Monday, December 31, 2007
Only in the National Post
Sunday, December 30, 2007
More Stupidity From The Recording Industry
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.
The Best of 2007: Music II
Labels: The New Pornographers
John Paul II on the Origins of The Universe
"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.
Taking Over The Family Business
Saturday, December 29, 2007
The Best of 2007: Personal
Labels: real life
Friday, December 28, 2007
The Best of 2007: Quotes
"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.
Tariq Ali on Bhutto's Death
"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.)
The Best of 2007: Music
The best song though, would be The Night Starts Here by Stars:
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Benazir Bhutto: A Complicated Legacy
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.
The Best of 2007: Film
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.
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.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
"It was Christmas Eve, babe, in the drunk tank..."
Sunday, December 23, 2007
How to win votes and alienate people
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?
Don't Try This At Home
"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.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.
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."
Shorter John Ivison
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.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Remember this song?
Labels: The Refreshments
From the People Trying to Write Canada's Copyright Law
Friday, December 21, 2007
Et tu Colbert?
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Truth in Advertising
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.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Punishing the Victim
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Daniel Pipes Breeds 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.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Despair at the Big Box Book Store
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.
Blizzard of Ought Seven (Continued)
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.)
Convicted Criminal Conrad struggles to figure out why friends have thrown him under the bus
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.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Just go and buy The Broken String mmkay?
Labels: Bishop Allen
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.
Friday, December 14, 2007
I don't know what to say
I want the Mulroney Tax Plan
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.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
No Longer Lost
I'm not sure how I feel about knowing what that was. At least he wasn't whispering direction to her or something.
Labels: Lost in Translation
Religion and Politics II
Religion and Politics
"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.
The Dumbass Copyright Law Came Back
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Copyright Law Round Up
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.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Immanuel Kant: Wrong for America
No word on the possible late entry of Soren Kierkegaard into this campaign though... Interesting.
This album is really growing on me.
Labels: The New Pornographers
Friday, December 07, 2007
Being Played for Fools in Kandahar
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.
Et Tu, Nalgene?
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Mammoliti calls for Martial Law in Toronto
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.
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.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
More Irrational Hatred from Barbara Kay
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.
Guantanamo Before the US Supreme Court
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Why can't we drive this LAV all the way to a majority?
“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.
Iran Not Going for the Bomb
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.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Chavez and the Referendum
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.
Four More Years, But Why?
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.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
The Utter Paranoia (or Slothfulness) of the Gun Nuts
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.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
What do you think?
Labels: The New Pornographers
Don't like this generalization? Here, try another one!
"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."