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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another

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Dangerous assumptions

An artist in England has built a replica of Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay on a bit of scrub ground in Manchester. Jai Redman wants to create a little corner to showcase "state terrorism". Mr. Redman is entitled to his opinion and welcome to it; but this is the part of the Guardian piece which is troublesome:
They are not forced to sleep in open cages (this is Manchester in October, remember) and are not tortured. But their stay will be otherwise authentic and far from comfortable.
the guardian
This is not a quote from the artist, this is the Guardian's own voice. "Not tortured", well, that would be the authenticity piece. Because, after being on site for two months the most the International Red Cross could find to complain about was the mental condition of the enemy combatants. As for sleeping in open cages, Cuba is hardly Manchester.

In fact, the treatment of the prisoners at Gitmo is surprisingly humane given the circumstances. A piece of information which the Guardian does not want its readers to have.


Moreover, for those who care about the United Nations (I do not, but many administration critics have a weakness for legal niceties), Resolution 1441, unanimously passed by the Security Council, ordered Hussein to make a full accounting of his WMD program and to cooperate with inspectors, and warned that there would be no more tolerance for concealment or obstruction. Kay's finding of "dozens of WMD-related program activities" concealed from U.N. inspectors constitutes an irrefutable material breach of 1441 -- and an open-and-shut justification for the U.S. decision to disarm Saddam Hussein by force.
charles krauthammer wapo
While the proverbial smoking gun has not been found the pieces to assemble one or several have. And most of them systematically undeclared to the UN. Remember the 17,000 page full disclosure Iraq made to the UN Inspectors. Somehow they left out
It includes a secret network of labs and safe houses within the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi foreign intelligence service; bioorganisms kept in scientists' homes, including a vial of live botulinum toxin; and my favorite, "new research on BW [biological weapons]-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever, and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin"

David Kay's findings are not enough to convince the antis. Antis do, after all, have to at all costs deny that there was ever any reason to take out Uncle Cuddles. Kays work, however, pretty much puts paid to the argument that there was any need for a further UN resolution. The Iraqis failed to disclose, that was a material breach, 1441 was operative and you'd have to be French to say otherwise.

Bad News for Canadian Stoners

Dealing first with the eligibility deficiencies in the MMAR, it is true that the declarations sought by these applicants have the effect of removing the barrier of criminal sanction for possession of marihuana by those in medical need of it. However, the remedy proposed by the respondents achieves this result only by striking down the MMAR in their entirety and by coupling this with the invalidation of the marihuana prohibition in s. 4 of the CDSA. The latter declaration would exempt from criminal sanction all those who possess marihuana, not just those who must do so out of medical necessity. Thus, the remedy sought goes well beyond the eligibility deficiencies in the medical exemption crafted by the appellant. In that sense the remedy sought by these respondents is simply too broad.
Hitzig et al v The Queen
Hence the marihuana prohibition in s. 4 has been of no force or effect since July 31, 2001. Since the July 8, 2003 regulation did not address the eligibility deficiency, that alone could not have cured the problem. However, our order has the result of constitutionalizing the medical exemption created by the Government. As a result, the marihuana prohibition in s. 4 is no longer inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution. Although Parliament may subsequently choose to change it, that prohibition is now no longer invalid, but is of full force and effect. Those who establish medical need are simply exempted from it. This consequence removes the cloud of uncertainty from the marihuana prohibition in s. 4 of the CDSA - a cloud which we were told in argument has created very considerable confusion for courts and law enforcement agencies alike. A suspension of our remedy would simply have continued that undesirable uncertainty for a further period of time.
The decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal has the effect of ending the two and a half month prosecution holiday stoners have been enjoying in Ontario. And, given the standing of the OCA, their opinion is likely to be cited in the other Canadian jurisdictions where simple possession has been challenged.

I would suspect, and hope, that the decision will be appealed; but reading the decision quickly my sense is that it is an admirably limited rewriting of a set of regulations to conform with the Constitution and would be unlikely to be overturned on appeal. Which kicks the issue, at least in Ontario, back into the political arena. Which, realistically, is where it was going to be decided in any event with the government's proposed decriminalization legislation.

However, the summer of smoke may well have proven the point about pot. It was not illegal in the biggest province in Canada for nearly three months - nothing awful happened. Why recriminalize it? The Court cites uncertainties about long term effects as one reasonable ground; but not, I suspect, for outright prohibition. But this is properly a political argument.

The Court deliberately struck down only those regulations whose operation made the use of medical marijuana impossible without resort to the "black market" for supply. Now it is time for the politicians to weigh the possible future long term health effects of the general use of marijuana against the very real, present term effects of arresting marijuana users. Perhaps the proposed decriminalization where simple possession would be a "ticket" is a reasonable balance; but in actual operation this halfway house to legalization will eliminate what few incentives the police and the Crown have to prosecute simple possession. Which will simply increase the scope for prosecutorial discretion and the inherent unfairness that brings in its wake.


