Saturday, November 30, 2013

"Threads"

I have often thought the only way to "win" a nuclear exchange is to not use yours. That way you ensure at least some coherent civilisation remains. This British film explains why, and uses experts' views to build its scenarios and narrative. WARNING: This is a deeply disturbing film.

RCMP: Getting it wrong

So RCMP Corporal Ron Francis has some of his peers turn up to his residence and remove his uniforms, the last of which he returned under his own steam.

Why?

Because he was smoking prescribed medical marijuana whilst wearing it. Apparently this is such a high crime in the Informal Code of the RCMPness that it must result in public humiliation and disgrace by ones peers. Nevermind that in this instance the use of marijuana is exactly the same as taking prescription pills for serious medical condition.

Did a posse of Mounties show up at the homes of Constables Kwesi Millington, Bill Bentley, Gerry Rundel, and Corporal Benjamin Robinson after they utterly disgraced themselves at YVR and the consequent Braidwood enquiry? Nope. It actually took an unrelated DUI scam to turf the last guy and the first three actually kept their uniforms and employment.

How about this for a symbolic punishment? Admit the RCMP has a serious problem with its organisational culture, ban them from wearing the red serge dress uniform until they demonstrate that they've fixed themselves.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Mercer on Harper


Past wars and now...

Three suicides in a week.  Twenty-two among Regular Force members in 2011, an unknown number is 2012. [Evidently reservists are still treated as second-order soldiers by the system - plus ├ža change...] There will be more. There are things that can be done to prevent them, but not all of them. Like the former Yugoslavia and Somalia, Afghanistan's casualties will continue to mount long after the last troops leave theatre. This is a fact of war.



In past wars, armies were demobilised following the end of conflict and the soldiers faded away into civilian life. Most served only a few short years, either until they were invalided out, killed, or the war ended. They would fade into civilian life in the hundreds of thousands. Some would remain traumatised and unable to function, others would find jobs and families and new lives in a country that understand it was universally at war. Today, armies are already small and do not shrink by much post war, and life for most does not change. Soldiers now have careers and many carry on serving for years or decades. Those that return to civilian life, return to a society that unlike in the past, was never really at war and cannot connect to them. More will end their lives.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

That man

Harper's fate is being written these days. Creekside records as does this blog, and others. It's a bit strange looking across the Atlantic at events in Canada and the crude, juvenile nature of our politicians. Granted, all politicians are crude and juvenile, it's just that to me ours seem to be so...colonial. There's a naivety to their skulduggery that is missing in the more sophisticated crimes in countries where the politics are still ruled by private schools and classical educations.

Harper is too much of a thug. His remake of the institutions of Canadian government is botched and what emerges from operation will neither be what was, nor what he intended. As others point out frequently now, it's his own judge of character that's at fault. His hires, and his fires. All of them. I cannot think of another politician or gangster who has picked such low-grade talent and survived. Simple Darwinism eliminates them before they get anywhere serious.

There are emails to be sure, whether they are sitting in a back-up server or a thumb-drive under a mattress, we don't know. Whether they make the light of day, we don't know either. There's a question for me of a nano-Snowden simply dumping the lot of them on the internet. And there's the question of what you do if you're the RCMP staring a the big board full of photos of prominent Conservative staffers and your strings and pins are spirographing ever tighter around the photo of the pale-faced man? Canadians would expect the RCMP to do their job, but then we're a little sceptical these days when we see a phalanx of Mounties protecting fracking trucks in Elsipogtog or kneeling blankly on a dying man in YVR. And then there's that trusting deference to authority that blinds Canadians to so very, very much about ourselves and the world.

Sigh.

What actually, perversely, gives me the most hope is Harper himself. Just watch him. He simply cannot make wise decisions. I think he had a clear - if deluded - vision of turning Canada into some kind of fetid little neofascist-theo-Galt citadel, but he hired a Montreal construction firm to build it. Smarter politicians would have resigned by now and a competent GG would have made it known that this was going to happen.

No. Harper will hang on until the palace is ashes. The fanatics always do. But it never ends well.



Peter MacKay either lied or is too lazy to read his own bill

MacKay in his usual "Airshow" bluster told the House of Commons that even if internet service providers were voluntarily cooperating with law enforcement by retaining and sharing YOUR personal information that a warrant would still be required.

