Sunday, October 31, 2004

And David Warren weighs in 

Similar in theme to my last post, David Warren puts it this way:
The American electorate is not voting blind. They are choosing between two men who are, in character, deeply representative of their respective constituencies. The manners, mores, and rhetoric of Mr. Bush resonate with conservative, rural and suburban "Middle America". This America is not indifferent to him; it loves him.

The manners, mores, and rhetoric of Mr. Kerry resonate with the more liberal and urban America of the edges. (You see these constituencies in a glance at the red/blue distribution on a map of the states; it becomes clearer still when the map is further subdivided into counties.) And this America does not love Kerry. It hates Bush.

These are two Americas, with much still in common, but more and more not in common. Middle America remains frankly and overwhelmingly Christian; "Edge America" has lost its faith.
Yes. When people say they aren't anti-American they're just anti-Bush, what they really mean is they can accept "Edge America" and especially the Michael Moore wing - but Middle America is what they hate - the Bible-thumping gun nuts. The edge America has manners, mores and rhetoric that is very similar to Canada and Europe. It's Middle America that is still quite unique in the western world, holding on to its faith, preferring self-reliance to big government and gun possession to gun control.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

On American unexceptionalism 

This part of Mark Steyn's column caught my eye:
Were America to elect John Kerry president, it would be seen around the world as a repudiation not just of Bush and of Iraq but of the broader war. It would be a declaration by the people of American unexceptionalism — that they are a slightly butcher Belgium; they would be signing on to the wisdom of conventional transnationalism.
Yes, that's very astute and something I've found quite astounding in the last couple of years. I could see tossing Bush aside had the Democrats offered up a reasonably strong candidate. But the sheer intensity of Bush hatred in much of the U.S. and the fact that a leftist fellow traveler like Kerry can be so close to becoming President speaks volumes at just how much of America is drifting to Euro and Canadian-style pacifism and socialism. Kerry would be an unexceptional fellow were he running for office in Canada; I never would have believed a man like him could come so close to being president in America, though.

The American heartland is still holding strong to traditional conservatism but the media, academia, Hollywood and both coasts are pretty much as Euro-like as the Euro-weenies are. I'd like to think Kerry would get swept aside in a Mondale-like debacle but it doesn't appear to be happening. I guess the only consolation is that an effete liberal like Kerry still feels the need to dress up in fatigues, shoot some geese and start into a bunch of Bible-talk for the campaign. He knows he still couldn't win just being himself.

Profound thought of the day 

How's this for understatement:
Polices that kill people are fundamentally bad policies.
Tough to disagree with that. But read the whole thing, it's a fine commentary on the (unintended?) consequences of environmental regulations, which can often be fatal for those affected.
We need to bring honesty, ethics and humanity back into our environmental debates. A first step toward helping the poorest among us take their rightful place among the Earth’s healthy and prosperous is rejecting Green authoritarianism, both at home and abroad.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

How to build resentment 

Via Jonathan Kay at the National Post we see a fine example of how turning government into a system of racial spoils will inevitably exacerbate ethnic tensions. Like Jonathan, I am still stunned to see explicitly racist advertising in job ads like this:
Registered Nurse - Visible Minority

Persons who are members of a VISIBLE MINIORITY GROUP : someone (other than an Aboriginal person) who is non-white in colour/race, regardless of place of birth residing or employed within 120 km of Kitchener, ON.
And they have the gall to finish the ad with this:
The Public Service of Canada is committed to developing inclusive, barrier-free selection processes and work environments. If contacted regarding this competition, please advise the departmental official of the accommodation measures which must be taken to enable you to be assessed in a fair and equitable manner.
Okay, I think you should stop being racist. You call this a barrier-free selection process?

Or how about this one:
Deputy Fire Chief - Employment Equity Groups

This position is open ONLY to members of a visible minority group, persons with a disability, women and Aboriginal people residing in Canada and Canadian citizens residing abroad.
How equitable. And of course they follow with the required Orwellian bureaucratese:
National Defence, as an equal opportunity employer, is committed to achieving a skilled workforce that reflects the diversity of the Canadian population.
And this is supposed to be an example of "equal opportunity", I suppose.

If a Charter of Rights doesn't exclude this kind of explicit racism in government it has ceased to have any meaning.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Saudi News Roundup 

In economic news, a shortage of sacrificial goats has pilgrims facing price increases:
In a telephone interview with Arab News, Ali said a problem this year was the shortage of goats, which was likely to push up the price. He said he could not say by how much it would increase but added: “This will, inshallah, be overcome.”

He explained that despite such difficulties, and at times the addition of some service charges, the bank tries to keep the price per coupon as low as possible.
Good to know, that's not the sort of service I can expect from my bank.

The popular TV personality Rania Al-Baz is back in the news. She was badly beaten by her husband and is trying to finalize her divorce but will have to wait a little longer because the judge didn't show up:
After waiting for two hours, the lawyers for Rania and her husband Muhammad Al-Fallata agreed to postpone the hearing and it was rescheduled after four months. Al-Fallata also did not show up which meant that the hearing had to be postponed anyway.
Something tells me all involved are not taking this process seriously. This really isn't a joke, as she almost died from the beating. Not to be deterred, she's sticking up for her rights:
"Tell him that I will never return to him and that I’m not going to compromise on my rights anymore... I’ve compromised enough in the past and look what happened to my face," said Rania to Al-Fallata’s lawyer. “No matter how long it takes in the courts, I will not settle for anything other than a final divorce,” [...]
“I hate him, I hate him, I hate him.”
Moving on to the crime beat, car thieves are becoming more daring and creative:
M.S.A. Qureshi, regional manager of Budget Rent-a-Car in Riyadh, said: “This is a new trend in car theft. While driving the vehicle if you meet with an accident, don’t leave the vehicle and your belongings unattended.”