Bali - One Year On

A friend and I ran back inside and found a girl sitting in a circle of flame. She was holding someone whose skin was totally blackened. We yelled at her to reach out, so we could lift her from the fire, but she screamed back that she couldn't: "I have no legs." I looked down. Both her legs were gone. She died looking me in the eyes.
jake ryan
(via Debbye)

No Standing

At one point, Judge Iacobucci asked lawyers for the coalition how the court could be expected to force the federal government to continue battling against gay marriage rights after it had already conceded the unconstitutionality of the prohibitions.

Chief Justice McLachlin also appeared impatient at several points with the coalitions' attempts to prod the court into passing judgment on the way the government has chosen to move forward on the issue.
globe and mail
Judge Iacobucci gets it right. Had the Court broken precedent and allowed the fundys to gain party status in the gay marriage litigation it would be impossible to fashion a remedy in the event that they somehow "won". Having intervenor status in an action is not the same as having party status because the rights of the intervenor are not being directly litigated. And only parties have the right to appeal a decision rendered in their litigation.

I suspect my friends on the socon right will decry this as a further extension of the power of unelected judges to play argy bargy with critical social issues. In fact, it was a predictable and laudable exercise of judicial restraint and a profoundly conservative decision. It was also a no brainer: pressure groups might well have something to contribute to the hearing of an appeal which is why they are sometimes granted intervenor status; but they have nothing to contribute to the conduct of the action and to allow an intervenor to substitute itself for one of the parties to that action would be a radical and extremely dangerous precedent. Because to do so would be to say that participation at the discretion of a lower court would grant any pressure group a presumptive right to replace one of the parties in the event it disagreed with that party's conduct of the action. And that would reduce the Appellate Courts to talking shops in which no decision made by a party to an action would be final until it managed to convince all of the intervenors to sign off.

Good for the Supreme Court.

Troll sinks his own Government

The dispute over Mr. Arafat's control of the security forces was reportedly brought to a head by General Nasser Yousef, the man designated to become the new interior minister. Gen. Yousef refused to be sworn into the eight-member cabinet with other ministers Tuesday, insisting the government first get parliamentary approval.

Yesterday, Mr. Arafat wanted to dismiss Gen. Yousef, Palestinian officials said, because of the general's insistence on broad security powers that he deemed necessary to begin implementing the American-backed "road map" to peace. That led to Mr. Qureia's threat.

The United States and Israel insist that no progress can be made on the road map until Mr. Arafat is relieved of control of the security forces and the Palestinian Authority acts to crack down on militants.
globe and mail
The only reasonable conclusion to draw about the Troll of Ramallahtm is that he is insane. With luck he is also dying. But if he isn't the Palestinians owe it to themselves to get on with making peace without him. If that requires a bullet, well I am sure there are several to spare.

Dhalan, now Yousef, refuse to put their heads in the vice that the Troll's demand that he have sole control over the so called Palestinian security forces. They are right. Because many of those forces are the terrorists the rest of the security forces will have to disarm in order to have a ghost of a chance at peace. The Troll knows this which is exactly why he will not relinquish control. Stalemate?

I don't think so. The Troll might die. There might be a civil war in Palestine. The Israelis might bundle the Troll and a hundred of his closest friends into a plane for a short trip to an undisclosed location - and as Bush seems so keen on keeping the Troll alive it could just as well be Gitmo. The Israelis might shot him. The Palestinians, sick to death of the corrupt and incompetent leadership which they elected over a decade ago, might demand new elections. One way or another the impasse will be broken. And the only way to break it is to take the Troll of Ramallahtm out of the equation. Even the French must realize that by now.


Neil Postman

There are very few cultural critics who I would cross the street to see; but when Neil Postman came to Vancouver a couple of years ago I spent much of a week listening to Postman say things which were remarkably obvious - once he had said them.
He drew national attention with "The Disappearance of Childhood" (Delacorte, 1982), in which he asserted that television conflated what should be the separate worlds of children and adults. It did so, he contended, by steeping the minds of children in vast amounts of information once reserved for their elders and subjecting them to all the desires and conflicts of the adult world.
link et seq. new york times
This was, in itself, enough to make Postman a bit of a hero in my books. We now have a term for the effects Postman was warning about: age compression. It is the phenomena which creates the delights of "kinderwhore" dressing for girls and "mook" existence for teenage boys. But Postman was just getting started. His book, Amusing Ourselves to Death is the most scathing survey of the dumb culture promoted by television I have ever read. At one point I could quote sections from memory. No longer and I don't have a copy out of a box; but one of Postman's central insights is that there are no prerequisites in TV land. Every show begins with the premise that its viewers know nothing at all. Which is the exact opposite of the way that knowledge is patiently accumulated over time.
Dr. Postman was particularly offended by the presentation of television news with all the trappings of entertainment programming, including theme music and "talking hairdos." Only in the printed word, he felt, could complicated truths be rationally conveyed.
The end of political and social discourse was heralded, according to Postman, by sound bites and happy chat in place of actual news. similarly, the need for entertainment meant that the idea of analysis was replaced with "How do you feel?" questions.

