2008-03-31

Caillou Is One Annoying Animated Kid


My daughter has taken a liking to Caillou. Why I have no clue. Is there a more whiny kid out in cartoon land? Worse, my kid is starting to talk like him. Insert shudder here. She's picking up all the wrong sorts of mannerisms and tones from this nerd.

Lauren had little, if any, fears before she met this guy. Fears she was unaware of were brought forth by him. All of a sudden she's scared of spiders when before she had no problem with them. Before Ca-yoo, she was nocturnal. A budding Bat-Man figure in the night. Now? She wants the light on thanks to this baby.

I have to save her.

Maybe I should counter this with Bugs Bunny?

Quick Thoughts On Quebec's Misguided Education Reforms

About politicians getting involved in hockey - and listen up Mr. Charest - has anyone noticed the pathetic education reforms in Quebec? You can't get more lame than the mess they made there.

And they want to stop fighting in hockey? Get your priorities straight. Fix the school system. Parents and educators alike are not impressed.

That Minister of too many files Michelle Courchesne wants to take on hockey before even getting the education problem solved is laughable.

Citizens have also had it with the potholes in this province. I could just imagine the damage to tires and suspension systems this has had on cars. From what I hear, if you're tire gets blown out as a result of a pothole you can ask the municipality in which it happened to reimburse you. I have not confirmed this but it's something I heard. Perhaps the city should pay for larger problems caused by neglected potholes?

The best way to combat this problem is to maintain our roads. That takes money and there is little they tell us.

Sure there is. With the Liberals WASTING OUR money on things like adding language "inspectors" (call them for what they are: an anti-democratic state police) it's no wonder we have no cash.

That's but one small reason why we lack funds. Best I stop here before I lose control.

"The Greatest Land Geographer Who Ever Lived"


As a point of interest surveyor and map-maker David Thompson ranked 73rd out of 100 "top" Canadians of all time. Notables such as Shania Twain, Celine Dion, Jim Carrey, Avril Lavigne, John Candy, Pamela Anderson and Rick Mercer ranked ahead of him. Even separatist Rene Levesque clocks in at a cool 69th! No offense to some on this list but this is patently absurd. The list also had Tommy Douglas and David Suzuki in the top 10.

In my opinion, Thompson's accomplishment is more impressive than any of the aforementioned. Yes, even Douglas who shouldn't even be first. But that's for another debate.

Besides, why are we ranking historical figures anyway?

For Thompson, as is the case with many great and interesting figures, he died penniless and bankrupt. Thompson mapped out 3.9 sq km (20% of North America) of wilderness and that's the thanks he got. At least he got a stamp.

Article of Interest: Teddy Roosevelt's Corollary

Teddy Roosevelt's Corollary gave new life to the Monroe Doctrine. It also elicited a response from poet, journalist and diplomat Ruben Dario found on the page in the first link.

2008-03-30

Ralphie Boy Throws Himself Into The Presidential Race

Ralph Nader announced on 'Meet the Press' in February that he was going to give it another shot. He explained that Americans seem primed to vote for an independent.

Why that do-goodin' little...doesn't he know he'll split the vote? The nerve of him! Exercising his right to be American.

I don't know what the fuss is about. Americans should welcome Ralph Nader. How many times have we heard Americans complain of the two-party system? Worse, that the two parties - the Dems and the GOP - are essentially the same party with some sprinkles of ideological differences here and there?

Yet, when a true independent steps into the ring, they holler against it. I'm beginning to wonder if Americans have lost their minds and sense of perspective.

One would think that this is a great thing for a vibrant democracy. To hear as many voices as possible. I would go further: Independent and progressive candidates are the lifeline of the American system. Without them politics would be poorer. The notion of him "stealing" votes is irrelevant.

What matters is that there are not enough Ralph Nader's out there. Ron Paul should join the fun.

2008-03-29

Link of Interest: Justice

Sadly, justice remains elusive as this post from Barbara's Journey Towards Justice shows.

Link of Interest: Le Louvre in Paris

Here's a neat, brief look at the Louvre Museum courtesy of Kerala Articles.

Originally a fortress (doesn't everything start out as a fort or fortress?), it evolved into the famous museum it is today.

Pondering Consistency And Obligation

Consistency and obligation are two words I've been contemplating for the last, oh let's say, few minutes.

Let's begin with consistency. Psychological studies have shown that people strive hard to be consistent. At least, they try hard to be. I wonder how many politicians and scholars/intellectuals fall under this category. It's a tough gig trying to be consistent. I further wonder how many people are killing themselves internally trying to be consistent. How many free spirits were forced to turn to consistency for one reason or another? Perhaps they perceived the immediate world around them to be too fragile and took it upon themselves to take charge?

I found this interesting. I know I try hard. Sometimes I wonder if we're consistent for the sake of it. "Oh, read The Commentator. He's consistent." Whatever that implies. Does it imply that consistency is tied into stability? To be consistent in our society is to be looked upon favourably. Being inconsistent is often interpreted to be incoherent.

Is this fair? After all, what is "consistent?" For example, intellectually speaking, if you're not consistent does this mean you are vulnerable to "flip flopping" on ideas? Or does it mean you are still searching for yourself? That you're open to ideas. Life isn't a zero sum game, right?

Obligation is a word that eludes many today. We often hear that responsibility and accountability are lost values today. If that's true, then the idea of obligation is tied into them. With responsibility comes obligation. Today, we don't feel obligated to do anything. They call it moral relativism and post-modernism.

"I know I should but I won't because I can" seems to be the prevailing attitude now.

The New Craze: Entrecard

I recently met Jeff from Buzz My Blog. The thing about Jeff is that he's genuine in his offer to help bloggers. He literally takes the time to answer questions from less web savvy people such as myself.

One of things I asked him about was Entrecar; a new tool to increase traffic and blogging relationships. I joined Entrecard and find it interesting though I don't have the time to peruse 50 blogs a day just to earn credits. I actually like to take the time to read blogs as opposed to scan them. After all, people are taking the time to write and express themselves. The least I can do is read one or two posts.

On my EC journey one thing did stick out: it reminds me a lot of Blog Explosion.

What are the similarities and differences between the two?

2008-03-28

Quote of the Day. Love that Tacitus

"The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws." Tacitus

Think about this next time we talk about adding yet another layer of bureaucracy. I wonder what he would think about how the media and special interest groups often call for "more laws."

I thank Cato of Utica for this. In fact, I remember this quote fondly from a Roman classics course I took in university.

Tacictus was perceptivus.

2008-03-27

Article of Interest: The Rise of the Euro

From McKinsey and Company. This article appeared in Business Week.

Got A Problem? Let's Over-Regulate Society

Great piece over at Health and Fitness Advice by Sal Marinello titled "Food Police Fighting A Losing Battle."

This past Easter I was treated to an interesting thing. I handed my daughter a small chocolate. My brother in law and wife (both partial to special diets and health "tips" that I don't always agree with. I'm not without my knowledge and opinions as a former athlete) looked at me in horror claiming sugar kills. Yeah, if that's all I feed her. Truth is, and this is why people should mind their business, we have a wonderful diet. My kid loves to eat rapini for crying out loud.

Not terribly off subject, it reminds me of the nonsense surrounding fighting in hockey. Premier Jean Charest has pledged to stamp out fighting in hockey. Gee, one would think he'd be concerned about more pressing matters that face this province. The unions present are far more darker problem than a lousy junior hockey player and his cocky father.

