The Wandering Economist is a good start.
Is it because one gets paid and the other does it out of sheer pleasure?
Zeros: Canadian Tire.
Heroes: Tim Hortons.
In the past, store owners and managers have been known to kick out veterans from their premises. From CIBC to Provigo, the excuse used was that it was a "misunderstanding."
For me, it's simple: LET THEM SELL THE DAMN POPPIES.
There shouldn't be any misunderstanding.
Obama, "What's this? Nice."
Janitor, "It's the Oval Office, sir."
Obama, "Right. Gotcha."
It's almost a done deal - so we're told by pundits and polls - that Mr. Obama will be President.
And now the world breathes a sigh of relief. Feel better?
Good. Now don't tell me Obama (and the Liberal party of Canada for that matter) represent "change." They don't. It's just old ideas repackaged under the guise of "progress." The only change that will take place is that of a new boss with a different name.
Gotta love politicians and parties who claim they hold the monopoly on "change" and "progress."
Because Obama is different from Bush doesn't mean there's a "winds of change" coming.
Let him "President" first and then we'll see.
Which lame ass company run by weak, history deficient manager will turn away our Veterans looking to sell poppie's to honor our fallen soldiers?
Congratulations Canadian Tire.
You're the lame ass corp. of the day. Veterans are the exception.
Mind you, I'm a little fed up of what I term ATM Conservatives who spend like undisciplined fiends or Mother Hen Conservatives out to save the world from itself.
"In discussing the "immobilisme" of our municipal government, Richard Florida described Montreal as a truly authentic city. Forgive me, but how can you call a city authentic if its economy is subsidized and its spending dependent on access to credit? An "authentic economy" is measured in terms of production and capital reserves, not subsidies and debt.
The real issue is that we are all guilty of our own "immobilisme." Our low cost of living is not a positive indicator but a reflection of a city's lack of productivity and drive.
Our most cherished business enterprises are subsidized by federal, provincial and municipal governments. I love my city but let's be real: Montrealers don't want to take personal responsibility for their economic liberty and willingly hand that power over to our governments - the same governments we mistrust and call irresponsible.
The problem is us - the people of this city who won't build an authentic economy that's not dependent on an F1 race, festivals and beautiful women. We're too distracted by silly politically motivated cultural agendas to build an "authentic economy." If Montrealers want reduced taxation, then perhaps they should insist on slashed spending first.
On an optimistic front, Montreal does have the world at its fingertips, but claiming it will require a paradigm shift and culturally inclusive attitude."
P.M. (name protected. I never know if I should publish it.)
To the political equivalent of the frozen section in a grocery store; that's where.
As time moves rapidly forward freshness is the first casualty. Same with original speakers who balanced their intellectualism with effective and creative communication.
Need I ask?
Not sure I had an answer.
There's a debate among Montrealers about whether it's worth saving the F1 race recently canceled by Bernie Eccelstone.
As sports fan, of course people want to see it stay but how feasible is it? It shouldn't come at any price and nor should we have to grovel each time whenever Bernie decides it's time to hold the city hostage.
Eccelstone is simply looking to the highest bidder. It's nothing personal; it's just business.
It was interesting to note our municipal leaders flying to London on a begging expedition. At least, that's how I see it. Sure, for one weekend out of a year the F1 pours in millions (they say 80 million but it's probably less (but by no means less substantial) in terms of new money injected) into the local economy.
It may indeed be a sound investment but at what price? And by this I don't just mean financial.
We are being told about, as I mentioned, the economic benefits of having the Grand Prix come to town yet we let the Expos go. There was no better free publicity for seven months out of the year than having a MLB exposing the city to the entire North American continent. But we messed that up; too much of a commitment and way too many excuses.
For me, all this is a harbinger of things to come. France recently decided to not hold the race citing it could no longer afford it. Something tells me as the nanny states become more difficult and expensive to maintain, more European nations may follow suit. France is a G7 nation with a rich racing tradition. Who's next? England? Germany? Racing mad Italy?
At which point, the vacuum will probably be filled by the nouveau rich economies of the East; more productive in some areas and drenched in oil in others. You know, the Malaysia's and UAE's of this world.
Even if we save the F1 race for next year, when our contract runs out in 2011 (I believe) don't expect us to have any more money to meet the demands of Bernie Eccelstone.
It was a good, speedy ride while it lasted.
A recently published article titled "Ahead of the Curve" by Richard Florida explores how urban centers like Montreal can realize the full potential of their creative abilities.
I'm not holding my breath. We're too busy looking cool to tie everything needed to make it work.
The article reminded me of a letter to the editor I once wrote (when I was itching to make a difference) which asserted that people are always ahead of the curve (how wide the curve is subject to debate) when measured against our political masters. It also recalled my concerns that Montreal's economic structure is fragile and propped up by the government.
There are many advantages Montreal possesses over its North American siblings. However, we have several disadvantages, which could prevent us from achieving anything Florida suggests. This is a big city run like a small town.
It doesn't take a genius to see that Montreal is gripped, more than most cities, by vision-less, inept and corrupt governance. If you own a building or business here, that much is self-evident. The city operates in a bizarre vacuum where leadership and sound urban thinking are absent. It's hard to innovate when you have to deal with so many layers of government and overbearing, stagnant unions.
Henry Aubin goes further here.
I’ve always wondered why we don't have more world class art galleries and even a theater district given our reputation for sophistication. Toronto - a city with its own growing cultural community - certainly uses its economic wealth to gain all these. Is Montreal economically strong enough to sustain and nurture its creative class?
So. How do we go from being creative to creative and influential? How do we make Montreal the Florence of North America, so to speak?
We should be cautious. The last thing we need is to blindly throw money to build a fabricated and fake creative class equivalent in value to those dreadful "Smart Centers."
A concern with trying to build a “creative class” is that we may overrate talent and entice some people who really shouldn't be artists, take a leap of faith into this world. It's a fine line between being a hipster doofus and an artist. This line of thinking is closer to this opinion and critique of Florida in Metropolismag.
Above all, for all the talk about how creative we are, why do I feel I have to leave Montreal to “make it?” My challenge is made more difficult since I left one career to join the creative field - especially for an English writer.
