Sunday, February 28, 2010

eFail

Definitions of proper political-correctitude:

She is not 'EASY' - She is
'HORIZONTALLY ACCESSIBLE'

She is not a 'DUMB BLONDE' - She is a
'LIGHT-HAIRED DETOUR OFF THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY'

She has not 'BEEN AROUND' - She is a
'PREVIOUSLY-ENJOYED COMPANION'

She is not a 'TWO-BIT HOOKER' - She is a
'LOW COST SERVICE PROVIDER'

He does not have a 'BEER GUT' - He has developed a
'LIQUID GRAIN STORAGE FACILITY'

He is not a 'BAD DANCER' - He is
'OVERLY CAUCASIAN'

He does not 'GET LOST ALL THE TIME' - He
'INVESTIGATES ALTERNATIVE DESTINATIONS'

He is not 'BALDING' - He is in
'FOLLICLE REGRESSION'

He does not act like a 'TOTAL ASS' - He develops a case of
'RECTAL-CRANIAL INVERSION'

Securing OZ

THE LONDON REVIEW BLOG has an article by Ross McKibbin, "Coercive Solutions", that discusses a White Paper created by the OZ government: The Counter-Terrorism White Paper, Securing Australia – Protecting our Community.

The Australian (Labor) government has just published a white paper (‘Securing Australia – Protecting Our Community’) which assures its readers that the terrorist threat to Australia is stronger than ever. External threats remain, of course, but are now made much worse by the dangers of homegrown terrorism, a result of the spread of jihadist propaganda among Australia’s Muslim population. The government is proposing to increase significantly the powers of the federal police – including the right to search the property of suspected ‘terrorists’ without a warrant – and to introduce further (and severe) visa tests on people coming to Australia from 10 unnamed countries.

What lies behind all this? It can’t be that the threat of terrorism has ‘increased’. That there is a threat from terrorism is undeniable, but there is also little evidence to suggest that the threat is worse now than before, or that the very wide powers the police and the intelligence services already have are not sufficient to contain it. There are several other possible explanations. One is electoral.

Everything suggests that Rudd ignores, either from conviction or opportunism, what should be the first rule of a social democratic government: treat anything coming from the intelligence services or the police with deep suspicion.


Mr. McKibbin writes for us all, when he states:

As always in English-speaking countries, the ‘solution’ to terrorism is coercive: yet more police powers; yet more restrictions on travel; yet more deportations. Coercion is presumably not always futile, and within a certain sphere legitimate. We must assume that sometimes it works. As a ‘solution’, however, it must be secondary. The fundamental problem, which Australia, like Britain and the United States, refuses to recognise, is political. It lies in Western policy towards the Middle East, and Israel and Palestine in particular, since the Second World War. Until that is admitted, coercive solutions, though not completely useless, will never be real solutions. Unfortunately there is no evidence that anyone is going to admit it. Certainly not Rudd.

Check out the details in the OZ White Paper. Tie me kangaroo down, sport . . . 

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Aircraft maintenance

UPS has a fleet of aircraft, and they require maintenance. Here's an oldie but goodie:

UPS Air Cargo TROUBLE SHEET

UPS requires a college degree to fly a plane, but only a high school diploma to fix one. After every flight, UPS pilots fill out a form called a 'gripe sheet', which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems, document their repairs on the form, and then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight.

Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humor. Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by UPS' pilots (marked with a P) and the solutions recorded (marked with an S) by maintenance engineers.

By the way, UPS is the only major airline that has never, ever had an accident.

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what friction locks are for.

P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you're right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

P: Aircraft handles funny. (I love this one!)
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right and be serious.

P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

And the best one for last...........

P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget.

Friday, February 26, 2010

"No Fly List" her.


That's the solution to the right-wing concealer of a druggie. Tell her to take a fucking walk.... because she's a goddamned security risk to everyone else on a plane.

Remember, these pukes are telling you the reason for the pat-downs, the swabs of your laptop, the unreasonable search of documents and the burn through your clothing right down to your skin is to protect the travelling public.

Helena Guergis is unstable and dangerous. Eminent domain applies here. Why should we take the risk?

Apology not accepted. Not from the "Law and Order" mob. Do as I say; not as I do is an American philosophy promoted by the sociopaths employed by Rupert Murdoch - it doesn't wash in this country.

Wish Helena a really happy birthday and tell her to use up her Aeroplan points at Home Hardware.... because she ain't getting on an airplane... anywhere.

Told ya so...

If anyone is surprised over this, you haven't been paying attention.

If you thought the ridiculous security imposed for the Olympics was only for... protection of athletes and dignitaries, think again.

And get out your wallet.

Helena's "Hell-hole"

By now most of us have probably read accounts of Helena Guergis' birthday tirade* at the security gates at Charlottetown airport. Helena clearly inhabits a hell-hole but it is certainly not at YYG. If she perhaps spent 10 seconds reflecting on her life, she might consider that working under a sociopath, being married to an apparent coke using drink driver, caught up climbing the career ladder in a political party that makes a point of dismantling the kinder and more compassionate instruments of state, and so forth, constitutes imposing a particular kind of hell on oneself. Guergis, politics aside, is clearly a deeply miserable individual.

*Lord knows what would have happened to one of us wee proles if we'd thrown our boots, yanked on a locked door to the apron, and raged around the CATSA staff and Air Canada people like that. Something tells me missing our flight would suddenly be the least of our worries.

Wait a second,

I thought NATO occupied Kandahar Province?

...But the long-expected assault on Kandahar province, and in particular Kandahar city, is expected to be a more ambitious and difficult fight and could see more Afghan civilians on the move.

As with the offensive on Helmand province, no precise timetable has been given for the offensive in Kandahar province, but a senior administration official with U.S. President Barack Obama's administration told Reuters Friday the aim will be to seize Kandahar city by the end of this year...

Kentucky Creationists

VANITY FAIR has a delightful article by A.A. Gill, "Roll Over, Charles Darwin!", which is his account of a visit to the Creation Museum, which he says, has been battling science and reason since 2007.

Just off a motorway, in a barren and uninspiring piece of scrub, the museum is impressively incongruous, a righteously modernist building resting in landscaped gardens filled with dinosaur topiaries. It cost $27 million and was completed in 2007. It answers the famous question about what God could have done if he had had money. This is it. Oddly, it is a conspicuously and emphatically secular construction. There is no religious symbolism. No crosses. No stained glass. No spiral campanile. It has borrowed the empirical vernacular of the enemy to wrap the literal interpretation of Genesis in the fa├žade of a liberal art gallery or library. It is the Lamb dressed in wolf’s clothing.

The next things I noticed were the very illiberally accoutred security guards. They are absurdly over-armed, overdressed, and overweight. Perhaps the museum is concerned that armed radical atheists, maddened by the voices of reason in their confused heads, will storm in waving the periodic table, screaming, “I think, therefore I am!”