The debate around fighting in hockey is a valid one. But the recent actions seen in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League should not be used as a leitmotif to continue this debate.

I didn't want to discuss this here since we covered it over at InterSportsWire here and here but when Don Machperson - a political columnist at The Montreal Gazette - decided he was going to waste his space with a sloppy comedy on the Patrick and Jonathan Roy affair I decided to take issue with it here. I'm the boss 'round these parts.

He opens his article with these words, "In the aftermath of l'affaire Roy, the strongest case for outside intervention to clean up major junior hockey is being made by the cementheads who oppose it. First there are the cementheads who run the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League."

Call me a cementhead then.

Never mind that this is the harshest suspension ever handed down by the league.

This aside, let's consider a couple of things:

1) Government intervention in sports is misguided. All this is to soothe people who don't even watch junior hockey. More to the point, the casual fans who are the primary targets of the modern sports marketing machine. To say nothing of the unintended consequences of such actions. Seems to me dirty play such as cross checking is far more dangerous than what we saw with Jonathan Roy.

Leagues have rules. They are not lawless and for the most part they have been functional. They just need to be reminded to enforce them from time to time. However, they don't need some pencil pusher who never played sports to sit on their boards having last say on the direction of their private operations and enterprises - that includes sports ministers. To even suggest government be accorded this right is incredibly short sighted and absurd. Think of it, if in sports why not companies? Hell, thought to its logical end why not your home? As for the cops, we often hear there aren't enough of them. So let's over stretch them further by going after hockey players.

The logic of "if there is incompetence ergo allow an outside body to step in" is faulty on too many levels its best to stop here. One person argued, for example, Major League Baseball closed its eyes to the steroids problem. Therefore, they are incompetent and must have a regulatory body overseeing them. I think the problem is a little more nuanced than what these statements let on.

Fret not. Our athletes will be pristine soon enough if we continue on this path.

2) As I alluded to earlier, how many people who hysterically scream about "the children" actually go to "Q" games? I'm willing to bet very little if any.

3) More importantly, fighting is down across the board in hockey. It's remarkable that the editorial big shots at The Gazette didn't think to consider this.

The article had no sense of perspective and was based on selective "facts." As such it's a short sighted piece to the point of being rendered useless.

So, the solution? Bring in the government and the law. Some solution. This is what passes as "smart" these days. This event was an exception and not the norm. Then again, the media loves exceptions and negatives right? Balanced reporting and opinions be damned!

What the Roy boys did was not fighting. It was punking out. We don't see that in hockey on a regular basis anymore. It's not part of the game but we should be careful to not exaggerate our reaction to it.

Moreover, what gave the media the impetus to scrutinize this further and without profound thought was that many (in the public and media) did not feel the punishment fit the crime.

Fair enough. It probably wasn't. But as I mentioned off the top, this was the stiffest suspension ever handed down by the league. It's not like they were blind to what happened.

Who will watch over the guardians who watch over the guardians? Another layer of bureaucracy that's who.

*Hand slapped to forehead.*

2008-03-26

Beautiful. Just Beautiful

Thanks to Beppo Grillo for this Robert Kennedy video and his speech about Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

I remember hearing this speech years ago. It coincided during my concerned awareness and disillusionment with the financial services industry.

My practical senses tell me that up to a point it is important to measure the "financial health" of our nations. However, it felt like overkill at times. The excessive jargon and analysis was simply brutal and might I add gave the sense of a false sense of importance. It gave the impression that people were just inventing terms to justify they exist or their salaries.

My spiritual, critical and intellectual thoughts made me wonder just what exactly what we were looking for. They say everything should be moderation. It's the same with work.

In my opinion, we've been conditioned to believe "our careers" come first. As a result, we fail at the game of life. We need to take a step back, take a deep breath and go spend time with the family. Go walk on the beach. Hangout with friends. They do this in many parts of the world - though here too one can get a little excessive in enjoying life a little too much sleeping under that apple tree. You don't want to be too relaxed either.

Then I saw this speech and it crystallized further what was incubating in my mind. So what the market capitalization is x-amount for certain nations? Impressive as it is in many ways it's not the only thing we need to look at. Quality over quantity! No?

I'll close with this. Following a long day, I once had a conversation with my former partner. We were sharing whiskey and he took the opportunity to peruse my mind. What followed during the chat showed how we were far apart in our philosophies on life.

He asked me, "If your wife got sick during work hours what would you do?"

I knew where he was going with this. It was a set up. He knew what I was going to say and without admitting it he would use it against me as "proof" that I was not "committed" to the business. It was all part of a ploy to not pay me my cut which was owed to me. I can't prove this of course but it was pretty clear. Despite setting up a funnel of lucrative referrals for him that remains to this day.

I didn't bite on his trickery. I proceeded with the truth.

"I would go and tend to her. I would do the same for anybody else close to me." I continued to make my case. "We are accorded a luxury. You have a successful practice that runs itself. All we need is to steer it with wisdom, respect and hard work. It gives us the ability to take advantage of certain things people are not lucky enough to have."

He didn't agree. He wanted to show he was all "business."

"But you would return to work?"

Aside from the absurdity of the question - I lived 40 minutes from work - I decided to play along.

"Yes, I would."

But I didn't like uttering those words nor did I believe them.

I left displeased of my situation about my career and life. I've been searching ever since.

Still, with the economic set up as it is what can one do? It's not easy to build a life outside the rules of the game. How many people are trapped this way? Made to feel guilty in wanting to live?

Link of Interest: China

Research report on China courtesy of McKinsey and Company titled "Preparing for China's Urban Billion."

The Blog Revolution Continues to Evolve

Are you ready to go from the written word to broadcasting? You may want to consider Blog Talk Radio. Read more about it here in the Washington Post.

I contribute on two shows: One as a soccer commentator and the other for hockey.

2008-03-24

A Now A Word On Tibet

Since I know you all have been holding your collective breath to read what this blogger thinks about this situation.

These days discussion regarding Tibet in Canada centers on whether we should boycott the Olympics and if Prime Minster Stephen Harper should take a strong stance regarding Tibet.

The short end of it is this: China should never had been given the Olympics to begin with. Its human rights record, though vastly improved in the last 30 years (Tianamen Square notwithstanding) has been abysmal. Now China has exposed itself in an unfavorable light before the world. Alas, human rights issues take a backseat to what China is doing economically. Too much is economically and financially at stake with China.

And yes, taken in its totality (by this I mean considering both sides of the equation), the Prime Minister should assert Canada's moral voice on the issue. Harper is the type of leader that is willing to take such action.

As for Tibet itself, all I will say is that Tibetans don't necessarily want outright independence but autonomy within China. They demand China respects Tibet once and for all with dignity and integrity. Sounds pragmatic to me. Sometimes you need to swallow your pride and compromise. Is it in China to do this?

However, I'd like to pose this question:

Is the situation there similar to Canada's claims to the Arctic (and the Dene) and Quebec? I ask this in recognition of the fact that Tibet has been occupied by Communist China since 1949. Speaking of which, can we contemplate physical occupation and a psychological one that regions Quebec and Nunavut have argued in order to gain concessions from Ottawa?

I'm surprised our resident nationalist nomad Mario Dumont hasn't hopped and skipped to Tibet to learn about how that society survives under true oppression.

The Past Does Speak!

It's amazing the stories you can find in forgotten places. My nephew is 13 and has recently taken a keen interest in my record and book collection.

