France's D-Day Snub: Much Ado About Nothing?

I've no idea why France decided to commemorate D-Day without representation from Britain and Canada by way of not inviting the Queen. The stench of distaste looms indeed but does it merit a vociferous reaction?

I certainly would like a better explanation from what French have offered.

If it was meant to be a private affair between the U.S. and France, then why pick June 6th? The 6th is a seminal date in Western history as you know. Maybe France didn't "mean" to politicize the day (which is unlikely) by making it an intimate affair between two nations but they left themselves open to all sorts of criticisms as a result of their odd decision.

While many nations took part in various ways (Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, (Free) France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Poland - which I supposed each can feel a tad upset) the major players were Great Britain, the United States and Canada.

Personally, from where I sit, those three nations should always receive an invitation sans exceptions.

Was it merely a calculated distasteful oversight or a disrespectful snub?

Interestingly, I did a semi-thorough search on Google regarding the subject. As far as I can tell, conservative newsites and pundits have covered this subject. In Canada, the National Post covered the story but I couldn't find anything on the CBC.


Look At Me!

"Maybe all this stimulus isn't such a good idea" (Editorial, May 29).


Or, if you prefer: D'oh!

I don't generally write to editors anymore, but I couldn't resist this one. It magically appeared in the Montreal Gazette under the title 'Homeric Eloquence'.

Do Reason And Philosophy Have Limits?

One of my favorite books is Dante's "The Inferno". So much so, I've written a script based on Dante's hell set in a modern context. There's much more for me left to learn about this epic poetic journey.

Dante Alighieri, as far as I can see, is more often than not referred to as a literary master - which of course he was. However, was he not a philosopher as well (to say nothing of being an ancestor to a vineyard that produced good wine)? Dante had not found a happy dwelling among the great Enlightenment philosophers perhaps because for him, reason and philosophy had its limits. Dante was religious and accepted faith as a legitimate conduit to understanding humanity.

If Dante were alive today, he'd probably be tagged an "extremist" by self-labeled progressives.

As I've asked before, can reason (secular logic) traverse into a realm of indifference? Can a society truly be built on nothing but reason and logic and no faith?


Rational Expectations Versus Irrational Spending

This was forwarded to me by a friend. Hey, Frank, I don't text! Costs too much. But I'll never know what he means. Inside joke.

Moving along. This is a great piece by Peter Navarro talking about rational expectations:

"The theory of "rational expectations" was developed by conservative, neoclassical economists (primarily the "Chicago School") to explain why it is fruitless to engage in any kind of Keynesian fiscal or monetary policy to artificially stimulate an economy. The best way to explain
theory - which is HUGELY relevant for today's financial markets - is with an example.

Suppose, then, that the US government engages in a massive fiscal stimulus to jumpstart an economy in recession. But also suppose that this massive stimulus will require equally huge budget deficit financing that over time will surely increase both interest rates and inflation. Since people are rational, they will therefore "expect" the advent of higher interest rates and inflation and behave in ways that will defeat the intent of the stimulus.

How do they "anticipate" this? How does this 'expectation" manifest itself? Is it a hunch? I say this because most people aren't macroeconomic literate. Lotsa "this" in there, I know.

In particular, consumers will save more because they know the stimulus will only eventually provoke an even deeper recession. This behavior will suppress consumption spending, thwarting recovery.

Businesses will also try to raise prices in anticipation of inflation while workers will demand higher wages -- thereby causing an inflationary shock earlier rather than later. Bond market investors will refuse to buy the bonds needed to finance the deficits because they know as interest rates rise, bond prices will fall. Stock market investors won't buy stocks because they know another bear market is coming. And foreigners won't help the US government finance its deficits because they know the dollar will become worthless -- along with their US bond holdings.

The liberal critique of rational expectations theory -- think Krugman or Reich -- is that people aren't really that smart about macroeconomics or that rational to fully anticipate all of the effects so there is a period of time during which a fiscal stimulus can actually work its magic.

I think both the right and left are guilty of under estimating people. The only difference is the left has decided the government is needed to help us along - and in some cases to "save us from ourselves".

So who's right?

Well, right now, the financial markets are a living, breathing experiment to prove -- or disprove -- the rational expectations argument. When BOTH the stock and bond markets turned bearish last week, that seemed to be a signal that the rational expectations argument may hold sway.

Of course, readers of this column will know that I've been speculating on at least a brief bullish cycle of a few months or even a year or more. However, readers should also know that I am a secular bear precisely because the Obama-Bernanke-Geithner-Summers Program contains the seeds of its own destruction -- see paragraphs above.


Ethics Course Still Not Adding Up

“In our modern eagerness to be tolerant, we have come to tolerate things which no society can tolerate and remain healthy.” Brian Cleeve, 1938.

"Bend over, I'll show you ethical tolerance". The Commentator, 2009.

Michael Schleiffer is a professor of education at UQAM and offered his perspective in defense of Quebec's ethics and religious culture course he helped design. I found this syllabus for an ethics course in university for fun.

Let's explore parts of it here. I'm not an intellectual but I play one on a blog.

Whenever the government (with the aid of intellectual masters) acts as a “progressive” agent I always treat it with a healthy scepticism. After all, is this not a society and government that held “reasonable accommodations” hearings and still wages its own private and petty war against the English language? Never mind about the poor state of the French language and the difficulties with “integration” in our classes.

Here are some excerpts to his article. I must admit, it left me with more questions:

"A battle is raging around the world, between the vast majority of people who strive for moderation and universal values that transcend culture and religion, against fanatics and extremists of all sorts. Attacks on Quebec's new Ethics and Religious Cultures course are helping the cause of the extremists."

Really? I didn't realize having a differing opinion makes you an attacking extremist. My interpretation of this passage is the world is concretely divided between "open-minded free thinkers" and "close minded enslaved sloths".

However, is it possible, some "open minded" individuals are against not the course itself but the fact it A) trumps the parents authority (an all-too disturbing trend in Canada) and B) removes free choice from the equation?

Wasn't President Bush decried for his "us against them" depiction of global politics in 2001?