We should also ponder how much government involvement we want. Monarchs and popes used to act as patrons to the arts but so did private individuals. Surely the government has a role to play in this, but it should be limited and a balance should be found with the private sector.
This can help produce world class talent as artists would compete against one another to earn their grants, rather than wait in line for a government hand out. Subsidies don’t enhance culture or talent; it obscures the line between what is art and not. I would add that tension and endless contradictions are always good to feed the creative juices.
In my humble opinion, in the case of Montreal which has a strong creative base, we should visit some places where modern artistic flow stems. For instance, Italy is one of the last nations in the West to maintain an army of specialized artists, engineers and designers loyal to their handmade crafts.
The Italian case is special because there, we can observe how the economy and creative classes cooperate, operate and ultimately innovate. It's entirely possible that we'll find answers to what we may be looking for.
I hold the opinion that Quebec's artists would thrive under the "Italian system." It may be time to examine this.
Looking to stay ahead of the business curve? Learn to read the cycles. Here's a link to "Ahead of the curve" by Joseph H. Ellis that may should educate and provide insights.
"What type of book?" I asked.
"I don't know," was the reply.
"Now that doesn't help. Sports? History? Accordion lessons?"
"No, no. History."
"Ok. Let's narrow it down," I say.
"I'm just looking for a good book on history in general. You know?"
No I don't but fair enough.
Cocked and armed with scant information my little, tiny, oft-misguided brain sought the right book for the miscellaneous generalist.
I settled on "Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences 800 B.C, to 1950" by Charles Murray.
That's history right?
The person took note of it and off they went frolicking into world under a blazing October sun.
For the rest of you still around reading this post you may be asking: Why this book?
In a hazelnut nutshell, given the times we live in, it's controversial.
It attempts to quantify human accomplishment. Or as Murray opens with, "to assemble and describe the inventories of human accomplishment." He adds, "the dimensions and content of human accomplishment can be apprehended as fact." In other words, he goes where some dare not go: can we judge, for example, which societies gave more to human progress? He closes his thoughts by claiming that human achievement is in decline.
I remember a quote from a history book on Western Civilization in university that closed one of its chapters by saying, "...English, French, German and Italian culture was brilliant..."
It was an interesting passage and one that may make a relativist quiver. Nonetheless, the point is the bulk of Western accomplishment resided within these four countries. That is not to say other nations didn't contribute. Of course they did, the Netherlands, Russia, Austria and Sweden immediately spring to mind. And then there's the foundations laid by Ancient Greece followed by Rome. Murray does not restrict himself to the West as he compiles rosters of significant figures from China, Japan and the Arab world as well.
Indeed, I had a German political science professor who was even more blunt with his cultural assertions. But, I'll leave this story for another time. He was priceless to say the least.
The case of the United States (and to a lesser extent Canada) is special. There really isn't an American in the arts that rivals say, Beethoven or Michaelangelo but then again this really isn't meant to be their strength. America is about getting things done with concrete, youthful and optimistic vigor. That being said, American brilliance resides in the realm of business, technology and science. I would add sports to this list too.
Murray goes a step further. He doesn't restrict the impact of human accomplishment made by Westerners to the West. Rather, the achievements made by the West are in fact achievements for all of human civilization.
I'm not prepared to go into detail about how he goes about weaving his way through all this lest the purpose and meaning he attempts to convey is lost in translation. The scope of his work is such that I would not be able to give justice in a blog post.
This is where I pass the buck to others. As one reviewer put it, "In short, whatever the shortcomings of his methodology might be, he has amassed an amazing body of data that one might use test various hypotheses regarding what leads to innovation, and what does not."
Actually, it's a little deeper than this and you can read the rest of the review here.
Read a Q&A with Murray here.
I hope to explore some of the Canadian names in the book at a later time.
Why give ammunition to Republican attack dogs? Family Security Matters explores this important issue further. Thanks to Contratimes for this.
It takes nothing to find it and I know where mine is. It's right here next to my bottle of hootch.
Yup. Clearly Canadian.
Postscript: The problem seems to stem from the fact some contend the document produced by Obama is a forgery. A comment was left pointing me to factcheck.org accepting its authenticity.
Who cares if he was born in Kenya anyway?
I recognize this article by George Weigel titled "Moral clarity in a time of war" may upset some, especially on the left and those who question the Bush administration, but I felt it a proper complement to the Margolis link below.
Here are a couple of lighter excerpts from the article I pulled out:
"In the classic just war tradition, “just cause” was understood as defense against aggression, the recovery of something wrongfully taken, or the punishment of evil. As the tradition has developed since World War II, the latter two notions have been largely displaced, and “defense against aggression” has become the primary, even sole, meaning of “just cause.” This theological evolution has parallels in international law: the “defense against aggression” concept of just cause shapes Articles 2 and 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. In light of twenty-first-century international security realities, it is imperative to reopen this discussion and to develop the concept of just cause."
Interesting passage. Rather than apply the law to those who break it why not change the law to fit the realities of contemporary times? It always struck me as incongruent to apply treaties such as the "Geneva Conventions" to actors (terrorists) who reject Western values and laws.
The U.S., some would interject, can't espouse "just causes" if its ideals have been compromised by an unpopular and alleged illegal war. What if the intentions of America in the post-war era were truly about stabilizing the world system, how did it go astray and awry in the court of international public opinion?
"Some will argue that this violates the principle of sovereignty and risks a global descent into chaos. To that, I would reply that the post-Westphalian notions of state equality and sovereign immunity assume at least a minimum of acquiescence to minimal international norms of order. Today’s rogue states cannot, on the basis of their behavior, be granted that assumption. Therefore, they have forfeited that immunity. The “regime factor” is determinative, in these extreme instances."
I have argued this point many times on this blog and allude to something similar above with applying the Geneva Conventions to terrorists.
"On the matter of just cause, the tradition also needs development in terms of its concept of the relevant actors in world politics. Since September 11, some analysts have objected to describing our response to the international terrorist networks as “war” because, they argue, al-Qaeda and similar networks are not states, and only states can, or should, wage “war,” properly understood. There is an important point at stake here, but the critics misapply it."
Or as Mr. Margolis argues, this is not a war against terrorism but a colonial one meant to control oil.
