Friday, September 30, 2005

What do I miss from the CBC Lockout?

Damian Penny posed this question earlier and I don't have much trouble answering. He mentions his morning CBC Radio One show - but in Toronto, the show has improved. I have gone back and forth between the somewhat polite and tentative managers now doing the job on CBC Radio One in Toronto, and the old crew, doing it at CIUT, and I prefer the managers! They actually conduct interviews with intelligent people and show them respect and let them talk. This stuns me - I did not know it was possible. Sometime I am not sure what the political positions of the hosts are. Surely this is not how broadcasting should be done in Canada! (Yuk, yuk)
But I do REALLY miss one CBC Radio One feature I loved - the show was called Overnight, and featured half-hour news broadcasts from a variety of public broadcasters around the world. Sleepless nights could expose one to great rewards, unexpected interesting reports from Sweden or Finland or the Netherlands or Poland. Now they seem to be filling the time with enough Canadian musical content to last centuries (and most of it is appalling) in meeting Canadian content laws.
So why did this show die off with the lockout? It must take almost no labour to prepare - just get the shows in from the suppliers, line them up, and play them. Are there some international union deals that say Swedish radio won't give us this stuff in a lockout? But the BBC news shows are on the radio? What gives? Can someone explain?
To private radio broadcasters - I could tolerate ads during my sleepless nights, and would even donate money to get this show back to help with this problem of mine. It must be incredibly inexpensive to mount this show. Unless you are all targeting the REALLY sleepless.

Intemperance about French

Language Log has become one of my favourite Weblogs.
Geoffrey Pullum was making my sides hurt a bit at times with this offering.

I fear my favourite line was
So where do they get off, criticizing the language in which fine writers like William Shakespeare and Dan Brown created their literary masterpieces, huh? It makes me so mad.
But let us be real. Despite what Pullum says, the French do not lack a word for weeked - it is 'weekend'. And both French and English have exactly one, not 22, word(s) for weekend.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Silliness alert - of course we won't mention the war

One of our leftist leading lights stole some jewelry from a store some time ago. Apparently he is now considering returning to politics, but only if his opponents promise not to mention the fact that he is a confessed criminal in the campaign. Aaarrgghhh! OK well that is BC, not Ontario. No doubt we are OK.

Could I become a leftist or view myself so again?

Wow - I sure could if Chris Dillow and Owen Barder had anything to say about it!

Sadly what we have as the left here is going to George Galloway performances.

And pretty surely is against much of what these fellows propose. It would be nice to have a new idea considered, especially given the fairly obvious emptiness of most of those the 'left' is hot on.

For anyone really serious about some of this, Dillow's link to Roemer is interesting. My problem is I still find the notion of 'exploitation' a bit ridiculous

The Chimes of Freedom Flashing

What an unexpectedly delightful documentary PBS has run the last two nights! Scorsese revisiting Bob Dylan's early years. And as a result making us all revisit our early years.

I have had various views over the years of Dylan, as he and I have both changed, and not always in the same directions.

Scorsese's show makes it clear what a brilliant sponge he was - able to absorb the feel of the environment around him, and generate from that art far greater than what those around him did, using a variety of ruthlessness and genius. And how Protean he was - no single style could maintain his interest - he seems to keep reinstalling new versions of himself.

This show takes us roughly to 1966 - the Greenwich Village years are utterly fascinating as seen through the eyes of numerous players around Dylan at the time. It is the sort of documentary I really like to watch, increasing my respect for pretty well everyone who appears in it. Scorsese takes no cheap shots. Most amazingly, I came out of it thinking quite highly of Joan Baez, and she made me laugh a few times. And Dave van Ronk's contribution was very helpful.

So I hope Scorsese is working on the rest of the career. I know I would tune in, though I don't really know much of anything that Dylan has done since the country album (ok, maybe the 'Hurricane' album).

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Canadian pro-Galloway Party - also called NDP

Harry's Place freaked me with the news in this post.

As a result I sent e-mails to my NDP MPP on the subject. Now I should not expect a response by now, as I sent the e-mail on the weekend and commitments to unions might not allow extra effort outside normal working hours.

I continue to await some statement distancing the representative (for whom I voted) from this vicious awful nutball. I shall keep my readers posted.

