Friday, June 29, 2012

Blair FAIL . . .

— Billy ponders a river in Egypt —

BILLY, YA DONE GONE AND SCREWED THE POOCH. According to the Toronto Star, "G20 aftermath: Civilian police board barely asked any questions in leadup to summit", Captain Billy was less than efficient:

The report blames the federal government — which gave Toronto police four months to plan an event that typically requires up to two years of preparation — for contributing to the Toronto police’s shortcomings during the summit.

But it also found the police board was largely in the dark about policing plans and G20 operations.

While some board members felt Chief Bill Blair was being “secretive” or withholding operational information from them, Morden concluded the onus was still on the board to seek out the information it needed to ensure proper civilian oversight.

Just wait for Billy and Dalton to start squealing how innocent they are . . . Memo to Billy: time to go, dude, time to go, before you cause more embarrassment to the force that others, brave men like Const. Leslie Maitland gave their lives in service to their citizens. Billy: compared to them, you are a disgusting piece of political flotsam.

Famine stalks the Juche Joint . . .

NORTH KOREA just can't seem to get a break. According to the Telegraph, "North Korea facing worst drought in 100 years", North Korean soldiers have been dispatched to water crops that are withering in the worst drought to affect the country in more than a century, with the United Nations warning that yields for staples such as wheat, barley and potatoes will inevitably be affected.

— field of broken dreams —
The maize crop stands a mere 15 inches tall in many places in North and South Hwanghae provinces, instead of the 60 inches that it should be by now, farmers said.

Nearly 50,000 acres in western parts of the country - known as the breadbasket of North Korea - have been affected by the drought, which will worsen an already acute food shortage. In September, the United Nations World Food Programme warned that 3.5 million people were at risk of malnutrition and starvation in North Korea, which has a total population of 24 million.

And while the nation appears to have weathered that potential crisis, a shortage of summer crops this year will lead to more shortages in the bitterly cold winter.

The question is, what are the generals behind the new puppet going to do about it? Can this latest Kim iteration, Kim Jong-un, do anything about it? Could it lead to North Korea's perestroika? Or a desperate invasion of South Korea? The new year should be very interesting . . .

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Problem child.

The senator, appointed in 2008 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, sent an email response to a request for comment.
"The very simple answer to your question with respect to my attendance or lack thereof is for personal matters," said Brazeau, former national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.
He did not elaborate, but later posted a message on Twitter directed to the reporter, Jennifer Ditchburn of The Canadian Press: "while u smile Jen, others suffer. Change the D to a B in your last name and we're even! Don't mean it but needs saying."
Vulgar, lazy, and mean. Harper's Canada.

Western alienation?


Yeah. Might be interesting to see how many backbenchers are feeling like ol' Brent.

An Edmonton Conservative MP went public Tuesday to blast the “egregious” waste of tax dollars by Harper government cabinet ministers, saying ministers were showing an attraction to “opulence” and “extravagance” that is alien to the values of ordinary Canadians.

Yes, well, dear Brent, it was always about the bling. It's the power and sense of entitlement that comes with it they wanted. "Conservative" was just the brand, given their personalities, most able to camouflage this craving and get them "elected" (or whatever you wanna call the last poll event).

Monday, June 25, 2012

A politics of bombers and bars

About 70 years ago, thousands of Allied aircrew packed themselves in to large, slow moving and vulnerable bombers, flew over German cities and dropped incalculable numbers of high explosive and incendiary bombs on industrial and residential areas. The aim of this campaign, no secret here, was the 'break the moral of the German people' in order to hasten that country's surrender. This meant levelling their cities and killing 600 000 civilians.  Across the world the ultimate expression of this approach saw the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Breaking the civilian morale involved the killing, maiming, and literal terrorising of millions of 'enemy' civilians to a degree unrecorded in history. Hell fell from the sky.  There is no glory to be found in that trade. It makes no difference whether it was difficult for the aircrew who participated in that inhuman action. They did what was asked of them and that was it.

