2008-12-31

Get Outta Here 2008

Why do we celebrate the new year when it brings us closer to death?

Etc., etc.

I know. Macabre. I'm gonna go in a sec.

Happy New Year!

Ever wonder what the history of Auld Lang Syne is?

Was/Is There Life On Mars?

Here's a link to PBS.org exploring this fascinating possibility. It did have water not possessing of poisonous high salt content and low amounts of acidity (important factors in sustaining life) running through its planet. It's exciting to know a planet in our solar system may have been alive once long ago.

Ex-Patriots Know Better

It's funny how Cuban and Iraqi ex-patriots I speak to or hear on the radio rarely agree with prevailing beliefs among some of us.

For example, Cuba is often praised for its 100% literacy rates and universal health care. Furthermore, its problems are often attributed to the American embargo. Just going to Cuba and observing carefully you discover quickly that's a dubious claim. Aside from the lack of medicine and food, the black market in Cuba is rampant. In addition, the EU and Canada trades with Cuba. Most former Cubans - either those who escaped or were exiled during the revolution - know the truth of the sad state of their beautiful island. Defending Castro is about as useful as complaining about the weather in Quebec in January. In other words, it's wasteful and futile. In fact, I'll go a step further: it's immoral to defend him from the comforts of our shores.

In the case of Iraq, some people claim Hussein kept that country in order; that the number of people he killed may be exaggerated. Yet, most level-headed Iraqi's are not quite so macabre in their intellectuality. They lived through the heinousness of his regime. From Kurds to ordinary citizens, it's hard not find someone touched by this madman. Though they may question the methods used, they do welcome a chance for Iraq to find freedom and choose its own course. Iraq sensibilities and culture was incongruent to Hussein's murderous psychopathic dictatorship.

These are the words of former citizens. I recognize they don't represent all people however I do think they speak for the majority.

2008-12-30

Eugenics In Canada: A Dark, Nasty Fact

Feel free to read my latest post over at Who We Are about the eugenics movement titled Eugenics Equals Fauxgenics.

The part I love is how Nellie McClung supported the movement. She's ranked 25th on the CBC's greatest Canadians list.

That's why I've always hated ranking (of any kind) historical figures. It's way too nuanced and misguided. We tend to over-hype (or even over-rate) some of our ancestors.

Blankets With Sleeves

My daughter was watching some television earlier today when this commercial came on. Naturally, she wanted it. Only a toddler would.

For adults, we need heads with brains. Question: What's wrong with sweaters? And why do I want to look like a monk in public?

Rockets To Russia - Make That Israel

Maybe someone can help me. I admit it. I officially need help. After years and years and years of reading and talking about the Middle-East regarding Israel and Palestine, I no longer know what's up or down; down or up. I'm not so sure politicians, diplomats, terrorists,"experts" or the citizens and population of that region know either anymore.

There are literally several sides to the story. The truth, if there ever was one, is all but a myth now.

Most of the time, all we've got are personal instincts to guide us.

Maybe Israel is not an angelic nation (who is?) who has perpetuated some unfortunate incidences (1982 comes to mind) in the past, but it is the only functional democracy in the region. It is a pariah at the UN and can not rely on any nation (except the United States) to side with it. At least, you can reason with them. How do you reason with terrorists? Oh yeah, I forgot. Israeli's are terrorists too.

The protagonist (or is it antagonist?) Hamas (a terrorist organization to us and a legitimate party to Palestinians) keeps launching rockets into Israel.

Forgetting all the baggage surrounding the madness, it seems to me that if you throw a punch you should expect retaliation. In sports, the person who retaliates almost always gets caught and penalized. So in this way, Israel should expect to be condemned publicly. However, at some point someone will have to call the provokers (and I say this aware of Israel's ploys that include cutting off water to Palestinians) bluff.

I truly question the methods used by Hamas - and let's face it, they're nuts. I can't possibly see how their actions are productive. I just can't.

Will someone help me?

L'etat C'est Nous

The SAQ (the mafia-like outfit that regulates alcohol in the province of Quebec. The amount of departments ending with "Q" in this province is astounding. How can it not be called a socialist state?) wants to intervene and impose a minimum drink prices in a misguided attempt to reduce excessive alcohol consumption. The measure already exists in the rest of Communist Canada.

As usual, whenever stupid government ideas are tabled, it's always the wrong people who end up paying. Notably the law abiding and a dwindling segment of the population that still assumes personal responsibility. Yes, we're going the way of the Dodo bird.

This won't solve squat. The only way to deal with this is at the grass roots level and do your best to teach your kids of the evils of being a sot in public.

It never ends. If you need an explanation as to why this is ridiculous then you really don't deserve liberty.

What's next? A minimum on soda consumption? You know, because sugar kills and leads to diabetes. Where does it end? Should I call the government and ask them if I should have extra pepperoni on my pizza?

Qui bono?

2008-12-28

Worst Man Of The Year?


That's a hard one. There are many assholes among us. I could pick a few just around my circle of life. But I have to go with Robert Mugabe. Seriously, he's a major jerk off. An evil one. A sad excuse for a human being.

I now hand it over to Gary Johnston of Team America: World Police:

We're dicks! We're reckless, arrogant, stupid dicks. And the Film Actors Guild are pussies. And Kim Jong Il is an asshole. Pussies don't like dicks, because pussies get fucked by dicks. But dicks also fuck assholes: assholes that just want to shit on everything. Pussies may think they can deal with assholes their way. But the only thing that can fuck an asshole is a dick, with some balls. The problem with dicks is: they fuck too much or fuck when it isn't appropriate - and it takes a pussy to show them that. But sometimes, pussies can be so full of shit that they become assholes themselves... because pussies are an inch and half away from ass holes. I don't know much about this crazy, crazy world, but I do know this: If you don't let us fuck this asshole, we're going to have our dicks and pussies all covered in shit!

Amen, Gary. A-friggen-men.

South Sea Bubble: Poof!

We've heard it over and over again. Stock markets are volatile. Sometimes investor excitement gets the better of rational judgment and sucks in the most intelligent of people. Companies, either fooled by nationalism (as it was with the South Sea bubble) or their own confidence, shoot for the stars and hit nothing - not even a cloud.

Markets are a mirror into a particular era. When times are good we can't possibly see why and how it can end. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, we were convinced we were rewriting a new financial paradigm. Technology companies were going to change everything. Ties were out, casual was in.

Earnings? Cash flow? High PE multiples? All were ignored. Those who cautioned against converting portfolios into tech stock or borrowing on margin (including my former team) were ridiculed for being dinosaurs. We know the rest. In case my presumptuousness is too forward, the market burst.

And since then? The internet was and remains an ungoverned wild west. Many sites masking as companies are fakes and frauds. They merely prey on unsuspecting people and make a killing under various "affiliate marketing" schemes. Be aware!

The day Lehman Brothers died, along with the Enron catastrophe (and more recently with the bizarre madness of Bernard Madoff), was the day the free market system took a massive hit on the public imagination. This has, naturally, emboldened every left-wing, anti-capitalist to come out of the dark forest spewing the evils and greediness of our ways. Nonetheless, there's no way to regulate vice and virtue.

But none of this is new. Market are indeed subject to over confidence and under confidence. Yet, since the 18th century, despite some brutal intervals, the markets in reality continue to rise. Why? Because greed is governed by fear. This allows for some rational thought where the most number of people can profit. Hope and fear are components which race alongside greed.

One example of a stock market bubble in history was the South Sea Bubble. A bubble in which "every fool aspired to be a knave." It took place when the British Empire was the greatest on earth. So forgive the English for believing their pooh didn't smell.

However, as was soon discovered, they were subject to the universal laws of human nature.

At its root, the South Sea Company was a company based on high expectations run by inexperienced people. The British government allowed the SSC to assume its debt in hopes of turning it into a profit in South America. It didn't work for many reasons - read second hyper link for details.