To be honest I thought I would get a speedy response but I bet there is much chattering going up and down the chain on this one. Galloway is so indefensible that they must be working very hard on a story. Seems to me they need one. I would like to think even most of my leftist friends would have immediate grave difficulties with any show of support to George Galloway.

UPDATE: A whole working week of normal, even union-sanctioned, hours has passed and I have received no response. My interpretation is that the behavior of the party leaders reflects the position of the members. Well, my vote is gone for now. Awkward for me, as I have liked some of the people they get to run, but signing up for this guy is not acceptable to me by any standard.

UPDATE: I have a response and they are untroubled by Galloway (the response would suggest enthusiasm). No more voting for good local candidates running for that party.

Hail hail Freedonia or maybe Klopstokia

Don't get me wrong - I think it is quite sweet that we have installed a black Haitian sort-of-refugee, who may have been a separatist, and seems likely married to someone who is one, as our Governor-General.
You might ask, if not a citizen of my silly little country, what a Governor-General is? Well it is one of the true points of silliness in this country. This person represents the Queen (of where? well, of Canada, her name is Elizabeth, and she is incidentally the Queen of England, and maybe Scotland, and Wales, etc., here). Now this job is normally pretty much decoration - I think once in our history did a Governor-General make a significant decison and that was before I was born. So if we stay on track this appointment should be perfect, as there is no question she is cute and so is her kid.
Hail hail Freedonia, or Klopstokia.
I am starting to feel better about the name of this blog and our transcendental silliness. But there really is so much competition.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Update on the Swans - and late Bird-Blogging

In a previous post I discussed the annual delight (as well as the heartbreaks) of watching a swan family nesting and growing on the waterfront near our home. This year's rearing seems to have been pretty successful as we recently saw a group of five swans, down from the original seven, but better than the year where four cygnets dropped to one in two days.
This morning I found nine swans swimming together. Now I know there was another family nesting closer to downtown. Perhaps they have assembled, as do many birds at this time of year, with thoughts of heading somewhere warmer for a few months.
I had a camera at hand - the exposures are off as I had to act too fast and I did not manage to zoom all nine into this picture. (The structure in the background is the Ashbridge's Bay Water Filtration Plant.)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Football Match Broadcast in Navajo and background stupidity

See previous posts - Pullum and crew keep me going. Check out this wonderful marvel of Internet glory.
The post linked to above makes the economic point perfectly. Navajo is perfectly capable of describing an 'alien' concept, albeit at some length. If the description needs to be repeated frequently, the lengthiness becomes a cost and the language will develop. Jargon and dialects will develop to lower the cost of what needs regular expression.
The language does not remotely determine the world around it. It adapts to the world it develops in.
Why has this been so hard for people of some apparent intelligence to get for so long?
I am a reformed mathematician - mathematics is perhaps the ultimate example of seeing conciseness and efficiency develop to express what it is worthwhile to express well, where once only complex circumlocution was available.
And I know I do it in my everyday English as well. Cool!

What is a Potboiler?

In the previous post I confessed my predilection for trash.
Last week, a friend visiting me offered me a choice of novels to borrow. I picked 'Bleeding Hearts ' by 'Ian Rankin writing as Jack Harvey', largely because I have an erudite brother who has encouraged me to read some Ian Rankin. Now perhaps starting with novels he writes under a pseudonym may not be the right approach, but is Ian Rankin his real name?
In any case the friend and I met again last night and I said I found it an enjoyable potboiler - after all, it was written from the point of view of an ex-SASer, who spends the novel taking revenge on the killers of his reporter brother. For a male, lying in the bathtub, fighting unwelcome buoyancy, reading the book, and identifying with a hero sticking a knife into a tough guy, this seems ideal.
But we dug deeper. And as it turns out, even though the hero presents his marriage as strained, and he arrives back in London at the start of his mission of revenge to find an unexpected woman in his brother's apartment, and the two of them clearly find one another attractive, they never have sex in the days they spend initiating the revenge quest, and she never reappears in the novel after she sets him off after the bad guys!
So I guess this novel is too subtle to be a potboiler.