For our Conservatives, however, not one of whom has stood under a falling bomb or commanded and aircraft dropping them, not one of whom is old enough to have memories of that war, these facts matter little. Like 1812, they are revisiting  that war and for reasons which I cannot fathom, are striking a new bar for aircrew medals specifically for those who participated in RAF Bomber Command's campaign against German cities and industrial targets. (Do British veterans qualify for that bar too, I wonder?)

The medals for that war were struck upon its closing are are largely shared across the English-speaking Commonwealth.  There are very few living veterans of that war, and in 20 years there shall be none. Creating a new bar now for that war serves no practical purpose as far as I can see, unless it is to give the finger to historians and others who raise questions about the necessity or reality of that particular aspect of the war and who challenge new wars on similar grounds.

Airshow MacKay, very much the boy with the action figures, says as much between the lines:

The new honour comes 67 years after the end of the war. MacKay today acknowledged this tribute is "long overdue. It is unfortunate it has taken this long," MacKay said. "[Creating the honour] is complex and there is certainly, as is always the case, politics involved in that.
Yes, politics. Or maybe that part of the exercise of stopping Hitler involved the leaders, military and political, of the time giving themselves licence to do unspeakable things to other human beings they temporarily labelled as the enemy. The politics that recognised the horror of such acts and afterward created international institutions like the United Nations in order to avoid reproducing them, especially in the nuclear age. It is that politics that MacKay means because it challenges his own. His is a government with a politics of to inflicting pain on others in the name of great causes, particularly with weapons and uniformed people wielding them. They don't have a Nazi Germany, but they have Muslims, environmentalists, and various other civilian political opponents.  Theirs is a retributive,  punishment politics and emerges in prisons and omnibus legislation.  It glorifies martial violence and demonises those who oppose the policies of state. It wants secret police to read your secret notes. It wants big alliances with bigger powers. It will scorch and toxify air, land, and water to fill its coffers and spite its opponents. It will starve sections of the country who do not support it. His is a politics that thwarts and pervert elections and the rules of democracy.

You see, there was a politics like theirs 70 years ago. The people of the time struck medals and built monuments to the soldiers, sailors, and aircrew who risked and lost life, limb, and mind committing the savagery necessary to defeat it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


YA GOTTA WONDER. Time Magazine's December 5, 2011, Vol. 178, No. 22 cover.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Illusions and perspective . . .

BIRTHERS, BAGGERS and all sorts of wackos from Hannity to Limbaugh have turned US politics into the sort of sanity observed in midget wrestling. It seems that reality for the US voter is based on an illusion as you see above, courtesy of Connect-the-dots-usa. The egalitarian Republic is a fairy tale.
Now, add religion to this, and hoowee! Religion and Politics takes a close look at Gopper fundamentalism. Courtesy of The Motley Cow. It seems that believing in talking snakes helps one believe in dumpster-diving as a societal ideal.
In recent decades, “big tent” conservatism has seemed on the brink of collapse, its poles buckling under competing constituencies with “values” voters in one corner pitted against fiscal conservatives in the other. Discussions among academics and media pundits suggest these are two distinct categories of Republicans—the former made up of mainly working-class white evangelicals and the latter historically comprised of higher-income whites. Republican politicians must seek the favor of both special interests, appealing not only to traditional social issues—gay marriage and abortion—but also to economic fare such as reducing government and lowering taxes.

• • •

In fact, for many white evangelicals, religious and economic spheres are conceptualized as two sides of the same coin. They describe their worldview as one in which the spiritual and the material are mutually dependent and interactive. And the popularity of this worldview cuts across social class.

November's election is going to be the Greatest Show on Earth . . .

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Like Kirby says . . .

KIRBYCAIRO'S blog posting is one of the best overviews of the problem facing the Liberals  that I have had the pleasure of reading. Gets to the hard-core center of the Liberal problem. See what the man has to say: Look for Solutions to the Real crisis or continue in Irrelevance. . ..