For a few months now, whenever he visits, he spends time examining the records in my library. It doesn't stop there. He then goes home and researches whatever musicians he found that interested him. He repeats the same process with my books.

Smart kid.

Nestled neatly in a closet many magazines I was subscribed to as a kid yearn to be rediscovered. All those thoughts and ideas...just there. Read once or twice and unceremoniously discarded. We have a tendency to read something and immediately move on as if what we just read is old news. Never worth revisiting. After all, what good could something written in 1984 have today?

Thankfully, the power of words never erodes.

From National Geographic to Maclean's to Sports Illustrated to The Economist to an assortment of comics, I had a monstrous appetite for knowledge and information that consumes me to this day. I even kept old Grand Prix magazines. Yes, Formula One racing was once referred to as the Grand Prix.

These are the publications that filled my head for better or for ill.

Every single one of those magazines in the closet are from the 1980s. Another portion, which belonged to my older sister, date back to the 1970s.

Anyway, old Mad Magazines have captivated my nephew Matthew. Each time he visits, he takes down a box and reads away.

This past Easter weekend, I sat and read with him as I watched some soccer and basketball.

One October 1979 issue intrigued me in particular and is the subject of this post.

Within its content, there was a humourous section called "Why do we assume it makes sense?" Here are a couple of excerpts that caught my eye:

Why do we assume it makes sense?...to plan for the future when the evening TV news keeps telling us that everything we eat, wear or breathe could kill us tomorrow?

...to accept guidance on social and political issues from folks like Redd Foxx, Danny Thomas and Jane Fonda?

Hmm. Sounds familiar.

This was written 29 years ago and it is rather remarkable how little of our public discourse has changed regarding certain issues.

It's amazing how prescient a comic book can be.

They say we should learn from history lest we repeat past mistakes. Of course, we pick and choose what parts of history we want to listen to.

As the financial markets take a tumble (as they are apt to do) once more this opens the door to those who who believe we've finally met our match. Surely this time we will get our come-uppance right? Eventually, they're bound to be right I suppose.

This even after all we know about the financial markets. To conclude it's all a scam based on greed is rather simplistic if not unfortunate. The bulls have had better days than the bears - lest we forget. Let the bears have their 15 minutes of fame every once in a while, no?

Of course, it would be easy to just take all this in stride but it's not that straightforward. Whenever we are faced with "pending doom" we demand action. That usually means government intervention. Which in turns unleashes a set of unintended consequences.

Much has been said about why markets, just like empires, rise and fall. Anything can set it off. In today’s world, with access to information within seconds, a CEO suffering from diarrhea can be misinterpreted as malaria. Down the wire this rumour goes and presto!

Sell! Sell! Sell!

Then when the truth comes out, “Sorry folks. False alarm” and investors scramble out of the bushes weary eyed wondering what the fuss was all about.

As for the second part of the Mad comment. We can certainly replace Foxx, Thomas and Fonda with the likes of Sheen, Sarandon and Moore. Or Penn, Jolie and Baldwin. Or Robbins...you get the picture. Whoever they may be, it is a ridiculous development in our civil discourse to somehow believe actors have something valid or insightful to say.

Quick show of hands. How many really have?

It is odd how we feel that actors have access to knowledge we are not privy to. That they somehow see truth for what it really is in all its naked and elusive glory.

I considered this in a previous post here.

2008-03-22

Articles of Interest: Are Obama's Economic Ideas Outdated?

Back to work. Here's something from the Wall Street Journal and an article titled 'The Inequality Myth.' Guess what it's about?

The notion that the middle-class is being squashed has always left me perplexed. Then again, it wouldn't be hard for me to be confused. However, there's always a big picture to consider and this piece makes a case for this.

Which brings me to another aspect of "class warfare" and Obama I found over at First Things.

I most certainly concur that we shout out complicated buzz words and phrases that sound like they possess substance but in reality upon reflection and inspection, they are often rendered meaningless. Indeed, Obama is fast becoming strong on rhetoric and low on profound thought on matters of economics.

It does seem as though Obama (who does possess a certain nous) is great at teasing an intellectual mind but when it comes to crossing that critical point where passionate talk graduates to ideas, he drowns. Often, his idea of "change" is hardly refreshing. Just because he's articulate doesn't mean the depth of his thoughts are any more substantial. The promise of the man greatly exceeds the value of his ideas at this point. That's just my observation. I could be wrong.

Many Americans do expect more from him. A lot more. And there's nothing wrong in challenging him on that front.

In the interest of balance I bring something from Julian Edney titled, appropriately enough, Greed.

It pretty much stands opposite to the previous articles.

2008-03-20

Article of Interest: War in Iraq

Link to the National Post and an article titled, "War in Iraq was a blunder in hindsight" by Fred Kaplan from Slate magazine.

As a bonus, for liberals especially, here's Kaplan's review of Paul Beinart's 'The Good Fight.' The title of this article is 'Cold Comfort.'

2008-03-19

Article of Interest: Saddam's Terrorist Ties

As reported in The New York Sun.

Speaking of countries that begin with the letter "I." When will the world take decisive action (like helping armed rebels ready to topple the regime) against Iran once and for all? That guy is truly a disturbing figure and actor in the region. His talk - bluff or not - of genocide against Israel is something that should be taken seriously by the world community.

I got nothing on Iceland or Italy.

Link of Interest: Medical Histories

Interested in the medical background of historical figures? Run over to The Physical Lincoln and explore at your leisure.

Here's an excerpt of what you will find:

"Napoleon suffered from brucellosis all his life, and was supposed to have been partially incapacitated by a fever at the battle of Waterloo.

He tried to commit suicide after the battle of Toulouse, but the poison was stale.

At autopsy Napoleon was over 5 feet 6 inches tall -- the average height of adult men at that time. Thus, "the little corporal" was not that little. The popular misconception that Napoleon was short may derive from the fact that the French "foot" ("pied de roi") was 12.78 inches. Thus, when French sources gave his height as 5 feet 2 inches, the height in English feet would have been 5 feet 6 and a half inches.

Between age 36 and 40, Napoleon changed mentally and physically. He went from a slim, fit, shy, silent, energetic leader to a round, pudgy, sparse-haired, garrulous, sleepy, unfocused emperor with breasts "any beauty would be proud of" [12c] . The physical features are consistent with acquired hypogonadism. Marion discusses the possibility Napoleon had 17-ketosteroid reductase deficiency, and addresses issues such as his childless first marriage and perhaps-childless second marriage. Marion concludes that the question of Napoleon's transformation will probably never be settled."

The Canadian Human Rights Commission: Is The Fork Already In Their Asses?

Mark Steyn was bound to ruffle some sensitive but plucky feathers at the Human Rights Commission Headquarters (the one located right next to the Hall of Justice. I think it's a community rehab center for former Scientologists) with his recent article "Human-Rights Commissions Make Me Gag."

And it did in a Letter to the Editor in The Montreal Gazette. Consider:


"It is a pity that space is given to Mark Steyn's self-serving campaign to ridicule human rights. Steyn's representation of marginal cases as the be all and end all of the work of human-rights commissions shows a lack of understanding of the system or, worse, a deliberate attempt to distort it.

Oh that we could move on and focus on the real issues such as the discrimination that people do face every day in Canada."

Ruth Selwyn - Former Executive Director Canadian Human Rights Foundation.