He said there was a good chance that someone is trying to get away with your car as soon as you get out of your vehicle.
That's awfully brazen, what happens to them if they're caught?
In all these cases, motorists and police are to be blamed. Khaled Al-Shaar, a Saudi executive, said one of the factors responsible for the alarming growth in car thefts was lack of deterrent punishment. Car thieves, he said, can simply walk out of a police station by giving a signed commitment that they will not do it again. Otherwise, they receive 100 lashes if they are Saudis and 500 if they are expatriates.
Hmm, discrimination against those infidel expats in Saudi Arabia? Who knew?

Moving on to entertainment news, Actors of the popular Saudi TV serial Tash Ma Tash are getting good reviews from viewers and death threats from terrorists after the broadcast of the episode "And life continues":
The episode, regarded by many Saudi viewers as the best of Tash Ma Tash this year, deals with terrorist groups and the horrible crimes they committed in the Kingdom. The episode was also welcomed by many viewers from the Gulf and Arab countries. Its popularity seems to have upset the terrorist group that issued a threat on the Internet to kill the actors. Naser Al-Qasabi, the star of the serial, along with some actors was put on a hit list.
Imagine that. Courageous actors producing shows that upset terrorists. That's certainly something the CBC doesn't have to worry about.

The ever-helpful French 

It's interesting to see the sophisticated French diplomacy generate articles like this in the Arab News:
France’s attempts at creating a coalition of Iraqis opposed to the interim government of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi collapsed yesterday as Paris announced it had abandoned its opposition to an international conference to be held on the future of the newly-liberated country.
How nice to see the French attempts to strangle this fledgling democracy at birth.
With help from Syria, France started looking for Iraqi figures that could be invited as “resistance” leaders and opponents of the interim government in Baghdad. Among the Iraqi figures contacted were Muhammad Al-Durri, a former diplomatic aide to Saddam Hussein who had served as ambassador to the United Nations. Also canvassed were Abdul-Razzaq Al-Hashemi, a former minister of science under Saddam Hussein, and Mahdi Salehi, a former Baathist minister of commerce with ties to the French establishment.
What a lovely bunch. A coalition of Saddamite Ba'athists, Syrian Ba'athists and France uniting to undermine a transitional government months away from elections.

Slandering the troops 

I just caught the latest Kerry ad dumping on the supposedly missing explosives at Qa qaa. Obviously I have no idea whether the explosives were really there or if they were improperly secured. But I find it surprising there isn't more of a backlash against his constant drumbeat of complaints about the conduct of the war, given this is the guy who accused his band of brothers of being war criminals in Vietnam. Yeah, he tries to say it's all Bush's fault, but the President doesn't micromanage these things. And he has heaped so much abuse on everything they've done from Tora Bora to Al QaQaa the cumulative effect stikes me as a replay of his Vietnam nonsense. Why is there no backlash?

As for the confusion at Al Qaqaa, I'm sure the extent of the chaos in April was a big surprise to everyone on the ground and they did all they could to cope. You'll recall in those days the bulk of the media hysteria was inadequate security at museums, libraries, hospitals, water treatment plants, power plants and archeological sites, not at weapons caches.

You'll also recall that all that happened while the entire 4th infantry division was redirected from Turkey to Kuwait. The invasion plan initially counted on them being there by the time the regime collapsed. So when the regime collapsed in three weeks they found themselves at least a division short.

But actually it's worse than that. Generally in a war like this the other side surrenders at some point. Even if the central authorities don't surrender, a regional or city-by-city surrender normally happens, at which point the surrendered armies and police are available to maintain at least some minimal order during the transition. But all of Iraq's security forces simply dissolved leaving a complete vacuum. That's not incompetence on the part of the American forces, that's an enormous unforeseen difficulty to be managed. So yes, I have no doubt there were many things left less guarded than they would have liked. But what does Kerry suggest they should have done about it, other than moan and whine as he's doing now?

I guess I can understand why many Americans don't want to re-elect Bush, but is this really the guy anyone wants in charge of the American forces? I just find the idea hard to imagine.

What a great title 

This long and insightful essay nicely eviscerates the loonier underpinnings of the eco-warriors, but the title alone makes it worth a read: The dismal qackery of eco-ecomomics:
Underlying environmentalist confusion on limited resources is a deeply pessimistic view of human ingenuity. Environmentalists tend to project the current level of human know-how and skills in the future. Yet historically humans have proved adept at developing their capabilities over time.

From an environmentalist perspective, human beings are merely vast consumers of scarce resources. What this view overlooks is humans' immense capabilities as producers. Humans are capable of using reason and ingenuity to overcome formidable barriers - which is why what seem like insurmountable limits to the environmentalists are almost always overcome.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Maybe I should go pull a lever 

Being in Dallas I find it interesting to read articles like this on vote fraud in presidential elections:
If you’re looking to commit election fraud, there are innumerable and fairly easy ways to do it, the most common of which include:

Felons, Illegal Aliens, pets, the dead and other non-registered people voting. Felons and the dead are likely still on the voter rolls, thanks to the Clinton Adminstration’s Motor Voter law. As Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, dismissively responded after Margaret Mekler’s dog, Ritzy, was found to be registered to vote, “no law Congress could pass would prevent all dogs from voting.” [...]

Motor Voter allowed anyone and everyone applying for a driver’s license to register to vote. In addition, the law:

Offered mail-in registration with no identification required and no questions asked.

Forbade government workers ask for identification or proof of citizenship
It sounds to me like the Democrats are practically begging for foreigners like me to vote. Maybe I ought to drop in and give it a try.

