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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another

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How to start a Middle Class Revolution

Gordon Brown is considering imposing capital gains tax on the sale of all houses in an attempt to plug the widening gulf between his spending plans and public finances.
the telegraph
If Gordon Brown really wants to take over Tony Blair's job he cannot have picked a worse way to alienate the middle class which has cosied up to New Labour. The exemption for principal residences is one of the only ways for the middle class to accumulate any tax free pounds. While it is wonderfully irrational as tax policy - after all a capital gain is a capital gain, (in the Canadian coinage, "a buck is a buck is a buck") - it is politically the single reward the middle class can count on. Tax the gain and it might just be possible for Mr. Brown to singlehandedly revive the currently imploding Conservative Party.

As well she should be

The Queen is growing more concerned about Tony Blair's plans to sign a European constitution that she fears could undermine her role as sovereign.

The Telegraph has learnt that Buckingham Palace has asked for documents highlighting the constitutional implications of the EU's plans to be sent to her advisers.
the telegraph
The 200 plus page Euro Constitution is pretty much a French bureaucrat's wet dream. Intrusive and over-riding all of the national sovereignties in the EU. It dissolves what few rights Englishmen have left and leaves the Queen with no constitutional power because it effectively destroys the British Constitution. Unwritten that Constitution may be; but it has served the British nation for a thousand years. Blair's lust for constitutional oblivion without so much as a vote betrays his essentially authoritarian roots. (via canuckastani)

And People say I'm Cynical

So some genius at CA headquarters says ?Why not call the bluff? Let’s raise the ante and watch them fold. The PC party will degenerate into a war between the Orchardites and the leadership. There’s no way they can get their house in order and agree on a merger. In the eyes of Canadians the CA will have made a merger possible, the PC will have imploded and will have lost all credibility. This silly uniting the right idea will finally be behind us and we will have delivered the final nail in the PC coffin.?

This is the same thing I’ve been saying all along. The CA still has no desire to merge. They are just sick of having the merger albatross hanging from their necks so they’re calling the PCs bluff in order to expose it once and for what it was become, a house of cards. As a result the PCs demise in ’04 is all but assured and the CA comes out looking like the good guy.

The devious genius of this idea! The sheer audacity!
french libertarian
I only wish I thought that Stephen Harper was this smart.

And go take François' CA/PC merger opinion poll

The End of the Internet

Over the last three decades the Internet has evolved from a research tool linking a handful of elite sites into a global mass medium. Its rapid, and often reactive evolution has resulted in a present day architecture widely perceived as inadequate to hold users accountable for their actions, providing unwarranted anonymity to disruptive and destructive actors, and placing intellectual property at risk in disregard of applicable law and with impunity to its sanctions.

A collection of technologies in various states of design, development, and deployment promise to remedy these perceived shortcomings of the Internet. If implemented and extrapolated to their logical conclusion, the result will be an Internet profoundly different from today's and at substantial variance with the vision of its original designers. More than any innovation in the last century, the Internet empowers individuals to spontaneously teach, learn, explore, communicate, form communities, and collaborate. Measured relatively, this individual empowerment comes at the expense of the power of governments and large commercial enterprises, reversing a trend toward concentration of power more than a century old which has acted to reduce free citizens and productive individuals to subjects and consumers.

Power, especially concentrated power, is rarely relinquished willingly. Each technology proposed to ameliorate supposed problems with present-day computing and network architectures must be carefully examined, individually and in conjunction with others, for the potential it holds to shift the balance of power back from the individual to the centre; to supplant the peer architecture of the Internet with a producer/consumer model more comparable to publishing and broadcasting. Technologies should also be evaluated for the potential they have to create (or restore) central points of control in the flow of information and interaction among individuals; to impose hierarchy upon a structure designed for equality.
the digital imprimatur: john walker
This is a tiny piece of a long and vital article on the gradual reassertion of control over the internet by governments and corporations. Under the guise of "Secure Computing", "Trusted Computing" and "Digital Rights Management" Walker argues the larger, more conservative, interests in the world are slowly taking back control over access to , publishing on and reception of internet driven material. I picked up the reference at Winds of Change. This is about choke points and their control and it is more than a little alarming.

