Metroblog

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

29 June 2009

On the Great Infestation

Sigh. My house is not my own anymore. In a more enlightened society, Mme might be accused of harbouring a nuisance.

Some beasts are useful: The sturdy shetland pony, the sheepdog, the goat. Mankind has built a relationship of mutual trust and reliance with these.

Then, there's the sort that lounges about on your couch for hours on end before slouching off for a hurried six-hour nap, whilst scratching your furniture to splinters and doing abominable things in various dark corners, all the while gleefully consuming food in quantities to make Roman orgy-goers cry "Oi--steady on, mate!"

Such beasts shed hair like an over-forty rock band, and leave unspeakable trails of spittle trailing across the floor, to say nothing of the partially-digested items trailing in its wake. When not regurgitating your food, said creature is rubbing up against you demanding more of it, not to mention more of your valuable gin and beer.

Yes, having the damn thing in the house is something of a trial. But Mme Metro and I are happy to do it as respite care. This allows her regular attendants the chance they need to recover following the repeated hydrophobia shots, deworming, and delousing they must be put through from extended contact.

The cats are fine, and looking pretty healthy, by comparison.

I had a recent picture, but was reluctant to post it, for the health of the Avid Fans' brains. Let's just say I know just how this little dog feels:

funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more dog and puppy pictures

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25 June 2009

Michael Jackson Eases on Down the Road

It's a surprise ending to a brief, sad life dogged by controversy. Assuming it's not a publicity stunt (update: it looks as though it isn't).

I liked Jackson's earlier work--up until Thriller. My sister went a long way towards killing any affection I might have had for him by overplaying the album (just as she did with any music she enjoyed. My loathing of Abba remains unabated).

Mr Jackson did the rest. With his increasingly bizarre behaviour, unfortunate inability to form normal human relationships, and continued devotion to plastic surgery that would make a hard-core body-mod nut wince.

But I always did feel sorry for him. So many people with talent seemed doomed for greatness and madness. And he was both personified. Above all, I'm not sure he ever realized that he was transient.

So long Michael. Peace at last, perhaps (As long as no-one tries to buy his skeleton).

Farrah Fawcett has also died today. I don't have much to say about her. Unlike many modern stars, she seems to have managed to live a largely blameless life without attracting undue attention (the Majors divorce aside), for a TV star.

But a small piece of my childhood goes with her. I watched "Charlie's Angels" before I even understood why I liked girls--Possibly before I was even ready to admit that I liked them.

My thanks, Farrah.

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On Accepting Responsibility

From a wonderful book called "The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast", a discussion between hornet and wasp:

Invitations were sent to the Hornet and Wasp
On condition they laid by their stings

"They might as well ask us," protested the Wasp
"To fly to the ball without wings."

"I hate you," the Hornet replied
"But for once what you say does seem perfectly true
I'll never go stingless as long as I live,
and if I get a chance, I'll sting
you."

[...]

Those who stick to their principles stick to their stings,
and those who have guns will take aim.
But after they've stung, or after they've shot,
What they never will take is the blame.


For the jolly right wing radio hosts, columnists, and pundits--They've done so much for their fellow people. However, this is no time for recriminations.

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14 June 2009

They Have Become What They Refused to Deny

In the wake of two murders comitted by right-wing whackjobs over the past two weeks, the response from Conservatives has been to say "Well, they weren't really Conservatives." They also weren't true Scotsmen.

Some folks made so bold as to describe the man who attacked the Holocaust Museum in Washington as "left-wing," deliberately and with malice aforethought confusing National Socialism with Socialism. The confusion is easy to understand: First, both are equally evil in the eyes of conservatives; Second, the people making said accusations are sadly stupid.

But conservatives will not long be able to continue using their own version of the "lone gunman" theory. Because these actions don't take place in a vacuum. Between the silent dog whistles of talk radio and the plain old silence of Conservative leaders, the right wing has been complicit, if not actively conniving, in acts of murder.

Don't believe me? Take a look at Paul Krugman's column here. Not enough for you that a Nobel-winning economist can connect the dots? Then look at this op-ed from Frank Rich.

But we've all seen this stuff before. Any one of us has found Conservative blogs, articles, and the like which, while frowning down their noses at the violence and mayhem that the politics of the right seem to inspire, don't quite manage to disavow any of it.

Case in point, Bill O'Reilly--one of the globe's nastier denizens--who categorically continues to deny any responsibility for enabling the murder of Dr. Tiller. This despite carrying on a bully pulpit campaign against Tiller and his practice: providing late-term abortions (which are always medically necessary on the fewer-than-three-percent-of-all-abortions occasions when they are required).

But they're all like this. In the face of the most vituperative accusations against US president Obama, every level of Republican leadership has remained silent. The most any of them has ever said boils down to "Well I don't agree with what he did but you have to admit he had a point ..."