"This course, obligatory in all Quebec schools, introduces students to the major religions and is designed to help them to deal with ethical issues independently of specific religious instruction."

There it is. That word. Obligatory. Why must everything be "compulsory" and "obligatory". We're like a bunch of psychopaths. Incidentally, I once courted a girl who was Zoroastrian. It didn’t work out since my rigid Catholicism kept getting in the way. Gee, I wish I had the ethics course to make me “tolerant”!

"The quest for the largest consensus possible, searching for values that are fundamental, universal, and transcend division is in the spirit of Rev. Martin Luther King, who marched for civil rights in the 1960s accompanied by people from other religions as well as secularists and atheists like folk singer Joan Baez and Dr. Benjamin Spock."


"Scientist-philosopher Stuart Kauffman, another avowed atheist, has eloquently argued for "a new universal ethic of respect for all life that speaks to people across religious lines."

"The new course in Quebec reflects these ideas."

Hm. Interesting. I had to reread this several times and still I don't know what to make of this. Joan Baez?

For the record, he mentions atheism twice. Am I to believe atheists are more "tolerant" or "rational". That they're defenders of the philosophical tradition laid by the philosophes?

I don't know, but this piece is starting to get a "theistic" feel. What about Peter Singer and other bio-ethicists who certainly have rational views but remain ethically reprehensible to people? Are we trying to express ethics in scientific terms?

If Baez, what about Bob Dylan? Bruce Springsteen? Woodie Guthrie? John Lennon? Sounds like there's indeed a specific agenda in play here.

He goes on to assure us “relativism” will not pollute our students but then he says two conflicting things,”

"...As professors, we often have to confront the university student's view that "it's all a matter of opinion" or "it's all relative..."

Fair enough. Although, one can argue it is vulnerable to relativism. Can you really teach this course from a neutral bias? Seeing he already has professed his preference for certain individuals I can't see how.

But then:

"That student or child might be looking, mistakenly, for the one "right" or "correct" answer, a quest inappropriate in the context of a discussion about moral values, choices, or dilemmas."

I’m sure I’m missing something here. “Inappropriate”? Mistakenly”? Doesn’t this sound a lot like relativism in that there are “no absolutes”?

Yet, the course is based on the specific ideas and ideals of the aforementioned individuals? "Neutral bias" has been compromised.

"Neutral" is a term open for interpretation. Personally, I distrust it under certain circumstances. Like, in education for instance and politics. Weren't Sweden and Switzerland "neutral" during the Nazi's reign of insane terror (of course, it's mistaken to call them insane murderers) all the while profiting off the war?

"A few institutions (the private Jesuit Loyola High School for boys, several Orthodox Jewish schools, and the Mouvement Laïque) are encouraging parents to boycott the course or are asking to be exempted from it. This alliance includes some who oppose the course because they oppose any mention of religion in education and others who feel that their specific religion is being undermined."

Do they not have that right? Does this make them "extremist"?

Then he gets all rhetorically goofy:

"We want children to understand about honesty, respect, responsibility and co-operation, and to see the importance of personal virtues including consideration, generosity and kindness."

Is he insinuating religious classes (who by the way are more universal than given credit for) or parents are incapable of imparting these values? Heck, even Sesame Street covered all these bases.

Despite his passionate and articulate plea, I still remain uncertain about this course. He shouldn’t feel bad. Tolerance is a tricky thing. It’s called a FREE SOCIETY.

This Chick Is Alright

I've fallen in love with Michelle Jean. I've chosen to break the news to all my friends and family on my blog. It's just that there's something about a lady who's willing to gut seal and drink its blood Inuit style. She's my Seal Hunt Girl.

Following her ritualistic blood bash, many people felt she shouldn't have done it. That it's in, erm, poor taste. Not me, man. It's the first time I actually feel like someone in Canada in a political position is cool. Blasting her for taking part in an ancient Inuit custom is full of seal blubber.

Despite the attacks, the Governor-General has stuck to her gutting knife and in the process gave all MPs a lesson in leadership. I hope she doesn't go out and ruins it by apologizing.

Talk about giving the GG role some panache.

Seriously, get her a cape, Wonder Woman's laso, anything. She should run for Prime Minster. Even better, she should start her own party.

I'm not here to debate about the seal hunt. What I'm interested in is her guts. We're that desperate. The Liberals are a bunch of leaderless squawking faux progressives, the Conservatives have been Loreena Bobbitted, the NDP are power hungry tinpot socialist with a soft spot for coup d'etats (they should move their headquarters to Central America) and the Bloc, well, they see no contradictions in working for a federal pension while without any shame or pride simultaneously advocate for the destruction of Canada.

What about the EU? Screw them. They're so hypocritical on this issue it's not even worth entertaining their squishy, squashy views.* They should tend to their own problems. I hear in the UK fat kids can be taken away from their families for being over weight. PETA? Screw them too. They want to boycott our maple syrup. I say we give all a collective middle finger.

Forgive me if I find hope in a foxy lady representing the Queen who swallows organs. I think people will understand my leaving for Ottawa in search of my love.

* From Liberation BC: Actually, most of the seal goes to waste. The fur is sold to high-end retailers like Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, and Prada. Some of the penises are sold as aphrodisiacs in Asia, and the oil is sold as a health supplement. The blubber is sometimes collected, but a 2006 study by Memorial University discovered that 80% of it is simply discarded. Meanwhile, the meat of the seal rots on the ice, as it is generally considered inedible and unfit for human consumption. On its website, the Canadian government admits that "finding a market for seal meat outside of Newfoundland continues to present a major challenge for the sealing industry."


You Can Have Your Cake And Listen To It Too

Love this song. Short Skirt/Long Jacket by California band Cake.

"I want a girl with uninterrupted prosperity
Who used a machette to cut through red tape"

A call for small government! Ok, maybe I'm stretching it. But seriously, it would be great to use a machete to slash annoying red tape that tends to get in the way of everything from time to creativity.


Mom, Dad I Think I'm Ready To Change Religion

Ok, every once in a while you stumble on a website, organization or religion that leaves you in stitches. If a site can make you say, "brilliant" within five seconds it should be sent to the Smithsonian.

