Anarchy And Liberty

Not, that I ever contemplated anarchism in any meaningful manner but I do think it's a misunderstood "ism." In my typically simplistic approach, anarchists don't advocate lawlessness. Rather, they don't accept government sanctioned coercion.

Sounds good to me.

Here's a site I discovered thanks to Skeptical Eye (link in sidebar) called Strike the Root. The site may be overboard for the more mild-mannered among you. If you work in a bank or are in love with Obama this is not the place for you - unless you want to be introduced to another world. In some cases it borders on paranoia (I think) and leaves itself open to conspiracy theories but overall it posit fair questions. Get in touch with you inner-anarchist/libertarian.

An article titled, "I don't support the troops" should get your mental juices going.

One line I relate to, "That cop behind the radar gun is the thin line between order and all out, Mad Max-style war of all against all." I do have a problem with cops hiding at every corner ready to pinch you. These days, the police force is out to "get you." This is not paranoia. I drive on the streets a lot; more than the average person. It's absurd how many cops I see setting up traps. Go serve and protect; do something! Instead, they set up for the most mild of infractions. They often say it's a way of keeping you "honest." But is it the police forces job to make us "civilized" on the roads? I would argue no. My personal favorite is, "don't break the law." Well, you know, what" Too many people are getting lynched for driving five kilometers over the speed limit. I've no problem with going after reckless assholes but to stop people for crossing on a solid line in the middle of rush hour is full of shit in my opinion.

Another line about cops:

"The job description for cops is to infringe upon people’s rights. Sure, occasionally they’ll help someone out, but most of the time they just serve to harass the public. I have a question: how many little (and some big) infringements on people’s rights does it take before one can rightfully “defend” oneself against the police?"

Brave guy. Especially considering the new elevated status civil servants have since 9/11.

The site tackles the concept and issue of leadership. While I partake in political discussions (in other words, give into the machine) I've always been skeptical and suspicious of leaders. A leader is only as strong as the system that produces them - and lemme tell ya, I'm not impressed by the system. To me politicians, are over rated narcissists. I listen to them and wonder if it's true if this is the best we've got.

I think the real smart people stay clear of politics. Honorable people don't enter it because they know their honor and integrity will be tried and tested if not destroyed. Politics takes you into the epicenter of power and with it human flaws and vices.

That's not to say intelligent people who mean well don't give it a try. There are plenty of people that fit this description. But to make it at the top, means you need to be driven to the point of obsession. You need to play the snake game.

I'll stop here lest I sound absurd.

But I'll escape this post with a great quote I read on the CBC website, "the hatred towards Bush was overrated and we knew the love for Obama was highly overrated, as well."

All I know is that I never really listened or took seriously any superior in my life.

Does that make me an anarchist?

Call Me Old Fashioned

Or plain tight-butted.


I went to pick-up Szechuan at a local restaurant this evening and observed three people eating with various hats and caps on.

It annoyed me. There they sat. All unaware of their impolite ignorance. Public spaces used to be inhabited by common politesse and sense of style. Today, all is game. It's a sign of progress I'm told. Maybe it is. However, I would much rather we maintain some sense of etiquette in establishments like restaurants and other social places.

Since I'm on the subject. During my university days the way some people dressed for class was downright disrespectful. There's "casual" and then there's "casual." Shorts and torn jeans should never be accepted. It made the school look second-rate.

Furthering this mild rant, years ago I accompanied a friend to court. He was contesting a traffic ticket. As we waited for his turn, an unshaven man (as opposed to woman. Ooo) was dressed in cargo shorts, sandals and stood with his hands in his pockets with a lackadaisical posture. He looked like he was ready to go on an African safari or to the beach. It was ridiculous. In fact, I remember watching him and thinking to myslelf, "he looks ridiculous."

Sure enough, after he won his case, the judge removed his glasses and took him to task. He warned him to never dress that way in a court of law again.

When I worked at the bank, our bosses decided to loosen up and grant "caz" Fridays. It was welcomed after a full week of neckties and suits. It's not like people were going to notice; we were mutual fund reps on the phone. Nevertheless, I understood the bank's position. We represented the top bank in the country.

The experiment didn't last long. It was as if people lost their common sense and went mad. They were walking in like the chap I mentioned in the court scene. All they were missing were a bag of peanuts, swiss army knives, suntan lotion and beach umbrellas.

Needless to say, the act wore thin on the managers and casual Friday was stopped.

Call me what you want. Learning to apply appropriate attire takes class and discipline. An art form I fear long gone.

Link Of Interest: Chaldean Americans

A link to an interesting community known as the Chaldean Americans.

Some excerpts (my comments in red):

"...While the vast majority of Iraqis, like residents of other Arabic nations, are Muslim, Chaldeans are Roman Catholic, and practice one of the 18 to 20 separate rites of the Catholic Church. They also differ from other Iraqis in that their ancestral language is not Arabic but a dialect of Aramaic, also referred to as Chaldean, Assyrian, or Syriac. As a result of their religious and linguistic differences from other Iraqi immigrants, Chaldeans tend not to identify themselves either with Iraq or the Arab world, but prefer being called Chaldean American."

"...The most dramatic event to affect Chaldean Americans in some time occurred in 1991 and 1992, when hostilities broke out between Iraq and the United States. As the only major concentration of Iraqi immigrants in the United States, Chaldean Americans received a great deal of attention from the press, the military, and the general public. Reporters from throughout the world sought to interview community leaders concerning their views. Military representatives worried about the degree to which local Chaldeans might be security threats. Moreover, rumors spread that Chaldean Americans would be incarcerated in a camp in Louisiana as was done with the Japanese (and Italians and Germans) during the Second World War. Since Chaldean Americans and Arab Americans are linked together in the public mind, both were subjected to harassment by the general public, who saw them as local representatives of a hostile foreign power—in spite of the fact that many Arab Americans immigrated from nations which were U.S. allies during the Gulf War."

"For Chaldean Americans, who view themselves as committed Americans and do not identify strongly with either Iraq or the Arab World, the experience was distressing. The Gulf War was, in a real sense, a battle of brother against brother, since many families had sons in both the U.S. and Iraqi armies..."

"The media has recorded many cultural clashes between blacks and Chaldeans in the United States, which have resulted from Chaldean Americans operating stores in fundamentally urban, African American communities. The large grocery chains have found these areas unprofitable and have largely abandoned them, but they can be quite profitable when run as an extended family business. Many blacks feel that these stores overcharge, only hire Chaldeans, and neglect to reinvest into the community. The high prices usually result from having to make purchases in smaller quantities. Chaldeans also hire members of their own ethnic group because they are usually family members who demand less income. Some improvements have been made, however, as many Chaldean stores are increasingly hiring more African Americans, thus contributing to the community."

Reminds me of Spike Lee's Do the right thing and the tensions between blacks and Italians (Danny Aiello and John Turturro) who ran a pizzeria in a black neighborhood.


Link Of Interest: Technology

I don't read enough about technology. But when I do I'm reminded of the fact that despite all the reading and debating I do, there's always room for more knowledge. Always.

The Technium is an engaging read on matters of tech. How the internet is changing how we perceive ownership and probably going to replace it.

Here's an excerpt:

"Very likely, in the near future, I won't "own" any music, or books, or movies. Instead I will have immediate access to all music, all books, all movies using an always-on service, via a subscription fee or tax. I won't buy – as in make a decision to own -- any individual music or books because I can simply request to see or hear them on demand from the stream of ALL. I may pay for them in bulk but I won't own them. The request to enjoy a work is thus separated from the more complicated choice of whether I want to "own" it. I can consume a movie, music or book without having to decide or follow up on ownership.

For many people this type of instant universal access is better than owning. No responsibility of care, backing up, sorting, cataloging, cleaning, or storage. As they gain in public accessibility, books, music and movies are headed to become social goods even though they might not be paid by taxes. It's not hard to imagine most other intangible goods becoming social goods as well. Games, education, and health info are also headed in that direction."

