Monday, July 31, 2006

Religious Right Using Hockey Players to Infiltrate Canadian Society! Is Harper in Cahoots?

Tim LaHaye is co-author of the Left Behind series of books. These have sold over 60,000,000 copies, and describe the biblical end of the world: the Christian eschatology of the upheaval that precedes the second coming of Jesus Christ, known also as “end times.”

Since things are going down the crapper in the Holy Land, it isn't surprising that Newsweek should want LaHaye's opinion on whether Jesus will be showing up anytime soon. So far so nutty, right? Except that there's a Canadian connection. Newsweek asks LaHaye:

You recently donated a whole lot of money for a hockey rink at Liberty University. If these are the end times, why make an investment like that?

To which Mr. LaHaye replies:

My strategy is that Canada and Northern America produces the bulk of hockey players. We use the ice rink to get the hockey players to come to Liberty University where many of them are exposed to accept Christ. Many of them come because they are Christians. They are challenged to go into the ministry, and we’ve already had some of the guys in the earlier classes that graduated, and they’re going home to Canada to start churches.


[It's] Evangelism with a hockey puck.

And the freaky part is, Stephen Harper and Tim LaHaye have met. In fact the LaHaye-founded "Council For National Policy"is where Harper gave the now infamous speech where he trashed Canada by referring to it as "a Northern Welfare State in the worst sense of the term".

So is there something going on between these two guys? Is there a chapter in the Secret Agenda on Hockey and The End Times? If The Leafs wins the Cup, for example, is that like the 7th sign?

And does the Religous Right intend to corrupt Canada's national game? Will players be made to finish each body check with "God Bless You!"? Will fighting be banned, while shunning becomes acceptable behavior? Will non-believers be required to burn in Hell between periods?

That's what I really want to know

McKenna to the Rescue?

I have never heard of Angelo Persichilli, but he is behind some rather fevered musings on the Lib leadership race in The Hill Times today. Specifically:

If you ask some Liberals whom, among the 11 candidates, is going to win the leadership campaign, the answer is now the twelfth, Frank McKenna.

But when you point out that he's not in the race, the said Liberals will explain to you that the time to register is not up and there's still the whole month of September open for him to make the move.

How likely is this? Persichilli outlines a whole conspiracy theory based on the word unnamed Liberal Strategists, which I do not find particularly convincing, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the current top-tier candidates are not that bad. Though the leadership race has been, lets face it, dull, it has always been thus. I mean, when Reform became C.R.A.P. became C.P.C., was anyone watching?

In any case, at this moment I would proudly get behind any of the "frontrunners" other than Iggy and Bob Rae. Dion, for example, has been quite impressive both speaking and substantively, and aspects of Kennedy's platform have been very good (his environmental initiatives), even if his televised performances have not.

Secondly, Harper's position is not that strong. This is something that has been reflected in the latest Decima Poll results, which show trouble for the Tories in B.C., Ontario, and Quebec. He's going to have a tough time getting his majority, or even keeping his minority, if an election is called in 2007.

Not that I have anything against Frank M. In fact, he probably would have been my first choice had he chosen to run. But for the time being I will assume that the line of theorizing in The Hill Times is just a summer story that will pass with the hot weather.

But who knows? Any other arguments for McKenna's jumping in or staying out?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

U.N. Refutes Lewis MacKenzie

From Edward Mortimer, director of communications, executive office of the Secretary-General, United Nations:

New York -- The United Nations observers who died in Lebanon on July 25 were killed by an Israeli attack. Retired major-general Lewis MacKenzie's criticism of the Secretary-General's remarks that this was an "apparently deliberate targeting" is itself premature and misplaced (Kofi Annan's Hasty Rush To Judgment -- July 27).

Mr. Annan's expression of shock and distress was based on very precise reports received from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). At least 10 calls were made to the Israeli authorities that afternoon to indicate that Israeli shelling was getting closer to the UN position at Khiyam.

This position, where a Canadian and three other unarmed military observers were later killed, has been well-known to the Israeli army for many years and was clearly marked. The Israelis gave express assurances that UN personnel would be spared. Reports received also showed 21 hits within 300 meters, 12 within 100 meters and four direct hits.

Mr. MacKenzie says that the Canadian observer sent messages implying that "we have Hezbollah fighters all over our position engaging the IDF and using us as shields." This report was sent a full week before the post came under fire. On the day in question, the monitors certainly didn't report that Hezbollah was "all over" their position, or using them as shields. Nor did any of them imply this in any way.

Mr. MacKenzie's extraordinary claim flies in the face of overwhelming available evidence to the contrary. And it does not honor the memory of Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener, who was just one example of Canada's proud contribution to peacekeeping.

Not much to add here. As to the last couple of sentences, I would just remind my Conservative readers not to let their irrational hatred of the U.N. lead them to dishonor the death of Canadian soldiers who chose to serve both Canada and the wider world, as Lewis MacKenzie and PM Stephen Harper seem to have done.

Spot the Difference!

Hint: One is slightly more anti-Semitic than the other

(h/t to one of my anonymous trolls for pointing this out)

Now There's Anti-Semitism!

Action Star and Christian propagandist Mel Gibson, while being hauled into the pokey on a DUI charge, had this to say:

F*****g Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.... Are you a Jew?

Now, see, that's anti-semitism.

Reaming out the state of Israel for, oh I don't know, bombing a house full of women and children? That's not anti-semitism.

(Oh my little Road Warrior! How far you have fallen!)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

What Do You See?

...when you click on this link. Nothing, right? That's because our new Tory government has quietly snuffed the The Government of Canada Climate Change website, which served as a resource for teachers wishing to cover the various issues related to Global Warming in class.
This is apparently part of a greater purge of information related to Global Warming from official government websites.

H/T to DeSmogBlog, my new favorite blog.

Throwing in the Towel in Bint Jbail

Bint Jbail is Southern Lebanon's newly dubbed "Terror Capital", and previous to today my feeling was that, as Israel's flailing military machine defined victory downwards, its bottom line, the point at which it could declare success and go home, could be no lower than the capture of this town. However, it appears that the IDF is just going to fuck off out of Bint Jbail with Hezbollah still in charge of the place:

Jerusalem, July. 29 (AP): Israel pulled its troops out of the Hezbollah stronghold of Bint Jbail on Saturday, saying it had accomplished its objectives there and dealt a heavy blow to the militant group, but paid a price with the lives of Israeli soldiers.

Israel said its ground troops moved out of the town, but the air force would continue to pound it and ground forces could return at any time.

The army did not say whether Hezbollah fighters remained holed up in Bint Jbail, which sits not far from the Israeli border. The army previously said it had taken control of the nearby village of Maroun al-Ras, but fierce fighting continued there several days afterward.

I can only hope that those Tories and yes even Progressive Bloggers who were cheering on Israel as she carpet-bombed Lebanon back to the stone-age, will take proper heed of what has happened here. Israel has engaged in a reckless war that has taken Canadian lives and threatened to suck our good name down the toilet; it has undermined the notion that Democracies act in an inherently more moral fashion than less representative forms of government; and it has failed utterly to solve its military problems (an enemy that can lob missiles over its Northern border).

And I hope it should also be clear by now that those of us who have been criticizing Israel's behavior have not done so from latent anti-Semiticism. It is rather that we felt (and have been confirmed in our suspicions) that its actions were not only immoral but, from a pragmatic point of view, stupid. Israel could not but lose this kind of confrontation. And it is those who have cheered it along in its disastrous course of action who could be rightfully accused of endangering the country.

