Thursday, January 31, 2008


I've sort of developed a grudging respect for Daimnation as a conservative site that isn't run by nutjobs - they are conservative but I sense that they are not insane. Some of that respect chipped away with this post about the debate over black-focused schools. There are sensible reasons why one might have misgivings about Toronto's plans for an Afrocentric school - I was going to post something along those lines. Fears that this will somehow open the door to a publicly-funded, er, madrassa is not one of them. Seriously guys.

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Stephen Harper's campaign song

I really hope that opposition decides to do the right thing and knock off this government sooner rather than later. The disturbing tales of the civil service keeping track of opposition MPs just adds another level of sinister to what Harper is doing.

This is an opaque, paranoid government run by a bunch of Harperite drones. In that light, I present to you the campaign theme song for the Conservative Party: Radiohead's Paranoid Android!

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Your Last Chance to Show Some Love!

This the last day of voting for the Canadian Blog Awards. I'll mention one more time that this blog is up for Best Non-Partisan Blog. It's all over at 11:59PM PST.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Harper Stands Up for Boeing

It looks like we are signing another contract with Boeing, this time for a bunch of helicopters. I remember when these sorts of purchased were actually scrutinized. Apparently now the Defence department just buys stuff and we'd all better shut up. Because of the war. Or something.

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One Thousand Times the Acceptable Risk

Linda Keen's testimony strikes me as far more credible than Gary Lunn's posturing about how he was saving lives by ignoring the warnings of the nuclear safety commission. My impression is that it is utterly shameful that this woman has been fired. Once again it's apparent that this is the Conservatives' moment of weakness.

M. Dion, Mr. Layton, bring down this government!

Stephen Harper, he's one thousand times the acceptable risk.

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Don't let the door hit you in the ass

That's the sort of sentiment that I sort of feel is emanating from many corners of the US after Bush's last State of the Union address. Here Juan Cole marshals his arguments against Bush one last time. Meanwhile, BAGnewsNotes remarks on Bush as a sort of eternal fratboy. The sense of fatigue that people have from this man's time as president is palpable. I suppose that someone somewhere down the road will attempt to rehabilitate his reputation.

Good luck.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Eric Margolis on the Manley Report

There's a number of areas where I disagree with Eric Margolis, but when he talks about Afghanistan, I tend to believe that his personal experience in the region gives him the credibility that merits me paying attention. What does he think about the Manley report? I'll put it mildly by saying he's not impressed. Read his reaction here.

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Making the Internet Suck

Michael Geist has a column in the Star today about attempts to "lock" the internet down. Since the people who want this kind of thing are media content providers, you don't tend to hear a great deal about this in the media content that they provide. It's being considered quite seriously elsewhere in the world, Geist points to the continent:
"More recently, French President Nicolas Sarkozy unveiled a plan that would mandate country-wide ISP filtering of copyright infringing content. Although a similar pan-European proposal was defeated earlier this month, few believe the issue is dead, particularly given the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry's claim last Thursday that 2008 will be the year of greater ISP responsibility."
This is an alarming, statist solution to concerns over intellectual property rights. Once we start filtering for copyright, the state will have an incredible apparatus with which it may monitor internet content. The temptation to block all manner of other content will be immense. The implications for our freedom of expression from this are surely greater than anything that can be mustered by the Alberta Human Rights Commission. I'm not sure why I haven't seen libertarian-oriented conservatives aren't screaming about this issue. (If you are a libertarian conservative and you have been, tell me and I'll link to it.)

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Is it time?

There have been a few occasion where myself and other bloggers have called for the toppling of the Conservative government, but few of these calls has been as forceful or coherent as Scott's pair of posts on the matter (aided by JimBobby) in the last couple of days.

I think they're onto something here, particularly with the prisoner transfer. A couple of ministries in Harper's government have always been embarrassments. The reality though is that Harper could get away with that at, say, Environment because no one who really cared about the environment was voting for him anyway.

Now though, we see confusion and gross incompetence in one of the files that Harper seems to be really concerned about, the war. Steve's ideas about Canada being "back" on the world stage (where did we go?), his desire to improve US relations, and his general yearning for a "tough" image were all bound up in the Afghan file.

And his people have messed it up, botched a cover-up, and generally made fools of themselves. How his communications people aren't unemployed is beyond me.

