up with NASA, we will establish a manned space flight program that meets or exceeds all safety requirements of the shuttle program. In partnership with the Department of National Defence, we will retrofit our fleet of Sea King helicopters for low orbit flight. The money we save by not buying new helicopters or decommissioned shuttles from NASA will directly benefit Canadian taxpayers!”

“Once again, I expect a lot of talk and absolutely no action,” scoffed Steven Harper when asked about the idea. Jack Layton on the other hand was cautiously optimistic. “Canadians want to breath clean air. There's no air in space. That either means that Canadians don't want to be in space, or that I need a new line.”

Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe was indifferent, noting that “Quebec has it's own space exploration program” and that the people of Quebec “have no interest in planets that aren't French.”

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister's Office tried to evoke memories of John F. Kennedy's promise to place a man on the moon. "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are idiotic."