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February 27, 2005

And the lameness continues...

Ever have one of those months?

Still sick. Still mired in a technological no-go zone. And anytime I try to write, it comes out sounding like the earnest musings of a sensitive 17-year old. Something's wrong, and I hope it goes away soon.

At least I got a new camera, a nifty-squiff Canon S60. It's a great camera, but this miasma I'm enveloped in has prevented it from taking any good pictures. Over a 100 shots taken, and this is the best one of the bunch:

Okay, that's not quite true, but this shot of Max and Talia being indoctrinated into our modern commercial culture is one I'm not sure I want Mama to see...

February 25, 2005

Chavez says what's on his mind

He's not worried people will think he's nuts...

Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez comments on capitalism and other issues during a televised speech in Caracas.

"Capitalism makes democracy impossible. Capitalism makes social justice impossible. If we don't change this system, the world is going to end. The eternal existence of our planet is not guaranteed. Look at other planets. In Mars there was water. It's possible they will soon find remains of living beings. Who knows how many years ago there was life on Mars. Mars is very similar to Earth. It rotates around the sun almost the same as Earth. It's very likely that there was life on Mars. It's possible that the Martians couldn't keep life going on their planet."

"Old Karl Marx was right. Capitalism, monopolies, the exploitation of man by man, Karl Marx's theory was correct. We have to break this model of domination."

(Via the Latin American Correspondent)

February 24, 2005

Greetings from the plague house

Posting has been minimal due to illness. The cold I complained about a few days ago has decided to take up permanent residence in my sinus cavity and, well, I'm feeling a bit miserable. The kids have been miserable too, as they're also still sick, so it's fun, fun, fun around here. As well, I still haven't cured my wireless network weirdness, so I can only blog when holed up in the basement. Things will be slow for awhile until these issues are resolved.

February 21, 2005

Is there a more annoying company than Microsoft?

Right now a message is continually popping up in the lower right corner of my screen. It's from Microsoft, telling me that a new version of MS Messenger is available. It pops up and disappears, pops up and disappears, every five seconds. I long ago got rid of Messenger because of the endless 'updates' -- which were in reality just changes to screw over third-party software makers; but evidently there remains some residue of it still on my system that recieved the word from Redmond about this exciting new update.

If I click on the pop-up, it gives me the option to download the new version, or ignore -- for one week. It does NOT give me the option to tell it to go away and never bug me again.

They've got quite the racket. You pay up to 1/5 the price of your new computer (all other costs for computing have declined dramatically) to licence their buggy, sluggish operating system, then they use your computer as a marketing tool for their grand scheme to control the media channels of the future.

I've had enough. I've been trying to clean up my laptop for the past couple of weeks and it's done no good. I've anti-virused it, de-spywared it, defragged it switched from Outlook and Explorer to Thunderbird and Firefox -- and still it stutters and grinds and hangs and crashes. It's only a Pentium III, but it shouldn't be this painful to just surf the web and send mail.

New project -- I'm converting the laptop to Linux. It's going to be kind of messy, I'm sure, but then having my computer owned by Microsoft has been no picnic either. I start tonight.

February 17, 2005

Best. Blog. Ever.

An evenings entertainment: Get a few friends together, have a few drinks, then load this blog and take turns reading the posts. Make sure to read them in funny voices. A sample:

THIS IS EXCELLENT NEWS
KING WINKLES CALLED THE COPS! HE CALLED SUPER MOP-TOP ON THE PHONES! HE WAS IN THE BOAT. AND HE CALLED THE EMERGENCY CREWS! THE CREEPS RAN AWAY!!! THE DOGS WERE YELLING AT THE CREEPS TO GO TO THE WIGWAM! THEY ARE IN TROUBLE!!!!!
And the weird thing is, read enough of them and the posts start making sense...

