Monday, December 31, 2007

We made it around the sun again!


I hope you have fun if you're doing something tonight. Celebrating New Years always feels a bit forced to me. But everyone's doing it, right?

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Only in the National Post

Robert Fulford gets angry at those who speak of "carbon footprints" because they belong to that set of people who do things to the English language that he does not like. What's problematic here is that Fulford appears to be decrying a lack of economy with words, and yet, I can't think of a more concise way to describe the greenhouse gas emissions that result from the activities of an individual, nation, industry, corporation, or what-have-you.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

More Stupidity From The Recording Industry

Now in the US the RIAA is saying that you can't even make an MP3 from a CD that you legally own! This is insanity! Does the recording industry really really think that we should buy a CD and pay for a legal download of the same song for our own personal use.


I think it's time to start calling out these characters because I suspect that none of them do these sorts of stupid things themselves. Let's take Terry Corcoran for example, he's clearly in favour of these kinds of stupid laws with no fair-use provisions. Does Terry Corcoran have any music on his computer that he ripped from legally purchased CDs? Does any member of his family have anything of this sort?

I highly doubt at this stage that there are very many computer users who have not backed up at least some of their music collection onto their hard drives. Pundits who support these draconian laws, politicians who enact them, lawyers who file suits based on them - I suspect that most of these people have intellectual property that somehow falls outside the extremely narrow provisions of the music industry.

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The Best of 2007: Mutants

My cat, Hemingway - why? She has extra front toes!

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The Best of 2007: Music II

How could I have forgotten this gem? Neko Case and a banjo, what else could you want?


John Paul II on the Origins of The Universe

The more I look at it, the more I wonder why this issue looms so large for the Huckabees of the world when a conservative pope like John Paul II was able to see that evolution need not be some massive theological stumbling block:
"The Bible itself speaks to us of the origin of the universe and its make-up, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise, but in order to state the correct relationships of man with God and with the universe. Sacred Scripture wishes simply to declare that the world was created by God, and in order to teach this truth it expresses itself in the terms of the cosmology in use at the time of the writer."
Perhaps after the bad press that the Vatican got from the whole heliocentric thing, they decided to take a more cautious approach about science. In the meantime, Jason is preparing his dissent here.

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Taking Over The Family Business

Benazir Bhutto's 19 year-old son, Bilawal is set to become the new head of her Pakistan Peoples' Party. This would appear to be a function of the fact that Benazir Bhutto allowed for no rivals in her party.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Best of 2007: Personal

I'm going to pick getting engaged for this one. Thank you for putting up with me and this blog, Les ;)


Friday, December 28, 2007

The Best of 2007: Quotes

Well, I'm not quite sure if this could be considered the "best" in a conventional sense. Rather, this quote is perhaps one of the more important ones. Tom Flanagan on the Conservatives game plan:
"In times of perceived crisis, a conservative party can win by positioning itself further to the right, as shown by the victories of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Ralph Klein, Mike Harris and Gordon Campbell. But Canadians don't perceive themselves in crisis right now." (emphasis mine)
Again, when you watch how Harper governs, remember this.

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Tariq Ali on Bhutto's Death

This piece probably nails the implications of Bhutto's death best. A sample:
"Benazir's horrific death should give her colleagues pause for reflection. To be dependent on a person or a family may be necessary at certain times, but it is a structural weakness, not a strength for a political organisation."
(Via Dennis Perrin who points out how most US coverage seems to see this as a political football for the primary season.)

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The Best of 2007: Music

There was a lot that came out this year that was decent. The New Pornographers, Stars, and The Weakerthans all had new albums out. That said, the album that I'd pick as my favourite this year would have to be The Broken String by Bishop Allen. Here they are at SXSW:

The best song though, would be The Night Starts Here by Stars:

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto: A Complicated Legacy

The type of press that Benazir Bhutto will probably get over the next few days will probably tout her as a model of moderation and liberalism in the Muslim world. Certainly being a women and being relatively young when she came to power means that some of this is not without merit. Also, she appears to have stood up to bin Laden before any Westerners knew who he was.

