Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Accountants only slow things down, figures get in the way

I know it's probably a tacky thing to be thinking about, but considering the Oil-for-Food debacle, can the UN still actually be trusted to collect and distribute funds and materials for aid efforts on a large scale? Will money intended for tsunami victims in Southeast Asia somehow find its way into the pockets of local officials or UN apparatchiks? (Yes, I'm sure the cynical would question whether the money Amazon collects will actually get to the Red Cross, and further on to those same victims...but then, there isn't any evidence Amazon isn't more trustworthy a body than the UN at this point.)

Sunday, December 26, 2004

On the Feast of Stephen

Speaking from the retail drone's perspective once more, I find Boxing Day irritating. I can't count how many times today I had to explain that No, not everything in the store is on sale, or deal with stroppy jackasses angling for better prices on what was discounted. Boxing Day is a post-Christmas inventory clearout, not an act of charity, even if it once was. But that's the problem with a handout of any kind, performed on a regular basis: eventually it becomes seen as an entitlement. People today seemed to get angry that the fancy speakers or laptop they had their eye on before Christmas didn't get marked down - as if an automatic reduction was somehow owed them, for knowing the "secret" of waiting until December 26. I recall one woman who didn't think $20 off the regular price of a $59 cordless phone was quite good enough on Friday evening, and haughtily proclaimed she'd wait until Boxing Day and get it cheaper; I didn't see her return today, but I wish I had, to see the look on her face realizing that the price had actually returned to normal. In another interlude, a rather dim stoner refused to believe that Boxing Day was not, in fact, an official tax holiday, and that he actually did have to pay GST and PST on his purchase. That's how bad the entitlement perception is: some are so deluded as to think it's by order of government that marginally nice sales occurred today. The only stores that offer genuinely fantastic deals do it on a limited, loss-leader, publicity-generating basis; otherwise, the deals are no different than the rotating sale campaigns throughout the year. Admittedly, it does always make a good segment on the local news to interview the dedicated misers camping out in front of Future Shop the night before, and I can't fault that kind of marketing savvy on its own merits. But, I wish more shoppers understood the reasoning behind it.

Christmas Time in Hell

The ever-enlightened sensitifs of France have a hard time coping with Christmas: Even the humble Christmas tree is under attack. Consider the fate of one innocent conifer, standing at the entrance hall of Van Dongen high school, outside Paris. Like other schools around France, Van Dongen is coming to grips with a new French law, directed at female Muslim students who wear veils, that bans conspicuous religious symbols in public schools. When a pair of students complained about the tree, it was promptly removed -- and only reinstated after teachers issued a statement that Christmas trees were pagan symbols long before they were Christian ones. Am I prescient, or what? (Via LGF.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Understand we'll go hand in hand, but we'll walk alone in fear

Exams are finally over. I'm not hopeful about the one I wrote tonight, exactly; but, at worst it'll net me a B for the course, and that'll only be the second non-A grade I've received yet. The sanctity of the holy CGPA is secure, more or less. More problematic is that my roommate surprised me tonight by announcing plans to move out on the 26th. I figured this was coming - we've been edging up against the razor-thin line of tolerance for each others' most annoying behaviour for some months now - but the short notice set my neck twitching. Fortunately, I have enough freelance graphic design and data entry work (thank heavens for cheapskate, non-professional-hiring family businesses, and cheerfully cronyist Parliamentary apparatchiks) coming my way in the new year I should be financially okay, if maybe back to eating largely rice and beans for a bit. I might even be able to quit my current dreaded retail job by the end of January, if things go well. So...yeah. Things, they are a-changin'. It'll mean more blogging, if anything, of the variety I spent most of the summer chugging away at. I'm slightly worried, but slightly hopeful. Crisitunity awaits.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

I hope you're happy; I hope you're happy now

I can't stand The Apprentice, and find its frequent intrusions into the rest of NBC's schedule (to say nothing of the self-referential and unfunny SNL bits based thereupon that seem to keep popping up this season) most annoying. This, therefore, would seem to be a good sign. Knowing the current market, though, whatever might replace it is likely to be a similarly unwatchable reality show. Why must you forsake me, networks? Have you forgotten the art of the mediocre sitcom? There used to be half a dozen middling-to-mildly-amusing sitcoms on each network, ones like Dharma & Greg and Wings, Just Shoot Me and Grace Under Fire; shows that were more rewritten vaudeville than anything else. They weren't brilliant and they weren't often long-lived, but they had heart, in a way. There's something comforting in sitting down to an episode of something with stock characters and plots shuffled ever-so-slightly in a new setting. Now, alas, that position in the schedule hierarchy has been usurped; the only watchable sitcoms left are brave little brilliant-but-doomed shows like Scrubs or Arrested Development, and soulless guest-star-of-the-week machines like Will & Grace. I miss the mediocre sitcoms. Until they become the cheapest thing to fill dead air with, however, I somehow doubt they'll be back any time soon. See what you've done, reality television? You've driven a loyal consumer away, and with specialty digital cable channels and TV-on-DVD readily available, I can stay away.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Don't be stubborn and unbending

