Saturday, December 30, 2006

The CIA Retirement Plan

I suppose that's a very black-humour way of describing what happened to Saddam this morning. Juan Cole has a detailed post that contextualizes Saddam's rise to power. Surprise, surpirse, Western agents enabled him. Go read the whole thing!

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Friday, December 29, 2006

This Week's Godwin's Law Award Winner

This Godwin award goes to Doug Wilson and Gene Edward Veith for this quote:
"To react against the modern is in many ways to revert to the primitive, the barbaric. The fascism of the 1930s was never a conservative movement (despite Marxist propaganda), but it was a reaction against the objectivity, rationalism, and alienation of the ‘modern world,’ a reaction structurally parallel to that of the postmodernists. Fascism, like postmodernism, had its origins in romanticism, with its primitivism and subjectivity, and existentialism, with its rejection of absolutes and its ‘triumph of the will.’ Hitler may have failed because he was ahead of his time"
Veith wins for writing it, and Wilson for posting it approvingly. Keith keeps insisting that Wilson is really smart and just likes being controversial for the hell of it. I'm not going to bother disecting this argument, because Nazi analogies are so tiresome. Sorry Doug, but the reductio ad Hitlerum is overdone.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I Got Nuthin'

So watch this:

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


For Christmas, one of the gifts I received was Londonstani. The book follows the lives of several South Asian kids living in London and two chapters in, it's great reading. I may put up a more formal review once I'm done.

Neil Can Fly

...moreover, I have photographic evidence! Seriously though, my friend Neil is the subject of these most excellent pictures by Ella Cooper. If you like the pictures here, then I highly recommend Ella's own site here. Neil is a pro dancer so even though I can't figure out how he landed the picnic table shot (below) without breaking something, I'm sure he that he managed - well at least I didn't see him wear a cast in the months after this was taken.

There are several more in the set, and I might post them here over the next couple of days, but right now the new and allegedly improved blogger has been giving me grief with photo posting. Kudos to both Ella and Neil for these pics.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Lost Week

We've now entered that twilight week between Christmas and New Years. I reckon that I'll spend at least a small part of it compiling one of those obligatory year-end lists. In the meantime, Nathan has a far more comprehensive post on what not to like about Christmas than any of my grumblings. Right now I like Christmas a lot - 'cause it's all over with, ha!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Quotes for Christmas

A couple that I like from church leaders, being that this is ostensibly a Christian holy day.

"Without forgiveness there can be no future for a relationship between individuals or within and between nations."
-Desmond Tutu

"Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others."
-St. Augustine

Forgiveness and charity, can we do a bit more of both (me included), please?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Festivus Miracle?

Well, not really, but here I am at another Christmas (or whatever you do over the winter solstice). For those of you in Southern Ontario, you have to know that here it doesn't much feel like Christmas. The grass is green and the sun is bright - or at least as bright as can be expected three days after the shortest day of the year.

I don't know how I feel about Christmas. One minute I feel like the perfect grinch, if it were never held again I would be find. Another minute I'm caught up in it. After that I might realize that what I'm caught up in is a celebration of greed. It feels like we are all saying a short prayer to St. Gordon Gekko as we pull our Visas out. But we still want gifts, right? You can only make so many "ethical" gifts - people don't want too many donations being made to the Human Fund in their names.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Penn & Teller Approach to Government

Previously in the national contest to be the most embarrassing federal cabinet minister, we saw Stockwell Day use the term spear-chucker. This, in tandem with his global warming comments put him ahead of both Rona Ambrose and Vic Toews in my book.

Now Ambrose has been a bit of a dud with her attempts dealing with the so-called greenhouse gases. For someone who was touted as almost a star in cabinet, her ministerial career does not look promising. As for Toews, he regularly muses about stupid ideas like letting police pick judges and throwing ten year-olds in jail.

Harper himself attempts to respond reasonably to prevent the most egregious embarrassments from continuing (Stock's blog is gone I hear). Now I'm sure he could shunt some of duller ministers in to more obscure portfolios, but I suspect that they may serve a purpose for Harper. If everyone is paying attention to the gong show put on by cabinet, there are less column inches devoted to some of the more suspect policies of his government. Misdirection, just like a magic trick!