"That the UN Charter itself recognizes an inalienable national right to self-defense suggests that the Charter does not claim sole authority to legitimate the use of armed force for the Security Council; if you are under attack, according to the Charter, you don’t have to wait for the permission of China, France, Russia, or others of the veto-wielding powers to defend yourself. Moreover, the manifest inability of the UN to handle large-scale international security questions suggests that assigning a moral veto over U.S. military action on these fronts to the Security Council would be a mistake. Then there is the question of what we might call “the neighborhood” on the Security Council: What kind of moral logic is it to claim that the U.S. government must assuage the interests of the French foreign ministry and the strategic aims of the repressive Chinese government—both of which are in full play in the Security Council—in order to gain international moral authority for the war against terrorism and the defense of world order against outlaw states with weapons of mass destruction? A very peculiar moral logic, indeed, I should think."
The U.S. did what it had to do. After all, it was attacked. Perhaps the United States has begun the process of forcing a new Treaty of Westphalia for the 21st century.
"Both Barack Obama and John McCain are wrong about Afghanistan. It is not a `good’ fight against `terrorism,’ but a classic, 19th century colonial war to advance western geopolitical power into resource-rich Central Asia. The Pashtun Afghans who live there are ready to fight for another 100 years. The western powers certainly are not."
This confuses me a little. How can they not know it's a 19th century colonial war? Or are they being disingenuous? I have a hard time believing they would be naive.
Furthermore, let's go back to 9/11. The world seemed to be in agreement that Afghanistan, as a failed state, was a breeding ground for terrorist organizations and governments friendly to it. Was this propaganda? Was it misguided? How did and at what point did 9/11 become the leitmotif for colonialism? In a more macabre fashion, the sentence reads as though, it can be implied, the Americans and the West were sitting around "waiting" for an "excuse" to go into Afghanistan. Brought to its logical end, does this mean 9/11 was used as a pretext to go into Afghanistan?
I'm not disputing good old fashioned colonial reflexes may be at work here but the statement raises more questions than answers for me.
This makes much more sense than attacking Iran. Perhaps this move will also help to bring closer ties between Iran and Israel who both seek to dominate the region.
Made famous in the movie "Gladiator" the life and career of Marcus Nonius Macrinus was not quite as the film (not surprisingly) depicted it. Nonetheless, Macrinus was a major military figure in the Empire ruled by Marcus Aurelius.
It's an interesting discovery for world history as well as Roman and Italian archeology.
Afghan journalist Sayed Pervez Kambaksh was sentenced to 20 years for downloading information deemed anti-Islamic by an Afghan "court." The sentence was reduced to 20 years from the death penalty after intense pressure from the world community. Lucky him.
The Canadian government is good at talking about our "values." Maybe this is a good opportunity for us to exert our reputation and influence to express our disapproval of these sham proceedings. After all, we're spilling enough blood in Afghanistan.
You can sign a petition at The Independent.
And the madness of relying on government continues.
Back to the second hand smoke thing. Friends, family (and even strangers) always look at me in horror whenever I claim the anti-smoking crusade is rooted in self-righteous demagoguery. Call me a boob but I just don't believe there are too many people involved in this whole machine who care for me personally. Qui bono, folks. Qui bono.
In different variations I get the, "You? Mr. Health food sports fanatic? You accept this?" line. I can separate the two, you know. Do I wish no one smoked? Of course. Do I feel it necessary to interfere in the lives of others? It depends. But I do feel we go overboard.
It's pure anti-liberty the way I see it. You can't legislate every facets of our lives. It's ok to have awareness campaigns about the dangers of smoking but to actively infringe on civil liberties is another matter; annoying habit with life threatening consequences notwithstanding.
Here's an excerpt of who Forces are and its philosophical message:
"FORCES International is an organisation in support of human rights and - in particular, but not limited to – the defence of those who expect from life the freedom to smoke, eat, drink and, in general, to enjoy personal lifestyle choices without restrictions and state interference.
The message of FORCES is based on the values of liberty for every individual in his personal choices. In this, FORCES is aligned with those who fight the antismoking movement, which is essentially false and oppressive. However, FORCES goes well beyond this, into a critic of aspects of medicine, politics, public policy and scientific research that tend to undermine cherished barriers between public and private, between the state and the individual, and between those special powers that the liberal democratic state can normally only claim only in extraordinary circumstances (crises of epidemic disease, war) and those much more limited powers that are understood as appropriate under normal conditions of life."
As some of you may know, I'm not exactly fond of government. Wait, that came out awkward. In some instances government participation in society is healthy. What concerns me is the expansion of our reliance on government. I try to keep a logical balance between the two lest I become an anarchist or radical civil libertarian.
I'm not sure if it's terribly exciting but I'll try and embellish it as best as I could - which isn't encouraging.
Today was one of those "God I wish there was more time in a day but since there isn't maybe it's a good time to explore atheism" days. In between errands, we needed to go out and buy a cooler for a mini-trip to Lake George tomorrow.
So off we rushed to a famous store that begins with the letter 'W' and ends with the letter 'T.'By the time we were done it was 4:35 and the line up at the cashes were as long as my, erm, toenails.
The line we were in was a "do it yourself" section. But the way things were set up there were three lines for four cashes and there was a bottleneck forming. In other words, since I have no idea how to describe this, it basically resembled a third-world war area where people anxiously wait for bread.
Chaos in a store as well-organized as Wal-Mart is unacceptable. Of course, I went off on a tangent complaining that management is a joke for allowing this. What does it take to set up a proper line?
Anyway, it was so confusing I asked some real nasty looking dude if his line was for cash #5 and #6. The other two were #3 and #4 so I was trying to figure out if one line was going to four cashes; which made little sense. There should be two at the very least.
His answer wasn't very helpful and I could tell his personality matched his scruffy look. Sometimes big tough guys are teddy bears. Not this guy.
Then my gal observed there were too many filled carriages that went beyond the "8 articles or less" requirement. She innocently (and trust me, Jen is one sensitive chick. She's all about empathy, compassion, smiling and all that crap. It helps since she's in the education field) asked a worker if the line was indeed for eight articles or less. The worker responded in the affirmative and asked people -including the mean dude - to move on to the proper cashes.