Our Dawg in this fight . . .

DAWG PUTS THE BITE ON BIGOTS: according to the Winnipeg Free Press, "Ontario court orders blog-based libel case to trial".

TORONTO - A right-wing political commentator should face trial for referring to a blogger as a Taliban supporter during a heated online exchange, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled Thursday.

The unanimous decision set aside a lower court ruling that dismissed the case against Roger Smith, an active participant in the blogosphere and regular contributor to the conservative website

Smith was accused of defamation by John Baglow, who operates the left-leaning Dawg's Blawg and brought his case before the Superior Court of Justice last year.

Slander is ugly, so give 'em hell, Dawg, give 'em hell. Nice new site.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Not politically-correct . . .

BUT VERY SATISFYING. One less perv is good. Maybe he was misunderstood, maybe he had a rough childhood. Whatever his problem was, he's discussing it one-on-one with God, if you believe that sort of thing, and if you don't, take cheer in that the sumbitch's constituent molecules will get re-cycled. And daddy didn't even use a gun . . . that's almost un-American.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

You can't get there, from here . . .

THE NEW YORKER has a fine article for you to ponder: Jonah Lehrer posted "Why Smart People Are Stupid" in the Frontal Cortex blog, in which it is noted that research shows that the smarter people are, the more susceptible they are to cognitive bias. Good ol' h.sapiens may at times be a rational animal, but he is always a rationalizing animal, with a capacity for self-deception and wishful thinking that is unique on Earth.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Times are changing . . .

 — MQ-4C Triton —
THIS IS ABOUT THE FUTURE, and choices we have to make now, that we will have to live with for decades. We've been watching Stevie and AIRSHOW stumble around like a pair of drunks as they pursue their F-35 financial fetish. And the F-35 has problems, as we have seen: it's behind schedule, and vastly over-budget, and as some fairly knowledgeable people have observed, it's not really what Canada needs, just what Stevie wants.

So, this is old news, and why dredge it up? Well, there were a couple of happenings this week that might offer interesting alternatives to the F-35. The US Navy is proceeding with its program to acquire RPV (remotely piloted vehicles)-drone (autonomous, self-controlled) capabilities for both surveillance and interception. These drone-RPV's are not the Predators that have the Taliban so upset, the Predator is like a WW1 Sopwith Camel, and these are like WW2 F-4U Corsairs, faster, deadlier, tougher, with all-weather de-icing, and capable of the "controlled crash" of carrier landings.

The first happening was an "oops!" — the USN reported the crash of one of their "older" prototype BAMS-D vehicles. They are unarmed, improved versions of the Northrop Global Hawk, with BAMS as their mission: Broad Area Maritime Surveillance, but BAMS-D is an interim model; it's full-strength BAMS that the USN is developing for the decades ahead. What's a BAMS? A heavy-duty Global Hawk, called the MQ-4C Triton.
 — X-47B UCLASS hunter-killer —
— Boeing's UCLASS design —
BAMS takes off and lands solely from land and is operated by a four-person crew – including one pilot – from a ground control station. The pilot uses mouse clicks on a computer screen rather than stick and rudder to fly the plane. When BAMS departs or arrives on U.S. territory or flies within 12 miles of the coast, the Navy will need a special FAA waiver to fly in public airspace called a Certificate of Authorization (COA), just as the Air Force does when its Global Hawks depart or arrive at their home bases in California and North Dakota. COAs typically require that a manned chase plane provide "see and avoid" capability for a UAS.

Once outside U.S. airspace, BAMS can cruise at altitudes well above most air lanes used by passenger jets and other manned aircraft. Unlike Global Hawk, however, BAMS will be able to descend to lower altitudes if necessary to more closely examine items of interest picked up by its ISR radar or daylight and infrared cameras.

An RPV-drone that will be flying in commercial airspace, if its controllers want. The Navy is also putting a two-way radio on BAMS so its crew can talk to air traffic controllers the way manned aircraft pilots do, and it's equipping the drone with standard safe separation and navigation and surveillance technologies manned aircraft use -- TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) and ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast).

