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November 30, 2004

The children of M*A*S*H

The big news in Canada today is the state visit of George W. Bush. The way the media will play it is to focus on protesters and their clever signs and chants. War is bad, Bush started a war, therefore Bush is bad -- and Canadians are speaking out. It's a simple narrative, and one they won't find too many people disagreeing with.

The idea that war is always horrible and always wrong is now unquestioned in Canada. It's very difficult to find from our leaders or in our institutions any consideration that there are some things worth fighting for, and sometimes when you must stick to your guns, even if lives are at risk. Even our new War Museum has decided to overlook why men fought to instead concentrate on imparting these four thoughts to its visitors:

  • War has affected Canada and all Canadians.
  • War has affected my life in Canada today.
  • War is a devastating human experience for people like me.
  • I must remember.
The ideals and motivations that our soldiers fought for are being taken from them, and they've been turned from heroes into victims.

This represents the triumph of the M*A*S*H interpretation of warfare. In the show, there was absolutely no mention of why there was fighting in Korea, only that it was horrific and meaningless. The only person supporting the war was the cretinous Frank Burns, a crude characature the show used to skewer those 'squares' that believed in what the military told them. There were also young innocent soldiers brought in to weep over, and unfeeling generals to feel contempt for. The point-of-view with regards to war was cleverly made out to be self-evident. The show was as manipulative as TV gets.

Years of daily reruns of M*A*S*H has had an effect on our collective conciousness. Canadians are now too 'sophisticated' to support military intervention -- even if the alternative is much worse (as it would have been in Korea). What will it take to shake us out of this trance?

November 28, 2004

Finally, corporate sponsorship

After an extended period of negotiations, I am finally able to announce that I have landed deep-pocketed corporate sponsors for Max and Talia.

Nike's bid just didn't measure up.

Only 41 years, five days ago...

Colby Cosh actually purchased a copy of the 'controversial' 'game' JFK Reloaded, which the international media used as its latest sign of the apocalypse for a few days last week. In his review, he reveals there's not a hell of a lot to it. As a player, you get to sit in Oswald's perch and shoot. That's it. Not much of a game if you ask me, but then, it's only 10 bucks.

Dallas is the dullest city I've ever visited. It's only the assassination site that has any colour. I was there a few years ago on an anniversary of the shooting and had a lot of fun listening to street lectures from various wackos -- complete with charts and other visual aids. An exact copy of the famous convertable limo would drive around, over and over across the 'X' marked on the road where Kennedy died, to try to entice you into visiting the JFK Conspiracy Museum. It's all somewhat tawdry (like this game), but the amount of time that has gone by since the assassination removes most of the creepiness.

Missing the point entirely

Victor Davis Hanson and Wretchard at Belmont Club write about the historical Alexander the Great and tantalize us with what a great movie could be made about his life. Oliver Stone however, seemed to think that an identity-politics issue of today -- whether Alexander was 'gay' or not -- was the primary thing a three-hour biopic should concentrate on. VDH says:

It is the old Dallas or Falcon Crest glossy pulp in Macedonian drag. Stone’s Alexander is a pouty, wimpy bore; the real figure, whatever your thoughts on him, was a killer and a fearful man of action.
It's a testament to the growing isolation of much of Hollywood that $160 million could be spend on such a project. There's another Alexander project in the Hollywood pipeline, but I don't hold much hope of it being any better. It stars the even-wimpier-than-Colin-Farrell Leonardo DiCaprio and has it's plot summarized as:
Long awaited biopic of the legendary Macedonian king delves not only into his ambitions of world domination but also his homosexual desires.
Sounds like a winner!

November 27, 2004

Havel for Secretary General

There's a movement growing to recruit Vaclav Havel for the position of UN Secretary General when Kofi Annan is finally handed his fat pension and pushed out the door. I can't think of a better person to save the UN from collapsing the way the League of Nations did than him. He has a reputation for honesty and integrity like few others on the international scene and strongly believes in the type of internationalism the UN represents. But he's also is a realist. He's a strong advocate of freedom who understands the importance of standing up to tyranny. He would be the only person that would be able to convince the democratic nations of the world to gradually remove their support for the corrupt status quo they've defended for too long.

It'll be a tough job -- and he might fail -- but someone has to do it. And I just don't think Bill Clinton has it in him.

(Cool banner by the Silicon Valley Redneck)

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds borrows Jaeger's clever headline to write a piece supporting Havel for the WSJ.

Most Annoying Canadian Update III

There's less than a week left until the Most Annoying Canadian final round. Can you feel the excitement? It's... it's... intoxicating!

The second round has had great response -- much better than the first round. So far we have the Helpful Canadian Tire Guy with a commanding lead, followed by Antonia Zerbisias, John Ralston Saul, Jean Chrétien and Naomi Klein. But the positions have been constantly changing. No one is yet assured of a position in the final (except the HCTG. He's a machine!)