More on Pullum and Dan Brown

My heavens I love blogging. Or at least reading blogs.
Over the last couple of years I have struggled with the fact that some of my 'documentary' channels fill themselves with discussions of how Dan Brown's novels misrepresent ... well, hmm, what could they misrepresent? Well the claim is all the stuff about Jesus and Mary Magdalene getting married and moving to France and spawning a line of descendants is not factual! So my problem is the whole framework is fictional - yeah sure no doubt there was a Jesus but who has any idea what became of him, and, come on, sorry, the resurrection is factual? So more pot and kettle stuff. But it seems there is an official version and media claiming to be scientific are worried about one fiction over another. OK not my problem.
So now I confess I have read three Dan Brown novels. I could not put any of them down. And I really enjoyed the fictional travelogues and look forward to seeing the movies when they come on my cable TV (I have even done some mental casting and hope not to be disappointed).
I understand from others that his geography can be a little off.
And in the one of the novels I regretted reading (but could not put down), 'Digital Fortress', where I actually know a little about the topic, his facts are appallingly off the mark.
But The Language Log links on the subject (follow the links from the post I hit on in the barking link in my previous post) point to the real problem. Brown writes in horrendous English. Pullum does the job of pointing this out nicely. I just wanted you to know.

The 22 Words for Snow and Pointless Incessant Barking

I remember the feeling of relief I felt when I discovered this book of essays by Geoffrey Pullum.
I had gone through my schooling in a period where people obviously seemed to think it was somehow important how many words the Eskimos had for snow - as a logician I was baffled by how 'snow' was defined in these discussions and even more by how 'word' was and why anyone thought it was important whether one had words or phrases to sort out snow, ice-rain, slush, etc. But I was taught that it mattered. I have come lately to understand how insane the commitment to the the primacy of the 'text' has become to some. Pullum's book made me realize my own nagging doubts made some sense. (And I now know that this is really just a matter of economics, as I actually sensed long ago.)
So now I learn he has a weblog. And I add the RSS feed to my feeds. And the first link I get is this and I feel the way I felt when I found his book 15 years ago! Laughing out loud.
It is almost as pleasant as stumbling across the Sokal hoax. Fooishness masked as sophistication knows few limits.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Tennis Canada surprises me

Some time ago I had a post on my concerns about what I thought were rather arbitrary changes in rain delay policy introduced for the Toronto tennis tournaments by Tennis Canada.
I want to report that my earlier assertion that I would not likely buy tickets for next year has turned into the fact that, after a discussion with Tennis Canada, I have ordered my seats for next year as usual.
They did give me some reasons for the change, related to customer demand, and administrrative problems, and while those did not really satisfy me, other discussions have made me into a very happy customer.
I am now looking forward to next year's men's tournament in Toronto!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Something Bigger than Me?

I have many religious friends but sometimes a few try to get me onboard and ask whether I do not think there is something larger than I am 'out there'. Well, I drove out of Toronto heading west Sunday morning and there were many things - there was a full moon setting in the east over the Toronto skyline, and a gorgeous orange-red sun rising into my rear-view mirror. All way bigger than I am because I know how far away they are.

But at this time of year there are far more interesting things bigger than I am. I was out golfing northeast of Toronto on Thursday and it was amazing to watch the flow of monarch butterflies, especially as I knew the incredible goldenrod bloom this year would be helping them make it to their target in Mexico. And during Sunday's drive, the electric wires along the highway were covered with a medium-sized brown bird (maybe mourning doves?) but in quantites so great that is was clear they were resting in the middle of their own migrations to the south.

So yes - all much bigger than I am and 'out there'. But how did it come to be there? For me the most satisfying explanation remains best described in this wonderfully short essay (and from a previous post, this guy writes economically compared to another great polemicist on his side).

Reports show those tiny butterflies are continuing their trip - many now cruising across Ohio, maybe some of the same ones I saw two weekends ago in Port Stanley. We will be seeing their descendants next summer back in Canada.

NY Times and Business Models

I understand that the NY Times is now making reading its editorial pages a subscription service.

It is SO interesting to see the Internet shake up business models. This will have no direct effect on me, though I once liked reading Krugman. My concern is it will cut down a lot of the internet discussions of the columns now behind the wall.

We shall see. I would like to think the effect would be that many fewer people will pay attention to these columnists, and this will hurt the Times. Then they will have to think about what to do.

Competition is rather neat and clean.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Wonderful t-shirt Slogan

Seen today on one of the volunteers at the (uplifting) Terry Fox Run: Slackers Unite: Tomorrow.

