Thursday, June 30, 2005


The heat is killer these days in Toronto, it makes me wonder if we'll get that rolling blackout business if it gets worse...

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Deer Hunter

I finally watched this film on the weekend. It was an interesting portrait of blue-collar America in the mid-1970s on the whole. The pacing however, ugh, the first hour or so just drags on and on. Do we really need an hour to establish that these are blue collar guys from smalltown Pennsylvania and that they are ethnic Russians? Once it gets going the movie is fairly interesting with some great performances, but it was all I could do to keep my eyes open for that first bit. The symbolism of Mike Vronsky's beat-up '59 Cadillac was interesting in that it contrasts the optimism of 1950s America with the broken dreams of the 1970s.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

New Blog

The Roan puts the tip in with his brand new blog. Check it out.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Another Band to Check Out

Raising the Fawn, I've been listening to them quite a bit lately, very enjoyable. I particular like Gwendolyn and The News from their latest CD, The North Sea.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Finally We Have the Definitive World War II Movie!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Dead Strings

Not as deep sounding as Dead Souls (you can take that as a Gogol reference or a Joy Division reference if you want), but that's what I have on my bass right now. The vexing thing is that I can never find the strings I like. Sometimes The Twelfth Fret has them, but they are difficult to get to from where I live; very rarely Long & McQuade also has them. What's doubly vexing though is that Long & McQuade has several packs of the right type of strings (DR Sunbeams) but all in the wrong gauge (I like .040s, they have .045s). So yes, it vexes me, I'm terribly vexed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Just Something I Noticed

Ever noticed Dick Cheney's trademark sneer? It reminded me another one, judge for yourself:
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On a Personal Note...

I got into teachers college (everyone says they knew I would, but I'm still surprised at it). So, um, yay for me.

Live 8 becomes Lame 8

So now that it's been announced that Live 8 is coming to Canada, I have a question. How in the hell did we get the worst lineup for this thing. Celine Dion? Motley Crue? Tom Cochrane? Is anyone under 40 going to go to this? If you want to show off Canadian talent, find someone who's at least interesting, like, say Broken Social Scene or The Arcade Fire. Heck, even Sum 41 would have been an improvement. If you want to get the 1980s mullet crowd out, forget Motley Crue, do something awesome. Like reunite the original GNR lineup for one show. OK that will never happen in a million years, but you know what I mean, make it worthwhile. This show smells a lot like an afterthought and it's a shame because the cause is worthwhile.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Stupid Quote

Lou Dobbs made this insightful observation tonight:
"when you are talking about American military men and women, just -- if you can't say something nice, just shut-up, because these people are actually doing the nation's work,"

Wow. Okay, first of all, the standard disclaimer that most people who enlist are probably as decent as the rest of us. Still though, this is deranged talk. Only say nice things about the military? When you put that stipulation on the discussion, it allows monsters to be bred in secret. One of the things that I like about Canada is that we aren't afraid of some serious self-examination. After Somalia, we had big public inquiry into what happened. Did it hurt the image of the military? Undoubtedly, but we had the courage to face what happened. Preventing criticism in such an important place as a nation's military is a path to dangerous things.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Schoolyard Ethics

Ideally, a childhood is filled with practical lessons in ethics. A perfect example might be a snowfight in a schoolyard. In my childhood, children were banned from throwing snow in the schoolyard. Inevitably this rule was breached. Just as inevitably, a couple of defenses were employed by children caught throwing snow. Either they were not the party to initiate it (eg: Billy started it!) or that someone had engaged in it more harmfully (eg: Peter was throwing ice balls). These defenses may contain entirely true statements. Other children may have been the instigators, and other children may have behaved worse. At the same time, making these claims never worked. Regardless of how the other children acted, one's own actions were still in breach of the rules.

All this brings us to Gitmo. The main defenses of prisoner abuse seem to be built on these two schoolyard models. Someone else is worse (Stalin, al-Zarqawi etc) or someone else started it (bin Laden). What is most interesting about this is that many of the apologists might call themselves conservative (not that all conservatives are Gitmo apologists... I hope). In any other sphere, the one thing that consistently seems to upset conservatives is moral relativism. Yet this is what these old schoolyard apologies amount to. They are, after all, an appeal to the circumstance in which the act took place. Gitmo is okay because someone somewhere else is worse? Gitmo is okay, because America's enemies were behaving badly first?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Back from kahl-ee-FOUR-nee-yah!

That's California for you non-Arnold speakers. I went there on Friday to for a wedding in Santa Rosa and also to see the sites in San Francisco. I got home Tuesday morning and spent much of yesterday sleeping. I willed myself to stay awake in the afternoon so at least I'd be tired enough to get some sleep in the evening. It worked, I slept 11.5 hours last night. Best. Sleep. Ever. Not that I'm complaining, I know what a red-eye flight entails, and without it, we wouldn't have had all of Monday in San Francisco.