At the suggestion of a reader, I've decided to let Carolyn Parrish 'cut in' and take one of the starting gates for the final. That means one of the ten that would have made it in to the final using the initial rules will have to be dropped. That person will be the one with the lowest percentage score in their respective vote. As things stand, it will be David Suzuki (9%), though it could be Naomi Klein (10%) if her share of the vote declines. Changing the rules in mid-contest is a serious step, but I think the tremendous burst of annoyingness Ms Parrish has displayed in the past couple of weeks justifies it. Let's see how she does against the more well-established annoying Canadians.

So. One more week until the main event. And then a month until we finally find out who's the Most Annoying Canadian. The suspense is almost unbearable! Isn't it? No? Well, okay then...

The Police State: coming to Britain

The Labour party in the UK has been slowly introducing legislation that would make the most paranoid fantasies of the ACLU look tame. Normally, I'm skeptical of those who warn how things are starting to look like a police state, but in Britain things look a bit different. I don't think anyone can read this article and not wonder where things are going. In it, a citizen has volunteered to have his car searched by some 'police community support officers', when they come across a Victorinox Swiss multi-tool:

The community support officers reacted immediately. They behaved as if they had never seen a penknife before, pulling out the bottle-opener, the corkscrew, the thing that gets stones out of horses’ hooves. ‘This device has a locking blade,’ said the constable, after which a short, whispered debate ensued. My goodwill towards the police began to give way to alarm. I reached for my mobile to call the lawyers and explain that I was going to be late for my meeting, but the constable stopped me. ‘Turn that phone off,’ he said. ‘You’re about to be arrested for possessing offensive weapons and carrying a bladed instrument in public. You’ll be allowed one call when we get you to Charing Cross police station.’

I felt confused and indignant. As we stood by the side of the road, waiting for a police van to arrive, I asked the constable whether this whole business was, in his opinion, a valuable use of police time and resources. This was when the policemen and the PCSOs started to become hostile. ‘You’ve committed an offence, mate, and you’d better get used to the fact that you’re going down for six months,’ said one policeman.

It just gets worse from there. Read the whole thing.

(via Samizdata)

November 25, 2004

Unleashed: Nerd Crack

So far, the effects haven't been seen. But soon the various computer systems that make our modern life possible will start to fail; and things we once took for granted will become just a memory. Using a banking machine, booking an airline ticket, paying your phone bill -- it will no longer be possible. But the internet will still work. Because otherwise the geeks that let all the other stuff fall apart wouldn't be able to play the game that now occupies all their time.

World of Warcraft was released by Blizzard Entertainment a couple of days ago and has already sold out -- over a quarter of a million copies. More on on the way, but I imagine they're staggering the release so the servers the game runs on can adjust. WoW is a MMORPG, a Massively Multiplayer On-line Role Playing Game, the first created by Blizzard. Most of the games of this type have flopped (with the exception on Everquest) but Blizzard will undoubtably make it work. In over fifteen years as a company, they've released only a handful of games -- and all of them have been hits. Their success is due to the intense play-testing they do. WoW has been in production for more than three years -- most of it to polish and balance the game in ways that most players wouldn't even notice. They're not in the business of cranking out derivative crap. They create games that are simple to get into, but which have tremendous depth that continues to offer rewards to the more obsessive types of players. And after playing their games for a while, most people become obsessive types of players.

I'm going to try to avoid getting sucked into this game. I know it's futile, but I have to try. I'll fail of course, and will wind up with the rest of the nerds chasing after virtual adventure and treasure. I haven't got a chance.

Alexander's a stinker

Oliver Stone has clearly declared himself to be an idiotarian. Read this interview with him and listen to how he rationalizes the brutality of the Castro regime if you have any doubts. So I feel no guilt for the pleasure I get by reading the savage reviews of his disasterous new movie. Apparently, it's so bad it's almost good -- but not quite. Here's some selected excerpts from IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes:

An act of hubris so huge that, in Alexander's time, it would draw lightning bolts from contemptuous gods. Today it will get sniggers from stunned critics and a collective yawn from a public unlikely to share Stone's egomania.

Filled with cringe-inducing, laughter-provoking moments, including more deliciously overripe performances than any single movie can possibly contain.

There are films which you don't like because the film isn't to your taste; then there are movies which are just bad movies. This is a bad movie: a truly awful script, a complete waste of some talented actors, and direction so awful that the audience was laughing during the (very, very few) moments of supposed high drama and tension. The CGI portions of the battle scenes were amateurish, and other CGI effects were garish and distractingly inconsistent.

Oliver Stone doesn't just create trainwrecks. He knocks the train off the rails, sets it on fire, then kills every person onboard. (And takes three hours to do it.)

So misconceived, so shrill, so fetishy is Oliver Stone's epic, so unintentionally hilarious a stew of paganism and Freudianism, that it makes Conan the Barbarian look like Gladiator.

Oliver Stone has done what I never thought possible: He has made me feel pity for him. The movie is a sprawling mess, a lox, a three-hour non-starter.