The Creation Museum isn’t really a museum at all. It’s an argument. It’s not even an argument. It’s the ammunition for an argument. It is the Word made into bullets. An armory of righteous revisionism. This whole building is devoted to the literal veracity of the first 11 chapters of Genesis: God created the world in six days, and the whole thing is no more than 6,000 years old. Everything came at once, so Tyrannosaurus rex and Noah shared a cabin. That’s an awful lot of explaining to do. This place doesn’t just take on evolution—it squares off with geology, anthropology, paleontology, history, chemistry, astronomy, zoology, biology, and good taste. It directly and boldly contradicts most -onomies and all -ologies, including most theology.

We start with the creation of the world, and of light. And there you are, immediately—Houston, we have a problem: you get light three days before you get the sun. But that’s fine—we’ve got an answer: the sun is, in fact, what God made to keep the light in. It was an afterthought, a receptacle born out of necessity.

Serendipitously, MORE INTELLIGENT LIFE, which is a fine site that is part of the Economist web enterprise, also has an article by Natasha Lennard about the institution, "Of Myths and Museums"

Inside the building’s 40-foot-high glass walls visitors are treated to a whistle-stop tour of Biblical history, arranged in a way that would not seem out of place in Disneyland. A darkened tunnel leads to a vast and verdant Garden of Eden, filled with exotic plastic flowers, peaceful creatures and pools of gentle water. A comely Adam discovers a comely Eve, whose modesty is preserved by her long, dark, synthetic mane. The garden also includes a wealth of prehistoric animals, such as a Tyrannosaurus rex, which we are told was tame and herbivorous before Adam and Eve snacked on that dastardly apple.

Dinosaurs had to have coexisted with humans, we learn, because there were no carnivores before man’s fall, and fossils show that some dinosaurs preyed on others. Therefore, the Creation Museum concludes, dinosaurs must have existed after the fall. But aren’t dinosaur-related fossils millions of years old? AiG and the museum have a handy explanation: such fossils only seem old because “organic materials are relentlessly attacked by bacteria,” so they decompose quickly. “Without the millions–of–years bias,” explains Andrew A. Snelling, the director of research at AiG in a paper published in Creation magazine, “these fossils would readily be recognized as victims of a comparatively recent event, for example, the global devastation of Noah’s Flood only about 4,500 years ago.”

If you can believe in a veggie T-Rex, you can swallow just about anything.

Wisconsin Na'vi

Thursday, February 25, 2010

One does wonder...

Remember this?
The Canadian Foreign Minister, Lloyd Axworthy, has ordered an investigation into allegations that Israeli secret service members are still using Canadian passports for covert operations. But he admitted that there was no evidence to support new allegations, reported by a Canadian television programme on Tuesday, that Mossad is still seeking Canadian passports. Israel undertook to take steps to end the practice in 1997, after Israeli agents were caught carrying doctored Canadian passports. The agents bungled an attempt to assassinate Khaled Meshaal, a leader of the militant Islamic Hamas movement, in September in neighbouring Jordan.
Well the Australians, British and Irish governments are pretty upset over the latest repeat, with Australia going so far as to summon the Israeli ambassador to explain events (evidently not buying the Israeli policy line of ambiguity regarding little things like assassinations, and providing a good example the Australian high art of calling bullshit).

However, jumping into the realm of hypotheticals, I can't help but wonder, given the Harper regime's pathologically uncritical support of their Israeli ideological allies (oft erroneously confused with Israel-whole, and Jews in general in the public discourse), what would their reaction have been if Canadian passports had turned up? Would the current government now voluntarily provide Israel with Canadian passport blanks?

Hmm, how would such as scenario impact Canada's non-presence in the UAE?

Maxime Bernier for PM? You betcha!


C'mon, he's decorative, he's dumb, and besides, since he came out today as a climate change 'skeptic', the Blogging Tories have been falling all over themselves to get their teabagging credentials in order :

"Maxime really is great!!! Keep up the good work Maxime. One day you will be HM PM.

"You had me at Bonjour"

"Finally a Canadian Conservative Speaks Truth"

"Enter Maxime Bernier with a daring volley launched in the heart of climate lunacy."

"Maxime Bernier for Prime Minister! Finally, someone on the government side with the cajones to speak out."

Finally - I think they meant to say - a Sarah Palin with cajones.
Max speaks :
"What is certain is that it would be irresponsible to spend billions of dollars and to impose unnecessarily stringent regulations to solve a problem whose gravity we still are not certain about."
Gravity? Gravity is also a hoax! The earth sucks! Max for PM! You betcha! Also! Too!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

She's thought about it alright...

The slightly Not Work Safe US Representative Nancy Elliot (R-New Hampshire) does a little fantasizing, thinkering:



Aside from the obvious and ubiquitous, yet unacknowledged, conservative ideal that because they don't like something nobody else should either (and if they do, they should be prevented from doing/reading/observing it because the thought of somebody else, anyone, they don't know doing something that doesn't affect them is simply intolerable), one does begin to wonder (yet again) exactly how much time these people spend thinking about the kinds of sex, (or skin colours, religious affialiations, political bent, hair styles, clothing, etc) they apparently don't like so much that they must tell everyone else and then pass laws against it, repeal laws that allow it, and/or hold large public events where they can air their claimed not-fetishes? (That was a long question.)

I sometimes think perhaps the inner fear of many extremists, no matter the stripe, and consequent driving motivator is that they really are what they rally so hard against. Are conservatives for example, secretly terrified of the idea that they really are free to do most of what they want provided it does not non-consensually harm others? Is this why they fling the word 'freedom' about, but fail to acknowledge its meaning outside of what usually amounts to very narrow economic terms? Are the lot of them in the closet on millions of other issues? Do they secretly want to be bin Ladinite terrorists? Do they secretly want to be...swarthy? Or smoke weed? Or twirl fire in Thai pants with the hippies on the beach and grow their hair out? Pay taxes? Is the entire rightwing movement better understood as some deep emotional-psychological reaction against the potential of the self? Post-freedom depression (DSM V is due soon...)?

Right, I suppose this is what I get when I myself try thinkering at 12.40am. 'night ya'll.

And the Retraction
(h/t POGGE!):
"During the executive session on House Bill 1590 I made a statement concerning the curriculum in the Nashua school system which I believed to be true. Upon inquires from the speaker, I repeated the statement. This statement made in the Judiciary Committee had caused some controversy so I went back to my source for the statement to verify the information that I had received. I found that I could not confirm the accuracy of the information..."
At least it appears she had the decency and humility to retract what she should not prove. Still, it is amazing that Elliot instinctively believed the outrageous without confirmation. The woman's mind must be a fascinating place full of sphincterial unreality.

