Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

30 June 2006

I Know, I Know

I should be working. But sometimes something really needs to be brought to people's attention, and if ten more people--or even two--learn of the sheer depth of rotteness that pervades the heart of the Bush administration and co., then my job is done:

So check this out.

The same people who have made no move to censure the White House for outing Valerie Plame as revenge for her husband blowing up their case for war have voted, in essence, to censure the New York Times for exposing an illegal, undeclared war on Americans' privacy.

First illegal wiretaps, now an attack on the First Amendment. These bastards, these worms, these homunculi need to be thrown out. Impeachment wouldn't be sufficient, but it's the best the US is likely to get.

If the Democrats even get ten percent of their crap together they should get the numbers for impeachment easily. Here's to grassroots compaigns.

Meantime, send * another bag of pretzels.







Note to Self Try at Home Soon

I went to Huffington Post for an ego boost. And found this.

Oh--the names I put into the People Ranker? No-one you'd know. Raincoaster, Darren Barefoot and Mastercowfish especially have no reason to be concerned.

Thoughts on Titles and Positioning

Actually, those results are massively skewed by my blog title having been chosen at the point just before every newspaper and style guide on earth decided they needed participation blogs about their cities. What did they call these clever blogs? Well there's Metroblog Montreal, New Orleans, and, and, and I could go on. Likewise, the now-dead metrosexual craze was up there too, which can't possibly have anything to do with it.

Though I notice that this blog seems somehow to have clawed its way to this position. Google, though, famously uses a different search algorithm. I'm only #34 over there.







The Latest from the Party of Sound Ethics

Harper surely brought this on himself. Briefly: Donations paid as fees to attend the Conservative convention last year were not reported to Elections Canada. EC says that's illegal. Guess what the Conservatives think?

Actually, they want to make it even more illegal. But not ... quite ... yet.

Though not so grand as Gomery, this has all the appropriate marks. One party claims the donations are within its mandate, the other cries foul.
Marjorie LeBreton, the government's leader in the Senate, retorted: "The only vendetta that we are against is corruption in politics . . . Our vendetta is against abuse of public dollars."
But I suspect she's thinking of Liberal abuse of public dollars...

...And she is:
LeBreton said the Liberals continue to exhibit a culture of "entitlement" by insisting that delegate fees should count as donations, for which donors receive a tax break. That amounts to Liberals insisting that taxpayers should "subsidize" their leadership race, she said.
Actually, Mme LeBreton, the Liberals are asking whether the taxpayers subsidized yours.

But now that he's safely on top, Harper is trying to slam this loophole shut. It's the ethics, apparently. God knows where he found some. He's introduced a bill to lock down personal donations to $1000.

If passed, the new law will take effect right in the middle of the Liberal leadership campaign. Surely only a happy coincidence. It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good, eh, Prime Minister?







29 June 2006

Whatever Happened to Service?

I recall a passage from Heinlein's "The Man Who Sold the Moon", I think it was:
"Did you ever read the fine print on the back of a Western Union [telegram--Ed.] form? Do you know what it promised?"
"Why, to deliver the message, I suppose."
"It didn't promise a durn thing! Oh it promised to try and deliver the message, by camel or snail back or some other convenient method, but it did not promise to do anything."
Heinlein had a fine sense of the absurdity of things.

Yesterday I left work at noon, vice 4:30.

Cost Of
Time I now have to make up (ignoring cost of three projects shoved into next week): About $80.

Time I spent awaiting movers who arrived four hours late: Guess.
The moving firm, Gentlemen Movers, turned out to be gentlemen after all, and I had only a medium-grade fight to get them to give us $50 off the move.

Cost Of
Arrangements to make trip to pick up my hobby car, not including truck rental: estimate my time and effort cost $70.

At 5:30 PM yesterday the rental agent informed me that my rented truck would not be available this weekend (i.e., two days away). Fortunately, their competitors offer similar rates.

Cost Of
Patio furniture from Zellers: $300 or so.

Yesterday Mme Metro and I went to collect it, only to find it had been sold, so it seems, a second time. Our options: a) wait unknown time until they can deliver a replacement to the local store or b) spend our time and money going to collect it about an hour's drive away. How do you value time spent with nowhere to sit and drink beer on a hot day? "Priceless"?

Did we just hit it lucky in one day? Or is the idea of fair value for fair money truly the shibboleth of the modern company?