As people irrationally (including one Edward Gibbon grandfather of the great historian) continued to buy stock in the company, there were some cautionary and sober reflections. The chief speaker for the bank, Robert Walpole warned against it. "...The dangerous practice of stockjobbing...would divert the genius of the nation from trade and industry..." He continued, "the great principle of the project was an evil of first-rate magnitude; it was to raise artificially the value of the stock , by exciting and keeping up a general infatuation."

Of course he was ignored.

The idea of pushing through an idea (every American must own a house for example) through government ordinances via the stock markets is not a good idea as we've learned.

The infatuation, as Walpole put it, had reached such a point so that "Bubble Cards" (or Globe Permits) were issued in the form of IPO's. The list of dubious companies coming out of the woodworks hoping to cash in was astonishing. Reminds me of the time when technology IPO's were issued amidst much hype. The demand was so great the price offering usually exploded once trading commenced. All before any profits were ever recorded! More often than not, the stock price would collapse. However, in the meantime, people traded on the volatility. The trick was not to buy to high, ride the wave, sell and move on.

As far as I know not too many people were able to sustain this game for too long and most portfolios were down by the time the smoke had cleared.

These are trying times for the investment community, free markets and confidence among the people. But if we subscribe to the notion that history repeats itself, if anything we've learned, humans have a special knack for getting back on track.

2008-12-27

A My Fair Lady Remake?

Why do I smell a train wreck?

Why mess with masterpieces? What's with the remakes anyway? What can possibly be the benefit especially if it misses? Is Hollywood that creatively dimwitted?

What's next? 'Singin' in the rain'?

Yeah. Try and recapture that magic.

The Ramones: I Wanna Be Sedated

From the band who taught us about lobotomies, beating brats with baseball bats and the Blitzkrieg Bop.

Because we all want to be sedated sometimes.

2008-12-26

Philosophizing Entrepreneurship

We had a most interesting conversation - more like debate - over Christmas dinner. The subject was about entrepreneurship. Specifically, what is the role of the entrepreneur: do they react to demand and move to fill it or do they make a product and then create the demand?

One example used was how American car manufacturers "invented" the need for the SUV.

Personally, the former is more likely. Observe the market and see what it needs. As for the latter, it's risky to create and then try and find a market. I think established companies or seasoned entrepreneurs can pull it off. The "creating" demand part goes under advertising in the former scenario.

Woe Is Us

"Well, I met a girl in West Hollywood
I ain't naming names
She really worked me over good
She was just like Jesse James
She really worked me over good
She was a credit to her gender
She put me through some changes, Lord
Sort of like a Waring blender

Poor, poor pitiful me
Poor, poor pitiful me
These young girls won't let me be
Lord have mercy on me
Woe is me"

Poor, poor pitiful me. Warren Zevon, 1976.

All I've heard during this financial meltdown was how executives milked brave, hardworking, unsuspecting people. No, the people didn't have any responsibility in this. Nah. Poor, poor pitiful us!

The New York Yankees Should Bail Us All Out

The fabled Yankees plopped down roughly $420 in three ball players this off season. Whether Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia and A.J Burnett will help win them a World Series remains to be seen but in the meantime, with all this cash they have maybe they could help out the financial system?

Alas, the Yankees aren't the only wealthy team to open their wallets. We see this in European soccer (particularly in Italy, Spain and England) all the time.

2008-12-24

Biblical Christmas Passages

Some Christmas passages from the big book in the sky: the Bible.

In case, you know, you've forgotten some of them. I know how they felt about not finding an inn. When I drive to Florida it's tough to find a hotel to rest overnight.

I get a cut for every person who converts to Christianity.

Ka-Ching!

Kidding.

Blog Link Of Interest: Ole St. Nick On Film

The Virtual Dime Museum history blog posted a short film by George Albert Smith. The first sighting of St. Nick on film took place in 1898.

I found a longer version here:

Let Santa Clause Live


We took our three year-old daughter (or as she says "I'm free years old. Hey, cut her some slack she can spell her name) to see Santa Claus the other day. It's quite the cute experience to see a child yap through their Christmas list to St. Nick.

As I watched her I thought about the whole "Should we tell our children Santa Clause doesn't exist?" debate.

What a stupid debate.

I think we're over thinking things a little. It's odd. People work more than ever which means they spend less time with their families. Yet they want to "over parent." It's as if they subconsciously want to make up for any short comings they may have. I see the angst (driven by guilt) in people who read every parenting book and watch every Nanny show.

Parenting is not easy. But let's not overdo things. In the case of Santa, just let it run its course. People who start yelping about Santa as a symbol of over-commercialization should just chill a little. In my house, we offset this part of the equation with some good old fashioned Christian stories. My daughter sits and listens as we recount the story of Jesus in the manger scene.

Yeah, yeah. I know about the whole Jesus debate too but the message is more important than anything to us.

The thing I like about kids believing in Santa Clause is that they exercise their imagination. Then, as they grow, their mental abilities through logic begins to kick in. Eventually they'll figure out the whole Santa thing makes no sense. Best to let them deduce it. I don't them acting like Spock in the house. Man, that would be boring.

Now, if you're kid is 18 and still preparing cookies for Santa then you may want to consider an intervention.

However, don't steal Christmas from kids. Especially to satisfy some irrational need to apply logic to something that doesn't have any.

Merry Christmas (and Happy Holidays) to one and all.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

2008-12-23

Extra! Extra!

I exchanged the bottle of Sambuca with Campari. I hadn't realized I ran out. A little Campari soda hits the spot every time.

Speaking of which...

The CAW Deserves No Public Support

I heard on the radio the other day city council wanted to allow free parking in the downtown core during the holidays. It was a neat idea welcomed by both merchants and consumers. Alas, the idea was refused by some union committee. Of course. What the heck do the unions care about business and the overall health of the economy? I couldn't find any articles linking this story.

Speaking of unions, the CAW (Canadian Auto Workers) with billions thrown at them, they want conditions attached to how the money is used. Gee, it seems to me with the turmoil the auto industry is in they should just be glad the rest of us are paying to save their jobs. Apparently, the only thing on the table are wages. Whatever.

They live on another planet.

Among the many criticisms I've heard is directed at the CEO's and management. This may be true - up to a point. However, the unions have greased oil on their hands too. How can a new incoming CEO take the necessary steps to set any company on the right path when their hands are tied to union contracts that impede progress?

Once upon a time people tolerated unions. I get the feeling this is beginning to wane a little.

Put the CAW out of its misery. Start over.

Note: In their defense, autoworkers don't make "72 per hour." That figure factors in all sorts of costs. It probably averages out to $25/$30. The problem, from what I read and ascertain from speaking to analysts, is the cost of maintaining extravagant pensions.

2008-12-22

Extra! Extra!


I bought an extra bottle of Sambuca by mistake.

I might as well take this opportunity to mention something called caffe corretto. A corretto is an espresso "corrected" with a shot of liquor; generally brandy, grappa (I don't like grappa) and the aforementioned sambuca.

Sambuca (which is an anise based Italian liquor. In the Arab world they drink Araq. It's more harsh but less sweet. It's very good) comes in three "styles." The more familiar white sambuca along with red and black. I have a personal preference for black sambuca. Some of you may have seen sambuca served with coffee beans in restaurants. Specifically, three toasted coffee beans. The reason is to bring out the anise flavor. Another method used to enhance the taste of sambuca is to set fire to it for a few seconds.

All this to say, I have to return the bottle. I'm more of an Averna drinker anyway.

Throwing Shoes Is Not Heroic

While the brother of the man who hurled a shoe at President Bush is off talking about what kind of a folk hero he is, here's an interesting (translated from Arabic) article from World Meet taking a different position. It seems this fellow has Baathist blood in him. From what I understand, throwing a shoe in Iraqi culture is extremely serious and frowned upon.