Consider the following two items:
My theory is that Harper probably doesn't mind his cabinet acting a bit foolish in the media. He seems to be using every method outside of cabinet and parliament to pursue his agenda. So while we laugh at Stock or call for his resignation, Harper quietly puts his agenda into place. The Penn & Teller method is what I'd call it.


One of the things that I'd been doing up until now was adding in Technorati tags manually. Let me tell you, that was a pain in the ass. Fortunately I stumbled on this post at A Consuming Experience that explained Grease Monkey and some scripts that make tags ten times easier. Sweet. I'm a nerd.

Made it through to the other side

I decided that I'd have to switch over sooner or later, so I took the plunge in the new version of blogger. You probably won't see too much difference here just yet, but I have made some bigger changes with my other blog. I think it looks a lot better than it did.


Sunni? Shi'a? Yes, it matters.

Over in jolly old England, Con Coughlin gets the fear over Iranian involvement in Afghanistan. I can't really quote the article because the most significant thing about it is what it is missing. Coughlin treats the idea of a Taliban/Al Qaeda alliance with Iran as a serious threat. He fears that this is not taken seriously by military planners:
But whenever I have raised the issue of Iranian involvement in Afghanistan on my visits to Nato headquarters over the past year, I have invariably been greeted with either blank stares or an eagerness on the part of senior commanders to move quickly to another, more amenable topic of conversation.
Coughlin seems to imply ignorance of Iran in this section. What he mentions nowhere is that, well, the only thing that the Iran's Shiite clerics and the Taliban hate more than Western meddling is each other. Remember: Iran is a Shi'a majority country run by clerics, the Taliban and Al Qaeda are Sunni fundamentalists. From my limited understanding of Islam, both sides regard the other as heretical.

Is it possible that Iran may be trying to make life tough for NATO in Afghanistan? Yes. There are even some good reasons for them to do so. That said, this is nowhere near the same situation as Southern Iraq where Iran is helping other Shi'a. If NATO left, Iran would probably want to limit the power of Taliban as much as possible. As we have seen in the most horrible and vivid way, understanding the Sunni-Shi'a dynamic is important. I think Coughlin is overplaying the sort of alliance that could ever be forged between the Islamic Republic and the Taliban.
Picture: Imam Ali
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Thursday, December 21, 2006

What did I just say about ethnic slurs?

Apparently Stockwell Day, the Minister of Public Stupidity Safety in Canada's New Government has now used the term "spear-chucker" despite its racial overtones.
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Atrios gets Bloggered

Atrios tried to switch to the new improved bestest Blogger ever. It didn't work, or at least it hasn't so far. I hate to see my suspicions confirmed in this manner, but now they have been, sigh. For the time being you can find him here. Seeing this happen really tempts me to take my blogging elsewhere, away from Blogger. So what else is out there? Wordpress? Typepad?
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Better Than Jar-Jar

GIANT Magazine has posted clips from a 1978 Star Wars Christmas Special! Did you know there was such a thing? I had no idea! It features Bea Arthur on Tatooine as well as Chewbacca's family. Did you know that Chewie had a kid? Follow the link to see more excerpts, I'll just post up this introduction sequence that includes a lengthy bit of untranslated Wookie dialogue. Yes, really, no subtitles, nothing.

You'll also note from the brief cartoon clip that this is the first appearance of Boba Fett. The Giant article points out that this creates a continuity problem for Episode V. This special was perhaps the first real warning that we had that Lucas was capable of such maudlin garbage.
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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tempted by Tradesports

In my travels through the internets I have come across, a site that will let you bet on, among other things, politics. This is significant to me, as I have never followed sports closely enough to be able to bet on them. I have not spent a winter pleading for my fantasy hockey team to pick up their game. My ignorance makes me somewhat immune to sports betting.

I have fancied myself as someone who is adept at calling elections, I generally feel like I have a good intuition about what's going to happen in an election. Don't ask me how, I just do. The question is: could I put my money where my mouth is? To what extent does a wager cloud one's actual judgment?

Additionally there is the component of what I like to call selective gambling memory. Everyone remembers their one big payday. If you talk to people about casinos, they invariably have a story about either themselves or a friend/relative raking in the big bucks. It seems that we selectively recall the times when we beat the odds. Like I said above, I consider myself fairly astute when it comes to picking electoral outcomes. But am I just discarding my bad picks?