There was another Benazir Bhutto though, one that appeared to be massively corrupt. In addition, it's no secret that her family owed its prominence to the continuation of feudalism in Pakistan. She may not have been a religious fanatic, she may not have been a military dictator yet she was surely not without her faults. If the West was pinning a great deal on Bhutto's chances at being elected, even without the tragic events of this day, there surely would have been problems. The challenges facing Pakistan were never solvable by any one person, be it Musharraf or Bhutto.

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Benazir Bhutto

It's a shock when it happens, and yet in the grand scheme things, tragically unsurprising. I don't know what else to say about the suicide bombing death of Benazir Bhutto.

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The Best of 2007: Film

No Country for Old Men.

Now maybe I'm biased since I already enjoy Cormac McCarthy's writing, but this was a great film. The Coen brothers managed to make the inevitable cuts to render it film-length without butchering the essential story. Javier Bardem was brilliant as Anton Chigurh in particular. Just watch this film already.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Don't Let the Facts Ruin a Good Fundraising Drive

Back to politics:

Buckdog reports that Doug Finley is beseeching the Conservative Party faithful to fight the evil CBC. This all goes back to the tempest in the teapot over a CBC reporter feeding questions to a Liberal MP about Mulroney. This is amusing because a while ago Paul Wells pointed out that this sort of thing happens all the time in Ottawa. A sample:
"I don't know whether I ever did it with Reform, Alliance or NDP MPs when the Liberals were in government, but I know it got done and if I had a story I needed advancing, I'd have done it in a second. 'Hey, you might want to ask about....'"
Anyone who has anything other than a totally, totally naive view of politics must surely assume that such things happen all the time. Of course feigned naivety is a great political tool. Stephen Taylor and Doug Finley are shocked! Shocked that the media and the opposition sometimes share information.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas...

...if that's your thing. Otherwise I hope your marking of the Winter Solstice was acceptable in whatever form you chose. I happened to get a chair massager which will undoubtedly be another reason to spend even more time in front of this machine. So perhaps you can expect more blogging - but perhaps more relaxed blogging. Well, I don't about that last bit.


Monday, December 24, 2007

"It was Christmas Eve, babe, in the drunk tank..."

My favourite Christmas song, BBC shenanigans notwithstanding:

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

How to win votes and alienate people

Impolitical reminds us today of the silliness that Harper engaged in over veiled voters. What this reminded me of was how it occurred to me that I could have easily committed electoral fraud this last election (note to law enforcement types: this is strictly hypothetical and in no way tested or endorsed by me). I moved between elections, something I suspect that thousands of voters do. The way voters lists are done now means that I would have still been on the list in my old riding, being a lazy git, I didn't make any move to add myself to the voters list in my new riding till the day of the election. I could have voted in my old riding (my name surely would have been on the list) and as far as I can tell, showed up at my new riding and done likewise. How did I prove my address? My cable bill. Yes, that's right, it was the only thing I had at the time that had my new address.

Now, again I'm not an expert, but I suspect that it would be cheaper to run off a bunch of cable bills with local addresses or something than it would be to invest in all kinds of niqabs. Electoral fraud is of course a Very Bad Thing if you agree with democracy and/or the rule of law, but my goodness, the idea that veils would be the only tool for it is, well, a bit silly. Anyone who wants to commit electoral fraud can probably do so (though I suspect the penalties if you are caught are unpleasant) without any kind of veil. But then you don't get many votes with those who bellow about Islamofascism, do you?

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Don't Try This At Home

For those of you who are wondering how bad waterboarding could possibly be, here's a taste via Andrew Sullivan:
"At the time my lungs emptied and I began to draw water, I would have sold my children to escape. There was no choice, or chance, and willpower was not involved.

I never felt anything like it, and this was self-inflicted with a watering can, where I was in total control and never in any danger.

And I understood.

Waterboarding gets you to the point where you draw water up your respiratory tract triggering the drowning reflex. Once that happens, it's all over. No question.

Some may go easy without a rag, some may need a rag, some may need saran wrap.

Once you are there it's all over.

I didn't allow anybody else to try it on me. Inconceivable. I know I only got the barest taste of what it's about since I was in control, and not restrained and controlling the flow of water.

But there's no chance. No chance at all.

