Sunday, December 17, 2006

Culture American Style

America is good for a lot of stuff. Mass production, central heating, the car, entertainment, medical advances and a whack of other things that make living a lot easier. Some of these things are well-worth sharing with the world, they'll make it a better place.

But then there's the other side of America - the side that causes America's credibilty problems.

Dating. America has a fixation with dating. I don't know exactly when they figured that dating is an important social function, but they did and it's on TV all the time. One of the latest resurrections has an anorexic black entertainer, who wears a viking helmet and a large wall-clock around his neck, spend six or eight weeks with a bevy of 'beauties' as he tries to decide which one he'd really like to give the clock to. If this was a one-off, it might be funny. As it is, this is the third series in which I've noticed this stooge. Like what contest did he win to become a 'houshold name' in America? He certainly ain't no poster boy for higher education, but he appears to be a magnet for 'de wimmins'.

Survival is another facet of American interest. I guess it harks back to the pioneer spirit that opened the land. The kind that reappears from time to time when someone takes the wrong road in a snow storm, or finds themselves atop a mountain in a blizzard. Like the Romans who fancied themselves great warriors as they watched the Coliseum displays, America has a love affiar with 'ordinary' Americans roughing it for a million bucks. After 8, or so, different reincarnations, 'Survivor' appears to be on its way to challenge Star Trek for longevity.

And what glorious viewing! Last night's episode had the two surviving bimbae in a burning grudge match. At least they were supposed to be lighting a fire to burn a string and ring a bell. For two hours they'd tried with flint and steel. Then the host gave them matches. The loser lost because she ran out of matches. No bells got rung. After 28 days on a desert island these gals don't know how to light a fire? Give them both a million bucks they need all the help they can get.

Another 'biggie' with the Yanks is religion. For a country with a well-separated church and state, they certainly do have their reformation moments. Every politico who seeks reelection makes sure to let everybody know that he, personally, has seen the Lord. And the other part that goes along with this, is the sex, or money, or combination thereof. Some of the biggest thieves in history were Americans who believed that the Lord had chosen them, from all humanity, for the opportunity to enrich themselves for doing little or nothing - legal that is. Characters like Tom Delay, Abramoff and the guys who pulled off the savings and loan jobs, the Enron crooks - good Christian men all. Then there's the pastors - they get wealthy doing the work of the Lord. Preachin' the good news o' salvation, screwing Old Nick and asking the audience to send in their cheques. And all too often the 'screwing' gets carried on when the cameras are off. Testosterone runs high in the Lord's vineyard I guess. Testosterone runs high in America - it must be the food additives.

I'll close with getting rich. Americans evaluate success with money. The most successful - gets paid the most. The people with the most crap - houses, cars, etc are the most successful. Real estate is the great 'everyman's' way to get rich. And so the current round of home-makeover shows. No longer done as an overblown exercise in corporate charity, or the often 'funny' aspects of decorating somebody else's house, the current rash of programs are all about the money baby! Buy a fixer-upper for close to a half million , spend a budget of 75 000 to 100 000 thousand and flip it back into the soaring real estate market. Listen to the realtor tell you you'll make a quarter million! If everybody did that, there'd be no 'dumps' left. Everybody would live in plasticized splendor on a manicured lot. A lot of people buy into this - maybe that's why property debt is at record high levels and mortgage foreclosures went up 100 percent last year. Manufactured greed is another of America's not-so-nice attributes, but it's shared world-wide.

It's not reassuring to know that somewhere in the back country of Wazirstan anybody with a portable TV, a generator and a satellite download can 'see' firsthand what America is all about - crooked politicians, wolf's-clothing ministers, too much of everything, general stupidity and Miss Americas gone 'bad'. Maybe that's why so many want to go to America. And maybe why so many don't want America, or Americans, to return the favour.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Report is In

The bi-partisan committee report on the Iraq war was tabled this week, and that, apparently, is where it's going to stay, at least while GWB's in office. There's more that he finds distasteful in this report than anything he will find constructive.

No doubt he likes the bit about another 15 000 troops to assist in training the Iraqi army. But he doesn't like the 2 year timeline given to have that training done. He likes the part about privatizing Iraqi oil and helping the government get it to market. This was, really, what the whole thing is about. If Iraqi oil can be marketed dependably and securely, Iraq is a victory, the mission is accomplished. That's something that has yet to happen.

What he doesn't like is anything to do with negotiating. Particularly negotiating a peace settlement, and especially a settlement that would include Iran or Syria, or both. That's simply 'out'. Maybe he would have preferred a recommendation to split Iraq. Last week there were balloons floating about finding some friendly Sunni support to fight the burgeoning Shia. Diplomatic meetings with the Saudis and with a dissident Shia leader were held.

The President of Iraq and his Kurdish brothers were decrying the lack of consultation with them about Iraq's future - although they have the future Kurdistan's future more in mind. The report is also being faulted, as so many American 'war studies' are, for being written virtually entirely within the 'green' zone - in splendid isolation from the day-to-day Iraq. The military are griping that no one ranking below Lieutenant-Colonel was consulted. Others are saying powerpoint presentations by interested parties might have a 'blinkering' effect.

It doesn't really matter, the report is simply another circle jerk to show that somebody, somewhere is concerned. They know that Iraq can go to hell in a handcart and take the rest of the 'ragheads' with them. That should make governing the middle east easier for the 'right'.

Iraq will keep on keeping on for the foreseeable future. George W. Bush will not be the first president in US history to lose a war he started, but he ought to be.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Useless Tits

The news grows more and more inane all the time. Case in point the head honcho of the Mounties - Canadas own renaissance man, Zacardelli - inserts one of his custom-made $1400 per pair RCMP riding boots in his mouth and winds up taking a well-deserved pensioning-off. On the west coast of the US of A the mujaheddin poster-target girl Brittany - 'there's more to me than my backside' - Spears exercises her newfound freedom and goes out barhopping wearing a shirt and no underwear. Well needless to say the paparazzi who show up for barhopping celebs must have had 'box' cameras because she gave them some good coverage of it.

It's the dishonesty that's so inane. In the first case you have a cop - not just any cop but the stereotypical good guy cop - the head of the RCMP - who lied. Just like the members of the force who framed Mohammed Arar lied. That makes at least two - the boss, and at least one of his underlings. There were others no doubt, if by abetting alone, who share the dishonesty. He resigned for the' good of the force' - so its reputation wouldn't be tarnished by his bullshit. But the bullshit is already all over that red serge. The whole force is probably one large circle jerk of red-clad doofi and prevaricators. It needs to be shaken-up, or turned into the tourist symbol it actually is, a replacement to the corps of commissionaires. These guys couldn't 'police' themselves out of a wet paper sack.

Now the brushie moustaches are all a-twitch in consideration of who'll get to be the next head poncho. With a force of 15 000 surely to God they can find one good man. But then, the 'Mounted' has been in-breeding for the past half-century. They see it as "our" organization, rather than our organization. In short, they think they're supposed to be running the country. Somebody needs to disabuse them of that. The modern day DiMedici , obviously, didn't.

Some apologist was one the radio - a former deputy commissioner and now head of a private 'security service'. His perspective was interesting. "It's a sad day for Canada", he began, but not because our national police come across as a bunch of lying bastards, - no, it's because a 'good' man had his career cut short because of some minor 'mistakes'. And who caused the mistakes - well that's complicated, the government shares responsibility for not giving the RCMP the "tools to tackle terrorism". The Americans need looked at too, they sent the poor bastard to Syria and who had any contol over them? And last there's Arar himself, he must have done something somewhere, sometime or he wouldn't have been in the books. Nowhere did he mention the RCMP as maybe, even remotely, being at fault. They're a bunch of 'good' men doing their very 'best' under the worst of conditions. This guy should have bullshit artist on his right arm and idiot tattooed on his left to impress his customers. I know bar bouncers with more mentality, and honesty than this clown. But he is 'faithful', but then so were the SS. It's sad to think that the short list for Zaccardelli's replacement will be made up of clots such as this. They ought to send the whole gang to help out in Haiti - maybe that would give them a reality check.

Brittany Spears - media darkling. Why do we waste ink on this bimbo? Brittany and Federline, dropping the baby, boozing it up, shopping, a mental midget with inflated boobs and some dubious well-staged talent. Maybe this stupidity is one reason why 'islamofascists' are down on America - who wants this 'culture'? George Bush would probably say that they just envy us Brittany's dugs and other bits. They certainly wouldn't be able to understand anything she 'sings'. Who needs to envy that, though - she puts herself on public display everywhere. There's nothing to be 'envious' about - she's a very well-paid hooker. The only hope we have is that she means it when she says we'll see the 'new' her in the new year, wearing some of the $1400 worth of see-through underwear she bought to cover-up. A burqa, and a gag, would be nicer.

The world would be a lot simpler, and probably a lot more interesting, if we didn't have to be exposed to the dishonesty of 'powerful' people and the media 'hype' that goes with it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Nation Once Again

We're gearing up for an election it seems. The Liberal party will be choosing their new 'leader' this weekend, and the Tories are staking out the arena, on domestic issues.

Why not international issues like the Afghan adventure, or the billions to be spent on defense? Mainly because Mr. Harper, out in public with other world leaders, should be dressed like a cigar store indian because he certainly looks wooden. At the recent summit in Vietnam he seemed to have this malevolent penchant for looking like a boor. He was so uncomfortable that he snubbed the Premier of China - blew right by him like Mary Kate on a mission from God. China is fairly important to us Canadians. As to the war ....

So the battle will be or the hearts and minds of Canadians, and Harper has outdone himself. Talk about changing spots - this leopard has turned himself inside out. Harper came to prominence a few years back as a rabid federalist - back in the old sovereignity days. He was of the mind that, if concessions were made to Quebec he would be willing to secede Alberta. And now, hey presto (Manning), Quebec is to be a nation in Canada! I certainly hope it's not like that other nation that's still doing the land claims protest at Caledonia.