Late Night Fun

Here is something from YouTube, presented without comment:

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I Come Not to Praise the Senate But to Bury It

The Canadian Senate is useless. There, I said it. It's a patronage dumping ground that serves no real purpose other than as a retirement home for political cronies. The only way that I see to reform such an institution is to take it out into a quiet spot in the yard and put a bullet between its eyes. (I'm speaking about the institution NOT individual senators, they can take up kite flying or horseshoes for all I care.)

One of Harper's pet projects has been some kind of quasi-reform of the senate that will miraculously not involve a change in the constitution. Aside from electing the senators, it seems that Steve would like to change the proportions of the senate, to skew it westward.

If all that was not enough, today I read in the Star that some guy wants to do representation by territory! Bruce Pardy is some kind of law prof at Queens. Apparently one doesn't need a great deal of math or geography to attain that kind of job. Don't believe me? This is his argument:
"In simple terms, a country consists of its people and its territory. Sovereignty means the exclusive ability to make and enforce laws within a physical area. Since the purpose of the Senate is to counterbalance the distorting effects of representation by population, and since neither regional nor provincial-based schemes accomplish this purpose, some other organizing principle for the upper chamber is necessary."
The distorting effects of rep by pop?! The distorting effects of one person, one vote?! How about the distorting effects of a handful of voters in Ungava having more clout that the millions of people in Southern Ontario? Apparently Mr. Pardy arbitrarily decided that rep by pop wasn't good enough for the senate and so he decided to make up this stupid scheme. The layout of Canada's ridings already skews towards over-representing rural areas and under-representing urban ones. If you think this is Toronto-centrism, take a look at the population of Trinity-Spadina versus that of, say, Cardigan, PEI or Nunavut. Representation by territory exaggerates distortion if anything. To certain extent sparsely populated regions already seem to get something approaching representation by territory. This looks like a splendid way to further silence urban Canada.

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Take that Ahmadinejad! I win!

Time magazine has told me that I am their person of the year. That's right, me and not you, and it wasn't like I was actually trying either! I am the person of the year - and so is everyone else who looks at their novelty cover and sees a mirror at least. Actually, not really a mirror, more like a shiny piece of plastic that may or may reflect a vague and horrifying image of the viewer.

So yeah, you lose Ahmadinejad, you too Rumsfeld, Cheney, Congressional Democrats. What's that you say? Time magazine has lost its nerve since 2001 when it chickened out on putting bin Laden on the cover? Too bad, I win all the same.

Speaking of losing Ahmadinejad, your peeps in Iran lost a whack of local elections. As Josh Marshall points out, this probably has a lot more to do with jobs and the economy than your lunatics anonymous meeting Holocaust conference. Either way, it'd be nice to see you go down to electoral defeat. Between that and the recent student protests, I am actually cautiously optimistic about Iran's future.*

*That is of course as long as Western powers don't try a regime change repeat. I'm looking at you Bill Kristol.
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Monday, December 18, 2006

Miscellany for Monday

Here's a classic from the Beastie Boys:

Speaking of goofy cops...

We were spying on Tommy Douglas? Very, uh, Hoover-esque of us to have the cops keeping tabs on political figures. There is something very wrong at the RCMP and though it reached its nadir with the Arar case, it's been going on too long.

Fantino was spying on his bosses? In Toronto there has always been a part of the population that absolutely adored Fantino, and I never got it. They thought he was the bestest chief EVAR and would not stand for any critique of the man. They wanted him to be the next mayor/premier/whatever despite his utter lack of political experience.

My own impression of Fantino was that he was a bit of an ass. His non-endorsement endorsement of John Tory as mayor, his dressing down of a teenage girl who had the temerity to ask him about police-minority relations. As for these allegations, they may not go anywhere, but all the same, it seems that Fantino may have a few skeletons in his closet.