Damian Penny, the lucky sod, is now getting Fox News on the StarChoice satellite system. I noticed last Friday at work that Rogers Digital also now carries it. Meanwhile, ExpressVu - the third major digital TV service - seems to be dragging their feet. I called to complain about it today, and was assured that Bell was "investigating" implementing FNC ASAP, but no actual date was forthcoming. It's making me regret supporting BellGlobeMedia on the matter of CTV Newsnet, it is...

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Now you may feel it should have been a voluntary cause

Everyone needs new ways to dream

With the election taking up approximately 237% of the daily news cycle on average between February and November, and the ideological stakes being what they were, I suppose it would be difficult for Time's Person of the Year to be anyone but the winner. The cover is a surprisingly flattering oil (acrylic?) portrait of the president. Does this mark the start of the mainstream media's reconciliation with a man they're coming to realize might actually turn out to be good for the country and the world at large? Does "American Revolutionary" have the same positive connotations to Time's editors as it does to me, of a truly historic vision and sense of duty to the founding principles of the nation? I think George W. Bush will be remembered far more kindly by history than anyone now assumes. He might not be Roosevelt (TR or FDR), but neither will he become a Nixon or Harding, doomed to languish forever hated and resented by the public and academia alike. Or maybe I'm reading into this too much, and the art director just gave instructions to the effect of "Don't consciously try to make him subtly look like a monkey." Either way.

Free to speak and free to hear, free from want and free from fear

If you'll look over to the sidebar, there's a new paragraph beneath the Red Ensign. I've decided I need a formal comment policy to deal with trolls, to prevent accusations of "censorship." This is my blog. If you want to say things that fall in the category of what I won't allow here, go get your own. That said, comments are now fully enabled once more. Hopefully the persistent Torontonian troll of last week has lost interest in accusing me of being a Swastika-waving Nazi.

Cut the confessions, forget the excuses

I sold a shortwave radio to Scott Brison at work today. I didn't even initially recognize him, actually, but did something of a double-take on swiping his credit card through the cash. It took mustering all my powers of self-control to not, having the chance to speak to him in person, harangue him for his power-mad treachery. It would have been satisfying, but I need this job slightly more at the moment than the satisfaction of calling a turncoat out to his face. (In the same fashion, I once refrained from loudly castigating Joe Clark when he spent most of a quiet evening hanging around the airport bookstore where I used to work. Huzzah for keeping the personal and the professional separate, no matter how twitch-inducingly enervating it may be.)

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Party Favours

In studying for my final exam, covering Britain between 1840-1993, I realized something: Ottawa has a street named for repeat British Liberal PM William Gladstone, among the many Anglophilic names hereabouts - Wellington, Albert, Queen, Metcalfe, Lisgar, Elgin, Kent, Sussex, Gloucester, and dozens of others. Yet there's no street named for his perennial Tory rival Benjamin Disraeli. I smell some Liberal patronage in Middle Ottawan history, here; I have no references handy at the moment, but I know Gladstone Ave. - one of the few original streets outside of the neighbourhoods of Lowertown and Lebreton Flats up until the turn of the 20th century - was named something entirely different for much of the city's history. Was Disraeli consciously shunned by local members of the parti rouge in solidarity with their British brethren? If ever I decide to become a full-time municipally-obsessed loon, I think I may petition City Council to rename a street in Centretown to match Gladstone. Bay, maybe. It has a bland enough name, and certainly none of the cachet of its Torontonian twin. Who'd miss it?

Wrong or right, they have the might

"John Turner expects open, honest elections in Ukraine." In other news, John Turner is still around, interestingly enough. (For some reason, I'd thought he was dead. Who knew?) While he's Canada's Jimmy Carter in the historical electoral sense, at least he's picked a slightly more credible foreign election to observe than his revolting counterpart. Maybe he'll even side with the forces of freedom and democracy, too...

Friday, December 17, 2004

Oh, pod, how you tease

I can certainly corroborate the current iPod scarcity from the perspective of the retail drone. We're still getting dribs and drabs of two or three at a time every few days at work (only 20GBs and minis, usually silver and gold), and are constantly surprised even at that; I keep expecting to be completely out, only to be saved by another one - like today, which put us down to a single 20GB and silver mini. I can't imagine we won't be sold out entirely long before Christmas. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, however. An iPod may be an edifying sale - I love proslytizing the virtues of constantly-rotating smart playlists and the brilliantly intuitive interface, so it's genuinely satisfying to make another convert, as it were - but Radio Shack pays on commission, based on profit, not gross sales. Apple leaves very little margin for retailers in their suggested retail price. (I could tell you the exact markup...but then I'd have to kill you. Or something.) As a result, while $427.77 looks nice in gross sales numbers, it's not great for making any money on the actual hardware, compared to high-margin store-brand stuff. But that's not really the point, is it? (Via Brian.)

It should belong to anyone

I'd get one, if I had room for a tree in here. Curse you, tiny apartment! (Via Fark.)

Thursday, December 16, 2004

All exiles are distinguished; more important, they're not dead

Even close relatives of El Presidente himself go to the trouble of fleeing Cuba and becoming American citizens. Can we universally agree that it's a filthy, corrupt hellhole yet, or will it take another sixty years of excusing tyranny done in the name of "social justice" before the Left gets on board that train?

No more falsehoods or derisions

What happens when the fantasy genre and vintage 1960s liberal guilt collide? In the most irritating case, you get Ursula K. Le Guin's monotonous Earthsea series, the first book of which was assigned for the readings in one of my two English courses this term. I couldn't stand it. While I can appreciate writing from the perspective of consciously increasing racial diversity in a very white genre (and can accept that every author is an unwitting product of their era, to some extent), Le Guin's fictional affirmative action - as all such programs - goes overboard; the only caucasian inhabitants of her novels are the cruel barbarian Karg. Western civilization = bad; Indians, Blacks and Asians as noble savages endorsing faux-Zen hippie-dippery = good. It's an arrogant co-opting of racial issues to argue for an entirely colourblind (and rather depressingly amoral) worldview. I dislike preachy novels, especially when such preachiness is credentialed by being an anthropologist's daughter. (Not an anthropologist, mind you. Why bother taking an important-sounding subject in university if you can coast with such golden "progressive" cred on your father's coat-tails?) In any event, Le Guin sums up why she's disappointed and offended by the new TV adaptation of the Earthsea series by rehashing these points and more. I wasn't planning on watching it anyway, whenever Space should pick it up here in Canada, but if I accidentally happen to see ten minutes at least I can be satisfied in knowing that an author I find insufferable is unhappy I'm doing so. (Via TV Tattle.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

And some search for nothing but the thrill of the chase

Apropos of nothing, I'd love to know the reason why so many people using Google Netherlands (and only Google Netherlands) are searching for the term "Savido," in coming upon this page.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

A man for whom "Duplicity" could be a middle name

To the comment troll singularly possessed of the notion that all conservatives are racist, creationist, white supremacists, and ardently trying to convince me of this anonymously: You know I can see your IP address in my logs, right? Pretending to be different people - who I can plainly see mysteriously share the address of - doesn't actually lend you the credibility of numbers. You really are rather dim, aren't you? That your newly non-anonymous commenting is coming from the same ISP, from an IP address in the same range, from a user running the same Firefox 1.0 and Win2K at 1024x768 is kind of a giveaway that it's still you. Sorry; I'm not fooled by your ingenious trick of reconnecting to Sympatico. I'll say it again, in language that you might be able to more clearly understand: Bugger off. If you want to call me a Nazi and carry on conversations with your multiple personalities, do it on your own blog.

A walking work of art

I've always considered the topic tag used on Fark - allegedly for the endemic silliness of the Sunshine State - ignorant and unfair, but sometimes you've just got to wonder. (Via Best of the Web Today.)

Civilization, Commerce and Christianity

Capitalist Lion on the trend of desperately trying not to mention Christmas: It's unmitigated PC crap, and I'm sick and tired of it. It's a Christmas tree. It's a Christmas list. The effing holiday is flipping CHRISTmas. You know, the big guy. Whether you believe in "Him" or not, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, guess what: It's a frigging duck. Now, I personally don't believe in the background story. I don't need to. I believe in myself, and that's all I need to share the more important moral convictions most religious people tend to hold. As Kim du Toit aptly put it, "the product without the packaging or marketing." But, I realize that a whole hell of a lot of people do believe in the Christ part of Christmas, and I'm just dandy with that. I don't feel any need to avert my eyes from the hues of red and green, nor nail santa to a stake because "he" is an icon of *gasp* religion. See, one of the first things they teach you in Conservatism 101 is: Tradition: Good. Whiney hippies who want to change the world to suit their mangled little view of reality: Bad. So that's why, while I don't necessarily buy into the marketing, I'm perfectly fine with the icons. Bring 'em on! I love the huge tree at Rockefeller Center. I can appreciate how beautiful the centuries-old churches are, decked out for the season. And even if I didn't, much as is my reaction to other things of a generally annoying nature, I'd effing deal with it like a rational, well-adjusted member of society. Amen, as it were, to that. The real issue is that Christmas isn't about belief or faith at all; it never has been. It's about ritual, and tradition. In the same way that Easter is an ancient Germanic fertility festival and Hallowe'en (AKA the Feast of All Saints) is the Celtic harvest festival of Samhain, Christmas isn't about Christianity; it's the Roman holiday of Saturnalia, the Norse festival of Jól, and any number of other pre-Christian midwinter festivals rolled up into one, and - as we would say today - rebranded. I love that, you must understand. Religions (and the changing iterations thereof) come and go, but some basic cultural traditions are forever. If there wasn't historically a cheery celebration of life and consumption in the darkest days of winter, one would have to be invented. (See Terry Pratchett's Hogfather for a delightfully witty satire on the psychological need for myth and celebration, in precisely this fashion.) I don't go so far to consider myself Atheist - that would require actual effort in consciously denying the existence of any deity - but neither am I at all religious. I'm not offended by Christmas; why would I be? On the other hand, I agree that being offended by attempts to diminish Christmas is a profoundly conservative way of looking at things; not because conservatism = Christianity, nor because traditions in general must be maintained (and the traditions in question happen to be Christian), but because they stand outside Christianity. The imagery of Christmas is iconic. It just happens to be (somewhat wrongly) identified with Christianity at the moment, which a few hypersensitive souls are (significantly wrongly) offended by. That, I suspect, is the easiest way to sell the C-word to joyless politically-correct curmudgeons: point out it's not really Christian at all, but the product of disparate folk traditions and proto-Indo-European polytheism. (If they were coherent in their philosophy, that might not faze them. Luckily, most aren't; it's only Christianity they loathe, as a proxy for the dreaded lack of obsession with multicultural sensitivities.) Theoretically, then, what's another round of seasonal rebranding between friends? If the substance survived, I'd be satisfied. However, the substance of Christmas has become so wrapped up in modern myth that deprecating the very name of the festival has a chilling effect on its celebration. If, in Robespierrean fashion, Christmas was officially renamed the Feast of Secular Goodwill and Economy-Sustaining Consumption, I doubt there'd be much left to it. I'll celebrate Christmas as Christmas, and may the small-minded fools who fear the name of an unobjectionable seasonal tradition be damned.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Out where the bad get a whole lot badder

I can't wait for season two of HBO's Deadwood to start; it's a western far more clever and poetic than it has any right to be, exactly the Sopranos of the Old West that it's sometimes called. But in the meantime, it's fun to critically re-examine the first season in terms of the frontier economics embodied by capitalist supreme/murderous bartender Al Swearengen. (Language NSFW.) (Via A Yobbo's View.)

Hurrah, hurroo, it serves him right; the law makes retribution

Every day, people in their own sweet way, like to add a coat of paint; and be what they ain't

Sigh. Let's go over this freedom of speech thing one more time: 1. You can (with very few limits) say, write or paint nearly anything you want. 2. No private citizen nor instrument of government is compelled to furnish space, physical or virtual, for you to do so. "Bush Monkeys," a small acrylic on canvas by Chris Savido, created the stir at the Chelsea Market public space, leading the market's managers to close down the 60-piece show that was scheduled to stay up for the next month. [...] "We had tons of people, like more than 2,000 people show up for the opening on Thursday night," said show organizer Bucky Turco. "Then this manager saw the piece and the guy just kind of flipped out. 'The show is over. Get this work down or I'm gonna arrest you,' he said. It's been kind of wild." Turco took the show down on Saturday and moved the art work to his small downtown Animal Gallery. Calls to the management of Chelsea Market for comment were not returned. [...] The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-bred artist said he was happy for all the attention paid to his work but said the decision to shutter the exhibit was "a blatant act of censorship." Savido plans to auction the painting and donate proceeds to an organization dedicated to freedom of expression. "This is much deeper than art. This is fundamental American rights, freedom of speech," Savido said. "To see that something like this can happen, especially in a place like New York City is mind boggling and scary." So...after being told that Mr. Savido's painting wasn't welcome in someone else's private gallery, this exhibition's organizer took it back to his own, where no government agent nor angry mob is preventing anyone from viewing it at their leisure. I'm confused; who's being censored how, exactly? (Via Fark and Brian Tiemann.)

Bit by bit the pieces fit

Yeah, yeah: The bourgeois capitalist running dogs cooked the election, blah blah blah; whatever. Is Yanukovich seriously trying to make himself appear as credible as Soviet-era denouncers and ranters? His behaviour throughout the Ukrainian election has been unnerving enough already. This doesn't give me any more faith in the pro-Russian Eastern European school of thought, even if the Yushchenko campaign's been getting slightly weird lately too. (Via Instapundit.)

Sunday, December 12, 2004

He watches over everything we see

I don't think I could have handled it for James Earl Jones to voice Aslan in the newest film version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, anyway. That would have been just too much perfect symmetry for this world.

The Long Goodbye

I'm now done three of five exams. Another take-home is due this Wednesday, the final product of the course I most came to dislike over the term, to my surprise: Literature and Film. I'm all for close reading and innovative interpretation of texts, but the theory section of this class went off the deep end; go too far in deconstructing a coherent story according to arbitrarily-specified genre conventions, and you're left with what'll seem like strung-together thematic fragments. I, for one, do not believe that the Noir genre is contrasted with previous or subsequent works by any dramatic change in the nature of the dynamics of gazing, nor that there was any sudden increase in "the culture of conformity" between 1943 and 1959; however, those are the professor's pet theories, so that's the filter to view everything through. Less annoying, but still mildly unnerving, is his (ab)use of the word "protocol" for in-class work collected only to confirm attendance; it always put me in mind of the infamous anti-Semitic propaganda hoax The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This was never explained, and I never worked up the courage to find out whatever horrifying reason why he'd use such an odd term. I never thought I'd say it, but taking this class has seriously diminished my enjoyment of the entire genre. That's a new experience for me; it didn't happen with any of the other English classes I've taken. I'm hoping it was just the marginally monocratic concept behind the lesson plan, and this isn't necessarily indicative of anything else, because I normally enjoy playing with literary theory. Now I can't read a Noir text or watch Film Noir without unconsciously dissecting it beyond recognition. That's a terrible thing to do to art.

But I judge from your behaviour you can't tell the two apart

This is the difference between reasonable and unreasonable. This is why I'll defend eliminating an immediate potential threat without hesitation. There is a line between brutally murdering an unarmed prisoner and reacting to a threat; these two incidents fall clearly on opposite sides of that line. The soldier taking advantage of the situation to be (at the very least) criminally reckless has been punished, albeit with a bit too much lenience for my taste; he should be made an example of, but admittedly it seems to be a quid pro quo for cooperation. Terrible things happen in war. It might not be fair that the conduct of US troops is held to a standard somewhere between the perfect and the superhuman - unlike that of other nations (seen any protesters waving a "France out of Ivory Coast" sign lately?) - but that's the way it is. Despite that improbably high standard, though, the American military is largely able to live up to it, and appropriately punishing inappropriate behaviour in exactly this manner is the proof.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Hey, hey, ain't the situation concerning education aggravatin', and how

Not dead, just studying. Back Sunday, maybe.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Just crank up the volume, and yank off the knob

And so, it has come to pass that I have slipped the surly bonds of analog cable and touched the face of broadband television. It's turned out to cost $5 less per month for the channel packages I want with ExpressVu for Condos than Rogers' service did. They're exactly the same channels as previously, actually, with a few minor additions. However, I do have the entire News package (and there's only one), which will no doubt carry Fox News once it begins broadcasting in Canada, and getting the West Coast feed of all the networks, Canadian and American, is very handy. I have one complaint, though; the user interface of the set-top terminal is awful and non-intuitive. Still, the picture and sound quality it gives is great, and there's no rental fee. Huzzah for the free market, and finding innovative broadband solutions.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Oh, somewhere deep inside of these bones

And he waved a scarlet banner to and fro

I raised the Red Ensign before there was any formal association to go along with it, and I still stand by what I said at the time. It's good to see more and more have joined in since, those who - whatever disagreements we may have on every other topic - long for the days when Canada was actually a strong and capable world power, rather than an ineffectual and deluded grumbler. We used to sit with the United States and Britain on matters of global importance. But since those halcyon days, our largely Liberal leaders have decided it's better to throw tantrums and be relegated to the responsibility-free sanctuary of the kiddie table. The Red Ensign to me stand for that which came before the slide into decadence and irrelevance, and we should be proud to maintain respect for many (though, admittedly, not all) aspects of the nation that Canada used to be. Thus, I volunteered to host this edition of the bi-weekly group linkage. (Despite having three exams this week, plus the madness of a retail job in December. Such is blog-related hubris and the insatiable lust for traffic, no?) And so, in no particular order, but with those on breaks up first and themes grouped as much as possible, I present Volume X of the Red Ensign Standard. Though on a temporary break, Anthroblogogy has posted since the last Red Ensign Standard on creeping Communism in the EU: "Unfortunately, so often being a little bit Maoist or a little bit Communist, is a lot like being 'mildly corrosive' and/or, 'a little pregnant.'" Paul at Musings of a Canadian Slacker has similarly only commented once since the last occasion of Red Ensign linkage, on Pierre Berton's passing; he's conflicted between the man's methodology and what he represented, as many students of history are. Myrick has been spending some time in Borneo (a more exotic vacation from blogging than the other light bloggers, for certain!) but has since returned with some beautiful photos of his trip. Candepundit is also consumed with the vagaries of real life, and so still on a blog hiatus. So too seems to be Thomas, the Green Baron. Just Between Us Girls has likewise been distracted by real life, but is following with interest goings-on in Ukraine and the Netherlands. Shiny Happy Gulag is also AFK ATM. At BumfOnline, Huck rates the best albums of 2003 in preparation to do the same for 2004. In a related post, film critics both highbrow and lowbrow are praised for saving the writer $26. The killer post of the past two weeks, however, is The Broad Tent, in which the political ambiguity many of us hard-to-categorize types feel is summed up. ChrisCam also produces a mighty and inspiring list of reasons to be optimistic for Iraq, along with noticing that the New York Times continues to practice the world's oldest profession. Dana and Bob of Canadian Comment respectively question the motives and damn the ignorance of the against-everything crowd that converged on Ottawa. Bob also comments on the need for optimism and resolve in Iraq. Andrew of Bound By Gravity, a fellow inmate of the Home for the Emotionally Interesting that is our national capital, derides the anti-Bush protesters' lack of originality and feckless tactics, all the while savouring the notion of a straight-talking leader so unlike Prime Minister Martin or even Stephen Harper. Damian at Babbling Brooks witnessed the best dismissal of this past week's lunacy in Ottawa ever. He also makes a point of sniping at the high holiday of the selfsame cretins responsible for that juvenile madness. A new member of the Red Ensign Brigade at Hammer Into Anvil also gives his reasons for joining, and questions why the largely-underage crowd at the anti-Bush protests were out of school. (Short answer? Some of them were actually attending the demonstrations under school auspices, with activist social science teachers in the lead. Sad, but true.) Another Ottawan, Keith of Minority of One, mocks the minutiae our federal government tends to obsess over, and laments the responsibilities that prevented him from infiltrating the local moonbat hordes during their hatefest, like yours truly. I have to reproduce the key graf in full, it's so spot-on: Hey. Just saw a university student-protestor strolling along with his girlfriend. His sign, War is not a Canadian Value. Complete with, like, you know, the, like, peace sign, and flowers, and everything. Get that, all you veterans over there at that Legion Hall? Remember your war? Your fear? Your suffering? The cold and the hunger and the fatigue? The deaths of your comrades-in-arms and of your close friends? Remember the sailors who froze to death in minutes in the North Atlantic? Well, according to today's crop of Arts Faculty hangers-on (the one's whose education is heavily subsidized by taxpayers), you, and your comrades, were wrong to combat Nazism, Fascism and Communism. You were wrong to liberate the Nazi concentration camps. So there! Jay Jardine, no fan of George W. Bush, still found the protests mostly appalling. Like many, he also misses hockey, and places the blame for his passive jonesing squarely upon the shoulders of the bureaucrats in the league and player's association. Our resident MD, The Monger, witnessed the ghastly idiocies of the protesters and was reminded why he detests them. In other news, he also posts on unacknowledged biases in academia. Ben of The Tiger in Winter is also annoyed by aspects of academia, but in methodology rather than ideology. He also writes a very interesting survey of grad student life at Harvard. New brigade member Tipperography, has some more thoughts on the politicization of academia, citing some very convincing evidence. Amen to that; the sooner it's shown that bias isn't a right-wing fantasy, the better. A very distressing and ignorant local editorial arguing for immediate withdrawal from Iraq is also neatly rebutted. Another new member, All Things Canadian gives a cogent explanation of why the Red Ensign, and why now, as well as disclosing the reason for the NDP failure to win real elections as soundly as in the vote for The Greatest Canadian. At Musing, Jason Hayes reveals the dirty (not-so-) little secret behind the efficacy of environmental legislation in Washington. He also notes the positive side-effects of minority government and exactly where Dan Rather's political sympathies seem to lie. At Doxology, Rebecca too watched the confabulations in Ottawa, and the result is sapping her optimism for Canada's fate in the near future. She also brilliantly puts the infamously paranoid and deluded anti-Red Ensign loon in his place. Darcey at does the same, discussing importance of national symbols and listing with honour his relatives that served and died under the Red Ensign He also has several handy link roundups concerning Bush's Canadian tour. John Hamilton at has been reading up on Canada lately, and defends the tight-knit community of the Kingston Ghetto near Queen's. Over at Absinthe & Cookies, Ith has invented a delicious new holiday cocktail. The joys of moving up in the blogosphere ecosystem are also discussed. At the eponymous Castle Argghhh!, John of Argghhh explains the curious history of the 3-inch ordnance rifle, praises historic arms dealers, and has hit upon the perfect armoury design to house his vast collection of firepower. Despite the geographical location of Nathan's Updates from Seoul, Nathan has had some correspondence with Arthur Chrenkoff on the topic of Canadian politics, and a reply. However, he continues to serve up fascinating experiences of living and teaching in the Republic of Korea, such as a field trip with adult students. At North Western Winds, Curt wonders where Stockwell Day's head is in sending out cryptic, easily-demonized press releases. It's too easy already, he argues, for conservatives to be ridiculed and pigeonholed by hostile political elites and academia; there's no need to do their own jobs for them. Alan of Occam's Carbuncle similarly demands some more common sense from the Tories, but extends his bemused wrath to encompass the most churlish of ideologues on both sides of the gay marriage debate. Before a long night in the lab, Stephen Taylor wandered through Google Scholar, and turned up a number of remarkably silly academic journal articles. He also considers if traditional Liberal Party strategy will survive the current zeitgeist, something of which I'm not at all certain either. Chris Taylor brings up the CIBC Fax Scandal with a lovely shot of the Victorian stolidity of what I assume to be a Toronto branch, and tales of IT security problems far more complex than a simple typo. He also ruminates on Christmas shopping, and the hazards of procrastination relating thereto for those in the white-collar world. Kate at The Last Amazon has several things to say about the Toronto Star, and sees war with Iran on the horizon. At Quotulatiousness, Nicholas ponders the problem of violent crime in a judicial system gone mad, and the potential repercussions of the ascent of Google. On a lighter note, however, the self-described "techno-peasant" goes out questing for an MP3 player, seeking advice for buying the same. Ray of Raging Kraut thinks Uma Thurman has ugly feet, something of an unpleasant sight. But, in exchange, he does participate in The Flea's Male Objectification Week. This week at Right Jab, Great Smokers in History are fairly lionized. The oddity of unclaimed public funds is also noted. Lisa of The London Fog covers London, Ontario so well I sometimes start to feel jealous that municipal politics around here aren't quite as awful-slash-entertaining. A road closure, pit bulls, and liquor licenses have all been covered par excellence recently. At All AgitProp, all the Time..., Paul Jané gives a well-deserved smackdown to imbeciles of various stripes, and demands a far more effective government index of dangerous persons than the federal gun registry. Jaeger at Trudeaupia has some more pertinent questions on gun crime in Toronto, and wonders why Liberals and liberals alike seem reluctant to promote the spread of democracy and freedom around the world, especially considering what the federal government does promote. Temujin of West Coast Chaos has an experience with our vaunted health care system provoke considerations of the dreaded "2-Tier" option, and finely fisks the arguments of a spineless US Army deserter for being granted asylum in Canada. Wow, that took longer than I thought. If any more start flying the Red Ensign, this is going to have to be turned into a monthly rather than bi-weekly link roundup. Would that everyone had the problem of growing popularity, huh?

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Carte blanche, just like an avalanche, it kinda snowballs and sets you free

Brilliant misdirection: How to make blue states favour tax cuts. (Hey, isn't a tax policy disproportionately affecting the "rich" a perennial Democrat platform anyway? Now that's strategery...)

Saturday, December 04, 2004

We call this quest for satisfaction a what, class?

Stalin = Mackenzie King, to some not-particularly-informed folk. (At least it's better than "Mackenzie King = Marshal Petain.")

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Put one foot in front of the other

The Top Ten Least Successful Christmas Specials of All Time: What, no riffing on the Rankin-Bass stop-motion works? Tsk tsk. (Via Carthago Delenda Est.)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Gleaming and radiant, it's what I'll keep my eyes on

Oh, okay - the FreeDominion rally at South Keys wasn't for media attention. It was to wave at President Bush as the motorcade drove past. That would have been nice to be at, actually. Honestly, why did that not occur to me? (In fairness, enough happens to me.)

Start spreading the news

My Globe & Mail subscription expires in a few days, and tonight I got a call from their renewals department. I actually did decide, a few weeks ago, that I was going to cancel it. There's an excellent two editorial pages (much of which I disagree with, of course, but it's still interesting and usually intelligently argued) and occasionally one or two good pieces in the Review section. The business section bores me. That's just not enough content, on a daily basis; I read fast, and it takes me no more than ten minutes to digest all that. The Saturday edition is better in terms of sheer volume, but has its own Toronto-centric issues, what with the Style and Travel sections catering largely to Rosedalers and Bridle Pathites. I was then offered a deal with a new pilot program their distribution network is offering: home delivery of (only) the Sunday New York Times, for $2.63 per week. True, it might be biased, but usually no worse that the Globe, and I know the Sunday edition is massive. The NYT, too, might be skewed to the expectations and fashions of the Upper West Side, but that's different enough to be entertaining in its own way. For the exoticism factor and volume of reading material, that's a great deal; buying it at Chapters or the like comes to $6-something with tax. So I ended up taking the NYT for one month. I'm an information junkie before being an ideologue; having something interesting to read on Sunday, when the Citizen is gossamer-thin, (and for a reasonable price) trumps nearly everything.

