9/20/2002

C.D. Harris has an outstanding commentary about Tumbling Woman, the sculpture that was removed from public display in New York.

Myself, I empathize most strongly with the direct victims of 9/11 by thinking of the ones who jumped. So, to me, the choice to memorialize the WTC atrocity by representing a single jumper is a stroke of genius - because for me they always represented the most essential aspect of the event: Horror. I look at this statue and am immediately reminded of what I felt watching them fall.

This seems bang on to me... It was almost certainly a mistake to place that sculpture so close to the towers so soon after the event but, in my opinion, this is not just good art - it is brilliant and valuable and compassionate art. Don't take my word though, read what Harris has to say because it is very well said.
David Janes (The Reluctant Blogger) is organizing a worthwhile project to bring James Lileks to a wider audience. I'm in.
Fellow blogger Steven Martinovich has an opinion piece in the Jerusalam Post.

Although Chr tien may believe himself in good company by subscribing to a belief shared by people like Gore, Susan Sontag, Norman Mailer, Ted Rall and Noam Chomsky, he should have been reminded of the old admonition that no matter how many people say a wrong thing, it is still wrong.

Good job Steven. It's good to see that the dissenting Canadian voice is getting some exposure in the wider world.



James Brown Sued by Co-writers. Eddie Murphy Crushed.



JAMES Brown's daughters have filed a federal lawsuit against the Godfather of Soul, seeking more than $1 million in back royalties and damages for 25 songs they say they co-wrote.

Even though they were children when the songs were written — 3 and 6 when Get Up Offa That Thing was a hit in 1976 — Brown's daughters helped write them, said their attorney, Gregory Reed.


The Brown siblings also claim to have contributed to such lesser known titles as Getchya Ass Outside, Pickup Dis Mess and Why, oh Why? ( Can't cha gimme sum peace).

Link via Fark


9/19/2002

John Barber, from Toronto, is trolling for attention this morning. It's the old 'let them eat cake' attitude but with an extra helping of gleeful celebration.

Once again the hewers of wheat and drawers of oil are coming to town to tell us what's good for us.

Previously, they've come during elections, urging us to support political parties founded on the promise to repress our interests in favour of theirs.

This time they want us to rise up against ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty that couldn't be more attractive if it were written specifically to boost the competitive advantage of Southern Ontario.

Do they think we're stupid?


I don't know who 'we' is supposed to represent, but I certainly think Barber is acting stupid and spiteful. You have to love that opening line for it's sheer economy in setting the tone that runs through this piece like a vein of rancid fat. "Oh look, here come the peasants out of the fields - 'coming to town.' Let's hope they wipe their feet before coming in the big house."

Well, okay: That's usually a safe bet.

But even the dunderheads at Toronto City Council don't need much of an environmental conscience to know that Kyoto would be good for us.

Council supported ratification last spring without a word of debate and with only a handful of members dissenting.

Nationally, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities took the same position and has played a lead role in the effort to promote Kyoto -- once again motivated by advantage as much as conscience. Unlike the broad public, whose strong Kyoto support the oil diggers consider ignorant, the cities have a vested interest.

Urban populations will find it easier to comply with Kyoto, and the advantages of doing so will accrue disproportionately within city limits.


Leaving aside the slur of 'oil diggers' - suspiciously close to ditch-diggers as it is - let's look at the message. Barber is talking very specifically to an urban audience but his argument is dishonest even if you ignore the disrespect inherent in it. The only urbanites who are going to find Kyoto realtively painless are those who already live in the very heart of the cities. And that holds true only if you believe that increased heating, transportation, and production costs are not going to find their way into the cost of consumer products. Suburbanites who make up the vast majority of the GTA population will be dinged quite a bit harder since they log more hours sitting over a hot engine than any but the most footloose of rural dwellers. They also seem determined to maintain those wasteful single-family homes with a private heating plant in each and every one!

The FCM supports Kyoto on condition that "no region of the country bears an unreasonable cost related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions," but that is a fantasy.

It's like calling for the abolition of private cars so long as no autoworkers are affected. The oil diggers would hurt.

But we're on the lucky side of the equation. Long before anyone heard of Kyoto, devising clever ways to avoid sending dollars to Alberta was good business in these parts.


So he admits that the support of the FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities) is predicated on a condition that simply can not be satisfied. Does that sway Barber from his support? Oh, no. Quite the contrary, he supports the Kyoto Protocol precisely because it screws the 'oil diggers' and favours the type of smug urbanite that he professes to represent.

That's why we rely more on uranium than gas to produce electricity; perhaps more virtuously, it also explains why industry and commercial landlords spend billions on conservation.

Instead of shipping dollars to Fort McMurray to buy fuel, they prefer to spend them in Mississauga, where skilled workers design and manufacture high-efficiency windows and ventilation systems.