What this letter does is unwittingly prove Steyn's point: The CHRC is wasting its time attacking Canadians for questionable "rights" issues. What more it trivializes the travails that the two people named in the article are going through.

So, for Ms. Selwyn, even though the CHRC are bankrupting a businessman because he wouldn't allow some trouble maker to smoke medicinal marijuana in his establishment or have a cosmetic surgeon caught in a catch-22 for refusing to perform on a transvestite for lack of expertise, this is pitifully inconsequential to what the CHRC really does? So why bother with them?

I think we need to revisit the the idea of what constitutes "rights" in this country. That a person can't spark a doob in public to relieve some back pain is not a human rights issue. It's a human privilege issue. Odd that we are being asked to tolerate drugs in public for medical purposes but exhibit a wicked witch hunt mentality towards smokers?

That a writer expresses an opinion in a lousy magazine that happened to offend some flunkies at Osgood Hall (this is what happened to Steyn regarding excerpts from his book 'America Alone' in Maclean's) is also not a human rights issue. The Tyee has a thoughtful piece about the Canadian Islamic Council's decision to take Steyn and Maclean's to the court.

These are all the same people who claim that censorship is destroying our ability to debate. Duh. They're part of the problem. No one is capable of listening or reading different opinions anymore.

Perhaps we should have a commission to watch over the imbeciles who haul citizens before the gun-totin' CHRC - or its many provincial offspring conceived out of wedlock.

We pick and choose who gets to be accorded certain privileged rights and voila! You could be next. I wonder what Ms. Selwyn thinks about bloggers who do think all this to be troubling.

Or of this blog's soul-mate Rex Murphy on the CBC and this video blurb called Human Rights Gone Awry.

Above all, the scary part is that individuals in a so-called free society are hauled in front of some shlepp from the CHRC and forced to be interrogated. Funny, last I checked I didn't vote on who gets to have such an important post. All we need is another Eliot Spitzer with a combined Napoleon-Pepin the Short complex to run the show.

I have no problem with Mark Steyn bringing forth to our attention what little guys and gals have to fight in the face of Leviathan. Indeed, the patients run the asylum now. That Ms. Selwyn and her ilk would downplay such stressful battles should truly make us all gag.






2008-03-18

Paul McCartney Is A Beatle. Never Forget That

The extent of my interest in Sir Paul is his beautiful, jaw dropping work The Beatles - the greatest band of them all - and that he's a fellow left hander.

Maybe I'm amazed at his body of work but I am flabbergasted by the notion that his ex-wife Heather Mills got a settlement that amounts to $48 million dollars USD.

Sad really.

At least McCartney has a legacy to, um, stand on.

That said, you gotta love the tabloid word wizardry of the British press courtesy of The Sun:

"Mucca chucksa cuppa water over Macca's lawyer Shacka."

2008-03-17

The West Need Not Wage War: But It Should Grow A Pair

A journalist once told me via email, "France is toast" in regards to its large (and largely un-integrated) Muslim population. If this is correct, then how far behind is Great Britain regarding the issue of Sharia law? The New Criterion discusses this question here.

We've certainly seen this debate creep up here in Canada. Quebec so far is standing its ground. The other provinces, well, they're another breed altogether. They are more prepared to "examine" it.


Indeed, there is nothing wrong with saying, "look, it's nothing personal. But this is how we do things here. Don't like it? What can we say?"

Since we're on the topic of Muslims in the West, these pictures came to be by email. One can dismiss them and rationalize in whatever manner we choose but words and pictures say a lot. Very lot.

The thing that is most disturbing (especially in lieu of these most flattering photos) is that many Britons of Muslim heritage were born in the splendid isle. It's easy to look at these through a Western prism and dismiss these fine folks as quacks. However, something tells me they mean business. Conversely, it's just as easy for us to delve into reactionary impulses (as in generalizing) in dealing with this. "Invade their countries!" just ain't gonna cut it. This problem will take the full force of our enlightened sensibilities and thoughtfulness to solve. It will take will and commitment not just militarily (unfortunately) but one of constant and persistent engagement.

Note: Observe the English police officer. Oh, the ironies revealed by this photo! What more proof of our tolerance can one get?

From The Desk Of The O'Commentator

Why I love cartoons:

"Top of the morning to ye on this gray, grizzly afternoon. Kent O'Brockman live on Main Street, where today everyone is a little bit Irish, except, of course, for the gays and the Italians." Kent Brockman

Of course, some people are already green on St. Patrick's day. I wonder how Kermmy handles this day.

And what's a St. Patty's day without drunken stupidity of which there is plenty to go around in Quebec? I introduce you all to the Reseau de Resistance du Quebecois - A sovereigntist group (largely disavowed by even the folks at Mouvement Montreal and the OLF. Wow. Flunkies don't stick up for one another?) that complains St. Patrick's day is "too English." To their credit, Irish-Montrealers responded humourously by agreeing: there is too much English! More Gaelic!

Just another group that is symbolic of the politicization of Quebec society to unhealthy levels.

Enjoy all.

Including the Italians.

2008-03-16

The Economist and Angelina Jolie: A Natural Fit?

I've waited long enough to post about this. I wanted to give the brass over at The Economist a chance to explain the reasoning behind giving Angelina Jolie a prominent spot in their "The World in 2008" issue but I suppose it was 'select an ascot" day because I never heard back.

"Lord Dingham, it seems this old chap wants to know if we've always pimped out portions of our magazine to tabloid journalism."

"Earl, Duke of, come watch the lads play footie!"

Delete.

Actually, I received a generic email thanking me for contacting the "Letters to the Editors." I did no such thing. I merely made an inquiry.

Sigh. Such is the lonely life of a blogger.

This blog does consider the marriage of politics and celebrity to be a corrosive development in society.

Do we really need to read Jolie talk about accountability as she did in her article titled "A Year For Accountability?"

Celebrity culture and accountability are mutually exclusive.

Actors are actors. They are not philosophers, foreign policy experts, doctors or economists. They act. The famous pop culture line "I am not a doctor but I play one on TV" has to be adjusted to "I am not a foreign policy expert but I play one on TV and the talk show circuit."

It's a shame The Economist has fallen prey to the "we must sell papers even if it means selling our intellectual soul to Hollywood" ploy. If print media is collapsing as they say it is, is it not better to go down guns blazing with its honour intact?

They should be way above this. It's one thing for actors to make fools of themselves pretending to be something they are not (hence it's called acting!) but when notable and prestigious papers buy into it, it all becomes too much to digest. Pass the Maalox please.

From page 78 onward I could not wiggle myself out of the feeling that I was now reading "People."

Loosen those ascots boys.

Question: Is intellectualism fleeting?

The Gini Index

Gini Index is a statistical coefficient devised by Corrado Gini that measures inequality of income distribution. For a list of how countries perform on the Gini Index click here at the Human Development Report or here at the CIA World Fact Book.

Canada has a coefficient of roughly .32 and the United States .40. The world average is around .52 and .66.

2008-03-14

Report On Canada's Civil Service

Are you one of those people who stays up all night wondering whether we have a dynamic and functional civil service? If you are please read this from Kevin G. Lynch - Head of the Public Service.

He does have a point. Namely, we do tend to pick and choose what we like and dislike. This is followed by blowing things out of proportion.

Knock yourself out.

"Bueller. Bueller."

Make It And They Shall Come?

I never understood the following dictum:

People like choice on the menu. As in, pack it in with all sorts of stuff you, the chef or restaurant owner or both, may not like to please the customer.