Lastly, I'm not well-enough read on the topic to make anything that approaches an intelligent comment, but the land dispute in Caledonia is sure breeding some nastiness. There are elements that seem to think that a repeat of Ipperwash is what is required here. Since the OPP won't do it, they've taken to posting personal details about those sympathetic to the Six Nations.
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Sunday, December 17, 2006

What All Those Kids With Civics Do

This was posted on blogTO, said to be "T-Dotz Greatest Burnout."

Anyway, it's Sunday night, I'm off to get some sleep kids.
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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Atheism & Belief

I was listening to CBC's Ideas in the car last night (yes, that's a bit geeky) and they were doing a show on Richard Kearney. I had never heard of Kearney before last night, but the show was talking about his development as a philosopher. At one point in his life he was taught by Benedictines who sort of threw out the usual means of teaching religion in a Catholic school. Apparently they started the students by telling them every reason why God could not exist. All the arguments from Nietzsche, Freud, Sartre, et cetera. Only then did the bother to teach the reasons in favour of God's existence. The students were prepared for faith by atheism.

In one of those strange confluences of ideas, this reminded of a Youtube clip that I had seen on Derrida in which he argued that authentic religious faith involves a constant sort of struggle with atheism. His words, "If one doesn't go as far as possible in the direction of atheism, one doesn't believe in God." He presents believers as having to constantly battle with their own radical atheism. The clip is here (I won't bother embedding it, it's all audio).

Likewise, Fulford has been posting on his reading of The Brothers Karamazov and it reminded me of quote by Dostoevsky. In the introductions to one of his books, someone included a quote from Dostoevsky's personal correspondence or notes where Dostoevsky says, "I no longer say I have the faith of a child, my faith has passed through the crucible of doubt."

Again, in The Life of Pi the main character talks about atheists and believers a sort of metaphysical brothers pitted against agnostics who are unwilling to take any kind of stand on these sorts of questions. Quote:
"...atheists are my brothers and sisters of a different faith, and every word they speak, speaks of faith. Like me, they go as far as the legs of reason will carry them - and then they leap."
How close is atheism to belief? Does a true believer struggle with their own atheism? Does an ardent atheist struggle with a God that never really goes away? I think that the answers to both questions may require more humility than we sometimes get in these kinds of debates.
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Friday, December 15, 2006

And Dictators For All

In the wake of the death of military thug, Augusto Pinochet, Jonah Goldberg continues his eulogizing by suggesting that what Iraq really needs is a Pinochet of its own.

Several things about his argument are bizarre. In Goldberg's world there is a completely binary understanding of dictators, you have either Fidel Castro or Augusto Pinochet. (This is, of course, leaving aside the context that Castro merely toppled a military thug and not a legally elected government.)

Set all of this aside for a second. This is where the situation in Iraq now stands. One of the most vocal war proponents is now discussing what kind of dictator is best suited for Iraq. What happened to enlightened liberal democracy in the middle east? Now we are apparently supposed to be satisfied with a dictator who may or may not step down one day.

Isn't propping up a pro-US dictator the very thing that put Saddam in power? Apparently "strongmen" are the new "democracy for all."
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Mr. Harper does not go to Mars

Technology, as Ali G once said, is "well important." So much so, that, as part of their platform the Conservatives said the following:
"Increased promotion of basic and applied research, especially in science and technology, is an essential component of Canada’s future economic well-being. It is unacceptable that Canada’s expenditure on research and development, at 1.9 percent of GDP, is below all other G-8 countries and well below the OECD average of 2.3 percent."
Now today I find out that Harper's government won't support a Canadian bid to build a robot for a European Mars mission. At first I cynically thought that perhaps Harper was waiting for some kind of American permission to work on a European space mission. But then I read on and find that we asked for and received a US approval!
"The project had the approval of the United States, which also wanted Canada to continue its robotics role and had signed off on Canadian firms to design at least the robotics component on equipment and vehicles used on its planned mission to the moon in 2020."
This is a whole other topic now that we apparently ask Washington what we are allowed to do with our technology sector. (Yeah, yeah, I'm sure it's national security or something.) But this paragraph strips Harper of one of the things that might explain Diefenbaker's Arrow cancellation: wanting to be a good US neighbour.

As Jim said, I'm sure that we can expect some kind of Conservative statement about commitments to R&D innovation anon.