Harper has now exposed a great deal of weakness on what was thought to be one of his most well-guarded flanks.

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Bono Reaches Out to Me

Or that's what it looked like to me and everyone else in the theatre last night. I went to see the new U2 3D Imax concert film last night. Now I've not seen really anything in 3D before, so as it stood I had no idea what to expect.


It's hard to describe what this movie is like unless you actually see it. U23D is some of the best concert footage I have seen anywhere. As of now they say there are no plans to put it on DVD (and really, I imagine it loses its power significantly without the 3D aspect). If you care at all for concert films and/or U2, do not miss this.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Self-Nullifying Views of Ezra Levant

Ezra Levant is a self-important, useless douchebag of a man who I would not hire to clean my toilet. According to Mike Brock this exercise of my free speech somehow imperils my free speech because free speech can do everything except criticize Ezra Levant:
"People can flagellate about Ezra Levant's ego and his "grand standing" for the camera. But they do so, at great disservice to the point he has made, no matter why he chooses to make it."
What? That's swell, it's the same logic that says that human rights commissions can clamp down on free speech. You are no better than that which you seek to criticize. I'm not working for your clampdown, Mike.

If Ezra's meaningless insults deserve praise, so do mine. You must laud me.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Is Harper out of touch with the military?

The new talking point about the cessation of Afghan prisoner transfers emanating from the PMO is that the government didn't know they had ended. For the past couple of months this had been an ongoing issue with Canada's role in Afghanistan. In this sort of situation, don't you think that someone in the government might want to phone up the military ask what's going on with prisoner transfers.

Is this government a secretive, partisan operation, or is it just unfathomably incompetent?

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Five Priorities? More like one.

Scott Tribe has already made a pair of very thoughtful posts on the cessation of prisoner transfers to Afghan authorities. I think that his central assessment of this is correct, that Harper was making a political move more than anything. This is another piece of evidence that Harper has one priority - partisan gain.

How damaging were the stories of Canada turning over Afghans to be tortured? The culture of Afghanistan appears to have, among other elements, a sense of family and clan honour that appears to require that scores be settled. If Afghans thought that Canada was handing over their countrymen to be tortured, how many of them were inspired to give aid and comfort to the Taliban? What if we had loudly said, as soon as the issue came up, that ill-treatment was unacceptable, that prisoners dying in captivity was unacceptable, and that we would not be party to any such thing?

The problem though is that Stephen Harper is a man of priorities - and priority number one is partisan victory.

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Local Boy Makes Good

Yes, that's right, Torontoist has an article on the attention that Toronto's Colin Munroe is garnering for his cover of a Kanye West song. Here's the video, shot in Dundas Square:

On a personal level, this is cool as Colin is a friend of a friend and hence I've had drinks with him on a few occasions. Well done, Colin!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Lies that put the US in Iraq

Juan Cole has a post on the false statements that paved the path to war. According to the study cited by Cole, there were some 935 false statements made by the Bush administration.

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Manley Men!

John Manley's report said everything that we always knew it would say - stay the course, more soldiers, et cetera. He also throws in a bargaining tactic (more NATO support or we'll leave) that Damian Penny doesn't like because the mission is too important. Look, on a personal level buying a house is very important, and that's exactly where you want to drive a hard bargain.

The real problem with the report is that I still don't see a set of goals that could tell us that we could leave. Why are we there and what do we need to specifically accomplish to leave? Can we accomplish those goals? I'm not satisfied on those fronts and that's why I remain an Afghan skeptic.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger Found Dead

Don't ask me why a guy would take a girl to Brokeback Mountain as a third date, but I did - and it must have worked since we're engaged. Either way, that's probably the role in which I'll remember Heath Ledger best:


Canadian Blog Awards

Apparently I'm a finalist in the "Non-Partisan" category. A big thanks to the computer glitch that must have caused this everyone who voted for me.


The Gloves Come Off

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton last night, wow:

I'm not sure who these exchanges benefit the most. One wonders though whether the animosity will be such that the respective campaigns - or at least their supporters - cannot come together in any sensible way once the primaries are over.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

The Yes Men Return

I can't wait to peruse Manley's report, I'm sure that it'll tell Harper exactly what he wants to here. Here to demonstrate what happens when you "stay the course" are the kids from Rebel Without A Cause, take it away!