The thinking is that every menu should plus ou moins have the same amount of food dishes to be offered. Do this and you will flourish.

It's called servicing your clients. To others it's pandering to your lowest common denominator and amounts to nothing more than a cookie-cutter approach. If you're one of those people that values quantity over quality then you're part of the reason why this dictum is followed.

Ever watch Big Night? Philosophically, Primo was 100% right. You eat what I have because it's the best I can give you. In this way, I am giving you optimum service. Service that comes from my soul. There may not be certain foods you like on the menu or prepared the way you are accustomed to but therein lies the uniqueness of my restaurant. Indeed, of me.

On the other hand, the place across the street (and to which Primo's brother Secondo wanted to emulate to save the restaurant) is many faces to many people. He tries to accommodate all colours, shapes and sizes. It is impossible to offer quality with this approach. You may get what you want but are you truly savouring what you are supposed to be tasting?

The problem faced by many chefs, I presume, is that a customer who tastes veal prepared a certain way somewhere expects it to be done the same way everywhere.

So much for diversity.

Then again, there's another axiom that competes with the one I mentioned off the top. And that's the notion of "build or make it well and they shall come." I've been told this about writing. "Write it well and with passion and they will come!"

Which of these prevailing views makes most sense?

2008-03-13

Libertarianism Is The New Pink

Everyone is doing it now! Let's swing to being libertarian!

Down, boy, down. Look how far you can take an "ism" and run with it. Libertarian National Socialist Green party? Oh dear. I wouldn't want to write a term paper on them.

The temptation to call oneself a libertarian is strong these days.

For me personally, defining my ideological impulse has been elusive to say the least. I can't proclaim to be anything with any measure of confidence. For people like me, a portion of my libertarian streak is a reaction to a perceived over reliance on government to solve problems faced by society. In this light my flirtation with libertarianism is simple: reduce the nanny state.

I'm like a rancher in Wyoming. A place where libertarians live.

I'm rambling.

The point of this post was to bring up Instapundit. You know, that huge political blog that doesn't really need any free plugs? I stumbled on his wikipedia entry - man, a blogger with a wiki entry. Can it get any grander? - and began to quickly peruse it. As I scrolled down quickly - I had to get to some soccer news - the entry mentioned that Instapundit (aka Mr. Glen Reynolds) describes himself as a libertarian. Then, as I read further we find out he strongly supports the invasion of Iraq.

I thought libertarians (who trace their roots to classical liberalism) are against interventionism. Even classical conservatives agree with the unintended consequences that comes with interventionism. What gives?

For those of you interested in libertarian sites start with: Reason Online, Quebecois Libre (both in my links on the sidebar) and Build Freedom.

In The Shadows Of Eugene Morgan Comes Eliot Spitzer

Prior to his decision to let his penis direct his power, I had only heard of Eliot Spitzer. By all accounts, he sounded like a real piece of work. A jerk really. A person so intellectually and morally incapable of managing power that it was bound to eat, chew and spit him out. Robert Fulford writes about it here.

As for my humble opinion, I want to know what Alan Dershowitz is smoking. I would love to see life through those lenses. Sing it now, "Lucy in the sky with diamonds!" Come on, everyone all together now! "Lucy in the sky..." Bah.

Spitzer got his come-uppance. It's that simple.

The Myth Of The Opinion And Expression?

And you thought only Danish cartoons were censored. Read about a book report on "Killed Cartoons" at Bookslut.

Maybe they should all go work for South Park.

The idea of natural rights makes no sense. Therefore, I don't think all opinions are necessarily worth publicizing or observing. All it does is saturate the market of and for ideas.

Just because you think it or can say it doesn't mean you have a natural right to express it on a public platform. Sometimes cartoons are rightly nixed. Other times they are cut for political reasons.

Either way, what is the demarcation line between valid and invalid opinions is tight indeed.

2008-03-12

The Elusive Perfect Battery

The evolution of batteries has been painfully slow for a myriad of reasons and most certainly will not be explored here...zzzzzzzzzzzz. Seriously, I'm curious but there are limits. I doubt readers of this blog - why are you here anyway? - are battery enthusiasts. I'll let The Economist take it from here.

For those of you who hail from the school of "if we can put a man on the moon" (conspiracy nutto's you're excused from this obvious generalization) why can't we come up with the electric car!

We have - see photo. It even came before hand-cranked cars. It's just that it has not been proven to be all that practical. Then the internal combustion engine waltzed in and the electric car was fast forgotten.

Companies, engineers, chemists and scientists are now all hard at work in trying to figure out how to create the perfect battery for cars. With high energy prices and climate change on the agenda, the time may be perfect to speed up the battery's evolution. Chop, chop.

Innovation: We Speak Of It But Do We Understand It?

A friend of mine just called me. We talked about some recent happenings at his work (my former employer) that left him perplexed. It seems the higher beings who hold all the keys to power demoted a highly respected person for one department and promoted a questionable individual for another.

Welcome to corporatilitis sclerosis. A condition that grips many mature corporations sinking without an original thought or idea.

None of this surprised me however it never ceases to amaze. Talented people are always overlooked. In-house, political nepotism driven by tribal insecurities always tend to reign in such places. It's why I got out. I never had a chance. Trust me, if I had my way...

Please forgive them Lord for they know not what they do.

In all fairness, they are not taught or trained to seek or spot innovative minds. Hiring practices remain mired in old-style techniques good for the 1970s and 1980s. Just who are these people reading resumes anyway?

Question of the Day: Is it better to be specialized or a creative generalist?

Picked this up on a site called Wishful Thinking.

Very interesting stuff. Many of thoughts expressed here did flutter across my brain from time to time.

This is a classic question and one in which has left me with numerous thoughts and reflections muddled in my mind. I should one day get around to jotting it all down.

I am definitely a creative generalist with one caveat - I have a mean realistic streak in me. What this has done is prevent me to allow the "dreamer" side of me to direct me. Conversely, when I was in the "real" world with a "real" job that made me specialized there was another side of me trapped inside screaming to get out.

How Useful Is LinkedIn?

I joined LinkedIn a few years ago following an invitation. I never really worked on growing my network preferring to let people ask to join mine. Essentially, LinkedIn is a huge network of professionals linking to one another. At last count, it had 20 million registered users. I imagine someone, somewhere is benefiting from it.

Personally, this has not been the case for me. Through my contacts, I perused profiles that matched mine or interested me for various projects.

Of three people I attempted to contact exactly three did not bother to respond or to at least establish some form of communication.

Which begs the question: why be on it if you don't respond?

It reminds me of journalists who become bloggers. Many times, they post but don't interact with people who take the time to comment on their blogs. Somehow the point of blogging is lost on them.

This has been my experience so far. I wonder if other people on LinkedIn feel the same way.

Link of Interest: Global Warming

For some, the global warming debate is closed. There is nothing to be added in the halls of public discourse. The verdict is in: man is to be blamed. GlobalClimateScam. com is certainly one of those sites not looking to remain silent on the matter. Scroll down to the video titled Exposing the exposure behind Minnesota's Climate Change "Consultant."

Very interesting. Not surprising either.

I don't know much but I do know one thing: when we believe a debate is no longer necessary that's when we get into all sorts of trouble.

