Thursday, August 31, 2006

Tories Tank in Quebec!

From Reuters:

A CROP survey for La Presse newspaper put support for the federal Conservatives at 24 percent, down from 33 percent from the firm's last poll in late June. The separatist Bloc Quebecois was at 36 percent, up six points.

The Libs are up four points to 21 percent. The reason?

CROP vice-president Claude Gauthier said it was clear that people in Quebec -- one of the more left-leaning provinces -- disliked Harper's backing for Israeli attacks against Lebanon.

In separate news, the same poll said support for Quebec's provincial Liberal government was unchanged at 32 percent while the separatist Parti Quebecois gained two points to 37 percent.

Recession in 2007?

My wife has been predicting a recession every year since the last one ended. I'm beginning to think, however, that this time she's got it right. The first bit of evidence comes from today's GDP report:

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's economy lost momentum in the second quarter, posting 2.0 percent growth, down sharply from 3.6 percent in the previous quarter, as weaker exports took their toll along with a slower pace of consumer and business spending.

Statistics Canada also reported on Thursday that gross domestic product did not grow at all in June from May, after inching up just 0.1 percent in May. Statscan revised lower the first-quarter growth figure from 3.8 percent previously.

The strong Canadian dollar is hurting shipments to the U.S., no doubt.

However, a more disturbing indication of a looming downturn comes from the U.S. itself, where housing markets have been riding the surface of a bubble since about 2000. Nation-wide, average prices have been rising at about 13 percent year over year, with many states (like California) seeing increases nearly double that rate. This is simply not sustainable, and it appears that the bubble is finally starting to burst.

Now, the state of the Canadian housing market is not nearly so tenuous. For example, in Toronto the average price of a home has increased about six to seven percent annually since the market bottomed in 1996. Even in Calgary, where prices have gone up about twelve or thirteen percent since last year, the longer term increases have been in single digits. This is not not bubble territory.

No, the problem will be with spill-over effects from any slowdown in the U.S. caused by deflating home prices. For example (as R. McClelland notes here) a crash in the U.S. residential construction industry will effect lumber sales and prices in Canada, and may even trigger tariffs written into Harper's softwood lumber deal.

Oddly enough, the dude at Dymaxion World chose today to write on this very same topic. He's got some scary looking graphs showing price increases in the U.S. housing market. Compare them with, for instance, the numbers from Calgary and you can see how different the situation is in the two countries.

Iggy Flip-Flops

Now he's definitely running for MP, whether he wins the Lib Leadership race or not:

"Let's be clear: I am planning to run in the next election in Etobicoke-Lakeshore. I love being an MP and I've enjoyed it enormously and I'm looking forward to doing it again," Mr. Ignatieff said.

Yesterday, he wasn't so sure.

While some are calling Iggy an "error prone amateur" , Stalwart supporters like Ted at Cerberus are claiming that all these apparent gaffes are really signs of Iggy's leadership genius, or his refusal to "speak in soundbytes", or whatever...but actually a good thing. In other words, they're calling it ice-cream and saying they like it. They're also claiming that Iggy's PR team doesn't need to get a muzzle on their candidate's wandering mouth, it just has to just let Iggy be Iggy. But which Iggy is that? Yesterday's fair-weather Iggy, or today's committed one?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

More Canadian Crop Circles

This time from Buffalo Lake, Saskatchewan, according to the CCCRN.

Our Alien Overlords sending messages? Or did Kate from SDA get bombed and ride her motor-bike through a farmer's field? I will not venture an interpretation.

Are "Influential Bloggers" Like The World's Tallest Midgets?

A nifty takedown of the "mythology" of the Blogosphere by Bruce Kluger in today's U.S.A Today. He references the Snakes on a Plane Phenomenon, Ned Lamont's insurgent candidacy against Joe Lieberman, and Howard Dean's run for President, as examples of how little influence bloggers have over contemporary culture and political discourse. After all, Snakes produced a most mediocre Box-office, and Howard Dean's on-line support never translated into real votes in the Democratic primaries.

The article's "money quote":

[this should remind] us that voters represent a meager percentage of the total populace — and that bloggers are an even tinier subset of that group. Consequently, what appears to be a coast-to-coast juggernaut on a 17-inch monitor is, in the real world, simply an elaborate PC-to-PC chain letter — enthusiastic, but not necessarily the national mindset.

Of course, Kluger is missing alot. Among other things, the blogosphere functions as a "feeder system" to the MSM, whereby stories that a particular blogger feels "ought" to be given more prominence can achieve a somewhat longer shelf life and, if noticed by a "real" journalist, may sometimes get a level of exposure commensurate with their significance. For example, one of my proudest moments was seeing a tip I left on Drudge (from a back-page story in the T.O. Star) make his front page, and then appear (sourcing Drudge) on the Fox website a day later.

Nevertheless, one can see, especially in the Liberal portion of the Canadian blogosphere, a tendency among certain bloggers towards swell-headedness, especially after they have been name-checked a few times by professional journalists. For them, the piece should serve as a much needed splash of cold water.

Iggy May Takes His Marbles and Go Home

...if he doesn't win the Lib Leadership, according to this T.O Star front page piece:

"Depends who's leader," Ignatieff said yesterday when asked at a meeting with the Toronto Star editorial board if he would run for the party in the next election if he loses the leadership vote in early December.

No lowly spear carrier role for Iggy! No, goddamn it, Iggy wants to be King! When asked again whether he would run in Etobicoke-Lakeshore, he replied:

I'd like to serve my constituents well, but you're asking me an anticipatory hypothetical about the situation that prevails on the 3rd or 4th of December.

So don't ask Iggy no ridiculous anticipatory hypotheticals!

Iggy also discussed his support of the 2003 American invasion of Iraq:

He reiterated that he supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 because of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's treatment of the Kurds and litany of human rights abuses. He added, however, he doesn't "have any trouble admitting" he seriously underestimated how much the United States would mismanage the war.

"Did I anticipate correctly what would happen? No, I did not."

It is almost too easy to pick this stuff apart. For one thing, Iggy has also stated, here for example, that he supported the invasion because Saddam would not disarm before U.N. inspectors. He has also reiterated the "but everybody thought they had WMDs" line that the Whitehouse has employed on innumerable occasions.

But I think the criticism that applies most cogently to this particular quote is: how could you possess the Hubris to think that the war you supported would be run according to your personal high standards? Indeed, Iggy's claim is bizarre on the face of it, given that he spends the whole of Empire Lite complaining, with regards to Afghanistan, Kosovo and so forth, of exactly the same kind of mismanagement (nation building "on the cheap", he calls it) that has afflicted the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Zaphod's Heads on Kennedy on Afghanistan

Couldn't have said it better myself.

He applauds Gerard Kennedy's "change the mission or end the mission" message, and so do I.

It's a quagmire, baby. It's a quagmire.

Kinsella Emerges

...cheering the disappearance of Of course, since Warren was among those fanning the flames of hysteria that made Hezboliberal an inevitable development, it isn't surprising that he wants to see it come down. Probably a certain amount of shame and guilt on his part.

Think before you write, Warren, think before you write.

Hoaxes and the Nature of Literature

Former English Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman claimed late in Life that his one regret was not having had more sex. So, naturally, biographer A.N. Wilson was thrilled when, in the course of researching a new book on Betjeman , he received a copy of a passionate love letter supposedly written by Sir John to a mistress.

The letter was addressed to Honor Tracy, an Anglo-Irish writer with whom Betjeman worked at the Admiralty during WWII. It began as follows:

Darling Honor, I loved yesterday. All day I’ve thought of nothing else. No other love I’ve had means so much.

and continued: has given me a miss for so long and now this miracle has happened. Sex is a part of it, of course.

and concluded:

Tinkerty-tonk, my Darling. I pray I’ll hear from you tomorrow. If I don’t I’ll visit your office in a fake beard. All love, JB

However, the letter has proven to be a hoax, the give-away being that, when you look at the capitalized letters at the beginning of each line, they spell out the words AN Wilson is a shit.

Mr. Wilson's rival Betjemen scholars are all denying responsibility for this prank.

Funny stuff, and only one of several literary hoaxes that have been uncovered during the course of 2006. For example:

...there was acclaimed writer JT LeRoy, who turned out not to be a transgendered, 25-year-old HIV-positive former prostitute, but a 40 year old punk rocker, porn writer, and phone sex operator named Laura Albert.

...there was Nasdijj, who was not only not Navajo, as he claimed, but had an earlier career writing gay porn novels with titles like The Mineshaft under the name of Tim Barrus.

...and, most famously, there was James Frey, whose mega-best-selling memoir A Million Little Pieces proved to be almost entirely fictional.