I think there's merit in the "he should have tried this with Hussein and see what happened then" line.

2008-12-21

Slow Blog Day

It's days like these I come to understand slow news days.

Newspapers need to find stories to sell papers. Sometimes they even fabricate (or at least sensationalize insignificant stories) them. Luckily, I'm not in that position. If I'm without ideas or energy to write, I just don't post. It's not like advertisers (or readers for that matter) depend on me.

I was tempted to just rant and ramble on about something but I chose not to. Although, this post is pretty pointless.

2008-12-20

Article of Interest: Merkel Makes Sense

Bravo Chancellor Angela Merkel! An excerpt from the Washington Times reveals her common sense:


"In a recent speech, Mrs. Merkel lambasted the bailout mentality gripping Western leaders and lauded financial discipline, balanced budgets and the ethic of thrift that is especially prevalent in Swabia - the German region where she spoke. She said that every Swabian housewife knows the root of this crisis: "You can't keep on living beyond your means ... We are not going to participate in this senseless race for billions. We have to have the courage to swim against the tide." That is not mere rhetoric."

Not surprisingly, she's not very popular with other EU leaders. Of course not, she makes too much sense.

Meanwhile Canadian PM Harper has announced a $4b package for the auto industry. The sad thing about this scam is that Harper probably doesn't believe in it. But to save his job he had to "compromise" with the boobs in the NDP and Liberal parties.

The circle of bailout madness will continue and no leader is willing to step up to put the stick in the spokes to put an end to it.

Meanwhile, in Quebec the union has managed to infiltrate Wal-Mart. If I were Wal-Mart I'd split town. Keep fighting. Unions are an unnecessary modern scourge.

Not surprising given that the lame Quebec Solidaire (a far left, separatist party) managed to get a seat in the last election. Then again, it happened in the Plateau district. A place where old ideas live and die among wannabe intellects, artists and other assortment of groups that keep the birdseed and sandal industry alive.

And the beat...goes...on.

Will the free bourgeoisie rise again?


History Mirroring The Present

Some in clandestine companies combine;
Erect new stocks to trade beyond the line;
With air and empty names beguile the town,
And raise new credits first, then cry 'em down;
Divide the empty nothing into shares,
And set the crowd together by the ears.

Daniel Defoe

I'm not sure when Dafoe wrote this poem (he lived in the late 17th-to early 18th century) but it sure resonates given the state of contemporary business affairs.

2008-12-19

To Jeer Or Cheer

At a sporting event, are you the type to boo your team while they struggle or do you prefer to encourage them?

Think about this during America's difficult time.

2008-12-18

Phrases I Don't Get

"It's a small world."

I hated that ride at Disney. It was so, so, PC.

So the world is a global village now. Hence, the term being "inter-connected" thanks to the Internet.

But how deep is that inter-connectedness?

Is the Internet a mirage?

Literally speaking, the earth is huge. It's not like I can take a cab to Holland. Yes, it's true we can communicate instantly on MSN or Twitter with people from all over the world and feel, well, like they're right next to us.

Don't be fooled. I speak to Americans, Frenchmen, Dutchmen and Italians on a regular basis but how much of these countries do I (we) really know? Aside from readings and talking to people of course. By this, I mean how profound can one get with another culture by the keyboard of a computer?

I tend to believe if someone is naturally in tune with cultures and history then their ability to understand them from afar is possible. By contrast, I'm sure it's possible to travel the world and still know nothing.

By 2050 earth's population is expected to peak at 9 billion. We sit presently sit at around 6.7 billion. That's a lot of people. On this level, I would have to reject it's a small world. On a kindred, spiritual level, ok, you can convince me. But I still have to buy a plane ticket.

It's hard to grasp world's population. One way to rationalize it is by observing your neighborhood, town, village or suburb. Pick a street. Chances are you don't know anyone on it. Am I right? What's the population of your town? My city is around 350 000. My neighborhood is probably around 20 000. I know maybe 50 people. I'm just guessing to make a point.

Just the other day I had to deliver something to someone 1km away from me. When she opened the door it struck me how I can know nothing of someone yet live so close to them.

It's at that moment I thought about being in a small world.

Yeah right.

Letter To The Editor Of The Day

From The Montreal Gazette. My comments in red.

"Unlike Dennis Bobyn, I see merit in the concept of a subsidy for political parties based on the number of votes they get. When individuals donate to political parties they get a tax credit, which amounts to a cost to each of us.

Yes, but it's done out of free will. The bottom line is that citizens should be free to contribute to the party of their choosing.

The present system helps political parties with small anonymous contributions. There is therefore not the slightest possibility of expecting any favour in return.

This keeps democracy alive, and allows even small parties like the Greens to run for office. And surely it benefits democracy when we encourage people to run for office, not only fat cats.

S.W.

I don't see how propping parties up superficially "helps" democracy. Some democracy! Again, as I've pointed out ad nauseam, the concept of individual liberty in Canada is alien.

Let the policies of parties compete in the halls of ideas and see how the people decide. That's the best way to do it. By offering subsidies in any form to any industry, we never get to see the cream rise to the top. We just wallow in abject mediocrity.

People keep democracy alive. Not government through subsidies. But a democracy without liberty is worthless.


2008-12-17

Christmas Is What It Is

The Holiday silly season has begun.

It seems like on every street corner there's someone telling us how Christmas is a sham based in pagan rituals that has morphed into irreligious rampant commercialism. On the same corners, the politically correct trip over themselves trying to be inoffensive to non-Christians. Do we need to subvert our ways to pander to the lowest common denominator in an effort not to offend anyone to prove we're hip and progressive?

Does secularism now question the very validity of Christmas?

Hard to say. However, whenever I hear someone talk about the history of Christmas I'm reminded about how elusive history can be. Take national anthems. Work with me. Once upon a time they were politically motivated nationalist tools pumping up the nation-state.

Today the political aspect of anthems are absent. Most people respect anthems for what they are; a national symbol of countries. The accepted social behavior is to stand, remain silent and observe through an anthem. In other words, respect it.

That's why booing an anthem is about as low as you can get these days. Maybe at their root anthems were fair game for public derision but no longer.

Same with Christmas.

People aren't concerned that December 25 may have been chosen less for Jesus' birth (believed to be in March) and more for the winter solstice as Isaac Newton asserted. But he was a scientist who got clonked on the head with an apple, so what did he know?

Despite all the politically correct machinations, moral and religious relativism, people for the most part still accept December 25 for what it is. It doesn’t make them deniers of anything. They just go with their instincts and those instincts tell them how the Christmas spirit and holiday fills with them with good feelings.

The Christmas tree may have been a pagan symbol but it's associated with Jesus of Nazareth. Mangers people place under the tree can testify to this.

But does this mean it's open to interpretation? That all depends how society evolves with regards to it. I don't think placing two Joseph's to make a special interest point is fair interpretation. That's just silly.

I believe in Christmas knowing logically it probably is historically inaccurate. Nonetheless, I’m able to set aside my knowledge and readings of Voltaire’s secularism (and other rational philosophers for that matter) to take Christmas for what it is: a celebration of the birth of a revolutionary figure. As the Doobie Brothers once sang, Jesus is just alright.

And if you’re the type to be insulted whenever you're told "Merry Christmas", well, then you’re just a crank. Someone should buy you a Bing Crosby holiday sweater, a Bobby Darin Christmas album and some marshmallows.

This is who we are. In the West, Christendom is the predominant religion and liberalism is the prevailing political philosophy. Nothing wrong in that. Just enjoy Christmas for what it is.

Look up to the night sky Christmas Eve and you'll feel Jesus' spirit if you try hard enough.

Now where's my present!