What I find fascinating about public perception is that it is obvious governments and corporations profit off war. Yet, that perception does not transfer over to other endeavours like environmentalism. Do people actually believe Dubya and Gore are not cut from the same capitalistic cloth? No. Gore is not invested in "selling carbon credits." Sure he's not.

Erosion of freedom comes in many forms, shapes, sizes and ink blots. Erosionists are clever folk.

To get their way, it all hinges on two tiny words the insurance industry knew about a long time ago: what if?

Building a business on what could happen is the sweetest swindle of them all.

Wanna buy the bridge I sold you last week? What if you don't buy it? You'll never be able to cross that bridge again!





2008-03-11

Culture On Photos



Just love this era. Thanks to Art Deco for keeping us in touch with the Jazz Age (1920s and 1930s).

Ben Franklin and Modern American Politics

Came across this excerpt over at the World History Blogger Network under the Ben Franklin link. maintained by Tim Tyler. The fine folks at WHBN should introduce a permalink option. It would make for sharing all the more simpler!

"A woman president will be a good thing for the U.S., when the right woman comes along. Hillary Clinton IS NOT that woman. I can imagine few other women of prominence with more baggage or cloudier ethics. I believe she is quite capable of doing whatever she thinks is necessary to win, although she has failed mightily in the past as well.

We have seen that “win at all costs” mentality at work in America before, and I am hopeful my fellow voters are beginning to realize how divisive that tactic is in the end, and how cheap the most expensive victory can become.Or perhaps more accurately, how costly a “Clinton-style” campaign can be, win or lose.

Ultimately, I am not as concerned about electing a woman president in my lifetime as I am about encouraging new generations of Americans to take part in politics and society again, with courage, hope and optimism.

I believe Hillary Clinton is the wrong person at the right time to achieve those ends - by any means.

As it relates to the “scorched earth” nature of Team Clinton vis-a-vis Barack Obama and anyone else in their path, my opinion echoes that of Benjamin Franklin, who noted quite astutely more than 250 years ago:"

“He that scatters Thorns, let him not go barefoot.”

Link of Interest: History Museum

Do you want to be a part of history now? Please visit Museum of Missing History.

I bow before Pen and the Spindle once again for this.

Thought Of The Day

Canadians feel they have been sold out to the Americans. Americans feel they have been sold out to the world. And Natives in both feel...well...

Who Has The Inside Track Into The White House?

In sports, sometimes two teams can batter one another in a playoff series as the next opponent looks on. The winning side then must go on and take on the resting side in a final - be it for the Stanley Cup, World Series, Super Bowl or NBA title (they should come up with a nickname by the way.)

Guess which team has the edge? Especially if they are equal in talent and work ethic.

I'm beginning to get that same feeling when I observe the American Democratic and Republican nominations. Clinton and Obama are essentially involved in a slug fest while the GOP is pretty much settled. It's not an Ali-Frazier type fight; more like a middle-weight in terms of the ideas they present but a battle nonetheless!

And I can't help but wonder and think if this will all benefit one John McCain.

Note: Image from Library of Congress. It's called 'Back when I had mojo.'

2008-03-09

Nothing In Life Is Free Or Easy

If you're like me, you bump around the internet like a vagabond site to site. Along the way, every once in a while, you hit those "work from home and become stinking rich while a servant clips your toenails" schemes. Not all are scams but many are. While most pay some pennies, the vast majority pay with bananas - if you're lucky.


I'm not an expert but one rule of thumb or dictum people who know this stuff alway say is that if these sites ask for money up front best to close your browser down. As a former investor, I can tell you by experience the secret to life is to either have a bright idea and see it through with hard work or simply work and save your money. Don't let your expenses out pace what you earn. Simple really.

While this is sound advice, personally (being the history buff I am) I prefer to dip into the past for sprinkles of wisdom:


"The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price,
peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of
soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life."

Theodore Roosevelt

2008-03-08

Article of Interest: The Media And Al Queda

Here's an interesting comment from ThreatsWatch.org about Al Queda and how media exposure remains a key component of their overall strategy.

WKRP In Cincinnati: The Commentator's Blog Soul Mate


This blog does not hide behind the fact that it considers WKRP one of the finest (and possibly most under rated) sitcom of all time. Heck, I try and bring a certain inconsistent absurdity, incompetence, rebellion, intelligence and well-written and thought out opinions to this blog. Marketing people are always saying how you have to be an "expert" to write a blog or to stay "focus" on one subject in order to drive traffic or maybe earn a few pennies. Bah.

Besides, isn't that why we blog? To run away from the restrictions of our corporate sensibilities. Every day people wear neck ties and head for their cubicles with a bag of doughnuts and coffee to work for the man. All the while wondering what senseless drivel middle management has come up with. Raw! Raw! Raw!

Why bring that to this? Why? Because the search engines tell us to? The websites that promise you fame and fortune for your posts? Can't we just express ourselves freely without necessarily being a god dang expert? Screw all that. I write what I feel and know and if the keywords don't match what Little Lolita or Biggy Bobby (I couldn't come up with something better) are punching on the keyboards in the millions so ficken be it.

Without further ado, ici voila and exchange between Dr. Johnny Fever and Les Nessman:

Les:
Monster lizard ravages east coast! Mayors in five New England cities have issued emergency requests for federal disaster relief as a result of a giant lizard that descended on the east coast last night! Officials say that this lizard, the worst since '78, has devastated transportation, disrupted communication, and left many hundreds homeless!

Johnny:
Monster lizard?

Les:
The wire service never lies!

Johnny:
Les, the "B" is out on the printer! It's monster blizzard!

History Corner: War Is A Racket

By Smedley Darlington Butler (1881-1940)

You know, a lot of things are a racket. We often look at the Mafia and shutter at its utter criminal depravity. Truth is, government and corporations are just as depraved. They do indeed have blood on their hands that they must account for.

2008-03-07

New Sequel To 'Brokeback Mountain' Coming?

Loss of Ledger notwithstanding, I hear Part Deux is about a story of forbidden love between a Cowboy and an Indian. Together they bring peace to "Squeal Valley."

Native (claps hand once): "Me. You."

Cowboy (Points to himself): "Me? Ok."

They may even bring back that banjo player in Deliverance for the love scenes.

Can anyone confirm this rumour?

There Has To Be Redemption In Rejection, Right?

I think I know how American Idol contestants must feel when they find out they've been eliminated. "America has voted...and they have rejected you! YOU! Buh-bye!"

It's gut wrenching. For a few moments you're disoriented and feel like any positive advice is just lip service. "This is the beginning of a great career!" Yeah, right.

That's how I felt anyway when I found out I was cut from an elite soccer team 22 years ago.

The sting is still felt today if you can believe that.

My home city created its first elite soccer team in the mid-80s and I was part of the original group. It was gratifying to go around town and be a member of something special. I was the lone representative from my team to be on 'Les Elites de Laval.' I remember one particular time we were playing an opponent and an Elites player was on their team. The father came to me and shook my hand. I was in the big leagues now. But...where were the skanks?

That year, I could do no wrong it seemed. It was a great season capped by an MVP award at a tournament presented to me by Bruce Wilson who was then captain of Team Canada.

As you can imagine, I was feeling pretty lucky and confident heading into the final try outs for les elites. There was a tournament in France and the team needed to make one more roster move.

Man, did I bleed for that spot. I don't think I ever played as hard as I did that night. Parents were coming up to me and my father telling us how I was easily among the best players in the one-day grueling three hour camp.

They coaching staff was going to call everyone that night with the results.