(via Beautiful Atrocities)

Stuff & Things XVI

  • The faulty technology miasma that's followed me around for the past week has been getting worse. Not only has my TV been destroyed (OK, Captain Destructo knocked it over, but it didn't have to break), my digital camera died, and my car expired, but my wireless router has become just a regular router (making my laptop useless and depriving me of email) at the same time as my DSL link decided to become super-flakey. It's very frustrating when the things you depend on don't do what they're supposed to. I better stop whining and finish this before I lose my connection...
  • To celebrate our country's decision to chain our economy to the sinking ship known as Kyoto, I've added a great blog dedicated to debunking all the Chicken Littles to my blogroll: Climate Audit.
  • Speaking of dubunking, Wizbang has the real story on some Greenpeace propaganda about an Argentine glacier that showed up on Drudge yeterday.
  • The WSJ had a spooky piece about how wacky things are getting in Turkey.
    Perhaps the most bizarre anti-American story au courant in the Turkish capital is the "eighth planet" theory, which holds not only that the U.S. knows of an impending asteroid strike, but that we know it's going to hit North America. Hence our desire to colonize the Middle East.
    Sounds as bad as France...
  • One of the mothers at our daycare told me she heard Steve from Blue's Clues was dead. He's not. Whew!
  • Gnotalex at the Blog Quebecois links to a site that maintains links to security cameras from all over the world that haven't been password protected. I find this strangely compelling...
  • Kate at Small Dead Animals looks at the stupidity of an owner who's English Setter went bad. I find it hard to imagine; our English Setter, Musette, is the world's gentlest dog.
  • I was going to write a big review on Half-Life 2, but it isn't worth it. Nice gameplay, terrible story. The whole game you just kill lots of stuff with no choice in what you do. At the ending -- when you hope they might answer some of the questions you have -- they just throw more bizarre and stupid stuff at you and just end it. Max Payne was way better.
  • Andrew Coyne is back to his blog and is posting his columns there. The latest looks at the ridiculous condition of federal-provincial relations. It gives me hope that there's no way they could but together a childcare plan everyone could agree on. Unless they just pour the cash in such great quantities that no one could resist, I suppose...
  • A quote at Samizdata made me think of the Liberals and their grand plans:
    In any society, the main function of government is to provide status and incomes for the ruling class. However recruited, the members of such a class will be motivated by a disinclination to earn their living by voluntary exchange, or by a delight in coercing others, or by a combination of the two. Its size and activities will be determined by the physical resources it can extract from the people, by the amount of force it can use against them, and by the nature and acceptance of the ideology that legitimises its existence. None of these factors by itself will be decisive, but each is a necessary factor. Change any one, and the working of the other two will be limited or wholly checked.

February 16, 2005

Government has no place in the playrooms of our nation

Most of available information on the Liberal's proposed daycare plan is positive. This is to be expected. It's written by the government, the unions, and various special interest groups funded by the government and unions. For example, there's Child Care Canada, which "receives funding from Social Development Partnerships, Social Development Canada, for which we are most appreciative." I'll bet. And Build Child Care, a lobby group funded by CUPE.

But there's no real focus for opposition to the great shambling monster Ken Dryden is trying to construct. The Tories have their own plan -- which is more sensible, though probably unnecessary as well -- but are too caught up with the distraction of same-sex marriage to give it much attention. I haven't found any other organized opposition to public day care on the web.

But there should be. And to start it off, the case has to be built against it. The proponents of it have had plenty of government money to produce reports and studies that confirm their position. I have nothing but my laptop, Google, and a bit of common sense. But nevertheless, here are my reasons to oppose government run child care in Canada:

Expense. Well, obviously. This is the big reason. To build the system as envisioned by the unions ('public and not-for-profit') would be horrendously expensive. Even a less ideologically-driven and more practical approach (direct subsidies) would be tremendously costly. The C$5 billion Ken Dryden is playing around with right now is just seed money to get things started. Operating expenses when the whole thing is up and running would be -- according to my calculations -- lots and lots and lots...

Fraud. Any time the government spills out great streams of cash, much of it seems to trickle through fingers and leak through the floorboards. This is the probable destination of much of the first C$5 billion. Very little of it will be paid to people to watch over children. But when the system is up and running there'll be fraud to contend with too. Whenever you have a payment structure where a third party is paying the bills for an exchange of services, the first two parties will often collude to take as much as they can from the payer. The insurance industry is cursed by it. Even the Canadian health system has this problem, and attempts to deal with it by randomly asking patients if they received the services that were performed in their name. But the government is powerless if both provider and receiver are working together.

Unfair competition. There are many people involved in the child care industry in Canada today. Many of them run their own mom-and-pop daycares and manage to make a living. If the government comes in with their 'non-profit' centers or complex requirements for subsidies, some of them are going to get run out of business.