There's no arguing that all is at the push of a button now. At some point, I imagine libraries going virtual. Personally, I'm not quite there. I still buy books and cd's. I like the physicality of things. I still enjoy buying magazines and newspapers.

Maybe my logic is faulty here, and intuition can be faulty (take that Descartes), but if we don't own anything or won't own anything how boring will life be? Owning implies physically selecting an object that usually reflects who you are. Just go into a house and you'll see this is true.

I can't help but get the feeling that while we can live vicariously through technology will the cost be individual uniqueness? I think about the kitchen scene in Star Wars before Skywalker's aunt and uncle are killed. The kitchen was so blah. The meal looked tasteless. One day we'll probably eat an entire meal through a pill or straw. What will happen to the art of cuisine then?

It may be progress but do we really want that?

John Updike's Read On Baseball Life

As I've freely admitted, that is without intellectual coercion, on this blog in a time past, I don't read that many novels. My grasp of literature, genres and authors is adequate but not profound.

Nevertheless, I don't quite fall into the "I've read a book" category. I give ample time and attention, when interest permits, to novels. I like prose.

With this confession proclaimed, John Updike - a giant (as opposed to carni freak of nature) of American 20th century literature who recently passed away- is one of those authors whose novels I never took the time to read.

But I have read something produced by Updike's mind. It was a sports piece from The New Yorker titled "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu." I came across this article years ago in "The Best American Sports Writing Of The Century."

It was a superb journey into the poetic and vulgar world of Ted Williams -a baseball hitting artisan - and his retiring from the game.

Enjoy a glimpse of a part of the story I liked:

"But of all team sports, baseball, with its graceful intermittences of action, its immense and tranquil field sparsely settled with poised men in white, its dispassionate mathematics, seems to me best suited to accommodate, and be ornamented by, a loner. It is an essentially lonely game. No other player visible to my generation concentrated within himself so much of the sport's poignance, so assiduously refined his natural skills, so constantly brought to the plate that intensity of competence that crowds the throat with joy."

The game is tailored made for the lonely - or for those at least comfortable in moments of free and personal solitude. I've been to a few therapeutic games by myself. I've spent many comfortable and painful lonely days and nights listening to the sound of baseball on the radio.

I'm often asked "how can you like baseball? It's so slow and boring." It's a question so baffling to me I've no idea how to respond to it. Even if I attempt to explain it on a logical and layman level it probably wouldn't help any.

I get the same question about jazz.

In a way they compliment one another. I like the mysteries each provide. How so much is happening in the background.

They say the soul can't be seen. But you can feel soul. Baseball and jazz are not tribal endeavors. They're meant for people who enjoy looking past finger tips. For people who want to go beyond the surface.

Baseball leaves me to contemplate. To think.

Between each pitch the beat and mood of life plays on. Each ball player on the field and person in the stand takes a brief moment to think of what may come next. What was just missed. How a loved one slipped away. Some may look at the sky and breathe in God's complex air. For the chatty, conversation resumes. But not all are as abstract. They simply chew peanuts, gum and hot dogs and accept existence for what it is. Then another pitch comes in, anticipation is built and then quelled with a ball, strike or hit and the whole process starts again. The permutations of baseball are synonymous with how lives unfold.

That's why losing the Montreal Expos was a big deal to baseball fans.

Note: Photos of Williams and DiMaggio (or Gehrig and Ruth for that matter) are mythical and enchanting.


Vintage Cirio Poster

Art Deco blog celebrates an era that fascinates me: the jazz age of the 1920s and 1930s. I visit it on occasion to get my vintage fix and came across a Cirio ad. I use Cirio for my tomato sauce needs and adventures. Soccer fans will remember Cirio as a former soccer sponsor of Serie A's Lazio.

Thinking Of Toxicology?

Of course you are! What better way to get your hands on that inheritance!

I was reading about poison and Giulia Tophania (some gal) in a book I'm reading and decided to look her up and found this site.

Drink your cranberry with one eye open.

Link Of Interest: Climate Change


Confession: I was terrible in math and science in school - despite being fascinated by them.

Not surprisingly, I'm not smart enough to make sense of this site. But I did enjoy it in a sadistic kind of way.


Gulp! The End Is Nigh?

I don't know the ins and outs of this and there's probably more to the story than let on but hot-diggity, how can you not love a car company like GM refusing a bailout!

On the threads someone referred to the CAW as Canadians Against Work. Funny.

Is GM the anti-christ?

North America Is F *****

That's the best we've come up with? This is our solution to what ails the economy is to throw money at it? To spend and throw and have someone else pay for it? Dear oh dear are we cooked. Pretty soon we'll be like the quasi-communist EU. Speaking of which, just because the rest of the world is introducing lame ass stimulus packages doesn't mean they're right nor does it suggest we should follow them.


Harps should have stuck to his guns, grown a pair (or at least get a prosthetic spine) and spoken to the people directly if you ask me. Take initiative for crying out loud. What the fuck has happened to the art of leadership here?

I heard someone say the budget was conservative pragmatism at work. If by this they mean bending over then I agree. Had he stayed true blue he would have won more respect. Instead, he played into another trap - the one where the other mirages posing as parties can act with outright indignation about this and that.

If you're a fiscal conservative on this continent you're not represented anymore. Would you personally take on more debt to maintain an life style you can't afford? Why should tax payers be called upon to save the economy for short-term considerations? It's in our collective best interest you say? Phooey I say to that.

I'm not one of those people who wants "visionaries." A visionary is another way of saying ESP. I love when someone takes a chance and it works out and we call them "visionaries" afterwards. They show up on the cover of magazines and hit the talk show circuit saying blah, blah, blah.

All I want is someone to have the courage to do what's necessary and right even if it's unpopular. Of course, tightening and cutting is hard and painful! But at this time it has to be done to ensure long-term health. Government increasing deficits and printing cash are sweeping dirt under the rug. Government involving itself in the business cycle is like shoving a stick in the spokes of a spinning wheel. It's also a racket.

I have much to say but I fear I'll go overboard without humor.

So I'll let the Marx Brothers take over. This is what North American politics reminds me of now.


Language Tips On Safety

My pappy always taught me if I'm not part of the solution then I'm part of the problem. With that in mind, here are a few basic safety translations while riding Quebec's highways (since Transport Quebec seems disinterested in it):

Voie (gauche, droite) bloquee: Blocked lane. Gauche = Left; Droite = Right.

Conduissez prudement:
Drive safely.

Froide Intense:
Intense cold.

Circulation fluide:
I think this is pretty straightforward but "Au Relanti" means sluggish.

I'll be adding to this moving forward. These are the only ones that popped into my tiny head.


History And Presidents; Obamacon

I've touched on the topic of how history may deal with George W. Bush. Here's an (interesting) article from Reason Online discussing it. The line between being great and bad is a movable target. My guess is that we can't know for years to come about Bush. Yeah, we think we know right now but do we?

One thing I believe is important when it comes to politics is to keep a straight head. One way I do this is to keep rhetoric at bay and observe a leaders actions and policy.

So far, it's hard to tell what type of leader Obama will be.

Of course, this is politics and things can change on a dime. Conservatives can turn into interventionists, Liberals into neocons (mind you, aren't neocons disaffected liberals?), conservatives into neocons and so on. You get my drift.

"Change" as you know, is such a meaningless term. "We need change" is such a tired phrase. I've heard this be said one month into a leaders term! We know there's no change coming except for the fact there's a new person with a different birth certificate in charge. "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss..." as The Who once proclaimed in song.

Tim Cavanaugh at Reason had this to say in a recent article:

"President Barack Obama takes office today as a new kind of chief executive, the kind who promises vast, debt-swelling expenditures with no clear purpose, who appoints cabinet members with tax irregularities and illegally employed nannies, who was groomed by a local political machine fabled for its corruption and...."