For the record, it takes a person about five days before they consider this site "adequate".

On to my point. Ever hear of the 'Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster'?

The beauty about blogs and the internet is you can instantly lash out at idiots with humor and intelligence. Bobby Henderson was never a fan of the Kansas school board and its decision to teach Intelligent Design along side the theory of evolution and decided to, well, use satire as a form or protest.

Oh and please do read the "Hate Mail" section. Deliciously verbally scrumptious. The ability to comprehend satire is dead. No kidding, everyone is excessively sensitive and paranoid these days.

Someone should do the same for Mississippi who decided to do away with fractions and decimals.

Hollywood Through A Chinese Prism

There's an interesting documentary exploring American actors of Chinese heritage in Hollywood called "Hollywood Chinese".

Voici a piece in the Vancouver Sun interviewing James Hong about the subject this morning.

I picked this quote from the Maynard Institute for Journalism.

"Actress Joan Chen, for example, says filmmaker Bernard Bertolucci was "just in love with the China that's in his own fantasy."

He wasn't the only one. Many British, French, Italian and other Western artists and philosophers took a romantic interest with the Orient in the late 19th century. The discussion surrounding Orientalism marches on as this great piece in Saudi Aramco World shows.

Closer to home in Hollywood, not so long ago, Italian-Americans faced similar challenges as blacks and Chinese as they had to change their names just to "fit in" or market themselves. Italian stereotypes on television and movies have subsided but remain.

It's So Hard To Be Neutral, Mom!

I posted this over at Intersportswire. Worth a peek if you're a sports fan. It's a posting from a Cleveland based news team after their reaction to Lebron James' improbable last minute game winner.

The celebration has led some to wonder about media noo-trality.

Neutrality bites.

Weren't Sweden and Switzerland "neutral" in WWII while profiting off it?

I'm just saying. Let's connect a Cleveland newscast, Lebron and WWII.


Starbucks Update

Since I brought up the point of serving espresso in a mini-cardboard cup, I may as well provide a follow up. Normally, I like heading to an Italian bar for my espresso but where I live there are no good ones so I head to Starbucks. They still don't know how to make an espresso despite the good quality of their coffee but hey. I go for the "experience".

Anyway, I ordered an espresso. This time it came in a large (whatever it's called there. Intermezzo? Mezzo-soprano?) cardboard cup.

I stared at it like I did it's sibling from the other day. This can't be good for the environment.

I think I have to call my local MP and demand action.

Maybe not.


I think I'll just order a cappuccino or latte cafe next time.

Jon & Kate Plus 8 And The Commentator

What follows is a semi-true story garnished with embellishment. Like most of history when you think of it.

My delightful and lovely love slave with week-end privileges is heavily invested in the life of Jon & Kate Plus 8. She watches their daily activities - insofar TLC will take her - with high intensity and even concern. Better to be invested in that than Chrysler, right?

Me? I don't get all the interest poured into the show. They gave birth to eight kids. Big deal. Wait. I mean, good for them. It's an amazing thing to A) give birth to eight bundles B) raise them to the best of your abilities and C) find time to go to the bathroom.

I've no clue how I'd handle it. Bathroom time is my time to catch up on some sports stats. Making eight Nutella sandwiches on kamut bread would be a daunting task I assume.

More to the point, I don't like one bit what the show does to our sex, erm, conversational life for 61 minutes. I can't even make small talk while she watches the trials and tribulations of complete strangers. It's like, "honey, save that kind of focus for the cartoons"!

Tonight was the "big" one hour (and 14 minutes) season finale (I think) of Unit 10.

It so happens I had nothing to do between 9pm and 10:14pm.

Guess what? I was a pain in her breast.





"I bought some old fashioned hash browns today".


"Babe, did you hear me? I said..."

"I heard you. I'm watching the show".

"Stupid show".

Pout. Stomp feet. Sigh.

"Do you have to do that"?

"What do you care what I do with my nose? You're watching Jon & Kate. Heaven forbid I interrupt you while you watch Jon & Kate"!

"Don't you have to go read some 50-page essay on liberty or something"?

"Nah. Did that. Did you iron my Laverne & Shirley's boxers and Lenny & Squiggy underwear"?

"I never watch any of my shows in peace. Why do you bother me? Do I bother you while you watch Joo-ventus play soccer? And it's Laverne & Shirley. Singular".

"Joo-ventus? It's pronounced YOU-ventus. You-ventus".

"I don't care. My point is you're childish and rude".

Continues watching the show. I try to keep quiet but I can't let this go by without a correction.

"For the record, I'm an AC Milan supporter. After 10 years I think you should know this".


"I mean, I went to the San Siro to watch Milan not Juventus. Get your facts straight".

Ignores and continues...watching show. Naturally, I break the silence.

"Oh, she's so phasing him out. They're done"!

"Don't make me tell you off".

"But I have something to tell you".


"I noticed you bought a new bag of green beans. I hope you're aware there's still half a bag of mixed beans".

"Are you for real"?

"I just don't want...them...you know...going to waste. Starving kids in Bolivia and such".

"Great I missed that segment. Talk to me now before the commercials end".

"I have nothing to say".


We watch the last commercial in silence.


"You like"?

"Put your pants back on! I can't believe I hitched my ride with you and your ADHD tendencies".

"It's hot down here. Let's do the Tonga".

"I can't take it"!

"It's not that hideous".

"No. Them. It's not the same anymore".

"Don't you think you're taking this a little too seriously"?

"Oh, no. No way".

"Fine. Be that way. But you could be using your time to learn the capitals of the world".

By this point, it's more than just being a nuisance. She's beginning to think up ways to leave me in the middle of the night. So I back off.

"I'm going to write about this on my blog".

No response. Kate is talking.

At What Point Do Laws Erase Freedoms?

You gotta love it. Just...just...gotta...love it. Previously on The Commentator I asserted the government (hello Mr. Charest) are a pack of hypocrites - as corrosive as cigarettes.

So, now they want to ban smoking in cars where children are present. Hey, good stuff. I applaud our collective concerns. Smoking is a foul vice. It's an act that should take place away from children.