The bad message to parents. One of the conceits that is seen time and again when reading the pro-child care system literature, is the idea that kids today are not being raised properly -- and that they have all the right solutions. Here's Ken Dryden:

[W]e know how important the early years are to our learning life. We want and need our kids to do better. And we know how.
Well, sorry Ken. I don't want you looking after my kids and filling their heads with mush. It scares me more than you can imagine, and I hope it scares a lot of other parents too. It may seem hard to believe, but all the reams of reports and studies and procedure manuals you will produce will never contain the secrets to raising children. It can never be done better by the government.

Union handcuffs. CUPE and their supporters say they want non-profit, public daycares. They also want unionized daycares. Once dependency on the system is established, the threat to withdraw their services would give them enormous power over the government.

Inability. The gun registry. The crumbling health system. The joke that is our immigration system. The disaster that is aboriginal affairs. HRDC. The looming Kyoto mess. The sponsorship scandal. These guys are terrible managers. Can anyone believe that if this child care plan goes through, it won't be another extremely expensive, absolutely ineffective boondoggle? If you were a bank manager and were asked to loan these guys money, given the track record they had, would you do it? I can understand that within government there must be a sense that if they can just find a nice place untouched by the previous SNAFUs, they can do it right this time. They're fooling themselves -- but they're not fooling Canadians. (Well, not all of them.)

There's a few other reasons, but I'll write about them another time. If anyone can think of others, or has some interesting information I don't know about, add them in the comments. I want to try to start drawing a strong argument together.

February 15, 2005

What car should we get?

My '96 Honda Civic LX is on its deathbed. My thieving insurance company decided after my accident that the car was repairable, and so it was fixed. But all the little things that keep going wrong have convinced us to just let nature take its course. A council has been formed consisting of myself and my wife to determine which vehicle should replace it. Any suggestions? We're looking for value, a bit of cargo space, good gas milage, safety, and reliability. All-wheel drive would be useful, though not essential.

Should we buy used or new? Import or domestic? Green or orange? We need ideas, people. Mama and I are butting heads over this right now and we need calm, sensible voices to take us through this stressful decision. Any clever advice or links to useful pages would be appreciated.

February 14, 2005

2 kids X 2 years

Today is Talia and Max's second birthday. Normally I'd put up a cute picture or two of them doing cute things, but my faithful Canon S30 digital camera succumbed last week after a long battle with a rare degenerative electronics disease. It's nothing but a doorstop now. You'll have to settle for these cuties until we get a new one.

I find it harder and harder to write about them now. Describing their antics and personalities is difficult because they're so complex. I can say that Talia is a feisty, inquisitive, and empathetic little girl, and Max is gentle, focused, and physical little boy. There's more, of course, much more -- but it's hard to put into words. Little kids may seem very simple from a distance, but up close they're very intricate. You expect everything they know to be something you taught them, but they often surprise you with unique insights and cunning observations. Max and Talia have rich internal lives and I only get to see the outward manifestations of them.

We had a little get-together for them last night. I gave Talia a toy shopping cart filled with plastic food for her birthday and Max got a plastic Tonka backhoe. I practice no gender conditioning in this house -- I bought these things because I knew they'd like them. Max is obsessed with trucks ('tucks'), especially construction vehicles, and Talia has an interest in food and domestic things. They both loved their gifts and were soon playing together on the floor. Max was scooping plastic strawberries with the backhoe while Talia drove her cart around and distributed fake food for everyone to eat.

February 13, 2005

Like Chrétien, he's got balls

Kofi Annan came out with an editorial in the Washington Post yesterday that claims credit for the successful elections in Iraq for the UN, and declares that they have the 'much-needed credibility' to more things forward. Paul at Wizbang makes a few half-hearted strikes against it, but is really more head-shakingly bewildered by the audacity of it all. I'm shocked Kofi made absolutely no mention of the role the US played, but then what do I expect? That he'd thank the United States? Not likely.

Unfortunately, it's a strategy that works. An Jean Chrétien has shown us for years, just repeatedly tell your supporters what they want to hear, appear unperturbed by your critics and don't admit you've made the tiniest mistake, and it'll all blow over.