Image: The legendary Arrow unveiled
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Happy Birthday "Notes"

Today is the second birthday for this blog. I don't know how long this blog will last, but so far I have no intention of slowing down or stopping.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Stuck in the Middle

Atrios has a thoughtful post about why both the left and the right claim that there is a media bias against them. Money quote:
"I think many members of the press think they inhabit an imagined center, and take pride in the fact that people on the left and right often object to the way in which they tell the story. Both sides complain, they must be doing something right. But this imagined center has nothing to do with any kind of actual "political center." It is, instead, the dominant narrative as expressed by an elite class and subculture which inhabits the world of Washington journalism. It isn't left or right per se, and certainly is not "the center," but simply the reflection of the values and worldview of the self-appointed but largely out of touch arbiters of sensibility."
This is probably the most coherent critique of the media that I have seen. It probably also (partly) explains the blogging phenomenon. We have so many satellite and cable channels dedicated to broadcasting an extremely narrow sliver of events and interpretation. Come to thing of it, alongside blogging, documentaries are another big cultural phenomenon of the past five years or so. Both of these phenomena have grown out of this sense that the media's dominant narrative has left too many people wanting.

On YouTube I've seen that debate between Bill Buckley and Noam Chomsky. It's eighteen minutes of two very different viewpoints on Vietnam and US power. You just can't expect to see something like that anymore.

and part two:

All that without Wolf Blitzer interrupting to show us a fancy new graphic. Times have changed.
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Like a Clown, Except No One Laughs

The title of this post pretty much sums up my view of Ahmadinejad. I mentioned his stupid half-assed "conference" before. But I think it bears repeating just how idiotic and hypocritical this event is. Significantly, there are other Iranian leaders who have chided Ahmadinejad for holding the views that he holds. Among them, the previous President, Mohamed Khatami.

Interestingly, this week, Iranian students openly protested Ahmadinejad while he was speaking to them. I am not sure whether they were specifically upset about the holocaust conference or just generally upset about crackdowns on press and academic freedom in Iran. Either way, Ahmadinejad seems to be losing respect very quickly - both at home and abroad.

Speaking of crackdowns, here are some other conferences that Ahmadinejad may want to consider holding - in the interest of academic freedom and serious inquiry:
  • The Zahra Kazemi Conference: How did a Canadian photojournalist get tortured, raped and mudered whilst in the custody of Iranian police? This case deserves serious academic inquiry.
  • The Ramin Jahanbegloo Conference: How did Iranian authorities crack down so aggressively on an academic when they now claim to be great friends of academic freedom? As far I know, he's being held without any charge.
Ahmadinejad is an idiot, and it seems that both the world and his own people know it.

Though I am not sure that this is necessary, I want to make a final point in this post: I am no AIPAC stooge. I was not supportive of the way in which Israel prosecuted its summertime war in Lebanon. Likewise, I have linked to a number of posts by Juan Cole and others suggesting that the language emanating from Tehran is perhaps not as jingoistic as is being reported in a lot of Western media.

So you see, I'm not a reflexive Israel-supporter or neocon warmonger, nonetheless, Holocaust "revision" is so stupid and hateful that I will not abide it. Ahmadinejad's record on academic freedom is such that it shreds his last fig leave of credibility for this stupid "conference."
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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

This Week in Pseudoscience

There is so much to get to here in the world of pseudoscience, let's get started:

According to World Nut Net Daily columnist Jim Rutz, soy makes men gay. It does this by jacking up estrogen levels in their systems (this also shrinks their, uh, man parts). Never mind that gay men have been found to have similar amounts of testosterone, because that would let facts spoil a good mediocre argument.

Gayness II
James Dobson has come out (no pun intended) against Mary Cheney's baby. He suggests that without a male parent, that child (assuming it's even a boy) will turn out to be, well, a bit of a sissy. Again, this time via DailyKos, we find that those darned ol' facts are ruining an argument. Of course Dr. Dobson has his own suggestions to ward off gayness:
"[T]he boy's father has to do his part. He needs to mirror and affirm his son's maleness. He can play rough-and-tumble games with his son, in ways that are decidedly different from the games he would play with a little girl. He can help his son learn to throw and catch a ball. He can teach him to pound a square wooden peg into a square hole in a pegboard. He can even take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger."
I don't want to comment on whether this will increase or decrease any homosexuality in the boy. Truth be known, I don't think it will make a difference. It may lead to some more psychotherapy sessions for the lad, regardless of orientation, but that's about it.

