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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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7/17/2004

Building a conservative Canada

Adam Daifallah's National Post article which I commented on below was behind the subscriber wall - and how many of those subscribers are there? - but he has posted it on his blog. Go read it.

One more run up to Palestinian civil war

The news from Gaza and Ramallah cannot come as much of a surprise to people who have been watching the death spiral of the Troll of Ramallahtm.That is interesting is tha the Gaza militants are slaming corruption.

The resignation of the Palestinian Prime Minister is interesting simply because it shows how issolated the Troll is gradually becoming.

In the short term this is probably not good news for Israel, but in the medium and long term any time the Troll is exposed as the corrupt, terrorist supporting thug he is the ability of Israel to soldier on is enhanced.

The irony of anarchy breaking out in Gaza as the Israelis get ready to pull out is surely not lost on even the most hardened Pali supporter.


7/16/2004

Bye Al Jazeera, we hardly knew you

Shaw and Rogers
have both said no thanks to the conditions imposed by the CRTC on the
carriage of Al-Jazeera. They don't want to be "censors". And you can
see their point when even the Chairman of the CRTC - a man who is
willing to pull the licence of a radio station which makes reference to
the endownment of Montreal weather women - is having a bit of trouble
on this one:
Charles Dalfen, chairman of the CRTC, said in an interview that Al-Jazeera has broadcast objectionable material.
Some of the remarks cited at commission hearings clearly held Jews up
to "hatred and contempt on the basis of religion," Dalfen said.
On the other hand, he said, Al-Jazeera met the test of being a credible
news service, and the commission had a legal duty not to unduly
infringe on freedom of expression. The conclusion was that "we couldn't
absolutely ban it," Dalfen said. There will be protections for news,
Dalfen said. "It may be that Osama bin Laden, as a news item, sends a
tape and they play the tape and the tape says `kill the Jews, or the
Christians, or crusaders, and I'm going to get them.' That would
normally be seen to be a pretty offensive statement, but it's news. So
it too isn't subject to the same degree of scrutiny."
the star


Easterbrook sends a dart at the Fat Bastard

By the way, did you know that James Madison once attended a secret meeting? Did you know that George W. Bush has quoted James Madison, and that the indexes of several books contain both the names Bush and Osama bin Laden, and that Saudi sources have awarded billions of dollars in contracts, and that Saudi financial dealings have been the subject of investigations, and that a subsidiary of a company a Bush family member once held stock in did business with another company that had an office in Saudi Arabia, and that George W. Bush has never denied these links between him, billions of dollars of Saudi payments, and secret meetings with James Madison? That's a sample of the kind of thinking in Fahrenheit 9/11.
the new republic
It is difficult to imagine whay anyone would bother defending Moore paranoid, fact challenged style; but perhaps I am just too dumb to logic his narrative.

7/15/2004

Creating a conservative infrastructure

Adam Daifallah writing in the National Post suggests today that there is a crying need to create the intellectual infrastructure required for a real conservative movement to step beyond the Conservative Party's endless, "Like the Liberals but better" electoral rhetoric. I commented on his blog as follows:

While I agree with the analysis I am not inclined to think the media/intellectual infrastructure does not exist, at least in embryo. AIM, the Fraser Institute, the National Citizens Coalition are the beginning; but outfits like the Canadian Tax Foundation and some of the other specialist institutions have the information and the analytic capacity to make a difference.

The question is whether or not the conservatives in the country, as distinct from the Conservative party, will make the effort to use those resources.

Simply putting together policy meetings on a non-partisan basis would be a huge step. So, frankly are group blogs like Shotgun.

Building an infrastructure is, to a degree about creating an environment in which intelligent people can hammer out decade and multi-decade visions without too much concern for the day to day political reality.

If you look at the rise of neo-conservatism in the United States you have to go back to Commentary thirty years ago.

A few years ago the magazine I founded, two chairs, sponsored a film at the Vancouver film festival the title of which I forget. It was about the intellectual ferment in New York in the 1970's. One of the interviewees, whose name I also forget, said, "So we were at lose ends and we did what intellectuals do when they are at loose ends, we started a magazine."

Ezra's effort with the Western Standard is a decent effort but is news rather than policy driven. What is needed right now is a magazine with the funding of The Walrus with a policy component.

