Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Music Stores

I managed to spend a considerable amount of time in several of them today and I didn't end up buying anything. Which is good, since I've been spending money on other things (ie: clothes and sandals). Of course there was nothing new out right now that I felt the horrible urge to buy. I'm still on the fence about The Scissor Sisters, the camp factor is what makes them good - and bad. Oh well, I have time to figure that out.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Disco 2005

I was listening to an old mix-tape tonight and it had Pulp's Disco 2000 on it. It got me thinking, Pulp only had one big hit in North America (they might have done better in the UK) and that was 1995's Common People. Disco 2000 was on the same album (Different Class), it was a single as I recall, but it didn't do terribly well. Pulp was part of what people were calling Brit-Pop back then. This label put them in the company of Oasis, Blur, and perhaps The Bends-era Radiohead. The thing is, Pulp never quite fit with the rest, they were a bit too new-wavy. Which brings us to today: I wonder if Pulp were hitting it big ten years too early. The new wave sound is huge these days, I wonder what would happen if Different Class was released today?

Two Things

I was reading another article in which conservative Christians were crying victim about "people of faith" being kept from the "public square". Several things come to mind when I see these sentiments:

First, the context of this complaint was in an article about conservative Christian activists getting party nominations for the Conservative Party. Is this what amounts being kept from the public square these days?

Second, there are "people of faith" in every party in the parliament already. My understanding is that there are even devout Christians in every party in the House. Not only are believers of all stripes not being kept from the public square, they are already in there.

So what's the complaint about now? Well, I reckon it's more of a straw man. Whenever you get conservative Christians saying stuff about faith being kept out of the public square, it's usually as a rebuttal to accusations about "hidden agendas" and stuff of that sort. The question of a hidden agenda is quite apart from the question of whether people of faith are in the public square. The fact is that the Conservatives are trying to appeal to a broad range of voters. At the same time, their social-conservative base has some things that it would like to accomplish. Most strategists and pundits will tell you that it is possible to build a winning coalition in Canada by being fiscally conservative but socially ambiguous. On some level the Liberals have done this with a very subtle socially progressive bent. That's not what the so-cons want though. There is nothing wrong with that either, everyone is entitled to their ideas and the promotion thereof. The problem is that I imagine Stephen Harper wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants the vigourous support of the so-cons, but he wants to avoid having to acknowledging their agenda in public. So by all means, no one is trying to dissuade anyone from seeking office, but it's time to own up the agenda that that run is driven by.

And another thing: Why is the "Christian" agenda always only two items long. It's all about gays and abortion, it's as if nothing else is of concern. What about the poor? What about the sick? As Jim Wallis would remind us, Jesus worried about them.

Time to Get Outside

I have to get the bike tuned up and hit the trails, the weather has been so nice the last couple of days that it's criminal to not be out there.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Better Blogging

I know I mentioned his blog last week, but I'll hype my friend Jam's posting again. Everytime I read I'm impressed at the stories and anecdotes that he collects whilst in India.

As "Freedom" Marches on, Some Get Trampled Underfoot

In the US it's Memorial Day this weekend. Americans are supposed to remember their fallen soldiers and/or watch the Indianapolis 500. DailyKos has a post about some people that the US media probably won't tell you to remember this weekend (warning, some graphic stuff here). Of course there is the grating irony this week of Bush defending his stem-cell veto by saying that federal dollars shouldn't fund the destruction of life. Heh, indeed.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


I've been looking at Macs the last few days. I don't need a computer per se, but it might be nice to have a laptop if/when I go back to school for, say, teachers college. So I don't know, PC or Mac...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Hugo Chavez vs. "Mr. Danger"

There was an interesting article in the Toronto Star today about Hugo Chavez leading the rise of moderate leftists in Latin America.
The Venezuelan leader's no-nonsense style, his criticism of the United States and his advocacy of revolutionary changes to benefit the poor have made him a hero to many in Latin America's resurgent left.

Chavez, 50, seems to be positioning himself as Washington's chief detractor in Latin America, a role long played by Cuba's Fidel Castro, Chavez's 78-year-old role model. And while few Latin leaders are willing to go along with Chavez's harsh anti-U.S. rhetoric, fewer still are willing to criticize him.

"Venezuela has the right to be a sovereign country, to make its own decisions," Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said. Responding to criticism from Washington, he added: "We won't accept defamations against friends.''