The Fundamental Flaw in the Pro-Torture Argument:


"I personally don't think that any of those things are irredeemable evil. They're stupid. They're not going to result in any intelligence. And they certainly degraded the prisoners. But it all goes back to a mind-set that there is a piece of information out there that's going to make this nightmare stop, and we can wake up and go ahead with morning in America. And it's not going to happen. But politicians are not convinced of that yet."
--Michael Scheuer

Chief, CIA Bin Laden Desk 1996-99

Personally I think the people in charge are both stupid and evil. And the best way for the nightmare to stop is for Adam Sandler to use that remote control to fast-forward us into November third 2008 and President Clinton or McCain.







27 June 2006

Deperation Redux

The Conservatives made fine, firm pledges of support to the Canadian Overstretched Forces during the recent elections. Now, faced with having to put our money where their mouths are (in the trough, usually), what have they done?

1)Re-affirmed the Liberal committment to the Navy by buying three more supply ships. To supply what and whom? We don't have much in the way of a navy at the moment. Of course there are some boats in the Persian Gulf . . .

2) Re-affirmed the Liberal committment to the Air Force in much the same way.

3) Re-affirmed that they don't think there's anything wrong with appointing a defence-industry lobbyist as Minister of National Defence, charged with spending National Defence money on defence-industry company contracts.

"In the great right of an excessive wrong" . . . Harper and cronies do something right, and it turns out it was all the idea of the previous government. Wonder if he'll give them any credit. Or kickbacks?







The Pursuit of Happiness

Frontman Moe Berg once said
Well sometimes my head hurts and sometimes my stomach hurts
And I guess it won't be long
Till I'm sitting in a room with a bunch
of people whose necks and backs are aching
Whose sight and hearing's failing
Who just can't seem to get it up

--From "I'm An Adult Now"

Who knew he was talking about sharing Rush Limbaugh's rehab clinic?

It turns out that the nastiest dick in radio isn't the stiffest. Y'know, the main difference between rock stars and talk radio nazis is that rock stars flame out, overdose, or something spectacular; while the radio nuts just get busted for crap with less and less dignity.

Viagra: It's sordid, but it's a far cry from hillbilly heroin.







26 June 2006

Treason--right.

As in betrayal?
As in trading the traditional values of your country for the dubious values of torture-based intelligence gathering?

As in betraying the nation's confidence and trust with illegal wiretaps?

As in monitoring the transactions of private citizens under the same warrantless authority?

How about deliberately leaking the identity of a CIA agent so that you can punish a man who knows your "case for war" is nothing but canvas and squirrel $#!7 stretched over toothpicks? Would that be treason?

Oh, I see what you mean. It's only treason if it's NOT done by the President or a member of his staff. Otherwise it's perfectly fine.

By the way: Since anyone in a criminal frame of mind would presumably assume that someone was watching for suspicious money flowing about, is it really as if the information was unknown?

Perhaps the reason this unknown buffoon Peter King is suddenly so loud on the hill is that he needs publicity for the mid-term elections coming up.

Either that or a hydrophobia shot.







23 June 2006

Finally

Look, I promise I'll shut up and go to work in a minute. But consider this:

Reports quoting multiple sources have indicated the men, five of them U.S. citizens, had no apparent ties to al-Qaeda.

--Via CBC, emphasis mine.

There are two possibilities here. Either Islam generally houses an element so radical it cannot be trusted. Or * has spread the love so far and wide that he's helped radicalize a whole new generation of militant islamists.

Which do you think it is? Consider that North America's had muslim citizens for a century already.

Thanks, George, for making the world "safer".







It's Still Too Early to go to Work

So I might as well consider this:

When the Liberal Party swept into power fifteen-plus years ago, one of the first things they did was cancel the contract that was to provide new helicopters to the Canadian Starved Forces, enacted in the dying days of the Mulroney conservative government.

The $8-billion-dollar contract had already consumed about two billion, and there was a cancellation clause worth almost another two billion, all in. The Libs were roundly (and rightly) pilloried by the Conservative Party of the day for having wasted $4 bn.

Now the Harper government has scrapped the long-gun registry. They say it's because the registry was a waste of money. It cost $1 bn. Less than Harper's beer & popcorn child-care "plan".

Moreover, they'd already introduced a get-out-jail free card by giving people who couldn't find the time to register their firearms over the past five years or so "amnesty".

