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February 22, 2006

Stuff & Things XXI

  • Cats in Sinks in the site to go to if you want to see high-quality pictures of cats in sinks.
  • Mark Bourrie has rolled over for Warren Kinsella. While it's probably the smart thing to do, I'm a little disappointed. I'm also pretty disgusted with Kinsella. What a thug he is.
  • Amazing aerial pictures from Mexico city. The thumbnails don't really capture how amazing they are -- run the slideshow. (via Samizdata)
  • The Enron Trialwatch blog is doing an excellent job covering the trial of Ken Lay's misdeeds. Lay's defence will be fun to watch -- he's not denying knowledge of was happening as the company collapsed, but claiming that his actions were perfectly legal. And maybe it'll work! Legal or not, they certainly were immoral. He sold $70 million of his own stock to Enron (!!) just before it declared bankruptcy and was flailing about with cash flow problems. Sort of like handing a drowning man an anchor.
  • Kitten War is a site where the cutest kitten wins. Make sure you vote for my cat Squeak if you see him (as a kitten).
  • Kate at SDA has a timely post about Nazi influence on scattered German communities before WWII.
  • World of Warcraft has borrowed the Google Map API to create a zoomable map of their virtual world. If you look closely here, you can see Boney Bruce endlessly slaying zombies and ghouls in the Eastern Plaguelands.
  • There's lots more cat pictures at Cute Overload.

February 21, 2006

The government must act now!

For the past three days, I had a constant headache, a loss of energy, poor motor functions, gastro-intestinal difficulties, and a general feeling of unease. It was so dreadful that I assumed I had a brain tumor and only had a few months to live. But this morning I found the real cause: decaffeinated coffee.

A few days ago I was required to buy a different brand of coffee because the store I was in didn't have my usual. I checked the can carefully before I bought it, noted the grind, the roast, and the type of bean; but somehow I missed the extremely small lettering at the bottom that held that dreaded word: decaffeinated. It was only by chance that I noticed it this morning.

I accept that in a free society we must be tolerant towards all tastes and allow vile muck like decaffeinated coffee to be on store shelves -- even though (in my opinion) people whose tastes run that way should be confined to state institutions, never to mix with good, decent people. But there's no way the product should be so poorly labeled. I was operating a motorized vehicle under its influence. I was taking care of children under its influence. I was operating a motorized vehicle full of children under its influence! It's a wonder that no one was killed. Sadly however, there is no doubt others have not been as lucky.

I call on the new Conservative government to impose mandatory labelling guidelines for decaffeinated coffee and strict controls on its distribution. The labels should be large, covering half the packaging's area, and unambiguous as to the nature of the horrible product. As well, I suggest decaffeinated coffee be subjected to a special tax, the proceeds of which will be used for a government educational initiative to warn the young of its dangers.

Some will think this rather severe, but if it can save just one person from the suffering and danger I experienced in the past few days, it will be worth it.

February 16, 2006

They Live!!

Three blogs from the graveyard pull themselves out of the ground to blog again. Welcome back Canadian Comment, Debbye, and Anticipatory Retaliation!

February 15, 2006

Blogging is a dangerous game

An Ottawa blogger named Mark Bourrie wrote these words about a month ago:

Kinsella

Yet another Warren Kinsella quote today in the National Post, this time about Tory strategy at the end of the campaign.

Kinsella, who hates Paul Martin much more than he loves the Liberal Party, seems delighted in the destruction of Martin's government. He hopes to have his own flagging political career revive when there's a Liberal leadership change.

It's not going to happen. Both Liberals and Tories now know that Kinsella's loyalty is to Kinsella.

And they remember Kinsella was executive assistant to Public Works minister David "I'm entitled to my entitlements" Dingwall. Kinsella was the guy who foisted Chuck Guite on the bureaucracy. He [Bourrie has since changed this word to 'Guite'] was a key actor in the sponsorship kickback scandal. And that scandal is about half the reason Paul Martin is on the skids.

And now this blogger is being sued for $600,000. It seems Bourrie and Kinsella had an antagonistic relationship on the web, and Kinsella saw these words as an opportunity for revenge.