So nyahh nyahh fucking nyahh!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Lewis MacKenzie Refuted

Since Lewis Mackenzie's CBC appearance yesterday morning, many Conservative commentators have been pushing the line that the ill-fated U.N. outpost was hit by the Israelis because the area was being used as cover by Hezbollah. However, Timur Goksel, a veteran peacekeeper who spent years acting as a liaison between the UNIFIL observer mission in south Lebanon and the Israeli army, disagrees with this assessment:

[Goksel] dismissed the possibility that it was Lebanon's Hezbollah militia that had placed the UN position in danger by using the area around the Khiyam observation post to fire rockets into Israel.

He said that since UNIFIL's mandate is to immediately report any cross-border military activity, firing from near Khiyam would result in Israel immediately knowing where Hezbollah was firing from.

The Globe Story this quote is from also gives an interesting insight into the history of UNIFIL/IDF relations. Once, in less partisan times, some in the IDF had an appreciation for the job U.N. observers were performing.

And, finally, a word about the now famous e-mail MacKenzie references. It ends as follows:

This [the Israeli shelling] has not been deliberate targeting, but rather due to tactical necessity.

Mackenzie interprets this as indicating that previous Israeli near-misses were aimed at Hezbollah targets near the obsrvation post, and his reading has been taken up by the Conservative media (for example here) as meaning that the Israelis were going after Hezbollah targets on the day the outpost was obliterated.

Well, firstly, a lot of this rides on Mackenzie's interpretation of the "veiled language", and I would certainly like to get a second opinion on what Maj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener meant by the line in question. Secondly, this does not prove anything about the day of the fatal attack, written as it was a week previous. The second attack consisted of about six to eight hours of shelling, and then a couple of laser guided bombs to finish the place off, and then more shelling when U.N. soldiers from India came around to dig out the bodies. to me, that still doesn't look accidental.

Are Blogging Tories Talking Treason?

Steve Janke is only one example, and not the most blatant one at that.

But there seems to be a meme floating around the right-wing blogosphere, Canadian Division, that since Maj. Hess-von Kruedener was working for the U.N., he was not serving Canada...that he was in fact working for the Enemies of Canada.

I think this is disgraceful, nauseating, the kind of thing that is likely to make the broad mainstream of Canadian opinion think you're some kind of ignorant goober from the foothills outside of Buttfuck Alta. that can't be trusted with the keys to power (read about the new Decima poll results here ).

And it certainly dishonors Maj. Hess-von Kruedner's sacrifice.

But is it treason?

While my readers ponder this question, I shall be patrolling Blogging Tory websites to see if I can get them to bend over and modify their rhetoric.

Cheers on a Rainy Friday,

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tory Fortunes Fading, Says Decima Poll

Don't have much time to comment but, from The Star:

"Nationally, the Conservatives had the support of 36 per cent, the Liberals 30 per cent and the New Democrats 17 per cent."

In Quebec, the province Harper has wooed most assiduously, the poll found the BQ had rebounded to 43 per cent, up five points since a Decima poll in May, while the Tories had slipped six points to 23 per cent. The Liberals had 18 per cent and the NDP eight per cent.

And in Ontario, where the Tories and Liberals had been neck and neck as recently as mid-June, the poll found the Liberals had pulled into a nine-point lead with 43 per cent support, compared to 33 per cent for the Conservatives and 18 per cent for the NDP.

Harper is still strong out in the boondocks, however. But the news that warms my heart is, as Decima Research CEO Bruce Anderson says:

Given the high profile of the Middle East conflict.... It's reasonable to speculate that some of the softening of Conservative support, at least in Quebec, may be linked to Canada's alignment with the U.S. foreign policy (on Israel), coupled with major investments in military capabilities.

There's hope for this country yet.

Wife of Peacekeeper Skeptical of Israeli Story


The wife of a Canadian peacekeeper who’s missing and presumed dead in Lebanon demanded to know Thursday why several Israeli missiles struck the UN site where her husband was stationed as an observer.

A grieving Cynthia Hess-von Kruedener told a news conference at CFB Kingston that she doesn’t believe the strike Tuesday that’s believed to have claimed the life of her husband, Paeta, was an accident.

“They’re clearly marked as UN observers, so why were (the Israelis) firing on that base?” she wondered.

“If those are precision-guided missiles, then it is intentional with three bombs.”

Questions that all Canadians should be asking, esp. Stephen Harper.

Clinton's Birthday in TO!

The Lifesite reports (with some consternation) that Bill Clinton is planning to celebrate his 60th in old TO. Tables will cost between $25,000 and $200,000.

Dunno if I can afford that, but I'd love to meet my main man Bubba and swap tips re. putting the moves on good looking women. He's completely different from your typical right wing Pol, who couldn't pick up chicks on a radar screen.

And notice how he won every War he fought? Conservatives seem to like Wars, but they're not very good at them. Clinton's tough yet compassionate, and he scores heavy with the babes.

Oh Stephen Harper, how utterly you fail to be a man!

A Consensus Emerges

...from both right and the left, that Israel is losing this war. Newsweek's Christopher Dickey (one of my foreign policy faves) concurs in this net-only article:

The bottom line: Hezbollah is winning. That's the hideous truth about the direction this war is taking, not in spite of the way the Israelis have waged their counterattack, but precisely because of it. As my source Mr. Frankly put it, "Hezbollah is eating their lunch."

Read the article to find out why.

I think the important point is not whether this outcome is good or bad. It's that people who have been urging a limited response on the part of Israel have been counseling restrain for fear of exactly this outcome: Hezbollah plants its flag atop the mountain of rubble that Lebanon becomes.

As an interesting side-note, CBC is reporting that Israel will not expand its current campaign past the pathetic strip of land it is even now working to secure. They've had enough, in other words. "Terror Capital" Bint Jbeil will be taken, and the Israelis will pack it in. Lots of bombs still to fall, however.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Harper Speaks: Is He Blaming the UN?

Kind of hints at it. From the TO Star:

We want to find out why this United Nations post was attacked and also why it remained manned during what is now, more or less, a war during obvious danger to these individuals.

Well, for one thing, the post was in constant touch with the IDF and was assured on several occasions that the shelling would stop.

Harper also thinks the attack was not deliberate:

I certainly doubt that to be the case, given that the government of Israel has been co-operating with us in our evacuation efforts, in our efforts to move Canadian citizens out of Lebanon and also trying to keep our own troops that are on the ground involved in the evacuation out of harm's way.

At least he's said something. I thought he was hiding in the same hole as Iggy.

Israel Really Wanted Those Guys Dead!

From the BBC:

UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon contacted Israeli troops 10 times before an Israeli bomb killed four of them, an initial UN report says.

The post was hit by a precision-guided missile after six hours of shelling, diplomats familiar with the probe say.

Still no word from PM Steve? Where are you, Steve, when the IDF murders one of your soldiers and three other good men? We're still waiting! Give us a little hint at least! Or is your opinion still being phoned it from Washington?

It's Wednesday Morning, Do You Know Where Your Prime Minister is?

So the Israelis plug one of our soldiers, and Stephen Harper has nothing to say? Or at least, I've seen no comment on the Net, in the papers this morning, or on CBC/CTV. What, is our boy sleeping late on a Wednesday?

Surely, our glorious leader plans something more than, and more appropriate than, sending oldtimer General Lewis MacKenzie onto CBC radio this morning to trash-talk Canada's peacekeeping tradition?

More on the Israeli Air Strike

From MSN:

The bomb made a direct hit on the building and shelter of the observer post in the town of Khiam near the eastern end of the border with Israel, said Milos Struger, spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon known as UNIFIL.


Rescue workers [tried] to clear the rubble, but Israeli firing continued even during the rescue operation."