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Today's Thousand-Word Picture

John O'Keefe was hit by a stray bullet and killed as he walked past a strip club on Yonge St. A memorial has sprung up there:

Photo by Miles Storey

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Rock On

I do quite like the new single by Bedouin Soundclash, St. Andrew's:

And yet it still feels a lot like a whole song made from the turnaround in The Clash's Jimmy Jazz:

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Prophet of Chalk River

I'd say it would be Harper's brain, Tom Flanagan who last year tipped his hand with these words:
"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]
Here's the crisis they need to sell off the AECL to GE or someone else. Convert decades of Canadian taxpayer investment into private profits - that's what Lunn aims to do. It's probably what also drove Lunn into a fit of economic nationalism when he insisted that Ontario buy AECL reactors. Create value for GE, great, that's what will cause the Conservative to worry about the Ontario economy.

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Racists for Huckabee

I wonder what Huck's campaign will do about this?

I suspect that at a certain point, someone will ask him about it.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Now on Public Broadcasting!

Public Broadcasting has graciously decided to add More Notes From Underground to its news feed.


There was no medical crisis (?)

There was an interesting interview on As It Happens last night in which Dr. Tom Perry, a physician and UBC prof, pointed out that, contrary to what Gary Lunn is saying, no lives were in danger as a result of the isotope shortage. Dr. Perry indicated that a shortage of this sort might hinder some medical diagnoses, but that doctors had other means to reach those diagnoses.

In this light, Lunn's firing of Linda Keen seems that much more political, much more about skirting government embarrassment.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

What Keen's Firing Says About Harper's Tories

I think the most straightforward lesson to take away from the tarring of Linda Keen as a Liberal hack and her subsequent firing is that we have yet another example of how the Conservatives view everything as a partisan opportunity. This is the Karl Rove strategy perfected in the US.

What I'm going to suggest to the Liberals and the NDP and the Greens is that, by Harper's rules, everything is fair game. Every time you can score partisan points, recognize that, if Harper was in your position, he would not hesitate. I don't know that this is the most tasteful way that politics is done, but you've got give as good as you get, right?

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Shoot the Messenger

I heard this on the radio in the early morning hours, but Harper has canned Linda Keen, the head of the Nuclear Safety Commission for, um, doing her job? Embarrassing Gary Lunn? I don't know, but imagine what would have happened if Paul Martin had fired the auditor general, Sheila Fraser for embarrassing his government. Of course that would be unthinkable - an outrage in the opposition's eyes, Fraser was exposing a slush fund in Quebec! This is just about, you know, nuclear fucking safety!!! No big deal, eh Steve?

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Canadian Blog Awards

Everyone's talking about them (and by everyone, I mean everyone in the Canadian blogosphere). I looked through the nomination lists and saw that my favs were pretty much all nominated in one category or another. Awesome, I thought, I just have to show up to vote. It wasn't until today though that I realized that this blog has also been nominated in the Best Non-Partisan Blog category.

A big thank you to Scott Tribe for the nomination!

Remember readers, vote early, vote often.

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Policy Change or Ministerial Cluelessness?

Maxime Bernier has now twice refused to answer a question about whether Canada opposes new settlement construction in East Jerusalem. The Canadian policy had been to oppose all new settlement construction, but now observers on all sides are wonder whether there's a new policy or if Bernier simply didn't know this file very well.

Insofar as there's one thing that seems to genuinely and legitimately piss off the Palestinians, it is surely ongoing construction of new settlements. Interestingly, the settlers are not well liked in certain segments of the Israeli population as well. Settlement construction seems like an attempt to gobble up as much of the West Bank as possible before any final settlement is reached. Bernier needs to clarify Canada's position on this matter.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Deficits. Again.

Flaherty insists that the federal government will stay in the black, and yet, there continue to be whispers of a return to deficits. After the tough choices made by the Liberals in the 1990s, it would be a shame for the Conservatives to wipe all of that out.

Besides, they cut taxes, isn't that supposed to raise revenues according to the Wall Street Journal's economic theology?

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Lorrie Goldstein says this isn't a problem but...