BUT, given all the laws now put in place amount to trampling on civil liberties, again I ask, why aren't cigarettes banned outright?

It's a simple question really.

Like I said before, because they're addicted to the cash they get from tobacco companies.

What's next? Will the government come into your home to protect you?


I Can Relate To These Guys

Just watched the "Creature from the black lagoon" from 1954. Classic monster or sci-fi movies are always a joy to research. Did you know the actor who played the creature on land, Ben Chapman, (as well as Perry Lopez) died in 2008? Ricou Browning, who played the "Gill-Man" in the water scenes, is still alive. As far as I can tell, Julia Adams is the only surviving cast member.

I remember in an episode of "Robot Chicken" the Gill-Man is quoted as saying, "I prefer to be called an African-American Gill-man".

As I watched the movie, I expressed "I totally get the Gill-man". Earlier, I had also confessed I understood Jack Nicholson's character (Mr. Udall) in "As good as it gets". Particularly when he said "it's so hard talking this way" or something like that in the restaurant scene with Helen Hunt. I may not be as "obsessive" as he was but I'm not to far off. Small talk causes me great discomfort, I always watch what I touch and don't want any compliments. I never need a "thank you" for anything either.

Oh, man. This was supposed to be a post about a movie. It ended up being a little more...lucky youz.

What We've Become: A Misguided Wasteland Of Bad Ideas

The best description of General Motors I've heard yet? Government Motors.

The logic that the automakers failed therefore the government must step in and protect the interests of workers and the people is flawed on so many levels it's not even worth going over. The best thing would have been to let them collapse but we've been conditioned to believe this would have had catastrophic consequences.

Maybe. But at least the free enterprise system would remain in tact.

The thing that stuns me is, ok fine, you like President Obama, but to actually believes there are "no other alternatives" and that he's doing the right thing is beyond my comprehension.

Yes, this article is from von Mises but they make a helluva lot more sense than the nonsense being pumped and pimped from the established intellectual and political classes. I read Krugman and just don't get it. It's as if humans no longer have the ability to run their own ship without the long, deep, self-serving hand of the government.

We may think this is the right move but at what cost?

"...The US government has effectively grabbed a financial stake in each company while attempting to control the reorganization process without any constitutional authority to commence such actions. You mean a president other than Bush is capable of this? Shock!
The takeovers, which have occurred at breakneck speed, are alarming. A defining characteristic of economic fascism is the control of private property and business through a government-business "partnership." This public-private alliance, while permitting private business ownership, is an arrangement that allows government to control and plan private industry. What we are experiencing from the schemers in Washington, DC is a planned capitalism, or soft fascism, that is being rolled out at an unprecedented pace."
"One of the more disturbing actions on the part of the Washington establishment has been the blatant disregard for property and contract rights. First, consider the case of Chrysler. The government, while coming to the aid of a dying Chrysler, lobbed offers to its lenders, the bondholders. A group of dissident bondholders spurned the government's offer that would have given them a minuscule stake in the company while the UAW received a majority ownership position."
"In response, the president denounced the bondholders, publicly proclaiming their obligation to sacrifice and referring to them as "vultures" because they insisted on maintaining their rights as senior creditors. Chrysler's bondholders, by law, are secured creditors, and they hold a senior ranking above unsecured creditors or shareholders in a bankruptcy or reorganization. Yet they were vilified and bullied for refusing to agree to a shoddy deal. Some of the holdout bondholders finally did buckle under; they dropped their legal challenge and agreed to the government's lowball offer, but only because they were strong-armed by Washington's bully tactics. Thomas Lauria, the attorney representing the group, stated that his clients weren't able to "withstand the enormous pressure and machinery of the US government." Thus the senior creditors were plundered while ownership was redistributed to the UAW, whose members are junior creditors. This makes a mockery of US securities law."
Maybe he should be as tough on Iran as he was on bondholders.


Is Celente The Pundit Celeb Du Jour?

As I mentioned in a comment on Skeptical Eye blog, I'm not sure what to make of Gerald Celente. I'm generally wary of doom and gloom prognosticators. Times are tough and they all seem to pop up. Nonetheless, it's still an interesting read. We do seem to share a massive distrust of government.


When this bubble bursts, there’s no reinflating it because of the government intervention into it so deeply,” he said.

“As you look through history, it seems like governments become emboldened by their failures,” he added.

Celente pointed out that according to the Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini, the merger of state and corporate powers was called fascism.

We could call this fascism lite,” he said, referring to the government involvement in free enterprise. “After these kind of catastrophic collapses, sometimes they’re followed by war.

Note: To my dear old sister and close friend, if you tell me one more time I'd be "perfect" in foreign services on in some other part of public service, I may just have to pop you.

Just Call Me Already

I just realized something. I don't Twitter, I don't own an iPod, I don't text message, I don't own a Blackberry and I'm not on Facebook. Oh and I only use my phone to, well, send and receive calls. I don't play on it nor do I take pictures with it. I prefer keeping things basic.

Am I an anti-social luddite of some sort?

Espresso In A Box

I was over at Starbuck's today and was served an espresso in a cardboard cup. I stared at it unsure what to make of it. The girl perceptively explained they no longer had porcelain cups.


For a company that owes its existence and model to Italian cafes, they sure know how to ignore the most basic elements of the Italian coffee experience: Serving espresso in a darn porcelain cup!

Tsk, tsk, tsk.

For Your Information. Please Mark In Your Agendas

Not sure what this means but you're now officially reading my 2301st post. Well, that's not exactly true. I have roughly 300 drafts. Stuff I didn't have the guts to publish. Does this make me a coward?


The Conservative Party And The Ignatieff Political Attack Ads

Ad hominens and personal attacks litter the political landscape these days. It is what it is. Politics, as they say, is a dirty, messy, game where scruples and integrity are often left at the door.

However, I must admit, I'm not sure what the Liberals are complaining about here. Is it not a fact that Michael Ignatieff lived in the United States for three decades? I think it's a legitimate question, no? Or is it enough to have a Canadian passport to lead this country?