Koffi Anan responded thusly:

"I am shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting by Israel Defense Forces of a UN Observer post in southern Lebanon that has killed two UN military observers, with two more feared dead."

The U.N. has come down hard on Israel for its indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas, for instance here, and Israel is sending U.N. leaders a message...a message encoded in dead bodies.

"Supporters" would be naive to think that the Israelis are not proficient in this language.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Israel Snuffs Another Canuck

From The Star:

BEIRUT — An Israeli bomb destroyed a UN observer post on the border in southern Lebanon on Tuesday, killing four peacekeepers, including a Canadian, a UN official said.

UN chief Kofi Annan said Israel appeared to have struck the site deliberately.

Looks like Israel wants the UN off the playing field so they're free to commit atrocities.

CBC: Harper Not Keen to Supply MidEast Peacekeepers

Well, no shit, Sherlock.

Frankly, I am not sure how seriously we can take the U.S. Plan to send a NATO or maybe an EU or maybe even a UN force to the Lebanese border where it can get shot at by both Hezbollah and the IDF. Condi Rice has kindly volunteered 10,000 Turkish and Egyptian troops for the job. No word on how eager they are to serve, but at this point I'd be interested in knowing what the Turkish/Egyptian expression for "fuck you" happens to be.

And Harper is now saying that Canada, too, would rather not.

This is probably not a plan but a "plan", something that's supposed to float out there and get sniped at and discussed while Bush and Olmert et al figure out how to get out of this mess.

A diversion, in other words.

Fox News claims that the real plan is that Israel has 10-14 days to get their licks in, and then Bush pulls the plug. I suspect that this is fairly close to the mark. I imagine the war ends with the IDF occupying a few square miles of Southern Lebanon, for all the good it will do them. Note how they are already surrounding the "Terror Capital" of Bint Jbeil. They've defined victory down so far that this rat's ass outpost is suddenly key to their campaign. Once they finally "liberate" the place, I doubt they'll be up for much more of a fight.

And so another stupid, stupid, neo-con war will come to a dissatisfactory conclusion.

While Canada Dithers, Slovenia Legalizes SSM

According to the LifeSite, new Slovenian marriage laws allow homosexual couples to register their partnerships as a legal "marriage", enjoying the same rights as married heterosexual couples under Slovenian law. However, quote marks are still going to be needed, for there will be some restrictions on gay marriage services:

The law limits the attendance of wedding ceremonies to the two partners and the local registration official, forbidding any third parties. The law requires all ceremonies to take place in an official state office, and requires same-sex couples give 30 days advance notice and documentation verifying sanity, health, and unmarried status.

So you get the basic package of rights, but they don't want you to be too up front about the whole thing; your ceremony can't be a giant wing-ding down at the old bath-house.

Not perfect, but not too bad a compromise.

Unfortunately, in Steve Harper's Canada, the matter is still at issue. Here we risk falling behind the old Soviet Bloc when it comes to issues of Social Justice.

Monday, July 24, 2006

DeSmogBlog: One You Should Read

Jim Hoggan is president of Jim Hoggan and Associates, a Vancouver based public relations firm. He has become concerned over the past several years at how PR techniques have been used to cast doubt on the scientific consensus behind Global Warming. Mr. Hoggan has launched an excellent blog, DeSmogBlog, where he and his team of bloggers takes the GW skeptics to task, based on Hoggan's intimate knowledge of the PR Industry.

As you know, I post on GW-related issues alot, and I've attempted in my own small way to penetrate the goings on of The Friends of Science, a Calgary based group of "enviro-skeptics" who have been in the news alot since the recent election. Well, in several posts on DeSmogBlog, they "follow the money" and manage to unearth a set of deep ties between the Friends and the Canadian Conservative Party. In another, it is revealed that one of the Members of the FOS, Dr. Fred Seitz, spent the 1970s and 1980s manufacturing fake reports for the tobacco industry claiming that there was still some debate over whether tobacco was a proven danger to health.

All very good stuff. In fact, probably worth visiting regularly.

BigCityLib says so, so it is so.

Israel Stance Not Hurting Harper, New Poll Indicates

Because Tory partisans will pick up on this quickly enough anyway, the new Ipsos-Reid poll does not show that the PM's war stance has "split" Canadians, as most of the papers would have you believe (for instance The Ottawa Citizen).

Or at least, this reading masks the underlying message of the poll, which is less comforting to progressives. That is, while 45% supported Harper's position, and 44% decried it as "too pro-Israel", another 11% feel it is not pro-Israel enough. Which means that 56% of Canadians support a stance at least as hard as the one Harper is currently taking.

To me the political calculation Harper will make is to work the 11% on-side by maintaining a hard line or adopting a harder line, rather than "back-track" and lose some of the 45% he has already go in the bag. Therefore, from looking at this one poll at least, I don't see the Tories being harmed by "aligning" Canada's position more closely with that of the United States on this issue.

Mind you, 62% of Quebecers see the government position as being too pro-Israel, so Harper has been setting up obstacles in his own quest to win more seats in that province. Its very hard to see his path to a majority by this route anymore, especially since the fiscal imbalance fix is going to amount to much less than advertised.

Iraq Would Be Bad Enough Without all the Giant Spiders!

Yes, they're real. Meet the Camel Spider or Wind Scorpion which, while not a real spider at all, is a member of the class Arachnida, according to the National Geographic. Various species of the animal live in desert climes, from the Middle East to Baha California (Mexico). They can grow up to six inches in length, although the two in the picture seem quite a bit larger than that, so they might have been photo-shopped to make them look more impressive.

And some of the stories about them coming out of Iraq are just soldier's guff. They cannot run at 25 mph; they are not called camel spiders because they will attack a camel and lay their eggs in its stomach; they do not inject a paralyzing venom.

Still, pretty impressive beasties, and not something you'd want to share a fox-hole with.

Below is another picture for scale. ht/ to CryptoMundo.

h/t to Cryptomundo.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Evacuation SNAFUs Continue

Is a ship being sent Monday to Tyre, the most dangerous hotspot in the south of the country, to rescue Canadians stranded in the heavy bombardment by Israeli forces?

Depends on who you ask, according to the TO Star. Canada’s ambassador to Lebanon, Louis de Lorimier, told reporters in Beirut that this was the case, only to be shot down by the Foreign Affairs Department, who claimed that the ambassador's statement had been “premature”, and that no ship would be dispatched on Monday.

How Goes the War?

There is a view on the American Right that a) Israel is either "losing" this conflict or, according to PowerLine , b) will lose this conflict:

... if it is unwilling either to occupy problematic territory such as southern Lebanon or invade it when the lack of an occupation force leads to the kind of trouble we're seeing now.

But signs are beginning to emerge that Israel doesn't feel up to a full-scale military assault. And a limited mission, to "clear out bunkers" and leave, will have very little effect on Hezbollah as an organization: some of their people will fight and die and take as many Israelis with them as they can, but for the most part they will slip away when things get tough, and return when the Israelis go home. So either, as the guy from Powerline suggests, Israel sends troops into Lebanon every time a bunch of rockets get fired over the border (which then amounts to accepting intermittent barrages as a fact of life), or they occupy Southern Lebanon, which is a position that does not have a lot of popular support behind it.

There is a second issue: Israel does not have much time left before public pressure moves the U.S. to intervene diplomatically. From the World Tribune:

The analysts said Israel has adopted a bombing campaign that resembled the U.S.-led NATO bombardment of Serbia in 1999. For 78 days, NATO warplanes struck civilian and military targets in an effort to stop President Slobodan Milosovic from expelling Muslims from Kosovo. In the end, Milosevic agreed to a ceasefire after NATO threatened a ground invasion.

