Tuesday, January 22, 2008

24 in 1994

This is all over the blogosphere but it is for very good reasons! In 1994 it was clear all this technology promised magic, and had stupid limitations, that would be wiped out. This video brilliantly documents all the ones I can recall. It is worthy of several repetitions. You will keep finding lovely details (well, if you remember 1994).

Ellen Page - Woo Hoo

This young Canadian Maritime actress gets an Academy Award Nomination. I have not seen the performance for which she is nominated, but she was utterly stunning in the parts of Hard Candy and Mouth to Mouth that I did see.

The last time I found myself so impressed by a young actress it was the Natalie Portman of Beautiful Girls and The Professional - in a previous post I have described that actress as preternatural. I hope so much that Page's career does not descend, as Portman's has, into the uninteresting and unengaging.

One other Academy Award nomination was shocking to me. Sarah Polley gets recognized for her gross distortion of a wonderfully wicked short story. To turn lovely vinegar into sickening treacle is not something I would reward.

Identity Politics - CNN's approach

Jackie Danicki nails it:

CNN doesn’t think much of black women

Let the Sparks Fly!

I have seen worse but this could mean some fun to come.

Both individuals impress me as I watch. Of course in the end, what advisers thy gather will be what determines the fate of their Presidencies. Who would have thought a clown with the character of Bill Clinton could do such a good job on all but the security front?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Well, Yeah

You might not be so eager to publicize inconclusive or non-results or negative ones.

This story is of course not simply about drug studies - they are by no means unique in having file drawers.

I am lucky - have pretty much never felt depressed and hence never tempted to try one of these drugs out. For others the stakes are MUCH higher.

Check out where Prozac is on the graph!

Timothy Burke's Librarians ARE Awesome

Talk about trying to find a basis for making resource decisions! If the information is out there, go get it!
I’m teaching from for our Swarthmore collection, they pulled off all the titles from my syllabi as posted to my blog and ordered them for me. Without me having to ask or beg. Just because it seemed like a good idea and a good way to help out. It’s like they knew that I would be sitting around grumbling in February, cursing my own inefficiency, festering in the stew of my own procrastination, mumbling about our monograph collection and my part in failing to develop it.

I sure hope it gets reflected somehow in their performance evaluations.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Crucial Distinction

Who could have thought Canada could be so entertaining?

After bringing a human rights complaint against Ezra Levant and the Western Standard, Soharwardy and others associated with the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada now face their own AHRC complaint. The complaint against Soharwardy et al contains serious allegations of discrimination and mistreatment directed against three women from the Al-Madinah Calgary Islamic Centre.

Ezra broke this story on his blog. I found it reported on LifeSite.

I don't want to sound unsympathetic to the women who bravely stepped forward, but a mosque is a private institution. If you don't like the way you’re treated, find somewhere else to worship. (If you don't like the Western Standard, find something else to read.) The allegations of physical threats and harassment are a different matter entirely. These are real crimes.

Like Matthew, whose post I am quoting, I do not really take this too seriously. It's a bit like gays who appear on TV and complain that Pope Benedict does not welcome them. Why is that a concern of mine (or yours - and maybe you care but dragging the state in is off my map)? Pope Benedict runs a club that has its own rules and if you do not like them join some other club!

I think those cases are sad, but not my or the state's business.


How Could I Have Missed This?

The best teenage high-school movie ever is "Say Anything". (I speak as a major John Hughes fan.) (Well, and yeah, I struggle with Ridgemont.)

But how, in the almost 20 years since first seeing that movie, could I have missed this stunning fact about the utterly fabulous Ione Skye?

Daughter of singer Donovan

Sunshine Superman indeed. Twenty years of waiting for each new Ione Skye movie and having no idea! Without blogging I could have died ignorant. And why was it not obvious to me what the Skye "surname" meant?

I still do now know what to make of this.


Damian on Levant

Worth the read - I think I agree 100%.

That he now finds himself under investigation for this is an outrage, and it's depressing to see such a muted reaction from people who normally consider themselves champions of free speech. If Levant were under fire from Christians for showing pictures of "Piss Christ", he'd be a cause celebre - assuming the human rights commission deemed the controversy worthy of investigation to begin with.

And don't forget the chocolate Jesus!

(We atheists have a harder time being offended.)


