Autonomous Source

« April 2007 | Main | June 2007 »

May 30, 2007

The case against Iran

Norman Podhoretz reminds us why Iran is such a threat to the world and makes a case for military intervention. Such a thing is almost impossible to imagine now with Bush so weak and the international community so avoidant. But the alternative is much worse.

It was thanks to Munich that "appeasement" became one of the dirtiest words in the whole of our political vocabulary. Yet appeasement had always been an important and entirely respectable tool of diplomacy, signifying the avoidance of war through the alleviation of the other side's grievances. If Hitler had been what his eventual victims imagined he was--that is, a conventional statesman pursuing limited aims and using the threat of war only as a way of strengthening his bargaining position--it would indeed have been possible to appease him and thereby to head off the outbreak of another war.

But Hitler was not a conventional statesman and, although for tactical reasons he would sometimes pretend otherwise, he did not have limited aims. He was a revolutionary seeking to overturn the going international system and to replace it with a new order dominated by Germany, which also meant the political culture of Nazism. As such, he offered only two choices: resistance or submission. Finding this reality unbearable, the world persuaded itself that there was a way out, a third alternative, in negotiations. But given Hitler's objectives, and his barely concealed lust for war, negotiating with him could not conceivably have led to peace. It could have had only one outcome, which was to buy him more time to start a war under more favorable conditions. As most historians now agree, if he had been taken at his own word about his true intentions, he could have been stopped earlier and defeated at an infinitely lower cost.

Which brings us back to Ahmadinejad. Like Hitler, he is a revolutionary whose objective is to overturn the going international system and to replace it in the fullness of time with a new order dominated by Iran and ruled by the religio-political culture of Islamofascism. Like Hitler, too, he is entirely open about his intentions, although--again like Hitler--he sometimes pretends that he wants nothing more than his country's just due. In the case of Hitler in 1938, this pretense took the form of claiming that no further demands would be made if sovereignty over the Sudetenland were transferred from Czechoslovakia to Germany. In the case of Ahmadinejad, the pretense takes the form of claiming that Iran is building nuclear facilities only for peaceful purposes and not for the production of bombs.

But here we come upon an interesting difference between then and now. Whereas in the late 1930s almost everyone believed, or talked himself into believing, that Hitler was telling the truth when he said he had no further demands to make after Munich, no one believes that Ahmadinejad is telling the truth when he says that Iran has no wish to develop a nuclear arsenal. In addition, virtually everyone agrees that it would be best if he were stopped, only not, God forbid, with military force--not now, and not ever.

But if military force is ruled out, what is supposed to do the job?

May 22, 2007

Abandon hope, ye who follow this link...

Over at the Blog Quebecois, gnotalex has revealed what he really thinks of me. I'm crushed of course, but I will not stoop to his level. It takes two to feud, and I refuse to get into a war of words with a pathetic, worthless hack like him.

It's obvious that he's jealous of my immense talent at bringing the finest in stoopid, time-wasting flash games to the Canadian blogosphere, when all he can do is find boring, second-rate games. That may be okay for his boring, second-rate blog, but we have higher standards here at Autonomous Source.

Only here will you find links to quality games like this one, Desktop Tower Defense.

It's like many of the other tower defense games, except that your placement of the towers creates the maze the creeps run through. It opens a whole new world of strategic options. Playing on medium skill level allows you to record your scores. As an additional bonus to the readers of this blog, I have created a 'group name' -- autonomous -- that you can record and compare your finished score with others. Just part of the service you can expect here at Autonomous Source.

May 18, 2007

Enviro-loon? Or Prankster? Hard to tell these days...

A letter to the editor in the Ottawa Citizen today:

Although I am as pleased with the recent success of the Ottawa Senators, I cannot help but be alarmed at the distressing trend being adopted by some of the team's fans. The sight of so many gasoline-driven vehicles displaying Senators' flags flapping in the air exerting a drag against the efficiency of the automobile is alarming. I admit I haven't calculated the coefficient of drag that these flags are causing, but I'm sure it must be significant.

It is one thing to show pride in one's team, but quite another to wantonly waste fuel. What is the use of having a team to cheer for if the planet is to suffer? How sad that to show our support for the Senators, so many must show such disrespect for Mother Earth.