The funny thing is that I was starting to enjoy Kinsella's work, and was looking forward to his new column in the National Post. But now I remember why I used to loathe him. His supposed efforts to 'clear his name' are just dragging it deeper into the mud.

Luckily Bourrie is not giving up without a fight. In fact, he's countersuing for abuse of process. It's pretty clear Kinsella suffered no damages from Bourrie's blog and is just using the law as a weapon to punish a political opponent.

Bourrie is accepting donations for his legal defence. I think I'll toss in a few dollars once I figure out how this Paypal thing works.

UPDATE: The Ottawa Sun has the story. (via Nealnews)

February 14, 2006

Finally! Now my children will behave!

Max and Talia turned three today, leaving the terrible twos behind. I expect them to give up their erratic behaviors, fussiness, whining, and disobedience now that they've moved into their fourth year. That's what usually happens, right? I'm looking forward to not having to break up fights every five minutes and not getting twenty minutes of wailing after I inadvertently fill the wrong colour cup with milk. It's gonna be sweet.

I made two cakes for their birthday as Talia refused to even contemplate having something other than a vanilla cake, and Max threatened to break all known screaming records if he didn't get chocolate. Hey, it's just more cake for me...

And now Harper rolls over

From Politics Watch:

"I regret the publication of this material in several media outlets," Harper said in a statement released late Tuesday afternoon. "While we understand this issue is divisive, our government wishes that people be respectful of the beliefs of others.

"I commend the Canadian Muslim community for voicing its opinion peacefully, respectfully and democratically."

Can anyone imagine the Prime Minister making a similar statement regarding a similar 'insult' towards Christianity or Judaism? Of course not. Christians or Jews don't burn down buildings when they don't get their own way.

Listen to this guy: I commend the Canadian Muslim community for voicing its opinion peacefully, respectfully and democratically. Since when does the leader of our nation have to 'commend' a group for obeying the laws? Why does he sound like a hostage negotiator dealing with an unstable lunatic? How can he give up our free speech and right not to be intimidated so easily?

I was worried that the Conservatives were turning into the Liberals -- how did it happen so fast?

Canada Blinks

I haven't written anything on the Cartoon Jihad yet, but this drove me into a fury this morning:

Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor warned the latest edition of the Calgary-based Western Standard, which features cartoons that have sparked riots and protests worldwide, will put Canadian troops in Afghanistan at greater risk.

"It doesn't help. Radicals in Syria and Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq, they get people roused up because their religion's being offended," Mr. O'Connor said in an interview. "We don't need any more risk in the area than we have."

I'm disgusted with how most of the media and government leadership in the Western world has rolled over to threats and violence from a fanatical fringe. Freedom of speech is probably the most fundamental plank on which our civilization is built, and it's being given away so cheaply. But for a Defence Minister to accuse a publication of risking our soldiers lives for failing to follow our enemy's demands? I'm dumbfounded!

O'Connor says the cartoons are offensive, well, judge for yourself. Reading most of the news coverage, you might think they would be shocking, but really I think they're quite tame. What is shocking are the 'additional cartoons' that various Imams have used to keep the fires of outrage well stoked. It's pretty clear the cartoon controversy has been manufactured by those that thrive on violence and chaos. For O'Connor to buy their point of view is what is truly offensive.

I'd post a few of the cartoons here, but for me they're getting a little old. Here's a new one, roughly equal in level of blasphemy, by the Dissident Frogman:

And to satisfy a certain award-winning Canadian journalist that says posting one of these cartoons indicates hatred of Muslims, I'm including another graphic that is blasphemous to another of the great monotheistic religions. It's quite shocking however, so I'm hiding it beneath the fold. Read on at your own risk...

February 13, 2006

Valentine's Day Post: Forbidden Love

Even with my dim awareness of popular culture, I have come to understand that there is a much-discussed movie that deals with the topic of forbidden love. There is much public smugness on how tolerant everyone is, when ten years ago they would have thought a movie like this was just icky. But there is another kind of forbidden love that still cannot be discussed except in whispers. Those same smug people cannot bear to even think about it, or else this cutting edge film, There She Is!, would be looking to win a few Oscars too. It's rated for all ages, but be warned, some may find it rather perverse.