"I can't see this as a successful strategy," another analyst said. "In Yugoslavia, NATO had all the time in the world. Israel can't count on more than two weeks."

So, on a strategic level, the Israeli/Lebanese conflict will almost certainly wind up constituting a military setback and loss of face for Israel. And it will almost certainly boost the status of Hezbollah. Israel should have launched a series of retaliatory pin-prick raids into Southern Lebanon in an attempt to get their guys back, bombed a few Hezbollah buildings and, if the raids came up empty, arranged a prisoner swap. Their current wounds are mostly self-inflicted.

And there's a lesson here for the political Right in Canada and the States as well. Bush, Harper and Co. allowed Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert free reign and he has driven the nation into a swamp.

Its important to know the difference between being a supporter and being an enabler.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Britain Balks

From Yahoo News. The smell of the charnal house is beginning to turn a few official English stomachs:

The United States was starting to look isolated in its refusal to rein in Israel's attacks on Lebanon with key ally Britain criticizing the wholesale killing of Lebanese civilians and widespread destruction.

Britain's junior foreign minister Kim Howells, visiting Beirut, Saturday questioned Israel's military tactics and slammed its killing of "so many children and so many people".

"These are not surgical strikes," he said of the air and artillery bombardments since July 12 that have killed more than 300 civilians in Lebanon.

"If they are chasing Hezbollah, then go for Hezbollah. You don't go for the entire Lebanese nation," he told a media conference after meeting Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.

But in Canada the official view at the moment is to serve as ideological Muscle Fluffer* to the Israeli Government.

* "Muscle Fluffer" is a term from the Porn industry. In Porn flicks, the protagonist is required to get it up on demand as long as he is on set. This is really quite difficult, and justifies the salaries. Most porn productions keep a "muscle fluffer" on staff. They are usually a gay male equipped with a device very similar to a feather duster, which the fluffer wields whenever the star needs help maintaining his "professional stance". Wages start at about $35,000 per year. Benefits are not so good.

BigCityLib Reviews Peter Jackson's King Kong!

Well, I finally watched Peter Jackson's King Kong! remake on DVD, and I am confirmed in my belief that there have been no recent movies good enough to leave the house for. I can't imagine the wife and I driving to the concrete bunker at the end of the mall they call a cineplex, and dropping $50+ on a movie that was just not that good.

Anyway, here some of the things that stood out for me, negatively or positively (but mostly negatively) :

1) Jack Black should not be in this film. As rebel movie director Carl Denham, Black starts out looking like an interesting though perhaps odd choice for the role. As the movie progresses, however, he becomes more and more annoying. For one thing, he only owns one expression, a kind of mad glare that makes it seem as though he's going to break into his "Jack Black" routine at any moment. He totally ruins the one great line of the film, "It was Beauty killed the Beast!", by glaring off emptily into space as he reads it.

2) It's too damn long. It's too damn long throughout, but the first forty-five minutes or so, when they are on The Venture sailing towards Skull Island, are painful to watch. In this stretch we are introduced to a couple of secondary characters, such as First Mate Hayes and Jimmy, and the movie spends time developing their "back story" in hopes that the audience will feel some empathy for them when they're finally killed off. Unfortunately, its boring as hell. Jimmy reads a copy of "Heart of Darkness", learns something from it (can't remember what), and Hayes eventually winds up a happy meal for Kong.

But even the "meat" of the story, all the running about on Skull Island, goes on for too long. Naomi Watts and her would-be rescuers are chased around by three different species of dinosaur, some kind of blood-sucking bats, and some very large and nasty insects. At about the halfway point it becomes a bit tiresome.

Although the insects are especially gooey, and its great when a bunch of them that look like slugs with teeth eat Lumpy the Cook. Unfortunately, this scene might be the film's highest highlight.

(Incidentally, the "cave sequence" in the new King Kong!, where Ann Darrow's would-be rescuers stumble upon a veritable "bug army", is based on scenes filmed for but not shown in the original because they were considered "too grisly" for the audience of the day. You can apparently get them on the DVD re-release of the 1933 version.)

3) Naomi Watts and Andy Serkeris as Kong are quite good. One thing the film does very well is "humanize" Kong. Although the CGI stuff isn't always convincing (see more below), Kong's facial expressions (motion captured from Andy Serkeris) are excellent; this ape has a real personality. And although Watt's role isn't particularly demanding, she goes far beyond the incessant screaming that was pretty much all Fay Wray brought to the part.

And it makes me wonder about the relative lack of success of the film. The Kong/Ann relationship was its most critically praised aspect, and the part that was supposed to turn the whole thing into a "Romance", which would bring female movie-goers in to see it.

Yet I don't think it really worked. I've talked with a number of women who said they were simply not interested in seeing a love story between a man and an giant monkey. Perhaps the potent sexual politics of the 1933 version are no longer relevant. In 2006, if you want to sleep with a black guy, it isn't necessary to construct an elaborate cinematic fantasy machine to sublimate your dangerous longings. You just go ahead and sleep with a black guy.

4) The Special Effects were iffy in places, or maybe I'm just getting bored with CGI. The dinosaurs were especially disappointing. There was a lot of talk on the Dinosaur Mailing List of how Jackson's team got it all wrong. Apparently, in Jurassic Park, which made elaborate attempts to get the dino anatomy correct, the effects people modeled from the skeleton out, which meant that a particular animal's movements were essentially determined by what it was anatomically capable of. In King Kong!, however, they apparently modeled from the surface inwards. That's why the sauropods looked like long-necked potatoes, and why they gallop around without immediately breaking their legs.

Elsewhere, the episode on the ice rink was pathetic. Kong moves like a figure in an old video game. And the cars he kicks around once he gets loose in New York seem awful bouncy; its as though he's playing with hotwheels.

5) The best part of the original King Kong! is near the end where Kong goes ape-shit and kills a whack of stupid humans; luckily, this part of the film is a highlight of the new version as well. Kong levels much carnage on the City of New York, though it would have been great if he'd managed to kill off Jack Black. Furthermore, it always bugged me in the original how Kong only managed to trash one of the bi-planes that attacks him on the Empire State Building. Here I think they let him destroy two or three. They let him go down swinging, in other words.

Because of a total lack of sex and foul language, the highest rating I could possibly give the King Kong! remake is 8 out of 10. With its various other flaws, I'm afraid it only gets a four.



Friday, July 21, 2006

It Was an Exploding Fire Extinguisher, Not The Israeli Airforce

...behind reports of an attack on a ship carrying Canadians from Lebanon. Or that is what Maclean's is currently saying. Peter MacKay is asking the Israelis to check it out.

Apparently, he gets all the shit jobs in this government.

Canadians Give Harper Big Thumbs Down Over Israel

From a Leger marketing survey published in the Post

"Leger asked respondents whether they strongly agreed, somewhat agreed, somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with Harper's support of Israel's armed intervention in Lebanon?

Forty-eight per cent of respondents disagreed, 30 per cent of them strongly.

Thirty-five per cent of Canadians polled agreed with Harper, 15 per cent strongly, while 17 per cent did not know or refused to answer."

Not only that:

Forty-two per cent of respondents in a new poll believed the federal government did not move quickly enough to evacuate Canadians from war-torn Lebanon.

Not really surprising, noise from the right-wing blogosphere notwithstanding. Should give pause to those Politicians too chicken-shit to criticize Israel (like Dalton McGuinty).

Poems For BigCityLib

As most of you will know, Andrew Coyne's blog is where the "smart" Conservatives go to swap opinion.

Well, one of Andrew's regulars, who goes by the name of "Plato's Stepchild", has taken to writing poetry, some of his poetry is about your own BigCityLib! I thought I might reproduce a few of his efforts here:

So this is the tale of the castaways,
They're here for a long, long time,
They'll have to make the best of things,
It's an uphill climb.