Bluntly, so long as The Walrus and Saturday Night wander about with attacks on the idea of GDP as features, the vast majority of Canadians are never going to hear a conservative message. Not because that majority will ever read a wonkish conservative mag; rather because the people who frame the day to day political debate in Canada will have no counterpoint to the slushy liberal center.

A Canadian version of the National Review is something to be devoutly wished for; but I can't see a young Buckley on the horizon to found it.

The right could do worse than to look at David Beers, BC Federation of Labour funded online effort, The Tyee - for whom I sometimes write. It is three steps above Rabble in both the intelligence of its material and its willingness to be entertaining rather than unrelentingly earnest. And, critically, it is a paying market.

Another online success story worth looking at is TechCentralStation. Again, smart, often funny, on the news in a way that the stodgy dead tree magazine world can't be, and a paying market.

Online is certainly the way to go but with funding and a sense of style.

Building intellectual infrastructure would be a matter of committing $4500 dollars a week for around three years. It sounds like a lot of money - a quarter of a million a year - but it would have multiplier effects and spinoffs which could bootstrap exactly the sort of climate Canadian conservatism needs.




Dumb and Fat

The results showed that youngsters exposed to more than two hours a day of TV could attribute 17 per cent of being overweight, 15 per cent of raised blood cholesterol, 17 per cent of smoking and 15 per cent of poor cardiovascular fitness directly to their childhood viewing habits. The results remained the same after taking into account adjustments for factors such as social background, BMI at age five, parents’ BMI, parental smoking and the subjects’ physical inactivity at age 15.
the scotsman
And, yes, videos count. It is not the content it's the inertia.


Movie Magic

Photoshop you say....never, diet and exercise...(via Bree who goes on to suggest that certain other beauties may only be Photoshop deep.)

Al-Jazeera comes to Canada

I think this is great! Now we can watch beheadings live and in colour. No, seriously, the fact is that the Western media insists on avoiding beheading footage in much the same way as they refused to show the jumpers on 9/11. Delicate sensibilities and all.

Al-Jazeera has no such scruple.

Of course the CRTC is warning the Canadian distributors to "play nice". Yeech.

In its ruling, the commission said distributors of Al-Jazeera in Canada will be required to guard against the broadcast of "any abusive comment."
cbc
The weekly sermons with their ritual Jew hatred should be enough to get the station banned...wanna bet.

Meanwhile in Redmond

Is Bill worried? Linux to the left of him, browser based operating systems to the right:
The concept of running applications within the web browser is not a new one, and indeed has been tried before and failed. But today, with a combination of cheaper bandwidth and improvements in storage and clustering technology, things are looking promising....

Google is a very good example of this. The reasoning behind its new webmail product, Gmail, puzzles many, but makes a lot more sense when you think of it as the first in a line of major web applications built to replace desktop programs. If you start to consider Google's own system as your hard drive, and your browser as your operating system, you might see how Microsoft could be deeply worried. No one would need to keep buying Windows, or upgrading Office if all they had to do was pay Google a monthly stipend for effectively unlimited storage, guaranteed backup and an installation or upgrade process consisting of typing in a URL.
the guardian
Never count Microsoft out or even scared; but the day of the cash cow operating system may have vanished.

Heresy, in the Anglican Church....Never!

The Church of England's general synod at York will today discuss whether the church should reinstitute what would in effect be heresy trials to discipline errant or unorthodox clergy for the first time in nearly half a century.

The move comes with the church still in a febrile state over issues of homosexuality and whether it should ordain or promote gays and lesbians in the ministry.

But both liberals and evangelicals fear any move to discipline clergy in the church over teaching, ritual or ceremonial issues could rebound on them.
the guardian
One of the great pleasures of being an Anglican is it has much of the ritual of the Catholic Church without any significant dosage of dogma. It is not so much that an Anglican can worship precisely how he or she wants to; rather it is that the Church is open to a variety of forms of worship. It is also a great church for people who are not at all certain.

Heresy implies orthodoxy and the Anglican Communion has been moving away from anything which might reasonably be described as orthodoxy for the last fifty years. I am not at all sure that this is a good thing; but I am sure that a move towards the imposition of heresy trials will simply further factionalize the Church. And that would not be good at all.