In reality nobody yet understands just exactly what form this 'nationality' will take. It seems that it applies to francophones in Quebec who are descended from the original French stock. Recent french-speaking immigrants are not in the nation. Neither are francophones of the 'old stock' who aren't resident in the Belle Province. Non-francophones of old stock aren't included either, no matter where they live and english - or other - 'newcomers', don't qualify at all, ever. Nobody is clear yet if nationhood is applied to only those quebecois francophones currently living. What will their progeny be? Will there have to be some sort of 'national acceptance panel' which will rule on one's franco-canadian-ness. Sounds like another large-scale government work project, like the gun registry they want to scrap. A make work project for nos amis Canadiens.

The other biggie is the 'new' fiscal policy. What we're going to get is the old Mike Harris program, run by the same gang of putzes who ran it in Ontario. Only this time, instead of having to slash and burn, the Tories find themselves sitting on a sizeable annual surplus. Not that their program won't be as mis-directed or have different results than the reformation and download exercise Ontario is still paying for. In five years there'll be a national howl over missing, or user-fee, services, all except from the corporations and big shots who normally find ways to bury their incomes off-shore anyway. Their 'horse' will well and tuly have 'come in' and they'll be placing 'in the money.'

He's assuaged the rich retired, who were looking forward to retirement plan bonanzas from income trusts, with a promised decrease on their other 'golden goose' the Capital Gains tax. And he's looking like he keeps his word by asking for a vote in re would anybody like to reopen the Gay Marriage issue? Asking that question rather than the one about marriage being restricted to one man and one woman gets Harper out of a corner without incurring the wrath of the sexually adventurous.

And now for the opposition. Ignatieff - who the Libs (or somebody with clout in the Libs) seem to think is a divine gift - will lose any election he runs. Dionne has some national prominence as a Chretien drop-in from Quebec - like his buddy, Pettigrew, the UN rep, Ti-Jean seemed to 'anoint dem wid greatness' when he brought them into his government and they haven't looked back. I would have thought the other guy would do the run, he must have boffed somebody's woman, or been caught doing something else very detrimental to his career. There's Bob Rae - a hard luck former NDP premier from Ontario - he had the right ideas but slow timing and the subsequent Tory government got the credit that was due him, they graciously gave him the blame and ridicule. Gerard Kennedy is very impressive. He han't done gaffes like some of the others and seems to take a unifying appproach in his speeches and debates. He's young, but I don't think he'd be any worse than Mr. Harper. In fact he could probably out-debate him.

Things should be interesting, politically, in Canada for a while - the hockey season's in its doldrums and there's a long winter ahead.

The Kid Rocks - NOT ANYMORE

Canada's national inflatable doll model and her newest 'daddy' have called it quits. For the hopeful that means that the girl who put Baywatch and Tim the TOOL Taylor on the map - whatsername and that skid, the Kid Rock are no longer doing the horizontal tango. Hockey fans and insipid bio readers will be 'dee-lited'.

As if the world was hoping that they would make it to old age, or at least as far along as the average gay couple, in matrimonial bliss - seeing as they did get married twice. Now I can understand the Kid wanting to marry Pam, but vice versa? The 'kid' looks worse than some homeless guys I've seen. He looks like he could be smelled if you scratched his photo. I've never seen him perform, but I earnestly hope he can sing or dance, because you wouldn't pay to go look at him. Or maybe he's another in the apocryphal line of 'frontmen' who are chosen for their other 'attributes'. That famous line, "If you don't know 'Melancholy Baby' then just show us yer dick" comes to mind. He's cut from the same cloth as Tommy Lee, with his tattoos and his penchant for home movies.

As amattera fact that's what reportedly caused the rift. Pamela had a bit part in the Borat movie, and a brief clip of the famous honeymoon tape was included. Well the KID who's really quite the prude, apparently, had an unnnatural reaction to his wife's 'acting'. He wigged and called her some derogatory names that you shouldn't call a spouse and told her she'd "degraded" herself. As if marrying him was some sort of redemptive experience. Well that's that - irreconcileable differences. You'd think that Pam, who's reputed to have a head on her shoulders, would get wise. She needs her 'men' , in the words of Gloria Steinem, "like a fish needs a bicycle".

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pinocchio Takes Charge

The OPP, recently divested of its head honcha - Maeb, queen of the faeries, has selected a tough, law and order guy to replace her. Julian - I am the police officer - Fantino was called out of retirement as head of Ontario's security advisory panel to don the blue-black of the Omperial Provincial Police and man a desk at the showcase headquarters in ????? (just where will be determined).

Julian would have been a natural replacement for Jamborini as head of the Royal Canuck Mounty Police - if Harper had had the testosterone to dismount him. That didn't happen, so second best is better than no best at all. As it is, it seems that Julian didn't even have to apply. The OPP'ies, or Liberals, knew, that, like Moses, his time had come. There are probably a bunch of 'hard workers', on the way up, who are really disappointed. A promotion from outside the force - probably the second ever. If Julian wasn't the epitome of policing, one might think there was some political finagling afoot.

As it is, he'll have his pants full - that Iroquois protest an all. True to form he decided that a meeting of minds was in order - to get a first-hand take on the "issues". Needless to say he'll be springing for lunch, eh?

What sort of chief wears a little itsy, bitsy OPP shoulder crest anyway?

"The humility, oh God the humility!" isn't that what the radio commentator, who covered the Hindenberg disaster, was saying?

The enthronement was entirely sedate. The course ahead relatively clear, for now.
In actuality Julian is to orchestrate some sever shaking up at OPP headquarters. A severe reassessment if you will - to prepare the force for the new millenium.

That's too bad, because the Mounties seem to need it more.

Jihadis on YOUR Street

Now that George W(RONG) Bush is starting to get the wobbles on Iraq, the ranting righties are screeching about the "world jihad". That's right, them jihadis have ex-caped from the middle east and are invading the world.

The number of Iraqis who've fled that country's turmoil are now being pegged as trained 'alqaeda operatives' being farmed out to any western countries (Sweden is noted) who'll take them to foment the jihad (War on Sweden is noted) Uncle Sam started in Iraq. Canada is number one on the yankees' 'sucker list'. Because of Iraqis? No, because of Somalis!

Remember how Uncle Sam botched the Horn of Africa and got the warlords raising mayhem? Quite a number of Somalis who fled to Canada are returning to Somalia now that they finally have neen able to dump the warlords. The only problem is that 'they' happen to be the Islamic Court party and so far they seem to be on the way towards 'liberating' Somalia for Islam, not democracy. That, and the fact that Somali-Canadians are coming and going home, is putting the wind up the 'patriots' down south. They believe that these trained 'jihadists' will be massing on the borders to take a poke at Toonsville USA.

Funny how they weren't complaining about those Serbo- and Croato- Canadians going home for sniper practice in Sarajevo a few years back. Or the annual efflux of the children of Abraham making Aliyah to do their miltary service in the IAF. They never griped about the SriLankan Tamils or the Ulster boyos. But those horrible Somalis who shot down a peace-keepin' helo and dragged the dead crew through Mogadishu they're barbarians coming to pull down the empire. Normally you could write this off as the lack of some anti-psychotic medication, but its a 'position' shared by some folk highly placed in the American government, media, and military. But then, when you're 'right' you don't need evidence, or reality.

This means augmented border security! You better look a lot like Jimmy Olsen or Sandra Dee to get into, over or near the great US of A without an inspection of your fundamental cavities for IEDs or automatic weapons. I wonder what our dusky brothers will do especially with names like Kaleel and Akeem. Members of minority groups - Indians and Chicanos should be subject to closer inspection, easpecially if they served in the Army or Marines and particularly if they had combat experience in the Gulf. Maybe the barbarians are already inside the walls!!!!

Look out the sky is falling. And there's a Maine lobster loose! Look to yer priming and keep yer powder dry! Helter Skelter, just like Charlie said.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Did not! Did too!

The High School cafeteria mentality of Canada's House of Commons is at an all-time low of late. The speaker sits like some sort of confused galumph of a substitute-teacher as the sophomores of all parties engage in the fine 'art' of the heckle.

According to one sage of the chamber - heckling - better known as shouting down the opposition - dates back to midieval times. I'm sure it does, but then so do the black death, witchery and open street sewers - so idiocy, even with some sort of historic cachet, is still the stuff of idiots.

This week it's all about a contentious reference to a 'dog' and someone's past girlfriend - typical high school material. During a report to the Commons on the environment by the ministress whose 'big hair' is somehow supposed to add gravity to an otherwise lacklustre government performance, some wit on the Liberal benches enquired aloud how Peter McKay's dog was doing. See the incisive and appropriate wit at work? McKay is reputed to have indicated the empty seat of his former bint, the side-swapping Belinda Stronach, and replied with cunning quickness "You've got her."

Well it took more than a few minutes for the Opposition to realize that now they had something significant to question the government about - rather than that old 'global warming' and Kyoto issue they worked hard for a decade to avoid. So, they sank their gnashers into the looney-tunes activity.

If the Speaker isn't able to fine these doofi we elect, he should be! Say, a day's pay for doing it, and a day's pay for every day they fail to apologize for doing it. Heckling that is. Now some explanations for questions asked are truly ridiculous non-answers - the Libs were masters (and probably invented the cogent non-response) Mr. Speaker. They should be fined for that as well. A month of being hit in the old non-taxable benefits would brighten our dimwits - or make them listen more.

The whole timbre of the parliament needs revamped and that lies at the feet of the Speaker. Apparently he's either asleep or as much a simpleton as the rest. In either case he should begone!

Now there are more tales of romance emanating from the hallowed hill of parliament. This time someone and one of the pages (a former page?). Now I like a love story about as much as the Governess General, but I don't elect my member for his amourial prowess. If the lovey-dovin' is getting in the way, go somewhere else for the lovey-dovin'. Immediate termination and a by-election. Even for boyfriend-girlfriend crap. There's enough down-time during the year, it doesn't need done while there's work on the table.

In the meantime, there are more important things to waste time over besides accusations and denials. Get on with it.

Canadahar , Afghanistan

The latest in the recently 'pacified' Panjwai area of Afghanistan has the Canadian forces switching from an outright combat to a 'development' mode. The development part invloves, I believe, building a better road into the Panjwai.

Once a highway is in place then the blessings of further development will follow.

If the 'Iraq model' of road construction is being urtilized, it is aimed more at minimizing the effectiveness of IED than increasing any sort of prosperity. After all the great majority of large vehicles driving up and down the roads in Afghanistan are the kind used by Coalition forces. Tarmac and wide, graded shoulders may have some future benefit but in the immediate situation the highway to the Afghans is like the wagon trail to the Indians, it's for access not commerce.

And what's been going on in this 'new' role. Well , first there's dope. The armed forces announced that they've been testing personnel for the use of street drugs with 20%, or so, showing positive results. Why would they want to do that you might ask? Well, for one reason, Afghanistan is coming out of 'harvest season' and major crops include marijuana, hashish and opium - three real temptations to those with an affinity. The recent news from Kandahar announced large confiscations of dope, pot (in Tonnes) and opium, in recent police stops. The photo of a Dragoons AFV parked in a field of pot that virtually hid it, was striking for two reasons. One, the 11 foot high pot crop and the second as another incident of the stupids that make for dead sojers. If that pot forest could hide an AFV, it could certainly hide Taliban anti-tank crews, and the bright client who thought the picture would be worth it, is lucky he's not coming home missing some body parts.

The other big thing is the 'pacification' bit. That announcement at the 'end' of Medusa was promptly answered with a spate of attacks and Canadian casualties. If, as the Afghans say, the Talban have been chased out of Panjwai, who are the Coalition forces shooting at? In the same period civilian casualties have risen markedly. This due to the 'fix and bomb' tactics used since the end of the offensive. However, those 'fixed and bombed' have a embarassing propensity to turn out to be other than the Taliban. Even the 'American' president of Afghanistan realizes that the sure way to 'eff it all up' is to kill civilians. I would have hoped that the NATO leadership would have been able to curb the high explosive and fire-suppression tendencies of our American allies, it doesan't look like it.

Not that only the Yanks have PR problems. To-day the Germans reacted to some snapshots of their 'boys' acting the bravo with an Afghan skull and their schwanzen. Boys will be boys, and that's what happens when you dress 'em up in uniforms and send them somewhere to be 'heart-breakers and widow-makers'.

Looking as hopeful as a settlement at the 'Injun barricades'. But winter's coming!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Harper Unloads the Best

MP Garth Turner was cut from the PC cabinet to-day. The ostensible reason is criticizing the PM and other members on his ‘blog’. It was also noised that he was responsible for publishing ‘classified’ materials. But overall nobody is really talking- except Turner, that is. Mr Harper is employing his ‘see no, hear no, speak no’ public image, again.

So it looks like he’s holding onto his ‘doofi’ and dumping , probably, the only sentient member of the Caucus - let alone the party. Flaherty and that guy from Ontario with the bad dentures were ‘doofi’ when they worked for Mr. Harris ‘common senseless revolution’ and would like to spread that joy to the whole country. In a nutshell most people see a refund of $350 in income taxes and an aggregate increase of $1000 in fees, rates and other forms of taxes. Look what they did with the sales tax - you pay 1% less for crap you buy and your income tax goes up. Who saved there ? The guys who buy or lease a new ‘Escalade’ every year through their ‘business’ ( the same guys who find a way to pay little, or no, income tax anyway). Who got boned ? Mostly those who have no interest in voting Conservative.

Turner has been around for a long time. For a Conservative, he’s refreshingly honest. He seems to be intelligent as well and isn’t particularly gripped by any political philosophy. Like most of the rest of us, there are some things he likes and that seem sensible - like income tax reform (long overdue). And there are some things that he believes to be stupid, or counterproductive like he gay marriage review, and he says so. He’s not the sort of guy to mince words so I’m sure Harper and Caucus got to hear about this stuff well before it showed up as a blog post. But Mr. H seems to be on a ‘mission from God’ and ain’t nobody going to argue with the Prophet.

I don’t agree with Garth on the marriage issue. I think a ‘free vote’ is next best to a plebiscite. Defining what marriage is, is far more important than any party plank. If there is one thing prime Minister Harper should pursue, it’s that. But Turner’s got more good ideas than bad ones, and that’s why it’s particularly bad that the party is dumping him.

The Greens are interested and Kyoto is one of Garth’s interests. Given the choice between another four years with Mr. Inscrutable and the fast-Eddie types he trusts so much, and the 'Whiz Kid of Harvard' as liberal leader, methinks meself to be turning Green - and it ain’t with envy. The Greens almost won, here, last time out!

The Eisler Takes a Plunge

Lloyd Eisler was a fixture of figure-skating circles in Canada some years back. Of late he was featured on ‘Skating with the Stars” - another in a string of otherwise forgettable televised ‘talent’ competitions. He has also, apparently. been coaching skaters. His suspension, for 1 year, by the Skate Canada for, allegedly, corresponding with a 15 year-old in a questionable manner was announced in the Toronto Star to-day.

I don’t know if you watch figure skating - the missus makes me share the ‘joy’ of viewing such extravaganzas from time to time. I have to admit I have been impressed by the level of skill and ‘art’ displayed. But, by and large it appears to me that figure skating, has produced more than its share of ‘odd balls’, particularly of the male gender. In Canada, any skates with toe saws are going to make you stand out on a hockey squad - and hockey, unlike figure skating, tends to be on the surface, at least, a high testosterone activity.

observation leads me to believe that the majority of men involved in figure skating are inclined to the Toller Cranston school of flaming homo-, or bi-sexuality. The opportunity to emote in some very fetching apparel, are golden moments for the 'mattachine' society. Where else but in a gay club, can one be puffed and poofed, made-up and costumed and get a prize for it? ‘Effemininity’ seems to be a mainstay of this particular ‘sport’. But, like ballet, it also attracts some of the other types.

Who can forget the effect that Rudolf Nuryev had on New Your Society in the 60's? Combined with great talent and personal presence was also a major predilection for the feminine gender and Rudy developed a notable reputation as more than a hoister. Ditto other Russian ‘stars’ like Nijinski, or the more ambiguous Baryshnikov. It must be all that lifting of taut and toned ballerinas that puts a lump in the leotard. Not inconsiderably, there have been some notable ‘coxswains’ attracted to figure-skating classes - the aforesaid Eisler, perhaps, being one.

His unremarkable performance on the ‘stars’ program was enlivened by a relationship that developed with his ‘skate partner’ - Kristi Swanson- which resulted in the Lloyd deserting his family - including a pregnant wife. To be frank, he came across on TV as a bit of an arrogant prick. And now the Lloyd is being pilloried for making electronic advances on a 15 year-old trainee. ‘Not that there’s anything wrong with that’ (according to Seinfeld and some Republican politicians).As Ali G would say, if there's hair on it, it's do-able.

What gets me is Lloyd’s reported reaction to a Toronto Star reporter’s questions. I wonder what anyone would do when faced with probing on such a topic. Certainly a hearty protest of innocence might be expected. But, “Thanks for the information”, ”I didn’t know I was suspended”, “I’ll have to make some calls about that.” “ It’s all news to me” - if they didn’t call him first why didn’t he just say that? “ I don’t recall any e-mails.” It begs a snicker.

It seems that Lloyd has run onto some hard times. The Mrs. has reverted to her maiden name, and changed the kids, too. Lloyd and Ms Swanson are expecting a valentine’s bundle next year and now this. It would appear that thinking with one’s little head, while developing an inflated big one can get one into more than a pretty pickle. Hope Lloyd can wise-up.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Afghanistan - la Lutte Continue

Since the last post - the C.O. of forces involved in Operation Medusa declared the operation a resounding success. Taliban casualties were reckoned at 200, out of an estimated force of 2500. That left 2300 taliban who purportedly 'slipped out' of a closing noose of allied forces and 'fled' north into the mountains.

That seemed a little odd at first. South would have been the proper direction in which to flee if you're a foreign fighter - not closer to the government controlled areas. Things became clearer in the ensuing week with the worst casualty rate Canada has experienced so far, in a series of bomb attacks, mining and ambushes. It would appear the Taliban didn't flee, they just went home.

We hope , and would dearly like to think, that we're battling foreign invaders of Afghanistan who are holding the peace-, and democracy-loving people there to ransom. It makes our cause a just and proper one. But the sad news seems to be that most of those Taliban fighters are Afghanis, and the ones who aren't are supported, housed, fed, clothed and protected by them. The Afghanis are, apparently, fighting us. If that is true, then what are we there for?

We're there to support the government of Hamid Karzai. His government was set up after the ruling Taliban were overthrown by the US, supported by 'warlord' forces operating in northern Afghanistan. This was no spur-of-the-moment punishment for 9/11. This operation had been prepared for years by the development of American bases in Khirghizstan and other formerly-Russian republics, and on-going support for anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan itself. Mr. Karzai, who had been employed in the American oil industry, had tenuous links to a previous Afghani regime and was chosen as the new leader. He was spirited into the country with a group of US special forces so as to be on hand to assume leadership in Kabul when the Taliban were forced to flee to Khandahar, and out of the country. His appointment was vetted by those same northern warlords and a group of returned emigres - he was 'elected' as the president with no opposition.

Canada was asked to participate in reconstruction efforts and dedicated both money and military manpower to the project. The US forces in Afghanistan undertook to pacify, in cooperatiion with a new Afghan army and police force, the country south of the Panshir Valley. An interesting aside - the only warlord who maintained any sort of independence either from the Taliban, or the Americans,or Mr. Karzai and around whom any resistance would have formed,Achmed Shah Massoud - a hero of the anti-soviet resistance, was assassinated shortly after Karzai took over - I'll bet there's an secret in this. Some Canadian forces were seconded to American units during the hunt for Bin Laden, and saw part of the fighting.

For the past 4 years, Canada has rotated troops in and out of their base outside Kabul. Canadians mounted security patrols in the suburban littoral and took some casualties from mines and IEDs. There was, however, very little fighting involved.
Things changed, apparently, last year when then PM Jean Chretien agreed to extend Canada's restoration work to Khandahar province, a nut the Americans had little success in cracking. Security concerns soon took precedence over rebuilding and the need for a more 'robust' Canadian combat presence was discerned and applied. Last spring the Taliban announced an 'offensive' and things proceeded from there, to now.

This week the first person from my little town was announced as a casualty. His death is more than tragic for his folks, his wife and his kids. It's a nail that's going to pin other young Canadians to Afghanistan, killing and being killed to 'stop them from coming over here'. That seems to be the latest explanation for everything - the Jihadis want to rule the world and we, or rather, our soldiers are putting their lives on the line to stop them. I certainly hope that holding that sentiment, and committing Canada's 12 tanks and its F-18's, are the right thing to do. Thinking critically about this, in the light of our dead and wounded, seems almost traitorous. But I don't think we can win this, or should even be trying. We can thump the Taliban, maybe even chase them out of the country. But are we prepared to back up the Afghan government? Already the've reverted to some tricks of the old Afghanistan - the narcotics business and brutal policing. If we leave, the Taliban, like the terminator, will be back.

It was a sad day we listened to GWB and his plans "to bring evil-doers to justice".

Doo-in' It Right at Last

Commandant 'Presto' of The RCMP went on TV last week to "apologize" for his force's sorry performance in the Arar affair. If you'll remember, Arar, a Canadian citizen of Syrian descent, was stopped at New York's airport as he was returning to Canada from a visit to the middle east. The security involved required a check with Canadian officials to see if Arar was 'legit'. Apparently, police sources provided information to the FBI that Arar was a 'person of interest' to the RCMP and that both he, and his wife, had ties to AlQaeda. Arar was deported to Syria where he was jailed for a year, tortured and eventually released at the behest of the Canadian government. It turns out that there was not a scintilla of truth in what the FBI were told. Not only that, the RCMP remained 'mum' on the issue for the next four years. It took a judicial inquiry to discover what the redcoats already knew - they'd lied.

But knowing something, and admitting something, are two entirely different things. Zacardelli, the chief of the Mounties apologized to Arar and his family. He said it shouldn't have happened. Did he admit the Mounties goofed? No. It was the Americans who deported him, it was the Syrians who tortured him. The Mounties were only guilty of, "Doing their best." as the Z-master defined it.

Now it seems to me that doing your best doesn't leave much room for improvement. It also seems to me that protecting Canada and Canadians is job one for a national police force. Failing to do that, on a large or small scale, is failing in the prime purpose. That such failure results in the injury of a Canadian citizen is more than failure, it's acting against the best interests of the nation. In a way, it's treachery. The RCMP acted traitorously. How does one improve that - trust me it won't happen again?

In addition to this is another concern. Over the course of the 4 years since the incident, different Justice Ministers have tried to find out what went on, the RCMP didn't tell them. In my estimation we have a police force, active in Canada, who see themselves, somehow, as being superior to the elected officials for whom they work. They are also mutinous.

What happened to the officers involved? They recieved their due promotions and advances in grade and emolument. Commandant Zacardelli himself expressed his congratulations on their outstanding performance. If things continue in their course, one of these fellows will be the next chief superintendant. I think that is wrong.

Over the years the 'Mounties ' have been responsible for a number of foul-ups and muffed investigations. There was the famous 'wire-tap' and barn-burning incident a few years back in Quebec. That caused the introduction of legislation to govern such police actions. Then there was the Airbus scandal - an investigation leading to unsubstantiated charges against former PM Brian Mulroney and which set the taxpayers back a few million dollars. There was the Air India bombing investigation - muffed.

In the more recent past incidents pointing up a certain paucity of training resulting in the deaths of RCMP officers, undisciplined behaviour at protests in BC,and questionable directions in the training of Haitian police forces, have all brought the force into some question.

It was realized, as well, that the RCMP, at one time Canada's main security and counter-espionage body, was out of its depth in the field and a new specialized organ was set up to relieve them - CSIS.

Zacardelli and his minions have been members of the RCMP for all these fiascos. What they learned - incompetence is rewarded - is something they seemed to have applied through their careers and particularly in this incident.

I don't think that Mr. Zacardelli, or his unteroffizieren, should be allowed to oversee whatever changes are to be made to the way the RCMP carries out its duties or the way it shares information about Canadians. When somebody's got a communicable disease you isolate them. To prevent the spread of whatever rot has gotten into the RCMP, some severe pruning is required. From the top of the tree as far down as is necessary to hit healthy wood. Otherwise, at some future point, we'll be dealing with more of the same, or worse.

Sammy Steele would be spinning in his grave, to coin a neo-con phrase, to see how his Force has degenerated into a group of career-oriented middle managers and bull-shit artists.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Way Down upon the Afghanadab River

Canadian forces in Afghanistan were involved in pitched battles with taliban insurgents over the past week. "Operation Medusa" was designed to root out the same taliban that Canadian forces have been trying to 'root' out of the Panjwai region since July.

There are claims that 'hundreds' of Taliban have been killed in this offensive, which also involves troops from the 'coalition' forces. If this has been going on since July, given the preponderance, if not in manpower, then certainly in armour, heavy resources and airpower, how come "thousands" of Taliban are still showing up for the current fight?

It could be that the routes to the south, into Pakistan, are wide open for the movement of men and supplies, or it could be that virtually everybody in the Panjwai is a taliban.

This week Pakistan announced a peace settlement with the Taliban in Waziristan - one of the tribal areas abutting Afghanistan. The Pakistani army had been engaged in a four-year, unsuccessful 'war' with the Taliban. This is now over. General Mussharif has said that the Taliban promise to be 'good' and that he will not countenance any 'foreign power' interference in Waziristan. There is no way this can be taken as an advance in the cause of 'peace and democracy'.

This week another friendly-fire incident took the life of one young Canadian and injured a further 30 when an A-10 ground attack fighter strafed a Canadian position. The A-10 'Thunderbolt' was designed as a tank-buster; its main weapon is a 30 mm gatling-type cannon firing depleted uranium ammunition at a phenomenal rate per minute. This ammunition is reputed to have caused wide-spread contamination in parts of Iraq after its use there. Designed to knock out concentrations of warsaw pact armour, the low and slow beast is now employed in trashing taliban. The Canadian reactions to the strafing give some impression of what the Taliban undergo on a regular basis - if their experience is similar, they should have given-up long ago. Either the A-10 isn't the killer it's cracked-up to be, or the Taliban are a hell of a lot tougher than their opposition.

Which brings us back to the point. Why are Canadian troops in Afghanistan killing Taliban and posing in the cross hairs for American jet jockeys? Because they believe in 'the mission' say the supporters of the army. Because we need to fight world terrorism there, says the Prime Minister. Because we can. Because we have to. There are a host of reasons but all lack a certain elementary premise. Who, or what turned the mission of Canadians in support of the Afghan government's rebuilding program around Kabul, into a shooting war down the other end of the country? If anybody can get through to the Taliban it's got to be the Afghans - not us, the Americans or any other foreign power - it none of our business. It will, ultimately, be the Afghans who decide - and I'll bet my bippy, when they do decide, inviting us to leave will be part of it. The Afghans will have the kind of country they choose, even if it's one we don't like.

"They didn't die in vain" will ring hollow if they re-elect a taliban government. It will ring really hollow if Afghanistan reverts to a tribal narco-state. It will echo in Canadian history as Mr. Harper's blunder if it continues as it is.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Back to Basics

It's back into the classrooms next week for our younger folk and the Ontario (Toronto) papers, any way, are running 'screamers' about the underfunding of education. Things are ,according to the Star, going to heck in the proverbial handcart, at least as far as moolah at the Toronto Bd. of Ed. is concerned. Eliminate programs, shut up those swimming pools. And of course the "Why do we have two school systems in Ontario?" doofi have forgotten what they were told last time.

The restructuring of education in the province, by Mike Harris and his gang, changed the way things happen in regard to taxes for education. 'Big Bro in TO' gets all the locally-raised tax revenue for education, and redistributes it - supposedly, equitably, to the provinces' school boards.

The big loser in this shift is the Toronto 'Boreds' of Education which, at one time, received all the taxes they levied on private property and commercial enterprise in the City of Toronto (with, the exception of what Catholics could get out of Catholic homeowners and a restricted number of businesses), a heap of dough. They were powers unto themselves - the best-funded school boards in Ontario.

Uncle Mike changed all that, he put Toronto education back where it should be, in line with the 'poor' boards. He set the education tax rate and made sure those 'commies' on the school boards lived within their means - because he set the 'means'. He set two means, really - an instructional and an administrative 'envelope' of funds. Neither was transferrable. He expected, I would imagine, that there would be some fat-trimming at the Board offices - there were lots of buy-outs and golden-parachuted personnel. But he also knew that his number one supporters in the reform camp - the Board trustees and administrators, expected their 'worth' to be recognized - and the head honchos and honchas were rewarded. Partly to get back at the 'commies', Mike punished the trustees - he neutered them and reduced their stipends. Now they are needed to head off any 'parent groups' who get power-hungry, as some are inclined to do. The teachers were given regular, if not notable, increases. That left them to worry about their pensions and kept them quiet.

Other stuff - the 'accountabilty' movement - continues. The 'new' curriculum is in place. And just like Tim made little donuts - wonder of wonders - the testing organization has deterermined that the gains in ability among the scholastic are notably improved! For 10 or 15 (or is it 40?) million bucks a year they had ought to find some improvement. But what kind of improvement? I recieved an old Grade 8 graduation 'test' from 1920 in the email. It tested every area of the Grade 8 curriculum in place at that time - rigorously. Now there are educators to-day who would criticize the test for its failure to consider multiple-intelligences or non-linear thinking. I have two problems with that - are those things considered valid in to-day's tests? Are there alternate responses that would receive full marks? I don't think so. Is musical ability, or artistry graded? No. But then kids to-day aren't expected to solve multidimensional problems requiring a substantial base of 'tool' knowledge. I'm thinking of the computation of interest on a loan questions, or those that involved using volume computations and formulae in avoirdupois to determine a weight, or even a selling-price, for agricultural goods. I think I might have had enough knowledge from my old 'rote' days to take a poke at it but it would baffle the brightest grade 8 I know to-day. To-days 'test' questions don't even come close to being that challenging.

Drop-out rates have become a real problem as the rigorous 'new' curriculum is beyond many high school aged children. In secondary schools, the maths and sciences have burgeoned. For those with ability, the opportunities are outstanding to pick up some of the latest knowledge (compared to what I was taught) and to hone some high level computational and cognitive skills. These, however, are lost on the mediocre, whose time might better be spent understanding how a fridge, microwave or washer/dryer works. Some kids should be taught the basics of opening a can or cooking a meal, the basics of sanitation - a host of life-skills for the 21st century. They're not, and they quit school altogether, many to become welfare and disability cases. There is a significant chunk of the last two generations who are non-productive members of society - mainly, I believe, because of their educational failure-to-thrive.

Education is better funded now, than it ever was. At the same time, however, there are problems. In our local board every trustee is deemed to 'need' a laptop computer. Ditto every administrative type and a growing number of other personnel. That 'administrative packet' can be, and is, used to fund a number of deluxe 'perks' for the upper echelons of 'management'. Remember the money has to be spent on administration, or it's lost.

Boards continue to spend inordinate sums maintaining school computer networks which, at the elementary grades, provide little educational value for the buck.

Special education remains an area where, in practicality, a 'one-size-fits-all' approach remains basal in philosophy. The paper trail, the Individualized Education Plan and the IPP remains overly important as documentation but are not primarily a learning or evaluative tool. Highly trained staff function more as secretaries, than in applying their training to assist students.

At the same time 'perks' for the classroom are diminishing. Every year demonstrates a growing number of 'fund-raisers' to provide out-of-class experiences to kids who can't or don't want to walk anywhere. Stifling copyright laws circumscribe what can be shown or used as resources. 'Health' issues preclude a number of experiences other generations took for granted and a hyper-sensitivity about personal 'safety' and possible law suits has engendered a growing paranoia in our schools. At the same time values education is watered down to a minimalist humanitarianism in an effort to pay lipservice to multiethnicity and multiculturalism.

The variety of challenges facing schools to-day are greater than ever and kids, whether we like to think so or not, aren't much 'smarter' than those who preceded them but they, and their educators, certainly do have a far greater number of distractions.

Time to Rally the Troops

Not so good news, and good news, about to America's on-going Iraq involvement.

Last week's announced good news about the pacification efforts of an an American 'stryker' division and whole whack of Iraqi police and military, in Baghdad, went for a loop this week-end with a massive 'katyusha' attack on that city, as well as continued bombings and sectarian executions.

If you don't know, katyushas are Russian-derived artillery rockets fired from the back of a truck or a launching rack. The Israelis suffered under a barrage of them during the recent nastiness. They aren't particularly accurate, but if you can shoot them into a city - they provide an impressive bang for the buck. Modern anti-artillery radars and fire-supression artillery makes launching katyushas a risky proposition. The Israelis were able to get artillery onto launch sites in under three minutes, and probably even faster. The Americans had no preparations for this eventuality, even though they were aware that the insurgents had the capability.

George W. Bush is taking to the air, and other, waves to bolster the flagging spirits of those who might be starting to think that 'cut and run' isn't so inconsiderable after all. This week he addressed a group of American Legionnaires and recalled to the battles they fought, successfully, against Naziism and Communism. They were men who knew that, if they hadn't done what they did, we might all to-day be clicking heels and combing our funny little moustaches, or singing the 'Internationale' as we headed down to the tractor factory for another 14-hour shift. They were certainly the right guys to tell that,if America fails in Iraq, you might as well get Mabel into a garbage bag and get yerself a Shriner's hat, because the world, as we know it, will come to an end. The boys with the field service caps, with all the gold piping and 'I saw the Alamo' buttons, are just the guys who'll vote you four more years to kill off as many 'illegals' and welfare dependents as you can. You got to hand it to George, though, he can really make people think he believes this stuff.

Meanwhile the 'war blogs' have blossomed this past week with 'Star Spangled War Stories' the kind that used to show up in those lurid, little-boy comic books. Stories about heroes going toe-to-toe with a merciless enemy, snipers who can pick AlQaeda out of a crowd and knock him off with a well-placed shot from impressive distances - this done daily in Ramadi. Other stories tell tales of daring-do in setting up all that infrastructure for Iraqis - schools, hospitals, clinics, and a biggy - 'WOMEN'S CENTRES' all brought courtesy of the 'thunderin' 135th' or the 'hell on wheels' brigade of the Nth armored. Hospitals that other posters report Iraqis won't visit because of the regular death-squad activities inside them. It seems to me the only infrastructure that works is inside some fortified coalition compound. And in Ramadi, nothing works. I guess it's all part of the effort to put a more positive light on the war, the story the "media" refuses to tell. I call it Republican election-time spin.

I don't envy the Americans - that old C&W song, "I Got a Tiger By the Tail", tells it all. Hope Harper keeps us out.

On the Banks.... of the River....

It takes so long to sort things out in Canada that, sometimes, boring stuff can become quite interesting. One of the underpinnings of ‘good government’ - a wonderful British concept- is that the government is expected to act with glacial rapidity. This sometimes pisses people, who are, at least now-a-days, into instant gratification, off, royally! And so it remains in the hamlet of Caledonia (see previous posts).

The government took their own judge to court and ‘whupped his azz’ - as our soth’ron neighbours so graphically put it. That won them the right to continue to negotiate with non-law abiding native folk, who were emboldened to extend their land claim some 40 linear miles, and some considerable square mileage, to the north of where most people thought it was. They have not yet considered that capillary action might indeed draw the waters of Georgian Bay into the drainage basin of the Grand River, and ergo, they might have to consider including everything north to the old Hudson Bay claim, which, sadly, predates theirs. Not bad for some expatriot ‘American’ indians.

This weeks’ developments include the announcement that the Gov’t is sweetening the deal for the developer (apparently the deal hadn’t closed) to add another 3.5 million tax dollars to cover “fair market value”. This is probably the same ‘value’ that the assessment board is not allowed to assess for the next year, until they review the computer model that raises everybody’s taxes, every year. But, hey, buddy put in sewers, water mains and street lights, so that field is worth more than he paid for it. I’m glad those houses didn’t have pools and jacuzzis!

The developments also include the ‘Preem’ putting is foot down. Apparently our red brethren have developed the habit of making lots of noises late at night - the sound of the tom-toms, the roars of the ATV, and aggravating the locals. And they’ve apparently bolstered that with squirtings of fire hoses (remember the water mains buddy put in?). We pay for water in Canada now, so who’s getting the Indians' bill? Anyway ‘Daltie’ was miffed that they would do these things that don’t help negotiations, and, well, he was mad! The Indians probably told him to put his foot down ... in the dogshit. Ho, ho! Negotiations (read paid lunches) continue under the masterfulnessitude of Davey Peterson - new man - double deelux!

The Iroquois are probably thinking ‘fair market value’ as well.

Maybe the government could get a couple of bus loads of Hurons from Quebec to come reconquer their homeland - starting with Caledonia.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

He didn't Really Say That, Did He?

The Liberal leadership 'hopefuls' were meeting out west this week. Along with all the bonhommie and 'good times' crap that goes along with this band of brothers, and sisters, came a grenade, in the form of an interview, with liberal MP Boris Wrzesnewskyj.

Wrzesnewskyj had been on a personal (i.e. non-funded) trip to Lebanon sponsored by a Canadian-Arab group to have a first-hand look at the damage. Apparently, what he saw caused him to doubt the common wisdom of Israeli 'self-defence' being propounded by the Prime Minister, the Americans and neo-cons everywhere. In fact, he described the damage as "state sponsored terrorism'.

Immediately he fell prey to Jason Kenney, among others, who castigated him for his pro-terrorist stance, his un-Canadianism and a reputed demand that Canada do some editing of its official terrorist organization list. Kenny, a man who might have met one too many canapes - maybe they were blintzes- was morally indignant and about as enraged as only a self-righteous 'pol' can get. Even the B'nai Brith - a jewish charity group weighed in on the issue.

It turns out that the kettle was somewhat black hisself, when it was revealed in Thursday's news, that that battler for truth, purity and the American-Canadian way - J. Kenney esq.- had himself vocally supported a group of Iranian freedom-fighters last year in front of the houses of parliament; this group apparently affiliated with another on the 'terror' list. Kenney developed some amnesia and, when reminded, had a 'good explanation'. Putz!

What a bunch of wussies our Liberals are. All scattered for the mikes to align themselves with Canada's supportive Jewish population - many notables among which had indicated they were turning Tory. Currying favour, our pols decried Boris' ill-discipline and failure to check before speaking. Bill 'Woodie' Graham gravely accepted his resignation as assistant foreign affairs critic.

This gang would have you believe that they think Harper was wrong to align Canada with the US about Afghanistan and the 'war on terror' but that he was right to issue blanket approval for Israel's Lebanese onslaught and the delayed ceasfire. I think they're as full of it as he, and other 'Israelites', are. Somebody actually had the stupidity to tell me, last week, that hezbolleh was emptying out hospital morgues to provide corpses for the cameras. I guess if you were willing to do that, you'd probably be just as willing to mess them up for better effect. You might even want to plant some in the rubble. There were enough pictures flying around last week to indicate that a lot of lebanese 'deadlife' were the real mccoy and that hezbolleh probably had enough on its hands lobbing katyushas into Israel, than to be transporting putrifying corpses up and down the country under the watchful eyes of the IAF.

Nah, the Israelis bombed those buildings , roads, bridges, hospitals, homes - they killed those people. They continue to 'blockade' Lebanon, controlling humanitariian aid and fuel imports - controlling Lebanon. I tend to think that the smell in Boris Wrzesnewskyj's nose entitled him to his opinion. Those potential leaders who preferred to do the 'old age home' circuit, instead of going to see for themselves, need to dummy up. If they don't support him, keep quiet. At least Boris had the balls to say what he thought, and to resign, so as not to 'embarrass' his party.

Those 'leadership hopefuls' ought to resign to avoid embarrassing the country.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Big Bro and the Holdup Co.

Do you ever stop to think that what passes for "news" is really a contrived 'reality TV script' being run out? I mean look at the media - it's getting more and more like a Jabeau industries thing every day. These guys are truly scattered!

They go nuts on a daily basis or, in a hyper period, more often. Last week it was War and Hezbolleh rockets. Three days ago airline terrorism and to-day they're obsessing about JonBenet's supposed killer. Tomorrow Kim Sung Il is due for a rerun and around the end of the month they're featuring Iran. The only thing that will upset this applecart is another hurricane, flood or fire of biblical proportions anywhere.

It may be hard for some to believe but the whole of the American news media is run from a second-floor walk-up in an industrial park in the east end of DePew, New York. 'Scenarios Unlimited' is a three-man operation founded by Mike Wahlowitz after he graduated with a certificate in Journalism and Advertising Arts from the 'School des Beaux Arts' in Niagara Falls, Canada.

"My friends Wally and Alicia, and a whole bunch of old Saturday Night Live tapes gave us the idea. Like if they can make you believe in a Ninja bartender or a Bass-o-matic they can make you believe in anything, right?" After the trio discovered that, there was no looking back.

A steady stream, of successful advertising campaigns followed. Some of the most notable were the series for the retirees of Enron and how happy they were. Another is the current DOW chemical campaign to make sure people think there are actual human beings at Dow chemicals. It's outstanding! Totally believable!

Lately, however, their business has become more involved with a three-year contract to the US Govenment press service to generate 'coverage' of world events.

The Israeli-Lebanon war was 75 percent controlled from the office. "We scripted it and passed it off to the Israelis and Hezbolla. Those guys were great. You want footage of a dibber strike at 11:00, Monday - set up ya camera and the footage will be in editing while you're having lunch. Anderson Cooper? A 'Scenarios' walk-on. "Boy that guy almost worked his AZZ off. Lebanon one day, Israel the next. And nobody ever wondered how he was getting in and out of Lebanon. Israeli helicopters, stupid - like the bombs, right on time.

"It was pretty good for a month. Right?" asks Wahlowitz. He obviously takes great pride in having things come off as planned. "Alicia's our details person and it don't hurt that her aunt's an Israeli cabinet minister and her cousin's having an affair with the French foreign minister."

"Anyhow we're really busy with the JonBenet killer stuff - he's a real killer to look at,ain't he. Sort of like a young Hannibal Lector - his arms are even the same length. But it's all bullshoi anyway."

"Bush is coming back from vacation next week and he wants Iraq celebrating the Shu'um al Ramba'an, a new back-to-school holiday. He also wants us to get Nasrallah and that Iranian we invented, Ademinedab, assassinated, or brain-damaged in a fake motorcycle/boating/RV accident. He thought it would be more credible if they took holidays, too. We have to get somebody assassinated, or at least a TV show about it. We could get the Patriot Riders to do it. They're a bunch of new age bikers who show up at military funerals to shout "OOOhah" at those Christian protest freaks - they hate anything that's not american - except some expensive european bikes, or dykes."

"But first we have to do a bit on how Kim Jung Il has stolen all the food relief and fed it to his army so they can put some weight back on. After that he'll be threatening to nuke Taiwan unless he gets some MacDonalds. He's going to have to settle for Burger Kings, because MacDonalds and Wendy's only operate in a democracy."

"In between times we'll be covering a family of cannibals who have maintained their ideal body weight for over 15 years without exercising. We also have a really interesting story about a dog who can sniff out exraterrestials. I just love the news!"

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Latex in Modern Life

The AIDS thing is well underway. Bill Gates is coming across as the 'funder of the fight'. Bill Clinton, a devotee of hi-risk sexual behaviour, has upstaged Stephen Lewis as the AIDS international spokesperson. And the theme, 'Time to Deliver', is played up big - throw a lot of money at it and we can 'defeat' AIDS by 2021, says Bill Gates.

The focus this year should be on sex-trade workers. There is no secret that prostitutes and their clients, are largely affected and are vectors of the disease in many areas of the world. Bill Clinton wants to ensure that hookers everywhere have access to condoms and use them. He thinks this is do-able and most people seem to share his opinion. Perhaps a good coating of teflon might help.

Prostitutes and their clients, while part of life in many places, are virtually non-existent in others - it all depends on what behaviours are tolerated. Some behaviours, because of AIDS, are the equivalent of a bullet, and should not be tolerated, let alone promoted. The opportunities for error due to lack of control are simply too great.

In like manner, circumcision, is being touted as a possible panacea. What the third world needs is a cheap bris - foresight with foreskins! This as a result of a study indicating that AIDS is notably less-prevalent in northern African countries where circumcision (both genders?) is practiced. It might have escaped the students that the prevalent Moslem religion, which takes a dim view of AIDS-inducing behaviours, might have as much to do with that. Once again let's not talk about behaviour, when we can actually 'do' something!

What gets me is the poo-pooing that goes on about the ABC approach to Aids - an educative process aimed at the young which emphasizes chastity, faithfulness and monogamy. While successful in some countries (eg Kenya), those who work in the AIDS field, particularly in North America, feel that behaviour is a poor place to start controlling AIDS. Which makes me wonder, because behaviour has 88 percent to do with acquiring AIDS.

Prophylaxis - condoms, and now biocide (not virocide?) creams - have "reduced" the transmission rate to only 15 percent a year in Canada. Somehow, I don't think that many new cases a year is anything to be proud about. Given what we know about AIDS in Canada, and how we treat AIDS, either sombody's not taking medication as they should, or we're missing something. AIDS is going to kill you eventually, antiretrovirals into account, and unless there is some behaviour change, there is still a large margin for dumping viral loads into other people, or into things like the blood supply. As I see it, it's that first two or three symptom-free years that are the dangerous time - pills can't touch that, condoms might, better behaviour will. Yes, use condoms, but unless people change, you're going to need some form of immunization to stop AIDS - and that is nowhere on the horizon. Right now, I think education seems to be the best choice, better behaviour the only guarantee, anything else is risk, a risk that still too many take, the effects of which can beggar us all.

As far as Africa is concerned, the situation has gone too far, in many places, to be turned-around. Consistent delivery of anti-retrovirals - even in one-a-week or one-a-month form - if there were such a thing - is problematic in most areas where infection is rampant. Resources might better be used to ensure that the AIDS-free population, and uninfected orphans, have better access to education and the basic resources for life - they may be able to effect change. For the infected, home-grown palliative care, even euthanasia and decent burials might be the best way to go.

There is a tremendous groundswell of support and funding for AIDS 'industry' - more so than for other more prevalent diseases. But AIDS is no 'romantic' way to go - it reduces us to our lowest common denominator before it slays us. I don't envy the altruists who work in the field, they are truly akin to Mother Theresa. But there is no cause for celebrating anything about AIDS, especially the behaviours that transmit it.

A is for Afghan; Like Granny used to Make

Another 6 Canadians hurt to-day in Afganistan. The prime minister's doing an arctic tour and dodging the AIDS conference.

Some yankee had posted video of Canadians engaging the Taliban on a US web-site last week, which drew some negative commentary from the Canadian Government, but raves from US shootin' fans. Apparently, the Canadians are very good at fightin' and that makes our friends south of the border very happy. Obviously the 'U.S. newsy' didn't stick around for the counter-attack the next day that saw some Canadians fighting for survival (four were killed) in a deserted school building. Had he been there, he might have had the sense and the humility to keep his video to himself. The yanks all said we should be 'proud'.

There is a disturbing jingoistic streak starting in Canada about this Afghan thing. The 'support our servicemen' theme - easily slips into - 'you're not a real Canadian if you don't support the war in Afghanistan'. There is also the natural comparison between what's going on in Afghanistan and what went on in World War 2. Other than Canadians killing and being killed, there is no comparison. We've got the old 'they fight so you can be free' crap springing-up, and a host of other recycled red, white ( and blue) "isms" from south of the border, emotional e-mailed sentimentality about airport salutes and kissing babies. Not bad for an undeclared war we joined without cause, or national debate. I think Mr. Harper's dodging this issue as well.

Americans, and most Canadians I think, don't know squat about Afghanistan and most Americans, I know, care less. I think Canadians would like to see the Afghans get started on the road to moderation - they've almost been there before the Russians and Americans destabilized the place to fight their 'cold war'. But we're buying into that stupid American idea that sometimes ya gotta kill them to save them. And while I don't think our guys are that inhumane - it doesn't take long to pick up a negative and nasty attitude. Particularly when you start losing guys. In Kandahar the yanks poked the hornets' nest for three years until they got somebody else to jump in - us.

In a refreshing revision of outlook, the recently appointed Brit commander in the area, was fairly outspoken in his prognosis. 'Three months, of going at it hard, should change things around. If things don't change, they never will and we should be rethinking our involvement.' The Yanks will probably want him dumped for his 'negativity'.

I think the services are a great experience for young Canadians. I think young Canadians who serve are a cut above the rest. As far as sending these young people to fight a war in Afghanistan - that verges on criminally stupid!

A 5th of Beethoven

Well the UN succeeded in passing a cease-fire resolution that was accepted by both combatants in the Lebanon flare-up. The shooting stopped, more or less, refugees started un-fleeing and the fighters started their wihdrawals. The Lebanese army is quasi-mobilized and the UN is trying to patch together a band of warriors for some peace-keeping duties, again.

In the meanwhile, the talking heads who've underscored the news for the past month were declaring themselves victorious. In actuality they might just have well declared it a gigantic exercise in modern 'stupid' and a tremendous waste of damn good explosives.

Hezbollah, naturally were first off the mark. They probably have the best claim: they're still there to be off the mark. The true test for them will happen now. If they can re-build Lebanon, like they say they will, they stand a good chance of changing the political geography of the place. Lebanon is, and has been, fractured among its different linguistic and religious groups, each with their own bailiwicks and political apparati, but the majority are Moslem. Hezbollah has an opportunity to unite the Moslems. Lebanon might be a far harder nut to crack next time, especially if Hezbollah is the major governing party.

Of course the Israelis declared victory, too. This based on the claim that they had set-up a UN force that would really disarm Hezbolleh and keep the Galilee peaceful at last. Wanna buy a good watch?

Israel ,if the USA wasn't springing for it, has spent a fortune on this little sideshow, not to mention lost productivity and a blown tourist season. They also have some rocket and other damage to repair. Not the least of which is to their armed forces.

Israel expended a good bit of capability just sitting around the northern border for 3 weeks waiting for a 'go' that almost never came. They used up their store of airborne ordinance making lovely rubble berms and road cavities that their tanks would have had to negotiate had they been given the 'go'. And they used up a chunk of their world 'good will'. If there was a proaganda war, the other guys won. Little burned kids show up better than somebody crying because his jacuzzi got punctured. Goliath, in this battle, didn't live in Lebanon, and little David, this time, wasn't the Jew.

I don't think the Israelis ever intended to invade Lebanon again. They were foolishly hoping that the world would be sympathetic to their aerial 'defence' and that Lebanon would be forced to disarm the nasty bastids that were 'causing' all the damage. It didn't happen.

Israel is, strategically, out of the picture for the next wee while, when it's most needed to shake the spear, or toss it, at the nasty Iranian 'atomicists'. George Dubbya and PM Olmert were 'supposed' to have cooked up a lean, mean surgical strike at Iran when they met last spring. Israel doesn't do what anybody tells it, unless it's good for Israel. And so, an alternative poke at Hezbollah met a number of Israeli needs:
- it was pay back for 2001 and the forced withdrawal from Lebanon
- it would take world attention off Gaza
- it would hit indirectly at Iran and Syria
- it would set Iran or Syria up for further 'action'
- it would remove the hezbolleh threat from the northern border
- it would get Lebanon more on-side (maybe even a regime change)
- it would make POTUS very happy and divert attention away from a worsening situation in Iraq

Malheureusement, it didn't come off, or rather, it did come off - as a month-long exercise in demolitions with no other evident, positive outcome. At least the shooting has stopped.

George Bush took time from a busy vacation schedule to parrot Ha'aretz that hezbollah had received a 'serious defeat', and that the world was now a more peaceful and safer place. He should have stayed down at the lake house, working on the new dock.

Instead of trying to play the UN's 'peacemaker', not to mention the arms supplier, George could have announced a massive modern day 'Marshall Plan' to upstage hezbollah and get the rebuilding done, and to get both sides off to a good economic start - if they would sit down and make peace. Did he? Nope - but he'll make sure Israel's got 'bunker busters' for next time it has to defend itself!

No matter how you cut through the rhetoric on either side, it's bullshit! If they wanted peace as much as they want to kill each other, they could have the Garden of Eden. They're willing to settle for scorched, blasted earth, just to make sure they other guy doesn't get it. They're willing to kill somebody else's kids, to make sure theirs have land title. They're nuts, and they're liars!

Dah-dah dah, dah! Dah-dah, dah dah!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Shylock? Sherlock? Oi Vey!

Mel Gibson dropped himself in the caca last week-end when a fun night out led to some offside banter with California police who had stopped him for speeding. It was the drinking part that, apparently, resulted in the commentary on current events to a Hebrew officer and ran him afoul of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League.

Coming, as it did, at a crucial time while the world watches Israel pummel Lebanon in self-defense against the Hezbolleh terrorists, and make frequent death-inducing forays into the Hamas hotbed of the Gaza Strip, the Mel-meister couldn't have picked a worse time to run down the children of Abraham.

Like a flurry of feathers raining onto his tarred carcass, the Hollywood establishment rose in righteous idignation to cast down this ultra-Christian and maverick film-maker. Such notables as the 'American Gigolo', Rob Schneider, who declaimed his "half-Jewishness", swore that he would never work with an anti-semite like Gibson in particular. Others followed the same suit, or pointed out that the anti-sermitism was foolish talk in light of the real sin - drinking and driving. The cop involved hoped that Mel had learned a lesson. Indeed Mel, just short of wearing sackcloth and ashes, and doing some public flagellation - pulled out all the stops of abject sorrow and regret - he may have done, as some observers indicate, his best acting ever.

But why would a 'good guy' like Mel pop off abut the Jews causing wars? Is he buying into the old horseradishes about the Jews financing wars? About American Jewish bankers funding the Russian revolution? About Adolph's idiot theories about the 'power of world Jewry' and the recent hubbub about the "Bilderberg Group" of 'supranational' leaders of industry, finance and government? Maybe, but in the US of A, you keep this stuff well-tamped under your fedora.

Have you noticed the accents of the Israeli 'spokespeople' on current news coverage - American, South African and Australian. No heavy eastern-european accents in that crew. Sabras they might well be, but they've spent most of their lives in other parts of the world. Of course the US is behind Israel all the way - it's hard at times to figure out who's leading, as both sides develop the same scripts at the same time. No surprise given the number of White House and Pentagon personnel with Jewish-sounding surnames. Probably a coincidence, however.

Mel should have known better, he's been in America long enough to have realized that the Aryan Nation are considered to be a terrorist organization, the KKK is a bad word, that murderer, thief and even pedophile are preferable to being called 'anti-semitic' and that, especially in Hollywood, you risk your career by getting on the 'nazi' side of anybody Jewish, even if they are non-practicing.

Maybe next time he'll do his drinking at home.

Caledonia, Fair Caledonia

The festering sore on the face of Ontario has erupted again in a welter of bad blood and animousity.

Last weekend another altercation resulted in some stone and golf-ball throwing between the residents of Caledonia and the Six-Nations protestors who've set up camp in a housing development.

Since last I posted on the topic, the government had 'bought out' the developer. The protestors had re-opened the roads, but had moved into the housing development and set up camp. Lunches and talks had been moving at their own pace with no resolution in sight. And the local Justice, who had issued the original order against the protestors, was wondering what was happening to 'justice' in the province. Gwen Boniface, the head 'honcha' of the OPP, at whose door the lack of direction was laid, was resigning to take up an advisory post with the Irish National police.

Anyway the crap hit the fan again last weekend. According to reports a 'tribal matriarch' was assaulted, twice she claims, by a local drunk during a confrontation. The justice ordered negotiators for the Federal and Provincial Governments to demur from further negotiations until "the rule of law is restored". The natives, and the governments are appealing his rulings to a higher court and the natives have re-established the roadblock barricades.

Caledonia, back to square one, except the natives have those Ontario Government estate homes to keep dry in. I concur with the Justice. The Iroquois have as much right to get mad as anybody else, but they don't have any right to break the law,assault people, build barricades and obstruct traffic, except if the road is theirs and they maintain it.

In fact, the government should just screw the negotiations and ask the courts to rule on the problem. Once that's done, make a deal and finish things for once and all.

We 'Got' One of Our Own announced tonight, the death of a another Canadian soldier in Afghanistan. This one as the result of the accidental discharge of a comrade's rifle.

Televised footage of a firefight involving Canadian troops last week indicated that at least one man had forgotten the prime lesson of gun safety: muzzle awareness and control. A light machine gunner was depicted firing bursts of shots across the top of a mud wall, while his comrades took cover behind it. He is seen taking cover between bursts. In two of these instances he swings the muzzle of his weapon across the body of a soldier crouched beside him.

Nothing occurred, but an accidental twitch, or a bump, might had resulted in another soldier shot.

One would think that, given the power of modern automatic weapons, a soldier would have the safety of his weapon in mind at all times, particularly in conditions of high excitement. That is when 'accidents' are most likely to occur.

I have noted, in video, that soldiers take particular care to see that chambers are empty and magazines unloaded when returning to base areas. While this is entirely laudable, it should also be noted that maximal danger exists when the weapons are loaded - as in a patrol situation. Real 'accidents' don't happen often, negligences do.

Canada cannot afford to lose young lives in 'accidents'. The military - by nature of the job it might be called upon to do, has no right to be frivolous in concern about the basic safety of service personnel. Anyone who puts safety second, except in the dire necessity of combat, should not be carrying a weapon. And even then fire discipline is every bit as important as promptly following orders.

This 'accident' should be investigated. I imagine his buddy feels terrible about the incident. It would be a good exercise for every soldier to imagine how terrible it 'feels' to accidentally kill a friend. This should be done, repeatedly as part of basic training. No soldier should be excused an 'accident' that harms a fellow soldier. It's tough, but nobody should think that he can 'goof' and apologise.
Our forces are too small to allow that.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Farewell Sweet Princess

The CO of the Ontario Provincial Police - Ms Gwen Boniface is being posted for service with Ireland's An Garda Siochana. This is a timely eventuation in light of the flak recently bursting around her kepi-ed head for her handling, or non-handling, of the on-going native protest at Caledonia, Ontario. Gwen was taking a pummelling from the solicitor-general as well as her police rank-and-file. You didn't hear the natives griping about her, and I wouldn't be surprised that a tribal adoption and 'princess status' is in the works as a farewell gift.

Gwen was the first of her gender to rise to supreme command of an organization notable for being commanded by non-entities. She might well have been the first female OPP-ie, as well. It's just too bad that her command period had to be disrupted by a native uprising. But then she shares those honours with a bunch of others. She is, however, the first to go - unenforced judicial orders are the main torpedo, as well as a sense of lack of support for those active in the field.

Speaking of fields, now she'll be able to roam Erin's green fields - much like Maureen O'Hara in the 'Quiet Man', or some heroine in a Harlequin Romance. Or like Queen Maeb, with wolfhound by her side, spear of justice in hand. At any rate she'll be able to teach the Garda all she knows about traffic work on Ontario's highways and by-ways. God knows the Garda could use a lot of help trying to tame Irish kamikaze drivers.

One thing's a virtual cert, that her expertise in dealing with aboriginal populations shouldn't be much use. Unless the Gardai need to develop better community relations with Gypsies, Gaeltachters, or the increasing population of south-east-Asian Irish.

Gwen will have a wonderful opportunity to stock up on irish linens and belleek crystal while padding out her pension in a soft-touch posting at a base for a protracted Euro vacation. Hope she enjoys it, and keeps posted on the native stand-off!

Mr. Harper's Big Adventure

It's about time the Canadian PM took another flyer to Kandahar.

Last week's loss of 6 servicemen to the War against the Taliban, and the wounding of a number of others points up the fact that Canada has well and truly got itself into a shooting war - American style.

The unequivocal support for Israel's 'right' to defend itself is a page right out of the neo-con's world view. Israel has a right to defend itself but all-too-often the perceived threats are imagined, more than real. Pre-emption has been a constant basis for Israeli action and the notion of the 'big-stick-beating' outweighs the surgical approach, especially with Arab neighbours. Added to this is a shreiking sense of paranoia and a willingness to believe in, and act on, worst case scenarios - all with scant, or no, evidence. "Hit Hard" is an Israeli password. The typical right-wing approach to any problem is to hammer it, physically, or with a barrage of bullshit.

That there is a symbiotic relationsip between the USA and the State of Israel is a fact of life in the modern world. Jewish members of the armed forces of the two are at entire liberty to belong to those of the other. The US administration is raddled with Jewish personnel, if not actual dual-citizens. If you've been watching TV coverage of the situation, you might have noticed how many Israeli 'spokespeople' speak with a north american accent. Israel and America share the sentiment that they are main defenders of the ramparts of freedom against the onslaught of the 'terrorists' they identify and the Islamofascists they define. They are both in deep denial of any element of causality ascribed to them. They are thoroughly modern in playing the 'victim's blame game'.

Canada has never had a particular bent toward extremes, but we have historically been affected by the elephant abutting us. The 'commie' scare of the fifties was felt here as well, the cold war as fought out on Canadian territory. Of course the economic vagaries of the US reverberate here, amplified. But while we've shared in these sensations, there has always been the basic notion that we are separate and distinct. Mr Harper's on his way to changing that. He'd like to see the economies even more intermeshed than they are. His political outlook is more attuned to that of the current US administration than ever before. That might not be a problem if it weren't for the fact that the current administration is basically chaotic in orientation and, possibly, evil in outlook. American domestic and foreign policies are antithetical to the style Canada has developed. Mr. Harper has neither sought, or receieved, a mandate to align and involve Canada as he has.

It is a good thing that Canada's military is gung-ho in its desire to execute government policy. It is good that Canadians, by and large, support their service personnel. It remains to be seen if the Canadian public is willing to support the cost in treasure, and in lives, of an adventure in democracy on the far side of the world and which holds little meaning for our country.

Mr. Harper has certainly shone a brighter light on Canadian Forces and he has been notable in being seen to be supporting them himself. There is a 'change-over' in personnel going on now which will give him another 6 months before some of our soldiers will be looking at a second anti-Taliban posting. He might want to visit the troops now, rather than waiting for the end of their rotation. Risking a shelling at Kandahar might be an enlightenment for him, if the situation gets worse in the future.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

AIDS Convention

The Nth annual pre-convention on AIDS is taking place in Toronto. Once again, it's hard to figure out just where this convention is on AIDS.

It's not as if there's a lot of good news on the subject. The big breakthrough seems to be about some prophylactic cream for women to use that might protect up to 60% of the users from acquiring the disease. World AIDS spokesperson Stephen Lewis - a genuinely nice man, but like anybody in a hopeless situation, a lot lost - sounded like a panacea had been discovered. It seems to me that 60/40 is still a bit of a crap-shoot, paricularly if you wind up in the 40% who 'lose'. Needless to say, the homosexuals at the convention wanted to know when a phylactery for anal use would be available. I wondered if they were thinking of flavours next? If this is the best news we're going to get, then next year in wherever!

Bill and Melinda Gates were the heroes of the occasion for the work of their foundation in supplying anti-viral medications to AIDS sufferers. I wonder how far their 70 billion dollar fund would go in the 'fight against AIDS'. I don't think it would be anywhere near enough, given the on-going growth in the numbers of those affected.

For all our knowldge, the things that we do know, we don't apply the least bit well. We know that AIDS remains undetected for a period of time before the host becomes ill with secondary diseases. We know that most AIDS is transmitted during this period, usually out of ignorance. We know that attitudes toward women in some parts of the world are a prime factor in the number of AIDS-infected women. We know that abstinence,nonogamy, chastity and fidelity are pretty effective ways to avoid getting AIDS. We continue to insist that latex and now, prophylactic cream, will provide an answer to this scourge; human behaviour is tangential and cannot be changed.

I think that as soon as the United Nations decides to be absolutely truthful about AIDS and to encourage nations to tell the truth, too, before giving-in to easy 'good news', the sooner AIDS will be reined-in. 'Wrap it in rubber', or 'put some cream on it', seem like they might have some appeal to those frequenting a native-healer, but the obvious "don't do that" seems eminently more efficient and sensible, if not do-able. Couldn't we try both?

Bomben auf Lebanon

Like their fore-runners, the modern day luftwaffe called the IDF Air Force, is raining bombs on cities, roads, villages and anywhere else that might benefit from a good bang. Why? To fight Hezbolleh, or to be more accurate, to punish Lebanon for not fighting Hezbolleh. The faster Lebanon gets after those shiite Lebanese who call themseves the 'Party of God', the faster the bombs will stop falling. If they don't, well the USA is always willing to replenish the bomb magazines.

I think there is something inherently wrong with this 'measured response' to Hezbolleh's kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers. I wonder what an immoderate and irrational response would have looked like? Probably little different in effect. Besides, how do soldiers get 'kidnapped'- were they off duty? Soldiers get 'taken prisoner', but the former term makes a better excuse for the need to respond in a "measured" way. Bottom line, the massive destruction and loss of innocent life seems disproportionate to the 'crime'.

It's not as if this kind of thing hasn't happened before. Israel has a large number of 'prisoners' on hand who have been that way for a number of years now, with no charges or Geneva protections. Israel has negotiated exchanges with Hezbolleh before.
In fact, exchanges have been good for Israel insofar as, after release, some of these 'terrorists' can be targetted for assassination and killed - something that couldn't be done so cleanly while they're in custody. This time, however, no talking until the stale ammunition gets used up.

The latest Israeli peace stipulation is a multi-national force in southern Lebanon to 'fight' the Hezbolleh. Israel seems reticent to fight the Hezbolleh and would like the rest of the world to do it. Why didn't Israel do a reprise of its last two Lebanese vacations? Because they were far too expensive and the last time they had to come home before they'd done everything they'd planned to do. Even old Arik Sharon realized, the second time, that invading Lebanon was like a dog catching a car, once you got it, what you gonna do with it? Hezbolleh just made things worse. I can't see anybody, except some peculiar 'Murrican' types, lining up for this duty. I hope old 'Harpy' ain't thinkin' about tossing in our reserves.

As it is, the bombs will keep falling just so long as they can be shipped in from the 'Arsenal of Democracy' because now it's about Hezbolleh rockets and not the two servicemen. I wonder if anybody studying economics has done any work on the relation between economic cycles and America's 'wars'. America's economy should be booming with all the money cut loose by the Bush wars.

Summertime and the Livin' is Easy

Maybe for we who have access to a cottage rental for a week at the lake. Or the truly happy who have a cottage at the lake on a permanent basis, the livin' is easy.

Not so much for those who have to swelter in Canada's summer cities. At least those who don't have air conditioning.

I believe that air conditioning will be the ultimate downfall of society. Cold, people have manage to deal with for eons. You just pile on more layers of clothing and keep active and Bob's yer uncle, the benefits of the Nordic culture and temperate zone living start to accrue - new ways to keep warm electro-efficiently and to be comfortable, out-of-doors, even on the coldest of days. The ability to cope with the hottest of climatic variations by reducing the environmental temperature to semi-winter norms is a curse, in disguise.

Hot weather, like extremely cold weather, acted, in times past, as a form of population control. The elderly, and others with disablities, sometimes could not cope in these conditions - systems were stressed to the point that they died. Such seems to have been the case in a spate of deaths during California's recent heat wave. And so it was in most places with extremes of temperature.

Air conditioning has put an end to much of the effect of really hot weather. Homes and most public areas are now A/C equipped. I wouldn't be surprised if, for instance, in Canada the cost of A/C cooling during the warm months is well in excess of the cost for winter heating. Surely our southern neighbour, the home of 'frosti-freez', has had this experience for decades. Canada is a recent new-comer to the air-conditioned environment. Until fairly recently, the idea of open windows and fans were the only source of relief for heat-toasted canucks. Even to-day, most cottage-goers abjure the use of the AC system and open the windows to ventilate naturally. Modern cotteges excepted of course: 'cooling centres'like malls and public buildings in major cities have put paid to the cinema as a summer relief. Of course new city homes have A/C environmental systems as a standard feature and modern 'cottages' have followed suit. Living the city life at the lake has only extended the reliance on electric power for cooling.

There are two deleterious effects of the A/C revolution. First there is the obvious cost in fuel usage and the concommittent environmental deterioration that entails. Smog-laden air gains insulating qualities and adds to summer 'heat'. Summer electricity usage requires increased generation capacity - most of which uses fossil fuels and costs for this are skyrocketting. The second effect is more subtle , but no less dangerous. Exposure to a stressor has a hardening effect. Is it possible that our progenitors were able to 'stand' the heat better than we are? When one looks at photographs of clothing styles alone, one has to wonder if they were crazy, or if their 'heat waves' weren't 15 or 20 degrees colder than ours. The answer for both questions is 'no' - they weren't nuts and it was warm. They just coped better.

Could you imagine the results of a collapse of the electrical system during a bout of hot weather? Most buildings designed to run with integral A/C sytems, aren't designed to utilize ventilation for cooling - most are sealed systems and would quickly assume the qualities of a slow cooker. At the same time, many of our buildings aren't equipped to operate without A/C. We're not equipped to operate without A/C! From clothing to cooking, our activities and how we do them are not oriented toward natural heat, or its extemes. An un-cooled heat wave would result in a myriad of casualties in our towns and cities, as a population unused to such extremes would try to cope, while trying to live the same way.

The dependence on A/C is not going away, it's just that with each year of growing demand the ability to match it remains fairly static. At the same time the technology of A/C is not improving from an energy efficiency point of view and the lifestyle is becoming more and more common to people who have never felt the full effect of protracted heat, and wouldn't have clue one about how to handle it.