I could hear his girlfriend or wife bitch that it's not fair since people with more than eight items have already gone through. Of course, this doesn't make it right. No one should have been there to begin with.
After we brought some order to the lines we somehow ended first but we knew we weren't. Jen remembered who were ahead of us and directed them until the line was in its "fair" state.
To make things more fun, the man in front of us realized that he didn't know how to pass the items because he thought he was going to a live cashier. So Jen stood and helped him through. He was grateful.
As Jen was taking control of things I stood back to hold our place. But one lady tried to slyly take advantage of the chaos we were trying to bring order to by slipping past us all. I yelled out as the murmurs of angry and anxious people behind me began to rise, "Madame, la file commence ici." She reluctantly came to her senses.
When it was our turn, Jen noticed the people we inadvertently got banished were still in line and clearly upset. I told her to pay fast and to get the hell out. He didn't rub me the right way.
While she did so, I had a chat with the cashier who oversees the section. I told her they should consider reconfiguring how they organize the lines. She smiled and said in French, "I'm surprised there weren't any fights yet. Normally by now people are at each other throats."
In other words, this was a typical occurrence! I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
To think that management get paid big bucks to not fix the simplest of problems. It took two 30-somethings (one very immature) addicted to cartoons to set the place in order.
In fact, the government of Quebec has been pimping out all sorts of commercials thanking cross-guards, reminding us that the province is French, that being courteous on the roads is healthy and asking for patience while the entire city of Montreal is under road construction. To name a few. It seems every third or fourth commercial spot on the radio belongs to Grand Frere (big brother.)
Should they come and wipe my ass too?
Have we become that reliant on government?
Think about it.
Since we're on the subject of government intervention this week, I have a bone to pick with a few stores. You see, when a sign says "Less than 8 (or 12) articles" at the cash I tend to take it literally. So if I have, say, 15, I move on to the "normal" cash. I'm fair and civil that way. Though, I've been known to sneak in with nine items. I'm such a rebel.
However, there are some among us who are oblivious to these signs. They roll up to a cash with a filled carriage. It boggles the mind that no one on the staff turns the person away, you know, to be fair to others who follow the rules.
I find this happens to often and I want to know what the government plans to do about this since management at these stores are clearly incapable of enforcing their own policies.
Heard a great quote: "People made America great. Not the government."
At the very root of the problem in the U.S. is the government. They were the ones who pushed financial institutions to loosen credit. Now that it collapsed the government wants to further its involvement. The circle of madness continues.
Government interventionism is the easy answer to complex issues. Everyone is down on capitalism these days and whenever a crisis of greed hits us our first reaction is to cry for nationalization.
Here in Canada the absurdity has hit feverish levels. Some people call the for the nationalization of our banks. What is failed to be grasped is that we already have one of the safest and most efficient bank system in the world. It's not overly competitive or innovative, this is true especially when measured against other banks in the world, but this is Canada and Canada likes things to be middle of the road; in other words safe.
Our banks our tightly regulated. Our banks, which operate in a monopolistic environment, are already kept on a tight leash. In fact, the market should be opened to other players. We need some competition.
Demanding nationalization (and putting up with unions and the regressive stagnation they bring to an economy) is precisely why we should resist. We can't protect the dumb and we certainly won't control greed this way.
Implicit in the calls for nationalization is that we're too greedy to be trusted to our own devices. As if greed does not take place in a nationalized environment. It does but in different forms.
Better to let humans on their own sort themselves out than sweep the dust under the rug socialist style. Bad rap be damned, the private sector led by enlightened minds will always in the long-run out-manage and out-think and provide real jobs any government filled with bureaucrats who have little faith in human nature.
Yes, I tend to be a little more optimistic about our species.
The only way we'd truly learn from these mistakes is if we pay a heavy price. With a bail out we learn absolutely nothing.
One minute it's "Hey, Martha socks are half price at Old Navy" and "Wo, is that Bruce Fricken Springsteen playing with the downtrodden?" the next.
-There have been 39 elections in Canadian history. Which party has captured most of the popular vote? The Liberals have a historic average of 44% while the Conservatives (formerly Progressive Conservatives) clock in at 36%. Naturally, between 1993 and 2000 (2000 was an all-time low with 12.2%) brought that average down significantly.
-The Greens made the most meaningful inroads...sorta. They gained 277 000 but this did not translate into any seats. Lots of trees will be sullenly swaying tonight.
-The BQ "saved" Quebec civilization by warding off the Harper Huns. So they spun.
-Most interesting prediction Andrew Coyne: "Fascists 133; Crooks 88; Commies 34; Traitors 51; Tree-huggers 0; Loners 2."
-Only 59% of Canadians turned up to vote. The rest were convinced they were voting in November for Obama.
This was the lowest turn out in our history eclipsing the 60% mark set in 2004. The highest was 79.4 in 1958. Our historical average is 73%.
-The Tories had a split night. On one end they won more seats but in terms of total votes from 2006 they slipped. They gained in the popular vote but stumbled in Quebec. While they managed to crack through hostile territory in Ontario, the real breakthrough was in British Columbia where they gained more votes. They...enough of that. Jeckyll and Hyde. We get it.
-From sfu.ca: "Only 25 out of the 308 winning candidates in the 2008 election were elected with a majority of the votes cast in their ridings. 41 of the winners were elected with less than 40% of the vote."
Looks like parity has not only hit sports but politics as well.
-I was going to compile the results for all the independents and parties who roam on the periphery of the political planet but soon realized the Dodgers-Phillies and Habs-Bruins were on television.
However, I will report that in Quebec 15 souls went out and took on the system and amassed roughly 4203 votes between them. One person (Louise Thibault) in Temiscouata-Les Basques represented 1457 (35%) of those. The lowest votes went to a Communist party candidate and Independent who each garnered eight votes.
Other parties that managed to get votes in this province were the Christian Heritage Party, Communist Party, Marijuana Party, Marxist-Leninist, Neorhino and some group designated as Non-Affiliated.
This is why Jack Layton was and is not fit to lead Canada.
The NDP deserve to remain on the fringes of Canadian politics for fraternizing with a secessionist party.