This Has an Ominous Ring in Canada

Here's an interesting legal news item (via Garry Wise - and, BTW, I disagree with the implications of the title of his post on this) that surely has a somewhat ominous ring for those familiar with Canadian history.


Please Help Doc Out

Doc needs help.

I used to like Harvey's, especially the way the preparation engaged the customer, but have not been to one in many years.

I have never tried any of the food now available at Tim Horton's (though I will merrily purchase the donuts).

Please follow the link to his site and make him relish eating again.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dion and Goodale in Saskatchewan

I cannot imagine ever voting for David Orchard (though one would have to see the available alternatives to be sure), but Steve Janke is having a glorious time with how Stephane Dion is dealing with one riding in Saskatchewan, and, by inference, the whole Liberal organization and power structure in that province.

(My readers may recall that I welcomed Stephane Dion's victory as Liberal leader. Enough said - you now know what to make of my political judgment, likely one reason I am not John Laschinger, a man largely, but not primarily, to blame for Millerbabble.)

In any case - enjoy Steve's latest on this - and then cruise through the earlier posts:
Meanwhile, Ralph Goodale is saying that the Green Light Committee put forward Joan Beatty's name and was very enthusiastic about that choice. Not so says GLC member , who is saying categorically that Ralph Goodale is telling a whopper, and that the GLC was not behind any particular candidate:
I get only one newspaper delivery per week now so I do not know what attention this gets in the general media. I watch lots of TV and have not seen a mention. (I always liked Ralph Goodale.)

Garry Wise Left me behind today

A commenter, Allan, on this post was, I thought, overly skeptical of the comments I had referred to in Garry Wise's weblog, but I would say Wise proved Allan right this morning by clarifying our differences. (Allan and I likely still differ, but I differ from Wise more than I knew.)

In this post, amusingly one in which Wise rightly criticizes Ezra Levant for a
bizarre, rambling effort to rationalize his own questionable behaviour as harmless by reference to criminal vandalism against the Edmonton synagogue he claims as his own.
he himself writes a long, bizarre, rambling account in which the bottom line is:
I am glad Canada now provides a legal remedy against egregiously discriminatory provocation and insult.
That sounds really nice, but is of course exactly an invitation to accusations of thought crimes and time-wasting like that going on right now. The time-wasting is of course likely good for lawyers.

I agree with Wise that Levant was somewhat over the top, and not very terse, and rude to the interrogator, but if Wise cannot see how shocking her opening question was, I worry about what legal education means now. I loathe the notion of legislating sensitive behavior. (And if Wise cares, hey, we're all the descendants of immigrants who were insulted.)

I am astonished anyone can think publishing those silly cartoons deserves any interest from state institutions. Amazing to recall that the Danish prime minister simply said it was none of his business (as it should be).

You can read more on some of this from Doc if you wish!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tonight I needed a really good laugh

And Larry Moran gave it to me!

P.S. on the Golden Globes

The discussion of Julie Christie's (justified) award shows how far the movie strayed from the book. Sad. It did become more sadly Canadian (I never thought of Alice Munro as Canadian).

Golden Globes Awards Complete in 31 Minutes

Keep those writers on strike!

Terrell Owens in Tears!

I missed that yesterday!

Everybody knows that having Jessica Simpson anywhere near Tony Romo has been a bad idea in the last months. And he prepares for the game by going off with her to Mexico. What did they expect?

And then, of all people, T.O. is clearly so enchanted by their love that he tears up as reporters contemplate asking about it.

Who says the NFL is boring. Crying men, Samsons reduced by their Delilahs, ... Mythic.


The CBC has a news report featuring a new direction this morning complaining about fitness clubs - the activists want to turn off the TV I watch while I exercise. Give me a break.

Also, they complain about the disgusting sweat and stuff we leave behind.

They have enviro-friendly light bulbs.

They want us to go outside for most of our workout. I note that the video of this shows NO snow anywhere. Or, more compellingly, ice.

We are too rich. CBC reporter says that the BEST part is they also have an organic restaurant attached to the enviro-friendly fitness centre.

I used to watch the news for news. There must be none this morning.

Norm Nails It Again

I really enjoyed Pinker's NY Times essay, but exactly like me, Norm found an experiment that just seemed wrong.

I often find myself in the department of 'huh?' in these essays, and this case is a classic. Somehow Norm simply passed up another.