David Polk, Navan

May 17, 2007

Life in Gaza

Reporting from the Middle East seems just to be about numbers these days. In your typical short newscast, you hear a report about 2 dead here, 5 dead somewhere else, and occasionally -- and all too often -- a larger atrocity in which the numbers climb into the double digits. But little is reported on the day-to-day horrors that must be endured by the innocents trapped in the war zone. In Gaza, where two flavours of Islamic fascists are fighting it out for supremacy, life is miserable:

But in Gaza, night and day, the city is a ghost town. Hardly anyone dares step outside. There are rumours Fateh gunmen are simply shooting at anything that moves, and some families have been trapped in their homes for four days. Electricity supplies are low, and fuel shipments were cut off following Tuesday's violence at the Karni checkpoint, Gaza's only supply line.

Following a strike by the municipality over unpaid wages, rubbish is piled high in the streets. It's set alight every night, filling the air with an acrid smoke. Now, even if the city's cleaners wanted to return to work, the streets are too dangerous.

Dr. Musa El-Haddad - a retired doctor living in Gaza City - went on to the streets yesterday to buy enough bread for three days. His family have already run out of coffee. All but a few shops selling essentials are closed in the strip's capital city after masked gunmen - on a rampage through the streets and shooting into the air - harassed most shopkeepers into locking their doors.

...

We hear reports that residents of several high-rise residential towers in Western Gaza City are trapped inside, their buildings taken over by unidentified gunmen. They've set fire to some of the buildings, burning residents' cars and firing at ambulances. Gunmen are searching every flat for suspects. It's impossible to evacuate any of the wounded.

We manage to contact a woman named Um Muntaser in Borj El-Saleh, a residential tower in the west of the city. She tells us over the phone that some children in the building are wounded, and her son passed out from smoke inhalation. Nobody can move, and gunmen are paying no attention to the innocents around them.

"We have been living in our kitchen for the past two days," says the 42-year-old mother of seven. "Eleven or 12 apartments have been burned... There are snipers everywhere... We are human beings. What's our fault in all this?"

Well, you possibly shouldn't have elected these guys. But I think with the money, arms and rhetoric Iran has been sending in, this probably would have happened anyway. What a nightmare.

May 15, 2007

Quebec can't play hockey

It is still unclear who has the greatest street hockey team, but this weekend did at least resolve that it ain't Quebec. Due to a influx of new players this season, there was an expansion team added to the league and some trading before the games began. Three teams set out to play a grueling two game schedule.

(Continued in the extended entry...)

The first game involved favourites Quebec versus the underdog Bag of Pucks. Most observers thought the pucks would be nothing but a speedbump on Quebec's road to the championship, but those observers were proved wrong as the Pucks dominated Quebec from the moment of the first face-off. The final score was 2 - 0 for the Pucks, and it's clear Quebec got off lucky.

The second game had the Pucks battling the youthful and powerful Drunk on Mondays. Despite the fact that the Pucks contained more elderly players than the other teams, little rest was given them between games. Their exhaustion and a couple of bad breaks prevented them from scoring, and bad refereeing allowed a plainly bad goal by the Mondays to stand, allowing the Mondays to claim a shallow 1 - 0 victory.

The third game was between the Mondays and Quebec. It was clear that there was little finesse within these two teams as the ball zipped from one ditch to another, or bounced down the road, somehow never landing in the net. The final score was 0 - 0.

After this game was played teams broke up to tend to injuries, or drink beverages, or get medical assistance. Others began forming new teams to keep playing. Thus a championship game was never played. Perhaps in another couple of years...

The Bag of Pucks

Québec

Drunk on Mondays

May 13, 2007

Tol 'ja!

Over two years ago I wrote this on the subject of Ken Dryden's great child care boondoggle:

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.
This week, the Ottawa Citizen reports:
More than $2 billion in federal child-care funding has flowed into a virtual accountability void in the last three years.

Officials in Ottawa have few clues as to how well the cash was spent by most provinces since 2004. Provincial reports are months or even years overdue - when they're provided at all.

Two billion dollars. Two thousand million dollars. All so the government(s) could say they were 'doing something' about childcare. Too bad no one knows what they did.

Yet still the money flows!

The Conservatives, in their March budget, pledged another $250 million in child-care money this year to be doled out to the provinces on a per capita basis - again with no strings attached, critics say.

May 11, 2007

This weekend: the rematch

Two and a half years ago, a hockey series was played. But due to injuries (feigned, most likely), a conclusive result was never reached. But this weekend, the question will be answered -- who has the best street hockey team, Quebec or the World?

There will be beverages there as well. I'll file a report on Monday.

The whine that was heard across the land

Isn't it sad when a pathetic jackass like this guy gets wall-to-wall coverage by our credulous media? The guy has nothing to say and is just a saboteur, not a 'whistleblower'. He deserves what he gets. But every news organization in the country has video of his pompous statement leading the news.