Just like Vic Toews before him, it appears MacKay has not read and does not understand the clear wording of the proposed legislation he tabled.

Michael Geist has the details.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Can you hear me now? I only have one bar left.

“It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.”

Freedom From Fear

  
Can you hear me now? 

Go read Creekside ... then read Northern Reflections.  


*Aung San Suu Kyi is a renowned Burmese opposition leader. She has spent a long portion of her adult life under house arrest imposed by the Myanmar military junta. In 2007, she was made an honourary Canadian citizen.  

Paget Brewster and Paul F. Tompkins "Here's To Us"




If Noel Coward didn't write this, he should have. I think it might be by Eban Scheltter.

Paget and Paul are best heard as Frank and Sadie Doyle: The Toast of the Upper Crust and Headliners on the Society Pages…and oh, yes!…………They see ghosts!

Also, their capacity for liquor is Beyond Belief.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mealy-mouthed, scum-sucking, self-absorbed, egotistical ...

“My difficulty with the prime minister at this point, Peter, is that I don’t think he’s been forthcoming and honest on fairly simple questions when there appear to be contradictions," he said. "My instinct is when someone doesn’t answer questions, even simple and fairly innocuous questions in a straightforward manner, there may be something else.”

Stephen Harper 2005



Sunday, November 24, 2013

He knows nothing ...

Over to Cathie's with you. She picked up on the thought I was having this morning. The late John Banner's character, Hauptfeldwebel Hans Georg Schultz, became synonymous with seeing nothing and knowing nothing in the TV sitcom Hogan's Heroes.

As Cathie points out:
We're supposed to believe that not only did Harper know nothing about Wright's $90,000 cheque to Duffy, he also knew nothing about the previous plan to get the Conservative Party to pay Duffy's expenses and he knew nothing about the phone call to the auditors to try to stop the Duffy audit.
Do come back so you can hit this link to Buckdog, who directs us to today's PMO load of garbage.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper had no idea his staff had asked the Conservative Party to pay Sen. Mike Duffy’s ineligible expenses, his spokesperson said Sunday.
 Right. He saw nothing. He heard nothing. He knew ... nothing.

Another connection, and this is relevant for any number of reasons. The Cadman affair. You can get more of that one over at Creekside, and do pay close attention to the names.

In short, Harper has a history of being in the centre of bribery attempts and ... knowing nothing.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Why Is Peter MacKay's Anti-Cyber-Bullying Bill ... (updated)

... so goddamned big?

Because, it's simply a reworded regurgitation of the repulsive Vic Toews Internet Surveillance Bill. You know, the one that got killed because the public was outraged at the idea of giving the police and government the power to spy on your internet activity. Now they want the meta-data out of your smart-phone too.

Michael Geist breaks it down for you.

You just knew the Harperites wouldn't leave alone the idea of spying on ... just everyone. After all, if you've got nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. Right? Except that a complaining email to your Conservative MP could land you in jail.

And you're being called to the barricades again.


UPDATE: Just on time, Sir Tim Berners-Lee weighs in with his world-view. And who, (I know you are asking), is Tim Berners-Lee?

Good question.

I can guarantee you the frat-boys from the PMO, as they consume hours of streaming data in the Mayflower in Ottawa, and Peter MacKay wouldn't recognize his name if you created an app for their government issued smart-phones. THIS is Tim Berners-Lee.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Sublime . . .


JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME, an unusual human himself, has made a TV ad for Volvo trucks (not affiliated with Volvo cars, btw), part of which you see above. According to Jalopnik, in an article “Jean-Claude Van Damme's Split Between Two Moving Trucks Is No CGI” that's real, no CGI, J-C actually did that stunt.

Well, it inspired somebody to adapt it to the Rob Ford fiasco which Jalopnik kindly posted in an article, “This Bizarre Volvo Truck Parody Nails The Surreality Of Mayor Rob Ford”. Yup.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The secret sell-out . . .