So, is it torture?

I'll put it this way. If I had the choice of being waterboarded by a third party or having my fingers smashed one at a time by a sledgehammer, I'd take the fingers, no question.

It's horrible, terrible, inhuman torture. I can hardly imagine worse. I'd prefer permanent damage and disability to experiencing it again. I'd give up anything, say anything, do anything.

The Spanish Inquisition knew this. It was one of their favorite methods.

It's torture. No question. Terrible terrible torture. To experience it and understand it and then do it to another human being is to leave the realm of sanity and humanity forever. No question in my mind."
So there you have it folks, the next time some wingnut tries to sell you on the notion that this is not torture, well now this is just one more example of how wrong they are.

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Shorter John Ivison

Dion's poverty plan won't be affordable because Steve Harper and his government says it won't. So there.

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Mandatory Tires?

In Quebec they are now forcing people to have snow tires on their vehicles from November to April. Some (Julian Fantino among them) have voiced support for this idea in Ontario.

No thanks.

Now maybe you could make the case for this in parts of the province, but not in Toronto, it just doesn't make sense. Even when we had that really nasty snow storm last weekend (and let's face it, that's a once-every-five-years storm) the roads were fine in 24 hours. To be sure, snow tires are a wise choice in many circumstances, but given the driving conditions in Toronto (never all that bad) I can't see making a case for a province-wide law making the things mandatory.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Remember this song?

Tonight, for some reason I remember this tune from the mid-1990s. Enjoy:


From the People Trying to Write Canada's Copyright Law

Apparently they are creating "video press releases" in the US that are pretty much regurgitated by local news. Something to be aware if you see a fawning story about CDMCA here on the local news.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Et tu Colbert?

Et tu Stewart?

Both are headed back to work in spite of the writers' strike (and in spite of the fact that they are both WGA members).

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Truth in Advertising

Torontoist has a great example today. I should note that "the south side of Queen at Ossington" is pretty much the front entrance to the Queen St. Mental Health Centre.

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Minority Report

Despite all the talk about the message discipline and focus and accomplishments of Harper, despite all the accusations that the Liberals had a terrible leader in Dion, despite everything said by the Blogging Tories, Harper cannot put any daylight between himself and Dion.

The reality is that another election, barring someone really stepping in it, would probably produce either a thin Conservative or a thin Liberal minority.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Punishing the Victim

It's sad that in Saudi Arabia it's considered something of a victory that the victim of a gang-rape is not going to be lashed.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Daniel Pipes Breeds Violence

Daniel Pipes is upset that people are giving money to the Palestinians. If there is one man who truly hates the Palestinians, it is surely Pipes. He attempts to show some kind of correlation between violence and funding, and yet what is his alternative? Turn Gaza into Mogadishu? Now Pipes does not conclude that funding causes violence:
"As Stotsky notes, 'These statistics do not mean that foreign aid causes violence; but they do raise questions about the effectiveness of using foreign donations to promote moderation and combat terrorism.'"
But if it doesn't cause violence, then why criticize it? Is Pipes upset that the Palestinians get any money under any circumstances? Does he think that the massive aid packages the US gives Israel every year could be topped up with this money? Pipes probably did not like how Jimmy Carter subtitled his book but the only long-term implications of Pipes' policy seem to look a great deal like apartheid. Yeah, I can't see cutting off people and starving them as a way to peace Mr. Pipes.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Despair at the Big Box Book Store

There was a time, say ten years ago when my age, and somewhat bookish interests, and suburban residence conspired to make the arrival of Chapters and Indigo really exciting to me. Before these stores came around books were, in my life, bought sold in little shoeboxes of stores in the mall where the necessities of space dictated that most of the shelves would contain Stephen King or Danielle Steele or someone else of that ilk.

In that light, you have to understand that the advent of the much bigger bookstores was a boon to me. I don't know whether they've gone down hill since then or whether my standards have improved, but these days I experience much more disgust. The sheer square footage ensures that there is always some product that is worthwhile but the stuff that is prominently displayed seems to be uniform in its schlocky quality.

