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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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1/14/2005

Another Argument for Homeschooling

My history classes spent an hour on Vimy Ridge, an hour on the Komagatu Maru to balance it out and a week and a half on Nellie McClung and the suffragettes. I can't honestly remember ever being taught about John A. MacDonald or Confederation in an academic setting.

joel flemming
'Nuff said.

Way to go Palis

There was a brief, and to my mind likely false, ray of hope with the election of Mahmoud Abbas. He, at least, made noises about ending the Palestinian terror. But the dunderheads and haters in Gaza soon put paid to that,

Defying Abbas's calls for non-violence, militants from three Palestinian groups, including one belonging to his Fatah faction, carried out a
bombing and shooting attack at the Karni cargo terminal between Israel and Gaza on Thursday.

Six Israelis and three Palestinian gunmen were killed in the assault at Gaza's main economic lifeline. It was the deadliest strike by militants
in Gaza in a month.
swiss info
and, just to make sure Abbas looked a complete prat, his Minister for Negotiations - a job made redundent by the Israeli's announcement that they were voiding all future contacts as a result of the Gaza attack, came up with this bit of brilliance,
"I told them that we reject that you hold Abu Mazen responsible because he is not sworn in yet as president," Erekat said, using Abbas's nickname.
Finish the wall. Lock the gate, get on with life.

Ho Ho

From Joel Flemming's "Capitalist Contradictions and the Implications Therein for 'New' Imperialism"

Satisfied, as it were, with a tawdry one night stand, finance capital entered new markets, injected its surplus, and slipped out the door, profits in hand, as dawn broke, unconcerned with the consequences for its conquests.
Carrying this metaphor to its logical conclusion and to the boundaries of good taste, leads to the question of libido and an examination of those forces that propelled the capitalist, imperial lust.
joel flemming
The elderly TA gave this delightful parody of the bleeding edge of Marxist analysis 85%. Mr. Flemming is, apparently, thinking of going into law. A mistake I should think. My friend John Morris once said, and I think he was quoting someone else, "There are no funny lawyers, just funny people who made career mistakes."

Leave the Engine Running

Cutting down on fossil fuel pollution could accelerate global warming and help turn parts of Europe into desert by 2100, according to research to be aired on British television on Thursday. "Global Dimming," a BBC Horizon documentary, will describe research suggesting fossil fuel by-products like sulfur dioxide particles reflect the sun's rays, "dimming" temperatures and almost canceling out the greenhouse effect.
reuters
This is actually old news to people who have been following the global warming debate.

But unwelcome news to the folks who want us to don the hairshirt of Kyoto. Of course, so are climate cycles and Dickens' description of an English winter...snow and all that.

Makes Bush look sorta smart though. Not quite buying the science behind global warming.

Of course "global dimming" is just a theory and remains to be tested.

via ShotGun

Linker??

Andrew over at Bound By Gravity seems to be spooling up to be the linker Canadian blogging needs....You go guy!

55555 ask for the Liberal Party

Mike Brock is doing sterling work following up on Vitor's scan of the political donation records.

Who is 55555 Inc.? Why did it/they givee the Liberal Party $2,974,341.20? What did they get in return.

I have to bet it was more than a loaded ham and pineapple pizza. But, hey, I'm a cynic. Maybe this perfectly innocent numbered company was overwhelmed with gratitude for the years of fabulous government the Liberals have given Canada. Yup, that's probably all there is to it.

What Price Honour? Double Pepperoni To Go

It is tough to beat Bob's commentary on our ex-Immigration whore:

Dear Judy is apparently going to be resigning today. Because, in addition to having improperly granted special privileges to a Romanian stripper, she now faces allegations that she agreed to arrange for special treatment of an individual subject to a deportation order.

In exchange for free pizza.

Let me reiterate that, because it's so fucking funny I can barely type these words due to incessant laughter: Judy Sgro was so desperate for pizza that she allegedly agreed to "improperly using her influence as a cabinet minister".
let it bleed
They are a class act those Grits.

1/13/2005

Rethinking Water Exports

Canada is enjoying a rather welcome turn as a fairly well managed economy with ample natural resources including, in the tar sands of Alberta, a great whack of geo-politically stable oil.

Playing to strength has never been a particular talent of Canada's policy makers however, they may have an opportunity to make a smart move with water exports.