Frey's case is the most interesting, because of what it says about the nature of Fiction vs. Auto-Biography. This guy sold two million copies of AMLP before its inaccuracies were exposed on The Smoking Gun. He was then denounced on live television by no less a personage than Oprah, and reamed out afterwards by his publisher. Nevertheless, the book went on to sell another two million copies!

And what it says about the nature of Fiction etc. is that nowadays you are allowed to lie in your memoirs! Which is great! That means, when I come to write the autobiography of BigCityLib, I can get laid more often!

I mean, in Wilt Chamberlain's autobiography, A View From Above, the former basketball great claimed to have had sex with 20,000 different women while playing in the NBA. If you amortize all that out over the course of his long basketball career, and exclude repeat performances, that comes out to about 1.2 women per day, everyday.

If Wilt can accomplish that in his memoir, I should at least be able to work my way into double digits in mine.

That's it for now. Busy day ahead.

PS. Kinsella, where are you boyo? Emerge from the swamp so I can have someone to denounce over the long weekend.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Will Pope Benedict Embrace Creationism?

He already flirted with the notion in the inaugural sermon of his pontificate, saying:

"We are not the accidental product, without meaning, of evolution."

This week, at the 2006 meeting of the Pope's Schülerkreis - a group consisting mainly of his former doctoral students, that has been gathering annually since the late 1970s--discussion will concentrate on "the topic of creation".

According to the Guardian Unlimited:

There have been growing signs the Pope is considering aligning his church more closely with the theory of "intelligent design" taught in some US states. Advocates of the theory argue that some features of the universe and nature are so complex that they must have been designed by a higher intelligence. Critics say it is a disguise for creationism.

Crappy news if true. I guess that means my Flyingspaghettii Monster t-shirt comes out of storage. It looks like I'll be wearing it alot this winter.

Political Lesson of the Week

Jason Kenney talked with Terrorists, and a quick look at Google tells you that the MSM hasn't run a story on the topic for nearly a week. The Tories kept their heads down, looked away and coughed politely, or jumped to Kenney's defense. And they came out of it smelling like roses.

Meanwhile, Borys Wrzesnewskyj went to Lebanon, talked sense, and had his ass fried by fellow Liberals, led by a lynch-mob from the blogosphere, much to the joy of the Canadian Media establishment. Liberals came out of the week looking shaken, and as though the Politically Correct Purity Cops were in charge.

Ohh! you might say. The Libs won a moral victory. Well, a moral victory is the kind of victory you win when you lose.

You know, ten years ago it was the Tories who were ready to pitch you out if you weren't committed to, for example, repealing the metric system. On the other hand, the Libs were a loose, friendly, non-uptight Big Tent. Now it's as though the parties have switched Membership rosters.

Can Green Party Compete in TO?

The new leader of Canada's Greens, Elizabeth May, is looking to reach out to Toronto-area voters, according to this Star story. An interesting idea. And apparently, the Greens have something (but not much) to start with:

Green candidates received roughly 2,000-2,500 votes in most GTA ridings, though in some, such as Toronto Centre, Toronto Danforth, Halton, Burlington and York Simcoe, it garnered between 3,000 and 4,000 votes.

Furthermore, there also seems potential for growth by poaching from within Tory ranks, Greens being the second choice of about a third of Conservative voters.

It would be nice to see a credible Left-based party in Canada that was not so tied to Union support. The last go-round, I began to feel a bit alienated by Mr. Layton constantly saying his policies were aimed at "working Canadians". So I don't go down into the mines everyday. Am I chopped liver? I began to see this expression as a piece of Unionist to Unionist code, maybe: "I promise you all free beer at your meetings."

Mind you, with the NDP/CAW divorce, the Dippers have a bit of latitude to shift on the ideological spectrum.

The key, the absolute key, in the next election will be Elizabeth May's getting on-stage for the leadership debates. For example, B.C.'s Liberal Party was an ongoing joke until Gorden Wilson cleaned up at the 1991 debates.

Thus far, May has looked quite impressive, although she has acknowledged that her French "needs work".

Sunday, August 27, 2006

BigCityLib: Powering to The Top

The dude from TDS (whose comment-sectionless blog is an affront to the Democratic essence of the blogosphere and a sign of some deep personal insecurity on the dude's part) claims that BigCityLib is fading towards obscurity. But he is oh, so wrong.

Because History shows that after each little burst of infamy, old BigCityLib manages to hang on to a few more readers: honest, decent souls looking for nothing but The Truth (and a good time).
Here's the monthly site-visit chart for BigCityLib Strikes Back:

Now, without reproducing alot of additional charts and graphs, I can assure my readers that the daily and weekly stats have also been trending upward over the same time-period.

And the numbers for the last week tell an especially interesting story. On Thursday, Kate from Small Dead Animals linked to this site, and visits peaked at about 1,800. Subtract my previous 200 per day average and this gives a good idea of Kate's dedicated readership.

Because, if you study the on-line sociology of the folks at SDA, Kate is basically their kitten with a whip, their Margaret Thatcher, their Red Hot, anti-Commie Mommie. They'll do anything she tells 'em too, go everywhere she points 'em. For them, Kate is Ayesha: She Who Must Be OBEYED!

And that means that her dedicated readership is around 1,600, and SDA's ultra-high hit count is really a function of the fact that she posts ten times a day. So, from the POV of dedicated individual readers, SDA is stagnant and BigCityLib Strikes Back is rising fast. Unless Kate starts uploading topless photos, I predict that I will rule the blogosphere before Xmas.

Now, when I do hit No. 1, I've got a couple of marketing ideas that I'd like to run by everyone:

1) T-shirts: The words, in bold black: "BigCityLib Strikes Back!" over a yellow thunderbolt. $25 apiece. Would you buy them?

2) An online tip-jar: would you be willing to send money to support BigCityLib in his quest for The Truth? If so, how much? I'd like to at least cover mortgage payments.

3) A cook-book: there's a deep-fried chicken liver recipe I do that tastes pretty good if you don't set the Wok on fire. I call it "The Flamin' Pate". And then there's wieners and beans, and fried spaghetti. It would be a thin book but maybe I would only sell it for $5.99. Anyone interested in deep-fried chicken livers? They're a cheap meal.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Kennedy Lays it On the Line

Kennedy's campaign comes to life! Gerard Kennedy made the most important single statement of the Lib Leadership campaign today, calling for :

Canada to insist NATO drastically change its strategy in Afghanistan to a major economic reconstruction program or pull out its troops.

This is exactly what needs to happen. As the Globe also reported today (but damned if I can find the on-line version of the article), we are officially in a quagmire. No matter what we do around Kandahar, the Taliban leadership lies over the border in Pakistan and funnels an endless supply of weapons and fighters into the country. And there are no plans, and never will be, to carry the fight into Pakistan. So our guys are basically slapping at wasps while never being able to go after the nest. As Mr. Kennedy notes, a losing strategy. Mind you, I don't think much of his solution:

Instead, [Kennedy] said, NATO and Canada must mount a massive economic development and aid program to replace the opium trade that now dominates the economy.

Why? Because you can't build infrastructure while you're fighting, but if you don't build infrastructure, the fighting won't end. Catch-22.

But at least Kennedy's proposal is a prelude to getting out of a situation that will otherwise waste Canadian $ and Canadian soldiers for years and years to come. The key words are "...or pull out."."

Maine Mutant Comes To Canada

From CBC:

For 15 years, residents in Androscoggin County in Maine have reported seeing and hearing an animal with glowing eyes and a chilling cry that was blamed for killing pet dogs.

Now somebody has run over a large-dog sized animal that folks down in Androscoggin County think might be the mystery beast. Opinion as to what the thing is range from "Satan" to a wolf-dog hybrid to some kind of large dog of a breed not common in Maine. And, here's the point, they've sent the body to HealthGene Corp. in Toronto, a laboratory specializing in veterinary DNA testing, for a conclusive answer. My favorite CryptoZoology site has been all over this issue, and they have a few pictures the Mutant, which I am reproducing here:

Like, to me this looks like a big dead dog, but apparently the people of Maine are puzzled. Anyone have more definite ideas than that, please let me know.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Look! He Moved!

Gerard Kennedy's rather inert campaign got moving in a big way today with his renewed push for female equality. I'm feeling too lazy tonight to get analytical, and anyway there's a good discussion at Far & Wide of the details. But for me the most important item on his to-do list is:

A commitment of 0.7 per cent of GDP to childcare and early learning programs in Canada by 2012. In Canada, the share of GDP devoted to total public expenditures on formal daycare and pre-primary education is 0.3 per cent compared to the OECD average of 0.7 per cent.