A breath of fresh air 

Being in Dallas on business this week it’s interesting to get the chance to watch Fox News during an election campaign. It is indeed refreshing to see conservative voices on TV without being ridiculed or treated in some way illegitimate or objects of disdain.

It is also interesting to see the way Fox treats Democrats and liberals – they get their say. No wonder Fox is killing the other networks in cable news; they aren’t just offering a mirror image of the other networks. It isn’t really conservative except in comparison to the other networks – in the time I’ve been here, at least, they haven’t treated liberals the way the other networks treat conservatives – they just give ample time for conservatives and republicans to voice their opinions. This is a rather jarring experience for someone used to watching coverage of the US election in Canada, but refreshing all the same.

The thing that gets me though, is that this formula obviously works. But even given the obvious commercial success of Fox no private network in Canada has deemed it worthy of copying. I’m sure there’s a large audience in Canada that would appreciate coverage that didn’t treat them as if they were knuckle-dragging mouth-breathing Neanderthals. But it looks like they are happy to ignore it until Fox comes and scoops it up – and then I’m sure they’ll whine about those evil Americans undermining da Canadian values.

Friday, October 22, 2004

From the land of suicide bombers 

What's a suicide bomber to do when he gets a parking ticket and finds himself without a bomb belt? Just make do with what's at hand, I guess:
An incensed Iranian motorist doused his car in petrol and set it ablaze with a match after picking up a parking ticket, media reported Wednesday.
The ISNA student news agency posted photographs of the charred shell of the car on its Web site and quoted witnesses describing the driver's frantic but fruitless pleas to the parking attendant not to issue a ticket.

"Extremely angry, he took a jerrycan of petrol out of the boot and set fire to his car," ISNA quoted a witness in poor south Tehran as saying.
Sometimes I think the cultural gulf that separates us is much wider than we realize.

I'm glad she wasn't at my wedding 

Or, er, commitment ceremony, or whatever else Teresa Heinz Kerry might be inclined to call it.

Here's an interesting interview with this woman that is starting to creep me out:
Can you see a day when you might embrace gay marriage?

What I have said if one of my sons would say, "so and so and I are going to be whatever the word might be," I would be there with bells on my toes. [...] I do believe in the sanctity of partnerships. I don't think "union" is the right word, and I don't think "marriage" is the right word. [...]

I honor the idea of the commitment ceremony.
Okay, I really could live without that vision of her at a "commitment ceremony" with bells on her toes.

Stop the War? 

Since the fall of Saddam's regime there have been many acts of extreme ugliness committed. No need to list them all, but think of the blown up U.N. headquarters and that of the Red Cross, the many, many car bombs targeted at innocents, sectarian violence as churches were blown up and interfaith violence among the Shia and Sunni muslims as well. And then there's the violence against innocent contractors, such as the dozen Nepalese truckers executed, the barbaric beheadings of Nick Berg and Kenneth Bigley, and now they're threatening the same fate for Margaret Hassan, the head of the humanitarian agency CARE.

Suffice to say the violence has been indiscriminate and barbaric. So it is quite astounding to see a so-called "peace" organization make this statement as a huminatarian worker is currently being threatened with beheading:
The StWC (Stop the War Coalition) reaffirms its call for an end to the occupation, the return of all British troops in Iraq to this country and recognises once more the legitimacy of the struggle of Iraqis, by whatever means they find necessary, to secure such ends.

Google hit du jour 

Interesting search string - "gwynne dyer idiot". Hope you found what you're looking for.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

I wouldn't want to have it shot at me 

Something tells me this study hasn't really grasped the full purpose of depleted uranium weapons:
A Pentagon-sponsored study of weapons made from depleted uranium, a substance whose use has attracted environmental protests around the world, has concluded that it is neither toxic enough nor radioactive enough to be a health threat to soldiers in the doses they are likely to receive.
On the other hand, if said soldiers happen to be sitting in the T-72 tank targeted by these DU weapons it's plenty dangerous enough. Though, one must admit, it won't be the toxicity or radioactivity that would be their main health concern.

I love this quote:
"this is a lethal but safe weapons system."

The Standard has been raised 

Myrick has the roundup of the Red Ensign blogs, including an eloquent endorsement of the use of the Red Ensign by an unlikely source.

Now this is a low blow 

(via Dust my Broom)

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Moonbats frustrated - tempted to ban electorate 

One thing that is relatively unique about America is how resistant to panic and demagoguery they are. While screeching environmentalists tend to successfully shout down the skeptics in most of the western world, Americans are content to let them screech but ignore them:
President Bush has received an "F" rating from the Sierra Club, and the comparatively conservative National Parks Conservation Association has declared his administration an official threat to the parks. Other groups have declared Bush the worst president regarding the environment in recent history.

The League of Conservation Voters, in contrast, has given Democratic candidate John Kerry one of its highest ratings ever on environmental and conservation issues.

But to the frustration of environmentalists, their issues are having only marginal impact on a bitterly contested race...
Hmmm. Marginal wacko fringe groups having only a marginal effect. I can only wish it were so here.

I'm sure we can trust their judgement 

I certainly wouldn't want to see the American election marred by fraud. Fortunately, Kofi Annan has a chance to approve this proposal to ensure the election has the unique legitimacy that only the UN can provide:
TEHRAN: Iran's hardline Basij militia has written to UN secretary general Kofi Annan to ask if the Islamic republic can send observers to the US presidential election in November, a government newspaper said on Monday. [...]

"We want to say to the whole world that the presence of observers from the Islamic republic of Iran, the most democratic regime in the world, is necessary to guarantee the smooth running of the American elections."

The Basij is a volunteer army attached to Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the Islamic republic's ideological army.
I'm sure the UN will consider the idea carefully. Somehow representatives of Iran's revolutionary guards really do make the perfect UN observers.