For years the idea of exporting Canada's water has filled lefties with shock and dismay. They are convinced that all we would be doing is letting our American friends create more Cadilac desert suburbs in the Southwest. Well, maybe - but the water trade is about to become international in a very big way.

The Chinese have been shopping for Canadian oil assets and finding them. But oil is only one pressing need. The other is water,

Huang called growing pressure on dwindling water supplies China's "Achilles heel," saying that wouldn't be solved by projects under way to pump water from the relatively wet south and west to the arid north.

The struggle for water will lead to "a fight between rural interests, urban interests and industrial interests on who gets water in China," Huang said, adding 75 percent of China's rivers are too polluted to drink, fish in, or even use for irrigation.
yukon huang, ap
Somehow, Canada needs to find something to sell China in exchange for all of those items we are addicted to purchasing in Dollar stores. (Not to mention in virtually every other store.)

The one thing we have that China needs is good, clean, fresh water in abundance. Water shortages are experienced in 400 of the 700 largest Chinese cities. The Chinese are investing billions of dollars in projects which seek to divert water to where it is needed.
The project to divert water from the Yangtze River to China's drought-ridden northern areas is a mammoth water conservancy scheme, larger even than the Three Gorges Project.

The project is expected to require an investment of 486 billion yuan (US$59 billion), twice the cost of the Three Gorges Project. Once the project is completed, up to 44.8 billion cubic meters of water, about the average annual volume of the Yellow River, will be diverted through three canals to the north.
Xinhua News Agency
For a fraction of that amount a huge quantity of Canadian water could be transported to China. The fresh water resources of British Columbia alone are huge. Literally millions of gallons a second is flowing out of the Fraser River as I write. And that is just one river. We have hundreds as you go up coast.

Water is obviously not as dear as oil; but it also does not involve a great deal of infrastructure to transport it. Single hull tankers would do the job. So would really big plastic bags towed by ocean going tug. How big?
Only a few years ago paper studies by James Cran of the Canadian-based Medusa Corporation, one of the
four groups developing the technology, suggested that a bag with the capacity of five supertankers could be constructed for about 1.25% of the cost. Nor is there anything special about the towing unit. With certain modifications conventional tugs can be used, or the type of vessel used for servicing off-shore oil platforms.
medusa water international
The point is that there is a market for a commodity which Canada has a lot of and that market is growing. China is just one fast developing nation with water problems, there are plenty of others.

Now, any bets on who the first, corageous, Canadian politician to suggest an end to our moratorium on bulk water exports will be? I thought not.

Comes the Day

The Iraqi election is 17 days away. The bright lights behind the Sunni/Baathist/jhihadi terror are certainly positioning themselves for reprisals:

Gunmen killed a representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most senior Shiite Muslim cleric, along with the aide’s son and four bodyguards in a town south of Baghdad, an official in the cleric’s office said Thursday.

Insurgents trying to derail Iraq’s Jan. 30 elections appeared to be sending a message to al-Sistani, who strongly supports the vote. Insurgents have targeted electoral workers and candidates.
msnbc
At the moment it is looking like a safe bet that the Iraqi elections are going forward. Which, with Sunni's boycotting (a vote is really not worth a bullet) will mean that the government of Iraq is going to become a Shi'ite/Kurd enterprise.

Both these groups have no reason to like the Sunnis who Uncle Cuddles used as his executioners and torturers. The Shi'ites will like them even less after incidents like this assasination. And once the Shi'ites are elected what, exactly, is going to stop them from seeking their revenge?? It is not as if the Americans are going to be unhappy to see really punative measures taken against the so called "insurgents". And, even if the Americans are unhappy, such measures will be taken by a duly elected government seeking to end what amounts to a civil war.

Nasty and bloody I suspect.

1/12/2005

On "Realism"

Until 9/11, the realists undoubtedly represented the single most influential school of thought in the world of foreign policy, with all others considered naïve or dangerous or both (though a patronizing pass might occasionally be given to liberal internationalists). It would not be going too far to say that for everyone of any great importance in that world, whether as a theorist or a practitioner, the realist perspective was axiomatic. And being, as it were, the default position, it was almost automatically adopted by George W. Bush, too, in his pre-9/11 incarnation. But on 9/11, Bush’s more or less reflexive realism took so great a hit that it collapsed in flames just as surely as did the Twin Towers.