Moreover, as I mentioned in a previous post, Obama is stacking his staff with old players and neocons. He's even talking like a neocon. Now we'll see if he acts like one. I wonder if he's driving the hard left in the Democratic party nuts. And Republicans better be careful because Obama can easily beat them at their own game. The battle for ideas is now on.

I don't mean Obama's appointments to be a criticism. Far from it. I like leaders who lead. None of this wishy-washy stuff. Obama is capable of leading. He will find his voice and purpose...I think. If not, he can always bomb Iran. Which, in my opinion, would be ludicrous. Unless they do have a nuclear weapon. Anyway...

Welcome to reality folks.

Letters To The Editor: Two For One

Two letters to the editor: one about the weary philosophical posturing on culture and the other Montreal driving - a popular discussion these days.

"Robert Libman has never accepted the measures taken by Quebec governments, whether Liberal or Parti Québécois, to preserve and enhance the French language and culture of fewer than 7 million people in a sea of 280 million anglophones and 30 million hispanics.

Libman even suggests in his article that anglophones in the Charest government should rebel and stop the government from acting against the few who have found a way to circumvent the legal language requirements imposed to assure the preservation of the French culture and identity in Canada.

If he feels he or newcomers to Quebec are a mistreated minority, as a franco-Ontarian I would invite him to look at the situation of minority francophones in our capital city of Ottawa, in Ontario or Manitoba, let alone the rest of Canada."


The author forgot: 42 million Germans, 36 million blacks, 31 million Irish, 15 million Italians, 13 million Asians etc., etc.*

Oh, the tribal wars we declare!

How presumptuous and absurd to call 280 million people "anglophones." I hazard to guess this is news to Americans to be called as such. Only in Quebec. Obama is a popular (if not mythical) figure in Quebec. Yet, his message lies at the opposite end of Quebec's cultural nationalism.

I would ask the author, as demographics evolve, how many loopholes will need to be closed in the future to "protect" a culture? Bill, 101, Bill 104, what's next, Bill 109 to close the unintended holes in 104? Bill 112 to close 109 etc. and etc.

People find loopholes because laws such as these discriminate against the silent minority. This is another example of the "collective" imposing itself on the individual liberties. Or, put another way made famous by Mill, "tyranny of the majority."

I don't expect Canadians to grasp the notion and concept of liberty anymore.

As I've stated in the past, this is our decision. So be it. Just don't call it a democracy that respect freedom. It isn't.

Montreal driving:

"Through my 63 years I have been lucky enough to have driven on almost every continent, raced cars in many countries and crewed for some of the world's best race teams. I lived in Montreal for several years but have moved overseas to continue working in the car racing industry.

I have been back here holidaying now for a short time but never in my career have I been anywhere where the drivers are as bad as those in Montreal. Their ignorance and arrogance, their impatience and their need to be first at every intersection or off ramp irrespective of rules or laws are shocking. The complete disregard for fellow road users and the complete disregard for speed limits, red lights, stop signs and solid road markings, not to mention direction arrows is disgraceful.

Nowhere in the world are drivers as bad as they are in Montreal. The local police force is useless and the Sûreté du Québec is powerless on the highways.

Is there any doubt as to the reasons so many fatal crashes occur here?"

R.G., Monaco

I've spent a lot of time driving the streets of Montreal: I was once a courier - believe it or not. I've also spent some time driving in France and Italy. I learned a lot in Italy in particular. I can say, given my experience, that this author is correct in his assessment. One person said, it's the fault of the infrastructure as to why "Social Darwinism" prevails on our roads. This is true up to a point. While Quebec's roads and highway system is terrible (and illogical), the bottom line is we're not civil to one another under the circumstances. We drive with the same ferociousness as Mad Max.

I don't want to get into the nitty-gritty of statistics, while the author rightly claims there are many accidents leading to death here, we're far from the worse province on this front. We're in line with the national average at about 9.1 road fatalities per 100 000 - which isn't saying much.

Interestingly, the rest of Canada is closer in line with the U.S. with 14. North American rates seem very high compared to Europe.

We should do better.

* U.S. figures.


An Influential Band For The Ages

I've heard be said that 'Roadrunner' by the Modern Lovers is "the greatest rock song ever." People who think this, I would say, aren't crazy. They may very well be right. This is a different version than the original recording. Not sure from where and when but it's a great rustic take.

Someone once asked me where I got that "Hippie Johnny" quote and why I posted it on the bottom of this blog. Great song aside, I like the fact that it was countering the drug induced counter revolution in many ways. Take this world straight and dead on.

Jonathan Richman was the lead vocal and essence of the Modern Lovers. Don't be fooled by all the nerdiness. This guy is all cool. Saw him in Montreal a few years back. There were, maybe 100, 200 max, people (mostly university kids) in the venue. They went crazy when 'Vampire Girl' came on. I could see why. It was a contagious thing. Sometimes I wonder how this guy never made it "big" in the mainstream. Then again, we would be deprived of performances like "Dancing in the lesbian bar." The mainstream wouldn't get (or appreciate) it anyway. He's, shall we say, an acquired taste. But a delicious one.


Being A Canadian Leader Is Quite The Pickle Sometimes

Will leaders who are perceived to be following Obama be called puppets?

What about Harper? If he follows him that doesn't look good because it makes Canada look like it's following, after all, he has no mind of his own. Besides, as we all know, he was already a puppet of Bush.

Boy, forging an independent Canadian policy will be tough. Go against Obama and the wrath will be harsh. Go with him and risk being called a puppet.

And what if Obama's policy on many issues go against Canadian ones? What if he maintains some of Bush's policies?


Then again, that's always been a delicate game for Canadian politicians.

Cancer Statistics

A link to the Canadian Cancer Society. This one brings you to a page titled 'Cancer Myths.' Here's a page linking to general cancer statistics. It's interesting to note that overall cancer cases have pretty much remained steady; though with small increases in prostate and breast cancer.

I haven't looked at them in detail but it probably in line with the American Cancer Society.

Great Music To Enjoy: The Band

The Band are one of the all-time great rock bands. I don't know if they're quintessentially "Canadian." They're a Canadian band that explored mostly American themes. Maybe they're "quintessentially" 60s counter-revolution? Either way, what wickedly emotive, evocative and eloquent music steeped in Canadiana and Americana. How's that for compromise?

'It makes no difference.' I don't know this song just makes me...think...wonder...it just hits me.

The Weight (featuring The Staples) a journey of man.

'I shall be released' was written by Bob Dylan. Yes, that's Van Morrison and Bob Dylan on stage next to Robbie Robertson. Also there, Joni Mitchell (looking annoyed with Neil Young who seems out of it), Neil Diamond, Dr. John, Ronnie Hawkins, Ron Wood, Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr. Great song.


Never Say Never

I've been hearing and reading a lot of Canadians say they "never thought they'd see the day a black man be elected in the United States."

Personally, I'm not surprised. It was clear the country was inching towards either a woman or black person (or even a fratello of Italian descent. Ahem) being President. But I'm not the point of this post. I'm so vain I probably think this blog is about me.

Question to my fellow Canadians: will we ever see the day a black man get elected in Canada?

That possibility seems even more distant and remote here. As usual our intellectual tentacles point south instead of north.

Thinking Of Forgotten Races While Sipping Espresso

I've been thinking about some forgotten and lost societies lately.

I'm pretty funny at parties even though I take time to think about such things. Seriously.

The first one that captured my imagination are the Marsi I read about on Man of Roma blog.

My question to him was: "Were the Marsi indigenous to Italy? I believe they revolted in around 89 B.C. so I’m thinking they’re not of Germanic origin?"

Apparently, the Marsi were a impressive lot. According to wiki, it was said that the Romans had never triumphed over them or without them.

Here's MOR's response:

"Yes, we don’t know much about the Marsi. I checked: there was a Marsi folk in Germany, but they probably were different people. The Marsi close to us (ROME) had their chief town in Marruvium (today’s San Benedetto de’ Marsi) close to L’Aquila, today’s main town of Abruzzo. They had priests linked to witchcraft, weird medicine and snakes. The cult of their goddess Angitia seems also linked in some way to the snakes. Fascinating warriors, among the best.