Listening to Postman, reading Postman, I heard a voice steeped in a tradition of rigorous, iconoclastic thinking who was baffled and angered by the elevation of idiocy which passed for big media in the United States and, eventually, throughout the world. He was, as many of his generation are, ambivalent about computers and the internet. As he put it in the huge Baptist Church where he was lecturing, the problem of the internet and the PC was that it could not be "uninvented" and whatever its consequences we were stuck with them. It was not so much that he was against the technology; rather he noticed that we had arrived in the computer age without the slightest discussion or debate as to whether we should be there at all. The technology made the decision for us. For Postman, a humanist to his fingertips, the idea of technology ruling man rather than its opposite was suspicious at best, anathema at worst.

Religion Mix

Kathy Shaidle has a wonderful report cum analysis of Irshad Manji over at American Prowler. The Trouble with Islam is a rather direct challenge to the idea that Islam is beyond reformation issued by "Canada's most famous Muslim lesbian feminist."

Kathy points to Evan McElravy who argues that the Christian "reformation" is popularly confused with the rather more secular Enlightenment. And she quotes
Philip Jenkins, the prolific author of Mystics and Messiahs and an expert on religious movements. "Arguably the biggest problem facing the Middle East is that Islam has been having a reformation" since the 14th century. Each return to fervor represents a 'reformation' against decadence, and the Wahhabis are the latest aspect of it."

"What Islam needs," he adds, "is enlightenment."
Semantics and history aside, Irshad, with whose politics and lifestyle choices I cannot help but thing Kathy may have just a tiny spot of trouble, needs to be taken seriously as one of the few people who are willing to stand up for a vision of Islam without the fundamentalism. Kathy's piece is an engagingly written introduction to a reasonable voice we will be hearing more from.

What the Media doesn't get about Arnold

Debbye over at An American in TO has a link rich analysis of just how badly the left leaning American (and Canadian) media managed to miss the boat on the California recall. She sees it as indicative of just how far the mainstream media has grown away from its audience,
It's almost unavoidable to wonder why the media behaved in a manner guaranteed to anger voters in the most populous state in the union. Since it wouldn't be in their best interests to do so, I have to conclude that they didn't realize that people would see through their attempts to circumvent democracy and be angry with them (or make that angrier as the need for a website like Front Line Voices indicates widespread dissatisfaction and anger with the media.)

To me, it's an unavoidable conclusion that the media thinks they have authority, influence and power. They lack historical perspective, remember? They've probably all seen the classic movie Citizen Kane yet don't realize that it applies to them: yellow journalism is a constant in American news media and always will be. Reporters chase police cars and fire trucks and jostle for elbow room with attorneys. You can call yourselves journalists but we aren't fooled. You can call yourselves crusaders, but your pay check is commensurate with the amount of dirt you spread so your motives are hardly noble.
american in TO
You go girl!

Scorpion Bombs

Toxic arrows were the Bronze Age's terror weapons. "Almost as soon as they were created," Mayor writes, "poison weapons set in motion a relentless train of tragedies for Hercules and the Greeks - not to mention the Greeks' enemies, the Trojans."
christian science monitor
My review of Adrienne Mayor's look at ancient terror weapons, Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World appears in the Christian Science Monitor today. Interesting book.

Medieval Ignorance

The Catholic Church is telling people in countries stricken by Aids not to use condoms because they have tiny holes in them through which the HIV virus can pass - potentially exposing thousands of people to risk.
The church is making the claims across four continents despite a widespread scientific consensus that condoms are impermeable to the HIV virus.the guardian
The poison of anti-rationalist thought is not just confined to cave dwelling mullahs,
The president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, told the programme: "The Aids virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon. The spermatozoon can easily pass through the 'net' that is formed by the condom.
The wonderful irony of this is that if Cardinal Trujillo were right, then the Church's teachings against the use of condoms would be logically wrong.
The church opposes any kind of contraception because it claims it breaks the link between sex and procreation - a position Pope John Paul II has fought to defend.
Tragically, this claim really is going to cost lives.