Bush made no secret of his repudiation of realism, and he did not pussyfoot around it:

For decades, free nations tolerated oppression in the Middle East for the sake of stability. In practice, this approach brought little stability and much oppression, so I have changed this policy.
Podhoretz, commentary
The Holy Grail of Stability has been the justification for decades of American foreign policy inertia and failure. The invasion of Iraq was the direct refutation of a stability which created the conditions in which Al Qaeda florished.

And,

it gradually sank in among the realists that they had been wrong in dismissing Afghanistan as a one-shot affair, and that disarming Saddam was not the be-all or the end-all of the invasion of Iraq. Hard though it was for them, they finally had to face up to the incredible fact that Bush had not just been making rhetorical noises when he said that his ultimate strategic aim was to push all the states in the greater Middle East—every last one of them—toward democracy.
Podhoretz, commentary

True, the isolationism of the Left stems from the conviction that America is bad for the rest of the world, whereas the isolationism of the Right is based on the belief that the rest of the world is bad for America. Nevertheless, the two streams have converged, flowing smoothly into the same channel of fierce opposition to everything Bush has done in response to 9/11.
Norman Podhoretz, commentary
A long article, well worth the time to read simply to get a take on the various factors which may effect the second Bush term.

On Interogation

Obedience to Geneva rules rests on another bedrock moral principle: reciprocity. Nations will treat an enemy’s soldiers humanely because they want and expect their adversaries to do the same. Terrorists flout every civilized norm animating the conventions. Their whole purpose is to kill noncombatants, to blend into civilian populations, and to conceal their weapons. They pay no heed whatever to the golden rule; anyone who falls into their hands will most certainly not enjoy commissary privileges and wages, per the Geneva mandates. He—or she—may even lose his head.
city journal
Heather Mac Donald's City Journal article on interrogation of terrorists is being cited all over the blogosphere. Like many others, she is trying to walk the line between the need for information and the need to avoid barbarity.

I have to admit that what MacDonald refers to as the "torture narrative" which has been banged about by the left and more than a few wobbly righies - yes, Andrew - has never worried me terribly much. The hooded man and the dogs of Abu Ghraib are nothing compared to what suspected terrorists are going to face after the election on the 30th. Gitmo is hardly nasty at all.

The point in fighting Islamofascist terror is to win. Now, one way to win is to simply bomb any mildly suspect concentrations of Islamic looking folks. Without intelligence, actual real live information, that is exactly what is going to happen. Now, we know that the worse the information the more likely it is that entirely innocent people - women, children, men, grandfathers - are going to be killed. Which is not the outcome anyone wants; but it beats the hell out of losing.

So when I look at the so called "torture narrative" I am looking at a balance. Innocent lives lost to car bombs and motar attacks versus waterboarding a jihadi or Baathist...I don't think this is a hard call.

I also don't think that in Iraq, at least, it is going to be an American call past January 30th. Because once an Iraqi government is elected it will deal with terrorists in its own country in its own way. Which, if history is any guide, will be a bit less nuanced than the current American techniques.

1/11/2005

The Will to Win

It would have been extremely messy to have shot the first 400 looters who began a cascading riot that ruined $13 billion in Iraqi infrastructure. Storming rather than pulling back from Fallujah in April 2004 would have offended the press, the professors, and the Europeans. Arresting or killing Moqtada al-Sadr in June 2003 might have angered the Arab world and invited parlor debate among the mandarins back home, but such measures also would have shown ironclad American resolve and eventually would have impressed even our enemies.
city journal
There is currently a good deal of nashing of teeth about Iraq. Andrew Sullivan is quoting Stratfor as saying the post-invasion fight is already lost. I rather doubt this, but, as Victor Davis Hanson writes in this issue of City Journal, mistakes were made early on.

Interestingly, those mistakes were about not being tough enough. Indeed, shooting 400 looters would have been the right call shortly after the invasion. And as I wrote at the time, storming Fallujah in April could have cut the terrorists off at the knees.

Stratfor is, apparently, suggesting that the American forces pull back to the periphery of Iraq and let what it sees as the inevidable civil war take place. This strikes me as ill advised.

At the moment the number of attacks is diminishing and the size of the car bombs is getting larger. Bigger bombs suggest that the terrorists are running out of suicide bombers faster than they are running out of explosives.

A sustained, ruthless, counter insurgency campaign, focussed tightly in the Sunni areas where the rejection of the democratic option for Iraq is most intense, is likely to bear results. Similarily, the legitimizing effect of the elections will pump new energy into the Kurds and Shi'ite who see Iraq as, finally, being ruled by the majority population.