Across the region, left-leaning political leaders have voiced support for Chavez's "Bolivarian Revolution" aimed at bringing down a decades-old oligarchy and helping the poor. The Venezuelan president frequently invokes independence hero Simon Bolivar when he speaks of a more politically integrated South America.

In Chavez the left has found a significantly better leader than Castro. While Castro has set up national health care in Cuba (something that the US still cannot claim) and can boast an education system with first-world literacy rates, the fact remains that he is authoritarian. He is more benevolent than Batista was and more benevolent than many US clients today (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia et al), but he retains too tight a control on his own population to truly be an example of progress. Chavez on the other hand has faced the electorate - more than once - and won. His opponents control many media outlets and several key industries, and yet he stays in power. In this enviroment the sensible conclusion (Which the American neocons would deny, but who said they were sensible?) is that he enjoys broad popular support. And, as the article goes on to suggest, other leftists groups are taking power with broad democratic support in the same fashion all over Latin America. The American government can stomp its feet and fuss, but but, as the saying goes, they sowed the wind and are reaping the whirlwind. The US has been unleashing awful, terrible things on Latin America ever since the Spanish American war. As late as the 1980s, the US was supporting dictators in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, and the Contras of Nicaragua. If Latin America is listening to Chavez, it is because the American government has been such a source of evil in that part of the world.

Monday, May 23, 2005


I saw a man gardening with a machete on my way to work. He was out on a lawn pulling up weeds with a machete. Curious.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


...I have to admit that I've already seen Episode III twice.

Friday, May 20, 2005


I need to have a moratorium on buying CDs for a while, I have too many already that I haven't fully digested as it were. I can't listen to a CD once and declare it good or bad, I usually take weeks or months to fully figure out what a particular disc can (or cannot) offer me. Plus, it seems like a lot of stuff that's "hot" right now has a new wave-y post-punk vibe (Franz et al), so a lot of records just seem, well, redundant for the time being. I'm not saying that this is bad, for me it beats the pants off of five years ago when everything had a nu-metal vibe. I'd rather the world be cluttered by The Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party, Franz, Interpol, and even the The Killers than by, say, Project Wyze, HeadPE, Papa Roach, Alien Ant Farm, Limp Bizkit and all those guys. So I guess I'll count my blessings.

Martin Lives to Fight Another Day (but will Harper?)

So the Liberals hung on for the vote today, everyone saw that. In some sense though, this is where the interesting questions start. Such as:

Why are the Conservatives so determined to bring down the government these days? Most recent polls say a couple things: First, support for the manjor parties is nearly identical to what it was last year in the election. Second, Canadians don't want an election. These two things being the case, why is Harper pushing? He stands to gain almost nothing right now, and if people want someone to punish for a premature election, he would be the one to take it.

How long does Harper have as leader? Looking at the Conservative performance in the polls, I'm starting to wonder. If he doesn't win the next election, I have a feeling that he's gone. Given all the facts about the current political situation, I'd imagine that it should be relatively easy for Harper to succeed. The country has been governed by the same party for nearly twelve years. That alone should be a huge boost for Harper. Secondly, said government is embroiled in a rather unpleasant scandal. That should be the final nail in the coffin of the current Liberal government. All that should give Harper stellar poll numbers, but it doesn't. In fact they should be even better since people often "park" their votes with opposition parties between elections as a way to register disapproval for a governing party they might otherwise support. That Harper cannot convert all of this into votes is an indication of how he still unnerves Canadians, particularly those in urban areas and those in Ontario.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Boy's Club and the "attractive dipstick"

After seeing Runciman's comments and those of a few other Conservatives about Stronach's switch, it reminds me that, to some people, politics is still very much a man's game. Granted you can say that Stronach is a lightweight who got where she was because of her family, but let's not forget that plenty of men have done the same. Would Bush have even been remotely electable without his last name? In short, Runciman, grow up.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Check Your Own Facts

Looking at this post, it appears that Scott McClellan took the media to task for Newsweek Qu'ran-desecrating fiasco. This, as is pointed out, is hypocrisy:

Remember when we learned that the evidence for Iraq’s supposed mobile biological weapons labs came from an unrel iable source? What was McClellan’s response then?

QUESTION: Does it concern the President that the primary source for the intelligence on the mobile biological weapons labs was a guy that U.S. intelligence never every interviewed?

