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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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8/16/2003

Waugh at 100

An interesting article in the National Post
to remind us that Evelyn Waugh's 100th anniversary is this year. Rarely has such an ass given so much pleasure to so many. He had his suits made of a check intended for cloaks and hated pretty much everyone; but he also managed to create worlds in which it was so very easy to lose oneself. A glass of good Shiraz - which Waugh would have spat up - for a man and a world now out of mind.

Not a story

While I love being quoted the fact is that the blame game on the blackout was simply politicians reacting as usual. If you know nothing blame the other guy. But, if you want to see my one liner, from a ten minute chat, in the Bigs you can go here.
Nothing wrong with being quoted in the Post.

8/14/2003

Lousy Tactics

The Chrétien government made a rod for its own back when it decided that the Courts determination that gay marriage was legal in Canada somehow needed legislation and a Supreme Court Reference. There is nearly always an argument for doing absolutely nothing and the Liberals should have immediately adopted that argument.

Now we are being treated to the spectacle of MP's trumpeting their consciences - always a lurid sight - on a matter which is largely settled at law. At this point, in order to outlaw same sex marriage Parliament would have to invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution. Something which would mean acknowledging active discrimination against gay people.

For a vocal minority in Canada same sex marriage is a big deal. For the rest of us it is, at best, an argument for getting the government out of the marriage game entirely. There is nothing to stop the government from withdrawing its unnecessary bill and letting the sleeping dog carry on snoring.

Local Blog

Karen Schneider who I read for library filtering information - she's against the things - has set up a lovely local blog about Point Richmond.
Point Richmond has an interesting, and long, history. It has been the last train stop before the ferry to San Francisco, an important hub for maritime activities, a focus for World War II efforts, a fading neighborhood peopled with hippies and bikers, one of the last small, quiet neighborhoods in the Bay Area, and lately, the battleground for small skirmishes about "urbanization."
link my point
In many ways it is a blog about the clash of values inherent in the collision between SUV driving soccer moms with raging senses of personal entitlement and quiet communities which have served as sanctuaries for people who prefer to live more simply. Only four entries so far, but all interesting.

Now he tells us

Crown Prince Abdullah vowed that Saudi Arabia will triumph over "evil powers" and continue its crackdown on suspected militants, and warned citizens on Thursday not to sympathize with or support "terrorists."
"In the battle between powers of good and powers of evil, there is no room for neutrality or hesitancy...He who protects or sympathizes with a terrorist is himself a terrorist and will receive his just punishment," the crown prince said in remarks carried by the official Saudi Press Agency on Thursday.
link reuters
The Crown Prince might try telling this to Shaykh Usamah Abdallah al-Khayyat who spoke on Saudi Arabia TV1, the official televison station of the Saudi Government,
Concluding, the imam prays to God: "O God, strengthen Islam and Muslims, protect Islam, and destroy the enemies of Islam, the tyrants, and the corrupt. O God, close the ranks of Muslims and give wisdom to their leaders." He goes on: "O God, help mujahidin elevate Islam everywhere. O God, support them in Palestine. O God, destroy the tyrant Zionist Jews, for they are within your power."
link et seq. imra
Or, over on TV2, Shaykh Abd-al-Muhsin Muhammad al-Qasim preaches this fine anti-terror message,
"O God, strengthen Islam and Muslims, humiliate infidelity and infidels, and destroy the enemies of Islam. O God, give safety to this country and the other Islamic countries."
A religion of Peace, no, really.

8/13/2003

Oi, The BBC may not be telling the truth?