Neal Stephenson: Ouicksilver on Paper

Neal Stephenson is interviewed by Glen Reynolds over at Tech Central Station. REad the whole thing and all that. I liked Stephenson's remarks on paper,
Paper's a really advanced technology. That was brought home to me by working on this, when I read a lot of documents from that era, which were put down on really good, acid-free paper. They're all pretty much as good as they were the day they were made 300 or 350 years ago. This is not going to be true of today's electronic media in 300 years. There's a lesson central station
Coming from the guy who wrote Cryptomonicon this is a pretty interesting take on the real values in technology.

TV's Digital Shared Future

And finally, the last trend -- sharing. Broadband, which is growing exponentially in the UK (up 200 percent year on year to around 2.5 million subscribers now) will make downloading of decent video quality worthwhile, easy and cheap via the net. Downloading and sharing this video is the final piece of the jigsaw and will create a killer combination that I believe could undermine the existing models of pay-TV.

The killer combination is broadband together with digital TV and PVRs, plus the ability to share this video in the same peer-to-peer model with which music files are exchanged on the net. Broadband will provide the rich on-demand content; digital TV through Freeview will make 40 channels and interactive services available to the masses for free; PVRs will provide the means to break from the tyranny of the TV schedule; and sharing will enable file swapping of personal as well as broadcast content. It really doesn't matter if this solution is built into a PC as with the Microsoft's Media Centre, Sony's new PlayStation or a set top box. It all basically adds up to the same solution: a box and a screen -- offering unparalled video, TV, interactive and games content. What I'm certain of, is that this killer combination will be in half of all UK homes, in one form or another, by the end of this decade.
ashley highfield
With decent broadband - say triple current cable speeds - video file sharing will be a snap. (At the moment it is similar to the wait you experience downloading music on a 56K modem.) Highfield's speech posted at explains how the BBC is trying to meet this new world head on rather than simply saying that people who skip commercials are thieves as the then President of Turner Broadcasting did in this interview,
Jamie Kellner is the chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting, which encompasses everything from CNN to TNT and is a part of AOL Time Warner. On Monday, an interview with Kellner appeared in CableWorld.

In response to a question on why personal video recorders (PVR's) were bad for the industry, Kellner responded: "Because of the ad skips.... It's theft. Your contract with the network when you get the show is you're going to watch the spots. Otherwise you couldn't get the show on an ad-supported basis. Any time you skip a commercial or watch the button you're actually stealing the programming."
2600 news
So which side do you think sounds most like the RIAA in 1999. And which side do you think is going to win. Just a hint: the BBC announced that it is releasing its whole television archive to the internet. Of course the networks could join with the movie studios and the record companies to ban the personal computer, hardrives and the internet and sue every single person who ever even thought of leaving the room during a commercial - but, hey, that would be silly.

Technorati News: 1 million blogs logged

Technorati which track links and otherinteresting aspect of the blog world is now tracking a million blogs with a new one coming in every 12 seconds.

Smart Car

Being poor rather than an eco warrior, I take the bus; but I am always amazed at the idiocy of the Big Three automakers compared to their more nimble Japanese competitors. Where is the American Miata (and yes, I know that Mazda is now effectively a ford brand and the Miata was designed in America - but my point stands)? And where, in the era of rising fuel prices are the American hybrid cars? There is a great, linky, post by short woman,
As I write this, the large American auto manufacturers are trying desperately to sell cars. Ford has announced layoffs. Chrysler has announced $4000 incentives on brand new 2004 vehicles and $5000 on 2003s. GM is offering no-cost loans -- something they are only able to do because they both build and finance the car. The number one item if you search for "American Cars" is "The End of Detroit: How the Big Three Lost Their Grip on the American Car Market."

Meanwhile, the Japanese are selling cars almost as fast as they can make them. Honda and Nissan are both doing well, but by far the biggest success story is the redesigned Toyota Prius. You may remember the Prius as a very small, rather pricey hybrid car, distinguishable from the Echo only by the chrome. This year it is a somewhat larger hatchback available for roughly $21,000. It even gets substantially better milage than before. Edmunds describes it as "a legitimate family sedan that offers everything you would expect." There are no incentives, no rebates.
short woman
In the last great gas price rise in the 1970's Detroit was almost buried by its touching faith that even if gas prices doubled Americans would still drive the same number of miles per year. It was an article of economic faith that the demand for transportation was price inelastic. And, lo, so it was - but what the economists failed to mention was the fact that those miles would tend to be driven in smaller, fuel efficient cars. The first wave of Hondas and Toyotas arrived on American and Canadian shores obediently summoned by the well know "substitution effect". Namely, that once the price of driving a big gas guzzler doubles, you look for a car which gets you just as far on half the gas. Detroit was nearly bankrupted by failing to produce anything like the lowly Honda Civic. I suspect we may be witnessing the same thing again.