The Pot in full attack on the Kettle

I was just tidying away my weekend newspapers into the recycling bin when I stumbled over a headline on the Saturday Toronto Star that produced helpless fits of giggling. Apparently our Prime Minister Paul Martin , dubbed "Mr Dithers" by the Economist Magazine (with quite a bit of justice in my view) had some words for the UN. The headline read "Martin tells it like it is at U.N. - Demands less talk and more action from world body". Well, who should know better?!
Actually, given much of his recent action, I suspect I might prefer more talk and less action from Martin.

The Terry Fox Run

The event in the title is a uniquely Canadian phenomenon - in its 25th year now, and honouring the failed attempt by a young Canadian to run across the whole country after a cancer-induced amputation of one of his legs, with the hope of raising money for cancer research, it fits many things in our character well. It honours someone who failed in his task, but in the process captured the national imagination. And perhaps as a result has raised more funds than he could ever have imagined. You can read much more about all this here.
The outcome has been remarkable. Across this country on this weekend every year great numbers of people join in fun runs dedicated to his effort, in the process contributing funds to his cause. Today I participated in my first Terry Fox Run, that held in North London, Ontario.
It has never been an event that really captured my imagination, but I must say the whole experience was charming. The community of participants, as well as of organizers, we largely young, and delightful to be among. It was curious that while we could all have simply donated money to the cause, we chose to complete the 5 kilometre route (there were no requirements on how you do this, other than that a car would not have fit on the course). (And this was not trivial for me to do!)
Where have I been the previous twenty-four years? Well, I fear I viewed non-participation as contrarian in some positive way. Perhaps just another misguided stupidity I held onto has been released. I think it does happen. And hope for a few more such changes.

(And by the way, yes part of my view has always been that events like this may just distort the allocation of medical research funds, simply because some young guy with such a determined character happened to be a cancer victim and was not primarily suffering from diabetes. Well, so be it.)

Other Silly Countries

I have already posted on the wonderful silliness of recent German politics. After a bad provincial election result, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany engineered a vote of non-confidence in his own government (the lack of confidence largely coming from within the left wing of his own party). This I considered (and still do) as siller than any of the nonsense of our own parliamentary dance steps of roughly the same period. Schroeder did his usual magic and has now lost the resulting election by far less than anyone ever expected, with a result that creates a staggering number of options for possible coalition governments, not one of which seems likely to actually be able to formulate and promote any policy that could get full support within the coalition.
There are other complexities, and it will be interesting to see what comes of this. There are excellent discussions to be found already at David's Medienkritik, A Fistful of Euros, Dawson's Danube, Oxblog, and many other sites.
Perhaps a complete lack of new policy initiatives in Germany would be worth a try. Given what initiatives our minority government in Canada has generated in its lifetime, it seems an attractive alternative to me.

UPDATE: David's Medienkritik has this amazing graphic.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Top Ten Movies

I tend to resist making a complete list. The main reason is it is easy to forget, and, even worse, suddenly see a new film that works its way up the charts.

TVO this evening has a Sam Peckinpah night. Generally I find his films well-made and distasteful. The first one they are running tonight is one of the great exceptions, "Ride the High Country". (It is well-made and not distasteful.)

As I age its theme becomes more attractive - the old coot cowboys trying to do something well (a standard Peckinpah theme). And Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea are lovely as the aging cowboys. Fine quote from first five minutes, "I expected someone much younger", with the brilliant response, "Well, I used to be".

Moreover, I cannot imagine how any male of my generation could not be completely won over by Mariette Hartley in this film.

UPDATE (and a bit irrelevant): I saw 'Hamlet' this year on stage (see previous posts). It is a hard play for me to watch, because every time Hamlet starts his 'To be ...' soliloquy, I start conjuring in my brain Allan Mowbray and Victor Mature doing it in 'My Darling Clementine', where it is actually covered by even more meaning, given the situation of the characters involved, and the rowdiness around them, than poor Hamlet alone can give it.

Wow if I ever had to a full top ten I wonder where this would be - it should be up there.

The Stuff that Dreams are made Of

Nutballs here in Canada see Mary or Jesus in the mildew on the wall of a Tim Horton's shop (buy the CD - you will enjoy it)..
Other nutballs are even more creative.

Soulpepper Season ends with sort of whimpers

We saw the last two shows of the 2005 Soulpepper season last weekend.

Ferenc Molnar's "Olympia" was an amusing rant about the ruling classes somewhat losing influence in Europe at the time it was written. Nancy Palk was magnificent in her comedic role, and Oliver Dennis was much happier in his goofy role than he proved to be as Horatio in Hamlet. This was superbly done fluff.