Never mind that a majority of police chiefs liked it. Never mind that murders comitted with both legally and illegally held long guns have increased. Here's another manufactured need that panders to the extreme wing of the modern Conservative Party.

Wouldn't it be ironic if Harper got shot with a long gun, and the police couldn't identify the owner? I'm just sayin', is all.

Harper has to remember that he's just there to keep the seat warm while the Liberals get themselves together again. The majority of Canadians don't want US-style firearms deregulation, legislated morality, or other attempts to dismantle the proudest acheivement of the past 500 years of human history (Canada).

How long before Harper says he wants schools to "teach the controversy" on evolution too?







Aren't They Old Enough to Know Better?

Stephen Harper and his caretaker government advanced legislation this week to raise the age of consent for sex to 16 from 14.

This, one of the first encroachments on sexual freedoms for Canada since Pierre Trudeau decriminalized homosexuality with the words "the government has no place in the bedrooms of the nation", is being done in the name of "protection of children".

But that's not the real issue. This is simply a trial balloon to see whether the modern, righter-wing Conservative Party can force its morality on the country. What was wrong with the law as it was?

The Conservatives present this as the usual "mom-and-apple-pie" bill: surely one can't be against protecting children.

Wel I am. For one thing, there are children that old raising families in some countries. Under circumstances of which most of the Neo-Conservative Party would devoutly (I use the word advisedly) approve.

If they really wanted to protect children they'd introduce real, powerful, honest and enthusiastic sex ed. That might include instructional pornography for the new user, open and neutral discussion of abortion, training in birth control, queer-accepting talks about homosexuality and training in defence against sexually transmitted disease. But protecting children's not really what they're about.

As for the argument about chat-room "luring". It's a false argument. Criminal behaviour such as luring has SFA to do with age of consent. Just as rape is an assault, not sex. Luring is a crime, not sex.

Unfortunately, parents bewildered by (and largely unaware of) what their kids may be doing on the 'net may be likely to see this as some sort of alleviation of their responsibility to know and be aware.

Some people argue that by setting a "within a few years" clause, the law retains the current permissiveness while giving the law teeth. False again. We have the statutory rape laws, what's wrong with them as they stand?

No. This bill is a flexing of partisan muscle in parliament. Harper's trying to flash his true colours to the rednecks who sent him to parliament to stop them gays a-marryin'.

And simple me is not the only person who's noticed:

Alan Young, a professor at Osgoode Hall law school in Toronto, says it's the latest example of "symbolic politics" - the addition of redundant law to score partisan points.

Young said the Tories did the same thing last week with a bill to crack down on street racing, an offence already covered under dangerous driving and criminal negligence laws.

"They're manufacturing problems that don't really exist and responding to them to appear as if they're very responsive to the needs of Canadians."

--From the Canadian Press via Yahoo!

How long until they manufacture a need to "protect marriage" or something? Oh, too late.







22 June 2006

The Rich Get Richer

*'s America is becoming increasingly plutocratic; merit is seen in having money, and conspicuous consumption is actually required as part of the "war on terror".

Not once has * mentioned the idea of sacrifice in "wartime". That's because among * and his friends sacrifice is treated as a dirty job. And like all dirty jobs it's done by the poor:

"The Senate on Wednesday defeated a proposal that would have given some of the lowest-paid hourly workers a boost in their wages for the first time in nearly a decade. A majority of the Senate, 52 senators, voted in favor of incrementally raising the federal minimum wage -- unchanged since 1997 -- 40 percent from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 by January 1, 2009. But the measure needed 60 votes to win under a procedural agreement worked out earlier."
This, on top of *'s lukewarm (and failed) effort to reform pensions, his mad spending orgies, his dumping of money into war and the "missile defence" farce...

$5.15 US per hour.

In Canada, the lowest minimum wage is about $16k a year. The poverty line starts at $18k, using Government of Ontario figures. At the minimum wage, a Canadian might get to keep $14,000 or so after tax.

The US Census suggests that a family of two adults lives in poverty at US $13,000. No idea what the taxes are like. That minimum wage is $13,000.

No benefits. No holidays. No sick days. Just six days a monotonous, backbreaking week. All this and poverty too!

But wait, there's more. In Canada, your basic health needs are taken care of by the government, more or less. In the US, around 40 million people go without health insurance.

I could go on.