Interesting Blog

Vancouver freelancer p tupper writes an interesting and useful blog on the life and concerns of a freelance writer. Mighty Fast Pig is partially of pure local interest; but it also describes pretty accurately the process freelancers have to go through. Best of all, it's well written.

Rump Roast II

Say what you will about Warren Kinsella's Liberal loyalty, he is one of the most astute practitioners in Canadian politics. Here's are his first three reasons not to bet on the CA/PC wedding,
A press conference does not a conservative party make. Based upon five-year-old ruminations, herewith are Ten Reasons Why This Marriage May Never Make It To The Altar.

1. A Merger It Ain't: The new and improved Conservative Party is a takeover, not a merger, and every Tory with an I.Q. will shortly know it. In the corporate world, the CEOs, officers and directors of such takeover targets are notoriously uncooperative, and for good reason: unemployment awaits them when the deal is done. Peter, get your c.v. updated, and pronto.

2. Personal Grievances Aplenty: There are an ample number of grievances on both sides of the Canadian right wing political divide. Tories possess more than a few: they generally see the crypto-Reformers as the lead actors in the putsch that led to their near-wipeout in 1993. Alliancers, meanwhile, were sufficiently grieved with the current Progressive Conservative Party leadership to leave the party in the first place. Three intervening general elections have not ameliorated the differences - they have, in fact, exacerbated them.

3. Policy Counts: On immigration, on Quebec, on equal marriage, on health care - on virtually any key plank you can dream up - the Tories and their CA opponents are too far apart. These differences of opinion are far from being reconciled - the coming weeks of conflabs will likely serve to amplify them. Messrs. MacKay, Mulroney, Charest and Clark - along with Ms. Campbell - have all presumably ridiculed CA policy not merely because it was expedient, but because they believed what they were saying. Ditto for Messrs. Manning and, Day and Harper, from the other side of the divide.
warren kinsella


Losing the Peace

via USS Clueless
Friend and foe alike, look you accusingly in the face and tell you how bitterly they are disappointed in you as an American.
Life Magazine, January 1946. The whole John Dos Passos article is up on Jessica Well's site. It may remind you of certain aspect of the current quagmire.


Colby's objections to the Grand Reunion are not without merit. After all, the Reform Party was about Western alienation and not,
"A balance between fiscal accountability, progressive social policy and individual rights and responsibilities."
merger agreement
(And, by the way, what the Hell is the Canadian Coat of Arms doing on an agreement between two political parties? If either were even faintly conservative they would recognize that the Coast of Arms is not a convenient logo to be used to dress up a document.)

The problem, however, is not so much with the merger as with the increasing incoherence of the Right in Canada. It is one thing to propose a broad church, it is another to try and stuff socons, e-cons, plain old bigots, guys wearing tin foil hats - yes David I am talking about you - Bay Streeters, Common Sense Revolutionaries, Western Separatists, disaffected Quebecers, dole dependent Maritimers, chinless wonders from FOOFs, cowboys and Canada's three libertarians into the tabernacle. The old Progressive Conservative slogan, "A better yesterday tomorrow." worked so long as there was some sort of consensus about what that yesterday looked like: now there isn't.

So what has happened is that once again the Right has united against, rather than for, anything. The broad church is united in condemning the devil. Which, in this case, means the Liberal Party. This is not a platform, it's, at best, an attitude. Attitude is not going to beat Paul Martin.

What might beat Martin - and it is a very long shot - is to put forward an fully worked out alternative vision of Canada. Which is not the work of a few hours in a backroom somewhere. The 1987 Western Assembly Colby alludes to was the culmination of years of patient, hard work devoted to formulating a vision which Western Canadians would embrace. Manning was in for the long haul. And it worked. Which is the part of the equation which the PC's never quite forgave.

Reform understood that it was not going to win by taking Liberal policy and spinning it into Reform policy. Instead it developed its own policy which ensured it would not win seats East of the Lakehead for years. All of which the original reformers understood. The lure of government was not what motivated Reform; rather the church basements were filled with people who simply wanted to make their positions known and, with luck, exert a bit of influence. Because the alternative - as Trudeau, Clark and Mulroney demonstrated - was to be ignored. Not just by Ottawa, but by the representatives the West sent to Ottawa.