2008-12-16

Pass The Cheese

Maybe I should rethink this bail out thing.

I mean, Parmigiano Reggiano and Grano Padano are worthy of government help, no?

Then again, I'm not the biggest cheese eater. But I do buy Parmigiano. It's expensive but worth it over a fresh tomato sauce.

It's funny though. Whenever Italy is covered in the Canadian media it's usually about either a) food and arts or b) the state of its government or) the mafia. It rarely explores Italy's scientific, industrial and manufacturing side. Conversely, Germany's industrial sector, for example, gets attention but its own food and arts not as much. Just like Italy has an interesting industrial economy, Germany is not without its culinary and artistic charm.

I'm sure there's a discussion in this observation somewhere.

It's why I started up the e-Talian blog.

2008-12-15

Link Of Interest: When Japan Got Smart

Here's an article dating back to 2005 in the International Herald Tribune titled, "At Last, Japan is confronting corporate deadbeats."

An excerpt:

"Healthier lending practices would also give the Bank of Japan's zero-interest-rate policies a better chance of ending deflation. Japan's problem isn't so much the supply of money in the economy, but demand for it. If banks do not lend, Japan lacks the multiplier effect that can make monetary policy so potent.

Finally, a solvent banking system would indicate that Japan is abandoning financial socialism. Seeing companies like Isuzu Motors, Showa Denko KK, Takashimaya and Tomen restructuring and bolstering earnings might impress investors who remain skeptical about Japan's outlook.

Challenges remain, of course. In the cases of Kanebo and Daiei, the Japanese government obstructed market-based solutions. Instead, taxpayer-funded revitalization programs or outright bailouts were favored."

Hm. Sounds familiar. I still can't believe that some people think bailing out companies is a good idea. Moreover, such practices, which are done in the name of protecting jobs and avoiding economic catastrophe, are evidence of the lack of imagination, innovation and brass balls our leadership possesses.

What's wrong with taking the money and supporting the people who will be losing their jobs? For example, add to the "job infrastructure" by offering training and schooling to help people transfer their skills into different sectors of the economy. Why throw it at the hands of execs (and the unions) who will squander it?

We need less doofuses like John Thain and his ilk and more Lee Iacocca's.

Until this happens and America's realizes the error of its ways expect earnings growth and the general healthy business environment to be negligible.

Closer to home here in Canada, the Liberal party has old and typical ideas to deal with a slowing economy. The Conservatives were rightly using a "wait and see" approach before they advocated any spending. This led the Liberals and Frick and Frack to mobilize in a coalition. These parties want to do exactly what ailed Japan for over a decade.






2008-12-14

Traditional Media On The Run

The NYT announced it's borrowing $225 million. It's also freezing wages.

Bankruptcies are on the rise the most recent being the Chicago Tribune. The Miami Herald (owned by the McClatchy Company), with its 105 years of journalism richness and countless Pulitzer's, is up for sale.

These are just some examples.

The economy is taking no prisoners but we're also witnessing a revolutionary communications shift.

Blog Link Of Interest: Western Politics

An interesting take on Western politics from an African perspective at The Pen And The Spindle titled, "The New Anarchists."

Looking For Success

A couple of years back I wrote a TV script. I knew at the time my idea was original. Nobody had tackled the subject I covered.

But what's "original" in my mind may not be to industry people, right?

Well, I've been submitting my script to agents and TV writers and the response has been the same: Very interesting idea and indeed original. I had one production house express interest - and then I never heard from them again. My fear is that one of these people will steal my idea. Even though it's protected with the WGA. But what choice do I have? I don't live in California. And with all this talk of it sinking after a massive earthquake I'm not sure I want to.

The moment I knew I was onto something was when I emailed the President of NBC - I think his name was Kevin Reilly. He responded by saying he wanted to know more about my idea. We exchanged a few emails and it looked like I was catching the elusive break everyone looks for.

Alas, it was not to be as for some reason he wasn't aware I was a "third party" solicitor. Nonetheless, it was a moral victory and I continued to believe in the script.

My experience, I should disclose, in script writing is scant. I have to learn to format and all that. However, to me these are details. The content and idea should come first. That's the way I see it. I can learn the rest.

Breaking into TV is next to impossible. Imagine for an outsider like me! I have a better chance of breaking into a bank. It's that hard.

But I believe in the idea. Someone is bound to grab it.

So I continue to shop it. I recently entered a contest. I didn't make the semi-final cut. I was perplexed. Thankfully, the talent/writer/agent with experience in the business offered (and continues to kindly provide) his insights. He explained why I didn't make the cut. Apparently, I was penalized for the "this is way too original" problem. He loved the idea. He feels it has legs.

I know. Moral victory. But I'm getting fed up with these victories. If this keeps up, I may earn a Pyrrhic victory. Pyrrhus died after being struck, if you want to know, by a tile thrown from a roof during a fight. Nice.

You know the line in the song 'One of these nights' by The Eagles? Yeah, you know, the one that goes "I can see her but she's nowhere in sight." That's how writing feels. You feel success but it remains invisible.

I've often people on TV say if you don't have an original idea forget it. Well, I have one. Yet, I get "penalized" for it. The agent explained the sad state of affairs further by saying TV execs are notoriously unimaginative people. You need to clearly show them how the idea would succeed.

Great. Bankers run TV?

I've started on a movie script. Why not? It's yet another avenue to write for me. The ideas ooze out of my head. What can I do? I have to put it somewhere, no?

I hear screenwriters have an "easier" go at things.

Whatever.

For now, I write because it's what I was meant to do.

We'll see.

2008-12-13

Music: Americana

America has culture. It has soul. It has spirit.

The Carter Family represent one aspect of Americana. Bluegrass/country.



Billie Holiday is another artist contributing to America's musical heritage. Jazz.



Muddy Waters. Blues.



Bill Haley and His Comets. Rock and Roll.

2008-12-12

Webby Awards

Don't forget to vote for the Webby Awards by December 19. Check out some of the videos here.

Blog Link Of Interest: Medicine

Thanks to Surreality Times for writing about virologist Dr. Harold Zur Hausen. Dr. Zur Hausen won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work on the role of viral infections in cervical cancer.

Something that apparently does not jive with the "Cancer Establishment.'

2008-12-10

2008-12-09

Songs That Never Die

One of my all-time favorite songs is "Blue Sky" (from Eat A Peach) by the Allman Brothers Band. I could listen to that long, smooth, Dickey Betts solo over and over. I haven't been able to find a web video that impressed me enough to post with this song but I did find another great Allman's tune called "Melissa." I found this live version. The guitar work is superb.

No talk about booty calls, beating women, stealing, shooting cops etc. Just plain musicianship playing a beautiful, timeless love ballad.

Why do I get the feeling Gregg Allman never overcame the death of his brother Duane?

Stephane Dion Steps Down After Tripping

"My knees and orbs hurt." Stephane Dion, somewhere in Ottawa.

Now the debate begins. Sorta.

The Liberals are looking for a new leader. Strange how that works. Just last week they were "ready" to take the nation by storm with an absurd coalition next their leader is stepping down. No wonder Canadians weren't buying it. Maybe many people were unaware that minority governments were possible (which points to the poor state of civic education here) but they do have street smarts.

Indeed, Canadians were surprised to find two or three parties can morph into one. It seemed un-democratic (which it isn't) to them. Call it the American Influence Factor - of which there are many. In the States, they elect a leader and that's final - save impeachment proceedings which are difficult and rare to execute. Many Canadians assumed they voted for Harper and that was final.

Na-ah. Not in Parliamentary politics.

Which brings me back to the bright idea the Liberals had. Perhaps another time in a galaxy far, far away, a coalition would have been appropriate but it stank on so many levels it led to a massive negative reaction by the people.