There's an article in the Globe & Mail today about how the Antarctic ice sheets are breaking apart faster than expected. Contrast this new piece of evidence with Lorrie Goldstein's column yesterday that insists that there's no global warming any year that does not break records. As Far and Wide ably points out, this is a very silly way of understanding global climate trends. At the same time though, if you read the Sun's letters to the editor section, it appears that a chunk of their readership thinks that Goldstein is some kind of climate genius.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Rock On

I think this album kind of got the short end of the stick, maybe because the one that preceded was so good.


Fact: The Alberta Human Rights Commission can't protect you from bear attacks

Today I see that Ezra Levant is being offered up as some kind of martyr by Stephen Taylor. There seems to be a vague attempt to reference Martin Niemöller's poem - perhaps too vague to be a Godwin's Law-type situation, but still.

If I am honest, there is some kind of case to be made for very robust free-speech laws, the problem is that Ezra is such a self-important, hyperbole-driven asshole who appears to have published the cartoons simply as a kind of publicity-stunt for his faltering (now failed) magazine. What's funny if you go to Taylor's site is how Ezra comes off in the hearings. He reminds me of TV's favourite assistant to the regional manager, Dwight Schrute. If Ezra had the shred of self-awareness that would allow him to get around his playground ego he might have some kind of a case.

And now, what you really want: Compare and contrast, first Ezra:

Now Dwight:


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Creationism, who needs it?

My friend, The Roan is waging a war against evolution on his blog. I've told him that literal readings of Genesis don't seem to be necessary from a religious viewpoint (let alone the problems with their scientific accuracy). Today, I thought I'd put up a couple of quotes on the matter. This one comes from blogger Daniel Larison:
"Fideistic understandings of religion and materialistic philosophies that seek to exploit evolutionary biology to their advantage enjoy a symbiotic relationship, since they both thrive on promoting mutual antagonism between reason and faith. Tell the Christian that he must either endorse evolutionary theory or accept the Bible, and he will typically take the Bible, especially if he is not grounded in an authoritative teaching tradition that tells him that this choice is a false one. Tell the average educated secular person that revealed religion is incompatible with scientific theory, and he may very well conclude that those who continue to adhere to revealed religion must be either ignorant, insane or up to no good."
And from a Jesuit astronomer:
"If you read the Church fathers, going back to St. Augustine, it's clear that they are not what modern people would call literalists, or Creationists.

In a lot of ways, that's a modern heresy that comes from our mechanical world, where more people are likely to be reading owner's manuals than poetry."

Feel free to post your dissent.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008


Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Serge Gainsbourg perform Constipation Blues. Really.

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Bizarre Defence of Mark Steyn

I should confess that I haven't really been following the whole brouhaha over Steyn being the subject of a human rights complaint. I'm sure it's helping his book sales though - the pundit's equivalent of a wardrobe malfunction I guess. In the meantime it's curious as to what kinds of defences are being offered for Steyn. Here's Joseph Hayyim taking a crack at it:
"My concern in the whole situation boils down to this: When one is prevented from spreading lies, one can be prevented from telling truth. It sounds obvious and trite, though so many believe that it is "wrong" to offend, and that this sin trumps all. Is free speech hate speech if it offends? Is it so very wrong to offend? If we have the decency to avoid offense in most cases, will we not have the wisdom to speak painful truth?"
Holy confusion, Batman! Mr. Hayyim appears to suggest that it's okay to offend, not just with some kind of painful truth - but also with lies! I wonder what would happen if I wrote a post where I assert that Mr. Hayyim is a convicted sex criminal. Yes it might offend and it might be factually incorrect, but is that so wrong? I suspect that I would receive a letter from Mr. Hayyim's legal counsel in short order asserting that it is.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Rock On

It's been too long since I put some tunes up here. Ladies and gentlemen, The Constantines:


Owning an iPod doesn't make you a criminal

This is the gist of a ruling that struck down a new levy that was to be charged on MP3 players and other types of digital storage. These sorts of policies seem to derive from the perceptions of the recording industry and its fellow travelers that its customers are essentially a band of thieves. This sort of behaviour leads even those of us who really aren't downloading to wish for the ultimate demise of the majors so that they may be replaced by some kind of direct artist-to-consumer online distribution model. Maybe that's utopian, but given how the major players in the recording industry treat us consumers, I think it would be a nice bit of karmic justice.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sanity on Clotheslines