This movie was awful. It was long, boring, and focused on the side-show of Alexander's life instead of his adventures. The acting was unconvincing and soupy. The story was tedious and long on speculation and details about Alexander's sexual proclivities, yet mentions almost nothing about his philosophy or strategising other than some vague desire for a multi-cultural empire.

A flop of massive proportions, Alexander is a diffuse and incoherent historical epic that fails to engage intellectually or emotionally.

File "Transvestite-Looking Men Belly Dancing For an Extended Period of Time" under "Scenes I Hope to Never See Again in Life." Then to make it worse, Farrell kissed the guy afterwards. Sigh. Three hours, folks. Three hours I'll *never* get back. I'm WARNING you.

A horrendously bad movie, a genuine 40-car pile-up of literally epic proportions, a three-way head-on collision of bad writing, bad acting, and bad direction.

What an overlong, overblown, overbearing piece of odoriferous offal that was! The editing was apparently done at random, the pacing ponderous, the characters completely unsympathetic, the storytelling weak. Anthony Hopkins' droning narrative served only to remind us -- for three friggin' hours! -- that film is *supposed to be* a visual medium. Show us, don't tell us! The battle scenes, which should have been a strength here (Platoon was brilliant in this area), were a jumbled mess of quick cuts and shaky-cam shots of blood spurting.

There’s nothing that quite compares to the pain of passing a kidney stone... except perhaps Oliver Stone’s Alexander.

It is such a majestic disaster, that I have a bizarre sort of affection for it, like for a weirdly deformed child, maybe.

November 24, 2004

Stuff & Things XI

  • Ralph Peters says Bush has got to be tough with Putin (who's really the one behind this) over the election fraud in the Ukraine. There's more interesting background by Wretchard over at Belmont Club. It looks like both Europe and the United States are in agreement not to accept the results.
  • The WSJ asks: why is there so little outrage over the silencing of an artist through violence?
  • Victor Davis Hanson writes movingly about the real humanitarians in the world today.
  • The Smug Canadian points out that fighting with automatic weapons is not as easy as it looks on TV. You should probably at least play a few games of CounterStrike online to see how quickly you can be killed before you go up against the US Marines.
  • How bad is Chirac? Jeff at Beautiful Atrocities has compiled a handy clip'n'save guide to all his (known) acts of treachery and deceit.
  • The Incredibles is the best movie I've seen in years. It's a near perfect blend of action, humour, characterization, story, and style. It was even very popular with the critics.
  • Sick of being hassled for registration info when you try to view a story on a Newspaper's web site? Try Bug-Me-Not!
  • Andrew Coyne continues to battle for the right to ride a bike without a helmet. I couldn't agree more.
  • Blog Wars! Heart of Canada (representing the W League) is feuding with Ghost of a Flea (representing the Red Ensign Bloggers). I'm going to be boringly Canadian about this and refuse to take sides. But it is interesting to watch.
  • Dana at Canadian Comment links to a fascinating article by a doctor working with the dregs of society in the UK. He muses about the Frivolty of Evil.
  • Yeah, I'm feeling a lot better now, thanks. I just wish I could talk without breaking into a coughing fit.

They can have my Joe Louis when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers

My initial response to the wacky plan to eliminate trans-fats from the Canadian diet was contemptuous head-shaking. Now as it looks like this thing is beginning to take on some momentum, I'm getting a bit more concerned. It just goes to show that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

Humans are programmed for fear. We're hard-wired to spend much of our time worrying about potential threats and trying to neutralize them. But in the side-impact-airbag world we live in real threats are very distant, so we've found new things to worry about. One of the most fertile territory for these new fears is in our food supply. I've gone on about the silliness of those who obsess about organic food before, but at least they don't try to enforce their standards on others.

Will the removal of trans-fats make Canadians a much more healthy people? I doubt it. The basis of arguments against them are based on studies that show a correlation between a high intake of them and cardio-vascular disease. People who eat a lot of junk food probably have a lot of other bad habits to compensate for the loss of this one poison. You can't legislate health.

Learning on the job

Blogging has been sparse for the past week or so. Things have been hectic around here and I've been battling the effects of the worst cold of my life. The complex cocktail of drugs I've been taking has robbed me of any intiative or inspiration to write something interesting. Until that changes, I'm forced to borrow other's content to pad the blog. Here's some more 'photo funnies' of someone learning an expensive lesson in physics:

November 19, 2004

Thank you Carolyn Parrish...

...for making a mockery of my Most Annoying Canadian competition. How can I possibly claim to have a fair contest for this award without having her as a contestant? Oh well, no more radio interviews for me.

It's my own fault. Nature abhors a vacuum after all and without Svend and Sheila, there was an absence of the vital anti-American media-whore voice that our Parliament requires. I should have seen that she would step up and fill that role. I feel so embarrassed.