Everyone knew the Liberals had a weak leader. Everyone knew the Liberals were divided (well, except for the Liberals apparently). In order for coalitions to function all parties involved need to be, you know, strong and united. How can it work when one is at war with itself?

Michael Ignatieff is set to take over the sinking ship. In my eyes (which are dry these days for some reason), the problems run deeper than just naming a leader. The Liberals are not getting their message across. Of course, they're hoping for Justin Trudeau to be Electro-idea Man. Judging by what I've heard him say the current feels weak.

For the Liberals, this is as much a leadership crisis (which is a problem across this land) as it is a crisis of ideas.

This is why I was surprised they made the Hyena-like pounce for power. An introspective rebuilding of the party would have been the prudent thing to do.

Superficial Comments On The Quebec Election

Premier Jean Charest got his wish; a majority government. Albeit a small one with 66 seats. What the election results showed was, along with the PQ zooming to opposition with 51 seats, Quebecers can expect more of the same type of governance we've see for-like-ever.

But, the real story (for me anyway) was the collapse of the Action Democratique (ADQ). They went from 41 seats and opposition status to seven seats and losing their official party status (12 is needed in Quebec.) One must feel for founder and leader Mario Dumont. He built a party from scratch. He introduced a third party which offered Quebecers a third option.

For non-French speaking (as their first language that is) citizens we live in a permanent and infinite dark dimension. We'll never have choice. The only choice is to employ the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" philosophy and consider the PQ. We're not there. I personally don't think I'll ever get to that point. That party says absolutely nothing to me. It's too backward thinking for my taste.

Of course, PQ supporters or the average Quebecer may not think this (after all it's Quebec party) but I'm saying it. As long as the party seeks independence (with coddling incentives of course) it ain't getting my vote. If I don't share their values and outlook why should I?

In this way, Quebec operates as a one-party democracy for us. That's why the ADQ were an interesting arrival on the political scene. I didn't always agree with Mr. Dumont but at least he was a viable option.

Some analysts are saying he drop the ball while in opposition. Perhaps. However, did anyone expect otherwise? It was the party's first time in opposition. It seemed like they were getting the hang of it towards the end.

Did he deserve to get whacked like he did? I don't believe so.

Quebec stands poorer today in my opinion. Enjoy provincial (in every sense of the word as the Liberals will continue to be gutless on many issues and the PQ will try and to convince capitalize on an apparent global trend that justifies their dream of being independent. Good luck to both) and Federal politics in Ottawa (where leaders go to die and act like jackasses).

I fear this country is in worse shape than I thought. We're dysfunctional on paper. One day, it may graduate into practice in the form of permanent fragmentation. Are we a country in name only? Our narrative both as a people and on the political level certainly allude to it.

I think I'm gonna check out what Obama is up to.

2008-12-07

Games From Yesterday And Today

I remember when video games were judged on high scores and simple plots. They were a blast to play and they weren't designed to imitate life. Coleco Vision (BC was one favorite game), Odysse (terrible but hey...), Sega (I was hooked on baseball), Commodore 64, Intellivision. The last two were lesser known games. Actually, Commodore 64 was a computer.

All these game consoles offered simple and fun games (if not legendary) to play. I remember we'd play for an hour or so and our parents would come down and tell us to go outside. Which we gladly did. We built bad soap box cars, played three on three baseball, sold lemonade and road our bikes until sundown.

By contrast, today's games are superior in quality and complexity. They're mostly based on missions and tend to be excessively violent or extreme. Gamers makes a living going from tournament to tournament competing. It's a probably a reflection of society in general I'm sure on some level.

It's evolution and progress. I guess. Heck, probably some of the designers from the aforementioned companies work for Game Cube, Nintendo, EA or Play Station now.

All I know is that parents should not be letting kids play these games.Or if they do, they should allow it with some form of supervision. Kids are simply not mature enough to comprehend the implications of violent mature content. Notice how the reviewer says gamers "can kill innocent people" on a mission in a matter of fact manner.


Are You Hegelian?

"A philosophy like Hegel's is a self-revelation of the psychic background and, philosophically, a presumption. Psychologically it amounts to an invasion by the Unconscious. The peculiar, high-flown language Hegel uses bears out this view -- it is reminiscent of the megalomaniac language of schizophrenics, who use terrific, spellbinding words to reduce the transcendent to subjective form, to give banalities the charm of novelty, or pass off commonplaces as searching wisdom. So bombastic a terminology is a symptom of weakness, ineptitude, and lack of substance."

Carl G. Jung, On the Nature of the Psyche. He basically said Hegel was nuts.

For years I would read excerpts about Hegel, quotes from Hegel and discussions on Hegel and would stare off into the unknown universe frightened in my ability to comprehend anything.

Yes, I admit. I didn't get it.

Did this mean I was dimwitted?

Probably. But the guy was so, so heavy; on the cusp of the lunatic fringe. He sounded like he came straight out of a Pink Floyd song. His writings, to use another music analogy, was where MC5 met Floyd's The Wall.

I'm glad to see I wasn't alone. It seems as though real great minds (Jung, Popper, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche etc.) have struggled with Hegel.

Mumbai: We're All Indians Now


I found this over at The Vigil. A beautiful, poignant image mourning a spiritual land.

History's Job Is Not To Judge

The Prez Obama has appointed his National Security team to positive reactions by many observers and pundits. Interestingly, as one expert put it, this represents not a shift in American foreign policy but an actual continuation of it.

I wonder how the left are going to rationalize this. As I wrote last month, it was unrealistic to believe there was going to be some sort massive karmic change. Now whether Obama's team is a wink-wink acknowledgment the Bush doctrine was essentially right or not remains to be seen.

Which brings me to a comment a friend of mine recently made. In our discussion about how to prepare cherry crostatta, the misguided reasoning of the Canadian coalition folly forces and contemporary American politics he said, "history will judge Bush poorly."

Pretty presumptuous I thought. Geez, I mean, Bush put an end to the last remnants of the Treaty of Westphalia. He smashed the 'Risk' game board so to speak. He may have, wittingly or otherwise, in motion a new direction for international politics.

Then we wondered. Was it that crazy to go into Iraq if one thinks of the big picture? Notably the attempt to establish a stable and productive Arab country? What "if" it does become a model? What "if" it all begins to unfold during Obama's watch? Who will get the credit? Will it be spun in a manner that suggests Obama avoided "bad" missteps undertaken by Bush?

How can we possibly know what the long term implications are of Bush's foreign policies? Indeed, it's through the lenses of Iraq people tend to judge Bush even on domestic issues. The more extreme interpretations of Bush have lent itself to a type of hysterical herd mentality that repeats the same old line about his Presidency. Thus clouding sound perspectives.

This leads me to a comment I purged, stole, culled (whatever) from a thread on the Christian Science Monitor:

"What are Bush’s unhinged (to logic and history) critics going to do for their Bush Derangement Syndrome come January 20? Does it go into remission, or refocus on a new bete noire?"

I don't know how history will judge Bush. That's a game I wish not to play. I do know that once he leaves a sober assessment of his tenure will commence.


2008-12-06

Letter To The Editor: Tire Law Is Ridiculous

A letter to the editor culled from a local newspaper. My own comments in red.


"Somebody in Quebec City decreed I must spend $824 plus over $119 in taxes (yeah, that's what it cost me) for snow tires.

Nearly $120 in taxes! The government is profiteering from its own laws. Talk about adding insult to injury.

All this during an economic downturn!

Not only that, the police continues to exaggerate its crackdown on citizens for traffic violations.

A basic management principle is that for maximum efficiency and lowest possible cost, decisions should be taken at the lowest possible level. I think I know better than my government whether I need snow tires. (All my driving is in the city and major highways where all-season tires are perfectly good).

But my fellow Quebecer, the decision making power you want is no longer acceptable in Canada. Wait until the NDP get their interventionist hands in your pockets.