According to a radio report this morning, it looks as though Ontario is going to pass some kind of law to override condominium corporations that ban clotheslines for aesthetic reasons. If we are going to have increased greenhouse gas emissions, increased smog, brownouts and everything else associated with high levels of summer power consumption, I'd like to be damn sure that it isn't a function of people who don't like to look at damp clothes in their neighbours' yards.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Horse Race Continues

Hillary beat Obama last night - as I'm sure anyone who glances at the news today is surely aware. What does this mean? Ultimately, I'm damned if I know - and don't worry because there are plenty of others that will tell you what it means. For the sake of the Democrats, I get the sense that Hillary is way less electable then Obama - her surname carries too much baggage for too many people.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Best Buy: Defender of Fair Use

Wait... what? Michael Geist points out an op-ed piece in which consumer electronics giant Best Buy lays out some very sensible provisions for any new copyright law:
  1. No private copying levy
  2. No multiple payments to collectives for the same transaction
  3. Protection from DRM rather than protection for DRM
  4. Flexible fair dealing
  5. No lawsuits for private, non-commercial activities
I'm starting to become cautiously optimistic that the country has woken up sufficiently to the possibility of a really terrible new copyright law. That being the case, I hope that it will be a great deal more difficult for Jim Prentice to sneak by some kind of truly terrible law without people noticing. Certainly if Best Buy perceives this as a threat to their business they have the capacity to make a great deal of noise about this.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Obama Kicking Ass

I don't know if there's a better way to put it. He's got a significant lead on Hillary in New Hampshire these days. I wonder what this guy would be like as a president. I think it would be significant for a breaking a colour barrier that we've all been told doesn't exist. What else though?

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

George Jonas Doesn't Understand Human Rights

It would appear that Jonas is attempting to make the case that the right be a racist is a human right:
"A human right is to be sovereign in one's legitimate sphere. A human right is to select whom to hire, promote, service or esteem. It's to decide with whom to associate. It's to have an opinion, silly as it may be. It's a human right to be an idiot."
In other words, those in the position to do the hiring are the ones who get rights, if you want a job though... not so much. But let's not make this about class warfare just yet. Is it really a human right to be an idiot? Should I have the right to set my own house on fire? I mean, if you believe in property rights, I should be allowed to be idiotic with my property, isn't that what Jonas is saying? So yeah, I should be allowed to set on fire a house or any other structures that I own free and clear. The problem is that if I do that I endanger all other residents in my community, someone will inevitably call the fire department and firefighters will probably also be put in danger.

I'm not much for authoritarianism and I really do think that people should be allowed to do things that I might think are stupid (go ahead, buy a Nickelback CD!) The most elementary problem with Jonas' logic is that he just cannot conceive of how allowing people to use racism etc. to drive their hiring practices doesn't hurt anyone.

Of course Jonas has the standard right wing corrective for all ills - the market!
"When left to their own devices in a free society, most will select whom to hire, promote, service or esteem on the basis of enlightened self-interest, not prejudice."
No. An example that avoids any politically-charged category might be what Malcolm Gladwell observed about CEOs in Blink: the average American CEO is significantly taller than the average American. It would seem that their stature goes into the mix of how hiring is decided upon even though I'm sure that no board of directors ever includes this as a conscious hiring category. In other words, even when we try to, we do not make merit the sole basis for employment or promotion. George Jonas lives in a fantasy world.

If we want to claim that we have society that provides equality of opportunity we should have something more than the market as evidence of this.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Why New Music Sounds Bad

A great deal of new music has suffered because of the "loudness wars" - i.e.: producers, artists, et cetera compress songs so that everything is loud all the time. This is presumably so the song stands out and is memorable. In reality though, it ends up making a lot of tunes suck, here comes the science:

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Stephen Taylor is shocked! Shocked at the Liberal website!

According to Stephen Taylor, the Liberals may be using Photoshop! He documents the horror:
"A familiar technique has been used here to emphasize the dirty particulate colour of climate change (who knew that CO2 was a sulfuric red/yellow/brown?)

The Liberals have modified an image of a smokestack in alarmist fashion with a sepia filter to exaggerate the evils of Canadian industry and economic production."