"The Long Valley", a synthesis of some Steinbeck stories, featured some totally bizarre female characters, and some wonderful theatricality. Now to be honest we saw only a preview, but what we did see is not something I would push others to see.

It appeared from the programmes that they may be extending their season (for the seven years they have existed it has been a summer theatre programme). This would be very welcome to me. I love what they do.

This Truly Stuns Me

I have had a long policy of voting, often against my personal party allegiance in terms of policy, for whomever I consider to be the best candidate in my riding. In the last provincial election, while I felt most in tune with the Liberals (sorry - it is sadly true), I voted for my local NDP candidate, Michael Prue.

Behaviour like this can only go so far. I suspect the observations in this post on Harry's Place will come close to ending my policy. At least for NDP candidates. It is so sad to see where the left has gone. Once I thought we were opposed to tyrants, opposed to random vicious slaughter, opposed to anti-Semitism. Now it seems these are the qualifications. Sad sad sad.

Google can tell you all you need to know about Galloway but this piece of demagoguery is a recent high. I am not quite sure where he got the idea that either Baghdad or Jerusalem are historically Arab cities. And those who like to point out that at one time Baghdad represented the high point of modern civilization (and this is arguably true) should never forget that it was not necessarily Arabs, and certainly not Muslims, who contributed the most to what they mean by that.

As for a Galloway summary just go here from Christopher Hitchens.

UPDATE: Found this excellent description of the situation at The Belmont Club.
Hitchens, as will be evident to anyone who heard him address members of the audience as 'comrades' and invoke socialist solidarity is still a man of the Left who has merely remained true to the internal logic of his convictions. It puts him on the side of those fighting for republican forms against absolutist theocracies; and if that is the same camp as George Bush's then so be it. In that context, the contrast between Hitchens and Galloway is less of belief than of integrity: Hitchens opposes Al Qaeda because of his Leftist beliefs; Galloway supports Al Qaeda in despite of them
So where does this put our NDP Leadership? I fear I know full well.

No Doubt I have to take this one more time

Over the last years I have come to love Opera Atelier and have already bought my tickets to their two productions in the coming season. Today I had to suffer their sending me a mailing - I have no idea why.
It includes the following description of "Armide" which is to be performed in the fall :
"This opera has an extraordinary resonance for the 21st century in that it deals with the Conflict between the Christian world ... and its belief in the Muslim world ... as "the axis of evil".
Hmmm. They seem oddly confused about North Korea. News to me about the Islamic connection. Moreover, one could argue that Iraq is becoming more Islamic after the war. One of the few defences I have ever heard of Saddam is that he was 'secular' (when he was whatever kept him in charge).

On the other hand, they are not so far off, though perhaps in ways they don't get. I would be surprised if the person who wrote those notes realized the blood spilled as Islam spread from the 7th century on to achieve the peak of its control in the Middle East and Europe (not a pretty story). My pure guess is the notes writer thinks it spread as peacefully as Christianity did in its first five centuries, and probably cannot imagine that maybe the Crusaders had a point about trying to restore things to how they had been. Not to say they did much of a job.

My sad guess is I need to sit through one more of these ill-informed lectures (we got one last year from the artistic director who clearly knew nothing, advertising the show to come this year) just before watching what will surely be a wonderful performance of the opera. Thank heavens their performances are so good I can tolerate this stuff.

Why do they feel the need to engage is this idiocy? It does not cross my mind when trying to sell the products I know about to invent fairy stories full of pseudo-history. I would rather the customer took it on his own terms. Maybe in Canada this nonsense has some resonance. Sad if true.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Why all the Hand-Wringing?

Ontario has made the only sensible decision - this was not something I thought the current government could do but it seems to me it has now.
I am pleased and relieved: for Muslims mostly, and particularly for Muslim women, that they need not feel obliged to subject themselves to Sharia-style arbitration.
I do not see that there is any sacrifice (as many bizarrely claim) in losing other 'faith-based' arbitration.
In fact my guess is all of this can go on informally. Surely we don't need the legal system to settle all disputes. But once we do, why on earth should our government sign up for any of this? Arbitration that reaches that level should be, as our Premier said, be judged by one law.
It seems conceivable that the losers here are the fundamentalist Muslims, whose proposed laws are most out of whack with the base in Ontario, and so be it! But any other religion that loses by the government's decision should lose its power as well, in my view.
I am pleased to observe that I sent my congratulations for this outcome to my local member (not part of the government) and he (well, his secretary, oopps, admin) says his party was always for this outcome. Except maybe not when religious arbitration was introduced on their watch. And maybe they might be willing to say that it worked for Christian, Jewish, and Ismaili arbitration but his party does not think it can work for the broader Islamic community that might buy into sharia. After all even this government can not say that.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

TV Ontario is back in full swing - who needs the CBC?