Good stuff in theory, but Gerard will be up against skepticism within the Media and general public as to how seriously a Liberal can be taken on these issues. For, while the original RedBook promises re. Daycare were contingent upon economic performance, in the later years of the Chretien regime, and throughout the whole of Martin's dismal span, the party fell down pretty badly on this topic. For me, the hardest part of voting Liberal last time around was watching Martin come out and promise the moon again on Daycare. He just assumed that female voters were like Pavlov's dog; they'd drool at the sound of a bell, even if no real food was being offered.

So I would advise Mr. Kennedy that he should, right now, stake his fate as PM (should he ever become PM) on a set of concrete proposals to be passed into legislation during the first session of his Liberal Majority/Minority government. That way people will know he's straight. Otherwise, its all chin music

Because it is possible for a party to "lose" an issue even if it has held that issue for decades. This happened during the 1990's with deficit/debt reduction. A Conservative strength became a Liberal one after 10 years of Mulroney's corruption and mis-management and, in Ontario, after 10 years of Mike Harris' miraculous ability to slash programs while achieving Zero in savings.

If the Libs don't act in a substantive manner on Daycare soon, it won't be "theirs" for much longer.

Tommorow's first post: Maine Mutant Comes To Canada. With pictures of naked dead mutant. See you then.

Cities in Flames

CBS wants the next Survivor to feature teams divided along racial lines: Blacks, Asians, Latinos and Whites. New York City officials are saying that's crazy and want the concept shelved. The story on this right royally stupid idea is here.

Jeez! It's bad enough in T.O. during the World Cup of Soccer. One time the Argentinians and Italians got into it after a quarter(?) final game. And of course, after the acquittals in the first Rodney King trial, we had a couple of mini-riots of our own.

On the other hand, there would be a million opportunities for cheap ethnic humor. In Survivor: L.A. who, for example, would win the Car-Jacking challenge?

America's Drunkest City

From Forbes:

Milwaukee has long had a reputation as a city built on beer.

Sounds like paradise, but no, just America's drunkest city, according to a recent Forbes survey. Rounding out the top three were Minneapolis-St, Paul (say what?) and Columbus.

Plan your vacations accordingly.

You know, in my religion (Pastafarianism) heaven is centered around a beer volcano. I suspect now that the Deity, when He returns, will touch down in Milwaukee.

PS. Still waiting for Kinsella to pop his head up out of the sludge. Warren, I feel free, unleashed, now that you have exposed me! Say something stupid, and see how vile and bilous I can be!

PPS. To TDS, who is quick with a denunciation, but still afraid to have a comments section on his blog. This one's for you, baby:

BigCityLib, as obnoxious as ever.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

BigCityLib's Thought For the Day: If Trudeau Had Blogged... 19, with views like those documented here? He would surely have been drummed out of the Liberal party.

Think about it.

Well, that's all there is today. The wife and I are off for a pizza in a bit.

On other matters, thanks to Kate for the link, although I question your using my high profile to bump up traffic at SDA, especially since you won't let me on to respond to comments, answer questions, sell t-shirts, and so forth.

The Myth of Global Cooling

One of the more common arguments made by Global Warming Deniers goes like this: we shouldn't believe global warming predictions now, because in the 1970's they were predicting an ice age and/or cooling surfaces. Finally, a nice article (h/t to DeSmogBlog) that debunks this line of reasoning.

Whoa! Talking about the weather? That should calm the old visit counter for the time being. After discussing the matter with the good Cerberus, I am declaring a truce with Cherniak over the Liberal Party Purity Wars. If Kinsella raises his head out of the sewer again, however, I shall have to strike back. Realize this, WK, I am after your job (and I want it quick, too, before the Post goes T.U.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Meet BigCityLib

Alright, Kinsella denies that he was the person who sent me me that nasty anonymous e-mail this morning threatening me with exposure. He claims, however, that, just co-incidentally, he is trying to expose me as well. Or something like that. His personal e-mails to me have been rather coy on the topic. Perhaps he is just anticipating my eventual exposure from some third-party source. In any case, the guy can manipulate a mouse and hence consult Google, which I didn't expect, so he was able to suss out my last name. Since the process of exposing me might, it is hinted, involve my wife (who still may have some formal connections to the Liberal Party), I thought I might as well expose myself before it got that far.

I don't know what shall follow. Kinsella still seems to be hinting that this will all precipitate into a smear piece in the National Post. If so, thank God it will appear where nobody will see it.

You know, I had planned to reveal my true identity in time, but I had imagined the moment differently. I had imagined it happening the morning after Steven Harper staggered up to a CBC microphone, wild eyed and foaming at the mouth, and announced "Bring me the head of BigCity Liberal!" thus destroying any hope of a Tory majority. At that point, my book and movie deals would have already been in place.

But no. Apparently, I have to slap my way past a mob of crayon-wielders from the local tabloids before I get a chance to piss off the big man himself.

Well, so be it. BigCityLib is:

Name: M(ichael) J(ohn) Murphy
Birthplace: Someplace in B.C. (Vernon, I think)
Age: 43

(Note to Kinsella: Yes, 43 years old. 14 years older than you and with, at least from the pictures I've seen of you, far, far more hair. While the Canadian economy roars along, you seem to be suffering your own personal recession up top there. Year after year, the "punk" look becomes less a lifestyle choice for you, and more of a sad necessity)

Employment: Industry Research
Party Affiliation: None. Joined the Tories once, to support Orchard's insurgency. Liberal at heart though, if they don't fuck up and pick Iggy and turn in to a limp-wrist version of the Tories.
Leverage within the Liberal Apparatus: Zilch. Just a bad attitude and a blog. Crush me, Kinsella, and you'll be going after even smaller fry than Thomas Hubert. That about your speed? Maybe there'll be a few Lib Bloggers will lend a hand.
Political Credibility: Similar to above. No, wait! I have negative credibility. When I finally endorse a Lib Leadership candidate, they'll shit themselves in panic. Keep your head down, Iggy!

So there you go. And here's a picture of me:


PS. Kinsella, now you know you who I am. Anything you wish to write about me, or my opinions, or what I believe, feel free. We can do a throw down any time: you at the rapidly sinking ship called the National Post, me at my little blog. But the more you bug me in public, the sillier I will make you look. That's my word to you.

PPS. TDS, whose gutless now? Will we be seeing a comments section at your blog anytime soon? No? Will you then admit to being a girly-man?

PPPS. This information will go up on my profile, eventually, when I figure out how to use that part of Blogger.

Carry on, then.

Who Has Targeted Big City Lib?

These are all "facts" I have made available through this blog about myself at various times. You see, I haven't bothered to keep too many secrets (although I lie like anything). This morning I get an anonymous email reeling them off to me:

Spencer Jr. High?
Belmont High?
Roy Meadow?
Vic Park?
1996 OLP race?
Wife active?
Garth Turner at LCBO?

Get ready for prime time, motherfucker.

It appears I have been targeted by an angry Liberal operative. Any idea which one, Jason Cherniak?

There is a Monster in the Liberal Blogosphere

To understand Jason Cherniak's central role in the ongoing Liberal Purity Wars, its necessary to go back to Friday, August 18th, when Progressive Blogger/Liberal Blogger Nav Purewal, in a post entitled "The Passion of the Nav", wrote plaintively:

I've been kicked out of Liberal Bloggers on grounds of anti-Semitism. You can find the offending post here. Isn't that kind of like calling someone a racist for laughing at a Dave Chappelle joke?

And guess whose the gatekeeper at Liberal Blogs? Jason Cherniak! Who writes back to Nav a bit later the same day:

I apologize for the error. Frankly, I was in a rush and did not have time to do proper research. I figured that my primary concern had to be to avoid accusations of Liblogs anti-Semitism. I will put you back on the list.

So, Jason did not even bother to properly read the post that triggered Nav's ban! Reminds you of an Evangelical Christian, denouncing a movie they haven't seen, doesn't it?

And there's more. What exactly was the content of the post that got Lord Jason so steamed that he would start waving his smiting stick? Well, its about an Israeli sponsored contest of Anti-Semitic cartoons, judged, if I recall correctly, by Art Spiegalman of Maus fame!

So, in reality, the first engagement in the Purity War's took place last week, with nobody hearing much about it because Jason bunged up the initial assault.

Apparently, Cherniak has been building up to this purge for awhile now!

And the question arises, if Jason had even bothered to properly read the blogger he banned, what kind of litmus test would he have applied to determine whether or not Nav's posts contained Anti-Semitic content? Well, its speculation on my part, because Jason doesn't have his "rules" posted anywhere, but if you read Cherniak's recent material, the natural answer seems to be that Jason is Jewish, and a Liberal, and goddamn it Jewish Liberals know what the limits of free-thought ought to be in the Liberal Blogosphere.