A different kind of burning stick

You might be forgiven for thinking you'd fallen through a wormhole into Mississippi circa 1961 reading this. We Canadians sometimes get a bit smug watching the racial problems in the U.S. and forget that we have ignorant, knuckle-dragging, racist shitbirds of our own. If you want to hear seven minutes of radio that will infuriate and inspire you, check here (the interview is in part 1 of the program). The "victim" doesn't sound like she's taking having a cross burned on her front lawn in stride exactly, but sticks up for the larger community and doesn't sound like she's running scared either. The interviewer on the other hand is pretty clearly horrified that she even has to report on something this disgusting in this country in this day and age.
With all due respect to Pete Seeger and Martin Luther King:


If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning.

I'd hammer in the evening, all over this land.

I'd hammer on the skulls

of all the racist assholes

All over this land


Added ironical comedic value from the Globe and Mail story: the RCMP spokeswoman said the police are "examining all possible motives, including whether to consider it a hate crime."

crosspost from The Woodshed

First-person shooter

FOREIGN POLICY has an article by P.W. Singer, "Meet the Sims … and Shoot Them", which is an interesting account of the emergence of the first-person shooter game as a key component in military training. There is a companion article, "War Games", also worthy of your perusal.

Personally, I find first-person shooter games an adrenaline rush (currently, I'm stuck on level 6 of Return to Castle Wolfenstein). As far as I know, ID Software created the genre, with Wolfenstein and its successors, like Wolfenstein Spear of Destiny, Doom and Quake. When Doom arrived, with its new "engine", or rendering package, the game was used by the USMC as a training tool, because it was the first multi-player first-person shooter game. Now, you could work with a team of others, co-operatively. The ID engine allowed hacks, like replacing a particular monster, with say, purple Barneys, and with the release of Doom2, the tailoring to specific military needs became possible.

But the game revolution goes beyond learning how to do house-to-house, winkle-out-the-wogs: there are now simulations that train the use of robots, and training for handling personnel problems, and training for making command decisions:

America's Army quickly expanded from a potent recruiting tool into a valuable training system for soldiers already in the military. Military contractor Foster-Miller's Talon robot, for example, is used widely in Iraq and Afghanistan to dismantle roadside bombs, the most deadly weapon used against U.S. troops there. The game's Talon training module cost just $60,000 to develop, but took training in how to operate robots in war to a whole new level. "Prior to this, the only way to train was to take the robot and the controller to the trainees, give them some verbal instruction, and get them started," Bill Davis, head of the America's Army future applications program, told National Defense. "This allows them to train without breaking anything."

But with these advances, it's getting harder to figure out where the games end and the war begins. In Talon the game and the real-life version, soldiers are watching the action through a screen and even holding the very same physical controllers in their hands. And these controllers are modeled after the video-game controllers that the kids grew up with. This makes the transition from training to actual use nearly seamless. As one Foster-Miller executive explained to me, describing the game's training package for the Talon's pissed-off big brother, the machine gun-armed Swords robot, "With a flip of the switch, he has a real robot and a real weapon." Because of "the realism," he said, the company is finding that "the soldiers train on them endlessly in their free time."

Such "serious games," as the Army calls them, go well beyond the America's Army series. One program trains aerial drone operators while Saving Sergeant Pabletti teaches some 80,000 Army soldiers a year what is and isn't sexual harassment. This use of gaming extends across the entire experience of war. Virtual Iraq is being used at 40 clinics around the United States to help the thousands of veterans returning from war cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. The game platform allows them to re-experience traumatic episodes in a safe environment.

These training tools are not just for raw recruits. For example, Gator Six is built around 260 realistic video clips that simulate many of the difficult judgment calls an officer might have to make in modern wars. Designed with the help of 20 Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans, it is broken into three parts: pre-deployment, combat, and transitioning into post-conflict.

The collective effect is potentially revolutionary. Game-based training can be tailored to specific scenarios as well as to an individual's own rate of learning, sped up or slowed down based on how quickly he or she acquires knowledge. The result is an enormous gain in efficiency. The Navy, for example, switched to such programs for its communications technicians and estimates that it saved some 58 man-years in training time. Virtual training is also appealing because it allows soldiers to learn and exercise their skills, again and again, without the accompanying physical risks. "Combat veterans live longer," Col. Matthew Caffrey, professor of war gaming and planning at the Air Command and Staff College, told National Defense. "One reason we use war games is to make virtual vets."

For simple-minded sociopaths like yours truly, who delight in god-mode with a BFG9000 (below), there's Serious Sam. Training? Hell, I just wanna blast something.

Monday, February 22, 2010

"Paging Vice Principal B. Brother, please report to room 101"

Pennsylvania's Lower Merion School Board's efforts to give every one of its high school students a laptop computer are doubleplusgood!

A Lower Merion family has set off a furor among students, parents, and civil liberties groups by alleging that Harriton High School officials used a webcam on a school-issued laptop to spy on their 15-year-old son at home.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court, the family said the school's assistant principal had confronted their son, told him he had "engaged in improper behavior in [his] home, and cited as evidence a photograph from the webcam embedded in [his] personal laptop issued by the school district."
The suit contends the Lower Merion School District, one of the most prosperous and highest-achieving in the state, had the ability to turn on students' webcams and illegally invade their privacy.


According to Philly.com, which is all over the story, this would not only be possible, but easy for the school board to do. The feds have gotten involved and felt the accusations were credible enough that they have subpoenaed school board documents and are investigating.

Setting aside the technological issues involved here, I have to wonder why the school thinks it has the right to regulate what a student does at home. Frankly, it is none of the school's business whether the student was shooting heroin, having bondage sex with goats or reading Ayn Rand aloud to his hamster while wearing nothing but swim fins and bacon grease-- he wasn't on school property, it wasn't during a school-supervised activity and there is no accusation that he was using the school-owned computer for an inappropriate activity like hacking or say, oh I dunno...spying on school board officials or his vice-principal.

Whether they were conducting completely illegal surveillance of this kid is separate matter. It doesn't really matter whether the information about the kid's activities outside school comes from a hidden camera, a nosy teacher or another student who is ratting him out - if it doesn't happen at school and it doesn't involve child abuse or a murder plot, it is none of the school's damned business what kid is doing and they have no right to discipline him for things that are not related to school.

As for the spying, where to start? If the school is doing this, it is so obviously, clearly wrong I can't imagine the kind of authoritarian protofascist numbskulls that are in charge and would sign off on this kind of program. A whole bunch of people should not only lose their jobs, but should end up in jail. Even prison inmates aren't under hidden video surveillance.

And just as an observation on the tendency of school administration not to pay much attention to things they are trying to teach in the classroom; While Orwell's "1984" was taught as part of the English curriculum and required reading for the students, clearly the officials either hadn't read it or had a sick sense of humor. The detention room at both my old high school in Ancaster, Ontario and the one attended by several friends in Sault Ste. Marie was room No. 101.