STEVIE'S SECRET SELL-OUT: according to Sunny Freeman and Daniel Tencer at HUFFPOST BUSINESS, in an article “Trans-Pacific Partnership Chapter Released By WikiLeaks”, it's so secret it took WikiLeaks to get the details. And truly, the Devil is in the details.
A trade agreement Canada intends to sign will have “far-reaching implications for individual rights and civil liberties,” WikiLeaks says.
The group known around the world for publishing state secrets has released a draft chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal being negotiated under what it calls an “unprecedented level of secrecy.” Critics say the agreement favours corporate interests over consumers.
The leaked intellectual property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement proposes sweeping reforms including to pharmaceuticals, publishers, patents, copyrights, trademarks, civil liberties and liability of internet service providers.
“If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons,” WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange, said in a press release.
There are 11 areas of concern. Click on the link to find out why you should get perturbed. Love liberty? Stop Stevie. It's that simple.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Marketing adaptation . . .

While Dubya scares the bejeezus out of you, ponder Puma’s new plus size logo… from The Meta Picture. I guess pouncing porky puddies are a possibility. 




Saturday, November 09, 2013

You've always wondered ...

How could George W. Bush reconcile the financial destruction of his country over the invasion of Iraq?

The "weapons of mass destruction" myth has long been buried under mountains of proof of manipulated and invented "intelligence".

The conquest of an oil-state was pretty obvious. Think though. Is George W. Bush really smart enough to get his head around that concept?

We have always held in the greatest skepticism the possibility that it was a religious crusade. People shake in their boots when they consider such a thing could have happened in the 21st century. They give it a pass with a shrug because it's just too terrible to absorb.

And how did Tony Blair get sucked in? He didn't seem to have a constituent group of fundamentalist Christians driving him forward.

Until Blair was dumped from the political spectrum and he suddenly decloaked. Turns out Brother Tony is a tambourine-bashing fundamentalist Roman Catholic of the type that scares, well, other Roman Catholics. He was as much of a religious nut-ball as Bush.

Well, take a look at what George W. Bush is up to now.  Then take a quick read of Ophelia.

Absorb that.

Hellfire . . .


DEATH FROM ABOVE. GQ has an article by MatthewPower, “Confessions of a Drone Warrior” that is worth reading. “Drones” have been effective, but there's a human cost paid by the young folks who do the killing. They're good at that, and it gives them nightmares, and no wonder the Taliban have been freaking and using their political influence to get this curtailed.
By the spring of 2011, almost six years after he’d signed on, Senior Airman Brandon Bryant left the Air Force, turning down a $109,000 bonus to keep flying. He was presented with a sort of scorecard covering his squadron’s missions. “They gave me a list of achievements,” he says. “Enemies killed, enemies captured, high-value targets killed or captured, stuff like that.” He called it his diploma. He hadn’t lased the target or pulled the trigger on all of the deaths tallied, but by flying in the missions he felt he had enabled them. “The number,” he says, “made me sick to my stomach.”
Total enemies killed in action: 1,626.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Remembering the fallen. Part 2

In part 1 I offered the suggestion that people who were busy, uncomfortable or simply found it inconvenient to attend a Remembrance Day event should do what makes them feel comfortable. Certainly no thinking veteran will find fault in any decision along that line, keeping in mind that any and all are welcome at cenotaphs across the country.

I also included a sketched CV, so I won't bore you with it again.

This year, as in all years since 1919, a particular "class" of person will most certainly attend: politicians. (Please understand that I want to spit when I say or write that word).

The Canadian political class of the 21st century attends Remembrance Day services for one reason: optics. While there may be a numbered few who actually hold attendance at such an event a matter of sincere personal feeling, the majority, a huge majority, do not. They are there to be seen amongst the crowds, near the uniforms and to gain political traction. Too often they are offered a place of prominence or worse, a speaking part.

That has veterans rankled this year like no other year in the past. I have spent the past year communicating with thousands of my fellow veterans. I can count on one hand the number of those veterans who believe the political class of this country has any interest whatsoever in the welfare of veterans. When the question of the duty of the federal government to live up to its obligations to veterans is brought up there is one resounding answer: Failure.