The anticipation was intense to say the least. My heart and angst did not cease pumping and increasing for a couple of hours.

My parents waited with me late into a school night. It was that big a deal for a 14-year old kid.

Then it came.

I was cut.

Into another dimension I went.

It made no sense. None whatsoever. None.

The assistant coach was apologetic as apparently the staff (except the head coach) was against the decision. There were rumours going around that a parent of an average player had paid the coach to get his son on the team. Another was that one district of the city had to have more representation than another - at the time there were two rival districts. One of them happened to be the one I lived in. No matter what was said or how it was rationalized I was gone from the team.

The team went to France without me. No berets, brie cheese and Parisian style riots for me.

I never did recover from that. One year later I blew out my knee after my coach told me I was on a short list to go try out for Team Canada. Oh and a girl I was absolutely in love with gave me the boot - was that a pun?

Nevertheless, the absurdity of it all was too much for a teenager.

My response was to turn my back on soccer. I was internally confused and somewhat bitter. I never let it control me but the overhang of that night was still present somewhere deep within my heart and subconscious mind.

Lame manager: "Alessandro, get those reports to dingbat pronto!"

Me (pounding fist into desk): "I was a star once!"

I didn't play regularly, I reacted with aloofness whenever I saw a soccer game, I did not seek jobs in the field, I just didn't want to be part of something that I perceived had turned its back on me. Now, I'm an objective guy. As years went on, I realized I did not possess the physical strength to be a pro player. Add that I was in Canada - there was no MLS and the NASL had just shut down - and the odds of my making any league (except the Yellowknife semi-pro league) were remote.

Suffice to say I was young and impetuous. Not old and wise.

In a way, I do regret not remaining in the loop somehow. I think I could have been a great asset to a soccer organization anywhere. If Patches O'Houlihan came back why not me?

In this way, I can relate to an American (or Canadian or European or whatever for that matter) Idol who just found out they were sent home. Sometimes it is justified and sometimes it is not. The best don't always win. The good ones do slip through. I guess some of us were meant to scratch and claw more than others. Who knows?

They say things happen for a reason. I still have no clue what the lesson was for me. I had a passion, I worked hard at it and then it was gone in an instant.

I've been searching for a groove ever since.

2008-03-06

2008-03-05

And Now For Something Personal...

Admit it. You are all curious about who The Commentator is. What makes him tick? Where does he hide the stash? Who does he think he is? Where is he going? Blah...

For fun, let us suspend all scientific blibber-blabber and delve into the world of astrology's jibber-jabber.

Here's what a free on-line astrology site (free legal advice!) describes yours truly. You know what? It's not that far off. I've marked the parts I think are off in orange. Oh man, the part of being with eccentric girls...that brought me back. But that's another story not for another time.

Sun is in 11 Degrees Aquarius.
You get bored with the status quo and are generally open to new things and ideas. An individualist and a free spirit, your friends are quite important to you as long as they do not try to tie you down by making too many emotional demands on you. Your thoughts are offbeat and you're a bit eccentric, but not always very changeable. As a matter of fact, you can be quite stubborn at times. Very fair-minded when dealing with large groups or broad issues, you are not always emotionally sensitive to the needs of individuals. Extremely objective, with good powers of observation, you would be qualified to study technical and complicated subjects, like science, computers or maybe even astrology - nah.

Mercury is in 01 Degrees Aquarius.
You tend to be very opinionated -- you have strongly felt notions about things and are quite vocal about expressing and defending them - though less so these days. I tend to listen more. Yet you are also an original thinker -- you enjoy shocking others with your offbeat, original thoughts. You appreciate and need mental and intellectual stimulation. Your judgment is usually fair and impartial -- you can be a good critic because you can remain objective and unemotional about most things.

N. Node is in 05 Degrees Aquarius.
As long as someone else (or a group or organization) appeals to your intellectual sensibilities, you'll try to ally yourself with them in some way. You may find that you always seem to get involved with many wide-ranging groups -- so much so that you find it difficult to fit them all into your busy schedule. Your many friends and acquaintances provide you with needed stimulation. You're loyal and fair-minded -- you try to spend time equally with all your friends, never concentrating on just one or two for any length of time. Although probably quite conservative yourself, you're attracted to those who are a bit offbeat or eccentric -- you enjoy watching their minds work.

Now you know The Commentator. Move on.

The Electronic Rights Defense Committee

I've pretty much deduced this on my own and it's good to know someone is willing to do something about. I can't prove it but I suspect my stuff and ideas have been "ripped off" so to speak. Here's a link to the ERDC website and an excerpt of its objective just below.

Freelance writers are essentially with little rights when it comes to copyright. All the power is on the "other" side. Let's hope Judge Eva Petras renders the appropriate verdict to allow the class action to go ahead.

Thanks to Lori Schubert over at the Quebec Writer's Federation for keeping us informed.

"On April 7, 1997, the Electronic Rights Defence Committee (ERDC) took the first steps toward a $33.3 million class action lawsuit in Quebec Superior court against Southam Inc, CEDROM-SNJI, Infomart-Dialog and Southam Business Communications for 37,000 instances of copyright infringement of freelancers' work dating back to 1985.

Eight years later, the ERDC is still battling to win recognition of the fact that Southam acted illegally in reproducing freelancers' work for years without seeking consent or providing compensation. While the ERDC is the plaintiff in this lawsuit and writer and journalist David Homel is serving as class representative, this action is on behalf of any freelance writer who ever wrote for The Gazette (Montreal). The newspaper has changed hands in the intervening years but the case continues against the Southam chain's legal successors."

The Debate On Peak Oil Continues

Interesting piece and discussion on 'Peak Oil' from The Oil Drum.

2008-03-04

Howard Zinn's Lasting Historical Imprint

While twiddling my thumbs and toes, Howard Zinn entered my mind for some reason. I never really understood how popular he got. Then again, so is Ashlee Simpson. So.

I read snippets of A People's History of the United States and remember not being terribly impressed. Just another piece of work that will be forgotten I thought. I was 16 and so terribly wrong. Like Michael Moore movies being showcased as though they are the works of an intellectual dissident that is opening the eyes of a dead citizenry, Zinn is apparently a key text book for history classes in the United States.

To me, it's all copy and paste (and edit) historiography. I could be wrong, but behind the sexiness all we get is revisionism.

Some will always say the ends justify the means. They are raising "issues" that people refuse to discuss. That we should keep an "open mind." This means absolutely nothing to me. Such arguments are hollow. What good is to have an open mind if you can't critically assess what is being thrown at you?

Maybe what they raise has some merit on some levels. However, whatever currency it may have is completely obliterated the minute they suspend intellectual honesty. The process you employ to build your case is every bit as integral to your final conclusions.

The conditions in contemporary social and global life has made anti-Americanism the new pink and it comes as no surprise Zinn is considered an intellectual hero to many who tend to sway this way.

Personally, I think it's all fleeting intellectualism but hey I'm just a blogger.

Nonetheless, I decided to spend some time getting to know Zinn better and no sooner than I began this rapprochement did I land on an interesting site. The New Criterion has this to say about Zinn.

Here's another from The Atlantic.

Muslim Creationism

Take that Christian creationists! It seems some Muslims too have their take on creationism.

Who holds the monopoly on "truth" and rational thought these days anyway?

Here is another link to a blog that discusses Muslim issues and Harun Yahya.