The second happening was the approval of landing software for
UCLASS: Unmanned Carrier-launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike. The USN is very serious about RPV-drones as offensive weapons too. It's about saving money and lives. The USN is trying to reduce the sheer number of sailors required to fight a ship by automating systems wherever possible, as you may have noticed with the Zumwalt, the proposed new USN littoral frigate. Saves payroll, training costs, but also reduced human environmental concerns promotes survivability in combat.

A 7-g loading is about the limit for humans; it's debilitating, and even with training and g-suits, pilots can't take a lot and as well, the change from plus-g to minus-g loading adds to the wear-and-tear as the human circulatory system rebels. The USN is working on offensive, "killer" RPV drones that will do + 12g -12g as fast as the RPV pilot can tell it to do so, and keep doing it until it runs out of fuel.  Dog-fight hunter-killer, indeed.

Boeing and Northrop are building prototypes. The Northrop X-47B and the as-yet un-named Boeing design are the first generation of really high-performance (high sub-sonic) offensive RPV's. Northrop's software for automated carrier landings has been approved. Projected timeline is 2018, for the first carrier landings of the X-47B.

Canada has to make a choice, and make it soon, as to replacing our F-18's. My opinion is that Canada should walk away from the F-35, and buy as many Super Hornets as we need, and improved JDAM's for them. With the money thus saved, Canada should get involved in the USN RPV-drone program.

It's just my opinion, but the un-armed BAMS is ideal for our Arctic surveillance, and is available well before the end of the decade, and can even be deployed in the far Arctic. And when machinery breaks, there's no Emergency Search-and-Rescue required. As well, if money permits, the acquisition of a 2015 technology STOL transport like a Super Buffalo, maybe even designed and built in Canada would also be useful for Arctic service. The timing works well, too: we can get the Super Hornets as soon as a production block can be reserved, and before the end of the decade (2017-18), we can be doing 7-24 un-armed BAMS surveillance of our entire Arctic, and if, say, the USN goes with the X-47, buy some of those, have offensive patrols up there by 2020.

Looking into the future, sometimes greedy nations get stupid over sovereignty, so maybe the acquisition of an offensive RPV-drone might be a good way to convince the other Arctic nations and those countries that wish to be intrusive, that we really do care about our turf. And if it has to go active, well +/- 12 g's and 30mm cannon or whatever missile it launches will probably fix the problem.

Canadian involvement in the RPV-drone programs can only help our computer design industry stay with the future — this appears to be a growth industry, unlike building manned fighter aircraft. It's all about the development of Artificial Intelligence, a Super Siri, a happy HAL, a C3PO or an R2D2: it's coming, and it might be a good idea for Canada to have a part in how it comes about. But Stevie wants the F-35.

Friday, June 15, 2012

UofA shootings: some initial thoughts

For those that haven't seen the news, three G4S armoured car employees were tragically shot to death last night at my alma mater, the University of Alberta. A fourth remains in critical condition.

Footage shows they were at the north end of HUB mall with doors to a pedway that lead to the Tory/business faculty atrium. There's a cluster of ATMs in nearby (you can see the TD machine in the footage) and a truly bizarre mural to capitalism above the doors. This time of year the building would be fairly quiet, and at night especially so. The bulk of the students are gone but for the handful who remain for the slower summer term. Contrary to the Edmonton Journal report I read, the building was most definitely not "abuzz" with students, especially at that hour.

Although it is not possible at this point to say whether it has anything to do with what happened last night, HUB mall is appalling from a security standpoint.

It a long rectangular structure seveal stories high. On the second (or is it third?) level there is a mall of 50 odd shops and restaurants. Above that are student residences, which are never empty. The problem is that there are also a large number of exterior doors and other entrances, more than 50 I am told, that allow direct access to the mall and student residences, meaning the building can be readily accessed without notice from multiple points by anyone off the street at any time of the day or night. The multiple hidden stairwells and such mean there are many places to hide-out. There have been very serious incidents in the past, not all of which have been publicised. I'm not sure these have resulted in any changes.