American Spectator Party

Jeremy Lott, that would be Ascended Master Jeremy Lott, reports from the redesign launch party of the American Spectator,
In his brief remarks, Bob Tyrrell gave us an update on the recall results: "A hundred and sixty three more women have come forward."
jeremy lott
Which is exactly what I suspect will happen as the defeated California Democrats - can you say repudiated, sure you can - adapt the tactics of the defeated anti-warriors and attempt to win the Peace.

An Interesting Idea

The Free State project aims to have 20,000 Libertarians move to New Hampshire and, well, take over the political system and turn it into a libertarian utopia. I'm not sure that 20,000 will be enough but it would be a start. What is fun, and rather frightening, is to think of some of the other groups who might want to take over a state of their own. Christian fundamentalists, Islamic fundamentalists, golfers, geeks: imagine, North Dakota, the Slashdot state. You can check out their website here. (Thanks to Sean Kirby who seems to be back to blogging regularly.)

Tons of Great Reading

Debbye over at Being American in TO from whence I got the Telegraph lead, is just getting better and better as a blogger. She has shifted from quick takes on the news to some really trenchant analysis which makes her blog all the better. Read her on the Canadian deaths in Afghanistan here
and here. And her prayers are not, I am afraid, with the troll of Ramallah.

Taliban Redux

The Telegraph is reporting that the Taliban are getting ready to launch attacks into Afghanistan from Pakistan where they are said to have safe haven in the tribal provinces which have, themselves, elected radical Islamist governments. For the moment the Taliban's motorcycle guerillas are confining themselves to shooting up aid convoys in Southern Afghanistan; but the possibility of escalation is increasing.

Logistical support for the Taliban is available from the hardline mullahs of the Jamiat-e-Ullema Islam (JUI) - a partner in the ruling coalition that governs Baluchistan.

In recent weeks President Karzai has appealed to JUI mullahs and the Pakistan army to stop the Taliban from organizing in Quetta, but that has only infuriated the JUI.

"The Afghan government and Karzai are the stooges of America and every Muslim and every Afghan knows this," said Maulana Hafiz Hussain Sharodi, Baluchistan's information minister. "Only the Taliban can constitute the real government in Afghanistan.

The issue is to what degree the West is prepared to recognize that the Taliban are Al Qaeda by another name. If the West simply treats the Taliban as what amounts to an Afghani/Pathan nationalist insurgency then there is every danger that that insurgency will continue until it drives the Americans and the rest of the Western nations out of Afghanistan. Which would allow the same infrastructure to be rebuilt by Al Qaeda as existed before the invasion.

At this point the Americans are being rather respectful of the Pakistani border - which is largely fictional in the tribal territories - and rather, in my view, too deferential towards the Pakistani security apparatus. It is past time for the Americans to follow through on the doctrine of pre-emption and attack the Taliban and Al Qaeda where ever there is reason to believe that they have sanctuary. If that means marching through the tribal territories, so be it.

The only thing which the Islamofascists seem to understand is devastating, humiliating defeat. Which should be the sole objective of the American Army, Special Forces and CIA. Worrying about hearts and minds, the Arab street or religious sensitivities are all very PC but they represent a critical and potential fatal weakness.

Realistically, the Taliban will never be converted to even basic neutrality towards the West. Which means they must either be slaughtered or rendered impotent. The alternative is that Al Qaeda, in time, will regain its operating capacity in Afghanistan which, as a matter of certainty, will ensure that at least one Western City will be lost to some form of WMD. Which may, unfortunately, be what it takes for America and the rest of the West to realize this really is a war.

Still Not Getting It

John Halderman explained on his Web site this week how he disabled the antipiracy software distributed on a new album by BMG recording artist Anthony Hamilton.

The software is installed on the CD and loads automatically onto a Windows computer when it is inserted into the CD drive.

The copy-protection software makes copying the disc or "ripping" the individual tracks into mp3s impossible.

However, holding down the Shift key when loading a CD into a Windows machine's drive disables the autorun feature, leaving the CD undefended, Halderman said.

Record label BMG and SunnComm, the company that created the antipiracy software said they were aware of the technique before they shipped the CDs.

Both companies said they believe the copy-protection scheme was sufficient to deter the average user from copying the CD.
Cute as the shift key hack is, it is the attitude and remarkable ignorance of the record company which is the story. First, all it takes is one, not so average user to defeat the copy protection and put the song up on a P2P network. That's the end of the value of the copy protection. But the annoyance for the average user will go on and on. The average user will not be able to rip their CD and put it on their hard drive. They may have trouble playing the CD in anything other than a CD player.

The music business is so desperate to protect its out of date business model that it simply doesn't care if it irritates its customers. Which will have the perverse effect of sending more of them to the P2P networks to get copies of music which they may already own simply because it is easier than using the Shift key to disable the autorun on their computers. Dumb.