It doesn't matter what aisle you walk down, outside of fiction there are plenty of books by smiling gurus - gurus of fitness, religion, money, whatever - smiling their photoshopped botox smiles. There is so much seemingly easy advice on how to do this or that. It's miserable to me because people are so ready for a cheap, easy answer that they'll spend all kinds of time and money chasing it.

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Blizzard of Ought Seven (Continued)

I'm going to try to make my way into work, in the meantime though I thought this clip fitting:

Don't worry, I'll be back later to write about the embarrassment that is John Baird.

Update: Scott already hit the nail on the head.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Blizzard of Ought Seven

It's fairly unpleasant here in Toronto. Getting the car out of the laneway has thus far proved impossible. My hope is that things will improve tomorrow morning for work. I made it to the store on foot to pick up some groceries, but that's been the extent of my going out today. (Picture: Hemingway the cat is happy to be an indoor cat.)

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Convicted Criminal Conrad struggles to figure out why friends have thrown him under the bus

That's what I would have titled this column.


The New Gilded Age

Mound of Sound has some stats about how the rich are, you know, getting richer while everyone else gets left behind. A quote from the New York Times article:
"It is meaningless to middle- and low-income families to say we have a great economy because their economy looks so much different than folks at the top of the scale because this is an economy that is working, but not working for everyone."
We live in an interesting age, one where we've been able remove any moral or ethical dimension from the workings of our economy, it's just business. Economic orthodoxy forbids us from criticizing ridiculous CEO salaries or idiotic income disparities - it's just the marking working itself out. But heaven forfend if anyone has gay sex or something.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rock On

Bishop Allen "Click, click, click, click"

Just go and buy The Broken String mmkay?


Third Birthday

MNFU has now been going for three years, so, uh, good for me!


Stand Up For Canada*

*Ontario not included.

The Star's editorial today is spot on about Ontario getting cheated out of representation by population. It seems that the job of raising concern over this has largely been left to Queens Park. The Liberals and the NDP need to be more vocal about this issue.

In general Ontario goes along to get along as they say. And sure, as long as we had all the money and a great deal of political power concentrated here, that was fine. Now though we have a Western-based party obsessed with non-renewable resources at the apparent expense of manufacturing and we need to stand the hell up and assert ourselves. We want our democratic rights, we want our votes to count! Stop trying to silence us!

Parties that pussyfoot around this issue for fear of losing votes elsewhere should not expect Ontarians' votes in the next election.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

I don't know what to say

This website is a shocker. It's also a stark response to those that would reserve the right to use landmines, cluster bombs and other horrific munitions that refuse to go away after the peace treaties have been concluded. Thoughts?

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I want the Mulroney Tax Plan

The Globe & Mail has an article this morning called "Mulroney's six-year tax gap" about how the former PM didn't find it necessary to report his $225 000 in cash from Schreiber for some six years. Mulroney apparently didn't think it necessary to pay taxes on his Schreiber money until the latter was charged. Until then he had considered it as money for covering lobbying expenses, not income. What if Schreiber hadn't been charged? Uhhh:
When asked when he would have paid the tax had Mr. Schreiber not been charged with fraud, tax evasion and bribery in relation to military deals and political contributions in Germany, Mr. Mulroney replied, “I don't know the answer to that.”
So he did it because Schreiber was in trouble? Otherwise it was money for expenses? This strikes me as the action of a guilty conscience. If this was really money designed to cover expenses, there would have been no need to pay tax on it. But once Mulroney saw that Schreiber was in trouble, he got nervous. Or something. It doesn't make sense and all of Mulroney's righteous indignation cannot change that.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

No Longer Lost

Lost in Translation has to be in my list of top three films. Now someone has decoded Bill Murray's enigmatic whisper (SPOILER ALERT):

I'm not sure how I feel about knowing what that was. At least he wasn't whispering direction to her or something.


Religion and Politics II

Here's another good quote, this one from Matthew Yglesias on religion in the public square:
"For whatever you may say about Europe's relative lack of religiosity, it's not a lack of entanglement of religion in public life that led to it."