Now that students are back going to school here, the news magazine shows on TVO are kicking back in to original material.

Here in Ontario we have one of those Cowraffe networks, TV Ontario, partly funded out of provincial funding, but also out of voluntary contributions (and I have signed up for those). I am so happy that their daily news show 'Studio 2' is back on with new material - it is generally completely excellent. Later tonight I will be taping a couple of fascinating shows, 'Love in a Cold Climate - Part 2', and 'Masterworks' (previous instances of which have been wonderful.

Much has been made in the past of Steve Paikin's salary (a silly law forces this to be published) - he is worth very cent. And I may say Megan Follows is hot but so is Paula Todd, the other co-host, and she does wonderfully intelligent interviews.

Sadly I did not manage to vote in this survey. Certainly I am enjoying the management version of the morning CBC Radio show - the hosts are apparently pretty reasonable. Meanwhile, the host who is locked out is working now on CIUT radio in the mornings; my one experience sampling that show sadly featured our mayor David Miller and a complete round of cooing mutual approval. I do not think I miss that behaviour at all.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Chekhov's Gun nicely explained here.
The essence is this fine quotation from that glorious writer:
"One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it."
Following up on the previous post, as my companions and I sat awaiting the start of the play, we all made some observations on what was apparent on the stage, which was set up as a motel room somewhere - a suitcase under the bed, an odd rectangle of somewhat ghostly lighter colour on one wall, and a rocker chair front right. They pointed to the first two things, observing that the rectangle might be some sort of picture hanging on the wall, and I seem to recall commenting that the rocking chair did not seem to fit into a motel room.
As it turned out, the rocking chair was indeed not in the motel room, the rectangle did play the role of a picture, and the suitcase kept getting used.
For all that astuteness, I still don't really know whether the guy in the rocking chair was real (as real as a fictional character can get), or some strange embodiment of the entanglement of the lead characters, with the picture being the expression of the need for that one great love.
Still the play had Megan Follows.

Anne of Green Gables Survives, to a Degree

Well I did get to see Soulpepper's Fool for Love tonight with some friends visiting from England.
It was a virtuoso show, with Megan Follows and Stuart Hughes performing magnificently in the lead roles; I must say, though, I left quite confused about almost everything except that the lead characters had the hots for one another and that was not likely to change, however sensible they wanted to be (and actually they did not seem to want to be very sensible). We could not determine whether the 'father' was somehow real or just a symbolic explanation of a bond that felt so deep. Perhaps I prefer Sam Shepard the actor to him as a playwright.
It turned out that my English friends were well aware of Anne of Green Gables. When I asked whether they recognized Follows as Anne of Green Gables they seemed unsure - perhaps they did not watch the show as closely as their children did. They were certainly surprised to discover the story was Canadian.
And they enjoyed the play.
Megan Follows is still hot.

Friday, September 02, 2005


In an earler post I suggested that Albert Schultz might be a little old to play Hamlet. And now PBS has done me the stunning kindness of playing an (the?) Olivier version - well, all I can say is it works. I think I preferred Schultz' version - just a little less mannered.

But Olivier Olivier!!!!!!!!!!! Has there ever been the like? He can make a totally stupid movie like Marathon Man work.

Hmm well Albert Schultz could be Rob Diamond and make that work.

OK whatever I remain a total fan of Schultz annd Olivier!!!

UPDATE: Jean Simmons is (was) a hot Ophelia.

Please Raise my Gasoline Price

Please make it clear to me how important the gasoline I am about to buy is for others.

Don't send me messages saying it would be nice if I let others have that gasoline. Who? Why do they need it more than I might? Are they the friend of someone in authority who has influence?

I feel much happier letting the price tell me how much I need the gasoline.

By no means is it a perfect mechanism. But all the others I know of seem worse.