Heard a local sports personality on Team 990 pull a good one today. He equated Dick Cheney to the terrorists held in Guantanamo. I'm so sick of hearing stupid things on the radio - a sports show no less. It lacks depth and perspective to say the least.

Unless you can back up that "relativist" comment with solid evidence or defense (and yes damn insights), then move along.

There's a difference between making a sound political statement and making unsubstantiated claims. Yes, Cheney maybe a corrupt douche but it seems to me you can apply this line of weak reasoning to many, many politicians of all political stripes around the world.

Amassing Wealth And Perks On The Backs Of Taxpayers

Oh, here's a surprise, another one of our cultural departments acting like a bunch of scam artists - excuse the pun. The sad thing is because they spend the money pretending to be hotshots in Southern France, the sucker artist on the street often gets screwed - not that I'm a fan of subsidized art.

No money to give out? No sweat. Just pressure the government to give you more money arguing our culture "depends" on it and away we go.

In my opinion, many "institutions" wouldn't survive a minute in the free market (what's left of it) without subsidies. I don't have figures, but on a pound for pound basis, (Quebec in particular) we probably have more arts and culture companies than anyone else on the continent.

Back to SODEC.

"Le président-directeur général de la Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC) a donné le mauvais exemple en se permettant des frais de déplacement somptuaires pour des chambres avec vue sur la mer à Cannes, a déclaré hier le vérificateur général, Renaud Lachance.L'an dernier, Jean-Guy Chaput a engagé des dépenses totalisant 48 000 $ pour des hôtels et des billets d'avion lors de ses déplacements, a indiqué le vérificateur général, après avoir déposé son plus récent rapport à l'Assemblée nationale."

Shock! They call this a junket if you're the Governor-General.

Its mandate: SODEC is dedicated to the promotion and maintenance of Québécois culture. To such ends, it provides public financing to Québécois industries in cultural sectors. It aids the book sector, music sector, film sector, television sector, and artists.

All these organizations have their reasons for existence down pat.

I read not too long ago someone assert "Montreal is a cultural mecca". Hyperbolic, n'est pas? We tend to confuse being hip and cool with high culture here. When was the last time a true global artistic movement (art, music, philosophy etc.) came from the big MTL? Montreal is an open city when it comes to new ideas from abroad but we're not innovators ourselves.

Our culture is "great" because it's "ours". I could be wrong. If I am, please enlighten me.

Which leads me to a conversation I had with my barber today. The older gentleman who proceeded me got up, paid double what the cost actually was, muttered something about the weather and drove off in his very luxurious Mercedes-Benz. All the while I observed my barber (a handsome feller from Lucca in Tuscany). He didn't seem too enamored with the gentleman.

"A regular"? I asked in Italian. "He's been coming here for over 20 years. He's a multi-millionaire," he replied. "How did he amass his wealth"?

As he cut my hair he explained that his father had exclusive contracts to build bridges in Quebec during the Duplessis era. "Ah. Nice work if you can get it" I said. "Yes" he replied.

"What does the son do"? I wondered. "I'm not sure but he was in the crane business. He would sign 99 year leases with the government to park his cranes on various sites for their projects. More often than not they were never used. I know many stories of waste like that. And it's us, small businesses and taxpayers who pay the heaviest price to maintain the game".

Music to my ears.

Question: Is it better to have the odd capitalist blow up and have the free market (I know, there are no free markets anymore but work with me) purge them free of government intervention, or to have people become millionaires off the backs of taxpayers thanks to government corruption?



I've had to edit the last few posts. Sorry if I had to put you through some poor grammar.


Painful Memories Of Ineptness

My daughter was playing with a hobby called "Sun Catchers" last night.

As I watched her fill the plastic sun catchers with the idiot proof paint tubes, it brought back memories of when I used to play with car models.

And boy did I suck at building models. I was so useless at it, it was like I had 10 fat thumbs. No matter how much I concentrated, the car never came out looking like the picture on the box. The bottom end of the model which needed to be snapped on always gave me trouble. I could never quite get it to snap smoothly with the top part of the car.

Even when I was gentle I managed to smash the differential - if hot rods had a differential. Worse were those stickers. After sinking them in water, I would always manage to either split the "Corvette" so that it looked like "Crvtt" or stick them on the body of the car crooked and crinkled as if Helen Keller put them on. In fact, she'd probably do a better job.

Speaking of sure and steady hands, I was also terrible at "Operation".

Hmm. Outside of writing a few posts that go largely unread and playing a couple of sports at a decent level, I don't possess too many skills.



Ethical Blogging Question

Ever read the comments section on a blog and spot the avatar of a gal you'd...you'd...I have to choose my words carefully here...you'd watch "Leave it to beaver" with?

Of course you have. We've all muttered to ourselves, "She's hot".

So I was wondering. Is it too forward too answer the person with a "Man, you per-ty." Or something like that.

Blogger: "Where did you meet your blog-friend"?

Me: "Her? In the comments section on a favorite blog. She's easy".

Nothing Beats Great Comedy

Enough of that heavy stuff in the previous posts. Let's laugh together like they do on those 'The Keg' commercials.

Featured: Young Frankenstein and the Mark Brothers.

Ethics And Religious Culture Course: Letter To The Editor

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding as to why some parents object to the new course on Religion and Ethics that is now mandated in Quebec schools.

Shouldn't we all know something of what others believe? And if the course aims at promoting tolerance and "the common good," how could any right-thinking person be against it?

Conservative Catholics and evangelicals are among the main opponents of the course. Those I know want a society in which all people (whatever they profess to believe or not believe) might live and let live. There ought to be at least civility among us, and in many cases co-operation for the common good.

However, this does not mean that children in Grade 1 must be taught about world religions. If parents and church teach, for example, that Jesus is Lord over all yet the school says Jesus is but one of many religious teachers (and how can it do otherwise?), there will inevitably be confusion in the child's mind.

The notion that such a course can be taught from a neutral point of view is a myth. Not to decide is to decide. Either the school affirms that everyone should bow before Jesus or it does not. There is no neutral ground.