Fighting against Marsi and Samnites taught the Romans many things, if I recall well, especially to fight on any terrain, even mountains, and the Roman legion was for this reason subdivided into maniples and centuries, much more flexible as a weapon, while the Greeks were at their best only on flat land with their rigid phalanx armed with extremely long spears (like Alexander’s phalanx), which resulted less powerful than the Roman legion when the Romans invaded Greece.
But, to be honest, the Greeks that the Romans encountered were already at their decadence.

I always wondered what would have happened if Alexander the Great headed West instead of East or classical Athens and Sparta (or Alexander) ever met Caesar. But of course this is either illogical or absurd. Illogical since Alexander had little interest to invade the West, which was poorer and backwards compared to the East (plus the eastern Persians at that time were Greeks’ great enemy). Absurd because Caesar belonged to a much later time.

Another race of people that captivated me were the Stedinger (Frieslander.)

From Charles Mackay:

"...The Frieslanders, inhabiting the district from the Weser to the Zuydersee, had long been celebrated for their attachment to freedom and their successful struggles in its defense. As early as the 11th century they had formed a general confederacy against the encroachments of the Normans and the Saxons, which was divided into seven seelands..."

"...they already had true notions of representative government..."

From the link:

"...But the Stedingers were willing to defend their freedom to the death. Their leaders were Bolko von Bardenfleth, Tammo von Huntrop and Detmar tom Diek. Determined, they stood against the enemies (a league made up of Dominicans, Archbishop of Bremen, Count of Oldenburg)of their freedom.

These proud, brave country folk, who had taken up arms for the defense of their homeland and their freedom, were killed. Nearly 5,000 Stedinger bodies covered the blood soaked earth of their land , where once the waters of the Weser had flowed. In the Saxon Chronicles it is stated objectively and realistically:

"Thus the Stedingers met their end"

I thought about the American republic when first came across the Stedinger. It made me realize many societies, tribes etc. throughout history have fought for freedom and liberty but were usually defeated. It wasn't until 1776 did the concept of a free society incorporated within a powerful nation-state succeed. In many ways, the United States is the embodiment of all races who fought for liberty that came before them.


Interesting Quotes

President Abraham Lincoln:

"The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

President Vaclav Klaus (Czech Republic):

"The largest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy, and prosperity at the end of the 20th and at the beginning of the 21st century is no longer socialism. It is, instead, the ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous ideology of environmentalism."

Thinking Of John Calvin While Eating Focaccia

So, John Calvin entered my mind while having sex.

Where fiction meets reality?

I wondered, like many of you I'm sure, if Calvinists still exist. Of course, I was sure they did but I wanted to know for sure.

They do. Fun.

What is Calvinism?

From History Learnings:

Calvinism was based around the absolute power and supremacy of God. The world was created so that Mankind might get to know Him. Calvin believed that Man was sinful and could only approach God through faith in Christ - not through Mass and pilgrimages. Calvin believed that the New Testament and baptism and the Eucharist had been created to provide Man with continual divine guidance when seeking faith. In Calvin’s view, Man, who is corrupt, is confronted by the omnipotent (all powerful) and omnipresent (present everywhere) God who before the world began predestined some for eternal salvation (the Elect) while the others would suffer everlasting damnation (the Reprobates). Now there's a word I can relate to since I've been referred as one on a number of occasions.

The chosen few were saved by the operation of divine grace which cannot be challenged and cannot be earned by Man’s merits. You might have lead what you might have considered a perfectly good life that was true to God but if you were a reprobate you remained one because for all your qualities you were inherently corrupt and God would know this even if you did not. However, a reprobate by behaving decently could achieve an inner conviction of salvation. An Elect could never fall from grace.
However, God remained the judge and lawgiver of men. Predestination remained a vital belief in Calvinism.



Nous Sommes Tous Americains

This is what some headlines n Quebec are proclaiming. Yes, Quebec and Canada is excited.

Twice in eight years I hear this.

Until they do something we do disagree with.

But here's the crinkle for us: President Obama's policies don't necessarily jive with what we think. For example, Canada and Quebec in particular has little stomach for war. Well, Obama and Hilary are not exactly cutting from Afghanistan and Iraq.

It's so hard to navigate through the maze of perception and policy.

So Long President Bush

Hello, President Obama.

Wind Rose Hotel had this interesting post about Dubya disclosing a couple of quotes by Obama and the Dalai Lama in reference to the outgoing (wait, he's gone now, right?) President.

I know a few people who met the President. I also know a few people who knew some people who got to meet him. All came away with the same impression: he's charismatic and exudes genuineness.

In other words, he's real.

That's pretty much the impression I got of him from afar.

Politically, Bush represented the wrong side of conservatism. He didn't endear himself to "classical" Republicans that's for sure.

Ain't That America Part II

I've grown tired of people calling musicians who take a political stance as anti-American. Look, I'm the last guy to be easily impressed by half the things artists say but you'll never hear me say, a) they're traitors and b) something, something. I forget.

I've grown accustomed to them taking shots at conservatives even though there may be conservatives in the crowd who paid good money to see them.

John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Sting etc. are all great musicians. The first two are among my all-time favorites and the most willing to discuss the American experience through their music. They're far from any of things people say they are. Rather, they simply question parts of American life they feel should be better. Sort of like how I criticize Quebec and Canada. It's not because I hate this place, it's because I expect - wait, demand - more from us.

All in all, I think this is what most musicians are trying to say. Ironically, for all their abstract thinking they can be rather partisan though.

In the past, Mellencamp wrote about and against Bush and Reagan. But I ask, would he write about Obama if he did something he disagree with? I don't think they're as prepared to be critical of "their" guy. That's just my suspicion.

I love this song. Here's another irony. 'Ain't that America' is not a jingo-patriotic song but meant to be a critical commentary. Yet, Mellencamp is being quintessentially American by challenging...something. I forget.

Ain't That America

Before I comment on Obama's inaugural speech let us begin with a quote from The Simpsons:

Ned: Well, tippety-top of the A.M. to every-good-body here. As chairman of the PTA, I am de-diddley-lighted to take over here and I think I can put the "pal" back in "principal".
[everyone laughs]

Chalmers: Heh heh, yeah. And I'll put the "super" back in "superintendent". [one person coughs] It's the same exact joke. What gives, Leo?

That was some crowd, eh?

About that inaugural speech. There was much to take from it (like the fact that we can all expect more big government) or how Obama personifies the civil rights movement. Or how he's the embodies the spirit of Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Rosa Parks and Jackie Robinson. I can't imagine what it meant to African-Americans.

The part I especially liked was when he told nations it's time to stop blaming the West for their ills. It's time to press nations to quit that part of their national rhetoric.

Whenever I hear an American president give a speech I'm always moved by the promise and hope America represents. As I've said many times here on this blog, America is the last line of defense when it comes to our Western traditions and heritage: democracy, liberty, rule of law and all that jazz.

For me, Obama's impressive speech was no different in its inherent message than any other past speech made by a President; that is, America's national experience and historical legacy.

Which brings me to the above Simpsons quote. Let's pretend Obama is Ned and Bush is Chalmers. As Obama spoke, I thought about dear old President Bush and what he must have been thinking for he pretty much said the same things yet you could hear a monkey cough.

Perception is a tricky thing. Both men could say the same things but only one would be applauded.

I don't know. It's my perception.

I do know one thing: President Obama can count on France to play the part of the contrarian.


Letters To The Editor: Language In La Belle Province

Since I opened the language can of beans, here's a couple of LTE in today's newspaper on the subject of plane safety:

"I agree that safety instructions on US Airways planes flying into Montreal should be in French as well English. I just get the feeling that if one had written a letter saying that there had been no English instructions, the response here in Quebec might have been to learn French."



Re: "Safe in English only?" (Letters, Jan. 17).

"Robert Tittler should remember that US Airways is based in the United States where the two main languages are English and Spanish.