November 17, 2004

Most Embarrassing Canadian

There's another contest looking at Canadians we love to hate. The Most Embarrassing Canadian contest is being held by Ted Knudtson. So far, it seems that Celine Dion is in first place, followed by Uncle Jean and Adrian Clarkson. But it's very close, and you might be able to affect the outcome. Voting instructions are available at his site.

Mucking out the UN

Claudia Rosett has another piece out at the WSJ on the investigation into the Oil for Food scandal. She points the finger at Kofi Annan:

Once Mr. Annan became secretary-general, he lost little time in getting deeply involved with Oil for Food. In October 1997, just 10 months into the job, he transformed what had begun as an ad hoc, temporary relief measure into the Office of the Iraq Program, an entrenched U.N. department, which reported to him directly--and was eliminated only after the U.S.-led coalition, against Mr. Annan's wishes, deposed Saddam. To run Oil for Food, Mr. Annan picked Benon Sevan (now alleged to have received oil money from Saddam, which he denies) and kept him there until the program ended about six years later.

Mr. Annan's reorganization of Oil for Food meant a nontrivial change in the trajectory of the program. All the signs are that Saddam immediately took the cue that he could now start gaming the program with impunity--and Mr. Annan did not prove him wrong. Within the month, Saddam had created the first crisis over the U.N. weapons inspectors, who were supposed to be part of the sanctions and Oil for Food package. Mr. Annan's response was not to throttle back on Oil for Food but to go before the Security Council a few months later and urge that Baghdad be allowed to import oil equipment along with the food and medicine to which the program had been initially limited. This set the stage for the ensuing burst in Saddam's oil production, kickbacks, surcharges and smuggling.

Mr. Annan then flew to Baghdad for a private powwow with Saddam and returned to declare that this was a man he could do business with. The weapons inspectors returned to Iraq for a short spell, but by the end of 1998, Saddam had evicted them for the next four years. Mr. Annan, however, went right on doing business. And big business it was, however humanitarian in name. Under the Oil for Food deal, Mr. Annan's Secretariat pulled in a 2.2% commission on Saddam's oil sales, totaling a whopping $1.4 billion over the life of the program, to cover the costs of supervising Saddam. Yet somehow the Secretariat never found the funding to fully meter oil shipments, ensure full inspections of all goods entering Iraq, or catch the pricing scams that by the new estimates of Senate investigators let Saddam rake in $4.4 billion in kickbacks on relief contracts.

Mr. Annan and his aides would also have us believe that Oil for Food had nothing to do with Saddam's smuggling of oil--which generated the lion's share of his illicit income. But it was only after Oil for Food geared up that Saddam's oil smuggling really took off, totaling $13.6 billion during his entire 12 years between wars, but with more than two-thirds of that--an estimated $9.7 billion--earned during the era of Oil for Food. Those were precisely the years in which Mr. Annan repeatedly went to bat to enable Saddam, under Oil for Food, to import the equipment to rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure, whence came all that smuggled oil.

As long as Annan holds onto his job, he's well placed to block investigations into the collusion between the UN and Saddam. Checks and balances are not built into the UN system very well. But then he's only got two years left in his final term. As a 'lame duck', some of his subordinates might start looking to distance themselves from his sleaze. I only hope Paul Volcker, who I respect very much, will use this to get to the bottom of the corruption and not just try to cover it up. That's the only way to save the UN -- and yes, I still think there's something there worth saving.

November 15, 2004

A Day in the Life, part V

It's that time again! Time to give a detailed accounting of my day so I can remember what it was like to manage my two children when they were small. Previous days in the life can be found here: part I, part II, part III, and part IV.

5:20 Talia wakes up screaming. She's calling, "Mama! Mama!" So I let Mama take care of it. When Talia wakes up in the night it's best to go see her because she'll just lie down and go back to sleep once you stroke her head. But if Max gets up, we just let him scream until he gives up (thankfully, usually fairly quickly) because if he sees you he'll just go even more bananas if you try to leave.

6:20 Mama gets up early and does her yoga. Because I have so many important duties during the day, it's necessary for me to get extra rest, so I stay in bed.

7:00 I get up. I made the mistake of listening to some old Simon & Garfunkle last night and now have the song Cecilia rattling endlessly through my head.

Okay, they're a little burnt.  But they still taste good.7:10 The kids are up. Talia has been aggressively pursuing her toilet training and demands to go on the potty right away. But nothing happens -- she just sits there and reads her book. I make a fire downstairs.

7:30 The kids have leftover pancakes.

7:50 They're finished. Mama has left and Talia demands, "Pee-pee! Pee-pee!" I clean them up and rush Talia to the potty. Again nothing.

8:00 Downstairs for a bit of TV so I can eat some breakfast. We've turned off our satellite service last week, so now all we get is whatever preview channel ExpressVu is trying to entice their customers with. Today it's Cool TV, which is showing an old Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra movie, On The Town. It seems to be interesting the kids with all the singing and dancing, so I leave it on. I go upstairs for my breakfast -- yummy generic imitation Corn Pops.