Monday, October 18, 2004

United Right 

While I despise affirmative action when the government foists it upon us, I feel free to engage in it myself. So I'm always happy to add Hot! Sexy! Canadian! conservative! chicks to the blogroll. I invite you to check out United Right:
I can tell you that the British, Americans and Canadians were willing to die for freedom in WWII. They didn't fight for added tax benefits, or a bigger satellite choice. They fought, and died, for freedom. [...]

There is a force amassing that has proven itself more than willing to die for what it believes in. Whether you agree with the principles of fanatic Islam or not, they at least know their priorities. There is no length to which they will not go to promote their ideals and beliefs. While we sit debating on multilateralism, domestic tax issues, drug plans,whether we should join the war on terrorism, or not, ho hum, didya see the Jays game the other night?

Time to wake up. Freedom is not a right. It is a principle. And one easily taken from us, if we have not the eyes to see, nor the courage to defend it.

Important Animal Safety tip 

When you power workers out there are stringing up the wires, please be sure you don't string up a moose in the process.
(Via Dust My Broom).

Okay I'll go see it 

I wasn't convinced whether I should take the time to see Team America or not, but with this type of endorsement by Sean Penn how can I resist?
"It's all well to joke about me or whomever you choose. Not so well to encourage irresponsibility that will ultimately lead to the disembowelment, mutilation, exploitation, and death of innocent people throughout the world."
All right, enough of the hard sell, I'm going.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

"Though they killed my brother" 

This is certainly a reality check for those who think democracy and freedom will solve the psychoses of the Arab world. Muna is an educated Arab Israeli, who has lived in democracy and freedom all her life, fluent in English and Hebrew, and a science teacher. Her brother was killed in the bombing at Taba and here are her thoughts:
"People say it was al-Qaida," says Muna Hafi, 40, Hafez's sister. "I don't believe it. I think this was done by Jewish people."

Some of Muna's best friends are Jewish, but that does not affect her views.

"You see we have a lot of Jewish friends," she says. "I don't blame them [for what happened], I blame the government."
Sigh. Will this nonsense never end? Any chance this bombing could be done by Arabs?
Arabs are not capable of undertaking such attacks, she adds, because they don't have the capability to plan them. They don't have the courage or the explosives, she says.
If I said something like that I'd be charged under hate crime laws. I happen to not believe this particular canard, even when it is an Arab making that claim.

"The world is always blaming the Muslims for everything," she adds with a note of pain. "We are not terrorists."

Anyway, she points out, "They know that there are many Arabs at this hotel and foreigners. They would not do it."

Idiot du jour - Bruce Bartlett 

Here's some profound insight from Bruce Bartlett, quoted in the NY Times magazine:
'I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do. [...]This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them. . . .
Well, now that we know Bush is just like Al Qaeda is there any need to read the next ten pages of this article? I'd guess not, but you feel free to go ahead.

And I like this little tidbit:
After many requests, Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director, said in a letter that the president and those around him would not be cooperating with this article in any way.
That nasty president. Why would he not want to explore in depth the nuances of his similarity to Al Qaeda? Did the reporter arrive wearing one of these T-shirts, by any chance?

That biased mainstream media 

They're pre-emptively being blamed for Kerry's loss.
Is it time yet to start blaming the media?

Actually, this is an opportune moment for anyone with a left-of-center sensibility to whack mainstream news outlets for once again blowing the coverage of a presidential campaign. [...]

This is important for Bush, for his strategy for the rest of the campaign clearly is to throw whatever he can at Kerry, true or not. His aides know that voters who are undecided at this stage in the race are generally not the type of people who will be predicating their final decision on a close and careful reading of the record. Instead, they will be voting on their impressions of the candidates — and these impressions can be shaped dramatically by untrue attacks carried by media more willing to be messenger than judge.
Yep, that's the mainstream media all right. Bush shills, the whole bunch of them.

It's interesting that he's already looking for someone to blame, though.

John Kerry, French poodle 

This is why American politicians try so hard not to offend the people who take firearm rights so seriously. You end up seeing your name on billboards like this in the middle of an election campaign.

Of course in Canada we have gag laws, so our rights can be trampled at will and we are powerless to fight back during election campaigns.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Sifting through the Liberal flotsam 

I’ve been watching with some amusement as some bloggers for some reason are picking on some of the Liberal castaways over the sub accident. I don’t really have anything to add to that, as I think the Liberals have been sending our Forces out shamefully under-equipped and under-supported in general, but am far from convinced that was a factor in the sub fire. But, in a roundabout way I’ve gained a little respect for Paul Martin out of this, just from what it has revealed about the human detritus that he gathered up and shoved out to the curb for recycling into Toronto law firms or National Post columnists.

I would have thought the jetsam and flotsam cast adrift after the decapitation of the ancien regime would at least attempt to maintain a certain dignity, if not silence, as the ugly rocks get overturned in the various inquiries and expose the slime underneath for all to see.

A sailor dies in the fire and the first thought Sheila Copps has is to scurry away from any responsibility for buying the subs, deflecting all blame to the military for recommending the purchase of “these duds”. Classy.

And Warren Kinsella, no longer basking in the aura of power from having his nose rammed up Chretien’s rectum being Chretien’s “Special Assistant”, must miss being surrounded by the usual cadre of sycophants who scramble over one another for the optimal position for inhalation of Prime Ministerial flatulence. Without having an anal sphincter around his nose like a ring of power, the poor soul has to content himself with issuing nuisance threats to sue, and posing for pictures in immature, infantile T-shirts. International Terrorist Ah, for the good old days when da Boss could carry out a real vendetta against anyone who dares cross any of the Libranos , like the one against François Beaudoin.