The weather was great the whole time (cooler than it's been here in Toronto actually). There were some really great music moments on the trip. We left the airport in our rental car and drove up through San Francisco listening to the best of Prince. Very good choice, Jay. Retrieving a forgotten ring from the hotel, we listened to Sloan's Twice Removed on the way. We also got in a few spins of All That You Can't Leave Behind while tooling around in our rental.

More observations to follow...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

On School Applications

I hate applications at the best of times, I really do. But the worst has got to be for post-secondary study programs. I want to go to teachers college and frankly the whole application process has left a sour taste in my mouth. You cannot give anyone the brutally-honest truth on an application, rather you have to spin yourself into some perfect person. It isn't lying (at least for me, I'm sure that it's done that way though) but it still leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Honesty in Marketing Your Cable Channel

Once again I flipped to the History Channel tonight and once again, guess what was on? JAG. I swear they show that damn thing about ten times a day. I suppose if you like JAG that's great news. Even if you are JAG's biggest fan though, you'd surely have to question why exactly it's on the "History" Channel. JAG doesn't relate any actual historical events (as far as I can tell) and it seems to be set in the present day and is therefore not even historical fiction. The credential that seems to get JAG on the air is that it is about the military.

It's the same with the films they show. Most of the movies on History are war or military themed as are most of the documentaries. You are far more likely to see a completely fictitious movie (such as A Few Good Men) than any sort of non-military historical fiction (such as The Name of the Rose) or a film that actually attempts to discuss real history that isn't particularly military in nature (such as Elizabeth). The documentaries almost always have a war theme. Moreover they seem to be heavily skewed to World War II in particular.

Now in their defence, I'm sure that the History Channel would say that they are only giving their audience what they want. Which is probably true, since, like all private broadcasters, they are driven by ad revenues. But is it too much to ask for honesty? That's all I want, and in that spirit, I propose that the History Channel be renamed the War Channel.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Great Quote on Gitmo

From Juan Cole:
Terrorists are dirty criminals who should be tried, and if found guilty, put away for life. Terrorists are criminals. They are not non-human, and any attempt to create a category of human beings to whom the protections of the law do not apply is an attempt to undermine the Republic.

This sums up what is so terribly, terribly wrong with Guantanamo, ghost detainees, renditions, and every other horrible thing that the Pentagon and the CIA want to do in the name of security.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Gospel According to... Hegel?!

Since Bush couldn't ever find those gosh-darned weapons of mass destruction (remember them?) he's turned to a new rationale for going into Iraq. Now he's saying that it was, all along, a mission to promote "freedom" in the Middle East and the Muslim world. Let's leave aside the fact that this is grossly incongruous with all sorts of other US policies in Central and Western Asia. Let's also leave aside the fact that the words "freedom" and "democracy" are so nebulous that they can mean pretty much anything depending on who is using them (remember, the proper name of East Germany was the Democratic Republic of Germany).

What I find interesting is that Bush is casting this whole thing in quasi-religious terms. He talks about freedom being the "almighty's" gift to everyone. Now presumably Bush's opinion of the "almighty" is Christian, and yet, I don't believe you can find that sentiment anywhere in the Bible - at least as far as it refers to temporal political freedom (again, whatever that means). In fact, the idea that Bush is now expressing most closely resembles Hegel. In Hegel's view history is unfolding in a rational way to bring about increased human freedom.

Looking at that, it appears that you can draw a much more direct line from Bush's new excuse for war to Hegel than you can to anything in the Bible. But what does this mean? Well, I think it would be instructive to remember that Hegel's thinking had a huge influence one Karl Marx. Marx's mistake was to think that he had the solution for attaining Hegel's ultimate human freedom. Communism was the ultimate solution, history's dialectic would end with global communism. He was, history has shown, somewhat mistaken. Ironically, it seems that Bush and the neocons want to set the United States on a similar course. The neocons, like Marx, have been overcome by hubris. Instead of communism, they have unlimited faith in a new dialectic-ender, free-market capitalism with some kind of democratic form. They feel that they have the ultimate path to total human freedom and that the force of history is on their side. This is the kind of arrogance that makes people do dangerous and stupid things.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

G. Gordon Liddy

Well apparently Mr. Liddy has his knickers in a knot about Mark Felt (aka: Deep Throat). Liddy says that:
"If he [Felt] possessed evidence of wrongdoing, he was honor-bound to take that to a grand jury and secure an indictment, not to selectively leak it to a single news source,"

I suppose then the grand jury could charge the wrongdoers and, if convicted, they would go to jail. But why are you so upset Mr. Liddy? You still ended up going to jail for your crimes.