No Need Always to be Angry

Great to hear we are engaged . Thanks, Angry!

And I say Yay Yay too.

Sadly I sent a note a few days ago to my MP ( a cabinet minister) asking whether there was any program in place to house refugees from Katrina. Unsurprisingly I have heard nothing.

UPDATE: Got a note back. No program in place. Pointed to everybody else's efforts.

Ms Mirza

The US Open of Tennis is in progress.

One delightful surprise of the opening rounds is the success of a player from India, Sania Mirza. She was just interviewed and for a while the questioning centred on her (Islamic) religion. She asked, quite fairly, why the other players don't get asked about their religions, and even more rightly. declined to say much more on that subject.

She plays in traditional tennis attire, and plays well. Few things would delight me more than her doing very very well at this championship and serving as a great example to young women in India and the Muslim world.


On my morning jog today, I saw a couple of Monarch butterflies, looking for nectar; they will need it, as it is likely that they are of the generation that will struggle to make its way back to Mexico. How do they do it? They are so small.

There is an interesting publicity intiative underway that is worthy of some interest. Here is one nice article on the subject.

Anyone interested in this throughly amazing creature should also know about Journey North.

UPDATE: I spent Sunday afternoon in Port Stanley, on the north shore of Lake Erie. Several monarch butterfliess per minute were flying by, heading west. Back in Toronto now, I notice the occasional one heading west as well. They are on the way!

I rather wish I did not know this

This post depresses me no end.
I am an atheist. I would unhesitatingly donate to Salvation Army and Red Cross (do they have a Christian connection? I don't know but I bet Red Crescent does have an Islamic one) relief efforts. I never will to these guys described in that post..

New Orleans

A single-digit number of weeks ago I was channel-surfing and settled on a show on Discovery Channel Canada on the subject of the Netherlands and the engineering marvels they are putting in place to protect themselves from North Sea storms, as the country has the remarkable property that pretty much all of it lies below sea level. At the end of the show there was a cursory review of other places in similar situations, and the show pointed at New Orleans, documenting the risk of a storm of greater force than what the defences of the city (the levees) were designed for. And they were clear that this outcome was not by any means impossible.

Also recently, a friend had invited me to visit, and I had in the back of my mind spending time there in the autumn. The friend and his family are all right, by the way.

So last weekend and this week have connected to things already on my mind. And really, I could not post on this until today, when now there seem to be activities that are finally addressing the deepest problems.

I am no expert in what should have happened - I do look forward to the first large investigative reports on what did and did not happen. It appears to me from what I have read that the local authorities did not do very well. Personally I was shocked that the imposition of order was such a low priority; to my mind, nothing else is likely to work without that. And it is surely one of the functions of a government that nobody would contest.

I do know that this has affected my thinking in a number of areas. I just returned from a shopping trip during which I collected a good week's worth of water for at least a couple of people and that will be stored in the basement. Also purchased were many many cans of tuna (which will also help the cat survive) and much of that will be stored. If people have good suggestions regarding other food to store, I would welcome that. This direction of my behaviour was partly driven by this post.

There is a more complicated element here too, for me as someone who has never wanted to be close to a gun. I will not be surprised, as I would have been a year ago, to find myself joining a gun club for education and owning one for emergencies. And this is partly driven by the effective job (that is a joke) being done by our current city administration handling the current outbreaks of gun violence. In a situation like the one in New Orleans the philosophy of reaching out to the community for understanding, which seems to be the only arrow in their quiver, is not what I want applied.

Let me underline the message in this post - send help.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Mark Steyn Embarrasses Himself in Public

I have long enjoyed his witty, if sometimes slightly superficial, analyses. He can make me laugh out loud.
Probably not any more - i think Tim Lambert has terminated that phase in my life by quoting this stupidity:
By comparison, the evolutionists’ insistence that we’re just another “animal” seems perverse and irrational and refuted by a casual glance out the window. I am coming round to the view that hyper-rationalism is highly irrational.
I now know where the glibness he displays comes from. A casual glance out the window is enough.

UPDATE: Count on P Z Myers to complete the exposure.

UPDATE: I thought the defrocking above was enough but I have to confess I sympathize with all those commenting on the Pharyngula blog. It will be interesting to see if Steyn is actually prepared to live in the blogosphere or just wants to stonewall. I am slightly sad about this, but always happy to strike someone unworthy off my list of pages to read.