Crossposted from The Woodshed, where we also have the King of Morningside interviewing the High Priest of Gonzo.

General Stanley McChrystal sends his regrets ...

Another NATO airstrike, another 33 dead civilians. AP :

"NATO forces confirmed in a statement that its planes fired Sunday on a group of vehicles that it believed contained insurgents who were about to attack its forces, only to discover later that women and children were in the cars.

The strike hit three minibuses that were driving down a major road in the mountainous province. There were 42 people in the vehicles, all civilians, Bashary said.

"We are extremely saddened by the tragic loss of innocent lives," NATO commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal said.

McChrystal also sent along his regrets six days ago when 12 civilians including 6 children were killed by two NATO-fired rockets which missed their intended target by 300 meters, and still more regrets were forthcoming the following day for five more civilians killed in another NATO airstrike.

McClatchy's reports that this is all just "a trial run" for "the next big combat mission" in Kandahar this summer, described by ISAF officials as "the big prize for both the Taliban and the coalition":
"Coalition officers describe the Marjah operation, now into its second week, as a "confidence builder" for Kandahar now that extra troops for Afghanistan have been committed."
And just what is the point of this "confidence builder" for "the big prize" again?

Journalist and historian Gareth Porter at The Real News Network :
"In my view this offensive has to be viewed as more of an effort to shape public opinion in the United States than to shape the politics of the future of Afghanistan."
It's propaganda, explains Porter, designed to sell the American people on the idea that when the inevitable negotiations with the Taliban for US withdrawal are held in 16 to 18 months, it will look at home as if the US is negotiating from a position of strength.

Saving US face - that's what all these civilians and soldiers are dying for now.
.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Olympics - It's a dog's life

G&M :
"Whistler RCMP is investigating a possible threat to athletes at Whistler, the police announced Saturday.
A map of the Whistler athletes' village was discovered with notations on the map that gave police cause for concern, said Staff Sergeant Steve LeClair, of the Whistler Pemberton RCMP.

Police searched several areas of the village extensively using specially trained dog-sniffers, he added."

I'm only guessing here but presumably that would be other dogs.

Driving danger

JALOPNIK IS A DELIGHTFULLY CHEERFUL SITE devoted to things automotive. Sam Smith has an article, "The Ten Most Dangerous Drivers In America", listing the top fender-bender piloti by occupation:
  1. Attorney/Judge – Why chase ambulances if you can bring them to you?
  2. Financial professionals – Do they cover their cars with a “tarp”?
  3. Government worker (GS6) – Fender benders are a little known GS6 requirement. 
  4. Bartender or Waiter – It’s just a different way of getting served. 
  5. Other – Professional – AKA “I was hit by that ‘other’ guy.” 
  6. Dog Groomer – Following the rules of the road must be a real pet peeve. 
  7. Marketing/Advertising – If they have road rage can we call them “Mad Men”?
  8. Barber/Stylist – Mostly likely to cut you off. 
  9. Coach – Always crying foul. 
  10. Nurse – Bedside manner: Great! Roadside manner: Yikes!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Rest John Babcock. Just rest.


You take with you the last living memory of a war that never needed to be fought. Regardless, you served and no one anywhere has the right to say you didn't serve well and that you didn't contribute to making this a better world.

John Babcock did all of that.

With condolences and respect to his family and friends. 146th Overseas Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force and The Royal Canadian Regiment.

The last surviving Canadian veteran of The Great War 1914 - 1918.

Died of natural causes at the age of 109 years.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

We also walk dogs . . .

IO9 IS A SITE THAT FOLLOWS SCIENCE FICTION in its many aspects. According to Meredith, who has an article titled "Atheists Will Take Care Of Your Pet After The Divine Rapture, For A Price", Eternal Earth-Bound Pets promises to care for your pet after the apocalypse. Their slogan: "The next best thing to pet salvation in a Post Rapture World". Their FAC covers areas of concern for the devout:

Q: How do you ensure your representatives won't be Raptured?
A: Actually, we don't ensure it, they do. Each of our representatives has stated to us in writing that they are atheists, do not believe in God / Jesus, and that they have blasphemed in accordance with
Mark 3:29, negating any chance of salvation.

Q: When the Rapture occurs, how long before my pet is rescued?
A: The timing is contingent on the number of subscribers we have in each state/region and travel distance. Our rescuers know that this is a time sensitive service. Pets' lives are at stake. We will limit the number of subscribers in each zone so that any given rescuer will not be over burdened. Naturally, we must anticipate that there will be widespread chaos and confusion immediately following the Rapture that could impact travel times. Thus, we are targeting a maximum of between 18- 24 hours from realization of the Rapture, to animal rescue.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Comment section

Comments will return when I return. HaloScan is gone and it took all the comments with it.

Sometime next week I hope to have it all fixed. Maybe.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dear David Warren...

You have a little problem. Your column was an incredible yawner: out of touch, out of date, out of the current reality. In short, Dave, you're an unbelievable bore trying to push your ridiculously Victorian mentality on a population that really wants to find its way back to the humanity of the Middle Ages.

Look it up, Buckwheat. The sex lives of the Medieval religious devout would curl your toes.

On the other hand, there's this.

Hat tip Canadian Cynic.

OK. I'm done. Back to sea with me.

In the words of the only hero I have in left in my life...

I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

Mohandas K Gandhi.

The rock stays on the ground. Throwing it through a window does nothing but show that one is willing to break a window.

Why what words mean matters

In the neatest bit of spin since some PR hack coined the term "collateral damage" for dead and wounded civilian bystanders, NATO now appears to be trying to convince us that murdering civilians is something for which no one is responsible - and most in the press seem to lazy to call them on it.



Exhibit A from AFP (emphasis mine):

Five Afghan civilians accidentally killed in airstrike: NATO
(AFP) – 20 hours ago
KABUL — Five Afghan civilians were accidentally killed and two others injured in an airstrike in southern Afghanistan, NATO said Monday, in an incident unrelated to a major US-led anti-Taliban operation.
The deaths were accidental, NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said, adding that the victims had been mistaken for insurgents planting improvised bombs.
"An ISAF airstrike against suspected insurgents accidentally killed five and wounded two civilians in the Zhari district of Kandahar province today," ISAF said in a statement.




An accident - as in "whoops, clumsy me, sorry about that! Could have happened to anyone. Completely unintentional, I assure you."



Bollocks.



This was not an accident. The bombs and missiles used didn't just happen to fall off the jets due to a loose bolt and happen to fall on this group of people by random chance. The pilot didn't unknowingly lean on the trigger of his guns while trying to find a dropped map or something like that. These people were targeted and killed by professional military pilots under orders to attack them. It was not an accident. If it had happened to a group of civilian workers on military firing range in the United States or Canada, the pilot would be facing murder charges.