February 12, 2005

Another Liberal train wreck

I've been popping around the web looking for information on the great child care debacle that will soon crash down on our nation. Right now, an army of bureaucrats, consultants, lobbyists, and well-connected Liberal contractors are creating proposals on how they can use Canadian taxpayers' money to tell them how to raise their kids. The more I read, the more frightened I get. There's lots of scary stuff, but listening to the guy leading the charge, Ken Dryden ,is enough. Here's him talking about how the first massive disbursement is just an appetizer:

You start out with a commitment of $5 billion over five years for a national early learning and child care system based on quad principles: quality, universality, accessibility, developmental. Then you're faced with the challenge of how you can translate that into a system. Five billion dollars over five years—that's a lot of money, but it's a modest amount in terms of a system. A system costs a lot more than that.
There's a certain kind of organizational mind that loves 'systems'. Here's Ken again:
To me, our commitment on child care wasn't, in essence, to spend $5 billion over five years. It was to help build a system. And to use the $5 billion over five years to help do just that. This would be a special challenge. A system is big and important. It lasts for decades and decades and longer. And as you know better than anyone, we are, this moment, a long way from that system. And $5 billion over five years, a lot of money, is modest in the context of system-building.
I've written about this attitude before -- a 'system' or a 'process' allows control without confrontation. The rules get written down and approved, and by the time the people who must live and work by them become aware of them, it's too late to change anything. Ken Dryden isn't hiding this fact either:
We also need to make what we are doing as irreversible as possible. There will hard moments, moments when it will be much easier to go back than to go ahead. We need to make going back as painful as possible. With each step we all take in these next five years, it will be harder to go back. More spaces, higher quality, higher expectations and ambitions, a bigger and growing public appetite, building the pressure on each level of government, to reinforce the commitment implicit in building a system. We need to paint ourselves into a corner because it's a corner we want to be in and need to be in.
The small-government conservative in me is curled in a ball and shaking with fear.

February 11, 2005

Grow solution

Okay, I promised I'd post the solution to Grow, and here it is. I didn't figure it out myself, of course, though it might have been fun if I had the time. I found it through the miracle of Google at this blog. Block out the following text if you want to know how to reach 20,000 points:

Put the parts in in this order: SPHERE, CUBE, EGG, HILLS, LADDER, PIPE, PROPELLOR, WHIRLWIND, COG, DISH, NOZZLE, TV.
Note that the perfect solution isn't the only interesting result. For example, if you move the whirlwind up in the order, you can turn the mountain to a volcano, which has some pretty funny effects. There's probably other weird stuff still to be discovered.

February 10, 2005

New email

My old email address was a toxic waste dump and had to be abandoned. The spam was just getting out of control. The new address is listed to the right -- nothing says class like your own vanity email domain.

UPDATE: I can receive mail, but I can't send it. *Sigh* Something's wrong, but I'm sick of wrestling with this thing right now.. I'll fix it tomorrow.

UPDATE 2: Okay it's fixed. Had to write the support guys. Obvious solution, the SMTP port had to be set to 587 rather than the standard 25. How could I have been so silly?

Can you believe I've got spam on the new account already? Those email address harvesters decoded the code I tried to disguise my address with on the right and started spamming away. I've since replaced the text with an image that looks just the same. Hopefully that will prevent any more bots from putting me in their databases.

February 09, 2005

Flash fun

Grow is the strangest flash game I've ever come across. In it, you must drag objects into play, which then interact with each other in strange ways. The object of the game is to do it in an order that will maximize growth. Each object can only be brought in once. Play around with it, and tune in tomorrow, when I will reveal a solution!

Missed this one

Mark Steyn claims another slip-up by our geographically-challenged PM:

Will the naysayers continue forcing their ever more strained dribble of urine over the Bush landscape? Well, the Parisian journalist Frederic Royer has just launched a new weekly tabloid called L'Anti-Americain. The first issue includes a parodic diary by George W Bush with the entry: "Ask the CIA: Where's China?"

Hilarious! Bush is so dumb he can't even find the real 21st-century superpower on a map! As it happens, it was the Canadian prime minister, a renowned sophisticate and indeed a fluent franco-phone, who last year declared in public that China was the most important nation in the southern hemisphere.

Anyone remember that one? I can't remember it getting a good public airing. Our press has got to start doing a better job at mocking our leaders. They could take some tips from the Americans.