"Men who think in lifetimes are of little use to statesmanship."
--H.G. Wells







21 June 2006

Without Warning


"All right. You've covered your ass now."
-- George W. Bush to the CIA briefer who on Aug 6, 2001 warned him about an imminent Bin Laden strike







19 June 2006

Tia Carrere

Probably nude, although it's hard to tell with that bathtub in the way. How can someone so clean make me feel so dirty?



I have no reason to post this, but I'm planning to revamp my template a bit and I don't want my Avid Fans wandering off.







The Art of the Deal


It was Donald Trump who referred to dealmaking as an art. Back in the days before reshaping his image as an @$$#0!€ game-show host, when he was a simple, racist @$$#0!€ real estate speculator, The Donald really put literature and art in their place. At the time I thought it was just 'cause he was a philistine. And he was.

But I hadn't reckoned with the exigences of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. For dealmaking fulfills a higher need for all males, particularly North American ones. I specify North American, 'cos I think it's to do with car culture.

Wherever a man cruises in to a gas station or a drive-in restaurant or even a Wal-Mart (not that I do, but some have) in a really fine car a certain sequence of events begins to take place.

First a collection of other men will build. It may take a minute or two, but eventually there'll be three or four guys hanging around, chatting to the owner. From this point it's just seconds until someone asks the inevitable question:

"So, what'd you pay for her?"

This is the status check of the modern age.

Way back when the biggest worry on a man's mind was whether that sabre-toothed tiger would get any of this year's brood, it was easy to measure your position in the hierarchy of your tribe. If you were inclined to slope off down to the communal campfire and do a little boasting it'd go something like this:

"UG, me. Bringer of meat."

As societies grew, you might follow up such a boast by describing how brave you were, how big the animal was that you speared, and what a fight he put up. Such discussions still take place among primitive tribes with lower social development, and in the Wal-Mart bait section.

Soon, though, it got to be more impressive if you had meat brought to you. Again, within this category there might be divisions--Were you being reluctantly thrown last night's bones or handed still-dripping choice cuts? And no doubt as you squatted in your hut or cavern, juice dripping down your chin, you could bask in a certain amount o attention from the female of the species which was, after all, the whole point.

Fast forward a while. The invention of money codifies earning power as important, and the industrial revolution and subsequent inventions pile on consumer goods on which to spend your money. But now your status in the borderless tribe has become harder to distinguish. After all, not all goods are of equal value.

The invention of fake labels dates to around this point, and throws the whole system into a cocked hat (although a rather better-quality, name brand one). Better-quality goods don't brag up their brand names. After all, runs the logic those who Know should recognize the quality and workmanship of the product.

Suddenly, a certain shrewdness becomes important. Did you buy the true merino or a knock-off? Yet since the quality of some fakes is almost as good as the original, did you get a terrific deal on a look-alike?

Then come the Eighties, and yuppies invite a clothing brand to stamp them each with an alligator to advertise their earning power (is it only me that's unnerved by their recent resurgence?). Suddenly clothing chains began to simply print their names in hiuge letters right on the shirts . Others adopted trademark shapes, icons, or slogans tht made them instantly recognizable. Once again it should have been obvious what wearer was earning more money and thus had better mate-getting power.

But yups also taught us about paying into stupid ideas. Many people realized that the price for brand power status was too high if the tradeoff was real value. Shirts are a pretty flimsy investment compared to, say, real estate. The sneaker-wearing billionaires of the nineties didn't get meat brought to them, but they had their pick of mates.

So along came the "down-market" brands. An example: Sunkist oranges are pricier than SK brand oranges. But they're the same company. The bright yellow DeWalt tool? It's an off-brand Black & Decker. So, for that matter, is your GE toaster.

With brainpower economies comes an appreciation for wise use of money. Why pay for B&D if the DeWalt is cheaper and has a similar warranty? If gas is two cents cheaper at an Exxon station, why buy from Mobil? (Actually, don't buy from either--Exxon Mobil is a predatory bunch of greedheads, noteably worse than other oil-companies, who are themselves not noted for saintliness--personal bias).

So the new heirarchical marker is the deal you got: No modern man will ever admit he got a raw deal; even though most of them are not as skilled as I am at it.

Yesterday I went to my local Zellers. They had a bicycle on offer, and Mme Metro needed one.

"Save $50" quoth the advert. With a note that the regular price was $149.99, and the sale price $99.99!.

Upon examination, I discovered that the regular price was indicated on the sticker at $139.99.