The big question I have is how some bureaucrat hired this clown in the first place. Now that's a scandal!

'The road to Heaven-on-Earth passes through Hell and never re-emerges'

Front Page magazine has a great interview with Canadian poet David Solway, who dramatically shifted his worldview after 9/11. In it, Solway warns of the threat of militant Islam and berates the modern left for their tacit support of this ideology. Because of his command of language, he is able to do this very well. Here he describes the Canadian political scene:

Ignoring the supple manoeuvring of the enemy within and the gathering storm of the enemy without, we concentrate instead on tiny tempests in the nanny-state teapot, cozily swaddled within the cocoon of our facile self-preoccupations. The majority of those who constitute our political elite would steer the country toward a flaccid accommodation with a grimly Hobbesian world, seconded by our dial-a-cause literary organizations with no grip on the way things are. A new government may, hopefully, alter this trend, but the malaise is deep-seated. A telling illustration of this penchant for denial, this flight from reality, was the repealing of anti-terror legislation in the recent parliament at the hands of the pacifist opposition parties, an act for which we are likely to pay a heavy price in the future.

Canada is not only an incoherent country but a country gone soft, more than half its citizenry believing that world peace is achievable through parliamentary posturing, expressions of highfalutin sentiment, unquestioning support for the corrupt and ineffectual U.N., the admission in principle of the equality of all cultural perspectives (with two exceptions: our own and Judaism’s), the enunciation of good intentions and impetuous calls for immediate ceasefire. It is a country that has enfeebled its military to the point at which, as historian Jack Granatstein has indicated in Whose War Is It?, it would be unable to respond effectively to a national catastrophe. It is a country which believes that soldiers are meant to keep the peace even if there is no peace to keep, but that they are certainly not meant to risk their lives on the battlefield. The job of the army is to build schools, hospitals and bridges, but not to prevent the enemy from blowing them up the moment they are in place. Canadians tend to be deeply concerned that the terrorist detainees in Afghanistan—those who plant roadside bombs, kill wantonly, mutilate and behead—may not be receiving proper treatment from the Afghan authorities to whom they have been turned over. That these are members of the same Taliban organization which sheltered al-Qaeda and enthusiastically endorsed and abetted its project to murder and maim as many innocent civilians as possible, including those who piously wish to defend the terrorists’ rights and wellbeing, seems of little or no importance.

RTWT, there's plenty more where that came from.

See also: Nick Cohen.

(Hat tip: Dust My Broom)

May 10, 2007

The dangerous tri-border area

LGF has linked to a few stories on the tri-border area where Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil meet. It's pretty lawless, and has become host to Hezbollah and other Islamist groups. In my younger days, I did a bit of travelling and once found myself in that wretched hive of scum and villainy. I blogged about it on my old blog, Moving Target:

During my stay here, I´ve often been mute during many of the conversations going on around me. Knowing no Spanish will do that. But I still manage to have a pretty good idea what´s going on. For example, this afternoon we were driving through this city with a driver we hired back in Argentina. He was going to help us get over to Paraguay. When we parked near the bridge and started walking, I figured we were going to hike over it. Then someone pushed a helmet into my hands and pointed to the back end of a motorcycle. Wait a second, did I miss something?

The next thing I knew, I´m blowing through the crowded market and heading across the bridge in a moto-cab. This guy is dodging cars, trucks and other motorcycles and I´m hanging on to him. This is insane. We come to the border control and don´t even slow down, not that anyone seems to care. And then I was in Ciudad Del Este.

The story concludes here, and pictures can be found here (December 11, 2003).

May 09, 2007

Playtime

The Mistress of Chaos prefers the elegant simplicity and aesthetic purity of the Ball of Whacks.

Captain Destructo goes for the endless possibilities of the more traditional Lego. His Space Station is a long term project with an expected completion date sometime in 2009.

May 08, 2007

That was quick

Boisclair is stepping down from the leadership of the PQ, setting up Duceppe's move to the majors from separatism's Ottawa farm team.

I never understood why the PQ picked this guy in the first place. It seemed that they were just interested in attributes of him, not the whole package. They congratulated themselves on the fact that they were cool enough to choose a young, gay man known to have had a drug habit. They didn't notice he was a poor leader and forgot that rural Quebec is as (socially) conservative as Alberta.

Next!

Dazzle ships

During World War I, submarines became a threat to all naval vessels. Camouflaging ships was ineffective, so a different approach was tried. The ships were painted in bright colours with strange geometric patterns. The idea was that this would make it more difficult for the submarine to determine the heading of their prey from a distance -- and it worked!