How can you argue with that logic? The 'skilled workers' of the GTA will benefit and the 'oil diggers' will suffer. Sounds like a win/win proposition to me. And the best part of all? The 'skilled workers' can buy solar-powered big screen TVs and watch the devastation of the 'oil diggers' in glorious living colour on the CBC.

For our energy-dependent manufacturing region, replacing imported oil sets purely virtuous circles in motion, and any policies that create new incentives to replace more oil can only help.

Any policy? Presumably, a total ban on the private ownership of internal combustion engines would be just hunky-dory with Mr. Barber. "Sure, it would be a little inconvenient for some, but let's look at the big picture here."

But just as the advantages of compliance flow disproportionately our way, the costs will be easier to absorb.

Say the cost of Kyoto compliance is a new tax on the use of carbon fuels. Every farmer in Canada might go broke (wouldn't want that), but the urbanite -- especially the hundreds of thousands of subway-commuting apartment and townhouse dwellers in big cities -- might hardly notice. Where one Canadian faces fundamental life choices, a Torontonian shrugs, deciding to ditch the ranch house in favour of a condo, or deciding to buy a Metropass instead of a second family car, a choice eased considerably by the fact that transit service has improved dramatically due to the new investment made possible by the carbon tax.

Do you think that Barber is really doing a satire here? Perhaps I'm being taken in by a clever criticism of the flawed thinking of Kyoto supporters. If I were Ralph Klein I would send a copy of this column to every voter in the country who lives outside of urban Toronto much like hockey coaches post inflammatory criticisms of their own teams in the dressing room before the big game. Is this really the mindset of Kyoto supporters? I don't think it is. I think the vast majority of Canadians simply haven't become engaged in the topic yet. I hope we get engaged before the damn thing is rammed through parliament but I refuse to believe that Kyoto's supporters are really driven by sheer small-minded vindictiveness and greed like this moron appears to be.

Even if I overlook the offensive presentation of the argument I can't help but be struck by how poorly reasoned it is. Barber is arguing that the Kyoto targets could be met with relative ease if only those backward, fuel sucking idiots living outside of metro Toronto would change their lives and live like he does. You know, in some efficient and luxurious high-rise condo with a fleet of bicycles for the sunny days and TTC hydrogen-powered buses passing by your doorstep every 3-5 minutes in the damp weather (buses & trains won't run on sunny days, of course.) Canada should simply move all those folks living in the north into a proper city. Let's face it, these people are generating a huge portion of our greenhouses gases in relation to their population. Move em all to Toronto and do it right away. Barber has already identified the need to eliminate the agricultural sector - we'll move them all to Toronto as well. Small towns? Sorry, they'll have to go... come to Toronto and get a job as a 'skilled worker.' Sure it'll be a bit of an adjustment, but you'll get over it.













9/18/2002

A bitchy but satisfying review of two recent books about Anti-Americanism. The first, The Eagle's Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World by Mark Hertsgaard, gets a pretty rough reception but it's the second, After the Terror by Ted Honderich, that really comes in for a thrashing.
Professor Honderich has tried to stick closer to the really big issues. Instead of anecdotes and vox pops, his book (Edinburgh UP, £15.99, 160 pp) is filled with abstract argumentation about moral philosophy, the nature of democracy, the definition of political violence, and so on. As a result, this book is able to be bad in a much more serious way. Indeed, I think it is one of the worst books I have ever read.

The key points of the argument are as follows. There is no real difference between an act of omission and an act of commission. This means that each time I fail to give money to Oxfam to save the lives of starving Africans - for example, each time I spend money on a holiday - I am responsible for killing people. Therefore we are all, in a real sense, murderers, and the West is collectively responsible for the elimination of human life on a colossal scale. (Western interventions to help starving Africans, such as the ill-fated American operation in Somalia, naturally pass unmentioned here.)

If terrorists were to try to correct this injustice by murdering thousands of people in New York, that action would not be justified - because it would be "irrational", that is, not likely to achieve its intended effect. (Note in passing that if a more rationally calculated method could be devised - eg kidnapping the children of rich Westerners and demanding ransoms - this argument would apparently support it.) But even so, Honderich insists, if such terrorists did massacre people in New York in such an unjustified way, we, the people of the West, would bear "moral responsibility" for their actions.

Hmmm... Maybe Chretien is more well-read then we had given him credit for.


My local talk-radio station is quoting John Manley to the effect that he'd "... sooner jump off the Peace Tower than raise the GST to 10%."

Memo to: Mr. Manley
From: The Canadian Taxpayers
Re: GST and Peace Tower

John,

We'd be prepared to go as high as 9% if you toss Chretien from the Tower.
Call us, we'll talk.