Had they been just a tad more attentive to Quebec they could have possibly formed a national majority government and knocked on the Bloc Quebecois. They failed.
Speaking if the BQ, the popular vote in the province hovered around 38% the usual. While this calculates into roughly 49 or 50 seats, the fact remains that overall Quebec remains pretty much Federalist. The combined forces of the Liberal and Conservative votes (we can assume that NDP voters are on average Federalist in Quebec) overpower the BQ.
On the positive side for the Conservatives making inroads in Ontario - traditionally a Liberal bastion.
I have a saying: How many times can you "happen" to "just" be in a photo with shady characters?
Either Obama was daft and didn't know how to pick his friends or he simply liked these people and their ideas resonated with him. Or is there a middle way I'm missing here?
Republicans hang out with the House of Saud and Democrats with leftist terrorists. Both serve their corporate master. One claims to be "conservative" and the other "liberal." They are neither. They deserve each other.
They've been waiting for this for years.
Most major nations are pointing the finger at the United States for the current financial crisis that grips the world.
Yes. It is true. The Americans are at fault. So, in come the "I told you so's" from the peanut gallery. But I wouldn't gloat for too long. It's unbecoming.
For example, French President Nicolas Sarkozy considers not having a regulated market as "mad." The Germans for their part are gleefully enjoying the Americans losing their status as a financial super power. Oktoberfest never tasted so good.
Aw, how nice.
Tsk, tsk, tsk.
I would submit it's over regulation that has led to this mess. It's easy to pin this on individual greed operating in an evil capitalist system. On the other hand, government interventionism is like shooting up heroin - it feels good for a while but in reality it's a massive downer. But that's me.
A couple of years ago I wrote on this blog about a phenomena I observed. It seemed like everyone was reconnecting with their cultural roots. I never saw so many "Eire," "Portugal" and "Polska" t-shirts - to name a few. To me, this was an indication in the rise of neo-nationalism.
As a world recession stares at us in the face, this nationalism will manifest itself into other areas. The nation-state will reassert its power to prove its existence. Protectionism and nationalization will be the "duh" solution. It's possible nations will barricade themselves - ironic given these globalized times.
Either you believe capitalism is spiraling out of control and that humans are incorrigibly flawed and greedy or you think it's evolving and maturing into a healthy system where human virtue will eventually gain an upper hand.
In the latter interpretation, compassionate capitalism may not be a far fetched idea. But we can't get there if we keep getting in the way of it.
As much as I've been hard on the Liberals, this left me squirming in my seat. I felt for him. I really did. Nonetheless, the Liberals are not ready to seize power. Could you imagine if he was facing the Taliban or a G8 leader?
I suppose this means Justin Trudeau is coming up sooner than we thought. Ugh.
Many Canadians have been busy ridiculing Sarah Palin. This should tame them a little.
Take a look at this page from Elections Canada listing the current 19 parties seeking your vote.
For those of you old enough to remember, the Rhinoceros party is alive and well - sorta. They go by the name of neorhino.
The Communist Party certainly has it all figured out. Easily the best website in terms of content.
As for the rest, most of the parties exist as a backlash to the 2 1/2 party system (Conservative, Liberal and the NDP) and speak of bringing "power back to the people."
Democracy and capitalism are indeed under duress these days for a number of a reasons. In this way, I do agree with fringe parties and their calls to fix it. I don't see the Conservatives or Liberals ever making any meaningful changes to, for example, weaken the power of the PM and to make democracy in Canada more transparent. Nor do I see our economy becoming less monopolistic moving forward.
It seems to me the best way to empower people is not through government intervention. On the contrary, you bludgeon the human spirit with one big useless bureaucracy. It turns people into intellectual sloths.
The truth is that life will always have winners and losers; smarties and dummies. There's no way around this. Communism seeks to "equalize" what cannot be equalized. Even within its structures by virtue of human nature it will face this reality - unless they engage in old fashioned social engineering.
If this contradiction is present then the flow of communist thought is flawed and will fail the people. Socialism is another form of organized thuggery under the guise of progress. It starts out noble and ends up being run by gangs who form other gangs all seeking to steal money from the people (check out the endless unions that run Quebec) but it ends up realizing it can't solve the human conditions that inhabit us all. So it shrugs its shoulders and tells people they are regressive if they don't think of the collective good however inefficient the bureaucracy is.
After a while, as the good intentions of socialism fail, resourceful people seek for other outlets. They begin to question and wonder. In other words, they begin to dream. They will seek solutions not from the government but from with the sovereign individual. That's true self-reliance and responsibility. Isn't that real grass roots mobilization if its voluntary?
If we're truly enlightened and progressive then all care for fellow citizens would and should be voluntary. There's something unholy and immoral in forcing a productive person to pay out of his or her pocket - through the dubious collection of personal income taxes - to take care of other people they don't know. Indeed, people that may very well simply seek to take advantage of the system - and we all know this is a massive problem here in Canada.
Socialism and communism, while interesting concepts that deserve attention, are (to me anyway) corruptible, dead-end ideas that simply lead to black markets. In this case, stick with capitalism. At least, I know in theory I have a shot at personal success.
Thus, the destiny with an individual should not be tied into a political party.
Where was I?
Oh yeah, I recommend people read the platforms of each party and decide for themselves.
"Our leader has the "vision" to..." With or without the mushrooms? You need drugs to consider the NDP given how much they want to come in and sit and eat at your kitchen table - literally. Newsflash: if your leader claims to have ESP...run.
" We need "change." A key to the Obama Orient Express. Generally asserted one week into a government's rule. We all know he's going (assuming he gets elected) to change squat. The Republic is under the spell of the Imperial forces now!
Needing and wanting change is all relative.
"Our party has a "plan." No doubt a "plan" is one that has been in place for years but THIS is the year "they" will implement it. A favorite with Stephane Dion and the Liberals. Clearly, 13 years wasn't enough for them to implement their previous plan called the "Red Book."
-On a side note, did I hear right? Did I hear Senator John McCain address Obama as "that one?" Who does he think he is? Rickey Henderson?
Ok. I admit. Only sports junkies will get that reference. Henderson was notoriously narcissistic and known to not recall the names of his team mates.