On the Other Hand

If one of those ten year olds comes up with something as clever as this,

Researchers at Rice University, along with a company called Nanospectra Biosciences, have determined that gold-covered nanoparticles, 20 times smaller than a red blood cell, will quickly pool in tumors when injected into the bloodstream. The nanoshells, when illuminated with a near-infrared laser (which otherwise passes harmlessly through living tissue), will heat up sufficiently to incinerate the tumors completely, in every test.
worldchanging
The combination of nanotech with bioengineering and gene therapy may well mean the defeat of cancer and heart disease which will mean the Boomers will be around forever....

Worldchanging is a great site by the way. It combines up to the minute tech news with an economically literate approach to enviornmentalism. Check it out!

Update: Good news from the Monger who happens to be an MD,

As someone with a passing familiarity with this sort of work, I can tell you that the odds of a 10-year-old getting this thing to work are slim: one of the biggest issues in DNA labs is their obsessive cleanliness and orderliness, because stray contaminating DNA can ruin the analysis. I doubt any 10 year old is going to be able to do this sort of work properly.
Of course, a lot of the world's leading software developers, not to mention hackers, got their start on Comodore 64s and Trash-80s. Somehow, fueled by caffine and pizza they came up with virtually every program we have today for no other reason than they could...Biotech geeks scare me witless. Computer geeks traded pictures of girls online, biotech geeks are going to try to make one.

7/14/2004

Call me old fashioned, but....

That article highlights that the "Discovery Kids Ultimate Labs DNA Explorer" is,

"...the first to feature a bona fide centrifuge and electrophoresis chamber -- [it] will turn your kid on to the intricacies of genetics at an even younger age. Realistic lab equipment transforms the kitchen into a forensics lab, where your breakfast-bar biologist can extract clumps of real DNA from fruits and vegetables or solve "crimes" by revealing DNA "fingerprints"--telltale blue protein stripes in a gel mixture."
the harrow technology report
The kit itself seems a bit much for a ten year old; but imagine what happens when your script kiddie turns into someone hacking DNA. It's one thing to let a virus loose on the 'net, quite another to make one in mum's kitchen.

"Son, five of the neighbour kids have weeping green boils all over their body...they drank your "special kool aid"....Is there anything you should tell me."

Stifling Dissent II

it takes an awful lot to have the CRTC yank a radio or television licence...but being rude about psychiatric patients, anchorwomen's boobies and,
Mr. Arthur, commenting on foreign students at a local school, opined that “in Muslim countries and countries in Black Africa, the ones who are sent abroad to study are the sons of people who are disgusting . . . the sons of plunderers, cannibals.”
globe and mail
Canada: play nice...or else.

Stifling Disent I

Nice to see that the Democratic Party is ensuring the right, " left-leaning or progressive bloggers" are going to be in Boston to cover the Kerry triumph. They will never miss the Conservative, regressive and plain mean bloggers who might write for the American Spectator.

Happy Bastille Day

I really could not do better than Paul....

No Marriage Amendment

Frist faced further problems: A handful of "moderate" GOP senators, most from New England, who are more socially tolerant of gays and lesbians, and other Republicans, who are cultural conservatives, but who nevertheless loathe the idea of amending the constitution for any reason.

In the end, Frist and White House strategist Karl Rove couldn't decide whether they really wanted to pass the measure or merely have a vote they could campaign on. The result is that they got neither.
msnbc
The idea of banning gay marriage constitutionally was goofy from the go. And the rampant cynicism with which the religious right and the Republican campaign machine decided to cement their base with a bit of gay bashing was despicable.

The best part of this debate is that it blew up in the American socons' faces. Which is what should happen when a constitutional ammendment is being used for a purely partisan - and rather nasty purpose.

7/13/2004

Grace on the Conservatives on the Radio

Implicit in the Post's analysis is the assertion that conservatism has been tried and has failed at the ballot box. This is simply not true. Canada has never had a modern conservative party. From 1967 until their demise, the Progressive Conservatives were led by classic me-too leaders: Robert Stanfield, Joe Clark, Brian Mulroney, Kim Campbell, Jean Charest, Peter MacKay. Preston Manning explicitly disavowed the label "conservative." And while Stockwell Day won the leadership of the Alliance by campaigning to the right, once elected, he "moderated" madly, just like Stephen Harper.