This is very bad since we all know that the Conservatives never alter any images on their website. Once again Stephen Taylor is distraught because other parties use the exact same political tools that his party uses. I'm sure that he longs for the day when every other party will roll over and play dead for him.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Credit Where Credit is Due

This National Post column by Colby Cosh on Marc Emery (the "Prince of Pot") largely gets it right:
"The U.S. is using the technical presence of an unenforced law on our books to carry its drug war onto our soil. If the Honourable Mr. Nicholson allows this to reach its logical conclusion, and Mr. Emery is sent south for notional crimes committed entirely on Canadian soil, it will constitute a blow to our national sovereignty."
Of course I'm very doubtful as to whether the Conservatives will stand up to protect Mr. Emery as it would clash with their new "war on drugs" mentality. Harper is very conscious about staying on message, so I doubt that he would let common sense or jurisprudence override his political instincts.

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More Blog-Pimpin'

Haloscan has partnered with JS-Kit to add a feature where you can rate posts. I'm not sure quite how it all works, but that's what the "rate" thing means if you're seeing it at the bottom of posts. Actually I think that a widget clean-up is in the future for this blog, the sidebar looks a little cluttered now. What should I keep?

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Iowa Hearts Huckabee?!

That's what CNN just said.


PSA for dogs

I saw two dogs in the Annex today with cut up feet - one of them really bad. If you take your dog out when there is a great deal of salt on the sidewalks and roads, please, please do something to protect its feet. If you think that boots look silly on your dog (and some of them do) there's a liquid gel sort of thing you can apply to their paws too.


A Bronze Medal Column from Lawrence Martin

In the Grope & Flail today Lawrence Martin writes column (behind firewall, sigh) that suggests that an earlier withdrawal from Afghanistan is akin to settling for a bronze medal instead of going for the gold. Of all the stupid metaphors for military action this is one of the worst. Martin first of all insults Canada as a country that settles for second-rate accomplishments - or at least repeats John Manley's insinuation of the same. Then Martin goes on to suggests that staying in Afghanistan as long as Hillier wants is akin to going for a gold medal.

How stupid.

At a certain point discretion is the better part of valour - any military leader, hell, any poker player, will tell you that. At a certain point you need to realize that you can't do any more good by staying in too long. The question is not whether we could we muster the will and the resources to stay a long time, I'm sure that we could - if we thought this whole enterprise would work. The question is, will it do any good in the long term? We have an Afghan government that is composed in no small part of people who were warlords - just not Taliban warlords. We are trying to change a society that has rejected one occupying army after another. Overstaying our welcome doesn't deserve a gold medal. Please work on finding less stupid metaphors.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

People who want a Harper majority predict that he will get it

If you read between the lines of this National Post article, it's fairly apparent that those who support Harper predict that he will get a majority. Says the Post,
"Canadians predict Stephen Harper and Hillary Clinton will win in national elections this year in their respective countries, but only one in three thinks the Conservative prime minister can break through and obtain a majority government, a national poll reveals."
One third, eh? How many Canadians support the Conservatives again?
"A Dec. 21 Ipsos-Reid horse race poll showed the Tories at 35% and the Grits at 33%."
Oh, so statistically 1/3 of Canadians. Maybe it's Liberal supporters that are filled with self-doubt that are making this prediction. Let's look at these numbers again:
"Respondents in Quebec gave Harper his slimmest chance of winning a majority -- only 26% expected a majority win --while those in Alberta, at 55%, predicted his greatest shot at winning control of the House of Commons."
So the province where Harper is most popular is also the province where they predict a majority - yep, I was right.

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Searching for something intelligent to say

I must confess that I don't know much about Kenya - a bit more than Mel Lastman perhaps, but not much. As a general comment though, I'll observe that in the past few years we've really had a problem with countries thrown together by European imperialists. Iraq contains three groups that don't like each other, Kenya appears to be in a similar situation and in Pakistan the problems with the Afghan border seem to be derived in large part from the fact that an arbitrary British line slices Pashtun lands in half.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Messy Business of Democracy

Juan Cole has an excellent post about the growth of democracy in two Muslim-majority countries (Turkey and Indonesia). While both countries have their very serious problems (lurking authoritarians, bad record on treatment of minorities) they are quietly achieving free and open societies. It is worth remembering that the attainment of our current forms of government in the West required a great deal of struggle and many setbacks. The point is though that this kind of reform seems to work best when people are given the chance to do it themselves. Go read the whole post, perhaps a little optimism for the new year.

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