Regardless, one concern people have with McCain is his mental state. They're worried that he'll go "Principal Skinner" on the job with Vietnam flashbacks.
Seriously Senator. Be a little more careful.
I dedicate this song to all those frantic politicians attempting to capitalize on the economy's misery.
And what's the connection with Bela Lugosi? To me it's a horror show listening to politicians talk about "needing to do something." Here they go with all the "this time it's for real" shrills. The economy will destroy us all! Argghhh! The emotional Liberals and NDP "know" how to deal with it. Yeah, right. Please.
Emotional Rescue - The Rolling Stones
Is there nothing I can say
Nothing I can do
To change your mind
I'm so in love with you
You're too deep in
You can't get out
You're just a poor girl in a rich man's house
Uh-hoo, uh-hoo-hoo, uh-hoo-hoo-hoo
Uh-hoo, uh-hoo-hoo, uh-hoo-hoo-hoo
Yeah, baby, I'm crying over you
Don't you know promises were never made to keep
Just like the night, dissolve off into sleep
I'll be your savior, steadfast and true
I'll come to your emotional rescue
I'll come to your emotional rescue
Uh-hoo, uh-hoo-hoo, uh-hoo-hoo-hoo
Uh-hoo, uh-hoo-hoo, uh-hoo-hoo-hoo
Yeah, the other night, crying
Crying baby, yeah I'm crying
Yeah, I'm like a child baby
I'm like a child baby
Child, yeah, I'm like a child, like a child, like a child
You think you're one of a special breed
You think that you're his pet Pekinese
I'll be your savior, steadfast and true
I'll come to your emotional rescue
I'll come to your emotional rescue
Uh-hah, uh-hah-hah, uh-hah-hah-hah
Uh-hah, uh-hah-hah, uh-hah-hah-hah
Yeah, I was dreaming last night
Last night, I was dreaming
How you'd be mine, but I was crying
Like a child, yeah, I was crying
Crying like a child
You will be mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, all mine
You could be mine, could be mine, could be mine, all mine
I come to you, so silent in the night
So stealthy, so animal quiet
I'll be your savior, steadfast and true
I'll come to your emotional rescue
I'll come to your emotional rescue
Uh-ah, uh-ah-ah, uh-ah-ah-ah
Yeah, you should be mine, mine, Ooo
Mmm, yes, you could be mine
Tonight and every night
I will be your knight in shining armor coming to your emotional rescue
You will be mine, you will be mine, all mine
You will be mine, you will be mine, all mine
I will be your knight in shining armor
Riding across the desert on a fine Arab charger
Truly, truly, disturbingly amazing. After all that's been said and done and AIG execs go on a $400 000 junket?
I'm ok with capitalism. It's just that it's filled with amoral assholes at the moment.
Here's how Annette Benning sees Sarah Palin:
"We really want to hear her views ... She’s obviously a very accomplished woman. I’m a Democrat, I’m a supporter of Barack Obama but she certainly deserves our respect."
Is this refreshing and intelligent or what? Finally some sensible thoughts about Palin.
I'm going to go out and rent all her movies.
It was my parents 45th anniversary this past week-end. Naturally, we celebrated. We ended up at an over rated, over priced restaurant everyone rants and raves about. No pasta dish is worth $17. I hope Italian bloggers Man of Roma or Rob at Wind Rose Hotel can back me up on this.
I digressed with that digestive tidbit.
During our meal, some folks nearby were celebrating a birthday or a birth or something. I don't know. I didn't particularly pay close attention. What did garner my attention were the shouts of "Hip, Hip Hooray!"
As I bit down on my rigatoni primavera, I thought to myself, what on earth does that mean anyway?
So I looked it up.
Apparently, the possible origins of "Hip, hip hooray" can be found partly in Medieval times; during the Crusades to be exact. The popular phrase may refer to the Latin term "Hierosylma Est Perdita" or "Jerusalem is lost."I also found references connected to this phrase with 19th century pogroms in Germany called the Hep Hep Riots. Germans who sought Jews and their properties to destroy would cry out, "Hep, hep!" So I'm guessing it must have merged into Hep, Hep, Hierosylma which somehow became "Hurray"at some point.
My Hip-hip travels led me to this passage about the impact of pogroms on Jews at Mondoweiss:
"Freud's father had absorbed the lesson of the Hep-Hep Riots, pogroms aimed at Jews; the "ritual" when a Jew met a non-Jew, Gilman said, was that the Jew was to step off the wooden boardwalk "into the street," which was filled with the leavings of horses. "The Jew stands in the shit while the non-Jew goes by," Gilman thundered in fresh outrage."
Just to make it even more interesting. Cab Calloway had an album called "Are you hep to the jive" which obviously was another way of saying "hip." Funny how words get used and reused over time.
Anyhow, according to other sources Hip-hip may have been used by German shepherds. Which would make the term a lot less violent. It may as well given we chant it at birthday parties.
And now you'll never think of "Hip, hip hooray" the same way again.
Take Sarah Palin.
All I've heard this week is how she "didn't answer" any of Gwen's (the moderator) questions. How some of them were soft (apparently only one side of the question directed at both was soft. Such is the logic we must deal with) and how apparently Biden took the high intellectual ground with her. What a nice guy! Aw, shucks.
I thought it was a given that all politicians don't answer questions. It's a running joke in, like, society.
Now all of a sudden it's an intellectual crisis because Palin didn't answer any?
Palin: The luscious Amazon who slewed Q&A.
Chemical breakdown somewhere I'm sure.
My personal favorite part of this article is where she is quoted as saying Gilles Duceppe "understands the economy better than Harper." I must have missed it but when did Atwood become an expert on economic matters? It's one of those weird glitches of Canadian culture when Atwood, Duceppe and even Layton all apparently understand economics better than a PM who possesses a Masters in economics!
Is her rationale an example of arts subsidies at work? I hope not.
I'll go out on a limb and conclude the three comrades know squat about economics. Call it a hunch.
One would think Margaret would have taken a deep breath, sip some Orange Pekoe tea and pondered this a little harder. She had time to analyze the arts fund. Cutting $45 million out of $4 billion represents a tiny fraction. Most cuts took place, as I understand it, in the electronics media area. Overall, it doesn't seem this merits the reaction it's getting. In fact, it's borderline infantile.