One should also remind Tittler how "unsafe" it is for English people in Quebec where signs and instructions everywhere are in French only. Quebec is still part of Canada, and there are two official languages, English and French."



I didn't realize Lasalle was passionate about language. They may as well, have you been there? Low blow.

Both authors are correct. Quebec is very good at pointing out deficiencies in other countries, companies and jurisdictions (it's a national obsession) but quite unwilling to reflect upon its own language indiscretions.

It's quite the interesting observation when driving into places like Vermont and Ontario. Traffic and road signs are displayed in both English and French for larger portions of their jurisdictions. They recognize large numbers of French-Canadians pass on their roads. It's a signal that safety is paramount on their roads.

Unfortunately, the favor is not returned. Our highways don't offer languages in English.

Now of course, a nationalist will come up with several explanations and justifications for this - it'll always come down to "well, we're a minority on this continent." Yes, but at what point does even that become tired? Certainly, we as a society should excuse safety from the political games, no?

The day I see Quebec do this is the day I know we've grown up.


Ici Ont Commerce En Francais

So reads a sticker before entering a local large mall.

Translation: We conduct business in French here.

Urban translation: And don't you forget it.

I rarely discuss the language issue in this province. I simply stand diametrically opposed to the arcane laws that trample on individual liberty. It's a philosophical choice. Nothing against the tyrants in Quebec City. Either you stand with liberty or you don't. We don't in Quebec. We think (or at least convinced ourselves) we do. I say this understanding full well the justified fears Quebecers feel about their language.

And French is without doubt a beautiful language worth preserving here.

However, I'm not interested in giving into cultural nationalism. It's overkill here. It's also contradictory. Poll after poll, Quebecers feel they should have the right to choose where their children go to school - in any language. Yet, Bill 101 prevents this from happening; mostly against new immigrants and French-Canadians. More stunning, my Quebec friends don't seem aware of the extent of the law and how it impedes their decision making powers.

With that, here's how I interpreted the sticker: petty and parochial.

Guess what?

I don't spend my money at Carrefour Laval. It's as simple as that.

My money is good enough but not my mother tongue?

I love when the government pleads I spend MY money in Quebec during an economic environment under duress but turns around and plasters lame stickers.

Am I over reacting? Possibly. Indeed, it's rare a Quebecer won't try and speak English - and it's true for the reverse.

Usually, this is how it works: I get to a cash and speak French (while this is normal we're also keenly aware there can be a nationalist lurking about ready to pounce on you if you don't. They're paranoid and so are we. Meh.) to the cashier. With my partner, whoever it may be at the time, we speak English to each other. Heck, even Italian. Sometimes the cashier switches (you know, because they're displaying respect and professionalism) or they don't. Either way I don't care. But I do appreciate when they try.

Most of the time, Quebecers act bigger than a sticker. Contradictions, contradictions.

So, the sticker is the work of an insecure government bureaucracy. The people seem a tad more secure in my view.

In the end, it just rubbed me the wrong way. The vibe I got wasn't good. We should be better than this.

All this to say, we shop in Vermont, New York and Ontario. If anything, for peace of mind.

Ici ont commerce en Francais.

Superbe. Bon pour vous.

But my money doesn't recognize language.


Trivial Times

I came across this on ceasespin.org. It's impossible to disagree with the post or the first video involving JKF. The second one should induce vomiting indeed. What utter bull shit spewed by those two. It's like watching a Jamaican (and not to discriminate any persons from a hot region) explain to a Canadian how to shovel snow.

My favorite is watching actors pretend to be foreign policy experts. That's to laugh.

As many of you know, this blog often tackles the problem of debating the trivial.

Television deliberately skews reality. Sadly, the media has jumped on this game all too readily. It's not about intellectualism but marketing and ratings. We could expand all the nonsense to all sorts of programming from talk shows to reality shows.

But before we jump and say things were better yesterday. Best to remember that for centuries alchemists, magnetisers and other assorted scammers roamed the earth. It wasn't better back then. Posers and people of no merit always managed to grab the spotlight. It's up to us to cut through the cynical ploys of media and reject them.

Med They had a choice: do the right thing or go the route of bull shitting.

They made their choice.

Obama's Justice League

I don't know a whole lot about the inner-workings of any political machine (it would be impossible to follow it without either being involved or following it on a daily basis. I'd rather play 'Dora Bingo' with my daughter.)

But it doesn't mean it's not important. It's clear Obama is opting for continuity in (strategically?) choosing his staff. Mind you, some of his choices would have made places like Daily Kos and Huffington go bananas had, say, McCain selected them. He's probably moderating his romantic and emotional "Yes, we can!" message a tad as realism starts to set in.

Anyway. Needless to say, his appointments have led to some debate. As a far away observer, it's hard to tell what's fact and what's not regarding the individuals. Afterall, we know a whole lot of things get muddled and confused along the way by the time it hits the Orwellian presses.

On a digression, I read one fellow over at The Guardian call Bush a "narcissist." Well, that may be but it seems to me you can apply that tag to several Presidents including Obama.

With that here are three links regarding his appointments. I've already wondered if Dean should have gotten the Health gig.

1 - From The Hegemonist and the appointment of Lee Hamilton.
2 - From Corruption Chronicles and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. A comment in defense of Geithner is available on site.
3- From Foreign Policy (a magazine I was once subscribed to) regarding Leon Panetta's nomination as director of CIA.
4- From Skeptical Eye with link to Antiwar and the introduction of Dennis Ross.

And here's a piece from Factcheck.org debunking several rumors about Nancy Pelosi.


My Centrism Is Not Yours

Is it possible to govern from the center? Whatever that means. These days, "governing from the center" is the trend. Same with people who label themselves as "moderate." What exactly is a moderate?

I'm left-handed but I'm not liberal. I think conservative but tend to be liberal with on a few issues/ideas conservatives aren't down with. I speak of freedom and liberty but I'm not quite as libertarian as some people. At least I know I'm not a communist. Phew.

Nonetheless, does that make me "moderate?"

I'm a little tied up these days getting ready to relaunch Intersportswire. It's draining my time and creativity. Will be announcing the new look and writers shortly. Right now, we're merely transferring, fiddling and tweaking.

Meet Chelsey B. Sullenberger III

Since everyone is talking about him, here's a bio of the pilot who safely crash landed a plane on the Hudson River. Chelsey B. Sullenberger's III, (along with his crew I'm sure) professional maneuverings saved the lives of everyone on board. It's always comforting to know great people do still exist.

Nonetheless, it's interesting to observe he's being touted a hero for merely doing his job. I'm not suggesting he doesn't deserve any honors coming his way (clearly he does), but don't they (pilots, captains etc.) go through extensive training for disastrous scenarios? In fact, as far as I can tell, everyone involved seemed extremely professional and organized.

Have we been conditioned to the point of cynicism? What do I mean? How many times have we seen stories where the concept of "women and children first" was abandoned? Does it happen so often that whenever a great individual performs their duty we are shocked? Hence, the talk of heroism.

This was one professional, talented pilot who performed with grace under pressure. We should all be glad people like him do exist.


Undeveloped Blog Ideas

I have over 300 posts sitting in draft position.

Drafted posts tend to add up over time. You start an idea or topic in hopes of revisiting it at a later time but for whatever reason remains on the shelf.

For heavier posts (and I mean those 10kilo ones), the biggest impediment is energy and time. To sit and make sure a post is cohesive and coherent with accurate facts takes work and focus.

Other posts are half-developed ideas not worthy of publication lest I look like, well, an idiot; a wannabe.

Ah, the world of self-editing and content development

Some topics I've considered:

-The impact of the Crusades. Over the years I've observed people view the Crusades as the number one reason why religion is the root of all evil. I have a slight problem with this position because the Crusades were far more complex than just that. It had many facets and faces and religion was but one component. The Crusades are one of those events people have misjudged by pulling it out of its proper context to defend a particular contemporary position.