It is pointless to claim that Canada is a "socially liberal nation" when social liberalism is the only flavour our political parties are prepared to offer. Canada is like an ice cream stand that offers only vanilla. Of course, if you offer only one flavour, 100 per cent of your customers will be forced to choose it. Those, however, who prefer chocolate or strawberry are out of luck.
cbc
Kevin Grace gets it exactly right although I suspect his version and my version of a real Conservative party are more than a little different. The point is that neither of us want to see a Conservative party which simply embraces the Trudeaupian legacy with the caevet that the Tories would manage the whole thing better.

Rushing to the middle has not worked, is not working and will not work. It may get the Conservatives elected but only as a means of giving the Liberals time to rest and regroup.

The sad part is that the Conservatives are so hungry for power that they seem willing to ditch any principle or person who might limit their chances. That hunger is for the power and not for what the power would allow them to do. Because, as they sadly demonstated this last time out, they have not a clue about what they would do if they were elected. This needs to change.

Health vs Education

From my experience at the cabinet table,I know there are political reasons why healthcare always wins out in a contest with education. While underfunding of healthcare becomes manifest in visible crises -- overcrowded emergency rooms, bed shortages or long waiting lists -- assessing the quality of and access to education is more complex. Also, seniors, who are the greatest users of healthcare are more likely to be organized and to vote -- and irate seniors can strike terror into the hearts of politicians.
janice mackinnon
Mackinnon is a former Saskatchewan finance minister and has written a reoport on the Arithmatic of Heathcare. Well worth reading as she is well aware of the crowding out effects of limitless health expenditure.

Grabbing the wrong end of the stick

In response, the Home Secretary announced plans last week to make vilification of Islam a crime. He insisted that his law to "ban incitement to religious hatred" was meant to defend every faith. However, only Muslims have asked for immunity. The legislation would "close a loophole", David Blunkett observed, because inciting hatred of people on racial grounds is illegal in the UK, but inciting hatred of them on the grounds of belief is not.
the telegraph
The ability to criticize, mock and generally make light of religion is one of the essential victories of the Enlightenment. In the case of some brands of Islam this ability is also politically important. Honour killing, the murder of individuals who want to leave Islam, wife beating and the judicial execution of homosexuals are not merely relgious issues. Saying that a religion which countances all or some of these behaviors is to be beyond legal criticism neuters free speech. Will Cummins demolishes the utter lack of logic behind the British government's proposal to place Islam beyond criticism.


Recycle this!

Kathy over at Relapsed Catholic points to Alan Caruba writes a rather fierce attack on the entire curbside recycling concept.
Recycling advocates say the reason for the decline is that the need to recycle, debatable at best, no longer gets the kind of attention it used to when it was fashionable to shame everyone into thinking they were “saving the environment” by separating their paper, glass, plastic and aluminum.

After awhile people began to wonder whether, in fact, it was necessary and with good reason. Glass, for example, is made from sand. The world is not running out of sand.
enter stage right

July in Edmonton

Thanks to Polspy for the link to the pictures. Those are cars under the ice which was made by the baseball sized hail.

Now, are we all ready to hear it was global warming packing that hail, rain, tornado and all. Of course we are.


7/12/2004

Something Fishy

Mary Ellen Wallace of the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association says she would prefer Alaskan restaurants not label their salmon as wild or farmed.

"I think it's unfortunate. Part of the challenge we have is that people are trying to equate farmed with dangerous."

Wallace calls the labelling regulation part of a strategy by Alaska's commercial fishers to reduce competition from farmed salmon producers.
cbc
I am always amazed at the inability of fish farmers and GMO food makers to recognize that labelling is not the enemy. With farmed fish a consumer ggiven the choice may well decide to opt for wild caught salmon, until they don't. Eventually, the consumer will eat a farmed fish, not die and get over whatever their issues with the farmed fish are. Yes, there will be a dip in sales for a year or two. But telling people what they are eating should be a positive.

With GMOs it makes even more sense to label. The vast majority of the population has been eating GMO food for years without any ill effects. (It is virually impossible to buy a non-GMO soya bean and soya is in a vast number of processed foods.) But, because of the stuborn refusal of the food industry and supermarkets to label, those people have no idea.