Similarly, it is questionable whether ethics can be taught from some supposedly neutral perspective. The teacher always has a bias (whether Christian, humanist, utilitarian, etc.) which will be virtually impossible to conceal.

Big Brother needs to stop encroaching on the rights of parents.

John Vaudry

Bold italics mine.

It feels as though the government's plan to introduce an ethics and religious culture course assumes religion as taught in classes is the basis of cultural misunderstandings - or at least keeps students ignorant of world religions.

Proponents of the class deny it puts religions on an equal footing. They further resist the notion it's nothing but an exercise in relativism. On the contrary, it's aim is to foster "intolerance". Whatever that means.

Regardless, to me, the ultimate point here is freedom of choice. As the author said; the course encroaches on civil liberties. If some parents and educators are against it then so be it. They have a right to Catholic instruction. It wouldn't be such an issue if private schools (since they're privately funded) were exempt but they're not.

I grew up Italian and Catholic in a French and English language mileu. I cherish this fact.

My buddies and I didn't begin to interact with other religions and cultures until we reached CEGEP. Guess what? Contrary to all the bs, we thrived. We hung out and dated all sorts of people. Our Catholicism never impeded our progress. Did Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra need 'ethics and religion" to hang out with Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford and Sammy Davis jr.? Ok, I'm stretching things here.

Nonetheless, the same guys who were popular among many people, ended up marrying Chilean, Filippino, Lebanese-Italian and French. My brother married a girl with so many nationalities she lost count: Metis, French-Canadian, Filippino, Spanish and Irish are the predominant ones. My sister is dating a Jew - the best comedians ever. Was that unethical?

We "ignorant" and "intolerant" Catholic wops accomplished all this without an "ethics and religion" course.

I see the rationale for the curriculum but remain unsold.

I'll monitor this and if I'm proven wrong I'll be glad to admit it. But judging how they've handled the education file on 'integration" and linguistic shcool boards, there's a reasonable chance they'll bungle this up too.

Can We Sue The Government For Being Moronic?

***Warning: Rant ahead. Explicit Language along with nudity. Viewer discretion is advised though not enforced. But it should be.

Ok. Let me say it.

The Quebec government is so full of shit and hypocrisy it's annoying.

In fairness, they're not the only ones who've sued big tobacco, since you know, moronic behavior (where pHY = hypocritical politicians, OxY = lack of oxygen to the brain and Mrn = Moronity Infinity) tends to transcend language, culture and skin color. Worse, it spreads like a mean bitch plague. Alberta (and other provinces) has done it too.

Their main complaint is they want to sue tobacco companies to recover health care costs. At this point, why don't they just go out and BAN THE TOBACCO COMPANIES and be done with it already. It's not like they've never banned things before. For instance, they banned asbestos. Big Brother can do what it wants, brotha.

Oh, I know why they don't ban them: They need the tax money. "Let's fuck them for the tax revenue and let's sue them to pay for our mismanaged public health system! After all, tobacky comp'nies kill people"!

Bloody scammers.

Interestingly, Quebec has no problem running the alcohol racket or the Casino as well as encouragng gambling through Loto tickets.

Sure. It's "better" the government runs it in the name of protecting society at large. Sure. No wonder they're always fighting with the Mohawks. They want a piece of the action.

They pick and choose where they want to fight social vices to fit their own interests.

Wait. It gets better. I was told (and I have to look into this) by someone who has a friend who owns a depanneur (convenience store) the government recently approved for sale two cigarette brands!

Forget the language debate and the asshole civil servants who rip into citizens for speaking English to them - which really happened to some people I've been told in a chilling story. This is a place that's so busy protecting the French language they actually forget to teach it properly. Indeed, they've made such a mess of the education system one would think they'd focus all their energies on this! But noooo. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Nope. What a bunch of depraved hucksters.

This sort of hypocrisy has no limits. It's like something right out of an Andy Kaufman parody sketch.

Maybe they should join Le Cirque du Soleil?

Why not? What's the difference between politicians and civil servants who come up with this shit and clowns? Hear about the one where they want to legislate people to remove their winter tires?

And this talk about "drain on the health care" system. Here's a thought. If the health care system can't handle ONE segment of the population that freely chooses to smoke (with higher mortality rates) then what does that say about the health care system? What's next? Telling over weight people (once known as "fat") they can't go to Wendy's because they drain the system? Again, think all this to its logical end.

You can go on and on with this utter nonsense.

Laval Cops Are Very Concerned About Our Health

Maybe there's more to this story but I'll apply Occam's Razor in this case. You gotta love Laval getting international recognition. There's no such thing as bad publicity they say. I don't believe that.

The story was first reported in the Globe and Mail.

Here's an excerpt of the story from CTV online and the police explanation for their actions:

"The officers defended their actions on Saturday, saying they warned 38-year-old Bela Kosoian repeatedly to grab the handrail inside a Laval subway station, but instead she allegedly shouted at them.

Police say they were concerned because a month earlier, a man had fallen on the escalator and suffered severe injuries to his face."

There's a lot to consider with that last phrase. Outrage should be one of them.

In "A month earlier" a lot of shit can happen. The guy suffered injuries to his face. Of course, that can mean anything. For all I know he was given a "Snoopy" band-aid and sent off with a toothbrush. Moreover, why and how did he fall? Was he trying to juggle watermelons? The permutations are endless. People in shopping malls beware. If there's a cop worried about your safety you just may find yourself facing a citation.

Think about their excuse to its logical end.

It all begins to fall apart like a moist shish-taouk once you consider it's highly doubtful she was the only one not holding on to the railing that day - or any day for that matter. And with all the hype surrounding the swine flu including the advice to keep your hands clean one could reasonably conclude the cops timing stank of swine shit.

Go figure. Yet, they can't do anything to protect abused women from psycho boyfriends and husbands.

Bela Kosoian, a native of Georgia who knows all too well how the police state functions, probably over reacted but in light of her "offense" I can see why. Until the truth comes out (assuming it ever gets followed up), it's possible the cop cuffed her not because he was "concerned" about her safety but because she dared question authority.