The first mate and the Skipper too,
Will do their very best,To make the others comfortable,
In the blog island nest. No phone, no lights, no motor cars,
Not a single registry,
Like Joe Volpe,
As primitive as can be.
So join us here each week my friends,
You're sure to get a lie,From seven stranded castaways,
Here on Big City Liberal's Isle.

Here's another attempt at versification:

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful flog,
That started from this ip port
Aboard this tiny blog.

The editor was a mighty sailing man,
The webmaster brave and sure.
5 web browsers set sail that day
For a 3 hour tour, a 3 hour tour.

The comments started getting rough,
The tiny blog was tossed,
If not for the courage of the fearless few
Their Say would be lost, Their Say would be lost.

The blog set ground on the shore of this uncharted Liberal isle

With BigCityLib, The Fibber too,
The debonnaire and his fife,
The porno star
The professor and Hedy Fry,
Here on Liberal's Isle.

Okay, I'll tell you what, Righties. I know that I troll your blogs pretty hard; I know the harsh ring of Truth in my criticisms makes you cry. In fact, I was banned from Small Dead Animals for making Kate and some of her minions cry.

But this is my word to you: no matter what you say about me, no matter how bad Stephen Harper fucks up, I will promise you one thing.

I will never, ever...EVER...inflict poetry that I have written upon you.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Is Israel Shooting Civilians?

From the Australia Broadcasting Corporation:

In south Lebanon, Israel has intensified its attacks overnight and has launched the deadliest single strike of the conflict.

Israeli air strikes and a naval bombardment on the Christian town of Srifa near Tyre overnight killed more than 30 people.

With many of the dead believed to be civilians, those still in the south are being presented with a dangerous choice.

Israel's army has ordered residents of dozens of villages near the border to leave their homes. But the United Nations peacekeeping force in South Lebanon says virtually every civilian or humanitarian convoy that's chanced the roads has come under Israeli fire.

London Times correspondent Nicholas Blanford is based in the port city of Tyre on the south coast of Lebanon, and he's been speaking to The World Today's Sabra Lane.

NICHOLAS BLANFORD: The Israelis have turned most of south Lebanon into a free-fire zone in the past week since this whole escalation began.

I'm in Tyre, which is about 15, 20 kilometres north of the border with Israel, and any travel south of Tyre towards the border is effectively committing suicide at the moment.

The Israelis are allowing a few vehicles to leave villages closer to the border to head north. But any other vehicles are being hit.

SABRA LANE: The Israelis are telling these people to get out, but it doesn't sound like they're actually giving them safe passage?

NICHOLAS BLANFORD: There's no... there's certainly not safe passage.

But wait! We must not be critical. Israel has had a hard time of it! And they're a democracy!

Harper's Cyprus Excursion: BigCityLib Speaks Out!

It's a cynical photo-op for which he deserves no credit!

Harper could have just sent the plane. There's absolutely no reason for him to be on it. In fact, he takes up space that an evacuee (say one wounded by Israeli shells) might use if he wasn't there.

Cypress might need the resource that Harper's plane represents. It does not need Harper.

He could have flown home on WestJet, fucked up his back crammed into one of their "seats", and eaten crappy food, like the rest of us.

TDS Wrong on DART

Other than supporting Iggy, the folks at TDS Strategies are usually pretty much on the ball. However, in commenting on Harper's Cypress photo-op, they wrote the following:

One thing that has become clear as a result of Harper's excursion, however, has been the embarrassing inability of Canada to react to crisis'. Whether it was our attempts to send in the DART team during the tsunami, or now with the complete chaos that is being created by Canadian rescue efforts, we seem completely clueless in how to run these types of operations in a timely and efficient manner.

This isn't a partisan Liberal vs. Conservative type of comment, but one that should be of concern to everyone. God forbid that something similar ever happens within the confines of the Canadian border.

Let's let Tony Gilles of Lakehead University (an expert on earthquake engineering) respond to this:

DART is not a rapid response emergency search and rescue team (although its engineering unit is certainly capable in this area) and, therefore, it is not the team to send into a disaster area in the hours immediately following such an event. Response in the first 24 hours is critical for rescue operations, and there are many international teams highly skilled in this task and equipped with trained dogs and specialised search devices... As a primary care medical unit, the DART team attends to illness, disease and obstetrics, and the demand for these treatments increases in the weeks after a disaster, whereas the trauma units are winding down their role at this time.

These same contributions can be expected in Sri Lanka. It has taken a week or more to understand the enormous scale of the disaster in Asia − recall in the first hours a loss of 12,000 lives was reported; now we are facing a loss which may exceed 200,000 − twice the population of Thunder Bay. DART requires a large physical area to establish its base, and its specialised engineering capacity ideally needs to be located near to a primary water treatment facility in order to establish a long-term water supply. It is, therefore, prudent to take time to assess the scope of the disaster and to select carefully the site for the team so that it can have the greatest impact in the longer term towards the recovery of the community.

It is an unfortunate fact that even in so huge a humanitarian crisis, some news media and politicians seize on the opportunity to politicise the national and international response. Surely partisan politics can be set aside in these circumstances and the focus turn to investigative journalism identifying the needs and the most efficient and effective response strategies? Had these politicians taken time to educate the public on the capacity and role of DART, the apparent delay in its deployment would be better understood by the public. Canadians should take great pride in the contribution that the DART team will make in the current crisis.

Also, if I remember correctly, DART's Water Purification Unit (if that's their proper name) was on site in New Orleans and setting up equipment within a couple of days of Katrina. In fact, I believe they beat the U.S. military to the scene .

So one thing I don't worry about too much is how efficiently the Canadian Forces will respond to a domestic emergency.

Tories Stuck at 37%; 41% Say Bring Troops Home Now

From The Globe, a new SEC Poll says:

CPC: 37% (+1%)
Libs: 26% (-1%)
NDP: 18% (-1%)

(I didn't see a figure for the Bloc in the Globe Piece, but CTV says).

BQ: 11% (+2%)
Green: 9% (+1%)

Meanwhile, re. Afghanistan:

“There's a feeling that it's gotten much worse, ‘so get them out now, it's becoming a quagmire,' “ said pollster Timothy Woolstencroft of the Strategic Counsel, which conducted the poll for The Globe and Mail/CTV News.

Woolstencroft also suggested that Harper might call an early election "...if he can stickhandle the environment and the war."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

DonationGate Redux

Meaghan and Walks With Coffee seem to have taken a break on this, but their research is starting to pay off. CTV, heavily sourcing the Vancouver Sun, has a "state o' the scandal" piece today on its website. From the story:

1) All of the parties engaged in similar practices in the past:

But unlike the Tories, who continued to promote the scheme to help defray delegate expenses at their 2005 convention, the two opposition parties say they stopped the practice in 2004 after political financing laws were overhauled.

2) While the NDP and Libs moved to comply with the new laws, the Tories kept on swapping:

E-mails obtained by the Vancouver Sun have indicated that some Conservatives were using cheque-swapping to defray their expenses for the party's 2005 policy convention.

"I can tell you that all EDAs (electoral district associations) in Alberta are doing the cheque-swap," advised Red Deer Tory organizer Linda Toews in one e-mail.

3) So far, the CPC's explanation has been to blame the locals:

Mike Donison, the Conservatives' executive director, has said the party had no knowledge that local organizers were using cheque-swapping and did not approve or condone the practice.