Rene Descartes Dictum Revisited

I think, therefore I am. But what if I am but think otherwise?

What is the nature of my thoughts? What if I am thinking is a lie? Am I a mirage? If my thinking is irrational does that make my existence absurd?

What if we think is based on nonsense becomes law? Are we collectively leading a pointless existence?

If Not Diet Then Genetics? The Question Of Obesity

Not sure if this is a useful post (especially since it's beyond my ability to firmly rationalize in any meaningful manner) but for some reason I remember reading a couple of years ago in The Economist a statistics table in which the Dutch and the Italians (in that order) were the "lightest" Europeans by weight.

What I like about these statistics is that they always obliterate perceptions and myths. For example, according to the Obesity International Task Force (not sure about the validity of these tests or the organization but let's run with it) concludes that obesity among men (including the portlies in Germany, Finland and Greece) in the EU outweigh (excuse the pun) those in the United States - and Canada is not that far off the U.S. for the record.

Interestingly, according to another study, Greece, Portugal and Spain seem to have a bigger (so to speak) obesity problem (for both men and women) than their Mediterranean cousins in Italy and France.

In fact, Italy and France (who are virtually the same) compare well with Nordic countries like Denmark.

Now, I'm no dietician nor am I a geneticist or heck even a eugenist. I'm not a complicated man or a violent man. I'm just a blogger who does his darn best to post things of interest. In this humble vain, let me wonder about a couple of things.

To me, genetics and diet are two fluid and obtuse terms. It's hard to pin down with any degree of scientific proof what effects or ails the human body. When all else fails, it always comes down to diet and genetics.

We're always told about the superiority of the Mediterranean diet (which as a card carrying member of the Mediterranean race I must allow my bias to show in agreeing with this) yet why is it that three of the five European Mediterranean nations are considered to have high obesity rates when compared to Northern Europe who are thought to have a "less developed" diet? Why is it that Italy and France compare well with Denmark, Belgium and Austria? Speaking of which, the latter being among the least obese!

Genetics or diet? Combo?

Here's a great page from Quackwatch.com with various links regarding weight and obesity.


Bombardier: Canada's Whino

Bombardier has always been the darling of Canadian and Quebec nationalists and business.

Indeed, the story and history behind Bombardier is one that typifies Canada's sense of adventure. My how times have changed.

What do I mean? For a company that is considered a Global Fortune 500 company, they sure know how to stick their hands out in hopes of a government subsidy. In the latest spat with the government, Bombardier is threatening to move to the United States to build its CSeries jets - unless the government ponies up the cash to keep them here. Read more about here.

Bombardier as the pride and joy of this country is a little bit of a fallacy. Let it go to the U.S. and see what it's worth in competition with companies there. Furthermore, when will the government stop "investing" in losing industries like the one Bombardier is in?

Scratch Bombardier's image and find behind it a poster of a taxpayer with a donkey's ass.

Bah. So if I hear them correctly, now taxpayers are forced to save 2500 jobs at Bombardier?

Time to call their bluff.



2008-03-03

Methinks ATax Savings Account Is Sound Thinking

Tax savings account is a smart thing. It's applying a common sense approach to personal and household savings. It encourages savings in a RRSP style account only it is non-registered. In other words, without all the same restrictions. It's a great idea. It will become one of the most significant moves not unlike the introduction of RRSPs five decades ago.

Ignore it at your financial peril.

On what rational level can this possibly be a bad thing? For once the middle class has something come its way. If there is some resistance (and from what I can tell this measure is thankfully enormously popular among Canadians) it is without substance. I pulled this gem from the "Socialist Project":

"Beginning in 2009 Canadians will be eligible to contribute up to $5,000.0 per year to such an account and any interest or capital gains from this account will be tax free. It's an interesting proposal in that it extends the tax avoidance movement into more popular terrain. The contribution limit makes it appear that this is clearly not aimed at high-income earners. However, for the 40 per cent of working Canadians who earn $40,000 per year or less, the prospect of saving anything is rather dubious. Instead, the TFSA will be precisely another tax shelter ‘toy’ for those with sufficient income to allow for disposable income. Indeed, for a high income earner able to sock away $5,000.00 per year for say, 8 years, there will be a nice tax free bundle of approximately $50,000.00 for a down payment on an imported luxury car. When it's all said, this is really a tax avoidance instrument through which to shelter one’s play-time money."

Incredible really. In other words, 40% of the population is allowed to hold back 60%? It all adds up to one thing: you're not allowed to succeed in Canada. You can only progress as far as the weakest link will allow you. More socialism and regulation leads to a bigger black market. For example, in the province of Quebec the unions dictate the terms of our progress and guess what? It's a dysfunctional black hole here. The cultural and economic sclerosis is sickening to watch unfold. If you're smart, work hard and save money disposable income is seen as a sin. Heaven forbid people are allowed to create some personal wealth. eh?

And how does he allow himself to presume this is where the $50 000 will go? Besides, what business is it of his where people spend THEIR MONEY? This thinking is a one-way ticket to nowheresville.

The fact is that this is very doable.

This is a prudent idea with long term benefits to Canadians - sinister neo-liberal plots notwithstanding.

Next up: Capital gains relief.

This is how you create real net worth. Only through this way can you achieve a real ability to build a compassionate society. It starts with the individual; not the government.

RIP Jeff Healey

For those of you familiar with the Canadian rock and blues scene, the passing of Jeff Healey is sad indeed.

Healey succumbed to cancer on Sunday.

Personally, I remember when Healey burst onto the national scene as a blind bluesman who played a wicked guitar. He was part of what I termed back then as a "Canadian Invasion" that was taking international rock by storm. The legacy of small but great Canadian acts in the 60s and 70s had finally reached a maturing stage with bands like Blue Rodeo, Crash Test Dummies, Tom Cochrane and Red Rider, Cowboy Junkies, The Tragically Hip, Colin James, Bryan Adams (to name a few off the top of my head) and of course the Jeff Healey Band.

Here's a piece paying tribute to him on Blogcritics here.

Did The Gazette Miss A Chance To Bring In New Blood?

Speaking of the Montreal Gazette, what is it with them and Jack Todd? His welcomed retirement didn't last long now did it? First, he takes a temporary leave, then he comes back. Then he "retires" and now he has a weekly column. The guy just won't go away. He's like...like Patrice Brisebois! No one can quite figure out how they managed to stick around this long!

Here was a chance to bring new voices and ideas to the paper. Instead, it's the same old generation speaking to the same generation.

Zzzz.

And I won't get into the breakdown analysis of this.

Clarence Thomas Is In The E Street Band?

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band live in Montreal.

I'd be surprised if they didn't make a DVD out of this one. The energy in the building was that overwhelming.

To be frank, I'm not going to write a review about the concert. What can be added to what has already been said about one of rock's all-time great performers?

I will say one thing, no musician works as tirelessly or enthusiastically to keep his fans involved in a concert. He makes it a special point to interact.

However, I will talk about the music review in the Montreal Gazette. I don't generally read much of the paper let alone the music section however my wife pointed me to something.

Namely, the writer - one T'cha Dunlevy - got his Clarence's mixed up. The one in the E Street Band is Clemons. I have no idea how Clarence Thomas was allowed to make print.

If I have to hear ONE more journalist, editor or commentator smugly point to the lack of editorial standards among bloggers I will always point to this ridiculous oversight.

Note: One day after the error still no acknowledgment by the Arts & Life editor Mark Tremblay.