What will the government do about drivers from outside the province who come here on all-season tires? Ticket them? Ignore them?

What will happen next spring? A vast majority can't afford to (or won't) spend the money to change tires and will drive on their winter ones all summer, wearing them out and turning them into "all-seasons" tires - or worse - for next winter, which is all legal and brings us back to where we were before this law."

A.B, DDO/Montreal.

It's a law that won't achieve it's stated goals. All it'll do is irritate citizens. I own a 4x4 with all-seasons. I have absolutely NO PROBLEM with them. In fact, I get better traction than cars with winter tires. But somehow my better judgment has been eliminated. Not only that, the government has impacted my household budget at a time many people could have done without it.

It's not bad tires the problem. It's bad drivers.

2008-12-05

2/3 Off!

No one listens to me.

On October 15 I posted a few thoughts and observations about the results of the Canadian election. Read it here.

In the first paragraph I disclosed the historical popular vote results for the Liberals (44%) and Conservatives (36%).

When one consults this fact, it makes the recent bizarre assertions attempting to justify the Liberal/NDP/Bloc coalition absurd. Apparently, 2/3 of Canadians voted for them therefore the Conservatives have no choice but to accept the "will of the people." I've heard the figure range anywhere from 62% to 66%. In fact, it's closer to 58%. Regardless, it's a deliberate misuse of facts. And both Liberal and NDP figurines keep unacceptably pimping this.

It doesn't matter that "2/3" of Canadians voted for two or three parties. This has always historically been the case. This is how the system works. Notice how neither the Liberals or Conservatives ever garnered over 50% of the vote. All of a sudden the 37% the Conservatives pulled in is somehow painted as an anomaly of some sort.

Yet, the Liberals won majorities with 37% to 41% in the 1990s. No one ever mentioned then how the other three parties always had a higher popular vote.

The Liberals won strong majorities thanks in part to the destruction of the conservative party. Slowly, the conservatives rebuilt itself and we're seeing the success of this now.

Moreover, even if we were to accept this clouded line of thinking, in the 58% figure (of which the Liberals managed 30%) one has to figure out how many Liberal voters are actually in favor of the alliance with the NDP and Bloc.

Finally, there's some basic math involved. There are four national parties and one regional. Three parties have various degrees of consistent national support and this is likely to persist - unless the recent ill-advised decision by the Liberals shatters that party depending on whether the backlash is wickedly powerful.

One (Greens) is just starting out and the other (Bloc) are Quebec-based. Set up this way, even if, for example, the Conservatives managed 51% that would mean Canada effectively would become a one-party dictatorship. It would entail that four other parties managed 10% each (assuming it gets divided equally.) We all know this is next to impossible in Canadian politics.

You can view historical election results here.

***Last note. How can the Liberals have the nerve to form a coalition when its own party is filled with uncertainty? They should have bit their tongues, rebuild and then take on Harper. I understand the fact Harper was attempting to corner the opposition but we were but six weeks in. There was a premeditated aspect to this. The Liberals were not ready for power six weeks ago and they certainly aren't ready now. I think the backlash will be on the Liberals. The potential for long-term damage is greater with the Liberals than with the Conservatives at this time.

2008-12-03

Who Had The Real Hidden Agenda?

*-*-I've heard much about Harper's infamous hidden agenda.

Apparently, the Libendeepeebloc have been plotting (or at least pondering) their coalition experiment for quite a while.

No one mentioned this during the election. If true, that they were conspiring, then doesn't this qualify as a hidden agenda?

To be perfectly honest, I find it a stretch that a coalition government can function properly during these trying times. It's already tough as it is to govern in prosperous times (you don't want to do anything that may jeopardize good times) but navigating through difficult periods with three parties Canadians didn't vote for may prove even more dysfunctional.

*-*-Mr. Layton and Mr. Dion you may want to tone down the "we speak for every Canadian rhetoric" because you most certainly don't. Just guessing.

Nor do I believe for one second this Tragic Triumvirate have the answers to anything - especially the economy.

I was willing to let the minority government work.

The Conservatives had every right to a) cut funding where warranted and b) wait and see what the Americans were going to do with their economy. Instead, the Liberals and NDP want to ram something down the throats of Canadians as if their stimulus (I hate that word) package is the only solution.

If the Liberals and NDP had all the answers or true enlightened ideas, they would have been elected on the force of their ideas. They didn't. For this they lost.

What's more astonishing to me is that the Liberals should have taken the time to rebuild their party. Instead, they have decided to engage in petty politics. It's as if they can't seem to grasp they lost. To me, they've squandered an opportunity and have signaled a plan to improve their image is not necessary.

And Nero's fiddle wails louder than ever.

Learning Along Canada's Possible Coalition

Well, there is good coming from the coalition. Canadians are learning more about how parliamentary democracy works and the constitutional monarchy in general. It's forcing me to dust off one of my old political science books - which I'll read while jacked on espresso.

I must make a confession here. I didn't know the Governor-General had that much power - too much for an unelected official for my taste.

Which leads me to wonder, is there a lack of civic and classics education in Canada?

The other thing, I may as well add, is we get a little too caught up on the mechanics of politics when we debate. Where function overtakes form if you will.

Regardless, either way you cut it, individual liberty will continue to be trampled on. Especially with the three (even if the Bloc act only as a "support") parties that make up the coalition.

2008-12-02

Blog Link Of Interest: Parliamentary Democracy

So I was a little hard on the possibility of Parliament going through a non-confidence motion.

I'm suspicious of the motives. Sue me.

Seriously, how can the Liberals ever consider dealing with a party dedicated to breaking up Canada?

But I agree, once a cool head is applied, with Christopher Moore's sober interpretation.

It's not a crisis. We tend to throw that word around whenever we face obstacles and challenges, huh?

2008-12-01

Wondering What Pat Buchanan Thinks Of The Auto Industry?

I find Buchanan to be incredibly interesting. Very few people I see or hear can match his knowledge of American political history. Since Detroit is in the news here's an article titled, 'Who killed the auto industry.'

He opens with:

"To hear the media tell it, arrogant corporate chiefs failed to foresee the demand for small, fuel-efficient cars and made gas-guzzling road-hog SUVs no one wanted, while the clever, far-sighted Japanese, Germans and Koreans prepared and built for the future.

I dissent. What killed Detroit was Washington, the government of the United States, politicians, journalists and muckrakers who have long harbored a deep animus against the manufacturing class that ran the smokestack industries that won World War II."

He adds:

"Like Alexander Hamilton, they understand that manufacturing is the key to national power. And they manipulate currencies, grant tax rebates to their exporters and thieve our technology to win. Last year, as trade expert Bill Hawkins writes, South Korea exported 700,000 cars to us, while importing 5,000 cars from us."

"That's Asia's idea of free trade."

As a bonus, here's his view with the path America is on with Obama titled "Socialist Republic."

Yes, we're all "Keynesians" now.



So Which Insecure Actor Will Jump On This Diet Fad First?

The Banana Diet is taking Japan by storm. Or is it attacking it like Godzilla?

I can just see Oprah jumping and chomping down on this one.

North America is not safe.

Captain America Finally Gets His Movie Dues


Why have every marginal and fringe character in the Marvel universe been given a movie and not Captain America? The greatest of them all.

I know a new movie is on the way in 2009 but why has it taken all this time?

Superman, Bat-Man, Spider-Man and Captain America. These are the Big Four. The first three have their own movie franchise. It's about time Captain America gets his own.

Peaceful And Pathetic Take Over


Who said losers never win?

Great, now we're led by a loser no one wanted, a bunch of socialists and separatists.

Yup. Canada is in GREAT hands.

As for Harper, he should have stuck to his guns. By waffling, he emboldened the opposition. He is as much to blame for this mess.