February 08, 2005

Vignette

Mama was still at work, finishing off the overnight shift, and I was getting the kids up in the morning. Sometimes we have things to do and the mornings are rushed, but sometimes we just like to play around and take things easy. That's what we were doing this morning. I let the kids out of their cribs and they immediately started rushing to and fro and squealing with delight. After five minutes of this I was cuddling with Talia on the bed and wondered where Max had gone. Just then I heard some Mozart from behind the closed closet door:

"Tingo tingo lia STAAAAAAAAA,
Ow I wowa ......... AAAAAHHHHHH,
Opa bow ........... HIIIIIII,
......,
Tingo tingo .... STAAAAAAAA,
Ow I wowa wawa AAAAAAHHHH!"

February 07, 2005

Revisionist history from Reuters

Hugo Chavez and his allies in Cuba are efficiently turning Venezuela into a brutal, inefficient, totalitarian state:

Chavez has granted Cuban judicial and security forces extensive police powers within Venezuela. Cubans are already running the intelligence services and indoctrinating and training the military. They will effectively bypass what is left of Venezuela's judicial system when they exercise new powers to investigate, seize, detain, and interrogate Venezuelans and Cubans living in Venezuela, with the right to extradite them to Cuba and try them there. This threatens the safety of some 30,000 Cubans in Venezuela.

All this is a culmination of Chavez's frontal attack on civil society, reducing state institutions to mere shadows with only ceremonial powers. Just for starters, Chavez has rewritten Venezuela's Constitution to enhance his powers, purged critics in the military, set up legislation to pack the Supreme Court, intimidated the media by threatening the expropriation of the licenses of private television stations that supported the opposition, and given succor to thousands of Castro's military and intelligence officers, along with many social and medical workers, while tens of thousands of young Venezuelans have been sent to Cuba for indoctrination.

I am consistently disappointed (but not surprised) that this process is more or less ignored by the world's media. But even worse, when they do cover Venezuela, they act as propagandists for Chavez. Check out this clever bit of writing tucked into a story on how McDonald's is being harrased by the Venezuelan government (couldn't find it online):
The OPEC nation is recovering from two years of economic downturn after months of right-wing attacks against the democratically elected government of Hugo Chavez.
In one concise sentence, the abysmal economy is blamed on the opposition to Chavez's takeover, those opponents are classified as 'right-wing', and a dictator is proclaimed as 'democratic'. I don't think anyone could call this 'objective' journalism.

UPDATE: I found the Reuters story online. The sentence has been re-written to:

The OPEC nation is recovering from two years of economic downturn after months of political conflict over the government of leftist President Hugo Chavez.
But not before the original appeared in newspapers all over the world, of course.

February 06, 2005

Help me Dan Rather, you're my only hope...

In the face of their numerous defeats, the terrorists in Iraq are turning to hoaxes and calling on their closest allies to promote them:

It's also interesting that the terrorists turned to the news media to recover lost momentum. Journalists who fell for these hoaxes may merely be idiots, and their silence about the implications of the hoaxes may simply be the by product of embarrassment. But the Web logger Shannon Love (Chicago Boyz) wonders:

"Why were the major media so quick to disseminate pictures of an action figure as a genuine hostage photo?" More to the point, why are major media so quick to disseminate anything that a terrorist group, or purported terrorist group, releases? ... For the terrorist, it is like being given millions of dollars in free advertising."

The major media have from the beginning exaggerated the strength and popularity of those they mislabel "insurgents," to the disgust of American soldiers.

"I'm tired of hearing the crap, the whole, well 'We are barely hanging on, we're losing, the insurgency is growing,' " Marine Sgt. Kevin Lewis told Dan Rather, in Iraq for the election. "It's just a small amount of people out there causing the problems. It's a small number, and we're killing them."

I think the media is starting to come around on Iraq. They were genuinely surprised by the popularity of the election and are starting to understand that these thugs are not the glorious freedom fighters they imagined. In a few months the pack will have convinced themselves they were supportive from the beginning.

It can't last

Playing together. Happily. Next to each other. With the same toy.

Max and Talia are being raised with the kind support of Levi Strauss & Co.

They made it for four and a half minutes before the screaming started. Not bad...

February 05, 2005

Toddler politics

I accidently came in contact with the Toronto Star today and read a hilarious story on a child care company in Australia. It's funny for the obvious reasons (Corporations! For profit! Children! Aaauugh!), but is funny in another way as well -- but I'll get to that in a bit.