9/17/2002

Damian Penny links to a jaw-dropping story out of France.
PARIS (Reuters) - Provocative French novelist Michel Houellebecq faced a Paris court on Tuesday for allegedly inciting racial hatred by calling Islam "the stupidest religion" and its holy book the Koran a depressing read.

Sacre Blue! What the hell is wrong with those people? It defies reason to imagine that he will be convicted but, all the same, the man has to go into court and answer the charges. This is insanity.



You know, I really don't consider myself a conservative and I'm defensive about it. That's why I find myself sometimes passing over topics that are the traditional hobbyhorses of the "Right."

But the %##@%&* CBC has done it to me again. They've driven me into another 'rightist' screed about propaganda and revisionism and the vast leftwing conspiracy.

To explain... the CBC invites reader's comments on it's website and I submitted a comment to this page on either the 12th or 13th of Sept. My comment never showed up (and no, it was not profane) which was irritating but hardly worth a post to the ol' hellhole, right?

So, a couple of days later, I send an email to the CBC... here it is;
I submitted a comment about the post 911 interview with Jean Chretien either late on the 12th or early on the 13th of Sept. I note that many subsequent comments have been posted to your comments page but mine have not. Can you explain your policy about which submissions are posted and which are rejected?

I sent that on Saturday, no response as yet. Again, the kind of thing to make you mumble mild expletives but surely too petty and predictable to warrant a public complaint, right? (You have to remember, I am Canadian... and not exactly a speedy typist at that).

So this morning, I'm over at the CBC site (checking for my comment again) and while poking around I stumble upon a seeming discrepancy between what I remember of Chretien's comments and the transcript that the CBC has posted on it's website.

Now this is going to get a little link-heavy but I think it points out something pretty interesting;
The CBC has a short video clip of Chretien's interview here.
The original CBC item about this story is here
The PMO's transcript of the interview, rushed out for damage control, is available here and it's also available in a slightly different format below since I posted it a couple of days ago.
Finally, here is the current version of the CBC transcript as it appears today.

Okay, so what's my beef? Firstly, I noticed that the video clip and the PMO transcript don't match exactly. The PMO transcript has Chretien saying that the Western world "is going to be too rich" but the video reveals quite clearly that Chretien said the Western world "is getting too rich". Check the tape. Now that might seem a small discrepancy on it's surface, but it's a subtle shift that allows the PMO to claim that Chretien was speaking of the future, making a warning, rather than speaking of the present circumstances. Big deal, it's a bit of spin, hardly matters in the grand scheme of things. It's naive to even remark on it, right?

But it gets worse. Comparing the video and the PMO transcript also reveals another change; in the video Chretien says "we're looked upon as being arrogant, self-satisfied, greedy and without limits" but in the PMO version he says "we look upon us being arrogant, self-satisfying, greedy and with no limits." I guess the PMO counts on the fact that everything Chretien says comes with a base level of incoherence so that Canadians don't balk at the sheer illogic of that change. Well, that doesn't prove much of anything new even if you or I find it extremely cynical and slimy. The PMO's job is to cover Chretien's ass come hell or high water and that’s all they are trying to do, right?

So I decide to check the CBC transcript against the video and I find out that their transcript is an exact copy of the PMO transcript. "Well, maybe the transcript was provided to the PMO by the CBC, anything's possible and that would explain why the transcripts are identical" says my scrupulously fair and evenhanded side to my other side which I will not describe at this time.
Check out the original CBC story:
In the television interview, Chrétien said the Western world is "looked upon as being arrogant, self-satisfied, greedy and with no limits. The 11th of September is an occasion for me to realize it even more."
Then check out the 'official CBC transcript of today;
"And necessarily, you know, we look upon us being arrogant, self-satisfying, greedy and with no limits. And the 11th of September is an occasion for me to realize that it's even more."


Canada's Public Broadcaster, ladies and gentlemen.





9/16/2002

Mark Steyn gives Jean Chretien a good Rogering...

Steyn's comic timing just keeps getting better.

What is it the Islamists want?

In the words of Hussein Mussawi, former leader of Hezbollah: "We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you."

OK, that's just his opening position.


Steyn doesn't hit every target squarely but he is always fun to read.
So long, don't forget to rot...


I've always predicted that Bin Laden will be harder to kill than Elvis. But there seems to be more and more evidence that Osama has left the building. First there was a slip-up and now there is a flat admission by a close associate. U.S. intelligence officials are 'skeptical' but I think their skepticism is tactical.


Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

-Leonard Cohen

That's a good Canadian sentiment, don't you think?

I'm almost embarrassed to tell you how much time I've wasted over the weekend debating Chretien's comments with some folks over on Pierre Bourque's Discussion Forum. Needless to say, I've convinced no-one but myself of the wisdom of my position but at least I wrasseled the bastards to a stand-still. There are a lot of Liberal apologists who will point with glee at the Ipsos-Reid Poll that says 80%+ of the Canadian people think the Americans deserve some portion of the blame for the 9/11 attacks. The trouble is, when you try to pin them down on what specifically the Americans have done to bring this on themselves, they tend to squirm and wriggle and obfuscate until, when pressed very hard, the blurt out their reasoning; "everybody knows it." "The Americans are nasty bullies who tromp all around the world with their big muddy boots and they talk too loud and they don't share their stuff and they support the wrong people and the rotten pricks are really only interested in cheap oil and 'fuck the rest of the world' and Everybody knows it."

So I spent some time challenging this attitude which is more work than you might think... the first thing you have to do is get people to admit to it which can be a very tedious process. People are very protective of their prejudices. Then you have to challenge them to defend their prejudices logically. Some will make a half-hearted attempt, some will battle quite fiercely, but most will simply shy away from the discussion and none of them, whatever tactic they adopt, can make a logical defence of an emotional prejudice. I'm not sure if it can be done or not but I haven't yet seen it done.

Anyway, I see this morning that someone has posted an article from today's Toronto Star (sorry, no link) indicating that Chretien plans to continue 'distancing' himself from the US.

Buoyed by a groundswell of support for his comments linking terrorism and the western world's "greed," Prime Minister Jean Chrétien today will take the same message to the United Nations in New York.

In his speech to a special session of the U.N. General Assembly on Africa, Chrétien will repeat the thrust of controversial comments broadcast on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, a senior official in Chrétien's office said yesterday.

"It will be similar to the language that was broadcast last week," the official said, referring to the text prepared for today's speech.

"He'll use language like, `We've seen the results right here (in New York) of things that go wrong.'"


Apparently (or allegedly. if you've a cynical nature) the PMO has been swamped with supportive calls and e-mails which heartily endorse Mr. Chretien's eulogy over the victims of 9/11. Predictably the Liberal hordes, having been re-assured that "everybody knows" have come roaring back, chattering and back-patting, because they have been confirmed in the wisdom of their collective prejudice. "I can't defend this prejudice but, by god, look at all the people who agree with me."

I'll be interested to hear what the PM actually says in NY today. I'm beginning to think that the PMO and Ipsos-Reid are engaged in the creation of 'public opinion.' My son is starting to study stats and surveying in school. Last night, as he was working on his homework, he asked me what 'bias' meant in terms of surveying. I used the Ipsos-Reid poll as an example, I drew a stick diagram on the back of an envelope with three categories marked ALL, SOME and NONE. Under those respective headings I placed subheadings of 100%, 1%-99%, and 0%. And then we discussed the fact that the SOME column covers 98% of the range of responses and the fact that ALL or NONE covered only 2% of the range. He seemed to get the point.

I'm very curious as to why this poll was conducted and I'm obviously skeptical as hell of the result but there is no denying that a large number of Canadians share Mr. Chretien's belief that America bears some responsibility for 9/11. They just can't explain why.
Thanks to Damian Penny and Colby Cosh for the 'welcome backs'. I didn't really think I'd been gone that long but... scrolling down I see that entries from May are still showing on this page... Ahem! Not exactly "fresh" I'd have to agree. I'm hoping to get back to regular updating now that the summer disruption is over. It seems there is too much to discuss rather than too little but I'll probably continue to concentrate on shrieking about the Liberals for the foreseeable future. I'm not sure what I'll be posting about when Chretien finally retires but I can't wait to find out.

9/15/2002

Robert Mugabe continues to trash his country in full view of the entire world...

Tawanda Majoni, a reporter for the Zimbabwe Daily Mirror was arrested this week after reporting on mounting pressure on the police commissioner to retire, editors for his newspaper said Saturday. Police said they could not confirm Mr. Majoni's arrest.

Since Mr. Mugabe introduced draconian new media laws earlier this year, 12 journalists have been charged with publishing false stories. Such violations carry a two-year prison sentence.


News of the arrests followed Friday's arrest of a recently retired judge who had tried to sentence the justice minister to prison.

Former High Court Judge Feargus Blackie, 65, appeared in court Saturday as his lawyers appealed for a bail hearing.

Lawyers for Blackie said he spent the night in an overcrowded prison cell and was denied food, warm clothes, and blood pressure medicine. They dismissed as "preposterous" charges against him of obstructing justice.


Did I say "in full view of the entire world"? Well, that is being remedied as we speak.

Most foreign correspondents have been refused permission to visit the country, and this week the government refused to renew the work permit of a U.S. citizen working for the French news agency Agence France Presse. He left the country Saturday.

The government has accused foreign reporters of fueling an international propaganda campaign led by Britain, the former colonial power, the European Union and the United States to discredit Zimbabwe and topple Mr. Mugabe.


Now where the heck would Zimbabwe get the ridiculous notion that the United States is to blame for their image troubles?

Oh! Right.