Stockwell's Global Warming Evidence
I'll just let this one speak for itself:
"Hey who knows, maybe Al Gore is right. Maybe all my constituents living high up on the West Bench, or Lakeview Heights , or the hills of Logan Lake will soon be sitting on lakeside property as one of the many benefits of global warming. All I know is last weekend when I got home from Ottawa there was more snow in my driveway than we usually get in a year. And I was begging for Big Al's Glacial Melt when the mercury hit -24°."
If you want to demonstrate naked ignorance of global warming, well, this is how you do it. Never mind that climate is a complicated system Stock, and that any serious scientist will tell you that the effects of global warming will take time and may make some places cooler. I can't believe that this guy once thought he'd be Prime Minister.
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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Professional Liars

Apparently there is a company out there called that will cover your tracks with fake travel plans, jobs, phone numbers, e-tickets and a whole range of other services.

Great. Now there's a professional service that can lie on your behalf. (HT: Freakonomics)
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Monday, December 11, 2006

No Comment

Or rather, no commenting on this blog at this moment. Where did Haloscan go? Edit: They came back, excellent!
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Do I actually live here?

Spacing has posted the above stunning photo of Toronto. Wow.

Edit: I can't get over this picture, it's stunning, and now it's my desktop wallpaper.
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History Colliding

Some more fallout of Pinochet's death:

Over at This Modern World (the blog, not the comic strip), Jonathon Schwarz notes a report in which it is suggested that Pinochet armed Saddam at the behest of Robert Gates! You cannot make this stuff up. The newly minted Defense Secretary telling one dictator to arm another?

Meanwhile, Dennis Perrin dismantles one of the common defenses offered up for Pinochet.

Christopher Hitchens adds his own comment on Pinochet's legacy. Hitchens' piece, though I mention it last, is worthwhile, because it is probably one of the comprehensive ones. Probably by virtue of Hitchens' work on The Trial of Henry Kissinger.
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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Farewell, You Bloodthirsty Bastard

Well, the news today is that former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet has finally kicked the bucket. As Nav points out, I'm sure that poor Maggie Thatcher is terribly upset. Perhaps Kissinger is upset at losing an old friend too? As for me, the only sadness that I see in this is that the man never had to give an answer for his crimes.

I know that some have made attempts to rehabilitate the man, citing their belief that Pinochet was the only thing that stood between Chile and communism. This defense of Pinochet is, well, indefensible. "Disappearances" of political opponents is a crime against humanity. This is true when Stalin did it in the name of communism just as it was Pinochet did it in the name of capitalism. Sadly though, the practice persists.

Though Pinochet never faced trial, he did come close. Let us hope that this may start to put some other would-be war criminals on notice. Interestingly today Andrew Sullivan posted a quote by Scott Horton suggesting that Merkel's Germany would take any charge against Donald Rumsfeld very seriously,
"You must remember," said the advisor, "that [Chancellor Merkel] was born and raised in a totalitarian state. She cannot be indifferent to questions of this sort. In fact, she views them as matters of the utmost gravity and they will be treated that way. The Nuremberg process happened in my country. It was painful for us. But we absorbed it. It became a part of our legacy. An important part of our legacy. We will not forget it. But I have to ask you: why has your country forgotten?"
It's a shame that Pinochet never had to answer for himself in this life, but maybe others will have to answer for themselves...

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In lieu of real posts...

...more YouTube! Seriously, I have some good posting ideas that I'm working on, but in the meantime I bring you some more videos. The first one is William Shatner's interpretation of Elton John (HT: Dennis Perrin):

Comical. And yet, it's a strangely hypnotic performance. Funny, but verging on poignant, I cannot turn away. Now, watch Stewie's interpretation of Shatner's, uh, interpretation of Elton John:

Stuff like this is what makes Family Guy vital, and not merely a footnote to the Simpsons. For all their obscure referencing, I can't imagine the Simpsons touching this one.
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Saturday, December 09, 2006

This and That

Blogger is now be subtly more insistent that blogs be migrated over to the "new" version of Blogger. What's the big deal? Moreover, I'm worried about losing all the little bits of code that have been added into this blog over time. I've messed around with a whole variety of things. I like its look (not totally, but at least it's my own doing) and I like the Haloscan bits I've added in. Maybe if I migrate it, I'll just save all the code from the old version as a notepad file... Still, back to my original question, is it even worth doing this?
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Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Clash

I have no reason to post this. Do I need a reason? It's The Clash!