An accident is an error involving random chance that occurs without any intent to do harm to the people involved. People don't get held responsible for accidents, because they are no one's fault and malicious intent is not a factor.

I'm not saying accidents don't happen on the battlefield, they do. Twelve people were accidently killed in an airstrike the previous day when U.S. pilots fire a pair of missiles into a house full of civilians. In this case, the pilots were trying to kill some Taliban, but missed the target. Now, admittedly they missed the target by 600m, but they didn't mean to blow up the house they hit. It was an understandable, if extremely unfortunate, accident. Oopsy!


A Canadian soldier died in a training accident just the other day on the firing range. It doesn't make his death any less horrible for his family, but he wasn't targeted for death by anyone in this case.


The aforemention airstrike was not an accident, it was a mistake. Whoever identified the target and called in the airstrike made a mistake, either through negligence or incompetence or garbled communication. Someone thought the people killed were Taliban planting a IED. They were not, and the airstrike was called in on bad information.

Mistakes happen on the battlefield, just as they do everywhere. Soldiers, despite what you may see on American television and conservative blogs, are no closer to perfection than anyone else. Friendly fire incidents have cost lives in every war and people make mistakes. Depending on the size of the mistake, sometimes people have to be held responsible. When it is a matter of people losing their lives, someone needs to be called to account - not only to figure out how the mistake occurred so that it can be prevented in the future, but to show that mistakes are taken seriously and carelessness will not be tolerated.

This applies whether you are talking about typos in a newspaper, filing errors in a medical clinic or hockey player who not playing to his potential. A minor typo in the paper isn't worth firing someone over, but if they consistently get the facts wrong or libel someone out of carelessness or negligence, they are going to cost the newspaper a lot of money and damage its credibility. A lost file in a medical clinic has the potential to be a very serious problem and a clerk who regularly loses files is not going to kept on the job for long. A hockey player who is constantly caught out of position or who takes stupid penalties or fails to execute plays properly is going to be benched at best or cut from the team.

This airstrike was not an accident, it was another in a long series of deadly mistakes that are turning the population of Afghanistan against the West. It is understandable that the military would do their best to protect their own and try to remove the blame by calling this an accident. It is unforgivable for the press to do so.


And as long as comments are down, you can come and comment on The Woodshed

On protesting


On Valentines Day, 2,000 to 4,000 people marched through Vancouver's Downtown Eastside in the annual Women’s March for Missing and Murdered Women. A memorial march not a protest, it is organized and led by women of the DTES to remember the hundreds of aboriginal women who have gone missing or been murdered in the past two decades. With no other competing agendas represented, it is the very essence of a respectful and focused peaceful grassroots march and only by chance coincides with the other daily Olympic protests here.
CBC's coverage of it on The National notwithstanding, doubtless this is the first time many people outside of Vancouver have even heard of it.
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The previous day, a few hundred people took to the streets to protest an interwoven range of complaints highlighted by the Olympics - stolen aboriginal land, environmental destruction, tarsands, corporate greed, Gordon "Red Mittens" Campbell, Harper, poverty, homelessness, etc .
A couple of idiots threw a Province box through a window of Olympics sponsor Hudson's Bay Co., while others threw paint, overturned trashcans and traffic pylons, spat on police - who showed admirable restraint throughout - and insulted onlookers. 13 were arrested and four charged.
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The media here and around the world immediately ate it up of course, and thousands hit the "agree" button next to the comments suggesting they be strung up under the CBC article about it.
Many progressive bloggers - my co-blogger here Rev, backed up by Dave in comments, Dr. Dawg, Cathie, Scott, Prole, JJ, Jim Bobby, and many other bloggers I like and respect - were swift to distance themselves from the vandals. They pointed out that such violence only serves to alienate potential supporters of the very genuine problems that all of them have supported and written to. The notoriety that comes with being a self-aggrandizing asshole only serves to hurt the given cause, they said.
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And yet something about all this outrage directed at a few brats has been bothering me ever since.
We're talking rudeness and minor property damage here, right? They spat and broke stuff. When I walked past the broken window a few hours later, it had already been replaced.
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Compare this with when Robert Dziekanski, in sheer frustration at his own helplessness, broke up furniture at YVR - it did not stop us from identifying with his plight. When the very few and vastly over-reported stories of property damage in Haiti came to light, we did not condemn the frustrated perpetrators for their actions. Indeed we thought it remarkable in the face of being denied the basic necessities of life displayed but refused them, that such incidents were so few and far between. So why the double standard for Saturday's vandals?
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It takes hope and solidarity and strength of purpose to witness non-violently year after year as the Sisters in Spirit marchers at top do. Twenty years now the core of them have been waiting for action on their missing sisters. They march while waiting for the rest of us to catch up and claim their cause - which includes continuing murders and disappearances - as our own.
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I think the angry hooligans from Saturday's protest just don't think they have the luxury of that kind of time to protest peacefully while waiting patiently for the rest of us to catch up to their sense of urgency about the world. I worry that our rush to condemn them means that we imagine we do enjoy that luxury.
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Update : Thanks for all your brilliant comments which I got to read at 4am just before Haloscan disappeared with all of them. If I'd known that was going to happen I would have posted them as their own blogpost, so thoughtful and diverse were they. Thanks for listening. We have dialogue.

Humbug

SO FAR THIS WEEK, I remain completely ignorant about the Olympics, and, as far as I am concerned, this is indeed, blissful ignorance. On the other hand, there's WRC — but that's my own narrow interest; it appears that Ford is off to a fine start, taking the season opener, the Swedish rally from the Sebastien Loeb/Citroen juggernaut.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS has no use for the Olympics, either, according to his piece in NEWSWEEK, titled "Fool’s Gold How the Olympics and other international competitions breed conflict and bring out the worst in human nature."

Meanwhile, genial, welcoming, equable Canada, shortly to be the host of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, is now the object of a stream of complaints from British and American sports officials, who say that their athletes are being denied full access to the venue's ski runs, tracks, and skating rinks. Familiarity with these is important in training and rehearsal, but the Canadians are evidently determined to protect their home-turf advantage. According to one report in The New York Times, the Whistler downhill skiing course was the setting for an astonishing scene, as "several medal contenders were left watching over a fence as the Canadian team trained. 'Everybody was pushing to get on that downhill,' said Max Gartner, Alpine Canada's chief athletic officer. 'That's an advantage we cannot give away.' " Nah nah nah nah nah: it's our mountain and you can't ski on it, so there, or not until we've had the best of it. "We're the only country to host two Olympic Games [Montreal in 1976 and Calgary in 1988] and never have won a gold medal at our Games," whined Cathy Priestner Allinger, an executive vice president of the Vancouver Organizing Committee. "It's not a record we're proud of." But elbowing guests out of your way at your own party—of that you can be proud.