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Religion and Politics

I like this quote from Atrios:
"I suppose what's driven me nuts all of these years is the fact that my opposition to the religion creep in political rhetoric has probably been much more motivated by my concern that bringing the God Wars into the public square would be bad for religion than concerns about it being somehow bad for politics or policy. I don't much care if people are religious or not, but without religious freedom, which really encompasses much more than who you pray to, you don't have freedom in any meaningful sense at all."
I'm not sure I'd agree entirely with this formulation, but I've long had similar concerns about how damaging the politicizing of religion can be to religion.

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The Dumbass Copyright Law Came Back

While I was away from this here blog the Conservatives dropped their copyright legislation, but now they appear to be bringing it back. Scott has called on everyone to tell their MP how stupid this law is. In the meantime, despite another search, I still cannot find a peep from the Blogging Tories. Maybe this story is off-message for them because it isn't about Islamofascist abortionists faking global warming because Dion isn't a leader. Or something.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I survived!

Expect regularly scheduled blogging to return tomorrow morning. My workplace had a big inspection but we did fine, so I'm going to be back shortly.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Managing Expectations

My work situation will be hectic up to Wednesday, so posting may be minimal for the beginning of the week.

In the meantime, why can't we drive this car? It would be just fine downtown if nowhere else.

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Copyright Law Round Up

Canada is proposing serious changes to copyright laws and yet, outside of the blogosphere and other geek domains, it would be hard for anyone to tell. If you search for "Canada copyright law" in Google News the top stories are dominated by sites like Slashdot with only one mention from the Grope & Flail over a week ago as well as Reuters story even older than that.

Among blogs I usually read, Saskboy has been relentless in following this issue while JJ points us to, among other things, a news aggregator on the topic.

Do you like the internet?

Do you own an MP3 player?

Do you like to backup your media from one format to another?

Do you enjoy satire?

If you answered "yes" to any of this, this law will affect you. For what it's worth, I was going to see if there had been any comment on this matter among the Blogging Tories (I was wondering whether the only conservative position on this was strictly corporatist CRIA-worship or not), but they haven't said anything at all.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Immanuel Kant: Wrong for America

A while ago, a number of my friends engaged in a bit of a debate about the philosophies of Immanuel Kant. This damning video though will put that all to rest.

No word on the possible late entry of Soren Kierkegaard into this campaign though... Interesting.

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Saturday Morning

It's been a while since I indulged in a gratuitous YouTube clip, so here, enjoy some New Pornographers:

This album is really growing on me.


Friday, December 07, 2007

Being Played for Fools in Kandahar

It appears as though Canada is having difficulty finding another NATO country to take our place in the dangerous Kandahar province. Predictably, right-wingers think our only course is to play the sucker for NATO and stay in the worst part of a troubled country in the vague hope that will modernize an ancient tribal society in 5-10 years. They tout the "stay the course" line - one wonders if the insignia of Canada's hawks ought to be the captain of the Titanic - unprepared to play hardball over this. Ask some questions you guys:
Should anyone be occupying Afghanistan?
Will it result in any long-term positive social change?
If so, why should Canada be stuck in the worst part of this job?
I thought we had matured as a nation past the point where some imperial idiot like Douglas Haig could simply order us to be cannon fodder. Now some people ensconced the National Post's editorial office would have us volunteer.

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Et Tu, Nalgene?

Mountain Equipment Co-Op has pulled everyone's favourite camper/poseur camper water bottle from the shelves. I haven't been following this too closely, but apparently they contain bisphenol A which can, ahem, mess with your junk - or whatever the technical term is for that. One of the things that I've sometimes thought is that plastics, for all their uses, are simply too good to be true - perhaps they are.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Mammoliti calls for Martial Law in Toronto

For those of you who don't follow Toronto politics, Giorgio Mammoliti is pretty much the worst of all possible councillors. A former NDPer-turned right-wing whacko, he hasn't seen an office expense he didn't enjoy (including a limo ride to nowhere).