I will add that listening to the "anything but Harper" rhetoric is extremely excruciating to listen to. Yes. The trio set to take over are "better." It is to laugh.

That's all I'm going to say. Needless to say, I'm not impressed by the antics of the Three Stooges.

2008-11-30

The Irish-Italian Connection

Someone recently recited to me the famous line, "Una faccia, una razza" (One face, one race).

No doubt Mediterranean history and civilization involving Greece and Italy is intimately intertwined. It's a matter of historical fact that the nations (Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Lebanon, Israel to name a few) of the Mediterranean (including Arabs who introduced a form of pasta in Sicily) all share similar social and cultural traits.

However, speaking strictly from a North American perspective, Italians also share a tight common bond with the Irish. In fact, I wonder if the Irish-Italian axis is tighter than the Greek-Italian one. A voice with more authority would be needed here.

Despite a history that hasn't always been friendly, they do share many similar traits - religion, fighting spirit, artistic flair and general flamboyance. It's a connection I've observed. I could be wrong. Of course, it probably runs deeper than I'm treating it here.

I've made the same observations with the Jewish community. Which explains the phenomena of Jews playing Italians in pop culture. With Henry Winkler being one of the most famous as The Fonz.

Seriously, is there a more endearing rebel in television pop culture history than Fonzie?

Aaay!

Is This Is A Pseudo-Blog?

I definitely and readily admit I can't tell the difference between real philosophy and pseudo-philosophy. Sure, I get hunches but I can't always intellectualize what I'm reading into proper context. If you're like me, you're likely to pick up New-Age stuff like Ken Wilber, read it, put it down and say, "Meh."

I recently read over at the conservative site World Net Daily an article by Ellis Washington exploring the malady of liberalism and how it deals with terrorism in light of Mumbai. In it he refers to Islam as a pseudo-religion. Is this a social conservative thing or does it come from other places of thought? My feeling is that he's right about out obsession with "root causes" of terrorism. We know the who's and the why's. Next!

But about Islam I'm not sure. I'm simply not prepared to go that far for two reasons. 1) There's a shit load of people who follow it and 2) Islam's history and contribution to it is substantial - at least for a period of time. Even here we have to be careful, prior to Islam societies that roamed the Middle-East were advanced but not religious. I'll stop here.

It's either I don't get it - at which point I need to be taught and spanked - or I instinctively know that it's all dressed up nonsense. Besides, my brain simply doesn't function in any coordinated or specific way so as to be peer reviewed. I'm too aloof. I suck that way. That's why I blog. Capiche?

In a past post, I wrote about what I felt was unnecessary jargon in the investment world. No one seems capable of giving a damn presentation without speaking lucidly with straight forward answers. Instead, it's always complex schemes and "down the roads" and "future value" rubbishness.

I tend to apply this to history and philosophy - even in everyday life. That way, it helps determine what is (plus ou moins) real history and alternative history (I define this as interesting points of views with less facts), real ideas and bull shit. If I see a person on TV over and over it raises my suspicion. For many, Oprah, Dr. Phil and all that jazz help "educate" people. To bring "issues" in the public consciousness. Maybe but I take a difference stance. They just feed empty talk and thoughts to people who don't know any better. It's all smoke and mirrors - intellectually speaking of course.

I can go on and on but I shall stop here.

It's a never-ending if not frustrating journey but this pseudo-blog is willing to do it.

2008-11-29

Always Remember...


Tom Selleck never needed a tattoo to look cool.

I must profess I never did get the tattoo craze. A few of my friends jumped on it but it never quite tickled my armpits. Good for people who enjoy it; real enthusiasts especially. Not the wannabes.

One thing that's always made me wary is how a tattoo wears poorly over time as skin ages.

It looks great when you're buffed at 25. But when you're skin is taking its natural course and sagging at 65 you may as well have raisins as ink spots.

I look at actors today and it feels like they try too hard to be "cool."

Not Tom Selleck!

Article Of Interest: Mumbai

From The Australian.

"Those who thought George W. Bush was the cause of radical Islamist hostility to the US and the West are set for a sore disappointment. The terrorists didn't hate the US because of Bush. They hated Bush because of the US. Similarly, they will not love the US because of Obama: they will hate Obama because of the US."

Duh.

"There's no one in charge in Pakistan. There's no one you can talk to, no one home. The multiple centres of power in Pakistan traditionally mean jihadis get a lot of leeway. Pakistan is now a net exporter of terrorism. No one's in charge and we're likely to see a spiral of violence out of Pakistan."

Ok. So does the U.S. invade?

Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine...where does it all end?

According to sources in this article India, in addition to all this, is "remarkably incompetent government on counter-terrorism."

Welcome, Obama.

India's Marine Commandos Do The Job

Am I the only one who was impressed with India's efficient military response to those animals?

The Marine Commandos are known as Marcos in India.

Queens Mafia Redux

"We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control. No dark sarcasm in the classroom. Teachers leave them kids alone." Another brick in the wall Part 2 Pink Floyd

Here's another subject in the news.

The mere fact this even merits a discussion in the halls of academia should make one shiver.

Surreal.

All in the name of "progress." Bull shit.

What the fuck is a "dialog facilitator" anyway? That's so gay. I think I'm going to host a "Don't Be PC" week on my blog soon.

Who are they?

Murderers of freedom and liberty. Murderers of true enlightening thought. Murderers of the intellect.

That's who.

Brother, Can You Spare Me Some Change?

The $1.95 subsidy taxpayers provide to political parties is in the news now.

People who read this blog know I'm not a fan of wasteful subsidies and unions.

The idea that my tax dollars go to parties I flat out don't support strikes me as pathetic. How dare the NDP, for example, take my money? How dare they?

If they want money then they should earn it; work the streets and phones harder. Pull a PBS-style telethon. Show initiative.

Not succeeding? Then come up with better ideas Canadians can support without snickering.

The conservatives are right on this one. And to think the loser Liberals have the balls to threaten to take down the government over this issue...Hey, I'm all for it if they want to unite with the NDP. It means more humorous material for me.

Normally, I look into the history and origins of this sort of stuff but not here. The point of the subsidy was to make things "equal." Code for "hey, you're doing better than me give me your money."

The idea of voluntary political support means nothing to these people.

Is that our "concept" of "fair"? Liberty? Freedom of political choice?

Deadbeats.

All of them.

2008-11-28

Link Of Interest: Source Watch

Source Watch is conducting its Fifth Annual Falsies Awards. Check out the nominations here.

The link will take you to the site.

The nominees include among others:

Coal Is the New Green: The coal industry-funded front group Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC) and the public relations firm Edelman have been promoting dirty energy with green rhetoric. ABEC doubled its budget in 2008, launching a $35 million ad campaign promoting "clean" coal, paying millions more to co-sponsor several U.S. presidential debates and hiring people to walk "around as human billboards" outside a January 2008 debate, handing out leaflets "with questions for voters to ask the [Democratic presidential] candidates." ABEC also tried to organize opposition to a climate change bill before the U.S. Senate, at one point misrepresenting itself to grassroots activists as an environmental group with no industry ties. In Britain, the PR firm Edelman helped energy company E.ON counter protests against its Kingsnorth coal-fired power station, while the firm's Canadian branch promoted its plans to go "carbon neutral." As one Edelman executive anticipating the next round of international climate change negotiations noted, there's a "global opportunity for carbon messaging."