MCCLELLAN: Well, again, all these issues will be looked at as part of a broad review by the independent commission that the President appointed… But it’s important that we look at what we learn on the ground and compare that with what we believed prior to going into Iraq.

[White House Press Gaggle, 4/5/04]

There you have it. When confronted with an anonymous source who provided faulty intelligence that the President relied upon to go to war, McClellan chose not to talk about standards of accountability that should be met. Instead, the White House passed the buck to an independent commission and suggested that it didn’t matter what subsequent information they learned about Iraq’s intelligence because they didn’t know it when they went to war. Newsweek has taken responsibility by retracting its story. Will President Bush take responsibility for his own errors?

Remember the White House's pre-war intelligence? Remember how they used any bit of hearsay, looked at any satellite photo and saw weapons? If the inability to predict 9/11/01 was a so-called "failure of imagination" then the pre-war "intelligence" was surely a dictatorship of imagination. The White House saw things and didn't for once stop to consider what they were looking at. Look, a camper van, it must be a mobile lab! Bulldozers? They're hiding weapons with them! I heard from some guy that another guy said that Saddam was going to buy some uranium or something from Niger!

Star Wars

I have tickets for opening night. Frankly though, Episodes I and II were letdowns, they were alright films but not as good as I had expected from the Star Wars brand. The fights and the visuals were cool, but the dialogue... Well, that was never Lucas' strong suit. And Jar-Jar Binks, enough said. Underwhelming is the word I guess. So I really really really hope that Lucas got this one right and that the series can end well. I guess we'll always have the original trilogy. Still, I remember the excitement when it was announced that he was going to do the prequels, and I remember all the anticipation leading up to them. Perhaps the prequels had impossibly high expectations, but nonetheless, I hope that this one is decent.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Tired of explaining media control to everyone?

Show them this simple film. Even a Fox News viewer can grasp it!
(via Sam)

Meanwhile on the other side of the planet...

For all the talk about the Indian economy heating up, Jam posts about some people being left behind there...

It's the Insurgency that keeps going... and going... and going

So now the Marines got smacked around by these insurgent groups. How many times have the White House and the Pentagon insisted that these guys were "broken"? They've said that again and again, and still, they keep coming back. Folks, it doesn't look like the insurgents are going away...

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Oh Joy

I have this killer sinus cold. Ugh.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

On Theocracies Pt. 3

In the last post of this series I asked how any religious leader can claim to know the will of God (or their higher power, or whatever). Inside every major tradition there is disagreement, Protestants are particularly adept at subdividing infinitely over every sort of conflict imaginable. But make no mistake, even within such a centralised religion as Roman Catholicism there are traditionalist movements and feminist movements and this and that.

Now the problem though is that, for whatever reason (everything from selfish pride, to earnest and ardent belief) it seems that many religious leaders do reckon that they are supreme in understanding the ultimate theological truth. Of course not all of them are right and many of them are grossly mistaken (Crusades, anyone?). Now this sort of certainty and rigidity is bad enough for a faith community. But as much as it creates division and sectarian conflict (everything from trading insults in academic journals to the "hands on" approach of Northern Ireland and other places), it's nothing compared to how bad things can - and do - get in a governmental situation.

Any casual follower of Canadian politics is well aware that, in the last few weeks in particular, both the Prime Minister and the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition have been very certain that the other is completely wrong and a total threat to the whole nation. Now imagine if both ardently believed that God was on his side and that the other was some kind of infidel. No doubt it would be a far worse situation. Too often those that act out of a deep religious commitment are not open to any sort of self-criticism. For the Christians out there, it's probably worth remembering that even the apostle Peter was wrong multiple times on important issues.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Blogging in India

That's where my friend, Jam is right now. You can read all about it on his blog, Where in the World is Jam (it's the same one that's noted over there to the right -->). Currently he's in Calcutta I think.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

On Theocracies Pt. 2

Now in my last post on this matter I explained why I thought the term theocracy was inaccurate in describing the situation in which religious leaders run a state. The problem with the idea of a theocracy is that you have some clerics or priests or just particularly devout lay-people who have to act as intermediaries. That's the tricky part - and that's why a government cannot, in my opinion, truly be a theocracy. In any major religion there is always some controversy. Since the Christian tradition is the one I know best, I'll concentrate there for examples. From the very get-go of the early church there were arguments about food, idols, circumcision, charismatic gifts, and all sorts of things. And that's just what's in the Bible, if you look through the discarded stuff (the Gospel of Thomas, the Acts of Paul & Thecla, the Infancy Gospel of James, and many, many more) you realise that the early church had one controversy after another. The early monastic movement was almost something that broke free of the church, then there was the schism of 1054, the Roman church in the West, the Orthodox churches in the East. If that wasn't enough, Luther and Calvin come onto the scene in the 16th century, and so it goes...