But not as dumb as this reported by Glen Reynolds,
Here's the scary bit: one of the industry guys said that their big legislative priority is to try to create a regime where you have to register with a unique, verifiable ID to access the Internet.

Tech Central Station

My update of my earlier article, Blame Canada, is up at Tech Central Station. Blame Canada II brings a less black and white view to the issue of P2P in Canada. In particular it acknowledges that the ambiguity of the Canadian Copyright law makes uploading files more than a little problematic.

More importantly, there are a number of ideas and links in the article about how the music business can and should adapt to P2P reality. Enjoy!

Over at Greplaw there is an interesting poll on what the legal beagles think will be the outcome of the RIAA suits.

A change in strategy

But the message Israel needs to be sending Arafat and the entire leadership of the Palestinian Authority is the same as the one it sent to Islamic Jihad on Sunday, namely that they are not safe anywhere.

There is no "out of bounds" in this war, and there can be no sanctuaries for terror, regardless of whether they are in Ramallah, Damascus, or Gaza.

The only way to get rid of terrorism is not to "isolate" it or ostensibly make it "irrelevant," but to eliminate its practitioners, the terrorists themselves. And that includes Yasser Arafat.
jerusalem post
If you want to stop terror there is simply no substitute for victory and the will to fight for victory. In order to convince Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the troll of Ramallah that their strategy of lying and bombing is not working, Israel needs to press the terrorists and their organizations on all fronts. It needs to convince the Palestinians and the Arab world at large that there is simply no chance of the Palestinians achieving anything other than hysterical misery unless they stop homicide bombers and the culture of incitement. (As the roadmap required them to do.)

The Arab fundamentalists and terrorists thought that they had somehow won something with 9/11. What they need to know is that they forfeited any good will the thinking West and Israel had towards their various goals. Now, the need for restraint has vanished. In fact, restraint may actually result in more deaths than a sharp, broadly conceived campaign to wipe out the corrupt, terror mongering Palestinian leadership so that there is room for a new leadership committed to achieving its ends without blowing up two year olds.

More Exciting than the Ontario Election

But Arnold also shows that Eagle politics can work - fusing low-tax conservatism with social tolerance and a tough foreign policy is the great missing politics in America. We may have just found our first truly charismatic candidate.andrew sullivan
Whether Arnold can perform is, of course, another question. But as the personification of urban conservatism, Arnold - with his steroid use, groping, pro-choice, pro-gun control social tolerance and his fiscal conservatism - could become a rallying point for Republicans fed up with the fundys and Democrats outraged with the anti-America left.

Politically, the most interesting thing about Arnold is that he cannot become President. Which, if he can master Californication, may leave him as an American who can make Presidents. Ideologues on both the right and the left have to be asking themselves how increasingly marginal ideas and a lot of name calling can compete with this much star power married to a Kennedy and governing the largest state in the Union.

I expect that the extremes of both right and left will adopt much the same position as they have in Iraq - they will hope, pray and intrigue to try to ensure that Arnold cannot win. That he will fail.

Which he won't and that will be a very good thing for American politics.


Heart Breaking

Yasser Arafat has suffered a mild heart attack but the Palestinian leadership has sought to keep his health problems secret for fear it will "create panic".
The 74-year-old Palestinian president, who is suffering from Parkinson's disease, disappeared from public view last week and re-emerged at the weekend looking extremely ill. His face was pale and pinched, he had lost weight and he was almost inaudible. He had trouble standing for more than a few minutes at a time.

The Palestinian press said he was suffering from flu. But Palestinian officials told the Guardian that Mr Arafat had suffered a heart attack last week.
the guardian
Might save the cost of a bullet.


A signal to the Troll of Ramallah

Referring to a conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon after the Israeli strike at an alleged militant training base, Bush said, "I made it very clear to the prime minister, like I have consistently done, that Israel's got a right to defend herself, that Israel must not feel constrained in terms of defending the homeland."

I trust that the troll and his "Law and Order PM" are listening. And I also trust that he notes,
Notably, two members of the Quartet of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States, sponsors of the Middle East peace process "road map," did not condemn Israel. They were Russia and the United States.
At the present rate the only friend the troll will have left will be, er, France.

Another Palestinian Waste of Time

While accepting the plan in principle, Palestinian leaders have said they cannot confront the armed groups for fear of sparking internal fighting. Qureia stuck to this position, saying he has not yet put together an action plan for his security forces ? but would in any case not use force against the militants.

"We will not confront, we will not go for a civil war," he said. "It's not in our interest. It's not in the interest of our people, and it's not in the interest of the peace process."

Palestinian security forces will try to impose law and order, Qureia said, but was evasive about how he would comply with the road map without dismantling the armed groups. He said he was "not a slave to words," but would adhere to the concepts of the peace plan.
associated press
To have peace the PA has to confront its own gunmen and terrorists. But so long as the troll of Ramallah is calling the shots that is exactly what is not happening and will not happen. The new "Prime Minister" is up front, he is more worried about a civil war than he is about complying with the conditions of the now irrelevant road map. Nothing to see here folks, move along.

From BlogCon

# Kevin Marks: The net changes the power law of the media curve. If you look at relative popularity on the web, using something like Technorati, you get a power curve that goes all the way down gradually, to the bottom where you see pages that got just a single click. If you look at popularity in the "real" world--best-selling books, or top music--the power curve drops like a stone from a very high level. That's because in order to get a book published, or a piece of music recorded, you have to convince somebody that you're going to sell a million copies. You end up in a zero-sum game, where people pour enormous resources into being number one, because number two is only half as good. The promise of the net is that the power of all those little links can outweigh the power of the top ten.
* Adam Curry: When you talk about what people are doing with the web now, think about the way the telephone was used when it was new--to call ahead and tell you that a telegram is on the way.
betsy devine
She has a lot more.

Covet: Dual G5

Photo manipulation. Using a 33.2MB digital picture (in TIFF format), I rotated the photo 56 degrees counterclockwise, applied a Gaussian blur with a pixel radius of 250, and applied the Pointillize filter with the cell size set at 3. Rotating the picture took 2 seconds on the G5, 3.5 seconds on the Dual G4 and 5.5 seconds on the Powerbook. Applying the Gaussian blur (which, in essence, turned the photo into a blurry blob), took 4 seconds on the G5, 5 seconds on the Dual G4 and 8 seconds on the Powerbook. And applying the Pointillize filter took 3 seconds on the G5, 4.5 seconds on the Dual G4 and 9 seconds on the Powerbook.
Of course, this really will be an unintelligible blur; but a fast one. Were I to try this on my current computer which was assembled by a now lost tribe of Intel wizards and Microsoft warlocks I would be rewarded with a very crisp, very clear blue screen....but it would take at least fifteen seconds to appear.


The Future

Paul Wells is wasted in the back of Mcleans,
What do Stockwell Day, Bernard Landry and Ernie Eves have in common? They were all so good as finance ministers that they became unstoppable candidates for party leadership. And then they stunk out the joint. Can't imagine what lesson there might be in there for the future.

More on education

I have been remiss in not linking to Kevin Steel's observations on testing and the origins of the abandonment of standardized exams. It is a long and thoughtful post much of which I agree with even though it supports Colby's pro-testing position.

So let's throw out facts and concentrate on experience because well, we're bringing up baby, we're the parents now. A lot of real parents might counter, Realist(ically): "Just teach my kid facts, make he/she remember them, and I'll raise my kid." Mr. Pullman is obviously trying to be Pragmatic, and so is worried about the "whole child." He thinks testing kids on books can "ruin reading" for life. I will concede that the teaching of, and testing on, bad books can ruin enjoyment of literature for some children, for a time, until they come across a good book, or Harry Potter perhaps, but that's taking the argument in another direction. Not everybody loves reading. If anyone blames their disinterest in books on testing, I would suggest they might be rationalizing their disinterest in it with the same clumsy skill a teenage boy might rationalize not asking a girl to dance. "I really dig the music, man!" "Those teachers and their tests are stifling my creativity and ruining books for me."
I don't think Pullman - or I to put myself in august company - has five seconds for the simple version of the testing stifles creativity argument. My argument against testing is purely that standardized testing radically limits the possibilities of education by forcing the system to teach to the tests.

Testing in a relatively relaxed environment, where there is lots of time and marks are not life and death is one way of measuring achievement; but it is far from the only way. Simply talking to a child about a book he is reading will give a teacher, or a parent, a great deal of information about how well the child reads and where problems, if any, are coming up. The problem is that takes longer than the industrial education system is willing to pay for. To do this sort of subjective evaluation of a child's progress would make it impossible to have 30 kid classes. Which, frankly, I think is a good thing. But before enough money is put into education to bring classes down to a manageable ten students, hell will be a skating rink and smart parents will have long since moved on.

Not Actually a blog - but interesting

Paul Wells is pretty much posting finished articles on his new Mcleans blog. But they are good articles. On the failed Alliance/Tory merger:
This week I've been reading The Rivals, James Naughtie's book about the shaky partnership between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. It says the Labour party finally got over its habits as a losers' party in 1985, when a guy named Philip Gould wrote a memo full of common sense for any opposition party anywhere.

"Labour, he said, was seen as a collection of minorities and not a party that represented the majority; it appeared to be more interested in its own activists than in the voters. Gould's remedy was simple. Campaigns should have one purpose--to influence electoral opinion. A strangely obvious conclusion, it was one that led to a period of more than five years of troubled change in the Labour Party."