February 09, 2006

Way cool pic

"Stars over Berlin and Tokyo will soon replace these factory lights reflected in the noses of planes at Douglas Aircraft's Long Beach, Calif., plant. Women workers groom lines of transparent noses for deadly A-20 attack bombers." Alfred Palmer, October 1942.

From the US National Archives.

February 08, 2006

Oh, poor baby!

David Emerson is whining:

Emerson said his children -- a son, 14, and daughter, 12 -- were bearing the brunt of attacks over his defection to the Conservative Party this week.

"My kids are being treated with hostility in school because of what's being said. My kids are crying because of what's being said at school," Emerson told The Province from Ottawa.

Hey David, did you ever think that the hostility is because of what you did, rather than what's being said? And somehow I think publicly declaring that your 14-year-old son was 'crying' over this isn't going to help his popularity in school. If you were really so concerned with their feelings, you wouldn't be embarrassing them to use as a cheap political prop.

Emerson's problems don't end with his children's tears. The donors to his (Liberal) campaign want their money back:

His outburst came after the riding association that helped elect Emerson in Vancouver-Kingsway last month told him it wants him to repay $96,755.

"This amount came from donations to the Liberal Party and were intended to elect a Liberal," Ivan Curman, president of the riding association, said in a letter to Emerson.

"You would not have received those funds from the Liberal riding association if you ran as a Conservative," said Curman.

Curman said about 300 volunteers rallied to work on the Emerson campaign, giving up time with family, friends and their businesses.

"They believed in the ideals of the Liberal Party and wanted you to represent Vancouver-Kingsway as our Liberal MP," Curman wrote. "Your actions have made their gifts of time meaningless."

Having worked on a few campaigns, I have to sympathize with these people. They have a genuine feeling of betrayal, and they have the right to shame the man that betrayed them -- and maybe even get their money back. Emerson's response of self-righteous indignation to this indicates to me his deficiencies in character. Harper picked a real winner in this guy.

(via Nealenews)

UPDATE: Colby Cosh is also not impressed with Emerson:

In an earlier age it would have gone without saying that the best way to protect the reputation of one's family is to not do disgraceful things. All children are hostages to their parents' public conduct: if you get caught sexually molesting St. Bernards, it's sort of inevitable that they're going to call your kids "Beethoven" in the schoolyard and make little barrels of brandy out of construction paper. But the new Saddamist doctrine, espoused here by Emerson, is that one's own offspring make terribly convenient human shields. Lay off the criticism or the shorties get it!

Venezuela is now a dictatorship

How far do the leaders of a country have to go before that country can be labeled a dictatorship? For me, Chavez has been a dictator for some time, but there are those that are persuaded by his revolutionary twaddle, refusing to look at his actions. The UN for example, regularly finds justification to praise him, no doubt getting a thrill from thumbing their nose at the US.

But can anyone read this story, and doubt that Venezuela has descended into becoming a brutal authoritarian state?

A one-man Venezuelan court demanded 16 years in prison for Venezuelan democracy campaigner Maria Corina Machado. The one-stop-judge/jury/jailer also violated her rights by refusing to allow her to speak in the courtroom as is her right.

The jail sentence hes demanding is much higher than anyone expected. The politicized judge also demanded to detain her-- in an abysmal Venezuelan prison-- when she returns to court on Feb. 14.

What did she do? She organized the peaceful campaign that attempted to unseat Chavez last year (and failed due to a fixed referendum). And now Chavez is getting his revenge.

Need more proof? How about this: The ceremony to open the Supreme Court of Venezuela this year was concluded with the judges in their formal robes standing up and singing the Chavista chant Uh Ah Chavez no se va (Uh Ah Chavez is not leaving). When a once independent judiciary so openly displays its subservience to the President, it's pretty clear that any semblance Venezuela once had to a democracy is gone.

February 07, 2006

My two cents on the new cabinet

I have to say I'm a little disappointed with the David Emerson defection. It would be nice if the new government could have begun without this kind of backroom bargaining going on. But the extra Conservative MP does allow them to form a majority when coupled with the NDP, so it vastly increases the likelyhood of passing legislation. Now Harper just has to convince one party to vote with them on any issue, and they'll be able to pass it. A fair trade, I guess.