"But the ad says 'save fifty bucks'," I said "Shouldn't that sale price be $89.99?"

So yesterday Mme came home to a new bike, for which I paid out less than $100! Behold my deal! Is there anyone who has ever gotten a better deal? I triumph! Bow your head and take off your horned helmets to me!

The warm sensation of fresh blood dripping from our chins has been replaced by the warm sensation of peeling off one less crisp new tenner from our bundle. And the subsequent triumphal dance before the tribal fire by bragging about what a deal you scored--possibly even in your blog.

Beats chest; jumps up and down and throws fistfuls of dirt and leaves into air while screeching loudly.







16 June 2006

I Love Elephant Jokes


Something about that huge grey wrinkled wiser-than-thou-lookin' pachyderm makes for fine funnies. Tody's rib-tickler:

Q: Why don't elephants pick their noses?

A: Where you gonna hide a thirty-pound booger?







Not a Puppet


Of course he's not.

Mr. Harper then repeated his statement for the audience, while Mr. Bush drank a glass of water.

Canadians know that Stephen Harper is no puppet. There have been many puppets in Canadian history, and all of them have been more respected and better liked.

Harper isn't Casey, and he's certainly not Jerome or Rusty (long since off to that stash bag in the sky--"book bag" my ass.).

Hell he's not even Finnigan.

Stacked up against beloved Canadians like these, Harper seems even more wooden, stiff, and unnatural.

By the by: Here's what you get when you enter "mr. dress up" into Yahoo!. Check out hit number five!







15 June 2006

Say Who?


Flipping through the channels, lying on the sofa when Mme Metro joins me. She takes in the scene on the screen: Kyle MacLachlan in a dark suit saying something or other.
"Well," quoth She Who Must Be Obeyed "that was inane. Who writes your dialogue?"
"Shakespeare" I respond.
She snorts.
"Actually, Shakespeare" I say again "It's Hamlet".







14 June 2006

Threes?


As my Avid Fans (both of them) know, Metro and Mme Metro have been waiting to take posession of their new house. But life goes on all around us while we wait in the dank limbo of our rented basement suite. Puts me in mind of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo:
On the Coast of Coromandel
Where the early pumpkins blow,
In the middle of the woods
Lived the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bò.
Two old chairs, and half a candle,--
One old jug without a handle,--
These were all his worldly goods:
In the middle of the woods,
These were all the worldly goods,
Of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bò,
Of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bò.
From the Edward Lear home page (warning: MIDI)

Some folks believe things come around in threes: good things, bad things, celebity deaths. Of course this leaves one wondering: how to classify? I mean, if George W. Bush had choked to death on his pretzel, which of the above would it have been?

I suppose that depends on one's perspective. If one is strapped to an interrogation table at Guantanamo Bay it might seem totally irrelevant, in the moment.

In our case, having had a long run of good things (it's a boundary question: the new and salubrious location is due to the new and salubrious job, so are they in fact separate good things?) we had a few less-than-thrilling things:

First there was the fuel pump, which my Avid Fans (both of ... what? Oh ... All one of them, then) have heard about. Then it looked like we were going to have to do something unpleasant and expensive to a cat by means of a hired vet. Then Mme and I shared out a nasty cold. So we figured, with things coming in groups, that we should be clear for awhile. Not so.

Last week we were having a beer at a local pub when I began to sneeze and wheeze. Without going into way too much detail let me state that foul secretions were involved. Comparisons with Linda Blair might be invoked. We curtailed our evening and headed home.

Upon examining my face in the mirror it was clear all was not well, as I had to crane my neck to look out around my nose, which was approaching Depardieu-esque proportions. Eventually, having trouble breathing and actually in some pain, I persuaded Mme to take me to emergency.

So here's where it gets tricky to decide where the bad thing ends and the good thing begins: Some of you may recall my rant about the difficulty of finding a GP. Raincoaster suggested consulting with ER nurses. Well while I was getting my sinuses pumped, and being dosed with something I could use a little hit of every day, guess what Mme did?

So out of the most miserable weekend night I've spent without being single and drunk came a good thing. I was able (once I woke from my drugged sleep the following morning) to see the good in it all.

Then last weekend I sprained my back. At time of writing I'm a little strung out on drugs that screw up my concentration enough to interfere with my work yet not enough to completely kill the sensation of having a wooden stake driven into my kidneys.