Now the essential point of Reform has been lost. The Conservative Party will chase Toronto votes for another generation by making over Liberal policy with just hint of fiscal responsibility to distinguish tweedle dum from tweedle dee. The West will elect lots of people whose class, occupations and education ensure a tight fit in the Ottawa establishment. Policy which might have the effect of alienating ethnic voters, urbanites, soft lefties, anti-Americans, the CBC or Indians will be ruthlessly suppressed. English leader will be succeeded by French leader, breakthroughs and beach heads will be made and established and, most importantly, nothing will change. Which is, after all, the real bedrock of conservative policy in Canada. Always has been, always will be.

Right Rump Roast

Looks like Colby Cosh isn't too impressed with the Grand Reunion of Canada's right wings,
It is perhaps useful to be confirmed in one's necessary faith that all politicians, without exception, are savage and false sons of bitches down to the very soles of their shoes.
colby cosh
I hate to think what Colby might right if he was really, er, mad.


Mahathir said Muslims had achieved "nothing" in more than 50 years of fighting Israel. He also said the world's 1.3 billion Muslims "cannot be defeated by a few million Jews."
abc news
Other people have done a dandy job of beating up this pious little anti-semite; I was just impressed with his apparent ability to hold two completely contradictory thoughts at the same time.

Second Thoughts?

The Guardian is in the midst of a huge identity crisis; on the one hand its coverage of the Hutton Inquiry has been brilliant and largely unbiased by the Drabble/Pinter/Jackson "I hate, really just hate, America." faction. On the other we have this on why it might be time to assassinate George Bush
He is perhaps the most dangerous man currently to inhabit the earth. A hypocritical lunatic, his family have been sponsoring terrorism around the globe for decades - first he was cosy with Saddam and then he was'nt, then he was cosy with Bin Laden and then he changed his mind. His motivations are greed and he cares little for the sanctity of human life, and will support any state, no matter how brutal their administration, as long as they are compliant with US companies.

tim blair

Now, you might wonder why I quote Tim rather than the Guardian directly. Well, here is the evidence of the breakdown."Error: The item ".685ea08b" does not exist, it may have been deleted."


Of Baseball and Weasels and the United Nations

When I have a few minutes and I want to learn something I go to USS Clueless. Steve den Beste is, I think, the best long form blogger writing. He is the reason why traditional journalists should be very, very worried about blogging. Today he is writing about baseball for the first couple of thousand words. He provides a roster of Casey Stengel and Yogi Berra quotes and then, after commenting on the Cubs, drops in on the United Nations where the weasels have agreed to pass the Americans' resolution on Iraq,
So the weasels gave in, or so it seems. Is this the start of a new reconciliation, an end to their obstructionism and opposition?

I'm afraid not. They've just changed tactics.

They don't want any more bruising face-to-face stand-downs. Their position is extremely weak, because Bush has already proved that he's quite willing to walk away from them if he feels he needs to. He's willing to act without "approval of allies", without NATO, without the UN, and that means that weasel brinkmanship would lead once again to American unilateral action, while further damaging those international institutions which the weasels hope can still impede us at least a little. In the worst case the US might walk out of the UN entirely and stop paying its 22% of the budget. That's not something the weasels want to risk.
uss clueless
It is as astute a piece of analysis of the fundamental change in the world since 9/11 and the blossoming of George Bush as I have read. Go read it.

Digital Television: the next copyright battle?

Interesting article in the Washington Post's tech section.
The federal government is preparing for the first time to require that personal computers and other consumer electronics devices contain technology to help block Internet piracy of digital entertainment.

A rule being considered by the Federal Communications Commission is one of a series of proposals pushed by the entertainment industry to help thwart copying and online trading of movies and television shows that increasingly are being broadcast in digital form with high-quality picture and sound.
The rule would mandate the inclusion of a "broadcast flag" in digital TV transmissions which would only allow the signal to be read by compliant machines. The Motion Picture Association of America is pushing this system to prevent unauthorized copies of its "high value digital products" from zinging around the internet.

My first cut at this is that this is exactly the sort of old style thinking which ensures that a) the broadcast flag will be hacked before it is even implemented and b) the analogue hole - you can record the digital signal on an old VCR and then redigitalize it - will swallow the so-called protection whole.