I didn't have to read far to find the comment I knew would be made about this spiteful, petty conduct. A hurt-sounding Ron Rossi, who is executive director of something snow-oriented called USA Luge, spoke in wounded tones about a supposed "gentlemen's agreement" extending back to Lake Placid in 1980, and said of the underhanded Canadian tactic: "I think it shows a lack of sportsmanship."

On the contrary, Mr. Rossi, what we are seeing is the very essence of sportsmanship. Whether it's the exacerbation of national rivalries that you want—as in Africa this year—or the exhibition of the most depressing traits of the human personality (guns in locker rooms, golf clubs wielded in the home, dogs maimed and tortured at stars' homes to make them fight, dope and steroids everywhere), you need only look to the wide world of sports for the most rank and vivid examples. 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning


With condolences and respect to the family and friends of Corporal Joshua Caleb Baker, The Loyal Edmonton Regiment (4th Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry), from Edmonton, Alberta, serving with the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team.
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Killed in a training accident.
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"Fears No Foe"

Burning stick meets burning stupid


Burning stick! Burning stick!U.S. citizen Wayne Gretzky lit the torch and we television viewers were treated to a couple of hours of modern dance and extremely impressive stage effects to mark the opening of the Vancouver games. Nicely done, though neither of my kids would believe kd Lange is a woman at first. I liked Shane Koyczan's poem, but he should have started working on his beard a little earlier or shaved. And apparently Canada was settled by tattooed fiddling Celtic barbarians - who knew?

Burning stupid! Burning stupid!



And here's a newsflash for "Blayze" the masked protestor who speaks to the press at the end of the video here: "The next level" of a peaceful protest is not smashing windows and trying to provoke the cops and it isn't "the perogative" of the some self-important douchebag in a black hoodie and bandana to make the sensible people who are trying to make a point in a civilized way look bad just because he thinks he's a revolutionary who is going to bring racist exploitive capitalism to knees by throwing newspaper boxes through shopfronts. Dude, your friends are not activists, they are assholes.
These stupid self-proclaimed anarchists should be aware that The Man has 15,000 troops at his beck and call, 15,000 cops, soldiers and rent-a-cops who would probably like nothing better than to have a quiet two weeks, but who aren't above knocking the crap out of a whole bunch of people who don't deserve it because of the anti-social antics of a few shit-for-brains who think smashing windows serves the cause of social justice.
And yes, I have heard the theories about agent provocateurs that are already making the rounds. Those taking part in the legitimate protests won't be lead astray by such people. If you are at a protest and someone starts talking about "getting" the cops, or starts picking stuff to throw, the best thing to do is tell them to cut it the hell out and grow the hell up. There is not a crowd of protesting civilians anywhere in the world that is going to win a street battle against prepared, trained and well-armed cops, so there is no point at all in starting a fight. And trying to provoke a response by the police so that the news cameras can get footage of the "true nature of the fascist oppressors' brutality" is idiotic and is going to get the wrong people hurt.
There are many legitimate complaints to be made about the Vancouver games and the Olympics in general, but smashing windows and putting bystanders in danger is not the way to make the statement that needs to be made.

Real Rock

JEFF BECK is one of rock's most gifted guitar players. Larry Rohter, of the NEW YORK TIMES, has a great article on the man, titled, "A Guitar Hero Won’t Play the Game". One rare player, who has lived rock n' roll the way he wants to, and thrived. He builds serious hotrods like 32 Fords, at his place in England. 
 
If you've never heard them, “Blow by Blow” and “Wired” and the early 90's "Crazy Legs" are delightful. Crazy Legs is his tribute to Hank Marvin and Gene Vincent.

Here's 2 recent clips, "Crazy Legs", and "Big Block". If you're not a car-type, you should know that "big block" refers to the 396-454 "big block" Chevy V-8's, as opposed to the "small block" Chevy V-8, the ol' 327, and its variants. FWIW, Jeff started with a used big-block Corvette from the coin he received for appearing in "Blow Up".

Jeff's current lineup has Canadian Rhonda Smith, playing bass. Got ferocious chops.
 
Back in 1974, I got to see him from 10th row center (at what they used to call the O'Keefe Centre), doing Blow by Blow and Wired. One of my top 5 concerts.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Seabus bomb scare

RCMP detonated a fishing rod in a tube mistakenly left behind at the Seabus Terminal in North Vancouver yesterday, so that's one less Olympic terrorist incident to worry about.

The suspicious package was discovered at 2:30pm and detonated at 5pm after city blocks were evacuated and buses, all CNR trains on the waterfront area and the SeaBus harbour ferry connecting North Vancouver to downtown Vancouver were halted for three hours while RCMP helicopter Air One circled overhead and dog and explosive disposal units and a bomb-diffusing robot combed the area.

The Province : "RCMP spokesman Const. Michael McLauchlin said there is no longer a threat to anyone."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Don't let the bastard sleep: CAPP Flash Rally at BC Legislature

(h/t Woman at Mile 0)

The $10-million Olympic Storage Shed


The pre-fab tent was built by a company from Chicago for $10-million.
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Vancouver architect Bing Thom :
"We listened to too much advice from the Americans. There was all this talk about not being worried about the architecture."
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Out here this style of architecture is usually called a Vancouver Special.
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Last Wednesday Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore said the pre-fabricated structure will be the public face of Canada's $1.23-billion involvement in the Olympics.
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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Monday, February 08, 2010

Bummer Break

MICHAEL PAUL SMITH makes a miniature world like oh you're so there. That's a 50 or so Chevy behind a 58 or so Edsel station wagon. Check out his slide show for a fine look at post-war U.S.A.

Six thousand

Hill Times:
More than 6,000 Canadian Forces members and discharged veterans who are receiving physical or psychiatric disability benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada have either served in Afghanistan or have a disability that has been related to their service in Afghanistan, the department says.

But the Veterans Affairs Department, in a series of email exchanges, told The Hill Times roughly 2,200 Canadian Forces "clients" are now receiving disability benefits related to their service in Afghanistan. The department said a further 4,100 veteran clients have Afghanistan service identified in their records "but their benefits are not necessarily related to the Afghanistan mission."

During a series of interviews with media relations officers from the Canadian Forces, The Hill Times learned the Canadian Forces does not disclose the nature and severity of wounds suffered during combat in Afghanistan or the nature of non-combat injuries. The veterans affairs department, for its part, said it could not link the number of specific disabilities, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, other psychiatric conditions or even limb amputations, with service in the Afghanistan war.

...

I have in storage a large tupperware box of newspaper clippings, photos and other paraphenalia relating to family members who served and in more than one case, were killed, in wars from South Africa to the Second World War. Many of the newspaper clippings come from major and local sources and contain details of local dead and wounded and often the circumstances leading to those outcomes. Figures and details (where possible) on wounded were made public during the largest war between the most sophisticated alliances the world has ever seen.