Reporter Susan Watts told an inquiry into David Kelly's death the scientist did not tell her in a telephone call that Blair's top adviser Alastair Campbell transformed a dossier on Iraq's banned weapons to justify a war most Britons opposed.
She also accused BBC bosses of pressuring her to make her report tally with that of her colleague, defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan. The British Broadcasting Corporation's director of news rejected that remark in his evidence to the inquiry.
''(Kelly) didn't say the dossier was transformed in the last week and he certainly didn't say that the 45-minute claim was inserted either by Alastair Campbell or by anyone else in government,'' Watts told the inquiry.
link msnbc/reuters
This is pretty damning. Gilligan is on record as saying his reporting may have been less than perfect and that he did not have complete notes regarding his interviews with David Kelly. Watts is suggesting that what she heard from Kelly is substantially different from what Gilligan claims he heard. Even more damning is Watt's suggestion that she is being pressured.

The report in the Guardian is even more damning.
Susan Watts, science editor of Newsnight, stunned the Hutton inquiry when she denounced the BBC's "misguided and false" attempts to use her stories to corroborate the controversial reports of Andrew Gilligan. With BBC executives sitting nearby, Ms Watts said she felt under "considerable internal pressure" to reveal her source and was moved to hire independent lawyers.
link et seq. the guardian
Watts felt that her reporting was being used by the BBC to back up Gilligan and she was outraged that the BBC's statement on Dr. Kelly's death did not exonerate her from the charge that she may have revealed him as a source prior to his death.
BBC executives were already aware of the level of Ms Watts' anger, and expected her to make some criticisms yesterday. But they are understood to have been astonished that she chose to make her most trenchant remarks after James Dingemans QC, counsel for the inquiry, had finished his questioning: she began her attack only when Mr Dingemans asked her if she had anything else of relevance to say.
A tape of a conversation between Hutton and Kelly was played at the inquiry. It was not terrifically revealing about the truth of Gilligan's report but it also, as the Telegraph points out,
casts doubt on the integrity of the man himself, showing that he deceived the Commons foreign affairs committee when he denied being the source of three BBC stories.
link the telegraph
For political and media junkies the Kelly affair is like catnip. To what degree can the BBC defend itself when it seems clear that the strict truth of its reports is in doubt? Can Blair and the BBC both survive? What will Lord Hutton conclude as to the facts of the matter?

In essence this is an argument about the BBC's transparent anti-war bias. But it is also a debate about whether the chattering classes in England can be allowed to continue to hide their bias behind the independence of the BBC. It is a debate which will echo in Canada where our own CBC long since lost touch with its national audience and is now hunkered down in Toronto hoping that the NDP or Sheila Copps will somehow win political power.

The Worm turns

I am happily typing away on my ancient Celeron running Windows 98. I do not have the current worm making the rounds. In fact, I have been downloading the disinfectant and patch required to fix my son's XP driven system.

The Blaster worm and its variants exploit a security hole in XP, NT and Windows 2000 and effectively turn infected computers into door stops until the user goes through the multiple steps needed to kill the worm and install the patch.

Microsoft products come with licence agreements which basically absolve Microsoft from any liability at all for anything which might go wrong even if the cause is their own negligence. Most software is like this.

Which means that the tens of thousands of hours which are being lost as I write are simply a cost of using Microsoft. There is apparently no chance of forcing MS to come up with compensation for lost time or lost data.

Microsoft is notorious for selling software before it has been completely tested. The current hole is just another bug. But a bug which, in aggregate is costing billions of dollars in lost productivity. It is just possible that this worm will be the one which sends the critical mass of users looking for an alternative to the MS disaster. Linux is beckoning.

Magnet

"Iraq is the nexus where many issues are coming together ? Islam versus democracy, the West versus the axis of evil, Arab nationalism versus some different types of political culture," said Barham Saleh, the prime minister of this Kurdish-controlled part of northern Iraq. "If the Americans succeed here, this will be a monumental blow to everything the terrorists stand for."
link nyt
To manage to put all of the jihadis in Iraq is too much to hope for; but it may be possible to draw the most dedicated. Which would accomplish two things: first it would get them out of circulation in the West. Second, it would remove them from the Islamic nations which have had to make accomodations to deal with their own terrorist threats.