It may not sound like it, but I'm actually feeling pretty good about life right now. I figure the tradeoff for back pain should be at least a small lottery win.

And the cat is fine.







10 June 2006

A Good Deal!


On the other hand, my local The Brick outlet furniture place has this attractive offer:
6 PIECE METRO BEDROOM
Includes queen headboard,footboard, rails, dresser, mirror, and one night stand.
Price $1199.97

Hell, I've laid out that much and never got kissed!







Your Friendly Neighborhood Phone Company


©ђ®¡5ح I hate shopping for services.
It seems as though honesty in pricing has so totally fallen by the roadside as to be meaningless in the swamp of advertising.

Example. My local phone company hight Telus claims to offer a Smart Home Phone Bundle - Calling Feature 3 Pack for $14 a month "plus line cost".

Not having a line is of course, not an option. So in fact the $14 bundle sells for $?

Well actually, you can't know that. Because it is NOT SPECIFIED ANYWHERE ON THE SITE! And I looked, believe you me. I could presumably phone and find out . . . if I had a phone. It's possible you get to see the price once you fill out their "apply now" form. But I doubt it. Not consistent with their customer abuse, I mean "customer service" policy on the face of it.

The minimum charge to "install" said line is $45. Regardless of whether it's actually there or not--that is, they charge $45 to have someone press a key on a computer to "activate" your line.

I £µ©λing hate these mealy-mouthed bastards. Can't they just say "$X" (more probably $XXX) and have done with it?

The fine print:
* The TELUS Smart Home Phone Bundle is available to single line residential customers who have TELUS as their primary long distance provider. Non-TELUS long distance customers that select the Calling Feature 3 Pack pay an additional $3.00 per month. Calling Features are available in most areas. Bundle price does not include TELUS Long Distance charges. Prices subject to change.
[...]
In addition to the monthly plan fee, a $4.95 monthly long distance administration fee will be applied to each residential line with a TELUS residential long distance plan.


So hang on there. This isn't available if you don't have Telus long distance service, $3 additional charge notwithstanding. But if you DO, then the charge is $5? To "administer" something you're already paying for anyway? Holy £µ©λ!

It's this sort of obfuscation which means I have to waste precious hours of my valuable time to make the best deal possible without getting screwed by the small print.

I hope whoever allowed them to adopt outright refusal to answer as a customer service strategy has their sex organs eaten by rats in their nightmares every night for the rest of their lives.

If anyone out there is listening, I will sign up with the best and cheapest of any the internet or phone service provision companies who come to me with an honest price in writing without any *'s.

I ain't holding my breath.

And while I'm at it--how about a side-by-side comparison of services and charges? Telus doesn't even let you compare their own plans on the same page in any detail.

I didn't like them before and I like them less every time I have to visit their site. Whatever twisty-minded corporate zombie thought up this way of providing "services" (same @$$#0!€ who thought up the answering systems used by credit card companies, I don't misdoubt) should be boiled alive in a vat of their own urine, but only after being gently flayed with a lemon zester.

Telus blows dead bears, and they're only the worst of a bad lot. At least in jail you get one free call. And often lubrication.

Are you hearing me Darren Entwistle?







09 June 2006

New News


Reports now say that all of those who died in the Al-Zarqawi house were adults.

It's difficult to own up to being wrong, especially when I'm so often not. But it looks as though this time I got excited for nothing. Adults who chose to hang with Musab Al-Zarqawi could have expected little else.

It's hard to refrain from speculating as to whether it really was their choice. But adults have alternatives that children don't. So this looks like a relatively clean kill. For once.







08 June 2006

Yahoo! Self-Censorship?



In other news. This whole week I've been unable to put up the dewy-fresh brain fertilizer my Avid Fans expect. If Blogger doesn't get its head out and stop having server hysterics or whatever it is that won't let me post at 9 AM, I'll migrate this damned thing to Wordpress, that I will. And while we're at it, how about embedded stat-and-referral tracking? I'm no famewhore but sometimes it'd be nice to know whether CSIS has cottoned onto me yet.

Yahoo! news began the day with the news that Musab Al-Zarqawi, self-styled leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq had been killed in a "precision" strike.

The very word "precision" appears on evidence to be code for "civillians killed". We in the West have yet to recognize the bloody cost of war in noncombatant lives that the Iraq adventure presents. Either that or we're too busy chasing our house, 2.4 kids and dog to care.