Why mention all this, well simply to point out, that, in the confines of just one faith, it seems impossible to get any agreement about what God is saying. So how could a modern nation state of any size find agreement on how to understand what God wants?

Saturday, May 07, 2005

On Theocracies

I don't believe in them. By this I don't mean that I don't support them, I actually believe that they are a fiction. Theocracy means, of course, rule by God. Now the governments that claim to be theocratic are ones that are typically run by religious clerics of some sort. I think that they are being too shy about claiming credit for who runs the government. That is because they do. So unless the clerics are claiming to be gods, they are not, in fact, at the helm of a theocracy. Thus, when I say I don't believe in theocracies, I mean that there is no such thing. If God showed up to run a nation, or the planet, then you have a theocracy. In the meantime you have a bunch of humans claiming that they are operating on God's orders.

More News about the Republican-only Church

Here's another story that was linked to by Fark. I'm still astonished by this whole turn of events. I mean the idea that a church would impose some kind of political litmus test to it's members is really something else. At least one of those expelled had been a deacon. If this is a harbinger of things to come, then I am worried about the future of both the church and the state in America.

Friday, May 06, 2005

But what kind of training is it?

There was a feel-good Iraq piece on CNN today (I think it was during Wolf Blitzer) about the new Iraqi special forces. It said all these nice things about how these guys were going to fight the insurgents and showed them learning how to rescue hostages and doing all that Ranger crawl-in-the-mud training. While this is all well and good, I wonder what else these guys are learning from the Americans. Tens of thousands of Latin American soldiers have been trained in questionable interrogation tactics and other criminal arts by the US at the School of the Americas for decades. The CIA and other agancies have had no problem showing military and paramilitary elements of other states how to break international law. So while the nice little CNN piece made it seem all well and good, you have to wonder about what they didn't show. I would wager that the Iraqi special forces are learning how to repeat Abu Ghraib without American oversight. You know, this "Salvadoran option" was floated a while ago, and of course the Pentagon denied it. But it's not as though they'd cop to doing such things to the public. Do you think that they'd say, "Oh yes ladies and gentlemen, we are going to train the Iraqis to fight the kind of dirty war that we fought in Central America." Of course not, but that doesn't mean it's not coming.


Is the word that comes to my mind when I read about this sick, sick, sick "church" in North Carolina. Apparently they kicked all the Democrats out of their congregation. In the minds of these people, God really is a Republican.


Here's what WLOS, the local TV news, posted on their site:
East Waynesville Baptist asked nine members to leave. Now 40 more have left the church in protest. Former members say Pastor Chan Chandler gave them the ultimatum, saying if they didn't support George Bush, they should resign or repent. The minister declined an interview with News 13. But he did say "the actions were not politically motivated." There are questions about whether the bi-laws were followed when the members were thrown out.

Wow. The idea that a pastor would kick out members of a church simply for not supporting a particular politician is disturbing to say the least. I don't think it takes a lot of theological pondering to think of things that Bush has done that are inconsistent with Christianity. But then, this isn't about faith, it's about the abuse of faith. The New Testament talks about the church being a body with Christ at its head. The rising sentiment in the US though seems to be a push to decapitate Christ from the body and replace Jesus with the GOP.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Still the Gold Standard for Corruption in Canada

According to Chuck Guite (and I suppose everything he says should be taken with a grain of salt) things in Quebec were as bad under Mulroney as they were under Chretien. Lately it seemed as though Mulroney was trying to rehabilitate his image among Conservatives. What do you want to bet that Harper et al won't be making him a keynote speaker at fundraisers again any time soon?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Why has it hailed two days in a row here? If locusts or frogs show up, I'm out of here.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Spend a lazy Sunday...

I had a nap this afternoon and it was great.

Seriously, I have some better posts coming, but I want to research them properly. Yeah, I know it's the internet(s) and I'm sure I could just make up crap, but really, I want to try here...