But wait, if that's true, what happens if you find a Jewish Liberal who disagrees with Cherniak's assessment on this or that matter? Well, as McLelland notes at My Blagh, Jason seems to have this part figured out: there are two types of Jews, and its only "normal" Jews whose opinion matters.

Apparently, Jason knows how to tell them apart.

Ladies and gentlemen, there's a monster loose in the Liberal Blogosphere, and its name is Cherniak.

And frankly, I am sick of him.

Jason, here's the deal. The War ends now. In fact I think you owe poor Thomas Hubert a phone-call and an apology, because whatever he said or did not say, you are supposed to represent a new generation of leadership within the Liberal Party, and in this role you failed pretty dismally. It was incumbent upon you to do what you could to quell this controversy quietly; instead you chose to denounce a fellow Liberal on a blog.

Now, as for me, I will be doing two things.

Firstly, I will be e-mailing Mr. Dion's campaign, and Iggy's campaign (you listening, TDS?) and asking whether they are in favor of their followers purging the Liberal blogosphere wherever a blogger's loyalty to the state of Israel is in question. It will be interesting, and clarifying, to know whether either of them supports your witchhunt. In fact, I wonder if Mr. Dion knows how much damage Cherniak has caused the party and whether, if he did know, he would wish to have Jason associated with his campaign?

In any case, I suspect once the adults come onto the playing field, you children (you and TDS) will play nice.

Secondly, I will be attempting to join the Liberal Bloggers List. I would like to know if Mr. Cherniak accepts me, or his reasons if he does not.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Denounced By Kinsella!

Warren Kinsella writes about your old BigCityLib today. He says:

August 22, 2206 - By the by, some folks are asking why Jason and I are now paying attention to the likes of the (for now) anonymous "Big City Lib" and, in Jason's case, Martha's anti-Israel communications guy. It's a fair question.

My grandmother, God rest her eternal soul, had the best view on situations like this one. "Once you've decided to clean out one toilet," said she, "you may as well clean out all the toilets."

So Granny cleaned toilets and you write for the National Post. It's nice to see someone carrying on the family business.

As for my anonymity, I have toyed occasionally with the idea of revealing my "secret" identity, but frankly I'd be worried that some of your compatriots at SDA might start up with the obscene phone-calls and so forth. As a wise man once said, the bullets tend to fly from Right to Left in our modern society. If you can promise that your friends can keep it in their pants, I will gladly reveal myself to you. That way you will be spared the need to employ your journalistic "skills" to find out who I really am (as you subtly threaten to do in the above). After all, if you were any good you'd be at the Globe, no?

PS. I hear The Post is going tits-up any time now. I imagine the restructured publication, whatever it might be called, will need columnists that can do better work for cheap. I figure I could probably take over both your column and Coyne's (with one hand tied behind my back). This would help the paper reach out to the Canadian Mainstream, so they might actually sell a few copies outside of Mushaboo in Northern Alberta. My point is: how do you guys like resumes formatted?

PPS. To Gerard Kennedy's gang, because I have occasionally said nice things about Mr. Kennedy, BigCityLib Strikes Back appears on a list of blogs supporting Mr. Kennedy's campaign. If this is the official list, you might want to have any such references to me removed. I suspect a whole storm of denunciations to follow, for Jason and Warren have tasted blood, and if they're going to come for me in the night, they will come for you in the morning.

Worst Tax Cut Ever!

This is what Stats Canada had to say in June about the possible effects of the Tories One Percent GST Cut:

Since the price changes measured by the CPI take into account the value of the consumption taxes paid by Canadians, this 1% decrease will have an impact on the CPI.

A rough estimation of the impact of this reduction on the level of the CPI suggests a decrease in the order of 0.6%. This estimation is based on the assumption that the entire amount of the decrease will be transferred to consumers and that the industrial structure that underlies the way that prices are determined will remain the same.

Since some products, such as many foods sold in supermarkets, are exempt from GST, the resulting decrease will necessarily be less than 1%.

And here's what they had to say today about the actual effects:

On a monthly basis, the CPI increased 0.1% in July. This suggests that price increase pressures were important enough in July to more than compensate for the expected effect of the 1.0% reduction in the GST.

The CPI release in The Daily on July 21, 2006, suggested that the CPI could fall by roughly 0.6% following the 1.0% reduction in the GST. Based on a simulation exercise, this estimation rests on the assumption that the entire amount of the decrease is transferred to consumers and that the industrial structure that underlies the way that prices are determined remains the same. In addition, this measure of impact does not take into account the increase in the Federal excise taxes on tobacco products and alcoholic beverages announced by the government.

So a predicted 0.6% DECREASE becomes a 0.1% INCREASE.


Liberals Screwing Liberals

I don't plan to leave this one alone.

Because Jason still doesn't get it. (Warren Kinsella also doesn't get it, but he is and will always remain a shit-eating little hack from Canada's most un-read newspaper).

You see, when you visit Jason Cherniak's blog you find a zillion Conservative trolls, and they'll use any kind of nasty language to drive their point home. I know, because I've often defended Jason against them, and for my trouble been called anything from a communist to a pedophile to a lover of expensive coffee. But Jason doesn't seem to have a problem with these people.

Now, a couple of days ago, young Thomas Hubert, a fellow Liberal, shows up on the blog and makes an entirely relevant point re. Canadian Jews and Israel, albeit employing some rather heated language. However, it should be noted that the language he used was no more offensive than anything else that appears on Cherniak on any given day of the week. This time, however, faced with another Liberal, Cherniak decides to give him the knife, a story told here and, no doubt, elsewhere on the Web.

To jump to the end, Thomas Hubert has left his position with the B.C. Young Liberals, and Jason is strutting about like the Church Lady doing her Superiority Dance.

You know, Cherniak's Liberal affiliations are plastered all over his blog. One would think, therefore, that it was in some sense a Liberal Blog--a place where other Liberal Bloggers can go and speak their minds in an open forum. But apparently, that freedom is allowed only to Jason's Conservative trolls. If you are a Liberal and you step out of line, Jason feeds you to the thought-police. Jason has had legal training, so I will leave to him to determine just how his behavior towards Thomas Hubert meets the definition of "entrapment".

Which begs the question, can Liberal Bloggers trust Jason Cherniak? You know, I have very little good to say about Blogging Tories , but I can't see them fucking one another over in this manner. Shame on you, Jason!

Monday, August 21, 2006

More Denunciations on Tap From BigCityLib

Denunciations, but first: congratulations to Jason Cherniak especially , for leading the witchhunt that managed to get young (19 year old) Thomas Hubert, the subject of this earlier post of mine , booted from the position of VP Communications for the BC Young Liberals for posing the question, in some rather heated language, of whether or not Canadian Jews are being selfish in asking the rest of us to look aside when Israel commits war-crimes, and to support Israel in any crazy, immoral war they wish to launch. While Stephane Dion, the man Jason supports for the Liberal Leadership, is making all sorts of innovative moves reaching out to constituencies which have not been traditionally Liberal, Jason himself is diligently policing the Progressive Blogosphere, laying the lumber on anyone who shows the least sign of political incorrectness. Mr. Dion must be thrilled that, while he is trying to increase the number of potential Liberal voters, Jason is trying to pare them down to just the right ones, based on who they support in wars half a world away.

And of course, TDS and Cerberus must share in the glory as well, and Witchfinder Warren Kinsella for making the whole exercise "not a Jewish thing".

Of course the BC Young Liberals must decide what to do for themselves, but if I were them I would refuse Thomas Hubert's resignation, and tell you four to blow it out your ass.

And here comes the Denunciations:

Jason Cherniak, Cereberus, dude from TDS, I CURSE YOU IN THE NAME OF Z'ROD!

OOOOOHH! It's the most fun in politics, isn't it, fellows, laying on the lash? And, again Jason, does Dion know what you're up to these days? I rather hope he gets you on a leash before you do too much damage.

Warren Kinsella: Witchfinder General

Warren Kinsella has a fetish for denunciations that would make Joe Stalin proud. After spending the summer trying to bring down The God's on McLelland at MyBlagh (with no apparent effect), he's turned his attention to this poor sucker who, during a discussion at Cherniak's place concerning Canadian Jews and the Liberal Party, wrote:

The Liberal Party is stronger without these violent Zionists in our party. I am glad for them to cease influencing our foreign policy so we are free to promote Canadian values of peace. It amazes me that this community is so absurdly selfish. The only issue that matters to them is the defense of a "state" that survives on the blood of innocent people. Shameful.