But the problem is even more fundamental: it is a clash of cultures where the asymmetric of copy protection overwhelmingly favours the Internet over the traditional broadcast model. Steven DenBeste put it compellingly
Copy protection of software is another example of a place where the expense at the margin defeats the defense. Copy protection is a defensive measure used by software companies or record producers to prevent their media from being distributed illicitly. It has to be deployed broadly on every CD sold. Attack consists of programs which can break the copy protection; that's software which can be distributed rapidly (i.e. over the Internet). If a given form of copy protection is broken, then it's broken on every CD which already has been distributed using that form of copy protection and there's no way for the defender to go back and fix them all and improve their protection. A year or two later they may be able to deploy a new form of copy protection which will work until it too is cracked. The expense and speed here favors the attackers.

By clinging to the industrial model of intellectual property as having value only if access is controlled, the MPAA is asking the FCC to endorse an arms race which the MPAA acknowledges the broadcast flag is not going to win.
The MPAA agrees that the system only begins to attack the piracy problem. Making analog copies is another huge problem that the industry wants to prevent through legislation or regulation.

But the broadcast flag "will still diminish the redistribution of digital broadcast content on the Internet," said Fritz E. Attaway, senior vice president of the MPAA.
It makes much more sense for the MPAA and the broadcasters to spend the brief moment they have before the broadband wave makes television file sharing as easy as music file sharing coming up with ways to maximize revenue in a sharing environment.

To offer one example: the old fashioned serial with real cliff hanger endings may be the way to get people to buy the material. In essence you pump out an hour of a two hour movie for free and then leave the audience you have built hanging. Everybody pays "x" and you release the second half, in real time, on the net. You also set up digital theatres and run the movie at a premium price with the second half being released there at exactly the same time as it is being released on the net. (Of course that big screen experience is worth the premium.)

This sort of plan would have been impossible without the internet, now it may be the only way to reap the financial rewards for creative work.

A Little Late, the first Canadian "legal" download company, was overwhelmed with response today. Server issues clouded the start of the service...which I suspect signals good news ahead. Nice looking site: clean, not cluttered and easy search. For fun, and to, no doubt, show my age, I looked up Leonard luck. Lots of Joni Mitchell though. No Collectors, one rather obscure Rolling Stones album. They seem to have heard of that David Bowie chap, but not T-Rex. Moving past the Age of the Dinosaurs: no Da Rude, no Moby, no Brooklyn Bounce. Do I have to say that checking in at Kazaa Lite all of these were there for free?

The time to have set up pay for it music downloading, if there ever was a time, was the day after Shawn Fanning let the cat out of the bag with Napster. The biz was so obsessed with shooting at pirates it missed the fact it no longer has a treasure to protect. Well, good luck to Puretracks.

(I use BBC quotes around "legal" because it is pretty clear that downloading for private use is legal in Canada. It is not absoultely clear to me what is "legal" about Puretracks under existing Canadian law. But, hey, you gotta have a gimmick.)


Acorn? Oak?

Lord Preserve Me, my 13 year old has started his own blog. If he keeps it up it will likely do him more good than most of the stuff you learn in highschool....Go visit.

Right Then

There's been a history-making breakthrough in the talks to unite the right. The leaders of the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance have reached an agreement in principle to merge their parties.
While this is encouraging it is not at all obvious how it will work in practice. The "Right" in Canada is a broad church split into several regional camps with ideological cleavages which would make Marilyn Munroe green with envy. Socons, econs and plain old fundies, Red Tories, really old Rosedale and young Tories resplendent in their three piece underwear. And, of course, Quebec.

It makes great good sense for Harper and MacKay to merge their parties; however, my sense is that this will simply ensure Paul Martin slides a little further to the right. The Spring election in which he will look for his own mandate will not be about how the Right has ceased to split its vote - it will be about how much of that vote will stay loyal in the face of the Martin bulldozer. At a guess, the merger unites two cheeks of a rump.

Yipee! A meme, my own Damn meme

Paul Jané has propagated Troll of RamallahTM. But I'm willing to lose the meme if someone would just shoot him. The PA can't even provide security for the people who, foolishly in my view, are trying to create peace. Time to either shoot the Troll or put he and a couple of hundred of his best friends in the kennels at Gitmo. (And if the Troll himself fell out of the plane, say a hundred miles off the Azores....)