Disputing the Count of the Dead: In January 2008, a spate of editorials appeared, attacking a peer-reviewed study from 2006 that estimated 650,000 "excess deaths" in Iraq, over the 40 months following the U.S. invasion. The Wall Street Journal claimed that the 2006 study, which was published in the British medical journal Lancet, "could hardly be more unreliable." The editorial, and others like it, repeated allegations made in a National Journal article titled "Data Bomb," which the Lancet study authors and other academics have challenged. Around the same time, another peer-reviewed study by the Iraqi Health Ministry and World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 151,000 Iraqis died due to violence, over the same 40 months. Many reporters and editorial writers saw the WHO study as a further challenge to the Lancet study, though the WHO data predicts that more than 400,000 Iraqis have died from both violent and non-violent causes. In July 2008, the New York Times reported that high costs and increasing U.S. military restrictions on reporters and photographers -- including "what some journalists say is a growing effort ... to control graphic images from the war" -- has led to declining news coverage of Iraq.

Front Groups Go Postal: Concerned that junk mail -- the unwanted catalogs, product offers and other direct mail clogging up mailboxes -- is not just annoying, but bad for the environment? Don't worry! Mail Moves America claims that "direct mail is not trees, it is printed communication." Mail Moves America is a front group established by the Direct Marketing Association, in response to U.S. states forming "do not mail" lists, which are patterned after the popular "do not call" lists that block telemarketers. Although it's not allowed to lobby, the U.S. Postal Service works "closely" with Mail Moves America, "to quash the Do Not Mail initiatives," according to the Washington Post. Another pro-junk mail group, IP Moves the Mail, was founded by the International Paper Company.

2008-11-27

Philosophical Question

What's more important: Liberty or democracy?

Letter To The Editor: Keeping Doctors Away

What follows in italics is a letter to the editor I plucked from the newspaper.

It used to be an apple a day kept the doctor away. Now it's a little more complicated.


Things are not good nor acceptable in Quebec. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Part of the reason why private health care is on the rise is because there's a demand for it. People are not interested in playing roulette with their lives as they wait for timely service. Rather than wait for the government to make things better they are taking matters into their own hands. It's only going to continue...

"There has been a lot of talk during this provincial election campaign about the state of the health-care system, particularly the lack of family physicians in Montreal and the province. My wife, a family doctor who has been in practice more than 20 years, has felt the effects of the policies of successive PQ and Liberal governments. She has been training promising young doctors only to see them leave the province once their training is done because of low salaries and draconian restrictions on where they can work.

We had high hopes that the Charest government, which originally campaigned on fixing health care and education, would make more money available and lift the restrictions on doctors. It has not happened. Now, after years of working in a hospital unit with resources stretched beyond the limit, high stress levels and incompetent management, she herself has left the province.

I will join her in Toronto next year, where her pay is significantly higher, taxes are lower, and the system is more functional. We are leaving our long-time home, and Quebec and Montreal have lost another experienced family clinician and educator. That will definitely be on my mind as I cast my ballot in my last Quebec election."

D.G.

2008-11-26

Indian Tragedy

India mourns deadly terrorist attacks.

It's not about American foreign policy; it's an international scourge without borders.

Perhaps one day we'll move on from this comfortable line of thinking and see these attacks for what they are: works of evil designed by individuals who operate independently from the international order.

The world must close ranks once and for all.

Are we about to see another round of attacks?

Beyond Logic Lies

Italy is a land where conspiracy theories find its ultimate expression. In fact, it also has a specialized name: Dietrologia. How's that for a title that sounds like a book written by St. Thomas of Aquino?

Dietrologia means "science or study of what lies behind" and it's the basis of all that is creative in Italian conspiracy culture.

Convicted murderer (of anarchist Pino Pinelli) Adriano Sofri sums it up this way: "Dietrologia is an air that you breathe in Italy."

When I read about Dietrologia I think about Noam Chomsky and Billy Fischer for some reason. They're so smart they say the darnedest, kookiest things.

2008-11-25

Canadian Immigration History Lives In Halifax

Pier 21 in Halifax rightly holds a special place in Canadian immigration history but so did the largely forgotten Pier 2.

As I write here immigration is an evolving event in human life and with climate change wreaking havoc on many countries, Canada may see itself at the center of a new immigration movement down the road.

2008-11-23

Revisiting Enron With Malcolm Gladwell

Not too many people impress me but if I had to choose a person to sit down and have dinner with it would be Malcolm Gladwell.

His article titled "Open Secrets" goes back to the Enron fiasco and quite frankly it's overall message was something I try to convey, not just with Enron, on this blog - albeit clumsily.

The prosecutors didn’t attain justice. Ironically, their achievement is the legal equivalent of what Enron did in accounting. Just as Enron assumed the value of future profits that proved fleeting, prosecutors think they got justice when in fact it eluded them.

By extension, methinks that once the hysteria around Bush subsides we’ll be able to assess his Presidency with a more sober touch.

I could go on and on but I'll let the article speak for itself.

I would just add a sports analogy. We often blame one player or coach for the ills and failures of a particular team. In reality, the problems which ail sports franchises are often more complex and run deeper. It's just that it's way too easy to blame the last person in front of you. The same with politicians. Conversely, it works the other way too. When it's time for promotion, it's not always the best person who gets the spoils.

Interestingly, his discussion about how the allied intelligence community spied on the Nazi's reminds me of a great book called "The Code Book" by Simon Singh.

It's a long article but definitely enlightening and worth the read.

Letter To The Editor Of The Day

In one of my last posts I was disturbed by the content of a letter to the editor. The person basically shrugged her shoulders and said "what can you?" when it comes to our public health system. The fact that we have a "free" system that covers everyone is not an excuse to accept mediocrity. Ideology should not prevail over our practical senses.

I plucked this letter also responding to her letter:

"As a former resident of B.C. - where doctors' appointments are scheduled within days and serious medical procedures are performed within a couple of months - I must say the health-care situation in Quebec is alarming.

It is more disturbing to read that some Quebec citizens not only accept it, but compare Quebec health care only to the U.S.

And it is very reassuring to see forward- thinking provinces like B.C. and Alberta making health care a priority."

A.C.D

Amen, brotha, Amen.


2008-11-21

Book Alert: Dyer's 'Climate Wars'

Gwynne Dyer is out with a new book called "Climate Wars."

Follow the link to CTV's website for an excerpt.

Dyer, who is Canadian, is a distinguished and respected columnist and military historian based in London.

As the world heats up the ability for nations to feed themselves diminishes. As they starve they must search for ways to feed their populations. Will the world be divided between nations lucky to not be affected by climate change (like Canada) and those aren't able to avoid it (United States)? How will nations fight? With nuclear weapons? What areas could be affected? Australia is facing a water drought and may not produce as much grains and wheat in the future. Luckily, they have a small population. Is climate change the highway to hell?

"This is a world in which food imports are no longer available at any price, as there is a global food shortage. But there are still relative winners and relative losers: the higher-latitude countries - northern Europe, Russia, Canada - are still getting adequate rainfall and are able to feed themselves, while those in the mid-latitudes are in serious trouble. Even the United States has lost a large amount of its crop-growing area as the rain fails to fall over the high plains west of the Mississippi, persistent droughts beset the southeast, and the rivers that provided irrigation water for the Central Valley of California cease to flow in the summertime. Countries of smaller size, like Spain, Italy and Turkey on the northern side of the Mediterranean (not to mention those on the southern side), find that their entire land area is turning into desert and that they can no longer feed their populations. The northeastern monsoon that brought rain to the north Chinese plain has failed, and the rivers that watered southern China have suffered the same fate as those that provided California's water: now they only flow in the wintertime."

Though the book paints a bleak if not apocalyptic future for Mother Earth, I did hear Dyer on Montreal radio say he does now feel more optimistic than he did during the period he wrote the book. He believes nations will cooperate and do what's necessary to avoid the pending catastrophe. Moreover, Climate Wars could (or should) provide climate change skeptics and deniers with enough evidence and thoughts to ponder their positions.

I haven't read the book yet but I plan to shortly.

Another book this reminds me of is Robert D. Kaplan's "The Coming Anarchy" and "The Revenge of Gaia" by James Lovelock.