8:50 Talia: "Pee-pee! Pee-pee!" I run her upstairs and sit her down on the potty -- and success! We have Pee-pee!

9:10 They start to get bored and indicate they want to go upstairs. But I'm just starting to get interested!

9:15 I give them a cookie. Try not to look so happy guys!

My kids have 'tude.

9:25 Talia: "Mewsy! Mewsy!" I put on a CD for them -- The Fury of the Aquabats. I bought this back in the days when I had plenty of money and could buy a CD if I just liked the cover. It was a good find; some of the reviewers at Amazon say it's the best Ska album of all time. I don't know about that -- what about One Step Beyond? The kids like it. Talia does her funny jerky dance. Max does a decent imitation of Talia's funny jerky dance.

9:30 Snack time: two clementines each.

9:40 "Pee-pee! Pee-pee!" And off we go to the potty again, with Max following. But then as she reaches the bathroom, she has a change of heart and just wants to go downstairs again. Well, okay. We sure weren't upstairs too long -- only enough to get through eight Aquabats songs.

9:45 The movie is just ending. Then Cool TV delivers some moaning self-absorbed saxophone playing. What garbage. Too bad so many people think this is what jazz is about. I put on an old Blue's Clues tape. This is a really great show -- or at least the episodes with Steve in them are. When Joe took over as the host, the show became unwatchable. (For me anyway, the kids aren't so fussy.)

9:55 Max says "no-book!" when Steve whips out his handy-dandy... notebook. Right. He's paying attention.

10:00 Big cuddles together while watching the rest of the tape.

10:35 Okay, it's time for a nap. Talia: "Pee-pee! Pee-pee!" Again nothing. And into bed they go. They're asleep in minutes.

11:30 Called by QR77 radio in Calgary. Cool!

11:45 Some neighbors come by with another toddler for a visit, but unfortunately Max and Talia are still fast asleep.

12:20 I get the kids up. They're still right out -- it's very unusual for them to have such a long nap. Beans for lunch accompanied by the other thirty songs on the Aquabats CD.

1:00 We get dressed and go out for a walk. It's quite a nice day, so I can skip the mittens and hats for them. We walk down the road to an abandoned house on the corner. No one's lived there in at least ten years, and we've adopted the yard as our playground. You'd think that with today's housing market, whoever owns it would want to sell it.

1:45 We get into the car to visit my Chilean friend, Pato. Once there, the Mistress of Chaos dumps a large bin of lego all over the carpet. Then, saying, "that's nothing!", Captain Destructo pours the large bin full of 'art supplies' (busted crayons, markers without lids, lids for markers, erasers, scissors, sequins, barbie clothes, random lego pieces, and a hundred thousand pencil crayons) all over the toy room. Good job guys! Our work here is done.

3:00 Time to go home. We're stuck behind some yahoo in a cowboy hat driving 20 kph under the limit the whole way. The whole way! But we're listening to Yellow Magic Orchestra's Solid State Survivor so it's not so bad.

3:30 Once home, I stuff the kids in bed so they'll be asleep for the radio show. (But first: "Pee-pee! Pee-pee!" And again nothing.) I make a big pot of coffee so I'll sufficiently caffeinated.

4:00 Mama comes home and wakes the kids just before I go on air. She takes care of them as I pace the basement during my segment.

4:25 I think I did okay. My voice quavered a bit at the beginning, due either to nervousness or too much coffee, but I recovered. And then I start thinking of all the things I should have said. Oh well.

4:30 The Latin American correspondent calls to complain that he couldn't get the internet radio feed to work from his temporary office in Chile and asks how it went. He tells me he's been voting for Chrétien every day on four different computers to keep him in the top five.

5:00 I take the dog for a walk. Just as I'm heading out the door: "Pee-pee! Pee-pee!"

5:30 Mama's making supper and the kids are running around and terrorizing the animals. Talia seems to think Musette is a horse. I take them downstairs for some Teletubbies to calm them down.

6:00 "Pee-pee! Pee-pee!" And -- success! Then we sit down for a very wonderful pumpkin risotto which Talia quickly decides she doesn't want. Usually Max is the difficult one. We eventually get Talia to see reason and she eats a good part of her serving.

6:30 Time for a bath. Mama can handle this as I clean up. I listen to the Now Sound of Ursula 1000 to invigorate me.

7:00 Mama reads them a story and puts them in bed. Good night Max! Good night Talia!

10:10 I'm still writing this and I'm getting sleepy. Kraftwerk's Tour de France Soundtracks isn't helping. Time for bed.

This is kinda cool

One of the fun things about having a blog is that if you create something amusing or interesting, and have a minimum threshold of readers, your work can get amplified by other sources. A juicy post from an insignificant blog can be read by tens of thousands within a day, if it gets a push from the right people. It hasn't happened to me too often (and never in a very big way), but when it does it's exciting. Even though my blog is still mired in lameness right now, the Most Annoying Canadian competion has gained this sort of momentum. So much so that it's even broken the bounds of the blogosphere, thanks to a link on NealeNews and many widely-visited blogs. I'm going to be interviewed on a Calgary radio talk show this afternoon. Surely a publishing contract and a cross-country speaking tour are only a matter of time.