I will, because I'm fair that way, say one thing in defense of the cops. I'm sure the percentage of people mouthing off to them is fairly high and it's likely they usually proceed and act in moderation more often than not. In Bela's case, she probably could have saved herself trouble by simply handing over her ID when asked for it but then again who know how the officer asked.

The cops involved should have just chilled and given her the citation without all the pompous power tripping. What if she had an exam? Is it right she would miss it because some cops decided to enforce some obscure law? No it isn't. The STM doesn't even have such a law.

Speaking of the law. I love when people who felt the cops are right, come out and say "the law is the law". Really? How many people were surprised to hear there was a "handrail" law.

As you can see, without context, this post can veer off into many directions.

In any event, the police force must remember they "serve and protect" us. We pay their salaries. They shouldn't be out to "get us" in an effort to "condition" the populace at large.

Then again, how badly do they want us to play good citizen? Isn't giving out tickets a cash cow?

We always assume cops and the government will "never" be irrational or legislate dumb laws. Think again.

By the way, for the record, the Laval police force is notorious for its corruption. I'm just stipulating what I've heard.


Cluelessness Rampant At The Federal Reserve

Thank you Mr. Frank for this astonishing video about Congress grilling Inspector General for the Federal Reserve. Notice the lawyers (I assume) in the background. Makes you wonder about what's really going on. The "Inspector" was so burnt out of her mind that at the 4:17 mark he clearly became frustrated.

Sure. Bailing out and spending is the way to go. Sure it is. Not if the people guarding the cash are complete, self-serving, corrupted retards.

A republic.

If you can keep it.


Obama Earns Praise From Scholar

Neo-conservative scholar (although the label is a little simplistic) Max Boot praised the foreign policy objectives and moves executed by President Obama.

This is not surprising considering from day one, the President showed his neo-con muscles.

Link Of Interest: Economic Statistics

A friend in the financial know pointed me to this website. If you want real figures Shadow Government Statistics is the place.

Here's an excerpt on how measuring inflation was redesigned. Not pretty:

"Inflation, as reported by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is understated by roughly 7% per year. This is due to recent redefinitions of the series as well as to flawed methodologies, particularly adjustments to price measures for quality changes. The concentration of this installment on the quality of government economic reports will be first on CPI series redefinition and the damages done to those dependent on accurate cost-of-living estimates, and on pending further redefinition and economic damage.

The CPI was designed to help businesses, individuals and the government adjust their financial planning and considerations for the impact of inflation. The CPI worked reasonably well for those purposes into the early-1980s. In recent decades, however, the reporting system increasingly succumbed to pressures from miscreant politicians, who were and are intent upon stealing income from social security recipients, without ever taking the issue of reduced entitlement payments before the public or Congress for approval.

In particular, changes made in CPI methodology during the Clinton Administration understated inflation significantly, and, through a cumulative effect with earlier changes that began in the late-Carter and early Reagan Administrations have reduced current social security payments by roughly half from where they would have been otherwise. That means Social Security checks today would be about double had the various changes not been made. In like manner, anyone involved in commerce, who relies on receiving payments adjusted for the CPI, has been similarly damaged. On the other side, if you are making payments based on the CPI (i.e., the federal government), you are making out like a bandit."

"...Up until the Boskin/Greenspan agendum surfaced, the CPI was measured using the costs of a fixed basket of goods, a fairly simple and straightforward concept. The identical basket of goods would be priced at prevailing market costs for each period, and the period-to-period change in the cost of that market basket represented the rate of inflation in terms of maintaining a constant standard of living.

The Boskin/Greenspan argument was that when steak got too expensive, the consumer would substitute hamburger for the steak, and that the inflation measure should reflect the costs tied to buying hamburger versus steak, instead of steak versus steak. Of course, replacing hamburger for steak in the calculations would reduce the inflation rate, but it represented the rate of inflation in terms of maintaining a declining standard of living. Cost of living was being replaced by the cost of survival. The old system told you how much you had to increase your income in order to keep buying steak. The new system promised you hamburger, and then dog food, perhaps, after that.

The Boskin/Greenspan concept violated the intent and common usage of the inflation index. The CPI was considered sacrosanct within the Department of Labor, given the number of contractual relationships that were anchored to it. The CPI was one number that never was to be revised, given its widespread usage.

Shortly after Clinton took control of the White House, however, attitudes changed. The BLS initially did not institute a new CPI measurement using a variable-basket of goods that allowed substitution of hamburger for steak, but rather tried to approximate the effect by changing the weighting of goods in the CPI fixed basket. Over a period of several years, straight arithmetic weighting of the CPI components was shifted to a geometric weighting. The Boskin/Greenspan benefit of a geometric weighting was that it automatically gave a lower weighting to CPI components that were rising in price, and a higher weighting to those items dropping in price."

"...The Pollyannas on Wall Street like to play games with the CPI, too. The concept of looking at the "core" rate of inflation-net of food and energy-was developed as a way of removing short-term (as in a month or two) volatility from inflation when energy and/or food prices turned volatile. Since food and energy account for about 23% of consumer spending (as weighted in the CPI), however, related inflation cannot be ignored for long. Nonetheless, it is common to hear financial pundits cite annual "core" inflation as a way of showing how contained inflation is. Such comments are moronic and such commentators are due the appropriate respect.

Too-Low Inflation Reporting Yields Too-High GDP Growth

As is discussed in the final installment on GDP, part of the problem with GDP reporting is the way inflation is handled. Although the CPI is not used in the GDP calculation, there are relationships with the price deflators used in converting GDP data and growth to inflation-adjusted numbers. The more inflation is understated, the higher the inflation-adjusted rate of GDP growth that gets reported."

It's all smoke and mirrors.

I hope Obama is not basing his GDP growth in this manner to justify his spending.

Someone asked me why am I so concerned about government intervention. I'm concerned because my instincts tell me it's gone beyond what should be accepted. Sometimes I wonder if there's even a "Republic" in the United States anymore. What's the difference between the U.S., Canada and the EU? Aren't we all moving towards the same kind of "central planning"?

Popular thought has determined that "runaway capitalism" is the problem. There's no such thing as a "free market". We lost that privilege a long time ago. The unseen hand of the government is what directs it. Therefore I submit it's quite the contrary: it's government fiscal irresponsibility and intervention.

Terms like "capitalism" and "free-markets" are all relative. Just like brokers rationalize their returns for clients by measuring them relative to indices, the "degree" of capitalism is all relative from administration to administration. Of course, going "relative" is a nice way of dancing around the facts.

Always remember: the money used to bail out is taken from the productive and given to the clowns and their cronies who created the mess. That leaves true, healthy businesses in a tight spot.


Political Question

Is the aim of a "mixed" economy unrealistic or an act of pragmatism?

What's the "opportunity cost" of a mixed economy? Does it discourage innovation and encourage mediocrity?

Laws, Laws, Laws And More Laws: Why Not Focus On Education?

I heard on the radio this morning some politician propose further tire legislation for people who keep winter tires on through the summer. Why? Check this report from the CAA stipulating:

"Tests conducted by CAA-Quebec last summer show beyond any doubt that all-season tires are safer than winter tires in warm weather," said Sophie Gagnon, CAA-Quebec's Senior Director, Public and Government Relations. "In these tests, we observed that braking distances in emergencies could increase by up to 30% with winter tires. Moreover, for evasive action to be successful, speeds had to be much lower than for the same manoeuvres with all-season tires. The test car was less stable with winter tires."

Of course, there's no point in using all-season if it's banned during the winter months, right? All this is pointless to the vast majority of people who always used a winter/summer tire rotation. For us, it's business as usual. I still don't see why we had to make this a law. It's not tires that cause accidents, it's bad drivers/driving.

The CAA, who were sober and skeptical about the tire law (to cynics a fine scam), warned of this in 2008.

We've gone legislatively mad hungry. At some point we need to EDUCATE. It's the best weapon we've can use. It seems to me, the more you legislate, the less need for people to educate themselves.

Something tells me this won't be the end of things.

The Decadence Of Sweden

Scandinavia is often looked upon as a region known for its "progressiveness".

I'm not so sure it deserves the tag.

Killing a baby based on gender is purely deplorable act of injustice towards humanity. Forget the "right to choose" angle and think about what we're doing as a species. Forget about viewing things through a conservative, liberal, pro or anti prism for a second. Suspend your "rational" logic. Think about this for a second.

Then look at your child. Your nephew or niece. Someone you cherish and love. Think about that mentally challenged kid you adore or the inspirational neighbor dealing with a disease. Think about humanity for a damn second.

Sweden (or Scandinavia) is not a model for us. They've nothing to teach us. Got that Quebec?

Fun With Salt


How come we can tolerate salt on our salads and french (freedom?) fries but add a pinch of it in a glass of water and we grimace as if we're eating shark's blood pudding?


Word Of The Day: Thrift

Here's an excerpt of Warren G. Harding's Inaugural Address from 1921:

A regret for the mistakes of yesterday must not, however, blind us to the tasks of today. War never left such an aftermath. There has been staggering loss of life and measureless wastage of materials. Nations are still groping for return to stable ways. Discouraging indebtedness confronts us like all the war-torn nations, and these obligations must be provided for. No civilization can survive repudiation.

We can reduce the abnormal expenditures, and we will. We can strike at war taxation, and we must. We must face the grim necessity, with full knowledge that the task is to be solved, and we must proceed with a full realization that no statute enacted by man can repeal the inexorable laws of nature. Our most dangerous tendency is to expect too much of government, and at the same time do for it too little. We contemplate the immediate task of putting our public household in order. We need a rigid and yet sane economy, combined with fiscal justice, and it must be attended by individual prudence and thrift, which are so essential to this trying hour and reassuring for the future.

The business world reflects the disturbance of war's reaction. Herein flows the lifeblood of material existence. The economic mechanism is intricate and its parts interdependent, and has suffered the shocks and jars incident to abnormal demands, credit inflations, and price upheavals. The normal balances have been impaired, the channels of distribution have been clogged, the relations of labor and management have been strained. We must seek the readjustment with care and courage. Our people must give and take. Prices must reflect the receding fever of war activities. Perhaps we never shall know the old levels of wages again, because war invariably readjusts compensations, and the necessaries of life will show their inseparable relationship, but we must strive for normalcy to reach stability. All the penalties will not be light, nor evenly distributed. There is no way of making them so. There is no instant step from disorder to order. We must face a condition of grim reality, charge off our losses and start afresh. It is the oldest lesson of civilization. I would like government to do all it can to mitigate; then, in understanding, in mutuality of interest, in concern for the common good, our tasks will be solved. No altered system will work a miracle. Any wild experiment will only add to the confusion. Our best assurance lies in efficient administration of our proven system.

The forward course of the business cycle is unmistakable. Peoples are turning from destruction to production. Industry has sensed the changed order and our own people are turning to resume their normal, onward way. The call is for productive America to go on. I know that Congress and the Administration will favor every wise Government policy to aid the resumption and encourage continued progress.

I speak for administrative efficiency, for lightened tax burdens, for sound commercial practices, for adequate credit facilities, for sympathetic concern for all agricultural problems, for the omission of unnecessary interference of Government with business, for an end to Government's experiment in business, and for more efficient business in Government administration. With all of this must attend a mindfulness of the human side of all activities, so that social, industrial, and economic justice will be squared with the purposes of a righteous people.

Wow. Is it me or did President Harding make sense? For two years he did anyway. He died in 1923 paving the way for Vice-President Calvin Coolidge to take over.

The interesting thing about Harding was, as a conservative Republican he actually had the support of Hollywood. For example, the list included Mary Pickford (who was Canadian but who's keeping tabs?), Douglas Fairbanks and Al Jolson. Thomas Edison also supported him.

The problem is not capitalism per se -to think so is to mischaracterize it. Rather, it's the collusion of government and capitalism led by the elites and their narrow interests that's wrecked the process. But it can be reverted. Just don't look to Obama - or any politician. That would be political suicide - to do it.

Looking back on what Harding said, I must say I like the word "thrift". Come to think of it, austere is another one.