Perhaps more to the point, once the elections have occured, the Shi'ite dominated new government of Iraq is not going to play nice with the Sunni/Al Qaeda terrorists. After all, their community was targetted by the Sunnis under Saddam and by the current crop of terrorists.

It is not so much that the US need pull back to the periphery; rather it is that the US needs to remain in place to prevent the possibility of untargetted, wholesale, slaughters with the government's eyes firmly averted.

1/10/2005

Hmmmm...

Vitor Marciano posts at his blog, What it takes to Win the results of a trawl through the online Elections Canada data base of political contributions.

The most interesting of the lot is the fact that first the Office of the Leader of the Opposition in 1993 - when Chretien held that Office - donated $60,268.00 to, surprise, The Liberal Party of Canada. And then, in 1997, the Office of the Prime Minister donated $43,389.00. You can verify this here by typing in "Office of the" in the search area.

Now, at a guess this is more an accounting matter than anything else. Likely, the OLO and PMO found that staffers had done purely political work and, to be on the safe side, declared the value of such work as a cash contribution. But Vitor's point remains, the people of Canada pay the salaries of the OLO/PMO folks.

And, as Vitor points out, there are hours of appoplexy inducing fun to be had typing in the names of your favorite charity, university, zoo or hospital and seeing where their donations went...Here's a hint, not likely to be the CPC or the Alliance or the Reform Party.

Great job Vitor!

CBS

The reoport on CBS's forged memos is out. To my not very great surprise the producer of the show has been fired and some suits above have been asked to resign. All of which is a good thing.

The producer of the piece, Mary Mapes, was also faulted for calling Joe Lockhart, a senior official in the John Kerry campaign, prior to the airing of the piece, and offering to put Burkett in touch with him. The panel called Mapes’ action a “clear conflict of interest that created the appearance of political bias.”
cbs
This is rather more than an "appearence of bias". An appearence of bias would be created by actions which might be construed as political; calling up a Kerry campaign guy with an offer to hook him up with the fake memos leaves no room for consruction. It's bias.

The full report is online in PDF and, I'm afraid, I am not going to have a chance to read it until very much later. My sense though is that the panellists did a pretty good job tracing the decisions which lead to the airing of the forgeries and the 12 day defence of the indefensible.

Arrogance is never pretty.

Jamie Oliver on the Woodstove

My eastern friends can, of course, be forgiven for laughing at a snow story where the temperature never dropped below -1C and a mere foot and a half fell. That would be a light frost in Montreal...

But it is less than fun on our little slice of the Mediterran bobbing in the Salish Sea. The deal here is that you have a snow day once a year and then it turns to rain. Apparently Ms. Nature did not get the memo this year and left the snow tap on. Which was wonderful right up until the trees started dropping their branches on the power lines.

We evacuated down the hill to our friends' just vacated cabin. Tiny but with a functioning woodstove. Power outages are pretty normal on Galiano but they are cleared in twenty four hours. Not this time. This time the Hydro crews could not get to the island because the snow was accompanied by wind which made it impossible for the ferry to dock. Lovely.

It happens that we live at the top of the tallest hill on Galiano. A four by four could drive it in snow but not much else. So we were stuck for a couple of days. The real bitch was that the water is on an electric pump which meant, er, no water. Fortunately there is a nice big holding tank so we could trudge up the hill and carry water in the time honoured manner of pioneers. Friends down the street were reduced to melting snow - which is a remarkably unfulfilling exercise in which a stock pot full of snow produces two inches of water after being on the woodstove for an hour. So Sam and I hauled a few, ramarkably heavy, gallons of water down to them.

One of the pleasures of the island is just how neighbourly people actually are. I hitch hiked down island yeaterday and, on every ride, was asked if there was anything we needed, did the kids have the right clothes, what was our wood situation?

The power's back, road plowed, water running.

Susan proved last night that you could slow cook a Jamie Oliver lamb, vegies and cous cous recipe on a wood stove with remarkable results. If we had not been so hungry we'd have taken a picture and sent it to the Naked Chef. Pioneers never, ever, had it this good.

Snowed In

The dearth of blogging is the result of Galinano being under a foot and a half of snow, no power, no phone for the last three days...Who knew you could cook Jamie Oliver recipes on a wood stove?

More later...