I found myself in the same department of 'huh?' with Pinker's opening question, ranking Norman Borlaug, Bill Gates, and Mother Teresa in terms of admirability. This was easy for me - Borlaug beats Gates, as I don't know about his possible dubious business practices, but both have brought great benefits to the world. Mother Teresa brought none - she is obviously the bottom of the list. Astonishingly, there are people who don't see it similarly. Oh well.

Congratulations, NFL

Four captivating elimination games in one weekend; it's been a long time since I recall the like. It even kept me away from watching curling. Daimnation captures the main points of Sunday's matches.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sidebar Update

OK it was just one episode of Grey's Anatomy, and the lyrics really were brilliant, but a whole Anna Nalik CD for four great lines in one song? Even I cannot convince myself it was worth it. I suspect this was a major moment in turning me into a downloader and no longer CD-in-physical-form-in-the-shop (even online) purchaser.

We shall see.

If any of my readers wants my Anna Nalik CD, let me know before the next charity asks for discards on my front porch.

What's Up? (Hmm, is it really up?)

Larry Moran has a nice post here on the tensions in science between the latest stuff that is being published, and that material on which a pretty strong consensus (yeah, I don't want that word here, but it is what the post is about) exists.

He actually states, in supporting the appropriate skepticism, referring to papers of some seniority that were proved wrong:

In my opinion, it's far more important to look at examples like this than to expose undergraduates to several dozen hot new papers that are supposedly at the cutting edge.


It's worth reading the whole post. As usual, Larry has a mischievous edge that gets to appear. I am suddenly excited about the citric acid cycle. I hope we get a later report on its documentation on the Web. After all, if I got a tough question about it, I expect I would go straight to the Web.

This is the best weekend in the NFL

Main point is that there are two matches each day. Why it is better than last week if we have eliminated some chaff on last week's wild-card weekend, also a lot of fun, but not at the same level!

Yesterday was not a disappointment to me at all.

Green Bay started off with Ryan Grant yielding two turnovers, each allowing an enemy touchdown. But did Green Bay withdraw his responsibility? - no, they threw Grant right back the the opposition, and he made mincemeat of all the concerns. A wonderful match from Favre as well - he was so impressive. Can they win another week? Seems less likely to me but it was fun yesterday and let us not forget the weather!

In the second match New England was held to 14-14 at half time and with some real notion that Garrard and team might be able, by properly careful play, to hang on and win by a sort of fluke (that was the exact half-time expert discussion). In any case, no, Brady and crew, and the New England defence, all figured out what to do about their problems and won comfortably.

Next weekend, less rich in matches, will I hope be as rich in competition!

A Very Entertaining Site These Days

I've written about the harassment via human rights commissions of Macleans magazine, but had forgotten that Ezra Levant, as publisher of the Western Standard, was in a process of his own. He has shut down the print magazine, and sold the rights to the corresponding Web pages, but is blogging up a storm at ezralevant.com, and putting on quite a show.

On Friday he was invited for an interrogation from a bureaucrat representing the Alberta Human Rights Commission regarding the decision of the Western Standard to publish the Danish Mohammad cartoons. He insisted on videotaping the interrogation, and has been publishing excerpts actively on the Web. They are very funny in many ways and very chilling.

I think he gets over caught up in his responses about how dishonorable his challengers are; on the other hand, I still believe that a proper human rights commission would have simply tossed this out. Levant makes the key point here:

I talked about the chilling effect that human rights complaints have not just on the victims -- e.g. the people and companies named in the complaints, like we were -- but on other media who see what could happen to them if they dare upset thin-skinned whiners. It's similar to the phenomenon of libel chill, except it's worse. Libel chill is when reporters are worried about writing a story for fear of being sued. But that's not much more than a healthy fear -- if a story's facts are true, it's defensible in defamation law. More than that, any would-be plaintiff would have to finance his own lawsuit, be subject to well-known rules of court, and have to pay the costs of any failed nuisance suits. None of those restraints are checks againt "human rights commission chill": truth is not a defence; plaintiffs complain for free; taxpayers pay for the prosecuting lawyers; rules are arbitrary; legal precedents are not applied consistently; and instead of judges, tribunals are stacked with activists, many not even lawyers.

The worst part is that there is no deterrent to spurious complaints -- there is no cost to making false accusations. That's where the "human rights chill" comes in: why would any rational publisher or editor report on sensitive subjects (read: radical Islam) if they knew they would be tagged with a no-win complaint?