Yes, indeed, whatever else one could say about our current PM and his Cabinet we really should be thankful he has taken on the job of mucking out the parliamentary stables. Perhaps he seems unsure of what he wants to actually do with the job when he’s done taking out the garbage. That may be because his primary motivation was to do the cleaning itself, having had a good close look at just how urgently the place needed cleaning up. I find myself having some sympathy for the guy at times.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Chicoutimi update 

There's an excellent roundup of the happenings on the Chicoutimi in the hours before the fire here. It certainly appears there were multiple contributing factors to the fire, including a series of minor problems mixed with a large wave that brought water into the sub:
A Canadian submarine had both tower hatches opened when a wave crashed above it, filling the control room in "ankle deep" salt water 90 minutes before electrical panels exploded, crew members say. [...]

No one on the Chicoutimi is questioning the decision by their commanding officer, Luc Pelletier.

Still, it left the control room beneath the opened hatches exposed to the wave that came crashing in at about lunchtime, when the crew was preparing to dive. [...]

An electrical panel in the control room would later emit a machine-gun volley of sparks as a fire broke out, killing a Canadian sailor and leaving the 57 crew members drifting powerless for five days.
It'll be interesting to see what else the investigation uncovers, but I don't see the reason for docking the other subs so far. It seems likely the root cause of this fire was the ingress of water, itself caused by a couple of minor problems unfortunately experienced in very heavy seas.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The end of the world has been rescheduled 

In 1972 the Club of Rome published the doomsday prediction Limits to Growth with the stunning predictions that the world would run out of gold by 1981, mercury by 1985, tin by 1987, zinc by 1990, petroleum by 1992 and copper, lead, and natural gas by 1993, among other amazing forecasts.

But a strange thing happens in doomsday cults. Just because the followers gather their things and wait on a mountaintop for their pending demise, they lose no confidence in their leader just because the end never comes. They're happy to just reschedule the event. And so it is with the today's environmental doomsayers. Tune in tomorrow for their rescheduled end of the world forecast:
The next 70 years will witness inevitable environmental decline. Limits to Growth: The 30-year Update argues that the world must choose between uncontrolled collapse and a deliberate reduction of consumption. And our only hope is a Sustainability Revolution—an ethical transformation based on telling the truth, establishing networks, reestablishing mutual respect, and creating new visions of our purpose on this planet.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the meeting.
Sadly, there will be lots of takers for the book and the media will treat these people seriously.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Dehumanized, humiliated and degraded 

Certainly that's how I'd feel if I got fined $1000 for an offhand comment at an unguarded moment I considered otherwise private. I don't proclaim to be a Saint and I occasionally let slip a violation of today's politically correct orthodoxy.

In a further sign that Human Rights Commissions have surely become either self-parodies or worse, a threat to the human rights they purport to protect, the Quebec Human Rights Commission has fined a man $1000 for privately referring to someone as a "fifi".

Who will protect us from predatory quasi-judicial commissions imposing their orthodoxies?

If they don't have anything, it can't embarrass the government 

After a couple of embarrassing episodes came to light that had already been addressed in the Army, the Liberals simply disbanded the Airborn Regiment, exactly the type of mobile rapid reaction force a modern army needs.

Now it's the turn of the navy:
"Of course we're reviewing" the submarine program, Defence Minister Bill Graham said. "Our primary function and focus is the safety of our crews and we're not going to put ships to sea that are not safe."
Which of course is the prelude to demonstrating just how much caring and compassion the Liberals have for our military by incrementally disbanding them. Their real inclination would be to not have a navy at all, and finding an excuse to get rid of the submarines is one step along that path. If you have ships, submarines, planes and an army people might ask you to deploy them to troublesome places like Afghanistan, Darfur or Iraq. Far better to have nothing meaningful to offer and instead make pious, haranguing speeches at the U.N. about the inaction of others.

Make no mistake - getting rid of these submarines will not be a step to buying newer, better ones. It will be further step on dismantling the military entirely.

Debbye's back 

After a long blogpause Debbye is back and blogging up a storm as in the old days. Good to have you back, Debbye.

Monday, October 11, 2004

The Urban Conservative 

Jay Currie has set up a new group blog the Urban Conservative with the intention of developing this into a new online magazine. And he's been kind enough to invite me to contribute as well.

It's just getting set up but I invite you to follow its progress.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

"Death by kindness" 

I've occasionally poked fun at stuff I find at Saudi Arabia's Arab News site, but in all seriousness here is an excellent column by Amr Mohammed Al-Faisal, a columnist I'll have to watch in the future. He simultaneously eviscerates the western nanny state and Thomas Friedman's goofy idea that Arabs would like us much better if we just plunged their economies into ruin by cutting off oil imports. Yeah, that makes sense. Here he opines on death by kindness:
For many people the idea of a state that cares for every aspect of its citizens’ well-being is a highly desirable even utopian ideal. The rise of the “nanny state” in many Western countries was heralded as a triumph of political evolution.

For me, this is a highly dangerous prospect.

There are several reasons that lead me to this conclusion.

Firstly, human beings are, on principle, fallible and corruptible, who will take any opportunity to abuse power when it is placed in their hands. A state which intervenes in the affairs of its citizens to serve their every need inevitably will exercise enormous power over such citizens. This power if abused — and it will be — can lead to great injustice and oppression of the very people the state is supposed to take care of.
Give this guy a column in the Western Standard, please.
Secondly, citizens of such a nanny state may have their own sense of personal responsibility atrophy.

They will rely on the state to take care of their fellow citizens and will no longer feel personally obligated to care for other members of their society. Societies atomize and fragment, social groups such as tribes, unions, neighborhoods and so forth diminish in importance and strength, thereby rendering the citizens helpless before the all-powerful state and its organizations.
This is an astute observation of Euro- and Canadian cradle-to-grave welfare states. Whether it's French families letting granny bake to death during a heat wave or our shameful waiting lists for needed operations citizens are simultaneously helpless and nearless powerless to shape their future in many key areas. And on Friedman:
Friedman urges Americans to cut down their consumption of oil in order to bring down oil prices that he hopes will then reduce the income of oil producing countries in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia.