Keep an eye on this: I would hate to think little rock gardens with pretty puddles and administration salaries took priority in the university budget over security concerns. The security problem with HUB must have been acknowledged at some point.

I also would not want to be an armoured car guard in this day and age. There are thousands of ATMs that need to be filled and they're located in banks, bars, and random street corners, located for convenience, not security.  Guards are often in the open and quite vulnerable. It's amazing this sort of incident doesn't happen more often.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lowers delivery costs . . .

WHILE DAVE AND BORIS and the rest of the wretches bring us the latest outrages of Stevie and his fascists, this little item is worthy of your notice: Boeing has given the JDAM 300% longer range, according to DEFENSETECH.

OK, so what's a JDAM, and why the hell should you care? It's an acronym for Joint Direct Attack Munition.

JDAMs are conversion kits for 500 lb and 2,000 lb traditional "iron" bombs, that turn them from non-guided, 'dumb' iron, to GPS/laser-guided munitions, with a 7 meter accuracy. Why do this? It saves money. A Tomahawk Cruise Missile, with a 1,000 lb warhead can cost up to somewhere around 1.5 to 2 million dollars a piece. A JDAM kit is about $20,000 and the iron bomb? Nickel-dime.

And, unlike a lot of gee-whiz super-duper hardware for the weapons fetishists, they're simple, cheap — and they work. Check out the demo with JDAMS and a B-2 at 42,000 feet, as it dumps 81, yes 81, 500 lb. JDAMS. That's 20 tons of precision guidance.

Problem was, up til now, the glide range was only about 15 miles/30 km, which means that the aircraft are within Surface-to-Air threat zones. Well, adding some simple wings now gives a 45 mile range, which means that non-stealth F-15's, F-16's, F-18's, Tornadoes and NATO MiGs and Sukhois and the like can now use JDAM and survive, launching from the edge of the SAM envelope, and bugging out before the SAM can get a lock-on.

Who's threatened? States like Syria and Iran and North Korea. They all have invested heavily in SAM's, and now it doesn't mean much.

Why should you care? Well, things could start to get somewhat more "active" in the near future, now that the cost of employing precision-guided high explosives has been so substantially reduced. In 4-5 years, non-G-8 airforces will acquire this capability. South-East Asia could explode. That's probably why the Australians are interested in the improved JDAM, according to DEFENSETECH.

For example, the Israelis could use it next year (6 months from now) to take apart the Iranian command infrastructure, to take out the SAMs, then take apart the Mad Mullah Machine — at comparative leisure, because the Iranians won't have anything to throw at the IAF from the ground or attack it in the air that will work, while the IAF lobs JDAMs onto Mossad-obtained GPS locations. The IAF stays outside the SAM envelope, and they got F-15's for anything air-to-air that is foolish enough to give it a try. All the Iranians may be effectively able to do is throw SCUDS and such at Tel Aviv, which becomes an attack on civilian populations, because the accuracy is deficient, and that might not work out so well at the UN. 

Hopefully, somebody might remember: it cost the USAF 10 or so B-52's on Linebacker II, but the USAF Wild Weasels finally took out all the Hanoi SAM sites and radar co-ordinating the most ferocious anti-aircraft network ever built, and the B-52's started the Curtis LeMay "Back to the Stone Age" campaign, and within a week, the North Vietnamese were doing a Joan Rivers: "Can we talk?" The point is: losing control of your airspace means you have lost control of your options. With Mossad carefully writing down all those target locations on GPS, the Mullahs might want to mull their options over a mulled beverage of some kind. Kinda like McDonalds: change from a $20,000 add-on. I wish they'd spend the coin on this kind of delivery system, though.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Your Monday absurdity . . .