The Harper government, for all its bellicose "support the troops" rhetoric, has been responsible for the worst treatment of veterans in the modern era. Denial of pensions, clawbacks of benefits and the perpetuation of lawsuits to quash legitimate claims by the wounded are just a few of the abuses heaped upon veterans by Stephen Harper and his ministers. Harper has publicly smeared veterans who attempted to voice their complaints, all the while making sure he gets a photo op amongst "the troops". And, if all that didn't make veterans mightily angry, Julian Fantino, the newly-minted minister of veteran's affairs, sealed the deal and generated pure rage when he tried to redefine a veteran to include himself.

Julian Fantino is not a veteran. Stephen Harper, who took it upon himself to lecture reporters on the conditions in the trenches at Vimy Ridge, has not one day of service. But you can make book on the fact that both of them will show up on Remembrance Day expecting a position of prominence and a speaking part.

There are approximately 900,000 living armed service and RCMP veterans in this country, a vast majority of whom find themselves enraged at the actions and words of Harper, Fantino and, to be completely frank, politicians generally. The current Veteran's Charter which is responsible for hacking disability benefits to veterans was introduced by the Liberals, supported by the NDP and implemented by the Harper Conservatives. No party is clean.

So, while I have heard a loud suggestion that politicians should stay away from Remembrance Day ceremonies and I understand the sentiment, I would disagree. No one should be refused attendance.

However, they should take great care as to how they appear. A place at the back of the crowd would be most appropriate but that's not likely. What is not appropriate though is a place in the front or on a podium. Given their abysmal treatment of veterans they would do well to keep a very low profile. If they intend to deliver a wreath they should do so in absolute silence.

And, if they think a speaking part is due them because of their high office they should be aware that a movement is in the works to have groups of angry veterans turn their backs on them.

Right now an elected school board trustee would have a tough time gaining political traction with veterans and it gets worse as one works up the political back-stabbing pole. Given the recent behaviour of prominent politicians most veterans have one wish for the Canadian political class: A plague on all your houses; you have broken faith with us. 




The print version is here.


Thanks to Alison for the video link.

Remembering the fallen. Part 1

Remembrance Day, when we are all expected to observe a time to pay our respect to the fallen of the wars past, is near upon us. As the 11th of November approaches some of you will be feeling the pressure to attend a ceremony at a local cenotaph. And, I know, some of you are feeling uncomfortable or maybe just inconvenienced about the thought of pulling yourself out into the bitterness of a Canadian November day to do that.

I understand. Before I go any further however, let me give you a sketch of a CV ... just so no one else misunderstands anything I'm about to tell you.

I am a long service veteran, now retired. I have served the same sovereign in three naval services. I have fought in two clearly definable wars, both of them much smaller in scale than either the Great War 1914 - 1918 or the 2nd World War 1939 - 1945. In fact, both were shorter in duration and the expenditure of resources than the Korean conflict. I have served on peacekeeping missions during which I saw some of the horrors humanity can serve upon itself when the distinction of power is reduced to possessing a bag or bags of UN distributed flour. I have been called upon to engage in "discrete" operations which were no less than close quarters combat engagements with an enemy intent on preventing me from completing the task I was attempting to undertake. I have had young men under my command killed in action and more wounded in action. I was wounded during an engagement. I have shared the post-combat depressions which plagued most of the people with whom I have served.

During all of this, I can't ever recall reminding myself how I had signed up to do these things for my country or your freedoms. That may have been a corollary effect, but believe that you were never on my mind - at least not in any guiding sense. My motivation came from pride in my fighting comrades, my ship, my commando or that larger organization which gave me the strength of an established unit. It came from a sense of belonging - belonging to something uniquely distinct from the mainstream of the society from which I had emerged. And there were occasions when my motivation was purely self-preservation.

So, Remembrance Day. What would I expect you to do?

How about, whatever makes you feel comfortable. If I choose to attend a ceremony and demonstrate remembrance for my fallen comrades does not mean I expect you to do the same. In fact, you can't. I can no more tell you what a trench in 1916 Ypres was like than you can tell me what it was like spending months away from home with my finger on the trigger during the Cold War. I spend more than a single day remembering the things that culminate in Remembrance Day. I would be close to accurate if I told you I think about my fallen mates every single day of my life. You can't possibly do that, nor should any rational person expect you to.

Do I expect you to stand there on a cold November day for me or my comrades' benefit? No, I do not.