That's the point I was making. And after I made it, Officer McGovern said "you're entitled to your opinions, that's for sure."

Well, actually, I'm not, am I? That's the reason I was sitting there. I don't have the right to my opinions, unless she says I do.

I feel very sorry for Commissioner McGovern, in that she appears to believe she is engaged in a rational process, but does not seem to get the real problem. She is sincerely engaged in a completely bogus process. And I suspect it can only lead to her being publicly embarrassed.

And here I show a lot of faith in my country. One good place to read about this case if the Wise Law Blog - Garry Wise links to the comical complaints against Macleans, and also predicts that the process will come out "right", though he seems not to get the point that there never ought to have been a process in these particular cases, and his arguments for there being one all point to considerations that miss Levant's points above.

My hope is that there will be a long period of silliness here (it is after all a very silly country) and when we come out of it with Levant and Macleans having paid some dues for the rest of us, we'll fix it. Well, I hope so. I think the grip of that fatuities of the '60s generation (what they call in Europe the '68ers) is loosening and maybe we can get back to what really ought to be liberalism. We remain pretty far from it now.

Another Beautiful Zoo Polar Bear Baby

11 lovely photos of the apparently somewhat confused mother and even more confused baby are provided here by die Welt.

This child seems likely to be another Knut. Another polar bear mother in the same zoo recently had two cubs and ate them.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Glenn Reynolds reports on a fascinating moment.

A Point to Reuters

Their initial report on the death of Philip Agee gets a deeply needed update.

Oliver Kamm has more.

This story is a completely typical one coming out of the '60s; Agee was lionized as a revealer of truth when he was in the pocket of people who would have been happy to kill even us youthful fools who took his nonsense seriously.

The problem has not gone away.

I think I have slowly come to learn about how stupid my infatuations of the time were; the opening of the files in the Communist countries pre-1990 has stripped away pretty much all the romantic pretense. The old 'liberals' (I mean it in the John Stuart Mill sense, the only one that matters) were right.

What shocks me is how many people seem to remain so attached to utterly foul creatures like Agee as a supposed source of information.

Reuters has achieved what so many of those of us who liked to be classified on 'the left' have not. Reconciliation with some truth.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

My Taxes Pay for This Too!

A Victoria listener challenges Catherine today on Here's to You over
her suggestion that Mozart's Clarinet Concerto is beyond the playing
ability of a high school student. That leads to a request for Weber's
Concertino in E flat. Also, a perennial favourite: Vaughan Williams'
"The Lark Ascending." Catherine also responds to a Montrealer who's
begging for sweetness and light, by playing Frank Crumit's novelty song
"Abdul Abulbul Amir". All that plus Organ Thursday and more, on Here's
to You, with Catherine Belyea, this morning at 9 (9:30 NT) on CBC Radio

I am even more wordless, and I love Mozart's music. I also played the clarinet in high school. I will not reveal whether I could play the concerto in question. I sure liked listening to it.

My Taxes Pay for This!

There is a lot that appals me in what the government does but this is so stupid I cannot find words.

Tune in to CBC Radio News this week for a special series called "Where
Is God Today?"
It's a broad look at how more people are looking for answers to
traditional questions in non-traditional places. As Western forms of
organized religion continue to decline, where are people turning? How do
people account for faith? How do they do without it? CBC reporters will
look at the occasionally strained ties between faith and rational
inquiry, people "shopping" for a faith - exploring unfamiliar traditions
to see if they offer answers, how employers may or may not accommodate
the practices of various faiths in the workplace, and much more. Hear
those reports all this week on World Report, hourly newscasts and The
World at Six on CBC Radio One. And find more in-depth information and
stories at cbc.ca/whereisgod .

The CBC even sent me this text, as part of an ad! They are actually proud of this!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I'll bet this is not what they had in mind

... when they passed our street racing law. Even better (well, worse) - it's the famous street racing car, the Oldsmobile Intrigue.

I'm not sure which scares me more - young males driving too fast, or eighty-five year olds.

No More Flashman Novels

George McDonald Fraser has died. The Flashman novels filled a good part of my life many years ago, and did much to teach me the history of the British Empire (and more), as I had never been taught it in school.