It'll be at 4:00 Eastern and you can listen to it on the internet by following the link on the top left of their page. But you probably shouldn't. I don't want anyone to hear me choke...

UPDATE: I didn't choke too bad, but possibly I shouldn't have been so wired on coffee. They said my site name wrong at the beginning but I corrected it and enjoyed a measurable (though not spectacular) spike in hits.

UPDATE II: It seems most of the new visitors voted for the Helpful Canadian Tire Guy, because he's shot into a commanding lead in the poll.

November 13, 2004

More Annoying Canadians

The first round of voting for the Most Annoying Canadian is over. The results are as follows:

Who is your choice for Most Annoying Canadian?

Sheila Copps 24%55
Don Cherry 10%23
Rick Mercer 3%8
Svend Robinson 8%19
Paul Martin 3%7
Jack Layton 12%27
David Suzuki 9%20
Stephen Lewis 2%5
Warren Kinsella 22%51
Celine Dion 7%17
232 votes total

Congratulations to the five finalists who move on to the final Most Annoying Canadian round in December: Sheila Copps, Warren Kinsella, Jack Layton, Don Cherry, and David Suzuki. Svend Robinson, who would normally be a favourite in this type of competition, failed to make the cut. His career as Canada's premier nitwit in the spotlight has evidently collapsed. Jack Layton is the new annoying face of the NDP, staging an incredible late surge from back of the pack to finish in third place. Sheila Copps won -- as expected -- despite a internet campaign for Warren Kinsella; but she's still got to win against the finalists from the second round of the competition to be declared the Most Annoying Canadian!

The second round has begun, as you can see from the new poll on the right. It was difficult to whittle down the contestants to just ten, but I have. I think they reflect the diversity of this vast and annoying land. We've got two ex-Prime Ministers, one to appeal to both sides of the political spectrum, a couple of annoying seperatists who would hate to be considered 'Canadians', a rock-throwing jackass and his intellectual facilitator, and representatives from the rabidly anti-American press, the cultural elite, and the reactionary labour movement. And don't think the Canadian Tire guy is just a joke contestant. In my research for this poll I found a tremendous antipathy to him. A friend of mine suggested a competitor should hire him away from Canadian Tire and then run ads humiliating him or even having him killed off to win customers. He might be the 'dark horse' in this race.

So, this poll ends December 3rd. Then the five best from round two will face off against the winners from round one. You can vote once per day, and internet campaigns for particular contestants are encouraged. May the best annoying Canadian win!

November 10, 2004

Gloating is healthy

The Dissident Frogman releases a fresh animation to rub a few people's noses in it (push the red button).


You really have to be careful when choosing a daycare...

November 09, 2004

That's gonna leave a mark

Christopher Hitchens delivers a mighty smack to the sactinomious left:

So here is what I want to say on the absolutely crucial matter of secularism. Only one faction in American politics has found itself able to make excuses for the kind of religious fanaticism that immediately menaces us in the here and now. And that faction, I am sorry and furious to say, is the left. From the first day of the immolation of the World Trade Center, right down to the present moment, a gallery of pseudointellectuals has been willing to represent the worst face of Islam as the voice of the oppressed. How can these people bear to reread their own propaganda? Suicide murderers in Palestine—disowned and denounced by the new leader of the PLO—described as the victims of "despair." The forces of al-Qaida and the Taliban represented as misguided spokespeople for antiglobalization. The blood-maddened thugs in Iraq, who would rather bring down the roof on a suffering people than allow them to vote, pictured prettily as "insurgents" or even, by Michael Moore, as the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers. If this is liberal secularism, I'll take a modest, God-fearing, deer-hunting Baptist from Kentucky every time, as long as he didn't want to impose his principles on me (which our Constitution forbids him to do).

No babies, just toddlers

I'm sorry, but I have no more baby pictures. Instead I can only offer my toddlers. Here's Max, AKA Captain Destructo, and his sister Talia the Mistress of Chaos. They just look angelic.

These week's blog forecast calls for intermittent lameness with severe periods of neglect. So I'll just slap this picture up before I go and try to deal with real life. Wish me luck.

Max is doing his Donald Trump impersonation

November 06, 2004

Most Annoying Canadian Update II

I probably shouldn't have given so much time for the votes, but since it's a bad idea to change the rules for an election already under way, the original schedule still holds. The first current round will end midnight, Friday, November 12. The next round with ten other annoying Canadians will begin immediately and end Friday, December 3. Then the final -- comprised of the five finalists from the first two heats -- will go until midnight on New Year's eve.

