Monday, June 30, 2008

Strollers in the City

My wife always reports the ubiquity of strollers when she returns from Europe and I am seeing the same thing here; the park by the hotel was primarily full of students on their way to and from classes, but after that strollers everywhere. I took a walk in town to find an ATM yesterday and it was strollers everywhere.
On the other hand the local paper reported a decrease in population in Germany last year - more births than before, but more deaths too (that aging population Mark Steyn warns about), and a net out flow of residents.
Demographics are a tricky thing.


The Burghers of Darmstadt

Not exactly the Rodin, but featured in downtown Darmstadt is an amusing sculpture representing activities of its citizens, apparently from some time ago. The statues are articulated and you can reposition their arms and the like, so it is somewhat of an interactive piece of art.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

I like the Park here but I miss my Park too

As you can see there is much I like about the park by the hotel here, but I do miss watching these guys commuting to morning feeding.

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The Tension Mounts

In a few hours it will all be over. This car has only one flag. My favorite so far had two German and two Turkish flags. I have seen no Spanish flags here.

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More Puckishness in the Playground

Earlier I missed some other bits of puckishnesss in the playground with the mouse:
This climbing area is rather cool:

And this is a rocky area where the kids run around, decorated by I am not sure what:

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Breathing in the Park

This is not just a beautiful allée, but it consisted of lindens in full bloom.

Pause, breathe deeply, and REALLY enjoy.

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The Enderlin Affair

To understand the al-Dura affair, it helps to keep one thing in mind: In France, you can't own up to a mistake

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet has an excellent summary of the Mohammed al-Dura story, and the various trials in France related to it.

Most astonishing is the section at the end in which she interviews those who have signed the petition in defence of Enderlin, long after his report has been shown to be rather defective.

Then there was someone who insisted so vehemently on not being quoted or described in any way that I won't even reveal this person's sex. "Look, this whole thing has been a nightmare for Charles. He's received hate mail, his wife has been threatened, he's about to have a nervous breakdown. You want the truth? I don't give a flying monkey about the case. I signed for Charles. In all honesty, I think he edited his film on deadline and was careless, and afterwards he didn't want to admit he'd screwed up. A one-minute film, and it snowballed from there. Don't put in anything that might identify me, I don't want him to think I don't believe 100 percent in what he says, he'd be devastated.

Nowhere is there any documented interest in what is true.

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If you don't like Darmstadt ...

... Darmstadt does not care!

Actually, the official name of the tower is the wedding tower and is one of the odder famous bits of Jugendstil.

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The Supreme Court of Canada encourages me

We live in a free country where people have as much right to express outrageous and ridiculous opinions as moderate ones.


Of course “chilling” false and defamatory speech is not a bad thing in itself, but chilling debate on matters of legitimate public interest raises issues of inappropriate censorship and self-censorship. Public controversy can be a rough trade, and the law needs to accommodate its requirements.

More here and here.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Biting the Hand that Feeds You

This is the guy who eats through my squirrel-proof screens, climbs on them and pees through them into my house, artfully sneaks in whenever I leave the patio door open, and can be found staring in at me at the most unexpected times.

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An Avian Stroll of the Park

The nearby park has, needless to say, many birds, but most of them seem rather prosaic to a North American.

However, a few minutes later, I got to see a variant of our Great Blue Heron, the Graureiher, strutting about, apparently not concerned at all about the children and others cavorting nearby.

There are pigeons, magpies, and some funny little birds I have not identified despite long internet searches - colorful and flitty.
What I have NOT seen, and this alarms me a little though they are a pest in Canada, is a House sparrow. I have been reading in European and British newspapers about serious declines in their population over here.

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I'll let Ezra and Jay describe it.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Addiction to Ted

I am becoming utterly addicted to TED lectures.

This one is just flat out fun. I was laughing through almost all of it.

But I would say keep checking back for the latest.

Ezra on Pardy vs Earle

Needless to say he finds it worse than ridiculous.

I lament this further loss of freedom and loss of common sense. I lament the fact that one thin-skinned radical lesbian activist is perpetuating the new stereotype of gays as intolerant of any criticism of dissent. I'm sure that EGALE would oppose this lawsuit, because they know it just looks bad, bad, bad on their community who themselves use trangressive art, including comedy, to deal with controversies. What do you think Rosie O'Donnell would have done -- whine to the government, or heckle back?

He has a good point here: just as Khurrum Awan and his confederate sock puppets have made a very bad name for parts of the Muslim community, so Pardy is going to make a bad name for parts of the lesbian community.

Reading McNaughton's decision cited in the link above is stunning - I love her notion of Ismail as a provider of 'services', in which she is utterly blind to the services a comedy club provides. That service is the opportunity for you to be insulted by someone on stage trying to offend you.

I imagine this may give Earle's career a small boost. I hope so.

As for the BC HRT, as Ezra says, it will make them the butt of lots more jokes.

Drinking Bottled Water

This is an amusing report from Statistics Canada.
Overall, almost 3 in 10 Canadian households used bottled water as their main source of drinking water in the home in 2006.

I am befuddled at the 3.
In general, households with a higher income were more likely to drink bottled water. While about one-quarter of households with a household income of $40,000 or less drank bottled water in the home, the proportion rose to one-third among households with an income over $91,000.


Whereas about one-third of households with some postsecondary education drank bottled water, only one-quarter of university-educated households reached for bottled water, the lowest proportion of any education group.

It is still a puzzling 2.5 in 10!

In contrast, seniors showed a strong preference for tap water. In fact, they were the least likely to drink bottled water, with only 17% reporting they drank primarily bottled water in the home.

Aha, that explains me.

Or, as David Zetland puts it,

Bottom Line: Bottled water customers are rich enough to afford it (and dumb enough to choose it). Hmmm...

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This Seems to me to be Ridiculous

Things are getting out of hand.

What did the complainants expect? Tea and crumpets?
"The reader or the listener or whatever has no feeling for the environment of the comedy show that is triple-X, edgiest-show-in-town, controversial and offensive, so when you walk in there you're making an agreement to be a party to this controversial show.

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Goethe in Darmstadt

The local park has a statue of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, apparently because he used to show up here in Darmstadt on hikes from Frankfurt. However, judging from the statue, he must have been pretty penurious at the time, as it appeared he could not afford clothing.

He does take on a rather interesting pose. I am not sure what that hand on the hip is doing.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pomp and Puckishness

This scene combines some pomp (apparently built in honor of Nicholas and Alexandra) with some very odd puckishness in the background.

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Once a Year Day

It was a few weeks ago, but one of many once-a-year-days I enjoy is recorded below.

By now that spirea bush has lost its flowers, and also had a much-overdue trim.