(1) The first story of the day:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaida leader in Iraq who waged a bloody campaign of suicide bombings and beheadings of hostages, has been killed in a precision airstrike, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Thursday. It was a long-sought victory in the war in Iraq.

Al-Zarqawi and seven aides were killed Wednesday evening in a remote area 30 miles northeast of Baghdad in the volatile province of Diyala, just east of the provincial capital of Baqouba, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said.

"Al-Zarqawi was eliminated," al-Maliki said.

At the White House, President Bush hailed the killing, saying it is "a severe blow to al-Qaida and it is a significant victory in the war on terror."

But he cautioned: "We have tough days ahead of us in Iraq that will require the continuing patience of the American people."

Al-Qaida in Iraq confirmed al-Zarqawi's death and vowed to continue its "holy war," according to a statement posted on a Web site.

"We want to give you the joyous news of the martyrdom of the mujahed sheik Abu Musab al-Zarqawi," said the statement, signed by "Abu Abdel-Rahman al-Iraqi," identified as the deputy "emir" or leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

"The death of our leaders is life for us. It will only increase our persistence in continuing holy war so that the word of God will be supreme."

Video from the scene of the attack showed children scrambling over a flattened jumble of cinderblocks, concrete reinforcing bars, blankets, blue plastic bowls and other debris. A pickup truck was scorched and crushed.

Two young members of the crowd showed the camera a child's sandal, a backpack with a teddy bear on it and a stuffed animal. The site sat across a dirt road from a grove of palm trees.
I quoted that story 'cos it's hard to find on Yahoo! for some reason. Just pasting in the link didn't work.

(2) The second.

(3) The third.

Notice the absence of any children at all in the latter two stories.

The question is, since Yahoo! relies on readers to help good stories "bubble up" in their ratings, is this self-censoring by Yahoo! or is it that we the readers prefer something a little less disturding with our morning coffee?

Al-Zarqawi was a vicious bastard, and I can't be sorry he's dead. But let's have the whole truth about that death, eh? Perhaps there'll be a little breathing space before someone equally nasty begins his own bid for "martyrdom".







07 June 2006

Crazy Annie's Baaack!

Wow--if you were wondering about the Spawn of Satan/6/6/06 thing, here it is.

Anne Coulter delivered herself of another book yesterday, and it sounds to be every bit as loopy as her usual, with a side order of extra unpleasantness. Perhaps the orphans will be her next targets?

The thing that always amazes me about Coulter is that she always seems to manage to get the orderlies to smuggle her in more crayons.







06 June 2006

Relief Floods Parliament


I'm certain that this is THE nightmare scenario for all politicians. And even for the terror suspects. I mean, there's an even chance that nobody'd pay any attention.

It's hard to see how penning a few politicians would affect the running of the country these days. Any terrorists storming Parliament would be lucky to find anyone there some days!

While the notion of Harper's head in a jar, metaphorically, is not without a certain interest I deplore the idea of violence in the political arena and would never, ever actually want this to happen.

But in 1982 the Parliament remained closed while the opposition Progressive Conservatives (back when that wasn't an oxymoron) refused to enter the house. The country seemed to wobble along fairly well as far as I can tell.

But don't tell any terrorists you know. Next time they might take out something really vital, like Tim Horton's.







Here's Some Interesting Philosophy


The Catholic church has reiterated, yet again, its position on abortion, birth control, and same-sex marriage. Apparently "the family" is threatened.

In the statment, the Vatican confirmes that the use of condoms is wrong, even within a marriage to protect a partner from contracting HIV.

Wait a minute. If your partner is HIV positive or has AIDS, then engaging in unprotected sex with that person is tantamount to suicide (forbidden by the Catholic church), and their engaging in unprotected sex with you is tantamount to murder--Yet trying to protect that other person is banned as well.

Furthermore, any fruit of that union may be blessed (thank you Lord) with HIV at birth (which I suppose at least eliminates the whole thorny abortion question). To willingly expose a baby to a fatal illness is surely murder too.

Yet in Catholic philosophy, the command to "go forth and multiply" is taken as (ahem) Gospel. In some places Catholic couples refer to sex as "marital duties" and take it as a duty to God.

Damned if you do . . .

Jewish people are allowed to eat pork under extreme circumstances--"the saving of a life". Why is this so hard for the Vatican?

Is it any wonder that most modern Catholics shrug and buy rubbers? Why in the name of the gods would anyone take sex advice from a group of (at best) bachelors?




