2009-10-31

Canada In Afghanistan

Too often, we learn about the death of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. To make it all the more poignant, fallen soldiers are described, for example, as "young," or "a dedicated father of two" or "he loved hockey and was a great Calgary Flames fan."

It's tough to hear and sure to increase the demand we bring our troops home. Not a bad thought, but I can't get around the notion if we do leave, did they all die in vain?

Preparing For The Battle Of Tours

Now hear me. Or rather read me. No wait. That didn't come out right. Forget it.

In the face of growing Islamic radicalization on their soil, France is preparing to reassert its identity.   They will do this through a national pride campaign

So much to consider and ponder with this!


***

Let me try and connect 'Curb your enthusiasm' with the recent events in France. In a recent controversial episode, Larry David (the neurotic protagonist and creator of the show) accidentally peed on a picture of Jesus Christ. Freedom of speech, humor and all that jazz, right? Of course. I certainly feel that way.

However, we're operating in a entirely different social context now. I get the distinct feeling more and more people are getting annoyed with the constant attacks on Christianity. Even moderate, non-religious people like me don't see the point or humor in this sort of stuff. I won't blast CYE for it but it because it's a comedy show and programs need to push the envelope but it does raise the legitimate question: What would have happened if he peed on the Koran? More to the point, would HBO have allowed?

Back to what's happening in France. People across the West are growing tired of the double standard. Call this a tipping point.

***

This is not the first time the West has had to wrestle with Islam. You will recall, because all my readers are smarter than me and already know this, during the Golden Age of Islam, Muslims (Saracens as they were known) crossed into Europe beginning in the 8th century and conquered parts of France, Spain and important trade routes in the Alps via Italy. They educated and refined Europe with their knowledge in farming, medicine and mathematics and left behind a remarkable legacy. Romans may have viewed the Germans aas barbarians but Europe was backwards compared to the Muslim world.

When Europe hit its maturation period (or puberty if you prefer) it rebelled and expelled the Moors between 732 at the Battle of Tours and 1238 in Spain - although a special arrangement allowed Muslims to remain. In 1492, Spain complete the Reconquista.

The analogy for us to extract is tempting. Not since that time has the West witnessed Islam in large numbers on its shores. Albeit with one major distinction: This is not an armed invasion but peaceful immigration. And even then, by all accounts, Muslims, Christians and Jews alike lived in relative harmony during this time.

Still and again, we have to contextualize. It may be peaceful immigration and we should remain open to immigration, however, there is a real war presently being conducted against, as fate would have it, Islamic terrorism.

We've seen native born Muslims fall prey to radicalism in the UK and more recently in the U.S. where a terror plot was thwarted in Michigan. Are these stories the work of isolated renegades to be forgotten by history? You and I can pontificate about such questions, but law enforcement has to consider security in the now. Naturally, it will usually conflict with civil liberties in this situation.

This is not an easy issue.

Here's another question: How bad did it get in France for them to take these measures? Well, bad enough to anyone has cared to follow French politics.

Horror Halloween


Hi there! You better have Smarties or else...

See what happens when you pump too much sugar into your kids? They have to burn it off some how.

Reagan's Extremism

Lately, Liberals have lost their minds when it comes to the "conservatism is dead" rhetoric. They also have an obsession with Ronald Reagan. I don't get this piece.

Let me see if I get this straight. Herbie Bush tells Spotty Gorby, Reagan is an extremist. Gorby agrees. But then Gorby turns around and says Reagan deserves credit for what he accomplished. In other words, he was able to come to the center on issues.

So what's the point of the article? Ty Cobb was an asshole but he still was the greatest hitter in history. Willie Mays was crusty with the media but he's among the greatest players of all time. Joe DiMaggio was painfully shy but, again, one of the all-time legends. Babe Ruth? Ted Williams? All exhibited some extreme behavior. Yet...

The results were there. You can't deny it. So it is with Reagan. He made his choices. It may not have been popular for many but it's time to let it go. Sheesh. Do people still harp about the many controversial policies of past presidents?

2009-10-30

Who Can Independents Turn To In Canada?

It's interesting to note that Americans can register as "Independents" if they don't like what the two main parties (Democratic and Republican) offer.

For their part, Canadians don't have such an option. So those with independent ideological and philosophical outlooks that overlap with the major parties (Liberal and Conservative) are forced to choose either or.The problem is even more stark at the provincial level in Quebec. For English-speaking Quebecers, the Parti Quebecois will never be an option. This grants the Liberal party a "fixed" amount of votes they can always depend on. The bad part about this deal is there's no incentive to speak on behalf of the English-speaking minority.

Would it serve us better if we had the choice of being independent? I'm sure there are many in Canada.

Tell Us What You Really Think

With Montreal voters slated to head to the polls this week-end, Maclean's magazine has gone on the offensive with its take on the politics here. 

"The once-glamorous city is now a corrupt, crumbling, mob-ridden disgrace. What went wrong?"

Duh and Ouch!

I'll add to this, a second rate sports town with a sports media that has become so parochial, it's childishly obsessed with Toronto. That is, bashing Hogtown at every turn.

Chumps.

Moving along.

What went wrong? It never was right! Anyone ever read City Unique? It's the way it is here. Sin City. Montreal has always been a cess pool of Latin-style corruption. I've seen it with my own two eyes.

In North America, I can't say which cities are most corrupt, however, I can make an educated guess based on reputation and from what I've experienced, read and heard (one of the city's most respected and powerful lawyers - who happens to be a friend of yours truly - once told me as much). That being, the Big MTL. is right up there with Chicago, New York and Louisiana.

Put it to you this way, there's a reason why this city is the Capital when it comes to car thefts, marketing scams and investor fraud - to say nothing of the hushed reality of the terrorist cells operating here. Moreover, Montreal's mafia is second to none on the continent. Much is made of Capone's Chicago and the Five Families of New York but Montreal has quietly built itself as probably the main hub for all mafiosi operations. Indeed, the book the 'The Sixth Family' chronicling the rise of Vito Rizzuto, thrillingly explains Montreal's powerful eminence on this front.

It's a powerful piece of contradictions that despite all this along with the tiresome political climate, Montreal's quality of life remains very good.

***
So imagine how hard I laughed after the Benoit Labonte scandal hit. Apparently, "brown bags" filled with cash were being exchanged. No!!! For real?  It's like losing my virginity.

The sad thing is nothing will change. Consider the candidates running for the gig:

Gerald Tremblay: Seeking re-election. Likeable and genuine but way too clueless. The "what me?" act has worn thin.

Richard Bergeron: In a word? A nutcase. Or at least doesn't think before he speaks. A guy who doesn't believe man walked on the moon, thinks 9/11 was an inside job and wants to turn Montreal into Lego land with 33 kms of Tram ways. Which voice speaks to him in the morning? Hubbard from a space ship somewhere in deep space, perhaps?

Louise Harel: A divider. A shrewd, proudly unilingual politician who rammed through the mergers against the wishes of Montrealers while she was with the PQ. About that. Yeah, sure. Her indepdendiste views should not be an issue. Suuurrree. I'll stop here lest I go overboard.

Tremblay is clearly the lesser of all the evils. But, as my father who owns commercial property told me, he wants to increase business taxes another 16%. "How much more do they want from us?"

As for me, I have to go vote for the Laval municipal elections.

***

Note: Mr. Bergeron has since retracted his comments about 9/11. For whatever that's worth.

Black Jacques Chirac Faces The Music

I never thought I'd see the day where Chrica would actually stand trial. But here it is...

What music will he face?

From the Independent:

"Jacques Chirac's spell as Mayor of Paris was a very good time to be sleeping with, married to, or simply well connected with somebody on an inside track with his Rassemblement pour la R├ępublique (Gaullist) party. During the period from 1982 and 1996 nearly 700 people benefited from the largesse of the City Hall.
Among those who ended up on the municipal payroll were a mountaineer, a professional cyclist, a fencing star and the daughters, wives and nieces of several leading French politicians. The city funded these positions through an elaborate web of illicit kickbacks worth millions of euros from developers, building contractors and other big businesses." 

Hm. Sounds like Montreal. 

2009-10-29

Examining The Entrepreneur


What? You want a comment? No time. Watching the Phillies/Yankees game. You'll have to read and draw your own conclusions.

2009-10-27

Let's Play "Guess Who I Look Like?"

Who does actress Zita Johan (a Banat German) most resemble? If you guessed Drew Barrymore you win a free 'Eat The Commentator' t-shirt! That is, if I got off my ass to make them. So you get it in spirit.


Summoning All Ancient Egyptian Deities

For those of you sitting around sipping blood orange and cranberry juice while biting your nails who thought to yuuurrrselfs, "I would really like to bag me a book about the Scroll Of Thoth."

You're in luck.

Two-Tiered Rights

Get that through our thick, numbskulled minds, can we already?

When people advocate for smoke-free environments, like the folks here at ANR, we instinctively agree with the premise. After all, smoking is a foul and unhealthy activity. It leads to all sorts of diseases and cancers (well, we strongly suspect anyway) and stinks up our clothes.

But here's the rub: Millions of people smoke and last I checked, smoking was legal as were the companies that manufacture them.

Therefore, when you force your rights on one segment of the population under a defined guise, call it for what it is: Tyranny.

***
In the above website, see how far the provinces have come to curbing civil liberties. And if you think it will stop there, well, maybe it's time you get your head out of your ass. This thing is in full gear now. Notice the language being used. They're no longer satisfied at banning smoking off public streets like they did in Truro, N.S. It's time to enter your private spaces (because, you know, they need to do what's best for YOU!) like cars and soon enough homes - or at least public housing.

***
Your health is not the only thing the government is concerned about. How kind of them! They seek control through environmental policies as well. Not too long ago I posted about how some scientists claim carbon dioxide leads to global warming and now eating meat is not environmentally friendly.

Although, there can be legitimate reasons not to eat certain types of meats as this rather ghoulish article explains. 

Regardless.

If we don't be careful...


2009-10-26

What I ThinkWould Be Cool

I'm often asked, "Yo, wannabe douche, what would you like to do before you die?"

Good question. One would be to take a fast ball from a major league pitcher. I also wonder what it would be like to get hit by a pitch. Coach was pretty good at it.

The other thing I think would be fabcool would be to water ski on two dolphins like Aquaman. I was watching the 'Superfriends' (the greatest forces of good ever assembled) and couldn't quite figure out why the Hall of Justice would take Aquaman on a mission to a distant planet. One would think, given the dearth of water on planets, he would be more of a hindrance. What's he good for outside of water? Still. He's pretty cool. He's basically Poseidon of the comic world.

Poor Aquaman. The Rodney Dangerfield of comic heroes. No respect.

I'm An Immature Iconoclast

Someone called into a radio show today and said, "kids grow up too fast these days." Then I had a flash back to children who had to go work on the farm as soon as they could put two words together. By five they were hoeing and sowing. They could ride that ox and cart like a Mongol on a horse. To say nothing of those little ones who worked in factories and mines during the "golden sooted" age of the Industrial Revolution. Many became Kings (King Tut) before their voices changed and others conquered the world by the time they were in their mid-20s like Alexander da Great.

So are our kids growing up too fast? Every generation thinks this no doubt.

Me? I'm the opposite. I'm growing down too fast. What can I say? I'm an iconoclast.

***

Speaking of iconoclasts. I've always wondered about people who describe themselves as such who then turn around and speak and write with an ideological bent. It's like, dude, you're nowhere near being an iconoclast when you pick the same side all the fricken time.

How do you detect iconoclasts? Was Tarzan one? Groucho Marx?

Me? I'm an immature iconoclast. Yeah. I like the ring to that.

2009-10-25

Libya To Canada: Stay Out Of Our Country

We're not welcomed in Libya?

Apparently.

Do we care?

H3N2 Versus H1N1; Hilary's Impressive Foreign Display; Obama's Ridiculous Exec Pay Cut Demands And Health Care 'Zaggerations

Not sure what this means but did you know that more people die each year from H3N2 (that's medical jargon for more familiar flu's like the regular kind (is there any other kind?) influenza, etc.) than H1N1? The stats are for the U.S. but from what I found, it's the same case for Canada - couldn't find updated numbers for Canada. I know. I'm losing my touch.

***


While Obama fumbles with cap & trade, health care, bail outs and the Olympics (to be fair, he seems on course with Iran - even then), Hilary finds her stride. It was quite impressive the U.S was able to keep Turkey and Armenia (who are grateful) on course with their accord to keep relations between the two nations normal.

Whatever normal means.

Is there going to be a Sarah versus Hilary showdown in 2012? Bring the jello and oil, baby!

***

"Do this and that because I have the people's money!" The Obamanians are out to cut executive pay within the Big 7 companies ( Bank of America Corp., American International Group Inc., Citigroup Inc., General Motors, GMAC, Chrysler and Chrysler Financial) who stuck their hands out, begged and got taxpayer bail outs. It seems the Sassy Seven started making money again and well, they were keeping all the money. Obama was having none of it.

The Prez has sent his "Compensation watch dog" (the Comp Canine) to make this bastards see the populist light. NPR described Kenneth Feinberg this way: the special master at Treasury appointed by Obama to handle compensation issues. I prefer Comp Canine.

Round 1: Populism versus capitalism.

Obama has assured Americans" "More needs to be done."

Ouch with the ominous words.

Here's my take. Government imposing itself - even on behalf of the people - on the pay structure of what should be a company operating in the free-market system (which they are, bailouts notwithstanding) is a bad idea. Very bad.

I'm no fan of the bailouts and the companies who bagged them. I would have let them collapse, but they got the cash. So let's roll with it. However, the idea that the government is acting like a "conscience" in the capitalist system is laughable as much as it is depressing.

What will this do to workers?

Well, I learned a long time ago is you touch people's salaries and it's buh-bye. Years ago the Royal Bank (those masters of high turnover worker employment rates and purveyos of middle management mediocrity) decided they were going to cut the salaries of financial planners who were earning a good living- with bonuses and commissions some were earning as high as $120 k per year if memory remains my ally with a base of $75 k - Canadian.

Royal was going to cut back their salaries to, say, $50k and limit their bonuses so that they would not earn more than $90 k. Again, the figures may be wrong but I'm illustrating a point.

Guess what happened? The best FP's bolted and left for the competition. Clients were unhappy because by that time, they were fed up with the high turnovers and the other banks absorbed superior talent.

What the fuggarino do you think will happen here with Obama's little populist ploy? It's really not rocket science.

The mind staggers and spins and staggers again.

***

Politifact tackled two things about health care reform that always left me uneasy. One was simplistically citing insurance companies as the main culprits and the costs associated with the plan.

Read more here.

Exaggerations about costs. Democrats have at times implied that covering everyone will ultimately save the system money. President Obama has repeatedly said he wants all health care plans to cover preventive care, such as screenings for breast cancer or colon cancer. "That makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives," he said during his address to Congress. Actually, the evidence shows that screening everyone still costs a more money than it ultimately saves. So get a screening because it may save your life, not because it will save you money. We rated Obama's statement that preventive care "saves money" False. Similarly, several of the Democratic plans would add to the budget deficit; the Senate Finance Committee proposal is the only one that does not. Democratic Rep. RussCarnahan claimed that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office analyzed the House bill and found it paid for itself and then some, but we found Carnahan was using creative interpretation on the CBO numbers by counting other budget-friendly legislation that had not yet passed. We rated his statement False.


The villains.
Health insurance companies have been a favorite target for supporters of health care reform, and the attacks are often wrong. In July, President Obama said health insurance companies were "making record profits, right now." We reviewed their public filings and found that profits were actually down from previous highs, so we rated his statement False. The advocacy group Health Care for America Now blasted insurers for paying their CEOs $24 million a year. We found they were cherry-picking the highest example and that the average of others is considerably lower — just under $4 million. We rated the statement Barely True. The same group said the health insurers deny 1 out of 5 treatments prescribed by doctors. We found that statement was based one study that included claims that were later approved, and other studies found a much lower denial rates. (Between 3 and 7 percent is a better estimate.) We rated their statement False. Finally, Obama told a story of a man who was denied cancer treatment because he hadn't reported gallstones that he didn't know about. "They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it," Obama said. Actually, the man fought his insurer, received treatment, and died three and half years later. We rated Obama's statement False.

2009-10-24

Harper Leaves His Heart In San Francisco

Don't know if the PM was tongue in cheek but...he prefers U.S. news?

Hang on.

And how is this different than most Canadians?

Just as long as he doesn't base his decisions on what he see on American networks. Now that would be bizarre.

I wonder where he stands on the GOP civil war about to be waged. Is he with the Palinites or the New Majority? Stay toooooooooooned.

40 Democrats Line Up Against Funding For Abortion

Wait a sec. I thought the Democrats said there was going to be no funding for abortion. They went nuts and medieval on everyone's ass when critics dared bring this up.

So why are 40 Dems looking to block health care reform because of funding to abortion?

I know supporters (and fans) of the President want to believe in their hearts it's all because of Rush Limbaugh health care reform is in trouble.

The truth is that the Democrats have proposed a convoluted idea and have done a terrible job of selling it to the people. They have but themselves to blame.

2009-10-22

Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane Made Great Music Once Upon A Time

One of my personal favorite albums comes from the minds of Johnny Hartman (seriously, is there a more under rated and forgotten voice in music?) and the sheer magnificence of John Coltrane.

It doesn't get more reflective, beautiful and smooth as this.

About That Vaccine

What to do? What. To. Do. About the H1N1 vaccine.

I think the opening paragraph says it best:

[...]Nowadays, it's just one big scare after another filling up our daily lives. Who could forget the AIDS crisis, the Y2K bug, global warming, terrorism, SARS, avian flu, the collapse of the banking system, and so on. The end of the world is announced every six months, unless something is done, something generally costing billions of dollars and requiring at times draconian restrictions of our way of life. All of these announced catastrophes come and go, however, and the Earth keeps turning.

Behind each of these big scares, we find interest groups very much invested in having everyone believe in this next catastrophe, and having governments take "necessary measures" to prevent it: the military-industrial complex, the medical and pharmaceutical establishment, or environmental activists and companies that sell "green" products. These groups are either directly linked to the State, or they enjoy a privileged access to it and have highly developed networks of influence. [...]

[...]Should we deduce that there are some good reasons to be sceptical?! As with global warming, the more we realize that the "experts" don't even agree amongst themselves and that the supposed "consensus" on the question is just a myth meant to delegitimize and silence opponents, the less the population will swallow everything it's told without question. [...]

***

The left always charges the right engages in "fear-mongering." Hate to be the bearer of realistic and sober news but everyone does that now.

Because as the author notes in his piece: There's big cash to be made. Whether it's in global warming, war or any other racket.

You're Right But...We're Still Going To Limit Your Rights

In Quebec, remember, the state will always win over the individual - all in the name of protecting culture. In this province, it begins and ends with language and culture.

Bill 104 was struck down by the Supreme Court. That was the good news. The bad news? They're giving the government one year to, erm, modify the language applied (read: to trump the Charter) to shut down a loophole parents found in an effort to send their kids to English private school.

***

Supreme Court: You naughty Quebec. If you're going to curb civil liberties, can you do it in a more wink, wink way so that we don't have to rule on this stuff? We're busy here. Work with us!

Quebec government: Yes, SC. We promise it won't happen again!

***

Quote from the CBC:

Premier Jean Charest said he hopes to work with opposition parties on a legislative response that will underscore the "primacy of the French language" as a "key value" in Quebec society.

Well, that doesn't come as a surprise to me. Charest has no balls. So much for "will of the people." Imagine that. French-Canadian parents don't have a right to send their kids to English school here.

While this is a partial victory, it's a shame for the parents nonetheless. They have to stand by and watch the government formulate a draconian response to quash their rights while they look on helplessly.

I just wished Quebec was mature enough to just say, "Hey, it's all cool. We're cool."

Progress in Quebec? I argue not. Bad vibes all round.

Blog Link: American National Security

From a liberal perspective, I present National Security Network.

Iran and engagement:

Chester Crocker, a Reagan-era State Department official says that the administration’s critics misunderstand engagement. He writes in the New York Times: “Let’s get a few things straight. Engagement in statecraft is not about sweet talk. Nor is it based on the illusion that our problems with rogue regimes can be solved if only we would talk to them. Engagement is not normalization, and its goal is not improved relations. It is not akin to d├ętente, working for rapprochement, or appeasement... diplomatic engagement is proven to work — in the right circumstances.”

2009-10-21

From Czars To Fox To Theodore Roosevelt

If Obama is such a radical leftist then why is he in danger of raising their ire?

Just asking.

A couple of things charged against Obama are of particular interest. One is the assertion he wants to nationalize and socialize America. I have a hard time getting a handle on this one. I thought America was already pretty much socialized. Obama is merely following that path - and building on Bush jr.

The other thing we hear about are the 'Czars.' Factcheck looked into it. Funny how it worked out, eh? Although the Van Jones appointment didn't end too well.

Just nine months into his Presidency some on the right are claiming he's on his way to becoming the worst President in history.

I know people can base this on trends and experience and it could very well turn out to be accurate but I still feel it's too early to tell.

***

That being said, criticism is a fact of life in politics. The White House should get used to it. It's bizarre to watch them wage war against Fox News. As if they're the only news agency with a bias. No one seems to care the New York Times leans left, right?

I've read and heard that this administration is more transparent than the previous one. I have no way to prove this otherwise but its behavior towards the press (or one organization in particular) seems pretty petty to me.

So what if Fox leans right? It's not like they try and hide it.

In any event, like czars are nothing new in American politics, bias in journalism has a long history going as far back as William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer.

***

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”


Interesting guy that Theodore "Don't call me Teddy" Roosevelt. That's why his face is chiseled into a mountain.

And TDR, a Republican, took on corporate monopolistic practices - to name but one policy during his remarkable tenure. Was he a socialist?

Stop Breathing To Reduce Your Carbon Foot Print

Here's something new - to me anyway: Carbon Dioxide causes global warming? Not everyone is buying it.

2009-10-20

Meet Canada's Jimmy Carter

In sports, a former coach who criticizes a current coach (of the same team) is generally frowned upon. Not that it doesn't happen.

And so it is considered bad form for a former leader to cast dispersions upon a governing administration. Not that, again, it doesn't happen.

However, it hasn't stopped Jimmy Carter down south and it hasn't impeded former PM Jean 'A proof is a proof is a proof' Chretien from taking shots at their successors. Ever the combative soul, Chretien's own legacy is far from being free of heavy criticism yet, he felt he should impart his words of wisdom regarding Harper's foreign policy.

Yeah. Sure. The Liberals were such great purveyors of foreign policy. Anyone read "While Canada Slept?" Anyone?

Moreover, consider that under his benign reign: Our military was allowed to sink to woeful levels, our commitment to peacekeeping was not on par with our allies, Canada continued to be weak on foreign aid on a per capita basis, education declined, the public health system continued to be mismanaged, Adscam took place under his watch, anti-Americanism rose and above all, he did precious little during the 1995 referendum - which we barely won.

As for the economy, true, Canada enjoyed prosperity (largely because of the U.S.) but the balanced books were easy to achieve when you cut and take it from EI. Anyway, wasn't it the Trdueau/Chretien duo that created the deficit to begin with?

Remember the Red Book? I sure do. We're still waiting for those promises to be fulfilled.

Since Chretien left it has gotten worst for the Liberals.

But hey. Who needs to be critical? After all, he did get an Order of Merit! Ti-Jean is the teflon man for real. First Obama and now this?

Sheesh.

These awards are becoming watered down en maudit.

2009-10-19

Harvard Gambles And Loses

Harvard bet on interest rates going up.

I bet it was staying the same or going down. Which is why I went with a variable mortgage term.

Send me to Hah-varhd!

"Harvard University’s failed bet that interest rates would rise cost the world’s richest school at least $500 million in payments to escape derivatives that backfired.

Harvard paid $497.6 million to investment banks during the fiscal year ended June 30 to get out of $1.1 billion of interest-rate swaps intended to hedge variable-rate debt for capital projects, the school’s annual report said. The university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said it also agreed to pay $425 million over 30 to 40 years to offset an additional $764 million in swaps"

[...]Harvard has frozen employee salaries, slowed hiring, cut staff and offered other workers early retirement as part of a cost-cutting program to compensate for losses in its endowment. The fund, which dropped to $26 billion in value over the fiscal year from $36.9 billion, paid 38 percent of the school’s bills during that time, the report said [...]

Best and the brightest at work playing with...derivatives of all things!

Exceptional Family Needs Your Help

Parent of an exceptional child with special needs? Know someone in that situation? Do you care about the plight of such children trying to fit in society at large?

Then vote for Exceptional Family! It takes seconds to register and vote.

Like anything in life, it costs money to run things and the publication needs funds to expand its circulation currently at 10 000. I believe in their project and so should all Canadians!

Vote! Help out a magazine that really, truly makes a difference in the lives of thousands of kids and families.

As a teaser, check out their site. The latest cover story was written by yours truly.

2009-10-18

Sign Of The Times

Cushing Academy in Massachusetts is will be doing away with its library. It seems, according to them, physical books serve no real practical purpose anymore in the electronic age.

It's an interesting debate. Personally, I think this is unfortunate and raises a couple of important issues. Cushing is opting instead for a "learning center." But how will this learning center be stocked? Think of it. Who will input the 20 000 books the school possesses? I hope Wikipedia doesn't become a main source finding its way to the bibliography pages of a term paper.

In a larger sense, if we go electronic, who will cull humanity's information? Google has volunteered and wishes to index all the world's books on its pages. But that can't be a good thing having one company corner the library market. Right? No?

Of course.

***

Much has been said about the poor state of education in North America. Standards are set way too low. Low standards and relatively easy access to Universities has filled auditoriums with people who have no business being there. They attend because it's what society tells (even scares) them to do. Many would rather be doing something else. Like open a business perhaps or go to vocational school. But for some reason, here, we frown upon that.

It's better to shove and steer everyone into university like clueless cattle!

How many students I've seen and met who could care less about acquiring knowledge. They laboriously sat in class like lumps with absolute lack of curiosity.

Part of the reason, I surmise, is the low tuitions. If it costs nothing to go to school then it's prety much open to all. Naturally, students want to keep them low but I wonder if it's for the right reasons. Do people want to go to school because they have a specific goal in mind or are they just going with society's flow? Is it worth having people educated for its own sake?

Many seem to believe it's their right to go to school. And so it is. Everyone is free to make that choice.

However, there are limits to rights. And access to low cost education isn't a right. If they want to go, they have to be thinking about it from a young age. Get a scholarship, save money, get a job - all basic stuff. For this to happen, parents and teachers have to change their mindset of how they raise children vis-a-vis education.

I don't know what the statistics show but many students who attend post-secondary education are a bunch of zombies. They come out with their Bachelors in Whatevertosis and then go nowhere.

We have to decide what do we want out of university. What is its role in society? We can leave it as it is - it ain't all that hard to pass university except for disciplines like engineering, law and medicine for obvious reasons - and churn students out where we'll have many people with a degree. Or we can tighten access and aim for excellence and make it for the best and the brightest. Increase tuition, pay for the top teachers and have the best schools on the continent.

It's a choice. Right now, we're happy with the former but how realistic is it to keep it this way over the long run?

2009-10-17

19th Century American Anti-Imperialism

In 1892, the monarchy under Queen Liliuokalani in Hawaii was overthrown by American businessmen. The revolutionaries (although for less romantic reasons I'm sure) soon established the Republic of Hawaii in 1894. By 1897, both Houses of Congress had approved a resolution calling for the annexation of Hawaii. One year later sovereign power was transferred to the United States and two years after that in 1900, Hawaii became a territory and as a result its all Hawaiians became U.S. citizens. It officially became a state in 1959 - lucky for Magnum P.I.

However, not all politicians were in favor of annexing Hawaii. President Grover Cleveland (America's 22nd and 24th Democratic President) believed this to be an imperialist enterprise. His anti-expansionist stance made him unpopular against the internationalist policies of the Republicans under Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley.

Here's a quote from his speech to Congress opposing the annexation:

[...] I mistake the American people if they favor the odious doctrine that there is no such thing as international mortality; that there is one law for a strong nation and another for a weak one, and that even by indirection a strong power may with impunity despoil a weak one of its territory [...]

[...] The considerations that international law is without a court for its enforcement and that obedience to its commands practically depends on good faith instead of upon the mandate of a superiour tribunal only give additional sanction to the law itself and brand any deliberate infraction of it not merely as a wrong but as a disgrace. A man of true honor protects the unwritten word which binds his conscience more scrupulously, if possible, than he does the bond a breach of which subjects him to legal liabilities, and the United States, in aiming to maintain itself as one of the most enlightened nations, would do its citizens gross injustice if it applied to its international relations any other than a high standrd of honor and morality.

This Is Not Surprising

Par for the course.

Yale fails to defend freedom of speech.

Yail. Harbard. Prinstin.

All the same now.

Is Breast Cancer An Epidemic?

The other day I was listening to a skeptic discuss global warming on the radio. She ended up getting her share of calls from listeners attacking her. Maybe it was a bad day for the "pro global warming" side, but they weren't well prepared and were letting their emotions drive their arguments.

One gal just blasted her way through shouting all sorts of statistics with no rhyme or reason and finally closed with a non-sequitor about the "breast cancer epidemic." I have no clue what cancer has to do with global warming but I suppose she was trying to illustrate how evil the guest was.

But it did get me thinking about breast cancer. It certainly feels as though it's ubiquitous. I personally know of two women who have been afflicted with it. The awareness campaign, for its part, is well-organized and extremely effective.

However do statistics match the perception?

Not really. See for yourself. Here at the CDC. Notice it's the seventh leading causes of death for women in the United States and second cause of death among cancers behind lung/bronchus.

In Canada, the numbers can be viewed here and here.

A serious illness for sure and one that deserves to be combated but is it an epidemic?

Wazi-What?

Waziristan is a mountainous region in Northwest Pakistan.

So far nothing special.

However, in the context of the war on terror, this is a crucial area and the Pakistan military is set to take to the offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan. Great analysis in the link provided.

To some observers, it may be a make it or break it for either the Pakistan or the Taliban.

Two Climate Blogs Worth Exploring

Great information on climate change can be found here at World Climate Report and Watts up with that.

I'm one of those people who believes we can all be "greener" and that the environment is a legitimate issue which should form an integral part of our political and cultural discourse. Man does have an impact on nature and the environment (over fishing, hunting, burning of the Amazon etc.), however, I also don't accept we're the main culprit. Just as we're part of the problem, man will be key in finding solutions - and yes, I do believe the source of all ideas will mostly come from the private sector. Government initiatives too have a role to play.

I'm not quite on board with the alarmist views of extreme environmentalists. To me, all these convoluted "cap and trade," "carbon foot prints" and "carbon taxes" schemes are rooted in a "we have to do something" mindset. I'm not so sure they're the answer.

But they will make some folks very rich.

2009-10-16

Exploring The Italian Mafia

Fantastic discussion - both the post itself and the comments - on the Italian mafia over at Man of Roma.

So

A Muslim Mafia infiltrating the U.S. government?

Discuss.

It takes a topic like this one that compels me to wonder what discussions on the internet would have been like during World War II and the internment of Japanese, Italian, Ukranian and German North Americans.

I'm sure many would have agreed with it erring on the side of caution and national security and others would have been against it citing issues of civil liberties.

Ah, fear versus paranoia versus security.

Personally, the Muslim case is different. They have explicitly stated this is their wish. Best to monitor this with a sober mind.

Preempting Accomplishment

Bush jr. reintroduced the doctrine of preemptive war and the Nobelians have introduced to the world, or at least solidified, the notion of preemptive accomplishment.

Talk about gambling.

I bring this up because it fascinates me how people are still trying to justify this silly decision.

And no, it wasn't for eight months work, the deadline came and past in February so it's based on two weeks. Either the fix was in or the Nobelians really believe their drivel.

But How WIll Savings Truly Be Achieved?

In the what the fuck do I know but I'm still going to comment category:

I'm a pretty competent feller when it comes to reading and interpreting financial figures but when I listen to the Baucus bill I must admit I'm lost. Let me see if I get this straight. The Democrats claim it will cost $800 billion up front but will save money in the long run?

Ok.

Let's assume this is true. Let's assume health care spending drops to say, 12% from 16% of overall GDP. That's a 4% savings. Sounds great. But will it necessarily translate into the $800 billion just to flatten the debt incurred? If so, over how long a period? What's the interest cost on it? Representing 1/6th of the U.S. economy, the interest costs alone on such a massive amount can be crippling.

In other words, if something costs you $10, you're $10 in the hole. You have to make back the $10 just to balance your budget and only then you can begin to save and grow your finances. Normally, you make that by working or selling something.

But the health care reform bill, as far as I can see, is not a profit making endeavor. It uses free market lingo but the government doesn't produce anything. So where is the money going to come from? How can they recuperate the $800 (more like $2 trillion as Senator Harry Reid admitted) just through savings? How are they shifting funds around?

Oh. Wait. They propose to make cuts in Medicare - something politicians apparently always balked at. What are the odds they will do it this time? If they don't, the only option is, well, to increase taxes across the board I would surmise.

Moreover, it will take years if not decades to see any real savings in this deal. Health industry and demographic factors change over time. Financial variables change over time. You can't say "this will cost us X amount now and this is where we will be later on" without discounting the future.

When it comes to finances, things should always be simple and crystal clear. If you plan to build something you should have the cash already on hand. Put it to you another way, they remind me of investors so desperate to get in on the action (think tech bubble) they will not think twice to leverage themselves on margin with the risky thinking it will all pay off somehow down the road.

Guess what happens? Yup. Margin call! And the person is left stunned and incapable of meeting the call.

To me, as it's proposed, this makes no financial sense. Unless, of course, I'm probably missing something. Can someone set me straight?

Finally, there's a lot of "the private sector being more efficient than the government is a myth" logic going on. It's so patently stupid to assert this, it doesn't even merit a response. People who say this don't, I'm assuming, own businesses or have a clue how business works.

This doesn't mean companies in the private sector aren't efficient or aren't subsidized. That happens. But it doesn't follow that the private enterprise system is a myth.

I'm going to take my chance and guess this $800 billion dollars will likely grow over time. Whatever inefficiencies and shortcomings the system has now, why not try to tweak it with new laws (such as Torte reform) as opposed to create a whole new government bureaucracy? See how that plays out.

2009-10-15

What's Up With The Polar Bear?


60% of the world's polar bears live in Canada. Yet, we chose the beaver as out national symbol. What's up with that?

Join me in petitioning Ottawa to reconsider this oversight and to make things right. Any animal that can rock a school bus or pounce through thick solid ice and pummel its way through anything is my kind of animal!

Enough about me.

Let's talk about the polar bears. Much has been made about their fate and I point you to polarbearsinternational.org and the North American bear center for details and information.

Is The White House Warring Against The Left?

I'm sure American conservatives are unaware of this.

By way of Undernews, link to Salon's Glen Greenwald and a piece about Obama waging war against the left. A good read.

This Blog Is A Leading Indicator

Someone asked me the other day about housing starts and what they mean and after reading that starts are up 18% in the third quarter (Q3 in investment lingo) in Canada, I figured now was a good time to tackle it.

In an economy, there's something called a business cycle. The measures or indicators used in determining the progress of a cycle come in three forms: leading, coincident and lagging.

Housing starts fall under the leading category. While not infallible, leading indicators generally "peak and trough" before the overall economy and are observed to anticipate the direction of a cycle.

Why are housing starts a leading indicator? Can you think of bigger purchase people make? Buying a house is its own "stimulus package." Think of it. Think of all the things you need to buy for your new home. The goods and services required cut right across the retail landscape. It can be a way of measuring the health of consumer confidence as they tend to precede other big ticket purchases like cars and appliances. That's why starts are an important indicator.

Other leading indicators include: new durable orders, shipment/inventories, movements and changes in profits and stock prices, spot commodity prices (demand for raw materials) and average hours worked per week.

Statistics Canada measures leading indicators through a composite of 10 leading indicators into one index.

Coincident indicators, for their part, are those that which move or change more or less at the same time as the overall economy and include: GPD, retail sales and personal income. Last are lagging indicators and they change after the overall economy and they include equipment and capital spending - for example business and credit loans, the unemployment rate and inflation.

As for my blog, I anticipate the overall direction and mood of society. That's why you must all read.

In my mind anyway.

2009-10-14

Is There Room For Intelligent Design In The Halls Of Scientic Discourse?

If I understand correctly, which is rare indeed, Intelligent Design is also creationism? In any event, apparently there's a "signature in the cell" in our DNA that brings proponents of ID (which is usually associated with religion) closer to, well, proving Darwin wrong.

If all this is true, I guess this means destiny is real. Our lives are already mapped out.

I probably have an Intelligent Breakdown cell.

Blog Link Of Interest

If you like informative blogs check Undernews out.

It's worth the trip.

Trust me.

Would I fail you?

Don't answer that.

2009-10-13

iPod In Cars; Dollar Impact On Economy

I notice a lot of people have taken to driving with ear phones - I assume to listen to their iPods.

This is not good. In fact, it's every bit as offensive as driving while talking on the phone. I guess people don't believe listening is an important part of prudent driving.

***

Heard on the radio a news anchorman say about the rising Canadian dollar that it was "good and bad news" as if to say sometimes it's one or the other.
.
A rise or decline of the dollar will always be a double edge sword bringing both good and bad news for importers and exporters. A rise in the dollar is good, simplistically stated, for importers and bad for exporters. What goes up, yin and yang (whoever they were), what God giveth...

Whiny Democrats; Obama Needs His Mojo; Liberals And Liberty

Great article by John Nichols of The Nation. Blunt and honest, he does a great service to Democratic supporters. Unconventional indeed.

Stop whining and govern.

***

Obama needs to find his mojo - and fast.

"Quietly" sending 13 000 troops as some sort of "compromise" is misguided. Give the requested number or get out.

***

Question: Do liberals care about individual liberties?

I ask this because, aside from the fact that liberalism has a rich legacy with liberty, with all the yelling about liberal love of government, one can easily fall into the misconception that liberals don't care about individual liberties.

Interesting Comment Section; Ethics; Health Care Bill Passes

I pulled this from The Hill. It's about Rush Limbaugh and his contention of how Obama is negatively impacting race relations domestically.

One thing is for sure, the mention of Limbaugh's name leads to quite a debate.

A comment in particular caught my eye:

As an Independent that "regrettably" voted for Obama, I totally agree with Limbaugh. It's not Obama's skin color,"mulatto", it is his left leaning policies. His policies has brought out conservative thinking I didn't realized I have, and I voted for the guy!!!

Many independents may share her view. Only a devoted devotee of Obama (and his idealism - whatever it may be. Has he come up with a new way to govern the international community? Not as far as I can see) would deny this trend.

But the bigger message made by the poster in bold is just how highly transient political leanings, motives and ideologies really are. It also points to the power of perception. To this person, who possibly considered herself centrist has been turned off (transient) by Obama's leftist leanings (perception). It "pushed" her to the right.

I often thought and wondered to myself, if I would be in a right-wing mileu every day of my life I'd probably be a liberal and vice-versa.

***

With Limbaugh linked to buying the St. Louis Rams, people are rehashing his comments about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb (Philly's favorite wipping boy) a few years back.

At the time, Slate.com wrote this in defense of the comment and many pundits, if I remember right, in the football community agreed with Limbaugh.

The author concluded:

Rush Limbaugh didn't say Donovan McNabb was a bad quarterback because he is black. He said that the media have overrated McNabb because he is black, and Limbaugh is right.

Does this make him a racist? Of course not. But The Nation believes it does and quite frankly I think they're way off base here. Limbaugh, let it be known right here and now, is not a racist. The author has pulled all quotes out of context. But hey, this is all par for the course these days. After seeing an award be given to someone who was in office for two fricken weeks at the deadline, I've lost all hope on the principle of merit. I'm gonna run with the bulls and go all "hope" loopy like everyone else.

The questionable part of the article is the use of a quote attributed to Limbaugh that he claims he never said:

We didn't have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: slavery built the South. I'm not saying we should bring it back; I'm just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.

Limbaugh said he traced this fabrication back to a blogger. If Limbaugh didn't say it, then why are people in the media using it? Do they not fact check?

Anyway.

As an Eagles fan, I don't agree. Yes, the Eagles haven't been an effective offensive team in the past (trying to score from inside the 20 yard line has never been their strong point) indeed led by a ferocious defense. But in recent years, the offense has been much stronger under McNabb's guidance. I think, and this gets overlooked, the main reason why the Eagles offense stuttered in the past is because McNabb never really had a world class receiver to throw the ball to; to say nothing of a suspect running game.

It's not a coincidence the Eagles had one of the best offenses when Terrell Owens was catching the ball and Brian Westbrook running with the ball - both outstanding players in their own right. McNabb got too much of the blame for when the offense was ineffective.

But that wasn't Limbaugh's point.

***

Hm. I said Hm.

***

The healthcare bill passes. Save money in the long run? I doubt it.


2009-10-12

Rushmore Clips: I Wish I Knew

People (the sort running 'round my head on empty) are always asking me what kind of student I was in school.

In a word or two? I sucked. Wait. That was a bit harsh. I was average. That's more like it.

Back then, no one gave you a trophy for potential. That's a recent development - and a destructive one at that.

I got a lot of "hey, junior you sure have potential. How come your grades are so low?" from teachers in my day. Ooof, if I got a Hayes greenback for every time I heard that...

By the time I was done, teachers had given up. I didn't salvage some academic integrity until university. Even then I didn't play my cards right. My ambitions were always...elsewhere.

***

Once, in the sixth grade, my teacher had it in for me for some reason. I guess I rubbed her the wrong way. Maybe it's because I wore Lacoste. I don't know.

On this particular day, she got on my case for not doing my homework while I was hanging up some crap over the chalk board for some reason. All I could do is smirk like a douchetard when she asked me why I didn't do my homework. I felt inadequate. There was no Oxford on the horizon for dear old me. I wasn't a serious guy when it came to scholastics, what can I say?

Again, details are sketchy, but I had prepared an interesting collage on a big card board sheet for a project. I remember my friend J.C. telling the teacher about it as I stood on a desk at the chalk board. I was too embarrassed to tell her about it. Yes, I was fully prepared to let it set by my desk for eternity - or at least until the janitor picked it up. I figured after being belittled and blasted for not completing my homework she wasn't going to care about some creative cardboard contraption I came up with.

Partially impressed and partially annoyed she said what I lacked in diligence (or some word I can't really recall) I made up in amibition.

I wished my dragon on my polo breathed fire on her sorry ass.

The truth is, much like now, my mind was always elsewhere. Never focused on the immediate. It made for one tough school experience. My friend, who is convinced I could have been a top student with a little effort, under estimated just how unfocused I was. He attributed my distinct inability to pull in the grade to my being "too cool for life."

I was always more realistic and frank with myself.

Rushmore is among my personal favorite movies. There's a cadence to the flick that just resonates with me. And yes, in Max Fisher you do get a glimpse of how I was - without the charisma and activities. I wish I was as single minded as he was!

I was always reading dreaming, thinking, and writing about something else. The 5:50 mark especially brings me back. Ah, those were the days.



And then this part with Bill Murray who was simply great in his role as an unfulfilled millionaire with two dork sons:



And the restaurant scene:



Do I have regrets. Yes and no. I wished I was more, erm, aware of my path in life. Now I see things in a clearer light. I just hope it's not too late.

Which brings me to the ending of the film. In particular the song "Ooh, la, la" by Faces; one of those songs that simply compels one to reflect. I wish I knew then what I know now indeed.

Measuring Freedom And Liberty

The previous post got me furiously pounding the commmmpewter in search of the elusive freest society on the planet. There are many think-tanks and organizations that monitor "human freedom" and "liberty" index, each with their own criteria.

It's tough to gauge and quantify something like "freedom" but I think they all do a fair job of giving us an indication of where we (as in the world; the human species) stand. By most studies, freedom is measured according to freedom of the press, democracy, economy, polity and individual.

Canada, for its part, as a whole, though not the "freest" on any list, does well overall. Though I still maintain we're over regulated and the impulse to regulate more is ever present.

We're essentially, thankfully, a top 10 country and do consistently better than our neighbors to the south. I often invoke the founding fathers more as a reminder of what we should aspire to on a liberty level and the irony is that Canada fares better than the USA on average - according to the sources linked.

Although the Heritage Foundation begs to differ. Of all the lists I've seen, they have the U.S. ranked the highest in 6th spot while Canada sits in 7th. Singapore is second. Singapore? Really?

The Fraser Institute, another conservative think-tank has similar rankings.

Another list can be found here - not sure about when it was published but it gives you a neat list of libertarian parties around the world. Freedom House also monitors, you guessed it, freedom.

I know The Economist publishes its own rankings but I was not able to find an online version of its Pocket World In Figures. The closest I could come to is this and this.

***

On a slightly off tangent, global competitiveness (which I imagine discounts freedom in its calculations) is also measured. Here, the United States rules. Canada is 10th.

Are We In A Democracy?

Sometimes I wonder.

As most of you know, I tend to accept the premise "private liberties erode over time" especially when citizens no longer feel compelled to defend it.

It's the natural order of things. I surmise. I could be wrong.

Consider a law proposed in British Columbia (who is behind this piece of shit idea anyway?) where if you dare criticize the Olympics law enforcement can enter your home, fine and/or arrest you.

"Temporary" law my ass. Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac, man.

No, this is not a typo. They can fine you up to $10 000 for...insulting the Olympics! China, Canada, USA - what's the diff anymore? We've packed it in. Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, we're sorry. We've failed you in the long run. We need a Great Liberty Awakening.

I thought in a democracy freedom of thought and speech was to be protected and defended at all cost.

If this is the "spirit" of the Olympics then I want no part of it. Who cares about the lousy medals we've gained if the price is loss of liberty?

Stephen Lennon McCartney Harper

How can you not vote for the guy after this? PM Stephen Harper displays his musical talents at the National Arts Center playing The Beatles 'With a little help from my friends' with Yo-Yo Ma. Too bad it cut off.

Everyone made a stink about Bill Clinton playing the sax back in the day, well Harper on the piano ain't too shabby.

2009-10-11

Question

Has anyone ever died from Jell-O?

In these hyper-watch-what-you-eat times, I just thought to ask.

Rorty's American Philosophy And Conservatism Comes With An Expiration Date

I Came across the obituary of Richard Rorty who was a giant of American philosophy in the 20th century. Highly complex and difficult to really define, Rorty was essentially a post-modern deconstructionist. But he wasn't anti-American as most post-modern (nutty) scholars (at least that I've seen or read) are. From the NYT:

"Over time, he became increasingly occupied by politics. In “Achieving Our Country” in 1998, he despaired that the genuine social-democratic left that helped shape the politics of the Democratic Party from 1910 through 1965 had collapsed. In an interview, he said that since the ’60s, the left “has done a lot for the rights of blacks, women and gays, but it never attempted to develop a political position that might find the support of an electoral majority.”In recent years, Mr. Rorty fiercely criticized the Bush administration, the religious right, Congressional Democrats and anti-American intellectuals. Though deeply pessimistic about the dangers of nuclear confrontation and the gap between rich nations and poor, Mr. Rorty retained something of Dewey’s hopefulness about America. It is important, he said in 2003, to take pride “in the heritage of figures like Jefferson, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Martin Luther King and so on,” he said, and “to use this pride as a means of generating sympathy” for a country’s political aims."

The bold part is interesting and explains, in part, an oft cited reason why liberalism can't take itself to a higher political plane.

***

For its part, Conservatism (in whatever form, Limbaughian, Christian fundamentalism, classical etc.) is the political ideology du jour. Its authors, of the pop variety, rule the best sellers lists and its talk show and television personalities dominate ratings. Naturally, this will lead to scruntiy among those on both the left (with the requisite Reagan bashing) and right (yes, some are concerned about the direction of conservatism) as it does here and here and here.

The first links to The Liberal which graces its pages with debatable phrases like, "By keeping his language consistent and clear, and finding the line between simple and simplistic, Obama reminded America that meaning does inhere in language, and that postmodern politics cannot jettison the fundamentals of communication."

Be that is it may, aside from the fact that to some people decoding his message or speeches, this communicative talent can also be interpreted as "bull shit", Bush was every bit as clear and to the point (I never really was lost on what his intentions were) but was, naturally, considered a moron, as the author skillfully asserted without actually saying it.

And then closes with a quote from Mencken and comment:

The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre – the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.

The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

"It seemed to many that Mencken’s prediction had come true with the election of George W. Bush. But in her failure to frighten sufficient numbers of Americans into believing they needed a hockey mom to save them from the liberals under the bed, Sarah Palin showed that if the plain folks of the land would tolerate a moron, they would not, finally, vote for an oxymoron."

I don't like the zero-sum attitude here. As if liberals can't be morons. Please. Mencken certainly wasn't referring to one side of the coin I'm sure. He was waaaayyyy to smart for that.

Liberals often claim, as the writer does, conservatism's essence (as a means to achieve power) is to instill fear. Lost on them, of course, is they employ the same type of tactics; only it's under the guise of "progressive" thought. Conservatives aren't so presumptuous.

The last link (of three earlier in the post) is about Irving Kristol from Slate. Aren't neo-cons, really at the core of it, disaffected liberals?

For kicks I add an informative book review about conservatism here from Dissent magazine.

***

Proclaming conservatism to be "brain-dead" and the "death of conservatism" (as if in its passing, liberals can finally move forward like a wife who had been abused by her husband) may seem a tad sensationalistic. That doesn't mean there aren't some legitimate concerns as David Frum's New Majority contends. Mr. Frum, just my personal useless advice, should expand on the "NewMajority.com is a site edited by David Frum, dedicated to the modernization and renewal of the Republican party and the conservative movement" blurb on his "About us" page. It's kinda vague.

Of course, the death of conservatism, as it were, is grossly exaggerated if not plain old wrong. It's no more dead or alive as liberalism. There are no expiration dates to philosophies. They may get forgotten and reinvented or even mangled but they don't die.

How do you stab an ideology to death anyway?






Zombies And Democrats

From 'The Ghost Breakers' (1940) starring Bob Hope:

2009-10-10

Blog Erotique


I'm not responsible for anything that happens to those who peruse the erosblog.

Close the door, will ya?

Given my disturbed (internal) impulses, I was surprised to find out, after a couple thousand fricken posts, I never ever never posted anything about eroticism - at least that's what the tags tell me.

Sneak peak at what thy shall see at eros. I have no clue what's going down here. I keep looking for the Twister map but it eludes me. That was some choreographer.