In my opinion, government shouldn't be involved in the arts. It's shallow and superficial to believe subsidies drives our artistic creativity and integrity.
Furthermore, most in the arts community in Quebec believe in an independent Quebec (they're dreamers after all) but are more than ready to accept a cheque from Ottawa. A little too willing for my taste. Perhaps she should come and live here and see it for herself?
Ironic, but methinks Marge, erm, Margaret is pushing for her own version of the Republic of Gilead. How poetically and majestically devilish! Come to bed with me, bay-bee! There's an opening in the Republican and Conservative parties. She's a natural.
On her wiki bio Atwood is described, among other things, as a prolific "critic." Perhaps (and she has indeed given much to Canadian literature) but if this is what makes her "prolific" then all I can say is: yeesh.
Not her finest moment for sure.
I picked this button up from Contratimes - that's two plugs this week for Bill - and found it humorous enough to post here. Of course, this ties into the running joke that Canada would vote Democrat. Be that as it may, I don't think it's necessarily a given. Alberta and Quebec would probably be two interesting provincial battle grounds. Nonetheless, Canadians debate the American elections as if it was their own.
His colleague felt sorry for him and let him play.
Stephane Dion reminds of Les Nessman.
Mind you, Nessman ended up being the hero in that game. Dion could end up being a hero too.
I'm not one to take gratuitous shots at politicians for its own sake - heaven knows this happens a little too much - but doesn't Senator McCain remind of Cotton Hill?
I'm sure the comparison has been made elsewhere but it's something that I've observed over the last few months. Every time I watch 'King of the Hill' I mention it and it's annoying loved ones around me so I may as well blog about it.
"OK. Where do I stand in all of this? Well, I should think my last post was clear. She won the debate because Joe Biden was not able to separate himself from her by the leagues and leagues his vast experience should have provided him. As I said, he was merely adequate, which is equal to failure. She came across as calm and confident; and she seemed bright in a way that was not simply cognitive: she seemed to actually sort of radiate. There is a light about her; well, perhaps not so much a light as an aura, a lambent gleam, a shimmer. And she looks unflappable; she was not daunted at any point.
Lastly, she won because of one thing, one very important thing: No one in this entire election season has been under as much pressure -- not by a long shot -- as Gov. Palin. Her every pore and corpuscle, every preposition and conjunction, have been scrutinized in a very compressed time: she comes in with virtually no national experience, and yet she did not waver, nor did she embarrass, nor did she fail. Her family has been abused, mocked and derided. Her parenting has been doubted, questioned, and dismissed. Her background has been explored and found wanting. And yet, without so much as a sigh, when she finished debating, she waved and smiled at America, walked to the center of the stage, thanked Joe Biden, and then took her little baby in her arms -- a seamless transition from one role to another."
Too bad humans are not at a stage in their evolution to be courteous enough to one another. If we were there would be no need for imposed order.
Limiting government interventionism would allow humans to truly seek progress. Libertarianism does possess a healthy skeptical view of human nature but it feels human progress is best served when not trampled upon by government.
Why does the NDP platform resonate more? Have people forgotten that they are free individuals? How can they not want to solve social problems on their own?
Give me a chance to break my own promises!
I think Sarah Palin, in particular, hung in well. Biden is a known quantity so there's not much to say.
Ok. A couple of hours later and I'm back.
Look, I know people who are dead set against Palin will never give credit where credit is due under any circumstances but Palin was far from incompetent. Yeah she left me squeamish (enough already with the "maverick" spiel) in parts but she never collapsed.
Palin made it difficult for a seasoned speaker like Biden to corner and nail her (excuse the pun) but she never really knocked him out either. Nonetheless, given Biden's experience he never delivered the "embarrassing" knock down. One would have to give the edge to Palin for this reason alone.
Still, on a tribal level, there's a certain tone to her voice and style to her mannerisms (how could you not love a chick that winks at the camera?) that probably resonates greatly with Americans.
I'm not sure how much of an impact VP debates have on any election (probably little) but the Palin factor certainly made this one interesting and I think Biden navigated through this as best as he could.
Factually, not surprisingly, neither candidate was overly accurate: Factcheck.org.
The leaders sat at an oddly shaped table. All they were missing were sweaters and hot chocolate from Tim Horton's and they were set. You couldn't get more Canadian - Duceppe excluded. I have no idea where he's from with those Arctic eyes. A friend of mine remarked, "does he ever blink?"
Stephane "I have a plan, I have a dream" Dion and his hard luck, aw shucks, professorial image probably secured the vote of people who love puppy eyes. Dion performed relatively well. The Liberals still suck. They had their time in the sun. They should sit out another term. They claim to be "centrist" but they're way too willing to intrude on the lives of people. They further claim to be visionaries. To me, they swing back and forth with trends to swindle votes.
Elizabeth May was there. She really was. She looked more comfortable than in the French debates - naturally. I must admit the concept of shifting taxes from personal income to taxing pollution is interesting. However, they lose points when they claim Sweden is such a model for environmental issues. Sweden has all kinds of problems with its welfare state these days.
Gilles Duceppe is an old pro at this. Too bad he bats for the other side because he does have decent ideas on some issues. The Bloc anti-gang law was impressive. Canada and Quebec would be richer if the talent in the Bloc actually served to strengthen our country. But they're a destructive force that serves no purpose in the bigger picture.
Jack Layton is one passionate, consistent dude. Not since Ed Broadbent have the NDP been a legitimate party. I disagree with just about everything the party espouses but they defend their positions skillfully. One thing Layton said I agreed with was with regards to the economy. Specifically, the fact that Canada remains mired in a bizarre mercantilist economic vortex. We pretty much still sell our resources abroad and buy back finished products from other nations. Why not develop and manufacture here? Layton had the best line of the night when he asked if Harper was keeping his economic plan under his sweater. A shot at the Christmas cards he sends out. But he's being reckless and outrageous, just like Dion, about this "pending economic crisis" business.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was gangbanged. But that comes with the territory right? Provincial Premiers always gang up on the Prime Minister so consider it a natural flow of Canadian politics.