On the lighter side:
The priest was trying to explain the Catholic position on birth control to a group of young urban men:
"Basically you have two choices," he said "periodic abstinence or complete continence."
There was a puzzled silence.
"Oh I get it!" One of the boys cried "Rhythm and blues!"







05 June 2006

It's Quiet--Too Damn Quiet


I've avoided commenting on the arrests of 17 men in an alleged terrorism plot in Ontario. I've said before here at this blog that Canada was not immune, and I'm only slightly disappointed to find out I'm right.

Three observations: In its initial coverage the word "Muslim" appeared in none of the CBC's coverage describing the suspects, although the words "imam" "prayers", and sundry similar terms were used. There seems to be a deliberate attempt to seperate the ideology of the plotters from the faith they claim. Whether it can be justified or successful I don't know.

We may want to be cautious about celebrating the RCMP's success at halting these planned attacks. It seems the RC's may have provided three tonnes of fertilizer to the suspects. The line between intent and entrapment is pitifully thin at the best of times.

I'm proud that at a time of such tension, the vandalising of mosques is still considered a hate crime. It's a useful distinction to have: crimes targeting people by race, creed, colour, or sexual orientation are hate crimes. And despite the current prime minister, even the government is not allowed to commit them.

But it does rather beg the question: Can a crime by a small group against society at large be a hate crime?







02 June 2006

It's All Right for Some


So glad that a special "free" (read: "taxpayer-funded") medical clinic has saved the life of an MP.

Meanwhile, having moved to a town with a higher doctor-to-patient ratio than where I moved from, I still can't find a doctor taking new patients. This infuriates me. If I'm forced to rely on a clinic doctor who knows SFA about me, why am I laying out 30% or more of my income in taxes every year?

I'm sure Parliament will give due attention to this problem, just as soon as they vote themselves another raise, get their free haircuts, and use the company limo to get back from their next month-long break.

Oh no, wait--they've got more important things to focus their minds on; see below.







You're a Rotter, Mr. H


Stephen Harper has made promises. And he intends to keep them. Not the one about senate reform, not the ones about appointing friends to power, and not the one about keeping government accountable.

But this one, he wants to keep.

What he's saying is, in order to keep his commitment to "defending marriage" he's perfectly willing to try and dissolve thousands of perfectly legal (and socially acceptable) marriages.

What a ©µŋڂ!

There's a pattern here: first, attempts to find the limits of his power. Then when he realizes he's not omnipotent, the muzzling of criticism. A few harmless-seeming "mom-'n-butter-tarts" motions in the house; and finally the wholesale attempt at stripping of civil rights from minorities.

I don't believe he can win a "free vote"--at least I don't think he can. The Bloc Quebecois members may be homophobes, but they're not quite that stupid, I think. The NDP can likely be relied upon to support gay rights as a bloc, and I can't see a good reason for a Lib to vote against; the Liberals gave birth to the legislation.

But that's all irrelevant. Gay marriage is legal. Period. How the hell does Harper think he's going to strip out a law based on the Canadian Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? It's quite likely illegal to overturn it.

Of course, Harper's very firm about what politically powerful people in trouble should do . . . or else maybe not. Yeah, probably not.


Elsewhere


If he'd been at Guantanamo he'd have been just doing his job.

But then again, I'm fairly sure no-one in Gitmo has acess to a camera. They learned their lesson the first time, right? Or maybe not.


This May Not Be Good News


It probably means she can't spell "colour", "honour", or "valour" correctly, nor "cheque", "centre", "cauldron" . . .

By the way


If you're perhaps a bit worried or perplexed as to what ©µŋڂ means, you might be relieved to find that if you do the appropriate math on the grid of "Symbols" in MS-Word, it spells out "zero". You might well be relieved to find that.







01 June 2006

Another Not-Entirely-Unexpected Headline


May I suggest the researcher take his next set of samples (cores, for preference) in Washington and Ottawa? Abundance of sample material.

Although care must be taken not to confuse the samples and the donors.

In purely local news, the Focus' fuel pump has been repaired, at labour costs of only $82--an hour's worth. Thanks to my Ford dealer, or possibly the mechanic. Of course, since the money's already been borrowed I now have to go to Crappy Tire to spend the surplus. Ah, the sad duties of home ownership.

Did I mention that our future house needs a battery charger? Of course it does.