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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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1/04/2003

Mary Wesley Dies at 90; Novelist


One of my favorite books is The Camomile Lawn.

It is the sort of book which rewards rereading and underscores a sort of Englishness which is long since past.

"People did enjoy the war," she told Britain's Independent newspaper in 1994. "People of my generation had a very good time. It was an atmosphere of terror and exhilaration and parties, parties, parties. People did things they wouldn't have done otherwise and were frivolous as well as desperate."

Along with Olivia Manning, Wesley's perspective on the War fleshes out books like Waugh's war trilogy and the three war novels in The Dance to the Music of Time.

The obit in the Post gives the flavour of the woman; but to really understand what a lively, calm and unflappable writer she is a re-reading of The Camomile Lawn is now on my agenda.

TheStar.com - Oil rises 4% on fears of U.S. supply crisis

Park the SUV, put on a sweater...End the crisis...Hello, Dick Cheney...

Another shot at Pot

The feds are appealing the Ontario Court ruling which tossed out the under 30 gram pot regulations and statute.

Which is silly of them as there are bigger legal challenges to be faced as Canada heads towards legalization.

The biggest is that while decriminalizing minor possession for personal use sounds like a grand idea - and is certainly one I support - it utterly undermines the rationale for the laws against cultivation and trafficking. After all, if it is legal to smoke pot and to have small quantities what possible justification is there for criminalizing cultivation and trading in the substance.

The actual fact is we will keep cultivation and possession for the purposes of trafficking illegal for a while yet. Only because we can't quite bring ourselves to say to out American friends - nah, we just don't care...enforce your own dumb laws, we'll go our own way.

Or at least we can't officially. Unofficially it is hard to see much pressure for enforcement of the existing anti-cultivation laws or trafficking in all but the most extreme cases. Grow-ops will flourish.

What is amusing is that the pot business is likely to rival the booze business during prohibition in creating really large, untaxed, fortunes. The run from Vancouver to the States is not so very far and the willingness of people to risk the absurd American laws in order to make a fortune has not changed.

I wonder who the Bronfmans of pot will turn out to be.

Hollywood looses a round

This is actually quite a significant blow to the Hollywood folks trying to make publishing the DeCSS illegal. What the Supreme Court has essentially done is said that the jurisdiction of the Calif. Courts is confined to Calif. Good call on this one.

Great quote:


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For Immediate Release: Friday, January 3, 2003
US Supreme Court Says Hollywood Can't Sue Texas Resident
Reverses Stay on California Supreme Court DVD Decision
Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Advisory
San Francisco - The U.S. Supreme Court today reversed an earlier temporary hold on a case involving DVD descrambling. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a California Supreme Court decision ruling that the entertainment industry cannot force a Texas resident who published a software program on the Internet to stand trial in California.

The California Supreme Court decided on November 25, 2002, that Matthew Pavlovich, who republished an open source DVD-descrambling software program called DeCSS, will not have to defend a trade secret lawsuit simply because he knew that his publication could cause "general effects" on the motion picture and technology industries in California. The court laid out clear jurisdiction rules for claims arising from publishing information on the Internet.

"The entertainment companies should stop pretending that DeCSS is a secret," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "The Supreme Court wisely recognized that there is no need for an emergency stay to prevent Mr. Pavlovich from publishing DeCSS."


1/01/2003

Left Out

Looking for a liberal Rush Limbaugh is pointless simply because the liberal world is more nuanced and less visceral than Rush's. Plus, American liberals are generally not willing to go after the issues which could create the necessary cleavages to propel a commentator to national attention.

American liberal ideolgy, on a good day, is riven with special interest pleadings, a feminist perspective and a tendancy to revert to "me too; but with kindness" when looking at Republican proposals.

A real American liberal position would take three or four key issues and beat them to death. And, like Rush, not be the least bit worried if doing this left the commentators in the wilderness for a few years.

Here are four positions which could help.

Tax fairness: progressive taxation where the wealthy bear a larger tax burden than the poor because they can afford to should be motherhood. It isn't and the erosion of tax fairness in the system is creating an overclass who take a lot and have clever accountants and lawyers to ensure they give only a little. This can and should be attacked.

Medical Care - Writing as a Canadian the one thing I do not worry about is medical care for my family or myself. As the American population ages the burden of the uninsured will grow. Developing an intelligent, well funded medical care system for poor and middle class Americans will be critical in the next decade.

Smart enviornmentalism - the tree huggers and the Nadarites have hijacked the enviornmental issue. An economically sensible approach to costing the effects of the direct and indirect overconsumption of fossil fuels could bring the enviornment back into the mainstream of political conversation. The radical enviornmentalist are useful in pointing out the problems; but the mainstream economic solutions of carbon taxation and tax relief for alternative energy makes a fair bit of sense. All of which should be linked to:

An Independent Foreign Policy - The Americans enjoy an overwelming military and economic superiority in the world. With that superiority comes the question "What is to be done?" Rather than being the world's policeman or the world's scold, America should be developing a principled foreign policy. For the first time in history America is in a position where it can proclaim a proud neutrality while reserving the right to deal unilaterally with any nation or group which threatens it. America can also use its economic might to encourage change in other countries. But she must have the courage to use that might and her armed forces to bring about change.

A passionate liberal spokeman is nothing without a passionate liberal position and that is what has been lacking for the last twenty years. Voting for Carter or Clinton was as much a vote against the Republicans as a vote for any specific vision. This must change if the liberal voice in America is to be heard or be worth listening to.

12/30/2002

First Drafts

The Ottawa Citizen, bless it, sent me a book by Jack Grantestein and Norman Hiller (?) called "First Drafts". It is essentially original, but not official, documents from Canadian history. Journalism, personal letters and a wealth of other material. I am about half way through - World War One has just ended.

It struck me as interesting that the ubiquity of the internet and the ease with which material can be stored and retrieved on the net will mean the role of editors like Grantestein will either vanish - we'll just find the material ourselves - or, and I think this is more likely, become critical to sorting through the sheer volume of material. In any case, the volume will be there.

Oriana Fallaci

What she wanted to talk about - what ignited the rage and the pride of her book - was the serious threat she believes Islam poses to the west.

"Wake up, folks, wake up!" she wrote, warning of a "reverse Crusade" that "aims at the conquest of our souls and at the disappearance of our freedom. A war which is conducted to destroy our civilisation, our way of living and dying, of praying or not praying, of eating and drinking and dressing and studying and enjoying life".


Not all Europeans are as wet as Harold Pinter. Fallaci has understood binLaden and the radical Muslim eneterprise in uncompromising terms.