Curiously, at least to me, the spirea bushes by the lake (about a kilometre and a half south of the bush pictured) reached their peaks around two weeks later. Most of the neighbours' bushes synchronized more or less with mine.


Animal Story of the Day

What a pig!

A pig that survived for 36 days buried beneath rubble in quake-hit southwest China on a diet of charcoal has been hailed as a symbol of the will to stay alive, state press reported Monday.

The pig, who weighed nearly 150 kilograms (330 pounds) at the time of the magnitude-8.0 earthquake on May 12, had lost two thirds of its weight when found last week, ...

The curator of the local Jianchuan Museum has already bought the pig for 3,008 yuan (436 dollars) and will keep the animal for the rest of its life "as a living symbol of the earthquake disaster," the report said.

The museum has named the pig "Zhu Jianqiang," which means "Strong Pig," it added.

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How do they Enforce This?

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Miller and his council cronies strike

With the usual intelligence and effectiveness.

City council has approved new controls that will require two gun clubs to move from city property.

Mayor David Miller was behind the new rules, which will demand the relocation of a club at Union Station and another at a Scarborough community centre.

The city does not have the authority to close private gun clubs or gun shops, and Coun. John Parker said the new regulations are nothing more than what he calls "feel good legislation."

This bit of Millerbabble may be technically true:

Miller said the new rules will eventually reduce the number of guns in the city, and he wants to demonstrate that Toronto is doing everything it can to eliminate guns.

Of course the only reduction is possibly in the number of legally held guns, used by a variety of perfectly legitimate gun enthusiasts. These are NOT the problem in this city.

Miller has previously blamed the US for allowing people to smuggle guns into Canada, blithely ignoring who is responsible for controlling what enters Canada. I used to think he was slick like Clinton; now I am beginning to believe he is simply stupid.

Let me simply pull from the comments - this is so obviously brain-dead that only his Millerdom could have led the way to it.

From civicboy:

these rules will hurt recreational shooters, olympic athletes, and cadets the most. It will certainly not stop some gang banger from using the illegal gun they sneaked across the American border. I'm sure this same gang banger doesn't regularly practice at the local club...simply because gun club members are required to show they have the proper documentation when shooting at a club.

Or perhaps he has a deeper plan, as comments stephen034:

Thank god! Everyone knows that after the young punks out there do their drive-bys, hold-ups, etc., they like nothing more to head off to a gun club and shoot a few targets. But now that the media-minded Miller has moved two gun clubs from city property, these criminals will have nowhere to go after they commit their crimes and maybe they will move out of Toronto in frustration.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I enjoyed Heidelberg, but someone seems to have a different view:

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The puckishness here knows no end

This lad is in a nearby children's playground. I love the expression on its face.

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Aaron has an interesting point

Aaron notes one of the effects of travel.

Where I am today, everybody at this meeting who has wandered around town has taken note of the freedom of the dogs to go anywhere, compared to where they live (all over high-tech North America).

Nobody here is quite as sympathetic as Aaron to the smokers, and the clampdown is proceeding apace here, and apparently actually having an impact (as it did not, as I recall, in Austria, when first made law).

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More puckishness

Of course they stole the idea from elsewhere, but this apartment building in the town I am currently in is not the sort of thing I see back home:

I did not expect this sort of puckishness here, though.

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Clown Shoes on Kangaroos

Glenn Reynolds has some reflections on our "human rights" tribunal, including this lovely reflection:
When the stormtroopers wear clown shoes instead of jackboots, it's easy to forget that they're still stormtroopers.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunrise reflecting off Toronto

From Ashbridge's Bay Park, June 20, around 6:10 am

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Also somewhere different on Sunday

The main famous object was unfortunately, as almost always seems the case with famous European structures, in scaffolding.


Moonset over the Spit

That's the Leslie Street Spit in the background.

From Ashbridge's Bay Park, June 20, around 6:15 am

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

I'm Somewhere Different

On the first exploratory walk, we stumbled into the town's Saturday farmer's market, and noticed there was a certain puckishness in this land, not known for that.

What in the picture do I think is puckish? And where am I?

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Moorings

Part of the morning walk is an enjoyable stretch along some wooden docks where boats moor in the summer. One of the black-crowned night herons made some good use of this in order to stand on guard for us a few days ago.

My personal enthusiasm for the dock has diminished a bit in the last few weeks after this appeared.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Moonset at the Marina

Ashbridge's Bay, June 20, around 6 am.

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A Magnificent Seven

Almost a week since leaving the nest and there are still seven! Much better job so far than last year (0 for 0) and the year before (1 out of 4).

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Uncle Vanya at Soulpepper

I cannot help myself - when they do Chekhov, I have to see it.

I have seen weirder - has any other company done 'Platonov' in the last ten years?

And now they have done Vanya in my memory twice, with roughly the same cast. Though what I saw last night was not quite as depressing, and maybe in other ways twice as depressing, as what I recall from the first production.

Chekhov is like that - his saddest lines are also his funniest. The characters you feel the most for frustrate the dickens out of you, as they are so ineffectual.

In the end the play is Sonya's and Liisa Repo-Martell is wonderful in the role; she has always been one of my favourite Chekhov actresses, from when I first saw her playing a dog in a dramatization of a Chekhov story, and may I say, playing it really well! Also, Kristen Thomson was just the right amount of voluptuous for Elena. Yumm.

And while it is not Uncle Vanya's play., I find it hard to imagine an actor who does a better job of playing Chekhov's losers than Diego Matamoros - cuckolded last year in Three Sisters, here he has to waste his life away supporting a mediocre celebrity relative.

Chekhov is a great mischief-maker, and his stories almost ring true.

Great other supporting roles - Albert Schultz as Chekhov the doctor, and Joseph Ziegler as the mediocre celebrity (he has had such great roles in the last year and done them so well).

I loved it - it was not the same depressing Uncle Vanya that Soulpepper did with pretty much this cast many years ago, but it was a really good depressing Uncle Vanya.

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America Alone

Yup - Mark Steyn's book - which I would never have even considered reading without the help of Khurrum Awan (and his Elmasry puppetmaster).

It is much better than I ever thought it would be.

My favourite passage so far has nothing to do with Muslims, more to do with his main subject; I hope he does not mind my transcribing this bit, which starts with his noting that many local cars, especially expensive ones, have 'Free Tibet' bumper stickers:

Everyone's for a free Tibet but nobody's for freeing Tibet.
If Rumsfeld were to say, 'Free Tibet? Jiminy, what a swell idea! The Third Infantry Division goes in on Thursday,' the bumper sticker crowd would be aghast. They'd have to bend down and peel off the 'FREE TIBET' stickers and replace them with 'WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER'.'

It is this fatuity that his book is mostly about - sure, yeah a bit about Muslims, but mostly about us assholes.

And of course this is written with his normal style, so he must mention having to bend down to change bumper stickers.

It is great journalism. I am rather grateful to Elmasry and his sock puppets. They have added greatly, if indirectly, to my enjoyment in life.


Fly that Flag Proudly

Which one do you think I mean?

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Morning Light

When you get there early enough it can be stunning:

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Update on the beavers

Word has it that there are beaver kits (number not specified ) in the lodge, but that one of the parents has killed recently (hit by a car (!)). One person I talked to reported an amusing instance of one of the kits repelling his (large) dog.

I did see some action at the lodge today - I think this is the remaining parent - not so big as the previous threatening creature but pretty big:

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fecundity and Diversity

The swans are not alone. On this morning's walk, the first encounter of interest was a parent robin feeding its child as the two were hopping around on the grass in front of me. It was an unusual scene, in that the child bird was not constantly screaming at its overworked parent, which is one thing I am used to seeing. In fact, later on the walk, I came by a parent song sparrow looking a bit overwhelmed dealing with its insistent youngster, twice the size of its parent.

But all over the park, it is clear there is a new generation, as the number of birds has increased enormously. One mallard mother (despite the efforts of the Toronto parks people to cover all the eggs of them and Canada Geese with mineral oil, effectively murdering the embryos) even managed a very small brood!

That park policy, combined with another decision to leave the vegetation near the water alone, mowing only in the picnic areas, appears as well over the years to have contributed to an enormous increase in the diversity of life down at the lake. This year I have seen Baltimore Orioles and Eastern Kingbirds for the first time in the park. And that is on top of the increasing number of FLBBs (flitty little brown birds) that I have yet to identify.

Lately there has been a concern about the number of double-crested cormorants on the waterfront. This reflective fellow (in two senses) below is one of those.

They are amazing birds, great hunters, but not such great flyers - takeoffs are always quite a show:

In any case Toronto has decided not to shoot them, and not to coat their eggs with mineral oil, but rather to try to freak them out by sending practitioners of tai chi and roller blading into their nesting areas on the Leslie Street Spit. (Don't blame me for the Globe and Mail's policies - the essence though is there in the part you do not have to pay for!)

This seems to me to fit the Toronto mentality perfectly.

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The Cygnets Have Landed

A long overdue update from Ashbridge's Bay.

Last Friday the normal nesting swan scene was replaced by this:

The male was up there on the nest with his mate (for weeks I had not seen this), and the two of them were up to something. I became hopeful!

Saturday the nest was empty. I saw no swans. Monday a couple told me there were cygnets, "a half-dozen", that they had just seen on their walk, but I saw no swans. I saw no swans on Tuesday.

This morning they were back on the nest. Hmm.

At the end of my walk I went back and finally found them paddling around the bay.

Apologies for the lack of sharpness but they would not come close and I was without tripod! I think I see seven little heads following Mom. History suggests the number won't stay seven for long.

I have a few more days to try to get some better shots of them.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

George Dyson on Early Computing

A lovely talk, with fine humour, about the construction of an early computer. What I love is the mix of humour and frustration that is part of the experience of engineers on every such project - though there were some truly special problems 50 years ago.

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Eddie Greenspan on the sock puppets

I had wondered what other Osgoode Hall law grads might think, and it is good (h/t Ezra), to see one of Canada's most prominent lawyers, speak up on this.

I've never before been embarrassed by a fellow Osgoode Hall Law School graduate until now.


I'm no fan of Steyn's, having personally experienced false vitriol from him. But I cannot comprehend that the complainants are soon to be lawyers in our democratic society and yet are seeking to force a publisher to print a lengthy response from these complainants. For good measure, if they get their way, the complainants also insist on control over the cover of that issue of the magazine.

I wonder if these students appreciate the great irony that always occurs when censorship is involved: As a result of their case, undoubtedly more people have sought out and read the supposedly denigrating articles than would have ever done so in the normal course of events. There is perhaps no surer way to get people to read something than to tell them that they should not be allowed to read it.


We have a positive moral obligation to be thick skinned.


The thing is, I understand how the complainants feel. They probably feel the same way I and other Jews feel when we go to the Canadian Islamic Congress website and read "editorials" with headlines such as: "Zionist Israel at 60 -- A History Built on Ethnic Cleansing" and "Israel: An Armed Ghetto by Choice."

I think all Canadians should feel a deeper embarrassment that we have any institution pretending to be a law school that has apparently graduated the pseudo-complainants. It is only slightly less shocking that Elmasry, the puppetmaster in this story, is at an institution I once thought more of, the University of Waterloo, but engineers are notoriously cranks outside their domains of knowledge.

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Monday, June 16, 2008


As P. Z. Myers says, if you don't like the science lecture on the slides, just listen to the music!


Question Resolved regarding 'Fernando'

45 seconds (actually, likely a lot more) I was not willing to devote to answering the question for myself was invested by commenters at Sandwalk. And by me reading their comments. :-)

'Fernando' was my first exposure to Abba, and it did not make me a fan, though it did not take long to become totally committed to their joyous energy and often rather brilliant lyrics, partly informed by their not being English native speakers and hence able to find constructions we would not be likely to. 'Fernando' seemed like lazy writing and apparently it was. They got better over the years, and had been better earlier. It is hard to pick a favourite song but they have a wonderful one in which everyone apologizes to Cassandra for not taking her seriously.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

CBC's WireTap - Thanks to Canada's Taxpayers

I want to thank the taxpaying public once again for paying for entertainment I love, and that hardly any of you listen to. Jonathan Goldstein's brand of humour fits me perfectly, though I wonder how many people it actually fits. I find him stunningly funny and am so glad I stumbled across his show some time ago.

There is a web page at the CBC site with a lot of cutouts from his radio shows.

I found the show when Howard was phoning Jonathan's mother all the time. That was wonderfully funny, but so are all his most bizarre themes. SilyWife and I both particularly loved this odd episode.

Only after checking Wikipedia do I realize he is also on This American Life!! I have just started following it.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Saturday Cat-Blogging

Maybe more accurately bear-blogging.

They sunbathed together and shared meals of raw meat, dead mice, fruit and bread.



I have long been baffled by the eagerness of people to engage in disfigurements like tattoos and piercings. Steve Sailer has a reflection on this, but I would add that you should read the comments. I learned a little.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Marginalized Discourse that deserves Marginalization

Geoff Pullum describes an Australian tale of great hilarity. I guess it should be no surprise that Australia's English teachers are as ill-served by postmodernism as those in the rest of the West.

Grammar is taken to be conservative, you see; and Rodney Huddleston (a flaming liberal in the American sense, long-time hater of sexism and opponent of the thoroughly conservative government of the recently ousted John Howard) is supposed to be on the side of conservativism. On the other side are left-wing teachers, Marxist literary critics, deconstructionists, and post-modernists wittering on about diversity of Englishes and marginalized discourses of the oppressed, and the Coalface author is taken to be on that side — as if there was something leftist or subversive about being unable to tell an adjective from a modal auxiliary.
Thus quite rapidly the incident has turned (as one might have anticipated) into a full-scale assault on the credentials and mental acumen of all Queensland's hard-working teachers. It might have been better for ETAQ to openly and honestly admit that it had unfortunately published a grammar article that was a complete crock. When you make a mistake, just admit it.

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Tim Russert

I did not watch him often but agree with this assessment from PowerLine.

He was one of the few prominent MSM members I know of who could be relied on to ask hard questions of all candidates, without regard to party affiliation or place in the political spectrum. In my one personal encounter with him, he seemed like a good, down-to-earth guy.

He will be missed.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Phil Miller gets a penetrating question

One of my younger sisters once asked me long ago, no doubt having discovered an interesting concept in health class, whether I ever had wet dreams. But times change, and Phil Miller gets a great question from a child.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Now THAT Really is Advertising

Go to Norm's blog and click all three links.

I would love to see a variant with curling and golf.

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I Cannot Say it Better

than Tarek Fatah does. But let me tease you so you go and read what he wrote.

When Mohamed Elmasry declared a few years ago that there was more press freedom in Egypt than in Canada, it took me some time and effort to lift my jaw up from the floor.
Now, he has managed to pass on his rare talents to his political apprentice Khurrum Awan. [ed. this is the main sock puppet from previous posts]
Khurrum suggests the mainstream media is ignoring "Muslims" and their message. Ironically, he made this claim as he sat next to the Toronto Star's Haroon Siddiqui. Siddiqui writes a twice-a-week column, more of a diatribe, where he seems to me to be advocating the agenda of the Islamists. This includes supporting shariah law in Canada, admiring the Saudi royal family in a series just months before the Saudis struck New York on 9/11, making the Iranian regime look like an innocent victim, all while lambasting liberal and secular Muslims, including Québec legislator Fatima Houda-Pepin.
Canada is a country where Muslims are respected and accommodated like in no other land on Earth, including Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is immoral for the Islamists to slander my country with the slur of Islamophobia. As Statistics Canada has shown, incidents of racism in Canada are far more likely to affect Christian black Canadians and Jewish Canadians than Muslims. However, truth is the first casualty in this propaganda war being waged against Canada by its own Islamists.

As we often say, chase the link and read the whole thing.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More on the Water Economy

I am partly through what David Zetland says are the water essentials. Not sure how essential, but really interesting. I am now through the Tom Keene parts.

I have already recommended Tom Keene and this does not turn me away.

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Energy,, Food, ... what's next?

The answer should be obvious, but there is large class of people who cannot imagine it being properly priced.


Rowling - Harvard Commencement

It's clearly a day for great speeches at YouTube!

J. K. Rowling gave the commencement address this year at Harvard (as I learned from GrrlScientist, a source of so much great stuff).

I read the first Harry Potter book (but let me link to a full box set instead), which kept me delighted with its transformations of not simply the classics she studied, but clearly some very broad reading, into the wonderfully wacky story she was telling. So I was a bit surprised by GrrlScientist's "who knew?" about Rowling's sense of humour - after all, what was the name of the three-headed dog!? And I was a bit dismayed at the potential focus on 'imagination' - but as it turns out, Rowling uses the word in exactly the sense I think to be important.

This speech is utterly spectacular, beautifully written and read, by someone who has earned the credibility to deliver it. What a privilege it is to have all these internets! And it is tuned perfectly to the audience she speaks to. I hope they listened.


And now I like the content too!

I enjoy watching Barack Obama orate (he is not so entertaining in back and forth unscripted discussion), but often find myself disagreeing with what is he actually saying, or, even more often, unable to determine whether he is actually saying anything. At other times, in speeches responding to some campaign problem he tends to give a nice speech about some other subject.

Hat tip to P. Z. Myers, here is a fabulous speech whose content is clear, and excellent. I wonder if he can give it again during the coming campaign.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

A New Election Issue

Has CTV bought the CBC's Hockey Night in Canada theme? That would be so great.

I can see the next election, which Dion will force now. The main issue is the opening musical theme on a CBC show.

What a silly little country!

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The CBC Does its Thing

This article is a very interesting report on a Statistics Canada report.

The CBC chooses to give prominence to the clown at the centre of last week's entertainments, the ridiculous Mohamed Elmasry.

Why on Earth do they even bother talking to this guy? He has appointed himself a spokesperson for Canadian Muslims and I know of no evidence that he plays the role in any real way. And my God my views would be different about what we should be doing in Canada if I thought so.

Of course, I do think there is a reason they pick him rather than, say, Tarek Fatah; and my thinking is no compliment to their reporting or editorial skills.

If I had voted Conservative in the last election I could ask what I had wasted my vote on, when this silly organization, our "national broadcaster", now writhing in the crisis engendered by letting a stupid little piece of music have its license expire, continues to play its sleazy games. But I did not, so I have to wait for some later election (the next one is likely devoted, in my mind, to our numbingly stupid notion of "human rights".


More on Locavores

Marginal Revolution are terse on the subject, citing Ezra Klein, while Stephen Dubner waxes on a bit, but the point is the same:

We find that although food is transported long distances in general (1640 km delivery and 6760 km life-cycle supply chain on average) the GHG emissions associated with food are dominated by the production phase, contributing 83% of the average U.S. household’s 8.1 t CO2e/yr footprint for food consumption. Transportation as a whole represents only 11% of life-cycle GHG emissions, and final delivery from producer to retail contributes only 4%. Different food groups exhibit a large range in GHG-intensity; on average, red meat is around 150% more GHG-intensive than chicken or fish. Thus, we suggest that dietary shift can be a more effective means of lowering an average household’s food-related climate footprint than “buying local.” Shifting less than one day per week’s worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more GHG reduction than buying all locally sourced food.

I continue to lean to the notion that even the 4% is overblown. And I doubt it is worse than the cost of the transportation and other GHG costs of those farmers/providers who have joined in our local market.

I am hoping to come to love our local market, but not because I think buying locally has any virtue compared to patronizing the local grocery stores. It seemed it might just be a bit more fun.

Most of what I have seen in arguments about "locavorism" have seemed to be poorly argued (if at all) emotional guilt expiation for the wealthy. I do not believe at the moment for a second that there is any environmental or social advantage (other than the fun!) of the devotion to local markets. But hey, the fun is enough for me for now.

BTW - if you go back to the quotation above - I did buy one whacking piece of red meat (have yet to eat it, as I am still consuming vegetables, fish, and chicken from my local retail grocery stores).


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Image Jealousy

So Phil at Market Power replicates Doc's third-party-search - and when I try it I get nothing!?

And Miller gets hits for Natalie Gulbis? I bet he does not have her calendar hanging above his desktop display. What a world.

Time to go revise the blog!

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One for the Head

The Secretariat YouTube thingie below engages my heart totally and makes me smile and cry at the same time; this YouTube contribution, pointed to by P. Z. Myers, engages my head and makes me laugh, and maybe cry a bit at the same time, about how much deeper and more interesting the scientific story is than any of those told by our silly religions (a point so often made by Feynman).


Horses, Running, ... or Not

I started watching the Triple Crown races the year I started worrying a bit for my health and so started running - it kicked off many years of pleasure watching and thinking about the horses, animals I rarely have much exposure to. My own engagement in running has included a lot of it myself, never competitively except in a fun way, and some coaching, with the opportunity to work with some actually good runners.

The watching of the horses in a way has been a great pleasure, and I was watching The Belmont Stakes yesterday, hoping to see Big Brown dominate as he had in the Kentucky Derby, and also the Preakness. Those were fine races to watch; it is great to see a creature express itself so clearly.

Big Brown disappointed many of us yesterday, not least of all GrrlScientist, but what she did that was great was send me back to YouTube.

There is no question part of why I wanted to see the result I describe above was this memory:

Watching it again now 35 years later, it remains a joy. Here is an animal utterly in love with what it is doing, so full of the knowledge that he is dominant that he barely need work at the end, and does not want to stop - come on on, let's go around again! (And by the way - note the small field, it tells you what he had done in the earlier races of the Triple Crown.)

I grew up in the late phases of the Skinner orthodoxy, when those who 'knew' knew how ridiculous it was to compare what these animals feel with what we feel (and think!). Of course I had a dog and then cats so there was some pretty serious cognitive dissonance (the fish did not quite cause the same stress).

Watching the horses over the years makes it seem obvious to me those horses love what they are doing, and, as Big Brown showed, can explain when they don't love it.

Secretariat just loved it! The losses of Barbaro and Eight Belles are very sad, but horses and humans have been doing this for millenia, and I am not convinced the horses mind all that much. In fact one of the smartest athletes I coached, in a casual discussion on this point, once said that she envied the horses a bit, that they had someone riding on their backs ready to whack them one if they started to slow down unnecessarily; she was convinced she could have performed a lot better with that sort of external direction.

Go back and watch that race again and listen to the hyperbole again. Then go and look at the race results at the Belmont Stakes, by following the link above. And read a bit more about Secretariat. I find it hard to believe that in my life I will see the like of that athlete. I am a great fan of Roger Federer and Tiger Woods but this guy was ridiculous.

UPDATE: Watching that race, it is clear that Secretariat loves front-running; this is something any coach of human athletes will know about - some runners like tucking in behind a leader and passing that leader late in the race, and other runners just like leaving the field in the tracks. The second the jockey lets Secretariat go, he runs away from everyone. Suppose I am Big Brown, and I like running away too; twice this year I have let Desormeaux hold me back, and then DID get to run away when he let me go. Maybe I am getting fed up with this - why cannot I simply run all these clown horses into the ground? Just a possibility - the horse cannot talk, and even if he were human, he might well not tell us.


Could anyone do this for the HNIC theme?

It's not in my skill set but I thought it was brilliant, and as we appear to be losing part of our 'silly national psyche', someone should explain how deeply it runs.

(h/t JR)


Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Rent-Seekers Descend

Will Wilkinson depresses me a little. And makes me wonder if the market is not already addressing this a lot more simply.

Of course, even with simply higher oil prices (after all that also needs to be 'fixed'), we will see governments open up the rent-seeking opportunities - they have to do something, and not many governments do anything other than that!

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Scooped! Obama

I was going to say something like that but she beat me to it and I don't see any way to improve on it.


Don Gardner nails it

In a light and amusing column in the Ottawa Citizen, Don Gardner documents his envy, the result that nobody has filed any human rights complaints related to his book:

Mark Steyn is bigger than Jesus. And for that he can thank a handful of Muslims.

Or more precisely, he can thank a handful of Muslim goofballs who can't quite grasp that trying to censor an author who claims Muslims in western countries aren't embracing western traditions of individual liberty is perhaps not the most effective rebuttal of the author's thesis.


Thanks to those Muslim goofballs, Mark Steyn is getting only slightly less media attention than Britney Spears the morning after she forgot to wear knickers to the nightclub. It's an orgy of publicity, every author's filthy little dream, and each new story is another bunny taking her top off at the Playboy mansion.

And don't think Mark Steyn doesn't know the value of a good controversy.


The handful of Muslim goofballs now hard at work promoting Mark Steyn's book could simply have written a rebuttal and passed it around sympathetic websites, perhaps, or sought to publish it in one of the many liberal media outlets that would have welcomed a short, sharp, shot at a notorious conservative pundit.

It wouldn't be hard to write. Steyn's whole thesis rests on demographics and the demographers I've spoken to say he's got the demographics all wrong.

His fundamental thesis is spot on. Purely as a result of the activity of Elmasry and the sock puppets, I am now a subscriber to Maclean's (and enjoying it - I shall sortly cancel my one remaining newspaper subscription), and have ordered an autographed (!) copy of "America Alone", which always sounded to me like a rather silly book. I will bet I am not alone!


Friday, June 06, 2008

Silly and not Sinister!

I don't watch or care much for ice hockey since the Canadian part of the 1972 USSR-Canada series so I find this ultimately comical (it seems to be everywhere if I let myself listen to the, as usually, brain-dead Canadian media). There are actually people who think this matters!

Meanwhile freedom of speech does not get such coverage.

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More on the Marsupials and Joke Testing Careers

Al and Mike talk to Mark Steyn - this is a show that 'shows' just how he works.

One example - he talks about going to jail - not an outcome that can come into being here - but his glibness is not so off the mark. Fake but accurate? But actually, in spirit, pretty accurate.

So yeah he is a bit careless on facts, but he is funny, and many of his jokes bite really nicely. And make very good points.

I especially like the suggestion that the lead sock puppet could have a career as a joke tester; this is about a person as dead to with as I have ever seen (judging from the TVO appearance). And I like the point of how people have come to have contempt for the sock puppets - the analysis is spot on. As Steyn says "I'd rather discover that my jokes are criminal before ...".

And maybe the comments about Osgoode Hall may now make sense of how the sock puppets could be graduates of an ostensible law school.

I do not know who Mike and Al are - I shall surely learn more in the near future.

Steyn - "He does seem to exist in a variable reality." Wonderful wording.

"absurdly banal reductios of Truedeaupian education"

He actually speaks very well and entertainingly and accurately about "the parts of the world that work".

There is also a good discussion of the fatuity of "group rights".

OK maybe I confess that with all my reservations about Mark Steyn as a scholar, I think he is a great force for good. (Allan - you win that point.)

It is also delightful to see the world "left" lining up, Noam Chomsky and Johann Hari, and less delightful hearing Steyn describe the pathetic response on the Canadian 'left'. He is funny, and a bit frustrated, and rightly. Our left has descended into pathetic mediocrity and he is right - look at the NDP!

Also great is the discussion of the CHRC shenanigans. (Listen, if you do not get it - you SHOULD know.)

Interesting discussion when Steyn falls off the phone - natural among libertarians - and of course my views are my 'liberalism' - but the word has been perverted, and I am also disappointed that in Canada there is little going on in opposition to this case. A few MPs care, and we can hope they can educate their colleagues.

Steyn is clearly so much smarter than the sock puppets and the Mohammedan legal titan that the whole story is just sad and a clear piece of evidence that this is a SILLY (but I think more malevolent) country. Even more revealing is that he points out that Quebecers are totally blind to this process - and I love Steyn's humorous way of description.

In the ultimate end, I want to thank Rogers Communications, a company of whom I am very significant and not always happy customer, for putting in all the effort to resist the assholes that they are fighting.

BTW - I finally bought 'America Alone'. Only because I could find no button on Mark Steyn's web page where I could just give him money. :-)

Will someone please come and sue me so my neglected blog gets noticed?

Amusing stuff on Warren Kinsella. And I agree - why would anyone want to talk to him? There are people with a stake and Kinsella's only stake is Kinsella.

It is clear the Mark Steyn will be told he has to retire his column, etc. Dear God, I hope so - I do not want to die before it all comes out. WE hall see.

The end of the discussion is telling. Where I would have likely voted for the Conservatives in the past, this has become for me a key criterion. The current government has turned into a bad joke. I am out of here.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Colour Consciousness in the Future

In a recent blog post I commented on the look of neighbourhood kids at a local market. I think that small part of what I wanted to say was wonderfully caught in this post from Megan McArdle:

I think we're still, though perhaps asymptotically, moving towards a time when worrying about someone's race will seem almost charmingly quaint, like debating how many petticoats a decent woman wears to church.

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More on Sarcasm

Jonah Lehrer has a fascinating post on sarcasm, and some broader implications arising from the discoveries.

One implication not mentioned in the article is that a mechanism may be identified for the efficacy of this drug.


Locavorism - neighbourhood version

Any regular reader will know how little I think of any notion that we should impose any form of locavorism - you have to eat local food - this is especially important where I live in Canada. I love mangoes, and pineapples, and all sorts of other things that might grow here for a month a year, but why tie oneself down? Moreover, this would REALLY be an imposition on our recent immigrants who probably like mangoes more than I do. So any imposition of it is stupid.

But, recently, the local business organization managed to organize a local farmer's market in a park three blocks from my house, and I just went out and sampled on its first week of existence - there were only about ten stands open; I expect this to grow over the summer.

There was a greeter dressed as an opened pea-pod; unfortunately the picture I got of her exposed as she turned so I missed the lovely peas hanging down her front as part of the pod; maybe next week. I talked to her and she represents the local community organization and was very excited. I am sure she will pose next week. She was very nice. Here is her back, engaged with some locals.

It was clear in some ways this was a success - I got down there early in the opening hours of the first session of this event and this is what one got if one wanted to buy a nice apple pie or muffin! (click to read the notes)

It has been a long time since I regularly shopped at local markets - in fact since I lived in north Waterloo and drove out to St. Jacobs. But this sure reminded me of those days.

(Hey, talk about the hijab!) (OK - context needed, so let me add that that prior market was in Mennonite country - think about the movie "Witness".)

I bought a lot of stuff I do not need. I was very impressed by these tomatoes and now need to schedule eating them! I got some beautiful sirloin (frozen) and some lettuce and green onion, also gorgeous.

This was great!! But I do not want it imposed on me.

It also has a nice side effect; I wound up talking with a whole lot of other people, all of whom live within a mile or so of me, and with whom I had never spoken before. These local markets are great institutions, and I encourage neighbourhood groups to facilitate a lot more of this. I suspect the contact with the rest of the neighbourhood is more valuable than any other factor. And, vaguely connected to earlier posts on an entirely different subject, strollers featured heavily, as well as a whole pile of kids, many of whom looked to me like little Barack Obamas. I think this neighbourhood is just fine.

As for "local". I live in the middle of a gigantic metropolis; none of what was on offer was really "local". I would guess almost all the vendors came from at least 50 kilometers, and others certainly from more like 100. That's fine - I think this is a great addition to the neigbourhood.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Hey Check this Great podcast out

Bloomberg of course.

You can start with this excellent discussion! Notice what interesting stuff he gets out of Hitchens, and in what nice contexts. And surprising turns! How did the movie 'Z' come into this? And Hitchens and Jefferson? But it did an brilliantly.

And if you want to feel liberally cool, let him talk to Brad DeLong.

He is great whoever he talks to. And the range is fabulous. A wonderful resource, like so many, out there on the net.


Effects of Aging

Funny - I started formulating a post trying to contrast my discomfort about nonsensical parts of the Obama speech from last night: and I cite the whole post from Charles Johnson):

Last night Barack Obama broke all records for campaign promises, with one of the most over the top self-aggrandizing statements ever uttered by a presidential candidate.

"I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."

He’s going to heal the sick and make the oceans part.

My first response was to laugh my head off. But then the smart part of my brain asked me to remember when I was inspired by a speech. And I thought, when I was around 10 or 11, I heard JFK's inaugural address, and was impressed, maybe because my parents were, as this was their generation taking over, as Obama will be for many people younger than I. But I decided to look closer at what I recall inspiring even little me then:

Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans--born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge--and more.

Holy Mackerel. I loved that! I m sure at 11 I had no idea what he was saying (maybe I was 12 - point is still true - yes I was 12). I believe all that more even now. Will that be in Obama's inaugural? Probability in my view - 4%.

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do--for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

To those new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom--and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

I remain in the wow! mode. I don't think this is what my pre-teenage mind thought then but it sure is now.

To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required--not because the communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

Yikes - is this not almost neoconservatism?! Even more interesting - "help them help themselves"!

To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge--to convert our good words into good deeds--in a new alliance for progress--to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.

OK this is tricky - not sure how Hugo Chavez fits in - arguable

To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support--to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective--to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak--and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

Well there surely HAS been a failure there. And I sure hope Obama has no plan to sign those clowns a new blank cheque.

Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

Hey, maybe we can talk! A major Obama moment!

We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.

But in a sensible context. I hope Obama can work this into his drift.

And then we head into what I think is natural Obama-land, and what I love in him:

But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course--both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind's final war.

So let us begin anew--remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms--and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce.

Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah--to "undo the heavy burdens . . . (and) let the oppressed go free."

And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

And more of the same:

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again--not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need--not as a call to battle, though embattled we are-- but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation"--a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.

Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?


In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility--I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it--and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

Nonsensical - unless you start getting goofy defining maximum danger and the like. And how long has there been much freedom anyway? But it sure sounds good.


And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.

Well, Holy Cow - that sounds even better, and is more scandalous, as Milton Friedman often remarked - Fridman was right.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.

So long as that is a call for freedom it makes great sense. But now he sounds utterly like a clown who thinks we should part the Red Sea waves.

So in the end? OK Obama has not quite gone totally over the top? That old JFK (more than 45 years ago!) is a bit of a mix of Obama and McCain. I don't get to vote in the US, so I am enjoying observer status. And what do I think in the end?

Well let's see - but it is fun to watch the rhetoric. I have no idea for whom I would vote in the end had I a vote.

And of course we should likely credit Ted Sorensen with most of the excellent text above.

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It Just Gets Better - From more Coyne

The complainants are not going to testify! (Go hunt through, and subscribe to the print edition as you go).

Porter in on his feet: “If Habib and Elmasry are arraid to testify i don’t want them as my witnesses. They’re a pair of scaredy-pants, and…” I swear to God that’s what he said. The proceedings dissolve in even more confusion than usual…

This is too delightfully ridiculous for words.

It provokes yet another fine comment from an apparently Muslim commenter, one actually claiming to be in BC!

Naiyer Habib is not testifying, what a Joke! I’m from B.C. I’m a Muslim. MY TAX DOLLARS are paying for this joke of a trial…and these guys are claiming MUSLIMS IN BC were hurt…yet CANT FIND ONE MUSLIM IN BC to testify to it…not event the complainant!!!!


My greatest fear is that this claim will just be dismissed. While this is what SHOULD happen, one would really like the process challenged.

As pointed out eloquently by David Warren in the morning in the Ottawa Citizen (PS - I think I disagree with a lof what he writes, but clearly not here):

A farce, but a farce that has huge consequences for Canada: for by such methods free speech and free press are being snuffed out. The Left may think they have found the ideal method to silence anyone who challenges their insane, "politically correct" ideas, but have instead created a monster that can as easily eat them next.

This is a disaster also for Canada's Muslims, for the views of fanatical Islamists are being presented as representative of all. No single person has done so much to advance contempt for Islam in this country as Mohamed Elmasry, president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, the complainant in this case

While media attention to Mark Steyn's show trial is inadequate, it is nevertheless the best publicized case ever to come before our "human rights" bureaucracies. Most of the victims of these neo-Maoist tribunals have been "little people," with nothing like the resources Maclean's magazine has put in play to defend itself and Steyn, and no media reporting whatever. They have been persecuted, stripped of their livelihoods and savings, demonized among their neighbours, made to endure humiliating "re-education" programs - without lawyers, without assistance of any kind -- all for exercising rights that any Canadian would have taken for granted a mere generation ago.

I want justice for Mark Steyn. But I also want justice for all these little people, who have been crushed under the jackboot of "political correction."

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I have been thinking about this word, and my life. The streets I walk are not the ones I grew up in. There will still be a part of Canada for a long time who thinks that this is quintessential heritage.

It was for me as I grew up; I got to grow up on a river, and also in a place where, with a little effort to go actually see logdrivers. I doubt there are many of us left who can do it. It could not ever be a part of mt life in a serious way again.

The video is, of course, a special bit of genius; the singers, by the way, are the progenitors of Martha and Rufus Wainwright (OK, one of them is).

But obviously there is an enormous part of what is great about the country is disappearing with nobody having direct experience of one tradition.

The more recent tradition of free speech is the one at stake now (and it is not a new one in Canada - we have a wonderful history of what some might regard as a less aggressive approach to free speech than the colonies that separated from our Mother Country in 1776, but it is nothing to sneeze at, and hard-won).

So I can give up the log-rolling, and make it quaint. But when the protection for free speech becomes quaint, then I am worried. And did not most of the people who came here come to luxuriate in that wonderful privilege, and I am sure they do not want jerks like Elmasry stealing that from them. And I ask them to speak up and many are doing so.


Best Post Title I have Seen in Years

You have to link to it - they deserve that prize.

It is, though, shocking news.

And also, by the way, an interesting post on an important topic.


Something Muslims Should have Pride In

Tarek Fatah has been commenting, and very helpfully, at Andrew Coyne's liveblogging, e.g. here, about the current witness. Non-brain-dead Muslims must be feeling embarrassed by this charade, that their image is currently captured in many places by Elmasry and the pathetic sock puppets.

Another good comment at that blog; I live in East Toronto near a mosque that at least once was Ismaili. This means the street nearby has lots of places offering "Halal Pizza" (a concept that makes me smile and feel really good about what I understand as multiculturalism), and is also often filled with all sorts of people who look as oddly dressed to me as I must to them in my beer-advertising T-shirt, Walmart-purchased Levis, white socks, and clearance slightly-out-of-date sneakers. As SillyWife commented recently as we drove through that stretch of town, (paraphrase) "the teenage boys' outfits here look a little different from the odd ones we are used to" (the ones we are used to are the ghetto or prison emulation mode).

I hope these utterly good citizens who happen to be Muslims do not even know about the jerks and, to quote Ezra again, "grievance-mongers" that lyingly claim to speak in their name.

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The Library at Alexandria, part II

From Andrew Coyne's continued live-blogging:

Now on to the Amiel article. Talks about the burning of the library of Alexandria in the 4th century, allegedly ordered by the Muslim caliph at the time. Says it’s a “fiction,” though he says even some Muslims believe it.

Now I am baffled - there was no Islam in the 4th century!

Now today's testimony all seems to prove that there are several smart people who do not agree entirely with Mark Steyn, all gainfully employed in the academic world, so like, why is there a problem with respect to being able to argue against his silly article (to help my commenter Allan, I will simply start by saying I think what I have heard of his demographic arguments are weak, especially seeing all the strollers I have seen on European trips in the last few years).

And what qualifies the marsupials, as Ezra has called them (took me a while - goes from kangaroo court to kangaroo judge to marsupial - almost with Steyn in being glib and funny) to adjudicate on matters like this highly contested historical question? Why, even some Muslims believe there was Islam in the 4th century, apparently!

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The Library at Alexandria

Well this is a funny side-effect of the BC HRT Macleans hearing.