In Mammoliti's latest exposition of his general vileness, he has proposed calling in the military to round up alleged gang members whilst dispensing with any kind of due process. Seriously, here's a sample:
"This idea of asking the federal government to help out came up awhile back. It’s not the first time I’ve been saying it. You know, it comes out of desperation, I think, in a community that has been promised by all three levels of government that the shooting will stop and governments are doing whatever they can to help. It’s been years and it’s not subsiding at all. It’s getting worse. It’s not getting better. It’s gang members that are doing it. They’re holding communities hostage. [People] are afraid to come out of their homes and they want something done immediately. This community, they would like to see these gang members taken off the streets and held indefinitely, if possible. The only people that have that authority are the federal government and the army quite frankly."
Meanwhile, the chief of police, Bill Blair has quite sensibly told Mammoliti to shut the hell up. The gang problem in Toronto is bad enough, but if New York City could survive without the army in the 1980s, then we can manage here.

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Canada in Bali: A National Embarassment

Apparently we've teamed up (unofficially, of course) with the US and Japan to put out the message that "economic growth is just as valuable as the environment." The same group of countries is working against any kind of short-term targets - why do tomorrow what you can put off till the day after that? This is not a Canada that I can feel proud about, this is a shameful country willing to put short-term gain in the form of oil revenue ahead of the long-term danger of climate change.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

More Irrational Hatred from Barbara Kay

I don't know what else to say about this weird tirade against remembering the Montreal massacre. Apparently in Kay's delusional world view remembering one tragedy somehow inhibits the commemoration of other tragedies. Apparently it is Kay's role alone to determine the hierarchy of tragedies. Additionally she dislikes it because it is "vacant" and it "nurtures conspiracy theories" though Kay does not provide evidence to back these accusations.

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Criminalizing iPods

The Conservatives are set to unveil some kind of new copyright law that caters to the insane, vaguely suicidal music industry lobby. You can reasonably expect some kind of levy on, say, Mp3 players among other things. Saskboy has the goods on why this is a terrible idea. Of course I'd expect the Cons to yield to an asshole-filled corporate lobby group, but Saskboy raises this point to:
"Note the Liberal’s Minister partly responsible for the Copyright Act was also in the pocket of the CRIA, as was past minister Bev Oda."
That doesn't exactly fill me with hope. I know that there is a very Bay St.-oriented blue-grit wing of the Liberals that might well support this kind of let-the-business-lobby-write-the-law approach. What I want to see is how the opposition handles this law, and particularly what kind of Liberal party Dion is running. If you bend to the recording industry, why not the energy sector on climate change? I don't think it's too big of a leap from this comparatively venal (though important to music fans) law to something like emissions. Will they go for a US-style lawsuit-heavy industry-kowtowing law or will they vote against it? This is the kind of vote that separates the real progressives from the poseurs.

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Guantanamo Before the US Supreme Court

Again. At some point you would think that someone in the Bush administration might realize that this is just not the way to do things. Except that's not how they do things. Sigh. Another year and a bit...

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Why can't we drive this LAV all the way to a majority?

Scott has posted on the utterly craven reasoning behind Conservative military spending with a choice quote from a National Post story:
“Some Conservatives have also complained the funding the government has directed for new defence equipment has not translated into additional support for the party at the polls.”
Boo-fucking-hoo. I thought we needed all this stuff to fight a war. If the high-profile purchases of things like Boeing C-17s were really attempts to buy votes, it's really far more expensive than Chretien's custom golf balls. This quote above is enough for someone to do a really careful audit of every military expenditure approved under the Conservatives. The military is not a slush fund and our soldiers are not campaign signs.

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Iran Not Going for the Bomb

This story has been floating around the blogosphere quite a bit: it appears that the Iranian government abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003. While the American intelligence community has been pretty damaged by the Iraq fiasco, but the pressure was undoubtedly on the CIA et cetera to show that there was a bomb being built.

Here's some speculation: 2003 was the invasion of Iraq, could it be that once the American military did away with Iran's greatest existential threat, Saddam and his alleged weapons programs, there was no good reason to develop a deterrent.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Chavez and the Referendum

I have to admit that I was not following this event closely and, depending on where you got your information, it was either a set of very sensible reforms or mad grab at power. That said, Chavez has once again shown that he respects the democratic process as well as the rule of law. Musharraf didn't ask before seizing undemocratic powers, Putin seems to have rigged the most recent vote in Russia, and a host of US clients in the Middle East would be terrified by free and fair elections.