The concept of poverty and war being tools with which the US will liberate the Arab world is an old Friedman idea and one he often repeats. [...]

I could of course go into a long and elaborate critique of Friedman’s article pointing out the numerous fallacies and errors that it contains.

I will, however, do none of that. Instead I will cheerfully stick my tongue out to Friedman and say, “Eat your heart out.”

The Spanish have a wonderful saying: “The best revenge is living well!”
May you live well and be published widely in Arabic, Amr.

Friday, October 08, 2004

In defence of the subs 

I can’t believe I am in a position of coming to the defence of Bill Graham, Sheila Copps and the rest of the Liberal crew, but buying these subs was and still is a good idea.

I send my sincere condolences to Lt. Saunders and his family. His tragic death is a loss for us all, but especially so for his immediate family. We are honored that the Canadian Forces continue to attract such fine men and that they serve with distinction when they constantly have to make do with strained budgets for equipment and personnel.

But enough with the howling about these subs. Compared to the Sea King helicopters or Iltis jeeps these subs are state of the art. No, Canada was not bamboozled into taking the subs, as some spinmeister is now trying to claim. That is an insult to both the Royal Navy, who would prefer that they had the budget to run these subs themselves and the Canadian Navy, implying they don’t have the technical competence to determine if a vessel is seaworthy. If not for post Cold War budget cuts in Britain the Royal Navy would never have decommissioned these subs in the first place, they’d still been in service with a British crew. If anyone is guilty of anything, we should have taken the subs as soon as they were offered before letting them deteriorate for years. I am sure we’d be experiencing fewer technical problems putting these subs back in service had we been doing it in back in the mid-nineties.

Sheila Copps now tells us:
it was the military that begged the government to purchase these duds. It took three ministers to convince a skeptical Cabinet to buy used submarines from a country that wanted to get rid of them. It was only the persistence of the navy that kept this crazy idea afloat.
I have no doubt the navy would prefer to commission a fleet of brand new nuclear-powered subs, but we all know how a Liberal cabinet would deal with such a proposal so we can hardly fault the Canadian navy for not bothering to pursue such a plan. When Sheila calls buying used subs a “crazy idea”, she doesn’t mean the navy should have insisted on a new fleet. If she had her way the navy would be asked to paddle out to sea in a rubber dinghy armed with a pile of nerf balls. So the navy is faced with a task of trying to maintain a sea-going capability against a Liberal government trying to strip them of sailors and ships. Enter the excellent but mothballed subs from the Royal Navy.

These subs are a vast improvement over our old Oberon-class boats, and share much of the technology with the still-current nuclear fleet the Royal Navy operates. The main difference is the replacement of the nuclear reactors with diesel-electric propulsion. Yes, with our vast coastline and arctic conditions a fleet of nuclear subs would be better. In your dreams. Faced with budget realities, the navy is trying to find creative ways to maintain at least some capability when it would be so much easier to just throw up their hands and give up. And our navy has maintained an admirable safety record, notwithstanding the tragic death of Lt. Saunders. Submarines especially, but all other ships and, indeed, every other military vehicle are inherently dangerous. They are packed with complex electric, electronic and hydraulic systems crammed into tight spaces with large amounts of fuel and explosives. Accidents are inevitable and we should be thankful we don’t experience accidents on the scale the Russians do.

And let’s not forget you don’t have to be in a used submarine to experience a fatal accident. Here’s a list of fatality reports in industrial accidents just in Alberta in the last few years. There are dozens, but let’s pick one:
a worker was calibrating the furnace of a heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) unit at Airtex Industries Management Ltd, Calgary, Alberta. When the worker started the unit, the furnace section exploded and he was fatally injured. The primary cause of the incident was the build up of an explosive mixture in the combustion chamber of the furnace when incorrect wiring kept the main gas valve open prior to start up of the unit.
Any ship or submarine is vastly more complex than an HVAC unit, and fires, explosions and accidents can happen on any of them, new or used, in deteriorated condition or fresh out of the shipyard. Let’s investigate the cause of the fire and ensure it’s fixed, as we should with any fire anywhere else. But there’s no need to insult our allies or question the competence of our navy based on a single incident. Either commissioning a new boat or doing extensive refitting of an aging one involve risks. Ask any sailor in the Canadian Navy which of these choices he would pick:
1) Continue to operate the Oberon-class boats
2) Replace them with refurbished Victoria-class boats
3) Disband the submarine service altogether
Those are the realistic choices the navy faces. You won’t find too many opting for option 1 or 3.

The Standard has been raised 

Check out Chris Taylor for the roundup of Red Ensign bloggers.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Coyne's back 

Former internet journalist Andrew Coyne, as Colby Cosh refers to him, is now formerly a former internet journalist. Right after I culled him from my sidebar due to inactivity he returns with a fine post on the media's incompetent coverage of Iraqi weapons. So he's back for now.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Gwynne Dyer, climatologist 

Gwynne Dyer, normally known for his defeatist musings about any western military engagement turns his defeatist musing to the topic of climate and the likely Russian ratification of the Kyoto protocol. It is reassuring to know that he can switch topics and remain equally misinformed:
While carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere over the last several million years have varied from 200 parts per million at the depth of the ice ages to 270 parts per million during the warming periods between them, he warned, we have now reached 379 parts per million — and that figure is going up by 3 ppm per year.