On the one side it really is a right to know/transparancy issue, on the other it would be smart business to simply say - "these fish are farmed, these beans genetically modified, get over it."

7/11/2004

I Logic, You Logic

Miss Wheeler at Blogging of the President also comes up with one of my least favorite transformations of a perfectly good noun into a rather dreadful verb...
TV has changed the way people logic (although, TV is decreasingly the dominant media, and the younger generation's ability to logic is being formed as much by the Internet or computer games as it is by television, with different results on the ability to argue logically).
marcey wheeler
"Logic" is a thing, a mode of thought; my sense is that the word Ms. Wheeler is reaching for is "reason". Then again, maybe the best the younger generation, after all that TV and computer gaming, can be expected to do is logic; but I hope not.

More Fat Bastard....

Ian's run at my take on Moore has generated a further full article over at The Blogging of the President. This time Marcy Wheeler has decided that the FB was not actually running an argument, he was, well I'll let her explain it,

But the movie as a whole and the other points Moore makes is a narrative. A lot of the points Moore makes would have been a lot easier to make had he sat down to write a newspaper (or, more likely, blog) article about them. He could have included the details that Spinsanity and Isikoff and other critics selectively ask for. But (as the number of blogs that have been doing this for the past few years prove) it wouldn't have worked as well to reach large numbers of people from across the political spectrum.

A lot of people have been mistaking the differences between narrative and argument. Jay Currie does so in this paragraph...
marcey wheeler
Well, no actually. Here's the comment I posted there.
As Matthew d’Ancona wrote in the Daily Telegraph,

Fahrenheit 9/11 is a movie for viewers reared on MTV and video games, not on art house cinema. This is popcorn politics, militancy for the multiplexes. And, as such, it is extremely successful. Moore uses all the techniques of modern mass entertainment with supreme skill: comic intercutting, brilliantly-selected music, shocking images of civilian casualties, a laconic voiceover interspersed with scenes of untrammelled emotion. I confess that I found it gripping. (Daily Telegraph)

Moore knows his audiences are ignorant - Hell, he celebrates the fact that Americans are ignorant - and choses to ignore that fact in order to make his political points. He knows Postman’s rule that in visual information media there are no prerequisites which means that a movie audience can be assumed not to have a clue.

One reason mass entertainment is immensely popular simply because it is never more than escapist fantasy. It is the chance to have one’s deepest, most paranoid, conspiracy theories confirmed on the big screen. Call it political pornography.

Like good old pornography there is no actual argument involved – merely a series of disembodied images pasted to a narrative line having nothing to do with the facts of the matter. Refutation is not an option; it would be like refuting a novel or a painting.

Re-labelling F9/11 a narrative is simply a wheeze designed to paper over the FB's inability to get his facts right or to present them in the form of an argument.

So what are we left with? Narrative in these post modern times is a rather pretentious way of saying, "Not, stictly speaking, true." Another word for narrative is story and another word for story is fable. For the FB the facts are simply the raw material from which to construct a tear jerker or rouse emotions or perform whatever entertainment he thinks will serve his political and financial ends.

Which would be fine if the FB labelled F9/11 something like "My take on 9/11" or "Sleeping Bush and the 19 dwarfs". But he doesn't. In fact before F9/11's release he bragged about his war room and his fact checkers ready to slapsuit any journalist uppity enough to suggest the FB was a distortionist.

Postman didn't call it "Amusing Ourselves to Death" for nothing.
Feel free to join in....

Error, Error!

Google knows the value of a sense of humour. My email is down, I am laughing. This is the reason:
Sorry, something didn't work correctly.

If we knew exactly what the problem was, we would tell you instead of giving you this useless error message. Actually, if we knew, we would most likely have fixed it already.

Rest assured. As you read this, alarm bells are ringing at the Googleplex, signifying something has gone horribly wrong in this quadrant. A report will soon be in the hands of our engineering team, detailing the bad thing that happened here. This team will work without rest to address the problem you have brought to their attention.

If, after a decent interval (about 24 hours), you encounter this problem again, please email us at accounts-support@google.com . The more specifics you include, the better (e.g., what kind of computer and browser you were using, what page you looked at last, what you clicked on, etc.). Sometimes, even our engineers need a little help.

Thanks for using Google.