Believe it or not, there were some positives to come out of the Crusades. When one ponders further, it propelled the West to modernize and moderate its existence.

-Scientific Revolution. This post was going to be about how we label periods. How could there have been a "revolution?" Wasn't scientific history more of an evolution? Or when we subscribe to a revolution are we attempting to find that one moment; the leitmotif in which we were set on a radically different course?

-Francesco Guicciardini. Forgotten and overlooked Italian historian. In fact, I don't cover the Renaissance (speaking of labels) period enough. A professor in a history class I attended years ago asked, which period was more influential, the Renaissance or Enlightenment? Come to think of it, another professor asked between Rome and Greece, which ancient culture had the largest impact that remains?

I think both were meant to be rhetorical. Or at the very least, the Enlightenment drew much of its inspiration from the Renaissance and developed its own identity which in due course left a massive mark on Western culture. So somewhere down the line Italian (and later Northern) humanism had a say. Same with Rome. It copied parts of Greece but once it was on its way, its influence on law, administration, engineering and military remain with us.

-As some of you already know, I'm a tad concerned about the loss of individual liberty. The rise and growth of government has reached a point where it's beginning to impact us personally on many levels. I'm not sure why people are not as worried. I also believe in the entrepreneurial class as a main driver of innovation and job creation. Not the government. I've been talking to a few entrepreneurs, and there's no doubt there's a feeling among many that society tends to view business as the enemy and government as the ally to citizens. It doesn't need to be this way.

This topic has been on-going but it's something I'd like to explore more in-depth one day.

There are many more. And I'm sure many others will be conceived.


Blog Resource: Out Of Iraq Bloggers Caucus

Out of Iraq Bloggers Caucus.

About The Markets

Fear is more contagious than confidence.

It's easier to spread the former and harder to build the latter.

War On Vice

The nanny-state expands further.

This is just plain scary. The prosecutors in this case represent all that is wrong with our society today; from the lack of moral clarity all the way to pointing the accountability compass at the wrong people. Blaming CEO's and bartenders for the death of three men who chose to get drunk out of their free will sets a bad precedence. What's next? Taking pharmacists to court if a depressed person OD's on OTC medicine? Charging a blackjack dealer with murder if a known gambler kills someone for money to pay for debts? Where does the madness stop?

In Quebec, we plan to copy and introduce a similar law -unless it's already in place. Two things. First, if Quebec has this on its books it continues its well-earned reputation of being a hypocritical state. Why? The government runs two enormously profitable operations relating to both gambling and alcohol.

Case: What if someone gets drunk on a bottle purchased at the SAQ and then walks into a bar. They proceed to have one drink and leave. They drive off and kill someone. Who's liable?

Two, Ontario is a lost cause. It's a quasi-communist state and we shouldn't be looking to it for any ideas.

Let's call this for what it is: a war on vice. A war we will, never, ever win. You can't legislate against stupidity but you can make sure we're all responsible for our own actions. That's the best defense we've got.

Sadly, more and more laws are stripping people of this ability to govern ourselves. It's always someone else to blame. In our misguided effort to "save ourselves" we plan to ruin the lives of other people?

We've allowed government to do this. We the people. I once saw a documentary titled the "Disappearing Male." Someone should make one called the "Disappearing Individual."

It all comes down to this: Freedom versus tyranny.

Tyranny comes with many faces. The forces of tyranny are clever now. They come before us under the guise of protecting "our collected best interests."

CBC Loves Obama

If anyone ever doubted the CBC was a left-wing operation just go here. So nice to see Canadians partaking in creating "Obama's playlist."

Suuurrrreeee, the CBC will be real "impartial" when it comes to the President.

Ooo, ba-boy.

"We're 62% And We Have The Power."

Yeah, um. Right.

There's a site called "Coalition for Change 62% Majority" asking people to get involved in changing government. No. You're not getting a link to it.

What they really are advocating is a change to proportional representation. Then again, things are so "out there" these days we feel entitled to change things on a whim. I've been through this here.

This is one of those empty-headed, emotional driven faux grass-roots "movement" that claims to be the voice of the people filled with specious, one-sided arguments. It completely disregards reality and is downright hypocritical. Not that they see this.

If this is what drives the Liberals and NDP in the halls of ideas then they deserve to be kept out of power.

So why am I bothering to mention this here? Because when something is misguided and flat out wrong it should be pointed out. Sadly, many self-serving politicians have jumped on this bandwagon to nowhere.

When the Liberals eventually win with the inevitable less than 50% of the popular vote, will they care? Of course not. Suddenly, the "62%" figure is meaningless since their party got in.

Real change is when ideas are real. When they resonate with people and they cut across partisanship.


It's Hard Being Canada

I know this may upset some people, but Canada stood with Israel over at the UN humans rights council this week.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Here's why.

One, it shows leadership and that Canada is willing to take important, if not unpopular decisions.

Two, seriously. Have you seen who sits on the council? It's a freak show. Cuba? Pakistan? China? Saudi Arabia?

Yes. Such models on human rights. A beacon for us all to follow.

Russia, Brazil and China were for a motion to strongly condemn Israel. Stop laughing already. While Britain and France (not surprisingly given their own domestic Muslim issues) along with Japan and South Korea abstained.

Anyway, I'm just shocked Canada went this way. Now about the Arctic...

Comment Of The Day

I have to admit, I liked this comment:

"Screw the GOP. They are not conservatives. And what is this crap about ‘centrists’ - all that means is no balls, mind-numbing cowardice, stand-for-nothing tripe. You wild eyed Obama cultists have no clue what you have done to us, you vapid morons. Screw you too."

Come on.

If anything it's vigorous.

Defending Canada's Arctic: Failed Policy?

The Arctic is back on the front burner.

In university I took a Canadian Arctic course. I know. You must be thinking to yourself "what a lucky guy!"

Mind you, it's there I learned about Sam Steele, Canadian naivete and that those Dudley-Do-Right cartoons were pretty smart.

Back then, I was of the opinion if Canada was just a tad too comfortable in its own bed when it came to Arctic issues and if didn't grow a pair of military "balls" to go along with a sound Arctic policy we were never going to be able exert real sovereignty in the region. This was right about the time the Liberals came into power and began their 13 year benevolent dictatorship. The Liberals were aloof towards the Arctic and proceeded to cut military spending to the point of embarrassment.

It was the early 1990s. It wasn't politically popular to put money in the military; apparently no one wanted to attack us according to voters. But a military serves many practical purposes and those same people concerned about the Arctic wonder why we're not in full control up there.

You see, the problem is we have always assumed it was ours. This is a problem when you don't let others who have interests there know what you're thinking. The issue, for the record, has been around since the birth of the nation so don't bother trying to paste this on Prime Minister Harper. Here's an excerpt from 1986 on the issues:

"There has been confrontation on a significant list of issues - jurisdiction over marine transportation in the so-called Northwest Passage, boundary delimitation in the Beaufort Sea, control measures on transboundary pollution problems, the applicability of multilaterally agreed standards, the future of joint development projects, e.g., the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation System (ANGST), and whether native rights are matters wholly subject to domestic jurisdiction or whether they have a transboundary dimension."

Here's how Canada's Arctic blurb is described in the Arctic Council site:

"Canada's Arctic encompasses approximately 40 percent of the nation's total land mass and has about 85,000 residents. This broadly defined region has two-thirds of Canada's marine coastline and a sea which extends from Alaska to the strait of Belle Isle."

So. How now brown cow?

I suppose we can send a few ships to wave the flag but it may take much more given the vast potential of the region. Nations covet what we took for granted. Obviously, high-level discussions are needed but they're worthless if Canada can't articulate its policy and intentions forcefully and lucidly. We have different needs and hold different perceptions from all nations involved.

Tough talk ain't gonna cut it either - unless you can back it up.

As PM Harper said in August, "You don't defend national sovereignty with flags, cheap election rhetoric and advertising campaigns," Mr. Harper said then. "You need forces on the ground, ships in the sea and proper surveillance."