In the first round, the standings are as follows (from most to least annoying):

  1. Sheila Copps
  2. Warren Kinsella
  3. David Suzuki
  4. Don Cherry
  5. Celine Dion
  6. Svend Robinson
  7. Jack Layton
  8. Rick Mercer & Paul Martin (tie)
  9. Stephen Lewis
Names for the next round have not been finalized. But some names will be there. Starting gates for John Ralston Saul, Alanis Morissette, Jean Chrétien, Tom Green, and Naomi Klein have been confirmed. Add your choices for the other five slots in the comments. There's so many to choose from...

Can't we all just get along?

The internet novelty image cycle of violence:

Ouch!  Dude, way harsh!
The initiator

Oh!  Now that's low!
The response

(Via an emailer and SondraK)

November 04, 2004

Says it all

Here's an interesting statement from member of the sophisticated, progressive eastern media, Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker (who has another great tolerance-soaked quote in the previously mentioned Coyne piece). He was asked about Bush's agenda for the next four years:

In my view, he's got his mandate and he's going to carry on with his mantra--bringing democracy to the middle east. Pretty scary.
(Via Best of the Web Today.)

Ailing despot news

Tim Blair reports:

Yasser Arafat's condition is improving. He's now in a coma.

If his condition worsens, Yasser will survive.

Spinning the spin

The word has gone out. Big Media is claiming George W. Bush won re-election only because of the crazed evangelicals that inhabit flyover country. Andrew Coyne takes apart their comforting explanation.

November 03, 2004

Stuff & Things X

Special Election Edition!

  • I listened to a bit of CBC's As It Happens tonight. Here's the abridged transcript: "Arrogant... Supreme Court... beholden... evangelical Christians... unilateral... abortion... draft... abortion... 100,000 dead... reckless... quagmire... gay rights... abortion... uncooperative... far right..."
  • 'Soros said that he plans to enter a monastery for a time because he will need to contemplate what is wrong with the people of this country.' Hmm, couldn't be people like you who think they know what everybody should do, could it?
  • James Taranto rates the best and worst of the campaigns.
  • Jaeger at Trudeaupia has stopped writing about goats in Saudi Arabia long enough to write some intriguing thoughts on the election.
  • Alice Bachini at Samizdata has some helpful thoughts on the greater victory we all share in Bush's win.
  • Jeff at Beautiful Atrocities lists the winners and losers in this election. (He's wrong about Moore, of course.)
  • I like maps. This is an interesting one.
  • Michael Totten has a roundup from blogs that opposed Bush. My favourite -- 'Daily Kos: It's clear the Democratic Party as currently constituted is on its deathbed. It needs reforms, and it needs them now. Quite frankly, the status quo simply won't cut it. Howard Dean for DNC Chair.' Yeah, that'll help...
  • And speaking of the anti-Bush forces, Iowahawk has some friendly advice for them:
    Finally, celebrate your accomplishments and keep yourself focused on the future. Despite the election setback, you're part of a massive intellectual movement that has attracted the support of important thinkers from Noam Chomsky to Howard Dean to Brad Pitt. This is real revolt -- a people's revolt that will continue to grow, as long as people like you stay committed to the anti-Bush cause. And if you ever find yourself waivering, just look in the mirror and tell yourself, "I am still revolting."

Yeah, he's smiling now...

Despite what many people would assume, Michael Moore was desperate for a Bush win. For him, Bush = $$$! Moore has been handed four more years! of leading the looney fringes of the left around in circles, sucking out their cash for his dishonest movies and books. Four more years! of being treated like royalty by the international culture mafia. And it's all thanks to his cash cow, George W. Bush. Try not to smile too broadly in public, Mikey, you hypocrite.

UPDATE: Of course, the relationship is symbiotic. W wrote Mike a thank you letter...

Baffled and amazed

The two Johnnies (and their lawyers) must be the only people in America who still think they have a chance to pull this thing off. But they can't. And still they refuse to admit it.

Unless Kerry gets Ohio, Bush will have at least 269 electoral votes (though he probably has New Mexico and Iowa too). Even if Bush only gets 269, the final decision will result from a special vote in the House of Representantives, which is controlled by the Republicans. Bush won the popular vote handily, so I doubt too many would be inclined support Kerry in this vote.

So Kerry has to win Ohio. Currently Bush is winning by 2.5% with only provisional ballots to be counted. There are about 150,000 of these ballots and Bush's vote count lead is about 125,000. The provisional ballots would almost all have to be accepted and all go the Kerry for him to win. There were many strange reports coming from Ohio before the election about registration fraud: bogus names, trading registration lists for crack, the dead rising to vote. Are these the types of votes Kerry wants to validate for his win? Does he and his legal team even imagine how dirty the fight over them could get?

Kerry's shown he's no Michael Dukakis or Walter Mondale. He did pretty well, but he still lost. He can still accept his defeat gracefully and become a distinguished elder statesman for his party. But he's running out of time -- he better do it soon.