CYRIAQUE MIGHT BE RIGHT: Your brain cannot handle Hitlar, a movie about Hitler’s evil Pakistani gangster son, but go visit io9 anyway. Life has its risks. It'll put Stevie's antics into perspective, of sorts.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A tale of two* Liberals

1. Dalton McGuinty, the Liberal premier of Ontario who oversaw the invocation of a secret law and defended the arbitary arrest, detention, and beatings of more than a thousand people in their own city.

2. Jean Charest, the Liberal premier of Quebec who is now turning Quebec into a police state at war with its own children because they refuse to accept his government's plans for their education costs.

There is nothing liberal about these two. They have now moved beyond that peculiar Canadian liberal paradox of simultaneously embracing both private capital and rights and democracy to actively reject  the latter in favour of authoritarian violence. It's very hard to make the Harper Con look weak on that front, but that they have. The title of this book is actually starting to make sense. Those still carrying a membership card in this party who haven't burnt it in disgust either condone these actions or are cognitively dissonant to the point of a pathology.

*I may eventually have to add Christy Clark in BC with what she might do to crush local resistance to Harper's tar plan should she survive that long.

Hey, Stevie . . .

SANDRA HARRIS has a few choice words and ideas to impart. Stevie ain't gonna like 'em. From Lorne at Politics and its Discontents, and Kev, at Trapped in a Whirlpool. Thank-you, gentlemen.

Perspective of the past . . .

THE WASHINGTON POST has an article you should read and ponder. It's written by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, "40 years after Watergate, Nixon was far worse than we thought".

(Sam) Ervin’s answer to his own question hints at the magnitude of Watergate: “To destroy, insofar as the presidential election of 1972 was concerned, the integrity of the process by which the President of the United States is nominated and elected.” Yet Watergate was far more than that. At its most virulent, Watergate was a brazen and daring assault, led by Nixon himself, against the heart of American democracy: the Constitution, our system of free elections, the rule of law.

OK, so it's about Watergate. Ho-hum, old news. Why should you care? Well, Watergate was the tipping point in American politics, with the advent of planned, methodical efforts to violate the Constitution by a major political partyand as we have seen, with Stevie, the ideological lice have infected our conservatives too.

Know thy enemy: know where he comes from, know what his resources are, know what his dreams are — and never, ever under-estimate or forget that from your enemy's POV, his actions are rational. This ain't no schoolyard, or like the Talking Heads proclaimed, no disco, either, no foolin' around.

Friday, June 08, 2012

And there they go

Yeah, you knew this was coming. Call environmentalists terrorists and enemies of the state enough times and sooner or later you'll actually start treating them that way...and some of them will start acting the part.

However, there is a grain of truth in here: Actively proceeding with activities and policies that worsen climate change, put people and communities at risk, and Dutchify the economy in the interests of foreign states and private capital will breed domestic dissent and resistance, not all of which will be civilised. Not that they will particularly care. If violence fails to happen, they'll talk and act as if there was.

Interesting. I wonder if any of the police, spooks, and border folks bother to consider the idea that they are operating as extensions of Harper-policy, are therefore de facto agents of China and every other customer of and investor in Alberta's tar.   

Con diplomacy

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre put it another way in the House of Commons.
“This Prime Minister will not force hard-working Canadian taxpayers to bail out sumptuous euro welfare-state countries and the wealthy bankers that lend to them,” he said.

Boors. We are governed by authoritarian boors. You know, I tend to think most politicians are cleverer than their words, but these people actually believe their own bullshit. 

The power of ignorance . . .

Truth in Advertising . . . .

Lush Cosmetics has produced a rebuttal ad to the enbridge propaganda ad running constantly on BC TV stations:

 Much more accurate than the original one, don't you think ? ? ? ?

Thursday, June 07, 2012

More than students . . .

SOMETHING IS HAPPENING HERE, and like Bob Dylan observed, a lot of folks just don't understand, but sometimes, most of the patriots are found in the gang out of uniform. Like Junius wrote, "The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures."

Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that while Canadians are slow to rile, Canadians don't do "submit" very well. The next election is scheduled for October 19, 2015 — 1,232 days from today, according to DaysUntil. Coincidentally, that's Mother Teresa Day, just so's ya know. With God on our side . . .

Point of view is everything . . .

Good To Know: available in non-prescription

GOTTA GET A PAIR of RIDDICKS, if only for the RIDE spot-check, or greeting the Proselytizing at the front door . Great movie, by the way, as is the first, Pitch Black.

Jubilee jots

I used to not mind the monarchy and would have preferred to keep it despite it being in opposition to some of my other views It played what I saw as a valuable role as historical referent point heritage and cultural and political continuity of Canada. It serves as a key reference point within the armed forces, and the rhetoric of "the Queen's uniform" and such still exists within the institution.

More important by far, it served as an integral component of our system of government both in function and symbolism. The neutral body of the Monarch and her representatives at the federal and provincial levels as head of state, served as devices which reminded us that politicians were at all times temporary creatures and could not amass regal powers and rule by decree. The custom of Royal Assent to legislation, the Speech from the Throne, the Black Rod and slamming of doors, served as poetic reminders of checks and challenges to power and ego inherent in politics. These are customs born of civil wars and times when monarchs were often tyrants and held a great deal more power than anyone should.

All that held until Stephen Harper and his band of subversives found themselves in office and began subverting the norms of our constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy of which the Queen was a feature. His quest to impose his own dark authoritarianism includes increasing the emphasis on the monarch as a distraction from his brutal insurgency against the mechanisms of government, and as saviour from challenges to it.

The militarism, fascism, and authoritarism with which Harper 'governs' is a mockery the monarchy and its role in our political system. I can find no further practical reason for the monarchy. I do not think, Harper or not, that our governance will be the same. The Queen's representative is revealed through prorogues to be open to abuse and bullying. The Queen and her children are abused as cynical baubles to distract the masses from other things. Parliament, and the separation of powers and the historical forging of a Westminster system are irrelevant under Harper because the inbuilt checks and balances have utterly failed.

In other words, under Harper, the symbolic role of the monarchy has increased (and cheapened!) while its practical role is systematically destroyed.

The door is open to a great many things and whether Harper has 30 years left or three, things will not be the same in this country. People are angry, times are uncertain, and wheels are turning. With things like Occupy, Carré Rouge, the resistance building to energy plans on the West Coast, there is a Revolutionary Consciousness building in this country. No, it is not universal and is often not explicit, but some things have happened that cannot be put back. These will have long term impacts on the politics and culture of Canada, whatever becomes of the place.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

For a future fracas . . .

HERE'S THE FIRST LOOK AT THE DDG-1000 ZUMWALT. It's a major part of the USN's answer to the Chinese navy's growth in Asian waters. It's a littoral vessel, designed for coastal patrols. Like everything these days, it's not cheap: according to the Washington Post/Associated Press, "Stealth destroyer, at over $3 billion apiece, is US Navy’s latest answer to rising China"

A super-stealthy warship that could underpin the U.S. navy’s China strategy will be able to sneak up on coastlines virtually undetected and pound targets with electromagnetic “railguns” right out of a sci-fi movie.

But at more than $3 billion a pop, critics say the new DDG-1000 destroyer sucks away funds that could be better used to bolster a thinly stretched conventional fleet. One outspoken admiral in China has scoffed that all it would take to sink the high-tech American ship is an armada of explosive-laden fishing boats.

At 2.4 kilometres per second (5,400 mph), the air burns, no chemical propellant used.
Right now, it's could be, would be, should be, might be. And the Chinese say they are not impressed, but then again, what else are they going to say? HOWEVER, if this is NOT speculative, it may be an indication that the USN has made solid progress with the Polywell Fusion program, which is intended to power those rail-guns. The rail-guns, with a projected 200-mile/320km range, will be appearing later in the decade — if the USN solves the power-source problem.