Flashman was first published in 1969 and detailed the adult life of Harry Flashman, the bullying schoolboy of the 19th-century classic Tom Brown’s Schooldays. In the books, which included Flashman on the March, the anti-hero was a roguish soldier in the British Army.


Some readers and critics found Flashman’s 19th-century racism and sexism off-putting. But by the time the final Flashman book, Flashman on the March, appeared in 2005, the critical tide had turned in Fraser’s favour.

No doubt the first person narratives of such a scoundrel were a lot of fun to write, and with it the open expression of sexism and racism, but this was also an excellent device that allowed him to describe the historical situations in which the novels were set without having to yield to current relativistic orthodoxies. In 'Flashman and the Redskins' , the redskins are no pastoral sweethearts preserving the environment; they are as hair-raisingly frightening as they surely actually were in the context. Flashman's Geronimo is an utter psychotic, and very convincing. On the other hand, when Flashman waxes more poetically, as he does in a wonderful long passage reflecting on the soldiers fighting the Crimean War, his normal attitudes make these reflections more convincing, and they stand out as well.

Richard Bacon has some nice reflections on the value of the historical background in the novels.

Fraser recreates these scenes meticulously and you come away with a quite impressive historical knowledge. I read Royal Flash, the second in the series, as the Americans waged war in Afghanistan. A lot of the talk was about warlords and the different tribes — just as in the novel.

Flashman is like the James Bond of the original Ian Fleming novels — not the suave smoothie of the films but colder. He is a womaniser, calculating, not serving Queen and country but himself. He is not someone you like but you are intrigued by the way he gets away with it. It’s quite refreshing to read a book in which the main character has no redeeming features.

I had an experience a little like Bacon's when I was visiting China many years ago, accompanied by a Chinese friend. When we were in Nanjing, he began to tell me a story about a strange movement in China from the 15th Century led by someone who claimed to be Jesus' brother; I quickly recognized the Taiping Rebellion from a Flashman novel I had recently finished, and realized that on my trip I was following many of the paths that Flashman had in the novel. Moreover, my knowledge of the history from the novel was certainly more accurate (I knew it was a 19th Century event) and comprehensive than what the Communist government had decided to teach Chinese at the time my friend was being schooled.

Thank you, George McDonald Fraser.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

I'd like to have seen the real debate

Naomi Klein is definitely cute, but her latest book practically defames Milton Friedman, and it would have been good to see her actually have to confront him in real life about her misconceptions and economic and historical ignorance. Given that this debate cannot happen, it is amusing to see this mashup:

I enjoy it as it shows Klein's complacency in front of a friendly audience, and utter unwillingness to confront difficult ideas in that context. The interspersed snippets of Friedman show the pixie mind at work. Of course for me this is a non-debate. Klein is nice eye candy but not something that engages the mind.

Belated Happy New Year

Rather than create my own wish, let me borrow the best one I saw yesterday.

Go to Dr. Sanity and enjoy the picture.

Driving in a Winter Wonderland

As part of my seasonal migratory behavior, I was driving from London, Ontario, back to Toronto yesterday. I hate driving in snowstorms but it proved to be one of those gloriously beautiful days where the whole world is coated with snow. Doc gives a hint with a couple of pictures here.
As for me, the scene through the window from my starting point was typified by these two scenes.

Often when the snow is general all over London and region, there is none in Toronto. But yesterday, here is the scene as I entered the back streets in my neighborhood.

Where Doc documented the burden on sunflowers, let me post a shot of the apple tree in my backyard.

The old maple tree the city has sitting in front of my house lost a large branch yesterday, and you can surely see why.
By the way, the diffuse lighting these photos suggest was exactly like that yesterday - it was perhaps the hardest part of the driving, as, at least for part of the trip, the provincial Ministry of Transportation had the road looking like this (there were bad stretches later in trip):

(For all the travails imposed by the weather, let me say one thing in favor of doing this drive early New Year's morning. I stopped at the service center near km 226 on the 401, entered the Tim Horton's, and, rather than trying to pick one of a dozen queues, each a dozen customers long, found myself able to walk straight up to the counter and choose from among six servers, all idle, and waiting for a single customer. Canadian travellers will know how unusual this is. The servers did tell me a deluge was to come later.)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

We'd Never Get the Witnesses

Well, one British show I have managed to see over here, if not on BBC Canada, is French and Saunders, but I missed this brilliant episode: