Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Ministry of Love

Cool vid about a group sending a copy of 1984 to every American
congress critter who voted for the pro-torture Military Commissions Act.
"Some people don't understand why we're doing this.
Those are
the people who haven't read 1984."

Banned in China

Turns out Rusty Idols is blocked in China. I don't know if it's content or having the words 'lefty libertarian' in my profile, or just being a political blog at all.

Give Great Firewall of China a try and find out where you stand.

Update: It seems variable, different attempts give different results.

Keep your fingers crossed till sunset...

Through a combination of arrogant autocratic government, an unambiguous ruling from the courts, slimy pandering politics that hardened resolve and an opposition leader campaigning to the left Canada will hopefully swing back towards the rule of law today.

We dodged a bullet, because make no mistake, with the Liberals in power these laws would have been re-authorized already.

And Canadians now have the spectacle of Stephen Harper to ponder. Not even willing to let one of his henchmen have the fun of launching the attack Harper viciously slandered another MP in a desperate fear mongering attempt to hold on to autocratic powers that take us back not just pre-Charter but pre-Magna Carta. Because of a bunch of violent religious fanatics that Canadian police have proven they can take down with the legal system we already have, Stephen Harper and the Tories are fighting tooth and nail to hold on to and expand coercive government power over the individual.

Let's have no more talk about what a Libertarian Stephen Harper is, OK?

Update: Sanity. What a concept.

Monday, February 26, 2007

TV Science Fiction

It's a pretty good time for fans of the genre.

There's Battlestar Galactica, a little less fun just lately, but still head and shoulders over most other dramas in any genre on TV right now.

There's the BBC contribution, Doctor Who, adult oriented spin-off Torchwood and various other Who related product of varying quality. CGI technology and BBC budgets have finally intersected and the traditional advantage the UK has in writing and acting means some great SF drama.

Heroes has been my must see this season. Although the execution and design have favoured the comic book iteration of the superman, the ensemble story reaches back to the literary history of the superhuman. Like Phillip Wylie's Gladiator (Superman's literary father), Odd John by Olaf Stapleton, Slan by A.E Van Vogt or The Chrysalids by John Wyndham. All explore worlds where despised outsiders have terrifying powers that are all that can save them from a hostile world.

Jack Kirby and Stan Lee didn't create mutants when they created The X-Men. It's a literary meme humans have been playing with for a long time. Heroes is a compelling and beautifully written contribution to the genre.

Anybody else been particularly grabbed by anything on TV this season? Don't go to the Studio 60 place, I'm still in denial that it could be that brilliantly written and still suck that badly.

Stay

My girlfriend caught the earwig to hear this little one hit wonder from Shakespeare's Sister, she gave it to me, now
Tag

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Glósóli

Return of a favorite by Sigur Ros
Let this ease you into the working week

Oscar Live Blogging - About F*#%ing time edition

Marty, FINALLY.

Heh. Shuts up the orchestra fast - 'I've been waiting a while and I have some things to say.' Shut up guys.

Thanks everybody, particularly all those who've been coming up to him for years telling him he should have an Oscar.

Happy New Yorkers are funny.

Hey The Departed won too! Nice, the drought is clearly over.

Oscar Live Blogging

They're celebrating the movie score career of Ennio Morricone, with a Celine Dion ballad.

Somebody has to die for this.

My buddy Matthew kept hoping Clint Eastwood in a poncho would come out and shoot her.

Sunday Link Blast - Feb 25

And Alberta's own the incomparable Maria Dunn, with my theme song:

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Final Sneer?

The War in Iraq can be laid at the feet of the sneering consigliari as much or more likely more than the feet of the callow boy king. CBC's Fifth Estate did a sterling job of making the case that we've been trapped in Cheney World since 9/11:



He sneers even now, at those who would dare to question him, but it begins to resemble the sneer of the monster trapped at the top of the crumbling tower by the villagers torches.

And there's this, yes I know it's the Comedy Channel, but they predicted Rumsfeld's resignation the day before it happened, they appear to have some decent sources.

With the conclusion of the Libby trial coming, the White House may be remembering that they've always had an unassailably dignified exit option with Cheney's heart condition, could they be about to use it?

Is Cheney on a reputation defending farewell tour?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Room 101

'You asked me once,' said O'Brien, 'what was in room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.'

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

New Blogger

Didn't want to do it, tried to avoid it, woke up with a horse head in my bed with the Google brand on it and now I've been switched to New Blogger.

I'll probably end up loving it, but it's not my fault if anything is wonky. Like so much in these strange twisted days, it's Google's fault.

George Takei on Tim Hardaway - and I do mean ON him

Heh.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Life after Bush

700 days and counting.....

Sound of your Voice

The Barenaked Ladies show YouTube some love

Inheritance, Adam Smith and Anna Nicole Smith (No relation)

Free Market ideologues love Adam Smith and his magnum opus Wealth of Nations - except for the bits that they don't.

Under capitalism the more money you have, the easier it is to make money, and the less money you have, the harder.

Wherever there is great property there is great inequality. The affluence of the rich supposes the indigence of the many.

-Adam Smith

Smith's metaphor of the Invisible Hand is often used to justify policies of Laissez-faire absolutism, of course this is taking a very specific quote out of a very specific context of Smith's belief that national level disruptions caused by globalized trade would be restricted by specifically nationalist sympathies. Essentially, exactly the kind of thinking dismissed by globalization's current high priests as narrow and parochial.

Another example of the way Smith's modern followers display their very selective reading of Smith is on the subject of inheritance. Smith very strongly supported restricting inheritance, believing that beyond insuring the basic needs of widows and children it was something that distorted the equality of opportunity he believed in, creating an aristocracy of wealth. Amusingly the Adam Smith Institute now argues against the teachings of their name-sake on this and many other issues.

Which brings us now to Anna Nicole Smith and the argument that whoever fathered her latest child now deserves millions, perhaps billions of dollars as a result. As Erin at Progressive Bloggers points out, this merely highlights the contradiction of such enormous wealth being so completely dependent on heredity in an equal society.

Smith would probably been just as appalled by the bloated pay of CEOs and other executives and the growing canyon between the rich and poor. He would probably have supported efforts to narrow such gaps and would have sympathized with the argument that such gaps lead a dangerous class resentment and social instability. Even Bush has taken notice the dangers of such drastic transfers of wealth from the many to the few, which was the central point of his presidency of course.

We tried it the Laissez-faire fetishists way for the last several years. The result has been an unstable mess of privilege and imbalance that threatens to upend the whole system. Time to accept that Smith's ideas always included a context of regulation and adjustment. Smith, the real Smith isn't inconsistent with regulation and adjustment - or even socialism, believers in transparent appendages to the contrary.

And if they are right, they are in effect arguing that fairness is impossible without radical revolutionary change.

UPDATE: Eugene weighs in.

UPDATE 2: Robustly critiqued by Gavin Kennedy, Emeritus Professor at Heriot-Watt University of Edinburgh, Scotland Which I will take as a rather bewildering compliment for an off the cuff blog posting from a non-economist on the other side of the planet - I referenced Anna Nicole Smith, for God's sake!

I will say, that if all of the followers of Smith were as cordial and punctilious (He made a point of e-mailing me, with the hope I wouldn't take his critique too badly.) I'd have a higher opinion of the breed.

I may have a response later on, in another post or I may leave the floor to Professor Kennedy - anybody else who'd like to take a crack at his closely written response to my post - again, flattered but a bit surprised I was worth the time - feel free, in the same spirit of courtesy Professor Kennedy showed please.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Saturday Link Blast - Feb 18


And finally, again from Mercer:
Yay! It's tax season!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Today in the Globe

So I have a letter in today's Globe and Mail and appropriately for Valentine's Day it's on the so called 'Lovesick Astronaut' Captain Nowak and a frustrating opinion piece on her by Sandy Naiman.

Today's issue also has an uncharacteristically insightful piece by Ibbitson on why selling off Canada Post would be a bad idea, noting that the privatization tide may have peaked and that necessary regulation of public services gone private can end up costing more and being less efficient than simply keeping them public.

For Ibbitson this seems almost like a road to Damascus moment, but his recent stuff on the Tories judicial meddling has been good too.

Japanese Whaling ship on fire off Antarctica

The flagship of the Japanese southern ocean whaling fleet is in flames with one crewman missing. The vessel, with a history of problems including a previous serious fire, is drifting just off the Antarctic coast raising fears of an environmental disaster for the pristine continent.

The Greenpeace ship Esperenza is heading to the scene to offer assistance. Their Flickr photo-stream that I posted about on Saturday can be found here.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Be There

UNKLE
A very cool video wih a creepy sting in it's tail.

Saturday Link Blast - Feb 10

Gah, must download brain. Try not to get data-splashed.
And finally, last but by no means least, spotted at WarrenEllis.com, here's the ongoing photostream from the deck of a Greenpeace ship searching for a Japanese whaler, starting with this shot taken just hours ago:

Oh for Chrissake...!

The Head of the Cartoon Network was pushed out over the bloody stupid Boston Lite-Brite fiasco.

This just makes you want to tear your hair out. The police belatedly over-react to what is obviously a marketing stunt or an art school wank, the media jump on the band-wagon, going from zero to full on feeding frenzy in a leap - and now we're trapped in a government/media fictional alternative universe where it was everyone's fault but the insanely over-reacting government and media.

Congratulations America, the terrorists won.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Midweek Link Blast - Feb 7

I Put A Spell on You

Screaming Jay Hawkins
Craziest. Video. Ever.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Please resist our Empire

This series of suggestions is written because my country is on a path that will first destroy other societies -- upon which we depend -- and the biospheric basis of life itself; and this means eventually our own society.

(1) If there is a US military base in your country, begin a concerted campaign to get rid of it. These bases are exercises of imperial power against your own sovereignty. They are creating base-economies of crime, corruption, and prostitution. They are environmental disasters. Wage a sharp political struggle to make them untenable.

(2) If there are US companies, be they factories, financial offices, or retail outlets, in your country, organize sustained boycotts of them.

(3) If you live in a country that owes an external debt to the US or the US-controlled International Monetary Fund, begin a fight to either default on that debt outright, or secure low-interest or no-interest loans from other countries to pay down the principle. Your nations' debt is your peoples' slavery.

(4) Boycott any American agricultural products being dumped on your national markets; and wage a political fight to stop them coming in. US industrial agricultural corporations are heavily-subsidized and predatory monstrosities that destroy the environment and are used as a weapon to destroy your local, traditional agriculture. Ending agriculture for export and supporting your own subsistence and local market agriculture is necessary to break your dependency upon and subjugation to the United States. Fight for you nations' land; and do not let it become an export platform for dollar-crops in the US market.

(5) Boycott American cultural products. They are propaganda aimed at turning your children into mindless consumers and your nations into obedient colonies.

(6) Make these political issues at home. Fight politicians who are called "pro-American," This means they are stooges for US-based transnational corporations or for the US state.

(7) Fight to nationalize your most valuable natural resources; and support politicians who will abrogate agreements that allow US finance capital unlimited access to your national markets.

(8) Try to close down any projects that are run out of the US Embassy by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). These projects are designed to drain talented local people away from national independence movements, and the USAID works closely with the Central Intelligence Agency.

(9) Expose and resist any political activity by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), also operating in concert with the US Embassy. This is a front organization for the purpose of engineering election outcomes in your nation that are seen as favorable to US transnational corporations and the US state.

(10) Mount massive political efforts directed at US Embassies everywhere that oppose the US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and demand not only withdrawal, but that no US bases be left behind.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Elsewhere...

Eugene kindly invited me to join The Carnival of Anarchy group blog and my first post is basically my own extremely subjective experience with Anarchy.

Global Warming denier mythology: Glaciers are growing!

If you pay attention to the subject at all you've probably heard the popular denier rant about 'how can global warming be real if 90% of the worlds glaciers are growing not shrinking?'.

Turns out, surprise surprise, to be complete nonsense.
While Bellamy's source claimed that 55% of 625 glaciers are advancing, Bellamy claimed that 555 of them - or 89% - are advancing. This figure appears to exist nowhere else. But on the standard English keyboard, 5 and % occupy the same key. If you try to hit %, but fail to press shift, you get 555, instead of 55%. This is the only explanation I can produce for his figure. When I challenged him, he admitted that there had been "a glitch of the electronics".

So, in Bellamy's poor typing, we have the basis for a whole new front in the war against climate science. The 555 figure is now being cited as definitive evidence that global warming is a "fraud", a "scam", a "lie". I phoned New Scientist to ask if Bellamy had requested a correction. He had not.

It is hard to convey just how selective you have to be to dismiss the evidence for climate change. You must climb over a mountain of evidence to pick up a crumb: a crumb which then disintegrates in the palm of your hand. You must ignore an entire canon of science, the statements of the world's most eminent scientific institutions, and thousands of papers published in the foremost scientific journals. You must, if you are David Bellamy, embrace instead the claims of an eccentric former architect, which are based on what appears to be a non-existent data set. And you must do all this while calling yourself a scientist.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Propaganda mythology: Stabbed in the back and "Taleban Jack"

The classic 'stabbed in the back' meme, dating back to Nazi Germany, is being dusted off to inoculate the right wing from blame for their disastrous war in Iraq.

It wasn't that it was idiotically conceived, illegal, badly planned, executed on the cheap, sold out to business interests with White House connections and micro-managed by incurious demagogues blinded by ideology - if it fails, it was those darn liberal protestors fault!

The same myth can be found in Canada as represented by the infantile nick-name "Taleban Jack" for Jack Layton that spread across the wingnut blogosphere in a suspiciously organized fashion. To their eternal dishonour even some Liberals have bought into this deliberately disingenuous mischaracterization of Layton and the NDP's position and claims that their position has changed. Meanwhile Prime Minister Harper can freely associate with bloody handed warlords without getting labeled 'Taleban Steve'.

If - when? - the Canadian mission in Afghanistan fails, there will be a lot of reasons, including ignoring the history of the region and losing the support of the Afghan people for failing to do the kind of nation building work the NDP is calling for. It will not be the fault of Jack Layton, the NDP or the peace movement.

Secret UK plan to inoculate infants against addiction

Apparently this has been in the planning stage for some time in Downing Street. Both my girlfriend and I immediately wondered if something that blocks the effect of heroin and cocaine would mean that legitimate pain medication would be blocked as well.

Imagine having chronic arthritis or dying of stomach cancer - and because you had a shot as an infant that radically reformatted your brain you couldn't take anything that would remove the pain. Imagine recovering from surgery and being able to feel every agonizing scalpel slice. Since this inoculation supposedly blocks endorphins, would it block the endorphins that the body itself produces in response to pain or exertion?

Not to mention the thought of a government determining at birth what mental states you could ever achieve as an adult is appalling just by itself.

This sounds like an amazingly bad idea.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Cash bounty offered for hit jobs on climate report

Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.

Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasize the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

I find it compelling that despite how lucrative global warming denial can be, the overwhelming majority of respected scientists in the field are so unequivocal about global warming's existence and causes.

Update:
Will the Fraser Institute confirm or deny collecting this oily bounty for their act of intellectual wet work?

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