Over-heated language, true, but I am afraid the writer has a point. Too many in the Canadian Jewish Community are willing to ignore Israel's wildly disproportionate response to Hezbollah's provocations, and are even willing to demand from non-Jewish Canadians (especially non-Jewish Liberals) that we look the other way when Israel commits war-crimes, kills Canadian civilians, or even kills Canadian soldiers. Frankly, it is selfish to expect us to put aside reason and judgment and get behind a war back in their Homeland. Furthermore, given the way this war has turned out, I think it is perfectly reasonable to ask who the REAL friends of Israel are: those of us who advised caution and proportionality, and nuts like Kinsella who shrieked out "Bombs Away!" even as the wheels came off?

Unfortunately, because of the gentleman's position within the Liberal Party, Kinsella and Co. have been able to screw a fairly abject apology out of him. However, as far as i'm concerned it is Kinsella who needs to ask forgiveness. He should be explaining why blind support for Israel in the Summer War was such a great idea. Instead, he runs around like some Commisar from the Soviet Republic of Buttslavia.

In any case, this denunciation thing seems like alot of fun. I think I'll give it a try!


Ooooh! An almost erotic thrill runs up and down my spine! I see why Warren gets such a kick out of it.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Conservatives Pre-Spin Iraq Defeat

The N.Y Post's Ralph Peter's, previewing how U.S. Conservatives will rationalize their impending defeat in Iraq:

Iraq could fail - if the Iraqis fail themselves. It's still too early to pack up and leave, but if the people of Iraq will not seize the opportunity we gave them to build the region's first Arab-majority rule-of-law democracy, it won't be an American defeat, but another self-inflicted Arab disaster. Iraq is the Arab world's last chance - and the odds are now 50-50 they'll throw it away.

This excuse has been brewing among the American Right since 2004, when the insurgency first took a solid hold. But they've been holding it in reserve until recently when things really started to go South on them.

Specifically: The U.S. invasion was actually a gift to the Iraqi people, and all those bombs were the sound of Freedom coming. If the Iraqis had just behaved like a conquered people should behave, they too could have had a Starbucks on every corner. But they've fucked it up. Hence, when the last American soldier gets hauled off out of the Green Zone by helicopter, shit flying out of the bottom of his pant-leg, the mess he leaves behind will not be the fault of the good old U.S. of A.

Expect to hear more of this argument in the coming weeks and months. Expect a recurrence maybe two years down the road in Afghanistan, mouthed by whatever Canadian politicians are in power at the time.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Israel Violates Ceasfire

So says Kofi Annan:

"The secretary-general is deeply concerned about a violation by the Israeli side of the cessation of hostilities as laid out in Security Council resolution 1701," said a spokesperson on the UN website.

Note that the usual suspects (read: U.S.) aren't leaping to Israel's defense. Note also that the violation comes in the form of another bungled Commando raid. Entebbe sure was a long time ago, eh?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Sour Grapes in the Progressive Blogosphere?

Lordy! What alot of weeping and wailing concerning David Orchard throwing his support behind Stephane Dion's campaign for Liberal leadership, probably the biggest single score, and most exciting moment, in the race so far. Cerberus, CalgaryGrit, and TDH Strategies have all weighed in with their respective thumbs-down gestures. The latest blast comes from the dude at TDH:

August 18, 2006 - In regards to the David Orchard endorsement of Stephane Dion, everyone speaks of Orchard "supporters" as this monolithic entity that sways exactly how their "leader" instructs them to. But here's a question that I haven't heard asked yet: Why does everyone assume that these Orchard "supporters" are Liberal party members? What evidence is there to confirm that Orchard went to all his previous backers from the Progressive Consevative days and convinced them to take out Liberal memberships?

Well, of course they're not a "monolithic entity". But then neither are Unionists or Globe readers monolithic entities. Nevertheless, an endorsement by the G&M editorial staff or the CAW would be considered a feather in the cap of most candidates running for most offices. No?

Look, the real story of the Orchard endorsement comes from the National Post, a notoriously Liberal Unfriendly publication: "Tory Kingmaker Joins Grit contender's Court". The title says it all. A Lib Leadership candidate is doing what Liberals will have to do if they want to win the next (or any) Federal election--they are reaching out beyond the ranks of the hardcores and laying claim to other constituencies. That's to be applauded, no matter who you are rooting for as Lib Leader. In fact, as Cherniak reported, Dion seems to have made a number of effective strides in this direction. The other candidates, and their supporters, ought to stop complaining and get busy!

(And why am I talking up Dion? Where is my homeboy Gerard Kennedy? Is he dead? Vacationing with Iggy? Yo Gerard! Do something, dude! Anything!)

Does the U.S. Back Bush on Israel vs. Lebanon?

Well, maybe not so much, according to pollster John Zogby:

A majority of Americans thinks the U.S. should not ally itself with either Israel or Lebanon in the current conflict that spans the borders of those countries, a new Zogby International telephone poll shows.


While 52% said the U.S. should remain neutral, 34% said it should back Israel in its fight against Hezbollah forces in Lebanon. Almost no one thinks the U.S. should stand with Lebanon against Israel, the poll shows.

Not really so far off the result of recent Canadian surveys on the topic. Rather comforting, actually.

Tories Still Stalled Short of Majority

The new Decima Poll has the Tories bouncing back a little from the 32% support they enjoyed at the end of last month. The national figures are:

CPC: 36%
Lib: 29%
NDP: 15%

In Quebec, the Bloc had 41 per cent support, the Tories, 23, and the Liberals, 19.

In Ontario, the Liberals were at 37 per cent, the Conservatives, 36, and the NDP, 16.

Most important point: no Majority in the works, and therefore no fall election. The Libs can breathe a little bit easier.

Second point: this looks to be the third poll showing NDP support declining, although the decline is still within the MOE. Are Canadians (once again) coming to see them as irrelevant?

Finally, its a late-summer poll and so the mild Tory rise in fortunes coincides with a period of political inactivity. It seems that when they try to do something is when they get in trouble. The Fall session should be fun. Hopefully, Stephen Harper will attempt to introduce some arch-typically Tory legislation, like reinstating the death penalty for shop-lifting, or demanding an end to the metric system.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

No Wonder Conservatives Hate Judges

Because one of them (U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor) has just pulled the plug on the U.S. National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program, claiming that it "violates the rights to free speech and privacy".

Reaction from the RightWing Blogosphere has been swift, with RedState asking "who says democracy can’t be a suicide pact?" Special note is made by several commentators of Diggs Taylor's appointment to the bench in 1979 by Jimmy Carter, with one wag commenting that she was "One of Carter's last actions to destroy this country before he was booted from office."

Poor Babies! Better launch a pre-emptive war somewhere! Mexico is pretty close by! To save money, you can send the troops in by GreyHound.

Don't Be Shy About Pulling Something You Like Out of the Trash

Some of the advice Northwest Airlines offered to its laid-off airline employees in a pamphlet entitled "101 Ways to Save Money''. Other items on the list of money-saving tips included giving homemade cards and gifts, asking doctors for prescription-drug samples, borrowing a dress for "a big night out'', getting car parts out of the dump, and giving children hand-me-down toys and clothes.

They left out that old Ontario stand-by, haggling with your grocer for dented cans of tuna.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

No More Anonymous Posts!

I readjusted the settings this morning. You want to abuse ole' BigCityLib, you're at least going to have to think up a fake name!

Cheer Up Grits!

So says Lawrence Martin in his Globe column this morning (behind silly G&M fire-wall: google Lawrence, turkey, grits, globe). He tells a nice story about how lifeless the first CPC Leadership Convention seemed at the time, and how hapless its emergent leader, our current PM Stephen Harper. Here's the money quote:

The Liberals should be excited, flying high. After their other long runs in power, they were slaughtered in the elections of 1958 and 1984. This time, they have 100-plus seats and, while leaderless, are holding up in the polls. They face a governing party that is to the right of Canadians, that is on wrong side of the big issues of the day and that is falling in Quebec. Following their leadership convention send-off in December, the Grits could conceivably be poised to regain office as early as next spring.

But you'd never know it to hear them. They are their own worst enemy these days. They are drooped in despondency, reading too many of their own reviews, divided under their interim leadership. They can't sell anything. Not even the fact that, in comparison with their own engaging leadership fight, the Tory tussle was a turkey.

Of course I have expressed similar sentiments on many occasions, and can only endorse these whole-heartedly. I have also expressed my suspicions as to which leadership candidate benefits from the self-doubt and despondency, but frankly, after the way its gone for him the past month, criticizing Iggy's campaign right now is like being a heckler at the Special Olympics.

Who Will Bell the Cat

Or for that matter, disarm Hezbollah?