In this little fight in on the far side of the world, only the dead are acknowledged. Wounds are not discussed. Wounded are not voluntarily publicly counted. Enemy intelligence has nothing to do with this secrecy. Nazi and Imperial Japanese intelligence apparatus were monumentally far more sophisticated and reaching than anything the Taleban can muster and yet information was still released to the public.

The secrecy is about politics and a government bent keeping Canadians in the dark lest we get the wrong impression. Instead of solid information, we get stickers and T-shirts and other shiny objects. Those who ask the wrong sort of questions are then labelled by Conservative politicians and their frothing blog-minions as supporters of the enemy: a very serious charge used instead as a politically partisan joke.

You can theorise a law about this brief comparison if you hold WW2 to be a legitimate war:

The legitimacy of a war is positively correlated to the quality of information available to the public about that war.

Seems a given that a great deal of the secrecy around the Afghanistan exists to protect the war supporters' political and emotional capital investment in it. Six Thousand Canadian casualties to protect the fragile little sensibilities of a handful of wingnuts.

Thwap & Sir Francis, a n d Jimbobby have more.

All in all, they're all just bricks in the wall

"When we grew up and went to school, there were certain teachers who would hurt the children any way they could"


So many authoritarian nitwits, so little time to blog. This kid is probably lucky they didn't taser her when she started crying. Almost as disturbing is the reaction of America's least favorite conservative law professor and box-wine sommelier (as noted by Pandagon). Obviously, the teacher cannot ignore a student writing on their desk and must instill respect for the property of others blah blah blah, but I think handcuffing and arresting a12-year-old teaches another lesson - fear your teacher! Don't step out of line! fear school!


Way to put the "Pal" in "Principal" Ms. Grant! What do you do if the kids chew gum in class, waterboard them? I was a fairly well-behaved kid in school, and my high school shenannigans tended to the bizarre and comical, rather than the destructive, but if I had a principal like this running my school, there definitely would have been major problems. It may be that by completely overreacting and responding in a way that would be considered child abuse if a parent had done it, Principal Grant may have done 12-year-old Alexa a favor and taught her a lesson she won't soon forget. Not the lesson she intended, but a lesson nonetheless: The people in charge aren't here to help you. The people in charge will abuse you any chance they get. Property is more important than people to the people in charge. The people in charge are a vicious bunch of hysterical fools more intent on showing they are in charge at all costs than actually doing their jobs.
Twelve is pretty early to learn a lesson like that, but at least there is time for her sense of idealism and trust to grow back.
I don't mean to malign all teachers and school administrators, far from it. I think teaching is a noble profession and that teachers get too little respect, too little credit and too much blame in our society. The vast majority are hardworking,nurturing souls who care about the kids they are trying to educate. Hurrah for teachers.
That said, as in any profession, there are those who have gone into it for the wrong reasons, those who have been defeated by the challenges of the job and now just coast and most dangerous of all, those who abuse their authority. In teaching, as in the police, there is no one more dangerous than a petty tyrant. Bullies suck in any line of work, but one with a badge, gun and taser who has been given a licence to hassle people is dangerous, not only for the abuses of power they commit, but for the effect it has in undermining respect for the law and police. The same is true of authoritarian principals, vice-principals, coaches and teachers who think that they are entitled to bully and abuse the children entrusted to their care. Not only do they traumatize the individual kids they "discipline," but they also destroy the trust of the other students and parents in the system. They teach kids not to ask questions, not to stand up for themselves, not to think independently. Ditto for those petty dictators who insist on enforcing ill-considered "zero-tolerance" policies to the absolute letter, even while completely ignoring the spirit of the rule. They teach kids that being tolerant, reasonable, flexible and even merciful is wrong and that the kid bringing a plastic butter knife in his lunch to spread cream cheese on his bagel has committed the same crime as a kid who brings a machine gun to class.
Principal Grant may think that by having a kid arrested and jailed for writing her desk that she is sending a message to the other kids that she and the school will not tolerate any misbehaviour, but the message the kids will take to heart is that if they are to be hung for a sheep, why not take the whole flock? If just writing on the desk gets you sent to jail, you might as well set fire to that sucker, and the classroom as well, since you are going to be treated the same way for any offense, no matter how small.

crossposted from The Woodshed




Saturday, February 06, 2010

Bye bye "Buy Local' - Hello "Buy North American"

Harper and Co have been working hard. They have decided the prorogation of parliament is the ideal time to implement a crippling new extension of NAFTA into our lives .

The Deal :
In exchange for a 10 day window in which Canadian corporations will theoretically be allowed exemption from some of Obama's protectionist Buy America economic provisions, Canadian provinces and municipalities will permanently relinquish their right to award local contracts to local businesses.
Our taxes, our jobs. Bye bye 'Buy Local', hello WTO.

As Harper has previously stated :"I do think that the proliferation of domestic preferences in subnational government procurement is really problematic."

Stockwell Day has been pushing the provinces towards this since last June, even though many US cities and states continue to have laws restricting their contracts to their own domestic contractors and much of Obama's US-only stimulous spending has already been spent. Well, these are the folks who negotiated the softwood lumber deal for us after all.

CP :
"Harper says he doesn't believe there will be any opposition to the agreement, but adds his government could ratify the deal without Parliament."
John Manley, head of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, former Liberal deputy prime minister, Canada Chair of the deep integration project 2005 Independent Task Force on the Future of North America, and co-author of "Building A North American Community" for the US Council on Foreign Relations, is also celebrating the deal :
"It's good that it has given us a relationship with the United States that recognizes the degree of integration of our economies."

2010 was of course the date by which Manley predicted "the establishment of a North American economic and security community, the boundaries of which would be defined by a common external tariff and an outer security perimeter."

Or, as a Chicago School alumni once told me, Canadians will be ok with the integration of their culture, industry, and military into the US as long as they still get to vote and keep their flag.

We'll see :
"More than 25 organizations are meeting today in Ottawa to launch efforts to counter this and other trade deals whose aim is to destroy local democratic control over public spending."

Update : Walkom says it better.

Friday, February 05, 2010

FYI for VANOC, IOC, Canadians*, et al

Australians, generally, do not like be told what to do or how to behave. They like fun. Especially the sort of fun that amounts to a giant middle finger to bullshit regulations telling them what to do and how to behave.

So when their athletes hang a giant boxing kangaroo flag from their Vancouver condo, they are explaining something to you. You really ought to let them get away with it, because the Aussies are wonderfully rebellious and are probably quite happy to create an international incident over it. In fact, I bet they're looking forward to it. And it's not like you're having enough problems already (Hmm, the only more disruptive than a rule bound Aussie, is a bored rule-bound Aussie). On second thought, please do try to make them take it down.