If the current trend continues, (senior EU official Sir David) King predicted, by the end of this century the Earth will be entirely ice-free for the first time since 55 million years ago, when "Antarctica was the best place for mammals to live, and the rest of the world would not sustain human life."
Ah, this is what happens when you quote a barking moonbat green advocate rather than scientific evidence. Like this:
Ice cores collected in polar regions have proved to be reliable records of climate change over the centuries. Gas samples trapped in the ice give the precise composition of the atmosphere at a certain date.

Researchers at Bern University have made a name for themselves decrypting this information, developing methods that have allowed them to draw data from the smallest samples.

They have also designed and built drill heads for boring deep into the ice cap. These bits were used on the last big core project in Antarctica, which lasted eight years.

Scientists drilled three kilometres down into the ice cap to collect ice samples from the past 740,000 years.

They found that there were eight ice ages during that period, separated by spells of global warming when the atmosphere contained as much carbon dioxide as it does today.
So, previous interglacial periods were very much like the one we're living in. I find it astounding that so-called scientists can see abundant evidence of ice ages recurring like clockwork, which they cannot explain and which would be a genuine catastrophe for the human race, but only worry about the possibility that the earth might become warmer. The earth has been warmer before, and it was a generally pleasant and beneficial experience for most of the planet. One such event is commonly referred to as the Medieval Climate Optimum or the Medieval Warm Period, during which time the Vikings settled Greenland and Iceland and prospered. And then it inexplicably turned cold, and the world entered the Little Ice Age, which genuinely was calamitous:
During the coldest times of the LIA, England's growing season was shortened by one to two months compared to present day values. [...]

The cooler climate during the LIA had a huge impact on the health of Europeans. As mentioned earlier, dearth and famine killed millions and poor nutrition decreased the stature of the Vikings in Greenland and Iceland.

Cool, wet summers led to outbreaks of an illness called St. Anthony's Fire. Whole villages would suffer convulsions, hallucinations, gangrenous rotting of the extremities, and even death. Grain, if stored in cool, damp conditions, may develop a fungus known as ergot blight and also may ferment just enough to produce a drug similar to LSD. (In fact, some historians claim that the Salem, Massachusetts witch hysteria was the result of ergot blight.)

Malnutrition led to a weakened immunity to a variety of illnesses. In England, malnutrition aggravated an influenza epidemic of 1557-8 in which whole families died. In fact, during most of the 1550's deaths outnumbered births (Lamb, 1995.) The Black Death (Bubonic Plague) was hastened by malnutrition all over Europe. [...]

During the LIA, there was a high frequency of storms. As the cooler air began to move southward, the polar jet stream strengthened and followed, which directed a higher number of storms into the region. At least four sea floods of the Dutch and German coasts in the thirteenth century were reported to have caused the loss of around 100,000 lives. Sea level was likely increased by the long-term ice melt during the MWP which compounded the flooding. Storms that caused greater than 100,000 deaths were also reported in 1421, 1446, and 1570. Additionally, large hailstorms that wiped out farmland and killed great numbers of livestock occurred over much of Europe due to the very cold air aloft during the warmer months.[...]

During the post-MWP cooling of the climate, glaciers in many parts of Europe began to advance. Glaciers negatively influenced almost every aspect of life for those unfortunate enough to be living in their path. Glacial advances throughout Europe destroyed farmland and caused massive flooding. On many occasions bishops and priests were called to bless the fields and to pray that the ice stopped grinding forward
Ice ages are a known threat and their regular arrival is a scientifically established fact. Yet the handwringers are afraid of warming. If your neighbour's SUV is indeed keeping things warmer give him a hug and buy him a tank of gas.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The shape of tax to come 

The Last Amazon has the goods on Sweden's proposed tax on men to combat violence against women.

I suspect the proponents of this gender tax wouldn't be interested in an ethnic tax based on an ethnic group's propensity to commit crime.

Aussies tough on security 

It's good to see airport security clamp down tight on threats like this:
A vibrating sex toy in a rubbish bin sparked a security scare and shut a regional Australian airport for almost an hour, officials said on Monday.
An emergency was declared at the airport in Mackay, 500 miles north of Brisbane in tropical Queensland state, after airport staff heard a strange noise coming from the bin, Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio said.

"It was rather disconcerting when the rubbish bin started humming furiously," cafeteria manager Lynne Bryant said.

Police evacuated the terminal and were about to call in bomb experts when an unidentified passenger came forward to identify the contents of a package left in the bin.

A police spokeswoman said the package was identified as an "adult novelty device."
Imagine the embarrassment of the person stepping forward and claiming that.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The decline of education 

Teachers will no doubt be happy with this assessment of our schools today:
The schools remain a cultural slum, a dark night of the mind. As my daughters passed through these dismal moors, I saw misspelled handouts from teachers, heard of a teacher being reprimanded for correcting a student’s grammar, saw endless propaganda disguised as history. How does one recognize the onset of a dark age?
I can only speak for our schools here in Quebec, where my assessment is perhaps not quite so grim. I think a motivated student can still acquire a reasonable education, it's just that the disinterested ones graduate uneducated.

But whatever anyone with a degree in Womyn's Herstory or Chicano Studies has, it certainly isn't an education. The drive to increase the number of people graduating both high school and university has certainly resulted in a drastic dumbing down of the system. I'm not entirely sure having the dumb and unmotivated drop out is actually worse than keeping them in school and not learning.

The Decline of Education 

Teacher's today should get a cheer from Fred's upbeat assessment of their accomplishments today:
The schools remain a cultural slum, a dark night of the mind. As my daughters passed through these dismal moors, I saw misspelled handouts from teachers, heard of a teacher being reprimanded for correcting a student’s grammar, saw endless propaganda disguised as history. How does one recognize the onset of a dark age?
I can only speak of my experience with our schools here in Quebec. I would say our state of affairs is not so grim, and any student interested in acquiring an education can still do so. But those not interested still graduate happily without ever learning much.