Apparently, nobody:

France, the United States, the United Nations and Lebanon itself have all refused to accept responsibility for stripping the Lebanese Shiite militia of their weapons, despite a key element of the UN resolution that calls for the group to give up its firepower and vacate the southern part of the country.

Which leaves Israel with an unpalatable choice:

Should the UN force fail to materialize, Israel faces a choice of remaining in southern Lebanon, where skirmishes with Hezbollah fighters continued yesterday, or accepting the presence of a weak Lebanese army as a buffer between it and Hezbollah.

So, fight a guerilla war or return to the status quo.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Will Orchard Endorse Dion?

Rob's Random Thoughts considers this possibility.

For the most part, a good score for Dion, if true. My opinions on David Orchard can be read here.

15 Websites That Changed the World

From The Guardian U.K., the 15 most important websites in the history of the Internet. I've got a few minor qualms with the list. For instance, what was important about Napster was not the website, but the P2P software made available through it. And I am not sure about YouTube's long term survival proposals, given its many up and coming competitors and the fact it is facing a Napster-style lawsuit. In any case, I make use of many of these websites on a daily basis: Drudge, Amazon, Slashdot, Wiki, YouTube, Blogger.

One of my own personal nominees for most important website, which did not make the list because it doesn't exist anymore, is The Nando Times. This was an outgrowth of the Raleigh North Carolina News and Observer, and became the very first 24/7 on-line news source. Unfortunately, in 2003 The Nando Times was shut down.

Note: And of course Youtube chooses today to crash...

Are We Anti-Semitic Yet?

Kudos to Nav Purewal for getting us our first glimpse of results from Iran's exhibition of Holocaust Cartoons. This was held in response to the "Prophet as Terrorist" material which stirred up such a fuss when it first appeared in Denmark, and then later in Canadian magazines such as Ezra Levant's The Western Standard.

Nav posts two of the cartoons on his blog, which I won't reproduce here. One shows Hitler in bed with Anne Frank after a sexual episode; one shows Peter Jackson on the phone with Steven Spielberg talking about movie scripts. In both cases, the theme is Holocaust denial. Both cartoons are capital "O" Offensive, and both are inelegantly drawn and notably unfunny, although they might work better in the original Iranian.

Hopefully, "Canadian Jewry" (as Larry Zolf calls them) will understand that they have been dissed by half-wits, and won't rise to the bait. But we shall see. If I recall correctly, Ezra vowed to publish the results of this exhibition in The Standard, to balance out the anti-Muslim material he printed earlier. Now he's stuck. This will make two issues full of crappy cartoons. Thanks to Ezra for raising the tone of the debate.

As for me, the concept of Anti-Semitic Humor, or Racist Humor per se, isn't really a problem. Humour is an outlet for dark urges and Humorists, Society's clowns, are supposed to be politically incorrect. For example, there's my favorite line by Don Rickles:

One good thing about Italians, they keep the Cops off the streets.

And that old classic by Groucho Marx:

We're going back to Africa, where the Men are Monkeys.

And I have no problem with black comedians telling jokes about how stupid whites are, in fact I encourage it, as long as they're funny. Funny is the sniff test. The above-noted cartoons and, for example, guys like Andrew Dice Clayton, fail not because they make racist statements but because they make unfunny racist statements.

As a matter of fact, on a related topic, I don't know how men of different races and nationalities could ever come together in Unity if we couldn't tell Sexist jokes, couldn't compare how treacherous the women-folk were back in our native tribes. This is sort of the bedrock upon which all further understanding and communication rests.

So, in conclusion, here's a joke that's like a trick shot in pool: Sexist and anti-Semitic all at the same time.

Q: How can you tell when a Jewish woman is having an Orgasm?
A: She drops her Emery Board.

(from E. Leonard's novel Stick, which was eventually made into a movie directed by and starring Burt Reynolds)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Even The Right Says Israel Lost. Got Ass-Whumped, In Fact.

A lot of Blo-Vating and hand-wringing from some of America's most prominent Conservatives in the National Review On-line.

The only comment I could add, I would direct to Canada's pro-Israel cheering section: journos like Andrew Coyne and Warren Kinsella, among many others, the Blogging Tories, and so forth. And that comment would be: I TOLD YOU FUCKING SO, YOU ASS DANCING MONKEY BOYS FOR NEO-CON EXPANSIONISM!

You know, I don't claim to be any kind of military expert (although I play a mean game of A&A), but there were lots of real ones on CNN. After the first twenty got up and said that the IDF's response to Hezbollah provocations was either "troubling" or "obscure" or "not likely to maximalize success", that sent a message to me. No matter what the inherent morality of Israel's response (and I think it crossed the line the moment Beirut airport got bombed), it became immoral as soon as it became clear that it was doomed to failure. And that moment was, by all indications, pretty early in the conflict.

So I think many on the political Right, and even a few progressives, now need to engage in a bout of instropection and, yes, take some of the responsibility for Israeli war crimes. You people goaded Israel on to nothing more than a black eye and a bloody fist! Defeat! Calamity! The Sound of Failure and Cold Water Running, as the Mekons famously sang. Don't blame me or Koffi Annan or the dude at My Blagh or the "MSM"! Quite WHINING! Take some of that personal responsibility you're so eager to foist onto other people!

Speaking of Koffi Annan, The NRO roundtable discussion contains some particularly offensive blithering on this topic by the Hudson Institute's Anne Bayefsky:

Kofi Annan's wide grin, as he stood side-by-side with Secretary Rice on Friday, said it all. He won. But America and freedom's cause lost.

At exactly the moment the reformed U.N. Human Rights Council condemned Israel and only Israel for the third time in two months, America cut a deal with the same U.N. to pin down the arms of the state on the front lines of democracy's war.

Why is the America that guards the right of self-defense so dearly willing to deny it, in effect, to the state of Israel? Why would America permit the U.N., which has systematically sided with Arab and Islamic states in their war against the Jews for half a century, to play-act as even-handed peacemaker?

Since the Summer War began in July, the political Right has been eager to demonize the U.N. in general and Koffi Annan in particular as being anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. However, they neglect to point out his strong support for a number of pro-Israel initiatives at the U.N., in particular his support of Israel's right to their turn at the Security Council table.

How ungrateful! But these people are angry--they've just got behind another disastrous war--and so harsh words are natural.

Iggy Says Something Clever

From CTV, while addressing an audience of Lebanese-Canadians:

Even if you accept the right of Israel to defend itself, which I do, is it in Israel's security interest, is it in the interest of peace in the Middle East, for most of southern Lebanon to be flattened or destroyed?

He also said that Canada should commit to leading nations in the reconstruction of Lebanon, which I think is something all Canadians should be able to agree with.

Now, was that so hard, Iggy? Couldn't you have worked that into a quick fax between riding Ponies in the North Hungarian Mountain Range and hunting pheasants with Lord Teverstock?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Perseids

As comet Swift-Tuttle makes her lonely journey around the sun every 133 years, pebbles and tiny flecks of dust are blown from her surface by the solar wind. These bits of debris become the annual Perseid meteor shower, which runs from about the 8th of August to the 14th.

My birthday falls right in the middle of the storm, and I've always tried to work a few hours of star-watching into my annual celebration. Unfortunately, the last couple of years I've been stuck in the city, where the night sky is so lit up by office-towers that all but the brightest meteors are obscured. I don't know when I'll get a chance to see them again in their full glory.

Probably my favorite memory of the Perseids is from about seven or eight years ago, when I was camping with some friends on crown land on a little lake outside of Peterborough. It had been a dry year and there was a fire-ban going. So with no fire everybody's attention turned to the lake and the clear night sky.

A buddy, John, and I took a six-pack and a paddle boat and paddled out about half a mile to get a better view.

It was a terrific storm that year, with three or four meteors per minute. And every ten minutes or so, the whole world would light up and a bright silver line would draw itself across the sky. Occasionally, with the largest meteors, you could hear a sizzling noise made by the air they had burned in their passage.

And John owned a big German Sheppard named Maxi. When we'd first went off in the boat he had been barking frantically, and this had continued for some time as we pulled away from shore. For the last little while, however, Maxi had fallen silent.

So I was sitting there, enjoying the show, and I glanced out at the lake and saw this huge HEAD in the water about three feet away. I nearly lost bowel control for a second. I thought I was looking at some kind of lake monster.

But then of course Maxi heaved his front paws over the side of the boat and pulled himself aboard. Then he gave himself a wild shake, stuck his head between the seats, and started licking John's face.

That went on for a couple of minutes and, when Maxi had finally calmed down, the three of us went back to watching the stars.