First the by-the-number corporate terror story. They profile Eddy Groves, a 38 year-old Canadian who made big money in Australia building ABC Learning Centres, which manages almost a thousand daycare centres Down Under. The writer of the story, Laurie Monsebraaten, interviews him and lets him tell his side of the story. She allows that he has pleased parents who "who flock to his meticulously maintained centres full of dedicated, well-trained staff." But get this: He drives a Ferrari! His private fortune is reportedly worth $175 million! Something is obviously wrong here.

Time to cue the usual suspects -- the union leaders and academics:

Australian academics who study child care are troubled by the large profits being made on kids.

"I don't think anybody would have imagined that in Australia such massive fortunes would be made in child care," said University of Sydney business professor Deborah Brennan, who has written a political history of Australian child care. "I would really urge Canada to be very, very careful about opening up your system to such profit-making."

And get this, the corporate centres are concerned about costs:
A financial analysis of the child-care industry by Australian business research giant IBISWorld noted that stiff competition was causing child-care centres to keep prices down by reducing operating costs.

"There are concerns that large for-profit operators will be more likely to cut costs to an absolute minimum by, among other things, operating at minimum staff-child ratios," the 2003 report said.

Meanwhile, the corporate child-care sector is a strong political lobby that has opposed increased staff wages, stiffer regulations and higher child-staff ratios.

In an investigation of corporate child care last fall, Melbourne's Sunday Age newspaper reported that several independent centres bought by corporate chains saw their food budgets slashed and cleaning staff let go. Child-care workers had to assume cleaning jobs during the hours they were supposed to be looking after the children.

But as far as I could tell, the children were not kept in large pens and identified only with numbers. And it seems that both the customers (the parents) and the workers were not forced into dealing with the company. Child care can always be better and it can always be worse. The real source of outrage for the critics quoted in the article is the methods used to provide the service. Silly, but nevertheless the tone of the article is -- don't let this happen here!

And I totally agree. But not for these paranoid socialist reasons. The other funny thing about the article is that the author is completely oblivious on how to avoid corporate child-care. Don't set up a national child care program!

Eddy Groves got rich because the Australian government setup a national child care strategy. They now spend over $1.7 billion dollars a year subsidizing day care. There's a reason there are no large corporate daycare centres in Canada -- it doesn't pay! The required fee per child/day to be profitable is too high to create sufficient demand. People find other ways of handling their child care needs. But with the government paying part of the freight, demand goes up and *poof* -- profitability! A look at the most basic supply-demand graph explains this.

But this solution to avoiding their worst nightmare is unacceptable. To the author and similarly minded people, if socialized daycare created through subsidies has unintended consequences, the solution is simple -- more socialism. If you thought the federal government's incompetence setting up a firearms registry database was infuriating, just wait until they attempt to set up a system of national 'non-profit' child care centres.

UPDATE: The Smug Canadian has caught me indulging in a bit of baseless speculation. I realized when I was writing it that I was wandering into areas I knew little about, but since my two responsibilities were stirring, I raced to conclude the post without doing the proper research. There no doubt are some corporate child care centres in Canada, but I don't think there is the same 'big-box' domination of the business as in Australia. I don't think the demand is there for the prices you'd have to pay.

The point I was trying to make was that Eddy Groves is not an 'entrepreneur' in the sense that he developed a useful product or service, he just saw that the government was prepared to firehose money in a certain direction and he positioned himself to get a good soaking. He's a corporate welfare beneficiary. Ken Dryden is talking about blowing $5 billion in start-up costs for this boondoggle, and no matter how many restrictions they make on how this money is spent, some well connected people are going to get very rich. But these people aren't 'capitalists', they're parasites.

Disturbed and pleased, no doubt

Irony-challenged director lets loose with a howler in a discussion of Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ: apparently he is disturbed at "how easily the vulnerable can be manipulated, twisted by images on the screen."

(via Tim Blair)

February 04, 2005

Yeah! Kick our asses!

We deserve it! Debbye comes back from a blogging absence and rips into Canada the way Americans are usually too polite to do. Of course, most of them don't live in Toronto, choking on the stench of all that intolerable smugness. Sounds like someone needs to vent:

The only leg standing (as it were) is moral superiority. Above all, Canadians are compassionate. If you don't believe me, just ask them. They will expound at length as to how much more compassionate and caring and enlightened they are than Americans. (They've even got some Americans believing it.) Why, they're close to achieving a plane of compassionate existence that's almost European! Unfortunately, they spend so much time and money proclaiming it that they never get around to actually doing much that is compassionate, caring or enlightened but a cynicism has set in that allows that it's the appearance that matters, not the deeds.
Nice rant Debbye. Next time tell us what you really think.