Of course it will lead to a longer process in Iraq. But it may be a process which the American military and intelligence community can win outright. The critical thing is for the Americans to succeed.

8/12/2003

Peace and War

The two suicide attacks in Israel were, of course, more proof that the Palestinians are not honouring the ceasefire or disbanding the terrorists. This is not a surprise. What is a bit of a surprise, and possibility grounds for hope, is that Palestinian security gave the Israelis some warning.
Hours before Tuesday's two suicide bombings that killed two Israelis and wounded 11 others, Palestinian authorities warned Israeli intelligence officials that militants were planning an imminent offensive, a high-ranking Palestinian security official said.

The advance warning, while it did not head off the attacks, suggested that the U.S.-backed peace plan would not be scuttled by Tuesday's bloodshed.
link atlanta journal constitution
If true this is a big development as it is the first time that there has been a crack in the Palestinian pro-terror front. It also means that there is an increasing chance of inter-Palestinian conflict, possibly amounting to a civil war. Neither of the attacks could have been carried out without Arafat's blessing; but the tip to the Israelis almost certainly did not have that blessing. Which could signal the beginning of the end for Arafat's complete control over the Palestinians.

8/11/2003

Yankees Stay Home

DenBeste outdoes himself with a long meditation on why Americans are not travelling to France this summer.
The leaders of other nations ignore the "American Street" at their peril. They have the ability to decide to oppose this nation. That is their choice to make. But there is a real price to be paid for deeply angering the people of this nation, and the cost of doing so can substantial, and long lasting. We are slow to anger, but once that happens we are not easily mollified.

Millions of Americans care about their nation, and won't reward its enemies, especially those who hypocritically claim to be friends so they can get close enough for a back-stab.

The people of the United States are many and are powerful. We lend some of that power to our government, but we retain even more. Our government serves us, but does not rule us.
link uss clueless
I confess I changed the order of the quoted paragraphs. Chirac and his cronies are realizing that the Americans are much more powerful than their Army. Travel, wine, cheese and, at root, the millions of pocketbook choices Americans make everyday will reflect thesense of complte betrayal many felt as France pandered to the left and the Islamofascists which make up an increasing percentage of its population.

UpdateKim du Toit puts it all rather more sicinctly than DenBeste,
Not this time, Jacques. You guys have, as we Americans say, pissed in the soup -- perhaps an idiome gastronomique will help get the point across -- and this time, it won't be so easy for us to forget.
link kim du toit

The War that wasn't

As the journos and the left, two days into the race to Baghdad, were talking up quagmire the other side was having trouble of Its own. For the Robert Fisks of the world the post war debriefings of Iraqi officers should, but will not, provide an opportunity to reassess their wartime reporting.
Col. Faik, wearing jeans and sandals, said he passes most days playing with his two sons and daughter in the capital's middle-class Yarmouk district. He said he is proud of his 12-year Republican Guard career but feels betrayed by his leaders.

"Professional soldiers can't fight without orders and inspiration from their leaders," he said. "But we had clowns for leaders. This is our tragedy."

Faik said soldiers used to hear Hussein say in speeches: "Saddam is Iraq and Iraq is Saddam." So in the end, he said, "when the time came to fight for this guy who sends us unprepared to fight a superior American military, no one was willing to die for Saddam."
link hartford courant

8/10/2003

Stem cells and Hearts

"Stem cells genetically enhanced with Akt can repair infracted myocardium, prevent remodelling and nearly normalize cardiac performance," they said.

link bbc
The idea of repair in heart attack situations would be a remarkable step forward. To date the attempt in an ICU is to reduce the damage; but heart attacks inevidibly cause damage and that damage can lead to a variety of complications. (Weirdly enough, taking an aspirin at the point where a person thinks they may be having a heart attack seems to be one of the more effective ways of limiting the damage.)

Using genetically modified stem cells seems to offer real hope and that has been in short supply for cardiac patients.