4) The Party is also being investigated for "failing to disclose as donations as much as $2 million in delegate fees to the 2005 convention", and they have still refused to hand over their convention books to Elections Canada:

Elections Canada spokeswoman Valerie Hache said : "An offer was made by the party to provide us with the required information on the matter." She added that [Elections Canada] "will make a public statement when he deems it appropriate."

And we will all be waiting. BWAHH!-HAH!-HAH!-HAH!

Clerks II...Pick or Pan?

Movie critic Joel Siegel has walked out on the press screening of Kevin Smith's Clerks II, the sequel to that film school favorite/underground classic Clerks:

In the scene that sent Siegel to the exit, the characters graphically discuss hiring a woman to perform sexual favors on a donkey. Siegel told Page Six: "It was so foul and mean and repulsive. I finally realized I could not say anything positive . . . I wasn't ready for this kind of smut . . . I hope he doesn't make any more movies."

After Clerks, I think Smith's only decent flick is Chasing Amy, with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back being actually quite ghastly. On the other hand, if he can't scare a few people out of the theatre, then Smith's not brought his A game.

I shall wait therefore before passing judgment.

Israel's Strategy in a Nutshell

And why it won't work. From the Boston Globe:

Israel is sending ``mixed messages" -- saying its target is not the Lebanese government, but at the same time hammering Lebanese infrastructure and accusing the government of harboring a terrorist group.

By hitting infrastructure, some analysts said, Israel is repeating a strategy it has used for years without winning peace: trying to press the wider population to disavow a militant group because of the punishment it attracts.

Israel has bombed roads and bridges, saying the purpose is to block arms shipments from Syria, but reporters have entered Lebanon from Syria along alternate routes that could just as well carry a truckload of missiles.

The punitive bombings continued today as downtown Beirut was struck for the first time.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Big Daddy America Gives Kid Israel Another Week

From The Guardian, finally the U.S. is setting some limits:

The US is giving Israel a window of a week to inflict maximum damage on Hizbullah before weighing in behind international calls for a ceasefire in Lebanon, according to British, European and Israeli sources.

Why Israel Reminds me of Juan Berenger

Juan Berenger (or Senor Smoke, as he was called), was one of my favorite pitchers during the 1980s and 1990s. Throwing in late relief, he became a big part of the 1987 Minnesota Twins World Series Team. He was a hefty, long-haired Panamanian, and quite intimidating on the mound.

Berenger could throw a 100 mph fastball, and his pitching was, as manager Tom Kelly often said approvingly, "conveniently wild", which meant he never intentionally beaned opposing players, it just happened in the natural course of things.

"Conveniently Wild" is a term to keep in mind when thinking about Israel's response to the Hezobllah/Hamas border incursions, and the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. When you fire at a missile at or drop a bomb on residential area containing a militant presence, you won't kill many militants. In fact, in this case its a particularly ineffective means of killing militants, since they seem to be employing "shoot and scoot" tactics--firing off a couple of rockets or mortars, and then heading to another area. Given the nature of the weaponry used, you are much more likely to create "collateral damage". Dead Lebanese Canadians, for example.

And the Isaeli Military knows this. In fact, one can assume that it is the point of the exercise: to deliberately use a weapon that is ineffective upon its intended target, but great at creating random slaughter. The "convenient wildness" allows you to achieve a particular end (the intimidation of batters or, in this case, the Lebanese populace), while offering a moral backdoor by which to evade responsibility for the act.

See? Baseball is just like Life.

Whoopsie! 6,000 Dead!

Four weeks into Baghdad's latest security crackdown, the U.N. is reporting a civilian death rate of over 3,000 per month, or 6,000 dead since May. This is about twice the pace of the first part of the year, and while the figure is for Iraq as a whole, Baghdad is the scence of most of the violence.

Head Hobbit Supports Stem Cell Research

The LifeSite is reporting, with some consternation, that:

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, July 17, 2006 ( Profits from the Lord of the Rings film trilogy are being used to fund destructive human embryonic research at the University of California, reported the Mainichi Daily News.

Filmmakers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, who brought the J.R.R. Tolkien epic to the screen, together donated US $310,000 last Saturday to fund research using the stem cells of human embryos.

Stem cell therapy has the potential to treat a multitude of diseases and illnesses which up until now have been labeled incurable the pair said in a statement released by the University of California."

The Hobbit race is apparently looking for some "enhancements". They are, it is reported, tiny all over. Go Peter Jackson! Go Frodo!, especially since, if E. Wood doesn't get into some half-decent flicks soon, doing Porn may be his only career option.

The Lifesite is also pissed off at the fact that:

British actor Ian McKellen, who portrayed the wizard Gandalf in the film, has used the international recognition generated by the film to further his promotion of homosexuality, campaigning for homosexual marriage in Britain.

Well wooo wooo wooo! go cry me a river, Christians.

Monday, July 17, 2006

What if

...the Tories engineer their own defeat this Fall over, for example, the Softwood Lumber deal. How does a leaderless Liberal Party play the election to follow? TDH Strategies has some ideas:

This then brings up a valid question, sent in by one of this website's regular readers: what will be the battle strategy of the Liberals? Well, in my opinion, if we were forced into such an unenviable position, the best thing that we could do would be to make use of the multiple candidates that are running for the top job. Thing of it...Michael Ignatieff in the Maritimes talking about wind power and sustainable energy...Gerard Kennedy in British Columbia talking about a new platform for immigrants...Scott Brison in Ontario, talking about economic innovation. Any leader debates would have to be handled by Bill Graham, but it would be a very interesting endeavors to make use of the breadth and strength of the 11 declared candidates.

This might work. I think the leadership debates would be a problem, however. Doubts about Bill Graham's debating abilities aside, I wonder what he would say when asked about Afghanistan (for example), and who he would claim to be speaking for? It's too bad the party couldn't put together a short-list of top-tier candidates (Dion, Iggy, Kennedy, and maybe Rae), and parcel out the debates to them, after having agreed in advance to a fairly generic Lib platform with space for disagreement over specific issues.

Although I suppose there would be problems with this as well. Iggy's ability to stick his foot in his mouth, for example.

Ralph Peters on Lebanon

Normally I can't stand the New York Post's Ralph Peters, but his Sunday column, "A Tragedy of Errors", seems in line with my own view of the matter:

...Hezbollah got this one wrong. Whoever green- lighted the raid on Israel didn't anticipate the ferocity or scale of the Israeli reaction.

Then the Israelis began to miscalculate - reacting impulsively and emotionally themselves. Attacking Hezbollah was fully justified and necessary, but Israel's frustration with the Lebanese government's toleration of terrorists boiled over into folly. Israeli aircraft attacked Beirut's international airport and other targets around the city, doing both Israel and Lebanon's fragile democracy far more harm than good.

Israel hopes to pressure the Lebanese government into taking action against Hezbollah. But Lebanon's leaders can't do that. If they ordered their work-in-progress military to attack and disarm Hezbollah, some Lebanese Armed Forces units would mutiny, others would disintegrate - and any outfits that attempted to take on Hezbollah would be badly and swiftly defeated. And the action would reignite the country's dormant civil war

Quite so. Israel wants the Lebanese government and military to do what the Israeli military failed to do in nearly two decades of occupation: Quash Hezbollah. But this is a recipe for Lebanese national suicide, and therefore a non-starter.

So you have to ask, why is Israel demanding that the Lebanese government do the impossible? Is this just stupid politics, "an emotional over-reaction", or a calculated attempt to politically humiliate the Lebanese people, which as politics is both stupid and immoral?

Either way, plenty to condemn.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Israelis Kill Canucks in Lebanon

From CTV:

Five Lebanese-Canadians from a single family were killed in an Israeli air strike on a Lebanese border town on Sunday, according to The Associated Press.