Stuff & Things XV

  • This blog has been on life support for the past month or so, threatening to die of terminal lameness. I apologize. But today I can announce that doctors are hopeful the corner has been turned and we're on the way to recovery. Keep your fingers crossed!
  • I should have mentioned this before, but The Phantom Observer has photos from the Ottawa bloggers' get-together last week. Present were the local internet luminaries behind Shenanigans, Musings of a Canadian Slacker, Minority of One, and Italics Mine. When they make the inevitable Heritage Minute spot on this gathering, I hope they get my shirt right.
  • Victor Davis Hanson. Mocking the clever people. Do you need to know more?
  • The Smug Canadian comments on what the New York Times thinks about us poor blogging parents.
  • We once again have satellite TV in our household. When I cancelled our Expressvu service a few months ago they threatened to charge $75 to reconnect me (after first trying to bribe me with a free package upgrade). But now they've offered free service for two months to get me back, and I've accepted. It pays to be a flighty customer. The programming still sucks however, but at least I'll be able to watch the Super Bowl...
  • Hey! I just got the 2003 annual report for Nortel. Today! Must have got lost in the mail.
  • The kidnapping of an action figure by the 'insurgents' was a great piece of news. The best way to break the power of Iraq's terrorists is to have them become the targets of mockery.
  • Matt at Jerry Aldini has uncovered evidence of a dramatic flip-flop in the beliefs of one of Canada's wackiest leftists.
  • The Europeans may have been able to build a big plane (which hasn't flown yet), but they're having difficulties with the small ones. The engineers working on the Eurofighter Typhoon are finding it challenging to keep in the air.
  • There must be a huge industry of people in Nigeria working to bilk money out of gullible Westerners. I get two or three poorly worded, all-caps pleas each day. I don't understand it, I only sent money twice...

Pierre set forth to... well, what exactly?

Our stylishly coiffed Canadian Foriegn Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew is off to the Middle East to... uh, to... hmmm. Well, best let him explain:

Canada is a country that has a great deal of credibility in the region. We are one of very few countries that has succeeded in the last 50 years in having good relations with both sides of this difficult conflict. It's the reason I've decided to go to the Middle East.
Nope. Still don't understand. Is he trying to suggest that because our country has been sitting on the sidelines, unable to take any position whatsoever, that people in the Mid-East will listen to him? What is he going to say? That peace is good? I'm sure that contribution will be appreciated. He's going to Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and the West Bank to spread this wisdom.

Pettigrew is an indistiguishable member of those squishy internationalist sophicates that think this kind of photo-op diplomacy does any good at all. They travel to some tyranical state to talk about 'peace' and 'human rights' and give a press conference. The rulers who indulge them smile patiently during the speech and hold the handshake long enough for all the flashes to finish, but then take them into the backrooms to get down to the real business: "What are you going to give me? What treats do you have to offer me to dole out to my supporters to keep them loyal?" Paul Martin's recent trip to Libya also fits this pattern perfectly.

In his quieter moments, Pettigrew must have some faint awareness of his impotence and the farcical nature of his upcoming tour. You won't find him admitting it though. In fact, he's actually making claims that the plaintive bleating that this country has specialized in for the past ten years contributed to making that savage, George Bush, listen to sweet reason:

Pettigrew also said he was pleased to see U.S. President George W. Bush make a strong commitment to Middle East peace efforts in Wednesday's State of the Union address.

"He clearly indicated that the United States would engage fully in working towards the resolution of this very difficult situation. ... This follows (British Prime Minister) Tony Blair, and certainly Canada's as well, insistence that the Middle East be put back on the agenda," he said.

It'd be pathetic if it wasn't so funny.

February 02, 2005

The internet is smaller than I thought

Looking through my referrers log, it's always surprising which Google searches lead people to my page. (I am the number one hit for the word "Shatnerizing", for example.) But today was the first time I was searching for something completely unrelated to me and came across my own page. I was doing an image search for "technical difficulties", hoping to find one of those 'Please Stand By' TV images. (Really, don't ask why.) But I found a picture of my daughter instead.