Space Race

My sense is that this,
President Hu Jintao hailed a great leap spacewards yesterday as China became only the third country to put an astronaut into orbit.
More than 40 years after the former Soviet Union and the US, China's first yuhangyuan (space navigator), Lieutenant-Colonel Yang Liwei, blasted off through the clear blue skies above the Gobi desert on a 21-hour mission that should see him return to a hero's welcome. >the guardian
actually matters way more than the level of attention it is getting suggests.

Anglican Dilemma

I am what one might laughingly call a "social Anglican" rather like being a social member of a golf club, but I have been following the entire issue of gay rights within the Anglican Church simply because I think it is a ttrue turning point issue. The choice is neatly summed up in this excerpt from The Independent,
Archbishop Makhulu disagreed. His message from the pulpit of St Matthew's was that a church which excluded anyone "altogether denies the nature of a God who loves all".

He denounced the anti-gay position as "a heresy". He compared the zealots to Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan - "the Talibans of this day who are prepared to pronounce on who is authentic and who is not".

Across the Thames, one of the significant movers in the anti-gay lobby, David Anderson, was holding court to waiting reporters. Asked about Archbishop Makhulu's call for "a fellowship of understanding, compassion and tolerance", the chair of the American Anglican Council said: "The greatest act of love is to point out to someone their error". He predicted schism in the Church if the consecration of the gay bishop, Gene Robinson, went ahead in New Hampshire as planned on 2 November.
If schism there must be I will stand on the side of the chasm with the loving Son.

Wages of Sin

Well thank God Canada is just too darned principled to have anything to do with this:
Nethercutt and Senor highlighted the return of electricity to Iraq, which now has a higher megawatt output than it did before the war. Reconstruction has targeted schools and hospitals, and the Americans are spending 3,500 percent more on health care than Saddam Hussein did, Senor said.
seattle pi via instapundit

French Poodle

Canada is among the countries that did not support the war in Iraq after France led opposition within the UN Security Council and denied the United States and Britain a resolution specifically authorizing an attack.

In a bid to secure international authority for reconstruction, the United States has proposed a resolution that would invite countries to contribute cash and troops.

But even though that resolution appeared yesterday to be headed for success, some countries are still balking at the idea of directly helping the coalition, UN officials say.

Canada so far has kept its distance from the coalition's fund in distributing the US$300-million it has earmarked for Iraq.
national post
Given the various NGO's history of allowing Saddam to skim, if not entirely loot, funds from the Oil for Food funds administered by the UN, one might be forgiven for asking why Canada would even think of contributing to a fund run by similar organizations.

The explanation may be that Canada, or at least Chretien's Canada, has given up any semblance of an independent foreign policy. "We be Chirac's bitch". I suppose if I had to rely on Our Lady Peace for foreign policy advice, "Americans bad, UN Good, Loyld Axworthy is the new Tallyrand", I might think I could do worse than taking my orders from the French masters. They are, after all, so much more sophisticated, more, well continental, than those cowboys down south. And, better still, we can be completely objective with the French as we have next to no economic interests in common. So much better than with the yechy Americans who have the audacity to be our greatest trading partner. If you have to be a poodle best to be a French one.


Speaking British

Like so many of his ilk, Sir Kevin communicates in a language known as "British", which is very similar to, yet tantalisingly different from, English. British speakers use terms like "acquis" and "ad referendum", "tantamount" and "contingent" in the way you or I might say "cup of tea with two sugars, please". It is their mother tongue.

In Sir Kevin's language, no-one ever "thinks" anything; they "incline to the view". Nothing is "included"; it is "subsumed". He used words like "lest". Can you imagine anyone saying that at home (for British speakers are bilingual)? "I think I'll take a brolly lest it rain, dear," or, in reply to "The Parkers have asked us round on Friday. Do you want to go?" say "I'm not sure. Why don't you make a temporising phone call?"
the guardian
Sir Kevin Tebbit at the Hutton Inquiry.