I'm afraid it may be too late. This should have been done years ago. There's no reason why this nation, Canada, couldn't take leadership and build a few more navy ships and icebreakers to increase presence in the Arctic.

It may even come for Canada to simply ally itself with the U.S. against possible Russian aggression.

Hey, we made the bed. Time to think creatively and realistically.


Does Neutral Research Exist?

This is a correspondence published on Econ Journal Watch by Roy Harrold discussing the obsession of attacking research on the basis of where the source of funds come from.

Excerpts (a good chunk of the letter):

"I concluded that researchers working for corporations must be motivated by nothing but greed. It has only been within the past few years, as a result of intensive research I’ve conducted, that I’ve woken up to the reality that genuinely “neutral” sources of research funding are almost entirely mythical. The reality is that government and non-profit funding is severely limited in some areas and is itself controlled by people who have social, political and public policy agendas of their own. I have finally realized that, if an academic wishes to pursue a hypothesis that is unlikely to support the agendas of government agency or non-profit funders she may find herself with no alternative but to seek or accept corporate funding..."

"I had always believed that government agencies and non-profit organizations involved in public health promotion, social justice, and consumer protection were involved in uncovering and denouncing biased corporate-funded research because they wanted ALL research to be genuinely unbiased. I never imagined, until recently, that some of them were eliminating competition for calculated control over public and policy-maker’s thinking. And then I discovered Social Marketing and “health communications”—was my naive bubble burst!"

"Rather than clearing the field of deceptive, manipulative misrepresentation, some of these agencies and groups were actively copying the very same techniques and technologies employed by industry, for their own purposes. And this included and continues to include commissioning research studies that have very little to do with advancing scientific knowledge and everything to do with calculated propaganda! So much for “the public interest.”

Landmark Restaurant Has Cult Following

Ok, since no one is willing to do it I will. Alright, so I'm not the only one.

Beauty's, a Montreal landmark, serves breakfast and brunch on Mount-Royal street and possesses an army of dedicated patrons.

It's also, dare I say, over rated.

Yeah, I know. It's "cool" and "relaxed" and Hollywood stars like going there. Robert de Niro (I think it was him) once said it was his "favorite" place. Shit, maybe it's because they have "magical" eggs and hash browns with real hash in them.


$15 for breakfast? For an effen omelette? In a place where the servers think they're doing you a favor? No thanks. I couldn't care less what actor is sitting and slouching on one of those stools like a stooge.

Beauty's is not the only one. While Beauty's offers a diner feel, Chez Cora and Eggspectation offer creative menus and are high on decor but all serve average food.

I simply can't find what the fuss is all about.


Link Of Interest: Hudson Review

I was doing some research on multiculturalism when I stumbled upon, pleasantly it turns out, on a piece written by Bruce Bawer in the Hudson Review titled 'Crisis in Europe.'

It is lucid, compelling and definitely a must read. It mostly certainly will make you cringe at the hideousness of left-leaning academia and its foolishness and naive delusions.

Is it really that complicated to grasp what's happening? Should we be not applying Occam's Razor? There's a sufficient list of brilliant minds from all corners of the globe of all cultural backgrounds who have been providing thoughtful discourse and writings on what faces the West. In addition, there's been more than enough warning signals and outright threats.

Yet, we remain sleeping at the switch.

What got me on this path was the debate in Norway, Holland and Denmark surrounding multiculturalism. Which, in turn, brought me into various links about Italians and the French converting to Islam. Apparently, thousands of Germans convert every year.

Bawer does a superb job navigating through why we seem to think it's all harmless. One thing he did say, and trust me this is a small one given the scope of the paper, got caught my eye. It's regarding far-right parties in Europe. Since the left dictates every aspect of European society (and let's face it, most of Europe (led by France) is a quasi-communist state that loves anything that's not American. Eastern Europe seems to be the only region that has its head screwed on properly) there's no place for moderate people who reject this to go. So, they turn to far-right parties.

Highly recommended.

America is the last line of defense between enlightened progressiveness and freedom and arrogant tyranny.

There Are Options You Know

Eccentric punkers Pere Ubu remind us of the non-aligned concept and non-aligned nations (aka G-77).

I wanna make a deal with you girl
and get it signed by the heads of state
I wanna make a deal with you girl
be recognized round the world
It's my nonalignment pact

Nonalignment pact
Sign it!
Nonalignment pact

At night I can see the stars on fire
I can see the world in flames

And it's all because of you
or your thousand other names
Peggy, Carrie Ann and Betty Jean, Jill, Jan, Joan and Sue, Alice, Cindy, Barbara Ann

It's all because of you
It's all because of you girl!

Sign my nonalignment pact


On the economy: What if the economy begins to turn around before these massive "short-term economic stimulus packages" kick in?

On the logic the Iraq war was an illegal war pushed by Cheney and his cronies: If Obama continues the war, what does that say about his foreign policy? Does it become Obama's problem too? If the war was illegal and Obama represents change shouldn't he pull out immediately to disassociate with the perceived illegitimacy? Or is Obama a calculating realist?

Are they not, in the end, all cut from the same cloth?

More On Israel And Gaza

I was readying for bed when I decided to take a peak at The Hegemonist. Blah, blah, 15 minutes later I'm still up reading A-Z Background: Gaza and Israel.

It also links to two good articles stating their cases persuasively. One is from the Palestine Chronicle while the second is from the WSJ.

As a bonus, since I like reading the letters to the editors section of any paper, here's a link to a letters page over at Arab News. It gives insights from, you guessed it, an Arab point of view.

Last, as an extra bonus, a report titled 'Palestine in Focus' courtesy of Islamonline.net.


Can't We All Just Get Along?

I'm saddened to see friends of this blog 'Wind Rose Hotel' and 'Contratimes' faced with abusive commenters on their blogs.

They're not the only ones.

I've often left mild comments on other blogs only to be called names. Rather than engage and discuss differences there's a tendency for people to go on the immediate offensive with a crude and rude remark or response.

I've cut my participation down substantially over the years and I don't even bother trying to engage on a blog that holds a different opinion. I used to leave notes that were opposite on purpose just to spark what I hopes was a friendly debate. How naive of me!

It seems we prefer to preach to the choir rather than lock in a dialog with people of unlike mind.

It's a tough thing to discuss with someone who doesn't share your opinion but this is where class and real intellectualism kicks in. I believe we can be forceful without ever demeaning another person. If someone is wrong, and it happens often, merely politely point it out. Don't publicly insult them.

In this way, I rarely accept the opinion of someone is "yelling" or being abusive.

I do find most of the people doing the attacking have no interest in dialog. They dogmatically cling to whatever position they hold and attack indiscriminately. They rarely bother to read a post and if they do they completely miss the point - no doubt because they know the truth.

It's a lot like people who give reviews of movies and books without watching or reading them.

Now, at this point, it's too easy to single out anyone from either side of the political divide. I've been attacked from both sides. Judgmental and ignorant behavior comes from all angles. From the left, I recall a time (at least three years ago) when some anonymous comment asserted I get paid by Exxon (for merely posting a link to an article that questioned global warming) and another person wrote a nasty note telling me to take my guns and go back to the backwoods for blasting Michael Moore.

Another person called me a "shill" for writing and supporting about a company with a link on my blog.

From the right, I just got an email from someone saying, "As an American Military Man, Why would I want to support a tree hugging liberal canadian who trashes my honor every time I look at BBC? GFY!" Now this one was priceless on numerous fronts. Me a liberal? Ha. I've never hugged a tree or a person who does and what's the BBC got to do with Canada? That's British. What a maroon.

This guy decided to get all huffy and puffy ON EBAY of all places! The offense? I sell rechargeable batteries and it seems he took offense with my marketing alkaline batteries as "environmentally friendly."

Same on my sports blog. The comments, thankfully very rare, can be completely unfriendly, foul and lacking in any constructive thought.