UPDATE: I can't remember where I read that Bush had 269 electoral votes, but it doesn't appear to be right. He has 254 for sure, and probably has New Mexico (5), Iowa (7), and Ohio (20). So only Ohio matters now. But there's no 'razor-thin' margin there, it's still a 2.5% gap -- completely insurmountable. Give it up, John.

November 02, 2004

It's over

Bush is ahead in Florida by 54.5% to 44.5% with over 20% counted. He's also ahead about the same in Ohio (though with much less of the vote counted). This is enough for me to call this election. Congratulations, George W. Bush on your re-election!

Alec Baldwin, we don't want you in Canada. Try France.

UPDATE (8:46): Kerry's now slightly ahead in Ohio. Still a tiny sample though. I still think it's over...

UPDATE (8:57): Bush back up in Ohio (49% to 45%) with 3.5% counted. And he's extended his lead in Florida (Why won't they call it?). It's over. Really. A hundred thousand lawyers couldn't overturn this.

UPDATE (11:15): They still haven't called Florida for Bush, even with 94% of the vote in and Bush winning by 5%. Ohio still looking good -- it's over. Really. This time I'm really sure. I'm going to bed. (Some political junkie -- I know, I know...)


I'm a little frazzled because I had a car accident last night. I only received a cut on my head, but I think the car is totaled. Just me in the car, luckily. Now I'm stressing about dealing with the insurance and figuring out how to manage our lives with just one car for the time being. It was my fault too, so I'm feeling stupid and angry with myself.

I'm also a little nervous about tonight. It's gonna be close. The last bunch of state polls varied so much it's hard to say what the voters are really thinking. One poll in Florida had Kerry up 5 (FOX!) while another had Bush up 8. And in Ohio, one had Bush up 6 and another had Kerry up 4. Strange, strange numbers. Tonight I'm going to be watching the blowdried nitwits on CNN huddled under the covers with a bottle of scotch in my hand. I hope to be nice and relaxed by ten o'clock -- one way or another.

November 01, 2004

Fear them

Jeff at Beautiful Atrocities takes a look at a possible Kerry cabinet. It's not pretty:

  • Madeleine Albright: Possible Secretary of State. When Al Qaeda attacked the USS Cole, murdering 17 US sailors, Albright argued against strikes on Al Qaeda camps because it would be bad PR. Argued US should wait until Israeli/Palestinian conflict 'settled'. If Gore had been elected, Albright would still be negotiating with the Taliban.
  • Jimmy Carter: Angling for admin post. Angel of death, friend of tyrants. Presided over worst foreign policy of 20th Century. More recent successes: Oslo accords inviting terrorist army to rule West Bank with predictable results, handing nuclear materials over to North Korea, & lending credibility to thug Hugo Chavez. If Carter had won in 1980, the Soviet Union would still exist.
  • Joe Biden: Possible Sec of State, already getting foreign policy experience trying to clean up Kerry's Allawi insult fiasco.
  • Paul Krugman: Said to be in running for admin post. Malignant narcissist who projects all his anxieties onto mythic figure of George Bush. Opposed every single Bush initiative to stimulate economy, but could never admit he was wrong.
  • Jamie Gorelick: Possible Attorney General. Clintonista with blood on her hands: author of infamous Justice Dept memo that reinforced walls between intelligence agencies & placed good PR over needs of intelligence (this, after 1993 WTC attack), & directly contributed to 9/11 intelligence failures.
  • Richard Holbrooke: Another Sec of State wannabe, whose beliefs dovetail nicely with Kerry's faith that War on Terror is really a police action, not a war.
  • Robert Reich: Clinton Labor Secretary, who famously penned essay stating Terrorism is not the greatest danger we face, equating murderous Islamonazis with Christians who oppose abortion & gay marriage. Cut his teeth writing economics treatises with Marxist Bernard Bluestone, in effect calling for central planning of US industry, scorned Reaganomics & lacks fundamental understanding of market economy.

I don't think so

How can the list of the 50 greatest 'chick flicks' not have The Philadelphia Story? And why's Aliens there? As a fan of good chick flicks, I'm insulted by this list.

Spam gone wild

Every morning my first tasks are to get the kids up, change them, get them dressed, make them breakfast, get them in their high chairs, help them eat without making too much of a mess, clean them up, get them out of their high chairs, and clean up the floor and chairs.

After that I mop out my blog for any spam that might have shown up overnight. This is a pretty easy job, thanks to MT-Blacklist. It blocks those that have spammed before and provides a quick and easy interface for destroying the new stuff. Some days I have no spam in he morning, but on others I've been hit with hundreds (really!). I've often wondered what my blog would look like if I let the spam accumulate.

And now I know! Gnotalex at Blog Québécois has a less obsessively hostile relationship to the spam that shows up on his site. You might even say he's quite charitable towards it, giving it a safe home and helping the Ukrainian p0rn sites that put it there increase their page rank. Check out one of his old posts to see what happens when spam is given free reign.

This is not to suggest that Blog Québécois is a bad site. In fact, it's an Excellent website, very informative. Keep up the excellent work.