*Many Canadians, in my experience, tend to be more rule and norm adhering/possessed/obsessed than our antipodean cousins. Pot laws and the Conservative Party notwithstanding.

Fb Fragging

NERVE IS A BLOG that proclaims its focus on "love • sex • culture". Well, one of their contributors, Brian Fairbanks, found this hearty piece of brouhaha: apparently this young teenager got grounded for three months, because his sister snitched on him, and told their parents that he had a 12-pack of beer in his bedroom.

Well, this dude wasn't going to take this lying down. So, he snoops in sister's bedroom and finds that his gormless sibling has actually written down her hookup list — and posts it on Facebook!

Not only did he rummage through Katie’s things and find her “hookup list” (aka “blow-jobs-to-hand-out list”), but he published it on his Facebook page…

…and tagged all of the intended recipients.

The list is charmingly jejeune. The blog comments are marvellous.

Stupid is as stupid does; this is eternal: back in November, 1939, Wally Schellenberger of the German Sicherheitsdienst suckered two British S.I.S. agents into a trap, in Venlo, Holland. One of 'em, Maj. Richard H. Stevens, was carrying a plaint-text list of British agents with him, when he was captured. Generations come and go, encryption is eternal, if you must have a list, hookup, or otherwise.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

A Reverse Palindrome

A PALINDROME is not a hangar for Sarah Palin's ego, it's a word or phrase that means the same read forwards or backwards. Well, this reads with a completely opposite meaning when read backwards.

This video was submitted in a contest by a 20-year old. The contest was titled "u @ 50" by AARP. It won second place. When they showed it, everyone in the room was awe-struck and broke into spontaneous applause. So simple and yet so brilliant. Take a minute and watch it. 

Lost Generation

The National Post is Political Propaganda, not Journalism

In an irate column Feb. 2, National Post columnist Barbara Kay denounces a letter to the editor penned by Penni Stewart, president of the Canadian Association of University Students, and Katherine Giroux-Bougard, national chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students that justly pointed out the idiocy of a Jan. 26 Post editorial that rejoiced in the demise of “Womens’s Studies programs” (sic). Kay clutches at her pearls and attempts to defend the unsigned editorial, which she very likely penned, and sets out, as usual, to prove that feminists and other liberals are bad. But the column actually vindicates the letter to the editor, because almost every sentence in it confirms that Barbara Kay’s column, and indeed the entire National Post are nothing more than conservative hackery on newsprint, not objective journalism.
She begins with a curious statement about no one at the Post or anywhere else believes that equality between men and women is a “radical idea” and that the authors of the letter have implied that only Women’s studies holds that value, a straw statement of remarkable disingenuousness. Nobody on this blog or anywhere else in their right mind would ignore the fact that vast swathes of the conservative religious community and other assorted douchebags very much consider women to be second-class humans who should be subservient to men, and I, who have often publicly railed against and been lectured about such oppresive sexism, take exception to the implication that even Post readers would be stupid enough to accept such patent nonsense at face value. All columnists at the Post, indeed the entire publication, reeks of this kind of conservative advocacy. Actually, all right-wing-funded institutions, their radio shows, their magazines and their churches believe in more than just inequality, they believe in specifically villifying feminism.
And if there is any nook or cranny in Kay’s writings or the National Post that is not used as a rhetorical platform for attacking progressive forces in society, I would welcome the enlightenment and be the first to give credit where credit is due. On the other hand, I can certainly show Ms. Kay many instances of her hackery and crimes against reason, such as her tendency to wallow in false equivelancies, which completely undercut any point she might try to make in her attempts to spin the facts. It isn’t facts that Kay and the Post are championing, though, it is pounding home conservative talking points. In other words, Barbara Kay and the National Post are merely the media arm of the neoconservative movement, which is nothing more today than a lobby group for wealthy interests, not at all a movement interested in true social, fiscal or environmental conservatism.
Political activism and recruitment to activism should not be the responsibility of newspapers to promote. It is rather “ironic” that Kay tries to argue that the problem with Women’s studies programs is that they are radical and “faith-based” by pointing to an irrelevant to the matter at hand but otherwise valid complaint from the Canadian Association of University Teachers that a university should not be allowed to apply a religious test for employment as it is a violation of academic freedom. She appropriates a line from the complaint that “A university is meant as a place to explore ideas, not to create disciples of Christ.”
How is the conservative bastion of the National Post any different? Writers may not have to sign actual Conservative Party of Canada membership cards, but anyone apply to write at the National Post had better believe in the ideology of neoconservatism, or they can take a hike. The hiring committees grill applicants with a view to exposing their ideological loyalties. Anyone deviating from the politically correct adamantine Rand-imbued party line will not be welcome. Indeed, I am confident that a student in a women’s studies program would be given far greater latitude to challenge the tenets of feminism with impunity than a National Post writer defying the lassiez-faire crypto-fascist doctrines of neoconservatism.*
I am sure, for example, that women’s studies programs do not include on their reading lists any writers who advocate the extermination and religious conversion of liberals and Muslims. Yet conservative publications across North America give pride of place to the odious Anne Coulter, whose mainstream media career died a couple of years ago (and whom we on the left love to drag out to show the batshit craziness of the right). Coulter loathed liberals and vaunted her loathing in her columns, going so far as to advocate blowing up the New York Times and bombing all Muslim nations, an extremist viewpoint that eventually got her booted off CNN. She preached a gospel that incited hatred for liberals who “putridly” sully the landscape of what could be an ideal world if not for their prescence. Coulter is an extreme extreme example of the lack of sense characterizing the conservative movement, but tolerance for her views and others like her that are embraced by the conservative movement point to the unhealthiness at the root of conservatism and its activist arm in the media.
If rich, white, corporatist theocrats want to advance the idea of returning Canada to the 1890s or have the nation run entirely for profit by the private sector, they are free to do so through the political process: Let them join our present parties – the Conservative Party of Canada is entirely at their disposal and there isn’t a ambition the extreme right espouses that is not mirrored in CPC policy- and work to make those changes as all citizens are free to do, or start their own Fascist Party if they think they can get enough people to support them. Which will never happen, since most Canadians understand that neoconservatism is not about freedom, but about giving money and power to the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.
The National Post is losing money because they are losing readers. The revolution is over. Rationality and compassion won. What is good about conservatism can be written about in other publications. What’s bad is unworthy of a publication of its own. Barbara Kay and The National Post are superfluous in every respect and calling it a necessary balance to the so-called liberal mainstream media won’t disguise that reality. Goodbye, salut, farewell, shalom. Don’t slam the door on the way out.


(* I have no proof that this is true. This is central to my point)

Cross-posted from The Woodshed where we hope it is well understood that imitation is the sincerest form of mockery.