Harper kept cool and exudes a Prime Ministerial image. A couple of things the other parties were wrong about in their hawkish attacks.
First up, the arts. What I find unfair is that they all know the budget for the arts is actually up. The Conservatives basically cut out dead weight organizations. That was prudent policy - even though right now the Conservatives have been so-so on the economic front. By that I don't mean the "pending economic crisis" the other parties keep harping about. Subsidizing the arts doesn't enhance our cultural heritage nor does it make it any more artistic. If anything, it waters it down as it discourages competition.
At this time, Harper is right, the fundamentals of th Canadian economy, while far from perfect, are decent if not sound. It's obvious we may end up feeling the pinch of the U.S. economy but we should deal with this when it happens. It makes little sense for government to involve itself to try and preempt an economic crisis. They'll only make things worse. Let the economy flow freely. So, the Liberals are talking drivel and the NDP nonsense (as I alluded to earlier) when it comes to needless economic interventionism.
Another issue the NDP tackled was the notion of "$50 billion" worth of tax cuts for corporations. What Layton seems to be deaf to, and Harper mentioned this, is that this fact was part of an overall $200 billion tax plan. It wasn't only corporations who got them but families as well. Personally, I feel Harper should cut income taxes. Anyway, the Conservatives actually send cheques out to families. I know I get them and I duly invest it in an RESP for my daughter. One last point, it's not necessarily a bad thing to provide tax cut to companies during an economic downturn. It keeps them competitive and may encourage them to keep hiring. It's basic stuff. Hundreds of thousands of people work for corporations so if companies are healthy so are people - ironic, eh Jack?
Harper shouldn't brag about his undisclosed economic plan. There's no "crisis" and if they keep talking about it, it may just become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
However, during the debates Harper showed he's the best candidate overall.
Recently walked into the CBC building. I hold a tenuous mental relationship with the CBC. To walk into that monstrosity of a building with all those people walking around left me perplexed and wondering about my tax dollars.
I further thought to myself, as I passed by people sip their coffee on an outside terrace, "binding Canadian culture my ass."
I respect the CBC for its history and heritage. But it's a crown corporation and a crown corporation is an oxymoron. Is it time to privatize it?
I see no reason why people should be forced to fund the CBC. Rather, it should be on a volunteer basis.
While I'm on the subject, I would privatize Hydro-Quebec, the National Film Board and the SAQ (Quebec's liquor commission.) Ah yes, the SAQ. Now there's a racket. The government involved in the liquor and the casino business can't be good for the society at large. Ironic that for a society that tolerates the nanny state that looks out for the collective good we accept our government having a hand in people's gambling addictions.
You heard me.
I know. Call me a privatization whore. Go ahead. I can take it.
It's time like these I think about the good folks at PBS.
Those people are the epitome of grass roots democracy and mobility. They go out and get the money through pledge drives to keep public broadcasting going. Now, I have no clue how much they pull in and how they do it, but all I know is that they don't stick their hand out at every turn looking for the government to feed them like wards of the state.
Government is here to stay but perhaps a common sense approach to foster an organic relationship with the government built on mutual respect can be found. My cousin suggested life should be like being handed a menu. The menu provides a list of services you're willing to have and pay for. You want the CBC tick it off and she's yours. You don't want it, you don't have to pay for it.
What about government jobs? You want to protect those jobs, then the fair and right thing to do is to have government workers largely fund (that is tax) themselves.
Leviathan is out of control. Time to cut, cut, cut. Not add more layers of bureaucracy filled with more lame duck civil servants I didn't elect.
To be honest, I'm simply not impressed by what the government pimps out in their ever lasting quest to control society.
-"56 milliards de surplus et riens pour les chomeurs."
There's a sign scattered and littered around town with a family of three with the above caption.
The crux of the translation? The government is running a surplus and has the audacity to not give any to those on welfare.
I had to do a doubletake on this one. I almost slam into another car.
- The cops are protesting about something. One of their tactics is to wear camouflage pants. Already I don't approve of these tactics that leave them looking silly and unprofessional. Imagine what I thought when I saw one police officer wearing long johns under his cargo shorts.
-Apparently, the Ministry of Education in Quebec has more employees than all the other ministries in the Confederation combined.
Doesn't surprise me one iota. L'etat c'est moi is Quebec.
My thoughts are to follow. Parental discretion is advised. Not for vulgarity but tenuous observations.
It was an interesting debate. Sitting around a table the leaders of two major parties, one minor party and two fringe parties, kicked back and debated each other. For my taste, Stephane Dion had the most to lose and gain so how did he do?
Often criticized for his nerdy and soft demeanor Stephane Dion showed some moxy tonight. Who knew?
I have to say, Stephane Dion did well. He spoke with conviction, was willing to go on the attack and presented his platform clearly. Dion knew what was on the line and he managed to get me to take him seriously.
For his part, Stephen Harper was just a little too relaxed. He has a full grasp of the issues and possesses the intellectual capacity to debate them calmly and with substance. He chose not to for some reason. He simply sat back and answered the questions and attacks by the other four parties. I thought he could have expressed new ideas and defended his positions with more, shall we say, believability. I expect a better performance in English.
The other three - Jack Layton, Gilles Duceppe and Elizabeth May - all played their usual roles. Obviously, Layton is the most credible on a national level but his party's policies don't resonate with me.
While it was just to allow May to debate, it's clear she was a tad in over her head at the table. There's a lot of room to mature and grow in stature with the Green Party. Nonetheless, she accounted herself well all things considered.
All in all I would have preferred to see a little more of a slugfest - or at least some heavy challenges. Then again, the baseball playoffs are on which explains why slugging would be of interest to me in a debate.
Just a quick thought about Afghanistan. Harper is taking a lot of heat for sticking around over there. The calls for withdrawal overlook one simple thing: we committed to Afghanistan. The government of Canada under the Liberals pledged troops under a UN mandate until 2011. Harper is choosing to abide by this. We must honor our decision and Dion surprisingly said as much. Keeping ones word counts for something in life. It's no different with national governments. Suppose, in one scenario, Canada pulls out and Afghanistan does succeed. How would we be viewed by Afghani's?
Pulling out would damage our credibility. It's as simple as that.