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A Breath of Air

I've not got much to write right now. Today was my last day of student teaching. Where I will go from here, I'm not entirely sure. Obviously I want to angle for some kind of work through December at least. Beyond that? We'll see where I end up and what I'm doing. Right now I think it's just time to pause for a second or two.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Hate Week

(With apologies to George Orwell.)
As I was mulling over what to post about today, it struck me that a number of hatreds are rearing their heads over the past couple of days.

This is the 17th anniversary of the Montreal massacre in which 14 female students of Ecole Polytechnique were gunned down. The murderer was apparently motivated by his misogyny.

More recently, Dennis Prager has decided that it's a bad thing to have a Muslim congressman swear an oath on the Qur'an. Fortunately, almost every quarter of American society has called Prager out on this stupid idea that everyone should swear on the Bible. Significantly, the Anti-Defamation League came out very strongly against Prager. (Prager is also the winner of the Godwin's Law award this week, for comparing the Qur'an to Mein Kampf.) Jews standing up for the rights of Muslims or vice versa (or indeed anyone standing up for someone else's religious rights) gives me hope.

Now we are off to Iran, where Napoleon complex sufferer President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is planning to host a conference on the Holocaust. Apparently he's not sure if it happened. Ahmadinejad insists (with a straight face, I assume) that he's not creating a platform for anti-Semites, neo-Nazis or anyone else like that. Really though, this is akin to having a conference on whether or not the world is round. The very premise means you will be inviting the flat-earth society for their views.

Now someone find me some good news... please?
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Tuesday, December 05, 2006


I did too much driving today, and too much marking too. Actually, I still need to do more marking, so maybe it was not enough. I'm thinking though that this is it. This is it as far as my year at teachers college (well, almost it). It's hard to believe that it's almost at an end.

When I embarked on this educational program, I thought of it as my year of holding my head under water. Well, it's almost time for me to come up for some air, and the thought of that is fantastic. Well, sort of, I need to get back to some paid employment and get a bunch of other things on the go, but the intense part of this year is almost at an end.
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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Lessons Learned This Weekend

Here are a few:
  • The glass area on the first-generation Chrysler Intrepid is too susceptible to branch strikes.
  • Kubo Radio does not stay open all that late (even thought their cupcakes are still superb).
  • Long & McQuade does not carry as wide a selection of bass strings as I would have liked.
  • Be careful, you never, and I mean never know when an accident will occur. I saw a nasty one on Friday, a young boy (3-ish) was in one of the vehicles. It was broad daylight, the road was not wet or icy, the traffic was not overly heavy, and none of that mattered.
  • Someone out there has a man-crush on Tom Brady?
If I think of anything else, I'll add it. What did you learn this weekend?
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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Christmas is Coming

Christmas is coming, so you can expect a fair amount totally schlocky crap emanating from the speakers of your local shopping mall. CDs of this useless drivel will be thrown at us during every commercial break, I shudder at the thought. Anyway, let me get this out here first, my favourite Christmas song: Fairytale of New York by The Pogues.

I'm not kidding here, and I'm not being needlessly contrarian. I love this song, and I suppose maybe in part my Irish blood biases me, but let me make my case. This song is about hope, and hope in the shittiest of places too. There is no glossy wrapping to this story, the characters in the song are initially hostile to each other. There is nothing noble about them either, they aren't singing for starving kids or anything. You aren't let off the hook by feeling that your listening is actually helping famine victims. They are singing to each other, and, by the end of the song maybe even offering each other redemption. If this is not a Christmas song, then I have misunderstood Christmas, please feel free to return to fighting over this years "it" toy.
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Another Expert Weighs In...

...and agrees that Nickelback is complete garbage. This time its blogging heavyweight, Atrios.
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