The gentlest thing that can be said for the scattered opponents of Paul Martin's Liberals is that they still haven't got the memo.
link mcleans
As nearly as I can see there are at least four distinct political lines in the two parties ranging from big government red Tories brought in by the weird David Orchard to born again Western rural socons longing for the days when Preston's father brought man and God together in one big political bloc. None of them are winners because none of them wants to win enough to compromise their particular heartfelt positions.

To get the real feel from the trenches read Kevin Michael Grace on 14 Truths about the the Alliance/Tory merger. Deadly stuff.

Cook's Tour

the publication of excerpts of Robin Cook's diary in the Times today will not have made Tony Blair's job any easier. Cook, a former Foreign Secretary, essentially says that the decision to go to war in Iraq was taken in the face of significant opposition in Blair's Cabinet and in the face of intelligence which suggested that there were unlikely any WMD's available to Uncle Cuddles. The Times website is closed to foreign non-subscribers but you can read an excellent summary of Cook's charges in The Scotsman.

Cook was against the war from the go. In fact, he was and is against virtually any exercise of force which does not directly involve the Defence of the Realm in the absence of an overwhelming United Nations endorsement. His willingness to breach Cabinet secrecy which traditionally has meant that a Cabinet Minister is free to debate a position contrary to the final position adopted by the Cabinet secure in the knowledge that this dissent will not be made public for thirty years, suggests the depths of Cook's hatred for Blair and his own ambition to win the Peace.

My sense is that the antis in England, enraged that the Hutton Inquiry will likely find that Gilligan lied and that was the proximate cause of Dr. Kelly's demise, have decided they will settle for nothing less than a full scale public inquiry into the events which lead to the decision to go to war in the first place. And the objective of this inquiry will be nothing less than Blair's political hide.

The only problem with this plan is that, despite the shrill wailings of the antis, there is no significant basis upon which an inquiry can proceed. Did Blair mislead Parliament? That is Parliament's concern and it is virtually impossible to accuse a person of deliberate deception when they choose one set of intelligence reports over another. Did Blair and his people prepare a misleading dossier? The almost certain conclusion of Lord Hutton will be that the dossier may have contained errors but these were a product of the intelligence available rather than the result of direct political interference. And beyond that, the fact that Robin Cook, Ms. Redgrave and Ms. Short have adopted the Pinter/Drabble line of hating America more than they despise Saddam, is not a matter which can form the basis of a public inquiry.

If Cook et al. are so terribly outraged they have the option of declining the Labour whip and sitting as independents. It has been done before as a matter of principle. And principle is the one thing which Cook's willingness to break his oath to keep Cabinet discussions secret suggests Mr. Cook is a concept Mr. Cook interprets selectively. Rather like matrimony.

Walrus II

One fairly cool thing at The Walrus is you can set up a "journal" aka a blog for free. You can see my Walrus journal here. Do leave a comment.

Goo goo g' joob II

(Finally looked up the lyric.) Robert Fulford is unimpressed but optimistic about the first issue of The Walrus which I have not yet seen.
Unfortunately, the two most substantial articles severely test the reader's patience. "Blind Trust," Marci McDonald's investigation of Paul Martin's business manoeuvres at Canada Steamship Lines, would surely have been twice as good if half as long. She delivers fascinating detail on his registration of ships and business in dodgy distant places, and on the large mortgages he arranged with foreign banks; but her many thousands of words constitute merciless reader abuse. An editor's note implies that her piece will be of international interest, but it's hard to imagine a foreigner even starting it, or a Canadian finishing it -- unless, like me, that Canadian happened to be discharging a professional obligation.
link the national post
But Fulford goes on to remind his readers that the first issue of the New Yorker was a mess, Time unreadable and New York magazine a public embarrassment.

The value of The Walrus will likely lie in proving once and for all whether or not there is a market for a highend general interest magazine in Canada. My own experience with two chairs, which was started with 1/5000 the capital David Berlin has attracted, was that we could give away 10,000 copies a month in the Vancouver market. But we couldn't make money doing it. Berlin is coming at The Walrus with rather more heft than I did starting two chairs; but the issues will be much the same, finding readers and keeping them. I hope it works.

Blogs Canada | Top Blogs

Jim Elve's BlogsCanada continues to evolve. This month there is a new set of Top Blogs nominated by other bloggers and judged (?) by Jim and yours truly. It is a pretty diverse bunch ranging from Winds of Change, Joe Katzman's indispensable group blog on politics broadly defined to Crabby Mr. Bill who is, well, crabby.

The Top Blogs idea is to promote a range of interesting, Canadian, blogs. To make it work we need lots of nominations! Which is where you come in. If you have a favorite Canadian blog nominate it. Here's the link to the Nomination Form. I am particularly interested in blogs written by people under 30, if only because I don't usually run across them in my normal surfing. Send them all along.