I've invariably found that feet kept on the ground allow the grass to grow

The final batch of photos from the protests is up. It's not a separate group, just some of the less-exciting establishing shots I missed talking about yesterday; B-roll footage, if you will.

You've got to be taught before it's too late

Hate mail, I get hate mail; I get all kinds of lovely hate mail. The best one is from someone who's surfaced in the blogosphere before, to threaten Tim Blair. (Wow, am I really in the same league as he, now?) Gordon (AKA Les Ketchum) begins by sending me several photos of the rally yesterday at its mid-afternoon peak, which I missed: hey dumbshit, This is what a real protest in Ottawa looked like, you fascist asshole... I don't disbelieve it. I never claimed to cover the entire day, or be everywhere at once. That's what the mainstream media, with dozens of vans and cameramen, is for. I'm only one person, and got out of the crowd once it started looking violent. I know you're desperately 'TRYING' to lie about what the protest in Ottawa looks like so that you can comfort your NEOCON friends across blogdom. They don't need comforting. The anti-war movement, such as it is, is pretty laughable to begin with. Stroke all the nazi cock you like, but the truth is the truth. And God... or karma... awaits those who BEAR FALSE WITNESS. You right wingers will lose. And we will stop your hard-on for New World Order or a Pax Americana. I'm a non-ideological agnostic, thanks, and thus not particularly responsive to such accusations. But do know how much I appreciate your concern for my soul; do you perhaps have some explanatory pamphlets on your path to salvation which I might peruse? Plus, I'm calling up some of my friends up there and letting them know WHO YOU ARE, WHERE YOU ARE and what BULLSHIT YOU ARE SAYING. Thanks for including your bio in your blog, dipshit. Now I'm going to have my friends come and 'have a beer with you'. Talk some sense into you. Cuz we sure frown upon seeing nazis, especially in our own yard. So get out of MY TOWN, bitch. You're stinking up my beautiful city and country with your syphilis ridden, right wing, war-loving, upper class ass kissing fat fuck. But, please, enjoy having 'a few beers' with my friends. They'll be over. Soon. We'll call. If you'd read a bit closer, you'd notice that I blog pseudonymously. (That's a big word that means "under a false name," much as I expect you've sent this missive. Tit for tat, eh?) I've been very careful to restrict the personal details I publish, precisely because of this sort of threat. If you or your friends should find me anyway, and assault me for my beliefs, just proves me right in considering the lot of you violent and hateful, doesn't it? Are your arguments so weak that you feel the need to brutally silence those who disagree? by the way, Paul Denton, I recommended to my friends to find a copy of 'Why I Hate Canadians' (is there such a thing, asswipe?) when they'll be DROPPING by. Which you seem love so much. It's by Will Ferguson, noted Canadian humourist, and also the author of Hokkaido Highway Blues, How to Be a Canadian, I Was a Teenage Katima-Victim, and multiple works of Canadian history. I already have a copy, thanks; you, however, would do well to read why he - severely proud of Canada - finds rabidly ignorant rabble-rousers like yourself so irritating. It helps that I have a couple of buds at that very campus. Sweet. Are they Poli-Sci majors, by any chance? Ever actually, literally EATEN a whole book before?! You are what you eat, right?! Right. Have you ever considered that you and your friends being this lucid might be precisely the reason you've become marginalized? I'm lovin' it. You know, between the two of us, I'm the self-proclaimed consumer whore, and I'm not the one spouting McDonald's ad slogans. Welcome to Canada, bitch. We will make you feel very, very, very, very welcome. Welcome? Born at the Ottawa General, grew up in the east end of the Ottawa Valley, living in Centretown, attending U of O. What are your hometown credentials, mmm? Oh, and I posted your blog and e-mail to several thousand INDYMEDIA blogs... since you're SUCH a fan. As Winston Churchill said: "You have enemies? Good! That means you've stood up for something, some time in your life." They were SO pleased with you making fun of them. Excellent. I've always thought they seemed too serious. It's good to hear they're starting to lighten up. By the way, INDYMEDIA was ALL over that protest, bitch. If they were, they seemed to be a few dozen T-shirts short of making it visible. Gordon: Grow up. Feel free to offer a cogent argument for your cause (i.e., one that doesn't call anyone a Nazi, or use strings of ALL CAPS) at any time, however.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful

Well. That was an opportune time for it to snow. I wonder how many protesters would have shown up if Bush had arrived today?