The nub of the Kelly matter

Tebbit denied that Kelly had been cruelly "outed" by the government, saying that officials eventually realized they could be accused of a cover-up if Parliament or the media heard that the scientist name was being withheld. Officials were "sitting on what we felt was a ticking bomb," Tebbit said of the BBC report.

"With the benefit of hindsight, Dr. Kelly had a lot more pressure on him than we realized," Tebbit said. "But there was no devious strategy involved."
the toronto star
You have to read all the way down to get Sir Kevin's tidbit. But his is the final piece of the long puzzle which confronts the Hutton Inquiry. Essentially, the government knew that Andrew Gilligan was lying and it knew because Dr. Kelly had fessed up to having conversations with Gilligan and a number of other journalists. But Kelly maintained and the government believed that at no time did he state that the dossiers in question were "sexed up". Which meant Gilligan's report, not for the first time, was sexed up.

However, once the government had this knowledge it was in the position that if it did not reveal the source of that knowledge it would likely face the charge that a) what Gilligan said was true and that b) the government was covering up Gilligan's source for fear that source would tell the truth. So the government had no choice but to let Kelly testify. Game, set match to Tony Blair. Not that the antis will pay any attention. If you can't win on the suicide of a seemingly good man, move on to your next effort to subvert the peace.

Gardening II

Right, well I think that's got it. If you have any trouble reading the site or have any comments please write. I'm going to miss the little scrolling boxes but they took forever to load. Now onto the great archives dilemma....Grrr.

Old Media on the ropes in California

I happen to rather like Arnie - if only because he is not nearly as dumb or as ill-educated as the Left would like to make him out to be - as witnessed by this analysis of how Arnie went over the heads of the conventional media in California.
Jay Leno and Oprah Winfrey replaced somber questioning from editorial boards. Howard Stern had more resonance than the opinions of California's newspaper columnists. The often enthusiastic embrace of conservative talk radio hosts and warm exchanges with Larry King supplanted for most voters the often testy daily assessments issued by the state's print and broadcast political correspondents about the candidate's inexperience and lack of detailed policy positions.

"The entertainment media played a disproportionate role in this campaign from beginning to end," said Ed Rollins, a veteran Republican consultant who helped manage Bill Simon's unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign last year. "It was like a coronation. Print just followed."
Once again the old media was taken aback by just how its power has waned,
"The campaign raised the question of whether the serious media mattered," said Orville Schell, dean of the journalism school at UC Berkeley. "It looked in retrospect like it was all irrelevant."

Straight Dope

I was about to mount my freedom of speech donkey and tilt at Gordo's windmills when the happy news arrived that a grown up had been consulted and Vancouver's Georgia Straight was, indeed, a newspaper. Barely.

However, Dan McLeod, the multi-millionaire sole owner of the Straight did himself no favours by a) adopting the pose of the poor little business guy, b) stating that the motives of the government were political,
Using the Revenue Ministry to close down a newspaper is a ploy well-known to political leaders such as Gordon Campbell. For example, it is documented that Richard Nixon used the IRS to harass political opponents. As the only independent newspaper in Vancouver--and, indeed, the only local newspaper that consistently publishes articles critical of the government--we find this move not only discriminatory in the extreme but a politically motivated attempt by the government to silence one of its harshest critics.
Dan McLeod
c) implying all of the fuss was instigated by a Liberal/Canwest/Asper plot,
QUESTION: Has the Straight ever made political donations to the B.C. Liberal Party?
QUESTION: Has the Asper family's company, CanWest Global Communications Corp., ever made political donations to the B.C. Liberal Party?
ANSWER: Yes. Between January and May, 2001, leading up to the last provincial election, CanWest Global donated $30,000 to the B.C. Liberal Party.
QUESTION: Is that the only connection between CanWest and the premier?
ANSWER: No. CanWest's CEO, Leonard Asper, and CanWest's local boss, Dennis Skulsky, each had private meetings with Premier Campbell in the premier's office after the 2001 election. Last month, Premier Campbell and Skulsky were standing together at the corner of Georgia and Burrard streets hawking copies of the Vancouver Sun. This doesn't prove any conspiracy, of course.
georgia straight
Maybe Dan really misses the good old days when the Straight was a real newspaper. When it was not kissing Hollywood's flabby butt to whore for movie ads. When it was opposed to organized prostitution rather than promoting it. When it was a radical paper rather than a predictable, bland, geriatric Leftie organ where the political reporting consists of "follow the money" (as if this is news), and the rest of the news is written by poor, overworked, Charlie Smith.