Terrible news, but frankly this should be a wakeup call to Canadians. The Israeli government has gone way over the top in its response to the events in Gaza and at the Lebanese Border, and Canadians (if not our utterly inept and sycophantic Federal Government) ought to be speaking out against them.

It should also be, frankly, a wakeup call to Canadian Jews. You and I have watched a nation that was Heroic in the 70s turn into a militaristic/emperialistic pack of pricks of the 80s and 90s, and I think it is time for Jews outside of Israel to disconnect their source of spiritual sustenance from that nation if they are not prepared to act to make that nation behave as a responsible member of the International Community.

The idea that the Palestinians, or Hamas or Hezbollah, constitute an "existential threat" hasn't been true for three decades. It is time to stop acting like victims. It's also time to stop leaning on the Holocaust/Anti-Semiticism as a kind of all purpose excuse for any act of stupidity that Israel chooses to perpetuate.

And the same message that Canada is delivering to its Muslim population should be directed at its Jewish population: its time to leave the old ways behind and start thinking of the good of Canada, (which in this case entails thinking of the good of the Middle East in general, and not just the old "home team" Israel). It does not do the Canadian nation any good to operate as the Mini-Me of the American empire as it flashes the green light to one of its other client states to drop as many bombs as they want on whoever they want.

Because this time they got Canadians, the people who you are supposed to owe your allegiance to.

Update, 2:45: We're up to 8 Lebanese Canadians dead beneath Israeli bombs. Yo Jason Cherniak! You've been talking tough as hell on this Israeli Invasion stuff. What's your opinion on the slaughter of your Canadian countrymen? Just collateral damage? Were they aiding the enemy just being there?

Guardian Angels Out of TO

Because the last thing we need is another gang in town, especially when they're drip dried nerds who go around like this:

I mean, seriously, they look like rogue French Watercolorists. When a real gang-banger sees one of them, d'you think he's going to run or piss himself laughing?

And consider this: what kind of person dresses up like a dweeb and wanders around looking to fight crime? Well, BatMan did! Or rather, the guy that put on a batman outfit and ran around Hyde Park every night did, until the cops came and gang-tackled him by the water fountain! But you put a bunch of these people in a room together, issue funny hats, and presto! you've got a Conservative Movement!

The Guardian Angels are just going to get themselves hurt, probably by walking into light-poles while admiring their costumes in shop-windows. Eventually, in the absence of crimes to fight, they'll start committing crimes of their own out of boredom. That's what happened last time they came to town.

Mayor Miller and Chief Blair are absolutely right about these vigilantes: twice we've seen what trouble they can get up to (1982-84, and then briefly in 1992-93). We don't need a third demonstration.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

John Sewell to Run For T.O. City Council

Toronto's own "Hippy Mayor" (1978 to 1980) John Sewell has just announced that he will run in November's Municipal election for City Council in Ward 21, a seat currently held by Joe Mhevic.

I am an enthusiastic admirer of John Sewell. Though on a personal level he ranges from abrupt to crusty to downright snarly, John Sewell is a long-time hardcore Torontophile. He has paced or peddled every inch of this city, fiercely defended it against barbarians of every stripe (the highlight for me being his work with C4LD during that Mike Harris assault on Urban Living known as the Toronto MegaCity), and understands far more about North York and Scarborough than people out in the suburbs give him credit for. I can think of no better person to bear the message of his constituents to the Mayor, City Council, the Province, whoever needs persuading.

So good luck John Sewell!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Is Vancouver the New Center of the Universe?

Of course not. Toronto still rules. But Vancouver has all the markings of a City striving for (if not always attaining) Greatness. After having spent nearly four days there, I feel I have taken its pulse. Here are a few of the things that stood out for me:

1) The bus drivers must have a great Union. We (wife and I) rode the sky-train extensively for three days. The drivers were always nice to us, but on the first day, coming home during rush hour, one of them gave the verbal stick to an Chinese lady and her kid, told them he didn't have time for their bullshit etc. when they asked him for directions from his bus.

Next day on the ride into town, a rough looking couple got on carrying a bag full of (I think) tin-cans. The woman gave some spiel about having her pass in a back pocket that she could not easily reach, and the driver (a different one this time) let them board. But he then spent the next five minutes reaming them out as "freeloaders".

Anyway, the point is, these guys obviously realize that if you take their name, write down a badge number, and call in a complaint, absolutely nothing will happen. They've achieved the working class version of total freedom; they're almost like Teamsters.

2) Vancouverites are getting smug. For example, they are greenie weenie crunchy granola hippy dip Eco pansies even by Toronto standards, and they're really in your face about it. My brother Left Coast Hipster was shocked that Torontonians still eat beef. And I went to a zillion restaurants where they were serving Kangaroo, or Caribou Soup or lo fat Bison Burgers or freaking Elk Steak! It all tasted like different versions of the crap you might eat in communist countries, but people seemed to love it. It was actually difficult to find a place that served burgers and fries. I would tell people that in Toronto real men eat grease, but they seemed unimpressed, and even seemed to be looking down their nose at me.

And I have come to believe after close observation that there is a Vancouver variant of Toronto's Liberal Smirk, but you have to watch close to see the difference. Its like knowing how to tell a Least Northern Spotted Partridge from a Greater Northern Spotted Partridge.

Here's a generic rendition of The Liberal Smirk for reference purposes (that's not me doing it, by the way, ladies):

Anyway, I was trying to be nice to my fellow cityfolk, so I did not unleash my Toronto Atomic Smug-Storm on them, and burn the whole city to the ground. And in any case, I could sense that deep down they feared me a little. Toronto still gets respect, though these days I think we are getting by on pure reputation.

3) A big plus is that a river runs through the whole town. The Fraser River is a beautiful thing. Left Coast Hipster lives across the road from it in Burnaby (on Kent St. East), and in the time I was there I saw Eagles, Herons, Loons, you name it, wildlife-wise. Not only that, there are tugboats that tow log booms up and down the river almost 24/7. One day, there might be an acre of barked lumber floating just off shore; the next day its gone. And a little further South there's a mountain of obsolete box cars stacked on (if I remember correctly) Mitchell Island. Here's a few of my favorite snaps from the digicam:

4) It's an elite doggytown. In Toronto, rich folk take out high-end dogs out for a walk the same way they take their Lamborghini's out for a spin, and when they meet they stop to compare mileage and specs and so forth: "My whippet Muffin can outrun all the other dogs, but when I get her home she's a couch-potato." "My curly-haired hound is from one only two litters born in Canada this year". That kind of thing.

Well, the same phenomenon occurs in Vancouver.

For the most part, the "high-end" dogs you find are pretty much the same in both cities. The only breed I saw in Vancouver that I have never observed in the Big Smoke were Rhodesian Ridgebacks. They're an impressive, golden dog that seem to have a bit of a detached and stand-offish nature. I saw about four in the city, although the picture below is off the Web :

And, finally, 5) Vancouver is Socially Progressive. In fact, it is so Socially Progressive that you are actually allowed to hate the new mayor even though he's a Quad.

Mayor Sam Sullivan: Oddly Unsympathetic

Monday, July 10, 2006

Your Blog Post is Good For Less Than Two Days

From Physics Web, a very neat piece on how long people generally read a news story after it appears on the Web. Short answer, less than two days :

If you think you're reading the news, be warned that this story -- and any other on the web -- will be barely read by anyone 36 hours after it was first posted. That's the message from a team of statistical physicists who have analysed how people access information online.

Very interesting for any blogger trying to attract readers to their site, as I am sure the same general principle applies.

Hint: Keep cranking out them posts.

PS. Am still on West Coast. Won't be posting again until Friday/Saturday.

Canada, Environmental Villain?