My recollection from my childhood is that Christians had sacked and burned the great library at Alexandria; this seemed reasonable to me, given the way the Christian world seemed arrayed around a budding atheist during my childhood.

Now it appears that the main Sock Puppet (why did they pick the male one? he seemed the stupidest of the three when they were on TVO? Wait! maybe I can guess) during his testimony did not even know the Library ever existed (why does this not surprise me?) and seems unwilling to argue about whether Muslims might have burnt it down.

Of course the truth is many people burnt it. And I don't think anybody knows if there is a sensible way to assign blame for its ultimate demise.

But this hearing now has me thinking maybe Muslims did it, when this had never crossed my mind earlier in life.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I Would Not Give Him one as a Lawyer in any Universe

I love this from Ezra:

No wonder Khurrum Awan has complained that he was unable to find a job when he's done his clerkship.

That poor little man was moronic on TVO and it seems he is doing little better now.


The Twits cannot even handle meta-talk

My God these people are, I hope, deeply stupid.

I hate doing this. Here is the link from Ezra. Here are its full contents. I hope he forgives me. I am hoping they will call me to testify (fond hope). Full contents:

Faisal Joseph tells us what he wants to talk about today.

Not Mark Steyn.

Not Maclean's.

Not anything in their complaint, as filed.

He wants to talk about the blogosphere's response to their human rights complaint. He wants to ask the tribunal to make the criticism stop.

He wants to be politically immune for his censorsious, fascistic, legally abusive ploy.

Roger McConchie objects.

Any bets on what the troika will rule?

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Our Sock Puppets

As mentioned in an earlier post.

The absolute best way to learn about these rather dull kids is to go and watch the videos on YouTube - here (just watch until the Sock Puppets get their moment in the sun) and here and here and here and here.

These three children appear to believe that the state is to take care of everyone from start to finish and tell them all what to do. It makes me despair a bit for their careers as lawyers, except possibly taking grievances to human rights commissions in Canada. And I despair that they actually think that their view that editorial freedom should be under their control almost makes me agree with Mark Steyn.

What is sad is that they do not want to argue with Mark Steyn - I would; I think he is wrong and silly about much of what he claims. But rather than simply argue they expect some power above us all to come and protect their feelings, not even their intellectual views (I am not sure they have any). And by the way, one thing that I enjoy about Mark Steyn is a ready and quick wit that can puncture you terribly, and I am sure this is also part of what the Socks implicitly whine about.

For those not familiar with the show on the videos, Steve Paikin, the host, is one of the best moderators I have ever seen in my life. He can make the most hostile of combatants speak to each other. In this case he failed mightily as the Sock Puppets simply wanted to whine; Steyn was willing to actually talk about the odd fact (though I think he is wrong on many). Paikin was clearly utterly befuddled by the nutty views of the Sock Puppets about journalistic responsibility and editorial control. (Or a blogger, by the way - I have had whining about the fact that I have made it clear I will delete comments I find offensive on this pathetic little blog.)

What makes me despair the most is that these three appear to have actually graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School, which was once a respected Canadian institution. I suspect it will become a world laughingstock now and should. On the other hand, maybe these guys become Supreme Court Justices, but I am pleased to reflect that I will surely be long dead at that point and it is thus a problem, and it will be a problem, for others.


Worse then Silly, Sinister now

In Canada we have "commissions" (not quite courts, but with some similar powers, and few of the same constraints of due process) purportedly to defend human rights. I had thought their purpose was to investigate and adjudicate on possible instances of employment discrimination, or housing discrimination. No doubt meant as a cheap solution to burying courts in frivolous complaints.

Lately, however, some of the commissions have been brought into what I would view as 'free speech' constraint cases - processes that are now underway, one against Macleans magazine for publishing an excerpt from Mark Steyn's "America Alone" and one against the Western Standard for publishing the Danish cartoons. There is a variety of processes going in in various commissions.

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal has now started its hearings in the Macleans case and it is producing an utterly fascinating stream of material. Andrew Coyne is live-blogging the hearing at the Macleans site (link above). Ezra Levant, facing a similar complaint in Alberta in the Western Standard case, is in action on his website.

And it is evident that much is coming together here. The sheer idiocy of the constitution of these commissions is perhaps made most clear by Levant in this post - what a fright. As Levant points out, stupid people like these can make incredible impositions on individuals and businesses, and governments, with no background knowledge whatever, and no due process. What is now truly frightening is that they are now in the business of ruling on political speech. As Coyne keeps pointing out, they are being asked to rule on matters that are perfectly reasonable matters of debate.

And then there is the sheer stupidity and incoherence of the complainant's case. By the way the complainant is the Canadian Islamic Congress, essentially Mohammed ElMasry, though he has assembled some dimwitted law students (known widely now as the Sock Puppets) to front for him by talking about how badly hurt they were to read Mark Steyn quoting European imams. On the quality of the case, Jay Currie (also live-blogging) writes here:
The term “clutching at straws” seems to cover pretty much the whole of the Socks’ case.

But what is more chilling is that he follows with this:
And, amusingly enough, the Tribunal, so far has indicated that the total fecklessness of the Socks’ case and the rank incoherence of the Socks’ mouthpiece does not matter. And, hey, the Tribunal has a point: where the test is “may tend to promote hatred or contempt” the bar is a millimeter from the floorboards.

And Ezra Levant says roughly the same thing somewhat differently:
If it were, it would have been thrown out. Which is, in fact, exactly why Human Rights Commissions are the weapon of choice in the soft jihad.

A real lawsuit would fail; there is no cause of action called "you hurt my self esteem"or "I want to write a long letter in your magazine". There's defamation, but that comes with defences like truth, fair comment, etc.

This started out as a political science class, a lecture in Marxist thinking about the media, racial identity politics, etc.

But now it's just a journey through Khurrum Awan's own weird psyche.

In other words, it's exactly what this kangaroo panel will respond to. Foolish Maclean's -- hiring Julian Porter, Roger McConchie, etc.! They should have brought in some zen-talking yoga instructor.

These Tribunal panellists know nothing about the law; they know nothing about media, or publishing. Yet they presume to judge Maclean's on both. No; they are, in their DNA, grievance hustlers. Awan's Oprah Winfrey-style testament is a perfect fit of psychobabble for them.

I am hoping that one day this embarrassing charade will be looked back on as the moment that induced Canada to correct its course seriously in this area (though the current government, which ought to have been my best hope, is seeming pretty flaccid on the issue at the moment). If that proves not to be the case, my consolation is that I got to live through a special and wonderful time in history and will likely die, given my age, before the whole thing becomes just utterly revolting. Though it is looking pretty close right now.

Now the Sock Puppets themselves are another story. So I will devote a small post shortly to them.

UPDATE: Some clarifications in this post - worth at least citing.

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