Poking Fun At The Nobelians And Barking At The Moon

More fallout from Obama winning the Nobel Peace prize. Here's a nice round up of all that was said. Everyone has an opinion and I must say it's a lot of fun reading them - except for the douchetards who think he deserves it. Man, there's some bad reasoning out there.

So. This is the change he was talkin' 'bout eh, Willis?

***

Oh, did you hear about the "bombing" of the moon?

I hear the purpose of why he's looking (and barking) at the moon is because he can really "get a feel" for power from above. The Prez says, "It's as close to God as I can get! Hear my HOWL!"

I personally think we should kill all the Moonians. Those bastards.

What more, the President should blow a big stinking hole right in the middle of it and make a maple doughnut of it. With the pieces that fall from the sky, the government should pick them up, and hand the chunks (oh, roughly the size of a meatloaf or gold brick) to people. Why? For propaganda, that's why! Ooof. Slow dimwits. Film the carefully selected people on major networks taking a bite out of the moon while shouting, "Manifest Destiny!"

Not satisified with this, then the President should throw the Nobel Peace trophy (which up until that point had become a pendant for his necklace) at the Constitution - while riding a unicycle.

What better way to gain more attention and scare the living shit of people around the world?

***

I suck at "top 10" humor but hey, I'm giving it a shot.

Top 11 reasons why the Nobel committee chose President Obama:

11) Wanted to beat the Heisman Trophy, Pulitzer Prize and Man of the Millennium committees to the punch.
10) For eating his vegetables - or at least saying he will.
9) Jimmy Carter kept cranking calling us saying, "Vote for Barack or watch me call Norway racist on national television!"
8) To spite Bill Clinton and his wife, whasshername, for no damn good reason.
7) Felt bad the putzes at the IOC overlooked our boy.
6) For his outstanding commitment and contribution to the art of community organizing.
5) Truthfully? We want a black leader too in Norway!
4) For his work during the Gates affair. Exemplary stuff.
3) For throwing out the first pitch at a Chicago White Sox game. Cy Young, Cy Young!
2) We're running out of reasons.
1) Aaaannnnnddddd....obviously, he's not George W. Bush! Duh!

2009-10-09

Two Important Reporters

American journalist David Graham Phillips wrote an interesting article for Cosmopolitan magazine in 1906 title 'The Treason of the Senate.' It was a sensationalized and muckraking series exposing government and corporate corruption in the United States. It turned out to be a landmark piece which led to the 17th amendment.

Did democracy die in the USA a long time ago?

Big money and corrupt government officials will always find loopholes.

***

Reading about Blackrock, Goldman Sachs, Robert Rubin, Timothy Geithner, Federal Reserve, Wall St. and on and on. What a mean, vicious little cycle. If I didn't know any better I'd conclude they're the mafia.

It's frightening to realize these people are essentially criminals - and now run the show. The game is rigged.

Just google their names. Add Charles Rangel and Nancy Pelosi. It's not a pretty sight.

President Obama surrounded himself with the wrong people.

Change. Please. Please. Please.

Which led me to this splendid little piece in The Nation from the summer about journalist Gretchen Morgenson.

Both Morgenson and Phillips before her, did the dirty work of investigating and seeking out the truth when it comes to the unholy alliance of government and corporate interests.

Are We Ready For Autism?

Autism a "sleeping giant."

2009-10-08

The Most Important Futures Contract In The World Today

Futures contract: A standardized, transferable, exchange-traded contract that requires delivery of a commodity, bond, currency, or stock index, at a specified price, on a specified future date. Unlike options, futures convey an obligation to buy. The risk to the holder is unlimited, and because the payoff pattern is symmetrical, the risk to the seller is unlimited as well. Dollars lost and gained by each party on a futures contract are equal and opposite. In other words, futures trading is a zero-sum game. Futures contracts are forward contracts, meaning they represent a pledge to make a certain transaction at a future date. The exchange of assets occurs on the date specified in the contract.

Sounds like Obama's peace pledge. Can he, we, cash in?

I really don't know how to begin this post about Obama winning the Nobel Peace prize.

Follow this link to Politifacts to see what he's accomplished. Yeah, yeah, he brings "hope" but saying and doing are two different things.

That being said, it's not his fault he was chosen. Look at it this way, is it the athlete's fault if an owner gives him a contract he doesn't deserve? In some cases we actually wish an athlete steps forward and says he doesn't deserve but really, how realistic is this?

There are many things to take away from this so let's just do it in point form.

-The irony of the of the peace prize is that Nobel, first name Alfred, discovered dynamite of all things.

-Obama now joins those bastion of peace Al Gore and Yasser Arafat. In fact, the day those Norwegian douchetards handed the prize to Yasser was the day I ceased taking them seriously.

-Wasn't the deadline in February? Which according to my math, would indicate he had been on the job, what, two weeks or so?

-Here's a list of the people they overlooked. Now try and tell me he deserves it more than those people. Try.

-Intention trumps actual accomplishment now.

-Couldn't they have waited to see if he can turn rhetoric into action?

-This only magnifies the scrutiny that will be placed on him regarding basket-case nations like Iran and North Korea. Obama has painted himself into a corner foreign policy wise. If, let's say, only a military option remains with Iran? What then, brown cow?

-Yet, while he's in Oslo, the generals in Afghanistan are still waiting for him to decide on what to do regarding their requests.

-It should be given out on Oscar night from now on.

-I told you the Norwegians are evil! Bomb them!

-Relax, leftist elites enslaved by PC. I didn't mean it. I like Norway. In an indifferent and platonic kind of way.

-The Prez should have brought James Taylor with him that way they could have all kicked off their shoes, taken off their socks and sing together while roasting marshmallow.

-This just in! Norway votes Obama as their new leader!

-This just in! Obama's restaurant gets perfect Michelin rating! Even though he doesn't own a restaurant!

-When will he won the Nobel prize for literature for a book he never wrote?

-From the Nobel site:

On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes, the Nobel Prizes. As described in Nobel's will, one part was dedicated to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses".

Yes. We've come such a long way.

-The Nobelians explain, "For his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples"

Extraordinary? Extraordinary?

-'American Idol' has decided to cancel next season and just give the title to....wait...President Obama!!!

-Of course, this was a vote against Bush. The irony, another one, is that Obama and Bush are really not that different.

-It's ridiculous to conclude he deserved it because he "represents a reversal of the Bush/Cheney" doctrine. He still has to concretely make his own ideas work.

-Last, dare I say, and this is just my opinion, the President should turn this down. Alas, this just in: He donates the winnings to charity. I think this was the right thing to do. This suggests he realizes the situation.

Ok. Enough of this. I don't mean to belittle this but I think anyone with a moderate grasp on things (of any ideological stripe) can agree this is premature.

I hope when the date comes, the futures contract will prove profitable. He's got three years to make it all good.

Social Clubs I Would Join

People always ask me (the ones in my head anyway), "Hey, Como-cop, if you could choose one organization which one would it be?"

"Great question!", I always reply as I give them the middle finger as my impatient and irritated Asian fat dwarf looks on with a slight creepy smirk.

Surreal imagery aside, if I could, I would join this group.

Or. The Society of Uncompromising Men seen in the image. Why?
















Because they represent all that is good and wholesome and manly in men.

But people are never satisfied with this. They usually answer, "No silly retarded rabbit, we mean which political party?"

To which I respond, "what's the difference?"



The Man Who Inspired All Scooby Doo Villains


John C. Calhoun