Note: The New Scientist has some good advice for storm watchers:

The paths of the meteors all point back towards a single point in the constellation Perseus, which gives the yearly display its name. But they can appear anywhere in the sky, so the best strategy is to lie down and stare at as large a patch of sky as possible.

This year, the shower occurs just a few days after Full Moon, which will make meteor spotting more difficult. But you can minimize the problem by watching from somewhere where the Moon is blocked by a tree or a building.

If you go out tonight, have fun.

Friends of Science? Friends of the Oil Patch

Charles Montgomery of the G&M does an extremely thorough take-down of the Friends of Science, a Canadian anti-Kyoto group funded by the oil-patch and old Reform Party activists.

h/t to DeSmogBlog, which has a number of stories on the "Friends" shady financing and Tory connections.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Bob Rae's Blast from the Past: "Don't Want No White People 'round Here"

...white males, more specifically.

Just to show that I do not unhealthily obsess over the candidacy of Michael Ignatieff, I thought I would spread the love around a bit and write something about the other Lib Leadership hopeful who, were he elected, would doom the party to years on the opposition benches. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Bob Rae.

Now, with Bob Rae I do not have any of the harsh visceral reaction that I do with Iggy. In fact, I think Rae is an admirable man who has served Canada well over the years. Not only that, in the campaign thus far he has come across as the best public speaker of the 11 hopefuls. He is mildly charismatic, although he doesn't have much competition in this respect, and his views represent what I see to be the mainstream of the Liberal Party (and therefore, lets face it, of Canadian opinion).

However, Bob Rae just has too much political baggage left over from when he ran the NDP Government in Ontario (between 1990 and 1995). And in this instance I'm not even thinking of his economic policies, which certainly did not cause (and probably did not really even do much to exacerbate) the downturn in the early part of the decade. I'm talking of the incredibly stupid stuff his government did in the name of affirmative action. Wiki describes the NDP policies of the time as follows:

The Rae government's affirmative action measures also proved controversial. In 1993, the government sought to improve the numbers of women, non-whites, aboriginals and disabled persons working in the public sector. It was assumed by many that this would be accomplished through preferential hiring methods. This policy would likely not have occasioned much controversy in a better economic climate; in the middle of a recession, however, many unemployed workers regarded it as threatening. There is little doubt that the controversy cost the NDP support among its working-class base. In addition, there were some on the political left who believed the NDP was unduly emphasizing ethnicity ahead of class considerations.

This passage refers obliquely to a number to different episodes, the most infamous of which is the time (November 1993) that the Ontario Public Service ran an ad for a "director of information technology" (a senior management position) in its JobMart. The ad went as follows:

The competition [for this position] is limited to the following employment equity designated groups: aboriginal peoples, francophones, persons with disabilities, racial minorities and women.

In other words, no White, English speaking males were eligible for the position (unless, I suppose, they were missing an arm or a leg or something).

Now, I had forgotten this episode until I finally got around to reading Neil Bissoondath's Selling Illusions, his mostly crappy screed against Canadian Multi-Culturalism. But now I can remember back to those days. I remember reading about this on the subway and wondering What the Hell are these People Thinking? I had actually voted for Bob Rae, and yes it is possible to admire the underlying intention--making the Ontario public service more representative of Ontarions as a whole. However, doing it by imposing quotas on white males, and imposing them in full view of the greater public, was to fly right off the top of the political stupidometre. As one of the few Rae supporters in my office at the time, I could only throw my hands up in the air when called upon to defend this policy.

And there are Tories out there who have longer memories than me, and this is only one of the most egregious examples of an act of political stupidity committed by the Bob Rae government in the name of some aspect of Political Correctness. I don't think he will ever be able to walk away from this stuff.

Incidentally, just why the Bob Rae's NDP administration was sooo incompetent is an interesting story in itself. There are many theories, but my favorite is that, previous to 1990, the NDPers ran absolute no-hopers in alot of Ontario ridings: people like my philosophy teacher at York, who ran under the banner out in 905 just so the party could have someone on the ballot. During the 1990 election he was terrified he might actually win (he didn't). So when Rae came to power, there was very little in the way of talent in the ranks of his backbenchers.

Another Canadian Dies

From the Globe:

Kandahar, Afghanistan — A horrific suicide attack Friday claimed the life of another Canadian soldier in Afghanistan.

The soldier died when the suicide bomber plowed his explosives-laden vehicle into a NATO convoy in southern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border.

Witnesses said there was a giant blast from the bomb, followed by a huge fire. It took several hours to extract the dead soldier's body from the burned vehicle.

This is the 7th in nine days.

But we have apparently taken out a "key" local Taliban leader. Nobody you've ever heard of, though. And:

A dozen Taliban fighters were also reported killed and nine wounded in a day of battles in Shekh Qalandar village, said Dawood Ahmadi, a spokesman for the governor of Kandahar.

I have no idea whether the Taliban body counts given out by NATO or the Afghan government can be trusted. However, it occurs to me that, if you look at the "kill figures" that get tossed around next door in Iraq, and estimates of the insurgency's total size, then each insurgent has been killed about five times over.

So, unfortunately, you only know its 100% true when one of the good guys gets killed.

Friday, August 11, 2006

"He Was a Nice Little Boy

...and then he grew up and turned religious", said a neighbor to one of the English terror suspects.

Man, that's what gets 'em every time, from Bin Laden to McVeigh.

BigCityLib, Godless and proud of it.

Iggy Admits

...that he goofed when he said that the Lebanese civilian deaths in Qana did not "make him lose sleep".

Alright, its a Friday and I'm not going to pile on. But ponder deep, fellow progressives! Ponder deep!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Kinsella Spins For Iggy

Since Linda Diebal's column came out on August 6th concerning Liberal Leadership candidate Michael Ignatieff's bad week, Iggy supporters have been trying to sweep her allegations under the carpet. Today they got a little help from National Post Columnist Warren Kinsella. He wrote:

According to Diebel, what was distressing unnamed "senior Liberals" was that Ignatieff had been mysteriously unavailable to comment on the Israel- Hezbollah war. Was he away on vacation -- or was he attending to a sick relative in Europe? Intoned Diebel: "Where he vacations is his business. No question. But [the confusion] does raise alarm bells about political instincts."

Actually, no, it doesn't -- and I say that as one who has written critically of Ignatieff in the past. For instance, when I contacted the Ignatieff campaign for a planned column on the newsworthiness of the Middle Eastern views of the 11 Grit leadership candidates, his campaign quickly responded, providing voluminous statements and background materials (too much for me to use, in fact). The Star attempted to follow the Post's lead on July 28, but found -- to its apparent chagrin -- that Ignatieff could not be reached.

This does nothing to refute Diebel's contention, for in fact Iggy was indeed unavailable for comment even when Kinsella tried to get hold of him. Being provided with background material by the campaign, from which one is supposed to glean the candidate's position on this or that matter, is not the same as being given a formal statement by the candidate, and Kinsella should know the difference. Presumably, The Star was able to reach Iggy's campaign staff on July 28th, but noted rightly that this was not the same thing as reaching Iggy himself.

As for the "family emergency" vs. "chronically ill mother-in-law" thing, Kinsella's defense misses the point. It was generally given out by Iggy supporters, including (if I remember correctly) his campaign, that Iggy was off in Europe on serious personal business. Therefore a) he would not issue a statement on the War, and b) it was wrong to criticize him for not issuing a statement.

Discovering that Iggy spent part of the time prancing about the mountains of Hungary on a pony (or whatever) and didn't issue a statement because he felt that he "deserved a vacation" still makes him come across as somewhat less than Prime Ministerial.

A Quickie on Israel's Flawed Military Strategy

Why has the vaunted IDF military machine performed so poorly in Lebanon? Surely there are a number of reasons, but what I think is the most important one just came to me in the shower this morning.

Specifically, the weakness in the IDF's military performance can be traced to an indecisiveness on the political level as to what to do with the Litani River once it has been taken.

The Litani River, see map here, runs across the Southern tip of Lebanon. It is is a natural line of defense for any invading army, and therefore the logical front edge of any Israeli buffer zone. However, to take and hold it means a reprise of the earlier, ill-fated occupation that ended with an ignominious withdrawal in the year 2000.

After all, the Israelis know that a French-led U.N. force ready to serve as proxy occupation army, willing to fight off Hezbollah and suck it up bravely whenever the Israeli air-force "accidentally" napalms some of their men, is set to arrive in the region no later than the 25th day after Doomsday. Take the Litani, and Israel is stuck with the Litani until they withdraw from it, with their forward troops eating Kaytusha rockets the whole time. Olmert and co. would prefer to avoid this scenario.