A huge number of you wear a paper poppy. That little bit of time you took to pin it on and the contribution you made to get it is enough for me. To know that for a moment you participated in a small gesture and wear that little emblem demonstrates all that I need to know. You do understand and you're showing it.

Does this mean I don't want you to attend a Remembrance Day ceremony? Far from it. I would love to see huge crowds at every cenotaph in the country. If, however, you cannot do so, or feel uncomfortable or inconvenienced it's just fine if you don't attend. No one can force you and you should not feel pressured just because somebody else thinks it's "proper". Remembrance is a personal thing and you can do it any way you like. Sometimes that will be the thought you feel when you remove that paper poppy from your coat.

A group we can guarantee will attend Remembrance Day ceremonies will be the politicians. Unlike you, they participate for completely different reasons. While my words to you, in this post, are provided in absolute sincerity, Part 2 will address the cadre of politicians who are there to gain political traction.



Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Fallout. The result of Tony Clement's nuking of the federal public service.

I've watched in awe at the decade-long performance of Tony Clement. He's lied, he's laughed at the fatal results of a tainted food supply, he's misappropriated millions of taxpayer dollars to feather his own electoral riding with pagodas and pools, he's created the most inept "red-tape' elimination formula known in the developed world and then he was let loose to destroy the federal public service as only a freaked-out refugee from the Mike Harris "Common Sense Revolution" could - with no foresight and no thought of consequences. He creates wreckage with no plan beyond that which his single-firing synapse has developed over a five minute period. Clean-up, adjustment and adaptation? Not his problem. Anyway, it's just too hard for him. The perfect conservative.

So, if you haven't read Sooey Says today, you need to.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Monday, November 04, 2013

Take five . . .

CHILL WITH A QUADRACOPTER. Full-screen delight for the soul, nice soundtrack, called the In-Between by A New Normal. Way, way cool . . . Now, imagine the transistor had never been invented. What would it have taken to capture the same thing?
HT — Seboua, thank-you!


A sign of remembrance . . .



FOUND ON GOOGLE MAPS: a satellite photograph you see here. Do click on the link to find out more.

Something evil this way comes . . .


THERE ARE NASTY CRITTERS OUT THERE. BadBIOS is one of ‘em, according to Dan Goodwin at ArsTechnica, who has an article you should read, “Meet “badBIOS,” the mysterious Mac and PC malware that jumps airgaps”. Jumps airgaps? This is truly dangerous.

"We had an air-gapped computer that just had its [firmware] BIOS reflashed, a fresh disk drive installed, and zero data on it, installed from a Windows system CD," Ruiu said. "At one point, we were editing some of the components and our registry editor got disabled. It was like: wait a minute, how can that happen? How can the machine react and attack the software that we're using to attack it? This is an air-gapped machine and all of a sudden the search function in the registry editor stopped working when we were using it to search for their keys."

It seems that even your speakers can pass on the nastiness:

For most of the three years that Ruiu has been wrestling with badBIOS, its infection mechanism remained a mystery. A month or two ago, after buying a new computer, he noticed that it was almost immediately infected as soon as he plugged one of his USB drives into it. He soon theorized that infected computers have the ability to contaminate USB devices and vice versa.

• • •

Ruiu said he arrived at the theory about badBIOS's high-frequency networking capability after observing encrypted data packets being sent to and from an infected laptop that had no obvious network connection with—but was in close proximity to—another badBIOS-infected computer. The packets were transmitted even when the laptop had its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth cards removed. Ruiu also disconnected the machine's power cord so it ran only on battery to rule out the possibility that it was receiving signals over the electrical connection. Even then, forensic tools showed the packets continued to flow over the airgapped machine. Then, when Ruiu removed the internal speaker and microphone connected to the airgapped machine, the packets suddenly stopped.


Sunday, November 03, 2013

Now, this is scary . . .

ACCORDING TO Bruce Wilson at AlterNet, “Almost Two-Thirds of 18-29 Year Olds Believe in "Demon Possession" What Is Happening to America?”. Just like in medieval times, superstition is probably eternal.
Over one half (63 percent, to be exact) of young Americans 18-29 years old now believe in the notion that invisible, non-corporeal entities called "demons" can take partial or total control of human beings, revealed an October 2012 Public Policy Polling survey that also showed this belief isn't declining among the American population generally; it's growing.