I'm a little more rattled with how Harper handed Public Works to Michael Fortier, who doesn't even have a seat. Public Works has long been a cesspool of sleaze, and handing the keys to the whole operation over to a businessman -- a Montreal businessman, no less -- who came in through the backdoor is a little unseemly. Will he be able to answer questions in Question Period from his new seat in the Senate? (And isn't it amazing that the Wire Brush left a Senate seat vacant? I guess that was the one he was saving for Buzz...)

I'm glad the cabinet size was reduced. The more people you have with time and power, the more money that gets thrown at kooky vanity projects. But because of the smaller size, there's some people that would have made good cabinet ministers but didn't get the chance -- people like Diane Ablonczy and Steven Fletcher. Which of course makes Emerson and Fortier's arrival stink just a little more.

But after all, the purpose of cabinet is to implement policy. That's how Harper's choices should be judged. I have a suspicion that politics played a greater role than competence in how this cabinet was chosen, but for now I'll give Harper the benefit of the doubt. Now let's see what they can do.

February 03, 2006

This round of links is on me!

January was a bit of a test for me as to whether I could keep this blog running. The demands of my children, coupled with my chronic apathy were making me wonder if it was worth the effort it took to keep scrubbing the spam off and occasionally adding some new content. Results? I did pretty well, getting a couple of links to Nealenews and managing to write almost once a day. Good for me! Yay! So I guess I'll keep this thing going for another few months at least. That'll be about when my next crisis of self-doubt will hit.

But that leaves me no excuse for not updating my links. Some blogs have gone to that great 404 in the sky, some have been reborn, while other new (or new to me, at least) pages need a link. Time to hit the blogosphere refresh button. Here are the new additions: Peaktalk, John the Mad, Joel Fleming, Hacks and Wonks, Dodgeblogium, Frost Hits the Rhubarb, Tart Cider, Dose Magazine, Conservative Life, Quotulatiousness, A North American Patriot, Musing, ThoughtsOnline, Ranting and Roaring, Grandinite, Agam's Gecko, Girl on the Right, King's Perspective, Conservative Hipster, Accordian Guy and Just Between Us Girls.

I'm expecting hours of enlightening enlightenment from each of these blogs, and I'm sure I won't be disappointed. And reciprocal links? They're always appreciated. As a stubbornly unaffiliated blogger, my status in the TTLB Ecosystem has taken a tumble in the last year. One day I hope to evolve my way back to Adorable Rodent, but for now it's just a distant dream...

February 01, 2006

The Maestro makes his getaway

So Easy Al has ended his tenure leaving the house of cards still standing. I'm impressed, really, I thought it would collapse during his watch. He's managed to get out in time and leave his successor, Ben Bernanke, to take the blame when the great teetering structure comes crashing down.

I've written about what I believe are the problems in the world economy before, so I'm not going to repeat them again, but it's important to understand Greenspan's role in it. Bill Fleckenstein tells how he sees things:

Alan Greenspan gave a speech last year titled "Economic Flexibility." It should have been called "Damn, I'm Good," because the world's biggest serial bubble blower -- and most incompetent, irresponsible Fed chairman of all time -- tried to rewrite history. This column will endeavor to set the record straight.
Read the whole thing.

And Stefan Karlsson is not a big fan either:

[A]part from inflation and economic imbalances, the defining characteristic of the Greenspan Fed has been its dishonesty. We have already seen how Greenspan claimed to have mimicked gold standard conditions. Moreover, instead of admitting how he was responsible for the tech stock bubble through the creation of moral hazard and suppression of interest rates, he blamed the bubble on "irrational exuberance." And instead of admitting his role in creating the housing bubble, he denied that there was such a bubble. Later, when he admitted that the housing bubble was real, he spoke out against it as if he had nothing to do with having created it in the first place.
This week will see a great wash of articles and retrospectives tripping over each other to lavish the most praise on Greenspan. Hopefully I've given you a reason to be a bit skeptical.

UPDATE: The New York Sun also has a timely editorial on his legacy that's well worth a look.