The part of the whole tax audit story which was really tragic is it illustrated just how dumbed down, insipid and plain boring the Straight has become. But it certainly makes money. With a minimum 80/20 ad ratio it makes a lot of money. It would be interesting to know how much. I wonder if Dan would be, in the interests of transparency and all, willing to tell.

Of course Gordo's dab hand at the PR end of politics certainly shows through - seriously, what are these people thinking? Trying to take a piece out of the Straight had the optics of a school bus crash: there was no possible upside. None. All that would happen is that Dan and the rest of the aging Leftie alternative media and most of the mainstream media would see the tax audit as an attempt to snuff out dissent. The Liberals have been making these sorts of mistakes since they took office. One or two don't matter that much, but it is a rare week which goes by without the Libs putting their foot in it.

Finally, if the Aspers really wanted to eat the Straight's lunch they could simply improve the Vancouver Sun's incredibly lame Mix, overprint 50-100,000 copies a week and hand them out for free. Offer ads at a quarter of the Straight's rates and finish the Straight in a year. Unfortunately, Canwest is not that ambitious and will likely go on cutting the Sun's arts, books and entertainment budget.

Ah well.


I am making some minor design changes to the blog tonight so there may be a few moments of stangeness and not much actual blogging...ah well.


Clever propaganda

Just now much is 87 billion dollars? Crunchweb provides easy to understand pictures. It is a mountain of money. The question Crunchweb wants to ask is whether it's worth it to spend this in Iraq.

The alternative? Well, it's unlikely that the good old days of Uncle Cuddles will ever return. And it's doubtful that the Arab street will have that same ol'seeth now that the best Arab Army and the "elite" Republican guards have proven the might of Arab arms. The Taliban seem to have found really snug caves. So the best that can be hoped for is, well, quagmire. But, wait, 87 billion dollars, $3269 for every man woman and child in Iraq and Afghanistan might make it impossible for quagmire to really take hold....Yep, it just might purchase real change in the Middle East. In which case it will be worth every penny.


It is vital to get good news out of Iraq to counter the quagmirists - this is not the way to do it.

Ruthless Self Promotion

Not at all a bad week on the writing front. My follow up on the Private Copying Right in Canada piece ran at Tech Central Station. Regular readers of this blog will recognize the arguments. One of the things which I use this blog for is a place to quickly write up research links and all.

Then my review of Adrienne Mayor's Greek Fire, Poison Arrows and Scorpion Bombs appeared in the Christian Science Monitor. This is a really interesting look at the use of unconventional weapons in the ancient world.

And today, irritatingly not online, the Ottawa Citizen ran my review of four food books:California Dish by Jeremiah Tower, Slow Food by Carlo Petrini, Mr. Chilehead by James D. Campbell and A Slice of Life, Contemporary Writers on Food edited by Bonnie Marranca. I'll be posting this review a bit later when I have finished a bit of modest redesign on this page.

George Grant: A Primer

Robert Sibley writes a quick guide to Canada's own George Grant in today's Ottawa Citizen. I am by no means a big Grant fan - his Loyalist anti-Americanism and anti-technology positions simply irritate me. But his significance as a political philosopher and beacon for a certain sort of red Tory cannot be underestimated. Sibley lists and describes the essential Grant and books about Grant. It is a good place to start reading about this wonderfully problematic man.
Grant's reputation has continued to grow in the 15 years since his death on Sept. 27, 1988, as the prescience of his philosophic writings gains greater recognition. It is no exaggeration to say that Grant understood better than most what it means for western society to have embraced the technological will-to-power -- the belief that nature, including human nature, is subject to mastery and manipulation -- as its overarching value and guiding principle. He saw how the imperative of overcoming nature, including human nature, by means of "technique" increasingly determines our politics, economics and even our morality. (Feminism, for example, is rightly seen as one of the most significant social movements in the past half-century; arguably, that movement would not have been as consequential if not for the technologies of the Pill and ready availability of abortions.)
ottawa citizen