This strange artform died out after the war, and was not meaningfully brought back during WWII because of the advances in submarine instrumentation and the fact that it made the ships sitting ducks from the air. Thousands of vessels were painted in this manner, but unfortunately, few at the time thought to keep a record of the designs. There are no known colour pictures and very little documentation.

More can be found here and here, if you're interested.

May 04, 2007

It Was Racial Oversensitivity, Not Racism

I was shocked by Ujjal Dosanjh's comments on the new revelations in the Air India inquiry:

"There was at that time a basic perception (that) here are some brown guys with turbans fighting each other, maybe hurting each other," Dosanjh said Thursday.

"The rest of the society really didn't know the culture, didn't know the language, didn't really know the issues, didn't in fact care very much. And that permeated throughout the (police) forces . . . I'm not blaming them but that was the environment at that time."

Dosanjh, a former B.C. premier and federal cabinet minister, has direct personal experience with how the authorities dealt with violence in the Indo-Canadian community.

Just months before the Air India bombing, Dosanjh was brutally and repeatedly bashed on the head with an iron rod in the parking lot outside his law office. The beating came after he had spoken out against Sikh extremism.

"I felt at that time, being an activist right in the middle of things, that law enforcement officials right across the country and the politicians didn't really give a damn about me or anybody else in that part of the community because, you know, it was a small community, didn't matter."

And this:
"Maybe it's harsh coming from me at this day and age but I genuinely believe if you had 329 white Anglo-Saxons killed in an Air India disaster, you would have had an inquiry in no time."
Coming as this does after evidence is heard of a possible warning of the attack (and is in fact what triggered his comments), Dosanjh is essentially saying that the RCMP 'didn't really give a damn' about some 'brown guys' and just let it happen. And then they didn't care afterwards. Leaving aside what a vile attitude this is -- and it is extremely vile -- it just doesn't make any sense.

First, an inquiry could not have been called until the criminal cases were finished -- and this didn't happen until recently. It would not be any different had those aboard been as white as a blank piece of paper.

Second, by bringing up the importance of the inquiry and implying there was opposition to it, he reminds voters of the Liberals' recent objections to the extension of anti-terror bill. That bill was claimed to have been important in making the inquiry work. The only roadblocks put in the way of the inquiry have been from the Liberals themselves. Never mind that they were in power during the majority of the years following the disaster and could have done more if it was warranted.

And third, by reaching out his finger and indiscriminently pointing at the police and calling them racist, he invokes the real reason the warnings were ignored. Not racism, but fear of the professional knee-jerk racism grievance mongers -- people just like Ujjal Dosanjh.

Does anyone think that if the RCMP had all the information on a plot -- where the bombs were, and who set them -- they would just ignore it? No, of course not. They'e not monsters, and beyond that they certainly wouldn't mind being heroes. But in reality, the information they had was probably vague and imprecise. The crown wasn't able to convict anyone for the crime after the event, how could they have been better informed before it?

Let's do a thought experiment. Imagine the RCMP conducted a sweep of more radical elements of the Sikh community based on some compelling, but non-conclusive intelligence that a bomb plot was underway. People were arrested and questioned, homes and maybe even a Sikh temple were searched. How long would it be before an ambitious Sikh politician was standing in front of a row of microphones claiming 'racism'. Imagine the pressure that would be brought on the investigators to produce some evidence for their actions quickly.

Now imagine that nothing was found. How many careers would be destroyed?

I'm not saying that ignoring the threats was the right thing to do. Hopefully more information will come out to prevent anything like this from happening again. But unfortunately, institutions like the RCMP promote those best at covering their ass -- and only second best at doing their job. Evolution has required this survival skill from them, because the water they swim in is infested by bloodthirsty sharks like Ujjal Dosanjh.

May 02, 2007

Mission Accomplished!

Spam has finally been defeated on this blog! Using the free service Akismet, spam that was a torrent only a few days ago has been stopped cold. I am confident in declaring I will never have to worry about spam again.

Yeah right. But it's been flawless for the past day, stopping an abundance of spam that otherwise would have got through. I haven't seen any false positives yet, but if you get a message while commenting that your comment is being saved for moderation (read: thrown in the junk bin) let me know and I'll rescue it and try to figure out what went wrong.

UPDATE: I know this is of absolutely no interest to anyone, but I cannot overstate how wonderful blocking all this spam is. This is a sample of the type of crap that has been hammering this site, and probably any other blog you might visit:

It was like cleaning out the Aegean Stables to get rid of this stuff. And now it's stopped. I'm free!