Yet if you watch what comes out of Washington and sympathetic press organs, Chavez is constantly cast in a much worse light than any of the others I mentioned. The way that Bush defends Musharraf in particular makes me think that Pervez is his abusive husband - it's sad because no one believes but you get the sense that Bush clings to his fantasy of Musharraf the democratic leader. My instincts these days leave me very suspicious at any increase in centralized executive powers, but I feel confident that if Venezuela does give Chavez more power, it will be a fair, democratic decision.

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Four More Years, But Why?

It appears that I was wrong when I said that John Tory would drop his Ontario PC leader job like a bad habit after a loss in the provincial vote this fall. Not so though, it appears now that Tory is fighting to keep his job. Overall, while I'm not eager to see Tory become premier, he remains more palatable than, say, Frank Klees or any of the other Harrisites.

One wonders though exactly what Tory will develop in terms of a platform that he can use in the next election. I don't think he'll touch education again and the McGuinty-is-a-liar meme never had the traction that the PCs thought it might.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Utter Paranoia (or Slothfulness) of the Gun Nuts

Stockwell Day has decided to quietly do away with a perfectly sensible gun importation regulation. The rule that he has ditched would have required firearms importers to put an imprint on every gun legally imported into this country. The police are in favour of this move as it allows them to better track how guns are falling into the wrong hands.

Now why would the gun lobby oppose such a sensible measure? Either following this rule is somehow too arduous (though I doubt that) or they are completely paranoid. Every attempt to register and track guns is fought tooth and nail by these people. I doubt very much the same people would support the notion of unlicensed motor vehicles or aircraft, but for whatever reason they cannot tolerate the anyone knowing anything about how many guns they have, where they put them, what types they are, or where they came from.

Guns are magical secret toys for this bunch. I don't think any of them take pains to oppose licensing cats, anglers, automobiles or anything else, but the second that someone tries to keep track of guns it's Nazi Germany all over for this bunch (whether or not their claims have any basis in reality is another matter).

Sure. And when the tanks come rolling through, a bunch of rotund hunters used to slathering themselves in deer piss and sitting in a tree will arm themselves with shotguns to stop them. Bullshit. I mean the gun lobby is actually craziest lobby out there in terms of paranoia if they believe in the logical implications of their talking points.

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If someone invites you to download the "Jetman" program on your Facebook account, do NOT do it. You will sit for hours playing a silly little game that makes Pacman look like Halo3 in terms of complexity and storytelling.

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Coming Around

I wasn't sure about the most recent New Pornographers album, but it's growing on me:

What do you think?


Don't like this generalization? Here, try another one!

Over Celestial Junk there's much head scratching. It seems Mr. Junk's step-son submitted a paper on Islamic terrorism and the outcome was not quite what was hoped:
"The essay came back with a lower mark that his other submissions, despite the fact that it was likely my step-son’s most thoughtful and best structured so far. The professor made a number of structural suggestions; but in conclusion, he stated that one cannot blame terrorism on a religion … period."
Okay, first off, it's curious that he thinks this is his step-son's "best structured" essay and yet part of the low mark was a result of the professor needing to make "structural suggestions." Of course all parents are delusional when speaking of their children, mine think I'm good looking! But of course the essay structure is not the real problem, the real problem is that this academic is proving resistant to gross over-generalizations:
"So, look what we have. We have a university political science professor who is unwilling … ever … to consider the effect of religion on any given population. He will blame every conceivable thing on Jihad, except religion."
I think Mr. Junk got the last bit backwards, but okay, I get his point. But if you're talking about the effect of a religion, it's difficult to explain why millions of Muslims seem to be able to lead peaceful, productive lives without blowing shit up. But this isn't just a problem with one misguided prof, this is a problem with all "liberals" and "progressives." To Mr. Junk they are all self-hating anti-Westerners who inexplicably hang around in that most Western of institutions, the academy.

The roots of terrorism are complicated, and this frustration on the part of Mr. Junk over the inability of more reflective people to jump on the Islamofascism bandwagon reminds me of H.L. Mencken's words:
"There is always a well-known solution to every human problem--neat, plausible, and wrong."

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Ask a Right-Wing Editorial Board

Q: How might we solve poverty in Ontario?

A: Tax cuts!

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