The DDG-1000 and other stealth destroyers of the Zumwalt class feature a wave-piercing hull that leaves almost no wake, electric drive propulsion and advanced sonar and missiles. They are longer and heavier than existing destroyers — but will have half the crew because of automated systems and appear to be little more than a small fishing boat on enemy radar.

Chris Hedges at Congress

(h/t Bob via J.)

Monday, June 04, 2012

Airshow's ministry...

This is getting hilarious. Blame the uniformed Canadian Forces for not sufficiently defending the minister when the minister thunder's in? It is like Airshow's DND staff thinks the Canadian Forces is (1) just some government government organ, and (2) one that is full of people they can bully into silence or expect to automatically mobilise when things get a little warm for the government and its weird little ministers.

Pull up a chair and make some popcorn, because it's gonna get even funnier.

The costs of democracy . . .

Charles and David Koch.
THE KOCH CRITTERS are going to make this Fall's American election something really special. According to Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson, who has a report on Reader Supported News, "The Billion-Dollar Mitt Machine" that should be of concern.

Led by the billionaire Koch Brothers, forces allied with the GOP are now planning to spend a record-shattering $1 billion to put Romney in the White House.

The biggest news is that the Kochtopus - the shadowy network of political advocacy groups funded by industrialists Charles and David Koch - is alone planning to spend $395 million to defeat Obama.

One billion dollars: the Rule of the Rich. At least, that's what they believe. Maybe, just maybe, the American voter believes differently. We'll know in November. The Democrats have been expecting this, and Obama's people are doing their best to find alternatives to this bullion barrage, organizing a volunteer army. It ain't over 'til it's over.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Where misogyny rules . . .

FOREIGN POLICY has a fascinating display, worthy of your attention, of just what a raw deal women are given in various parts of the world, in an article by Valerie Hudson, "The Worst Places to Be a Woman: Mapping the places where the war on women is still being fought".

Mapped out for your edification: 1) Discrepancy in Education; 2) Inequity in Family Law/Practice; 3) Governmental Participation by Women; 4) Child Marriage for Girls: Practice and Law; 5) Maternal Mortality; 6) Women's Physical Security; 7) Polygyny; 8) Son Preference and Sex Ratios; and 9) Trafficking in Females. 

In another FP article, Mona Eltahawy asks, "Why Do They Hate Us? The real war on women is in the Middle East." Obviously, God wants it that way.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Afghan National Army

The image comes from a photo essay in The Atlantic and is of an Afghan soldier's boot after two months' wear. This army is the one Canada is training, and the one meant to carry on the Afghan civil war with the Taleban in the next couple of years after the most of the West leaves . The Afghan government has apparently sourced combat boot orders to Pakistan and other places at the expense of local manufacture and quality control. This army may well fail completely once NATO and the US leave.

Five Years

Steve Gilliard.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Funny Friday . . .

AMERICAN STATE LEGISLATURES are capable of amazing comedy. According to Charlie Jane Anders, at io9, the latest silliness is courtesy of North Carolina (of which someone once remarked that the state bird, the Cardinal, should be replaced by a Pontiac Firebird wrapped around a telephone pole as much more representative), "North Carolina considers outlawing accurate predictions of sea level rise".

— The Seal —

— The Firebird —

— The Cardinal —
Faced with predictions that sea levels in the coastal areas of North Carolina will rise by a meter in the next century, legislators are considering bold action: making those predictions illegal. 

In 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gave a hesitant estimate of up to 59 centimeters of rise -but even two years later that estimate already appeared low and scientists began to expect a rise of a meter or more.

No matter in North Carolina. We've got resorts to build and we don't care what the rest of the ocean does – our sea isn't going to rise by more than 15.6 inches. Because otherwise it's against the law.

Back in 1897, in Indiana, the legislature also had a great idea, The Indiana Pi Bill, to set the value of Pi to a nice, simple number, like 3.2, but it didn't fly.