The World Heritage Committee (WHC) looks set to reject a motion calling for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, and environmentalists are pissed:

The WHC meeting in Lithuania heard evidence that 125 sites including the Himalayas and the Great Barrier Reef are at risk from climate change.

Countries which are members of the WHC are legally obliged to protect sites. Campaign groups say this can only be done by cutting emissions.

What's especially interesting is the accusation flung at the WHC by Peter Roderick, co-director of the Climate Justice Programme:

The world is entitled to expect better from the Committee; bending over backwards as a result of fear of the US and Canada will tarnish its reputation.

So Canada under "Steve" has joined the list of climate change no-goods. As my dear mother would say: Hmmmm!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

New Book Claims Tory's Won by Being Liberal, Liberals Lost by Being Tory

In How Ottawa Spends: In from the Cold The Tory rise and the Liberal Demise (which rhymes), G. Bruce Doern writes that "Harper's agenda is more Liberal than Conservative in terms of public spending". In addition, the Martin economic plan from November 2005 "was actually "Tory-lite" in its orientation because of a range of promised tax cuts and an innovation agenda."

So Tories win by acting like Liberals and Liberals lose by selling out. Any Iggynistas out there listening?

By the way, that gimmick by the Ignatieff youth team, buying an old Volkswagon Van and touring around in it, is truly puke worthy: a Con in Lib clothing trying to exploit the old hippy symbols. I'm surprised Timothy Leary hasn't risen from his grave and knocked a few heads together.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Global Warming Comes to Victoria?

Twenty-five years ago, the clothesline in back of my house outside of Victoria, B.C. would be crowded, on a typical summer evening, with about two dozen rufus and calliope hummingbirds, fighting for a space at the feeders that my family had hung around our deck. There were so many that you could fill a tablespoon full of their liquid feed, hold it at arm's length, and have two or three of the little animals hovering a few feet from your nose. At the peak of the season, it was even possible to drawn them inside the house itself in this manner. And in the fall when they migrated South, we would find their thimble-sized nests, and broken shells from their pea-sized eggs, all around the back lawn. We even had a favorite: "fatty", a male calliope that was immediately distinguishable from the others (because he was almost spherical), who came back three years running.

Unfortunately, the number of returning calliopes and and rufus hummingbirds has been much depleted recently. At first I believed this was because of more competition: almost everyone in the subby puts out a feeder or two nowadays. However, it turns out that the migration routes these birds use up and down the West Coast have been disrupted by Development, and not as many are able to successfully make the run every year.

Recently, though, we've been getting a new visitor to our feeders. This little guy:

Now, that's unfortunately the best shot I've been able to take from my digicam (he is very shy, and bolts from the feeder when he hears my camera's auto-focus). This is a better image from the web of Calypte anna or Anna's Hummingbird:

Anna's Hummingbirds do not migrate, and until very recently were confined to the milder, South coastal areas of Vancouver Island. For example, they used to be seen very occasionally around UVIC (the University of Victoria).

However (and here's the kicker), as temperatures have crept upward from the onset of Global Warming, they have been slowly extending their range in a Northerly and inland direction, until they have reached the Langford area where my parents live. They've also become more common on the island as conditions grow more suitable to the species.

For this reason, Momma Lib maintains a stock of liquid feed during the winter months to keep the little guys happy. God knows what they eat to maintain their protein requirements, as most of the flowering plants in the area still die back over that time period (when you see a humming-bird feeding from a flower, it is just as likely to be eating whatever insects call the flower home as it is drinking nectar).

In any case, tell your Conservative friends: the evidence for GW is all around them, even at their back-yard feeders

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

BigCityLib Alive and Well

Well, the plane didn't crash, although I was otherwise much less impressed with WestJet this time out. The crew didn't sing us any songs, the tickets costs a couple hundred more, and it was like sitting on a crowded bus for five hours. One bright spot was that instead of a (usually crappy) in-flight movie, you paid a buck for headphones to watch satellite tv on a little screen on the back of the seat one row up.

Arrived in the truly wonderful city of Vancouver Sunday night, and stayed with brother Left Coast Hipster for a couple of nights. He's living on a condo a hundred yards from the Fraser River, which is plied daily by lumber-hauling tugboats like this one:

Within a couple of minutes along the river Monday morning I had already seen a half dozen Great Blue Herons, and two seagulls chasing a Bald Eagle.

Bye For Now.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Israel: Rescue or Coup Attempt?

Bags are packed, boarding passes have been printed up, the works. Just thought I would flag Juan Cole's post today on the latest turns in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (ie the kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit):

This looks so little like a rescue effort for missing Israeli serviceman, and so much like a war, that I am persuaded now of the theory that the Israeli authorities had had a plan for some time to destroy the elected Hamas government and encourage a coup by Palestinian President, Mahmoudd Abbas. Although it is worrying that the Bush administration has to say publicly that for the Israelis to just kill Abbas (the secular Fateh politician) is unacceptable. Anyway, look for Mahmoud or his successor to try to take over and marginalize Hamas. That will undermine all Bush administration arguments for democracy (Hamas is the one that won elections) in the region.

...although the Israelis made a point of bombing Palestinian PM (and Hamas Member) Ismail Haniyeh's office when it was empty. They seem to be applying the same treatment they gave Arafat, where they bomb around the leadership structure and hit all the government facilities when nobody is home, so the government survives but has to operate out of ruins.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

BigCityLib on Vacation

This will be one of the last posts I do for awhile, as I am off on vacation to the beautiful Left Coast for a couple of weeks, to visit Ma and Pa Liberal and my brother, LeftCoastHipster.

I will try and check in now and again during my trip, if I am around a computer, and may do a couple of short posts. I may even upload a few shots from the digicam if I see anything notable (Ma and Pa used to have a Kingfisher living in the trees above Millstream Creek, and occasionally get visits from Great Blue Herons, deer, raccoons, and the like).

But before all that I am going to have to get on a airplane, and I have to admit that BigCityLib really, really doesn't like getting on airplanes.

Now, I'm not like William Shatner in that episode from the Twilight Zone. I don't scream or loose the old bowels or curl up in a fetal ball. They haven't ever had to medicate me.

But I always try and get an aisle seat so I don't have to look out the window, and I always ask if the window nearest me can be closed for take-off and landing. Furthermore, I always book a seat towards the forward/rear ends of the plane; I never want to see what the wing is doing. If you're ever aboard the same flight, I'm the pale-looking guy whose reading his newspaper upsidedown while the plane taxis onto the runway. I used to do the drink-until-you-pass-out routine in an attempt to sleep through my various plane flights, but it occurred to me that if something really went wrong, the screams of the other passengers would probably wake me, and the idea of dying hung-over just didn't appeal.

As the months and days to my vacation have counted down, my mind has begun to wander morbidly. For example, I've been asking myself, is it better to have your body hosed across the flanks of Mt. Robson, or to be clutching a fragment of rudder, floating in oily water as the shark circles closer and and closer and eats the last flight attendant?

I know people say its much safer flying than driving, and I suppose that's true. But if you crash a car you usually live long enough, as you bleed to death in the wreckage, to flash back more or less leisurely over your life and evaluate what you've accomplished. When a jet plane goes down, its all screaming until the big SPLAT!

So, once again, no posts from mid-Sunday, July 2nd until at least Tuesday the 4th, and then maybe the occasional short piece with, maybe, the occasional pretty picture. Assuming I walk away from my flight.

Meanwhile, there is an old Russian proverb: when you meet a Bulgarian in the Street, hit them. They'll know why.

So keep stomping those Tories. In their souls, they are Bulgarian.

Back in Black!

So the Libs are out of debt and ready to rumble. All they need now is a leader.