But whatever those graduates of Womyn's Herstory or Chicano Studies have, it certainly isn't what we used to call an education.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Confusion in the war 

Caroline Glick has an interesting column in the Jerusalem Post with a quote from a confused Israeli reservist soldier:
"I refused to serve in the reserves for the past three years while we were in Gaza because I think that we should give the territories to the Palestinians. But then I realized that the Arabs keep killing us no matter what we do, so now I don't know what I think. My wife, who comes from Denmark, doesn't think I should be here. She wants us to move to Denmark. I decided to serve this year because now I think I am supposed to fight.

"On the one hand, we should give them a state. On the other hand, they don't want a state because we already gave them one at Camp David and they went to war to kill us. On the one hand, maybe our being in the territories gets them mad, but on the other hand they keep killing us no matter what we do, so we have to keep fighting them because they will never leave us alone. So I am confused. I came here to fight because I think this is what I am supposed to do, but I don't know."
I'm beginning to think the same applies to Iraq. Perhaps not all of Iraq, but the jihadist areas of the Sunni triangle, anyway. It's easy to point your finger at the violence in Iraq and say they must be running the occupation and reconstruction badly, as John Kerry and Andrew Sullivan say.

Maybe they should have more troops and completely occupy every city and town in the Sunni triange, if not all of Iraq. Set aside the minor problem that no western country has that type of army any more, which would require hundreds of thousands of occupation troops. Suppose it were possible? Could we really count on the fact that there wouldn't be snipers and car bombs going off? It's entirely possible that with all those extra targets patrolling the streets casualties from snipers would actually be worse. And under that type of occupation we know the media would be delivering an even more sympathetic drumbeat of legitimacy, 'cause after all they'd just be resisting the occupation, and with a soldier constantly in your face there would be an endless supply of humiliation and cultural insensitivity stories.

So maybe they should just pull out. But they did pull out of places like Fallujah. And they turned over sovereignty to the interim government. And are trying as hard as they can to turn over security to Iraqi police and army as quickly as humanly possible. But the jihadists just establish a base wherever the Americans have pulled back and used it to attack elsewhere, just like Palestinians do in Gaza.

So those hoping for a Kerry victory and a quick pullout from Iraq should consider the words of this confused Israeli reservist. It's possible they'll just keep attacking targets of opportunity no matter what we do.

Diary of a human shield 

Ah, yes, ever wonder just how stupid those human shields on the eve of the Iraq invasion really were? This stupid:
Today was a day off so we all went to this really amazing street bazaar. There was this lady selling these way overpriced cloisonne bracelets, and even though she was wearing this weird headdress, you could tell she was totally thin and pretty. So I asked her if she was on Atkins. And did she worry about eating all that protein? And does she ever let herself cheat a little with the carbs? And she just stares at me like she's got no idea what I'm talking about. (Jesus, women and their diet secrets. Help a sister out, would you?) Finally, she just cuts me off and says she's on the U.N. Sanctions Diet. Well, I don't know what it is, but I'm totally looking into it when I get back home. God, I hope it's not that weird flour paste that all the starving Indian babies eat with their fingers in those tacky Sally Struthers commercials. I'd rather get fat than eat that s---. I'm serious.
I can vouch for the authenticity of these diaries 'cause the font matches exactly the type of typewriter your typical lefty idiot would carry around when about to be blown to bits. It appears you can blow these people up without any danger of getting splattered with brains.

Yes, yes, the possibility exists these are, like, fake but totally true.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

The Sovietization continues 

Da, Comrades, the Ontario government has released its glorious new Five-Year plan for prescription drugs. Except it only runs for four years, and rather than Comrades enjoying increased rations as the population ages, the dispensers of prescription drugs will be given a kickback for reducing them:
The Ontario Medical Association has reached a tentative agreement with the Ontario government to save $200 million in prescription drug costs over four years in return for what some doctors are calling an immoral $50-million kickback.
So, as the population ages and new, innovative drugs come online for treating AIDS, heart and stroke problems, cancer and the like the government will be issuing bonuses for doctors to keep these drugs from patients. And the reward for doing so is to get together and decide how they'll divvy up the fifty mil.

Is there anyone who thinks this makes sense? Dr. Monger, I await your professional opinion. All I can say is I'm glad I don't live in Ontario these days.

Of course this won't really cut down on the drugs consumed, it will just create a $50 mil incentive to move some of this under the table and off the books. That was the problem with Soviet Five-year plans, too. They were good at getting the right people to send in reports with the right numbers on them. As long as you measure an economy as the number of widgets produced by a central bureaucracy it all looks fine on paper. Never mind the ten-year wait your typical comrade has to wait for said widget in the real world.

Meanwhile, they've discovered the virtue of collective farms firms:
it offers family doctors who join government schemes such Family Health Networks and Family Health Groups more money, while others get nothing. According to preliminary analysis, Dr. Mark says doctors get a zero-per-cent increase in the first year and about two per cent in the second year.
Well, that should solve the rural doctor shortage. If you can't get anyone to be a family doctor in small town Ontario try freezing their wages and offering a big bonus for joining an urban collective. Perhaps they should also question if these new schemes are really going to deliver the cost-saving and effeciency gains they anticipate when the first thing you have to do is pour excess money into them to even get them off the ground. Hello? Is it time to question your assumptions? This is the point where a private enterprise would re-evaluate if their business plans make sense. Naturally, this is also the point where a central planning agency redoubles its efforts, budgets and plows on in defiance. The plan calls for collective farms but the kulaks aren't cooperating. Must make an example of the troublesome kulaks.

If I were an Ontario doctor I'd be checking out Alberta real estate, I think. Esso's bringing in a whole bunch of prospective patients.

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