Let me be frank. I can be vulgar and heaven knows I take shit from no one. Trust me, it takes every fiber in my body not to write back and say, "listen you judgmental, ignorant piece of shit puke...learn to fucking read you cumtard or learn to cope with people who hold different views from you."

But I don't.

I take a minute or two. Show someone the post. Have a laugh at the absurdity and move on. The reality is there are many, many, dicks and assholes out there. Worse, there are many stupid assholes who are empty headed, classless and opinionated.

My cousin said it best. The internet is a pubic place where every loser has a say. You just have to accept that.

This blog looks for challenges from readers. I encourage it. If I make a mistake, it's an honest one and I hope someone would take the time to point it out.

However, like other people, I don't tolerate assholes and the comments go straight into the trash.

Know why?

Because I'm the dictator 'round these parts. I'm Charles Foster Kane and I decide what gets printed. Capiche?

No One Is Immune

I expropriated this picture from Caledonian Comment; my ears, eyes and something, something into all things Cool Britannia. Read more here.

It ties in well into a report about Amy Winehouse being threatened by terrorists. I don't know much about Winehouse except she has talent and is a junkie. Was she a graduate of the Chrissie Hynde defunct school of "I hope the Muslims win?"

Of course, Mr. C.C. does a good job of keeping an eye on British authorities regarding terrorists. If he's even 10% right, the splendid isle (I'm not talking to you Newfoundland) sure seems paralyzed by what to do.

To think Canada once looked up to Britain.


More Words And Phrases I Detest

"Stimulus package."

Which really means "mucus leakage."

I don't know what that means but it sounds like I made one of those "I don't get it so it must be smart" comments.

Back to stimulus package. Whenever I hear that I envision a government official administering heroin to a citizen. We all know what drugs do.

This idea that government is the answer, as Obama believes, is deeply rooted in the mindset. I always laugh to the point of straining my orbs when the government talks as if it's an agile business. Again, I use Obama (boy January 20 can't come fast enough) who says "quick action" is needed to deal with job losses. Quick action? Really? From a bloated bureaucracy?

Hey, if they think more regulation, nationalization, bail outs and other assortments of econo-mancy is needed all the power to them. Just don't pass it off as "change."

Stimulus package. Funny guys.

Speaking of bureaucracy, Quebec is one gigantic bureaucratic machine. Someone I know (hint, she lives with me) is a teacher. Let me tell you, to get official documents from her school board takes weeks. And I'm not talking complicated requests; just simple, straightforward stuff.

Me: I need a piece of paper.
Them: Ok. No problem.
Me: Great please fax it to me or send an attachment by email.
Them: That won't be possible.
Me: Why not?
Them: Sorry.
Me: Fine. I'll just come and pick it up.
Them: Haha. Funny guy. We'll mail it.


Everything seems so cumbersome.

Where Are We Going?

Social and demographic trends from Stats Can.

Adventures With My GPS

I received a GPS system this Christmas. My initial thought was "Great, more wires." Once I got over the fear of connecting and hooking yet another piece of tech machinery we apparently can't live without, I figured this can probably be useful. I was disappointed. Sometimes I wonder if I'm a Luddite.

I was thoroughly disappointed when 'Mandy' kept ordering me around with dubious directions:

Mandy: "Keep left for a quarter-mile then turn right."

Me: "What? I think it's better if I don't."

Mandy: "Turn right!"

Me: "Don't use that tone with me."

Mandy: "TURN RIGHT!"

Me: "Sheesh. You sound like my wife."

Arrives at destination.

Mandy: "You have arrived at your destination."

Me: "No thanks to you. Make me dinner."

Mandy: "System and car will self-destruct in five, four..."

Anyway, how can you listen to a GPS while listening to music? I prefer to exercise my mind.

And please, don't buy me a Blackberry next year. Not interested.

A Bizzaro World

Russians are yearning for the good old days of Joseph Stalin. Is this a reflection of Russian society? If so, keep an eye on Russia.

It's probably connected to Russia's short but painful experience with capitalism. Meanwhile the United States is fast becoming the world's largest socialist state as it wallows in a state of confusion.

Either way, it's a shame a nation that produced many great figures is belittled this way by its own ignorance. Germany came to terms with Adolf Hitler. Time for Russia to do the same with Stalin.


Humor With A Point Or Pointless Humor?

You can't really defend this under any pretense: satire, humor, mental illness, whatever. It's just plain bad - and embarrassing. Some think this is par for the course here.

Whatever comedic point they tried to make it missed. Really, where's the value here? What makes this all the more unfortunate is it was aired on Radio-Canada. Imagine if this was aired on the CBC or NPR!

I was going to write more on this but I decided to keep these thoughts to myself. I will say that Quebec is good at dishing things out (recall Michel Rivard's terrible caricature of English-Canada in a feeble attempt to explain why funding to the arts is important) but not taking it.

Since this video is making a splash around the country and since my readers come from all over the world, I'll let world opinion decide for themselves.

Welcome to the internet Quebec. The PQ hasn't figured out how to introduce a Bill 101-type law here. Yay.

In any event, this is healthy. Quebec rarely critically engages in honest self-assessment.

We're on our own on this one.


Blog Link Of Interest: Israel And Palestine

A link to Mideastweb.org discussing the history of Israel and Palestine.

If anyone knows of other interesting history links feel free to educate us all.

A Bad Idea. An Awful Idea.

Anyone, and I mean anyone worth their mind, body and soul, who would support such an affront to intellectual liberty is well, a small-minded individual. And I mean small in every sense of the word.

Some band of employment students called the Canadian Union of Public Employees at York University want to ban Israeli academics from coming to speak on Canadian school campuses.

What more proof do we need to know how socially and mentally regressive unions can be?

Where to begin to dismantle this insane idiocy? Where?

So. It's alright for Hamas to stockpile weapons in schools and hospitals? It's ok for Hamas to attack universities in Israel - the only country in the whole damn region with seven respected universities attended by Arabs and Jews alike? What if an Israeli scholar discovers something in, say, physics? Canada will be kept out of the loop because of these people? What if the scholar is Arab but works and lives in Israel?

I'd sure love to hear more about how they plan to make a difference with such an idea.

The perception we have here is warped and polarized.

How can censoring and banning possibly be productive?

They may not respect liberty but I do.


The Angels Are Coming

I have a three-year old daughter.

She has a sense of humor .

She's smart too. Spells her own name and other words, likes to rhyme and pull out the "Led."

She's notorious in her stubborn ways and knows what she wants and likes. The other day I discovered she loves spaghetti alla carbonara.

She's also left-handed like her pa. This makes her perfect in my eyes.

She possesses a beautiful heart - like her mother. Some people can't fake their way through life even if they could. These two are not only compassionate but happy to just be alive.

She has taken an active concern in other people's misery. Whenever commercials for sick or poor children come on she stops what she's doing, quietly walks to the TV and listens attentively.

She then begins to ask questions. She wants to help.

She also has a (comfortable) sense of life and death - ironically, her mother's Masters thesis was on how children cope with death.

Her great grandmother died this past November at the age of 100. Lucky her; she got to witness three years of those. Yet, in such a short time, nanan left her mark on this little girl.

As I sat and watched cartoons babysitting her (God bless Foghorn Leghorn) she disappeared into her play area. I lay mesmerized by 'Horns blustering dixie loud mouth'd shnook ways. I was snapped out of my trance when she presented me with a letter.

"Daddy, the angels were supposed to come a get this card."

I just stared at her confused.

She continued.

"The angels have to give this letter to nanan, daddy. Can you make sure they come?"

I was stunned.

"I will," I said.

"Please. It's for nanan."

This moment reminded me of a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds song called 'Into My Arms.'

And I don't believe in the existence of angels
But looking at you I wonder if that's true
But if I did I would summon them together
And ask them to watch over you
To each burn a candle for you
To make bright and clear your path
And to walk, like Christ, in grace and love
And guide you into my arms

Into my arms, O Lord

You're one priceless child Lauren-Alessandra.

"...in Gaza tonight..."