On the other hand, if you set up a buffer zone short of the Litani, then it doesn't work. Give Hezbollah an uncontested passage over the river, and the rest--getting close enough to jump your guys or fire rockets at Haifa--is easy. So your troops eat rockets, and so does Northern Israel.

Hamstrung between these two lousy alternatives, you get the kind of silly military behavior we've been seeing. The Israelis send a bunch of guys towards the river, maybe even past it, fire off a few rounds, take a few casualties back, and leave. They land some commandos, shoot up a few buildings, and leave.

And with this new offensive, the IDF--and this, being from a military background, particularly annoys me--is being asked by its political masters to be more active in the buffer zone, but they're still not allowed to make any progress.

The IDF is being made to take part in a political drama, not do its job, in other words..

Monty Python and the ME Conflict

After deciding to expand operations in Southern Lebanon, but then losing 15 soldiers in towns (Ayta al-Shab and Debel) that were supposed to have been taken long ago, Israel's new and improved offensive has been delayed a couple of days so that Peace might be given a chance. I am reminded of "Sir Robin's Song", from Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

When danger reared its ugly head,
He bravely turned his tail and fled.
Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about
And gallantly he chickened out.


He is packing it in and packing it up
And sneaking away and buggering off
And chickening out and pissing off home,
Yes, bravely he is throwing in the sponge...

And a word to all Israeli apologists. This is partly your fault isn't it? You've cheerleaded your gang into a little quagmire here, let them bomb the piss out a civilian population in service of a war that is both immoral and unwinnable, both evil and stupid. With friends like you, Olmert and co. may want to consult some of us "anti-Israel" types next time they want advice...

(which would have been in this case: a few pin-point strikes against Hezbollah targets, and then deal for your kidnapped men. You'll wind up doing that anyway)

Beware of your "friends"! That's the lesson for Israel here! They may mere enablers, perhaps ideological muscle fluffers! And the lesson to apologists is, real friends don't let friends act like war criminals!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Presidential Bust Indeed!

Reuters reports that artist Danial Edwards, who sculpted the now infamous image of a nekkid Britney Spears giving birth, has unveiled his new work, representing a topless Hilary Clinton, for New York City's Museum of Sex. He hopes it will "spark [a] discussion about sex, politics and celebrity".

Yeah, sure you do, Danny boy.

In any case, who knew? Hilary's definitely got my vote now.

Since the report is from Reuters, the only question is: has anything in the photos been digitally "enhanced"?

Note: the work is indeed titled "A Presidential Bust". So I'm not the only pervert around that's into art.

In Caledonia, it's Time to Go Home

While generally sympathetic to First Nation grievances, I am not sure how continuing to occupy the Douglas Creek Estates housing development in Caledonia helps anybody. Since the Province has already bought the land from Henco industries, it seems to me that any problems that might have necessitated physical confrontation (like building on the site) have been solved.

Or at least, can anybody tell me what the Native end-game is supposed to be here? Other than an eventual OPP/Native confrontation where somebody winds up shot?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Joe Lieberman: Toast

Bye Bye Joe, it looks like. He's down 56% to 44%. An excellent discussion at Red Tory's about whether Iggy is The Liberal's Joe Lieberman.

You know what I think.

Still Stuck in Bint Jbail

From CTV:

One Israeli soldier was killed and four others were slightly wounded in fighting in the town of Bint Jbail, the Israeli military said. Five Hezbollah gunmen were killed in the battle, the army said.

Bin Jbail (or Bint Jabail, or Bint Jubail) was dubbed the "Terror Capital" of Southern Lebanon, and earlier in the war Israel gave its capture the highest of priorities. Here it is on a map of South Lebanon (bottom left corner of map):

So the Israelis, who have vowed to clear a "buffer zone" to the Litani River about 20 Kilometers into Lebanon are, after a month of bombing the crap out of the Lebanese civilian population, still fighting and dying miles away from their objective. If you are wondering why Olmert and G.W. suddenly want an immediate cease-fire, and why Hezbollah and the Lebanese government are suddenly willng to tough things out a little longer, its because everyone realizes that the IDF is getting its ass kicked.

Newsweeks Conventional Wisdom feature has it dead-on this week:

Israelis are entitled to defend themselves against Hizbullah terrorists, but anyone can see this plan just ain't working.

Update: I note that Bilmon makes a very similar point in his column from yesterday. Either great minds think alike or we have entered the realm of the Bleeding Obvious.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Canadian Crop Circles are Back! What are They Trying to Tell Us?

Courtesy of the Canadian Crop Circle Research Network.

After a two year hiatus, the Crop Circles are back, the first one having recently appeared in B.C.'s Okanagan Valley !

A compelling image, certainly, but what does it mean? Our interpretation depends upon whether we take the crop-circle to be a message from Canada's Secret Elite to the Aliens, or from the Aliens to the people of Canada.

To start with, let us assume that the circle represents Earth itself (Terra, Gaia, or "The Orb" in the mythos of early Thrace). If so, then it is clear that the branching pathway (top right) touches the edge of the circle at a point somewhere within the Ottawa River Valley. In fact, I would argue it touches down someplace very close to the National Capital Itself! It is therefore no coincidence that the pathway extends from that point to the right, obviously representing the election of the Right Leaning Harper Conservatives earlier this year!

Now, at this point there are several readings open to us:

1) If this is a communication from Canada's Secret Elite to our Alien Benefactors, then the fact that the path climbs a short distance to the right represents the Tories' brief post-election honeymoon. The fact that it later breaks up in confusion and then begins its inevitable decline represents their more recent troubles with the Afghanistan, Middle East, and Softwood Lumber portfolios.

In effect the message being sent to our Galactic buddies is "Don't Worry! They've peaked! Things are slowly returning to normal! There'll be no Tory majority in this proud land!"

2) If, on the other hand, this constitutes a message from our pointy-eared Overlords to the people of Canada, then it is clearly saying "Don't vote for these Tory clowns! They're going to be a disaster of inter-planetary magnitude!"

For note how their path since election day, extending from Earth's surface, resembles the flight pattern of a NASA rocket, exploding during the ascent phase and falling to the ground again in tiny tiny pieces (see thumbnail above).

In which case we must wonder: "Where were you little green jerks on election day? Thanks for cluing us in now, assholes!" For a negative endorsement from a superior, space-faring people (like Al Gore, but multiplied to the 7th power) would surely have swung enough votes to deny Harper even his current minority status!

Get on the ball, O Mighty Space Beings!

3) The third possibility is that some wine-stoned plowboy got a bit jiggy with the old combine. However, if this were the case a tiny black dot should be visible in the picture, representing a farmer passed out face down in the middle of his own wheatfield.

So, for the time-being at least, we must accept the image as genuine.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

No Sick Mother-in-Law! Did Iggy Lie?

Hats off to A BCer in Toronto (the BigCity loves ya, kid), for uncovering this little gem.

Remember how Iggy took a powder for three weeks while the MidEast went up in flames, without issuing any kind of response to the situation? Remember how the official line from the Ignatieff campaign (and Iggy's cheering section in the blogosphere) was "It's a sick relative! How dare you ask the putative PM of the whole flipping nation to issue a statement while his mother-in-law is ill!"

Well, it turns out Mommy dearest wasn't sick at all! Iggy was on holiday in Europe! Of course, Iggy's got an explanation for everything:

"There is no health crisis," he said. "There never was. Anybody who said there was, was not authorized to say that. I never purported to say that."

And what was the real reason Iggy wouldn't deign to comment on the Israeli/Lebanese conflict, even after a Canadian peacekeeper died under Israeli bombardment? Answer: "I'm entitled to a holiday." Good Lord! Our PM in-waiting doesn't want a war in the MidEast to interfere with his horse-back riding in the Pyrennees (if that's what he was doing)!

Finally, the whole "I didn't say that, it was my staff's fault." defense is lame. Iggy could have corrected this particular misimpression any time during the past three weeks. He could have told the world that the front-runner in the Liberal Leadership race was too busy hiking through the mountains of Hungary painting watercolors (or whatever) to offer an opinion on what might conceivably have been the start of WWIII. But that would have made him look like crass twit, wouldn't it? So he hid behind a staffer's mis-statement until he got caught (if he wasn't straight-out lying).

And to all of Iggy's supporters in the blogosphere, you must really be feeling like sad sacks of shit about now. You've been feigning outrage for three weeks at the whole notion that King Iggy should actually need to answer questions as to what he might actually do in matters of war were he to lead the Canadian Nation ! "Oh my Lord! How dare you ask! His mommy's sick!"

And now you find out that your man was really off hunting pheasants with the fucking Marquis of Teverstock.

Never too late to switch! There are still real Liberals in the Liberal Paty.