And in their refusal to deny, and their enthusiasm for, these things, they come to own them.

The shocking thing is that not even the most-highly placed of Conservative leaders seem to be making the fiery disavowals that should be made to separate the so-called "lone whackos" from "mainstream conservatives." And why? Because there is so little difference.

This is why I no longer describe myself as a conservative. Because when I hear that word I no longer know whether the person using it to refer to themselves means "I support free trade" or "I passively condone murder."

And in such circumstances it's certainly best to be clear.

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03 June 2009

My Conservative Government at Work

This one's long. But it's important. I've tried not to go postal down here, and tried to keep my arguments germane.

Lately my government, which had no mandate to make the sweeping and destructive changes it has already wrought in my little country, has been chatting up privatization, with serious words like "scrutiny" and "public funds."

They're strapped for cash, their financial incompetence is on full display, and they really need some scapegoats. So they have declared that privatization is the solution. It'd put some desperately needed billions back in "the taxpayer's" (read: the government's) pocket.

Atomic Energy of Canada is first on the chopping block. Last year Harper made headlines by firing Canada's nuclear safety watchdog for proposing to shut down Chalk River nuke plant for maintenance. His excuse was that such a shutdown wasn't necessary, and would deprive Canadians of vital supplies of medical isotopes.

This week Chalk River developed problems and had to be shut down. Nothing was mentioned by Mr. Harper or his stooges about a shortage of isotope supply, other than that we should expect one.

But the Harperites DID begin making rumbling noises about how inefficient government-run companies (Crown corporations) are, and mused about privatizing AECL.

It must be a great temptation. They're staring down $50 billion of debt the voters aren't likely to forgive them for. They'll never win a majority now unless someone gets pics of Michael Ignatieff actually sodomizing a Canada goose (and even then it's probably a coin toss).

So why not add a few billion to the balance sheet by flogging some Crown land, some Crown corporations?--Hell, maybe even some Crown Royal.

There's just one problem. Well, a couple. Three actually. Well I can think of four:

1) Crown Corporations often occupy a niche that private industry either didn't want or shouldn't be allowed to have. For example, private companies retailing isotopes provided by Atomic Energy of Canada have doubled or tripled their prices in repsonse to the shutdown. The AECL factory price hasn't changed.

Imagine what'd happen if a private-for-profit outfit got hold of the main supply of medical isotopes for the world.

2) It's quite hard to flog the non-profiting bits of Crown corps. Sure you can bitch about all the public money you're putting in, but does that make it much more attractive to private investment? So you're either selling only the good bits, or a resource--something irreplaceable that private firms want their hands on in the worst way.

3) Finally this. These aren't corporations. They're Crown Corporations. There are times when divestiture of public assets makes some sense. But we've already done that--We had two prior recessions in the past thirty years. During those recessions, and ever since, we've cut public service jobs, "trimmed fat" and reduced public corporate investment to record lows.

Moreover, they're mostly irreplaceable resources: If the Harperites flog AECl there's no getting it back. We can't just build another $30-bn reactor and set up shop anew. For one thing the Oppostion Conservatives (you surely don't believe they'll be in government, do you?) will scream blue murder at the "unfair" competition by the state enterprise ... or at the tax dollars spent on it, either way they win.

And the stuff that isn't resource is even less suitable for privatization. Now we know Harper hates the CBC. It does a decent job of reporting and is noteably unbiased. But of course, since Harper's world doesn't correspond to reality he loathes it the way he loathes the taste of an overcooked baby. He much prefers FOX, as we know.

But it's not an "asset"--It's our heritage.

4) Finally: it's not his to sell!

No government has the automatic right to sell publicly-owned property in the first place--They are there to manage it. Such management might well require selling it off, eventually, but not at fire-sale prices for the expediency of trying to tuck in your own financial shirt-tail.

This isn't a selloff to improve the efficiency of government or industry, or protect the public purse. Its purpose is twofold: One, to pour more money into the government balance sheet so that their performance doesn't look so damn pitiful, and two, to see if they can sell their free-market-uber-alles ideology while doing it.

Harper doesn't have a majority, doesn't have a mandate, and has not the right to sell any of these assets.

Oh, and um, speaking of assets ... 'Cause those Conservatives must have missed it, being so concerned for taxpayer dollars and all ... Do you think the Canadian government did serious studies into GM's performance before pouring $7.1 bn taxpayer bucks in "loans" into it?

I guess that's different--GM's a private company, and it's all free-markety and presumably efficient and profity and $#17 like that.

Pull the trigger, Mr. Ignatieff. I'd hold my nose and vote for you to chase this dangerous loser and his crack brained coterie of misanthropic, uncharitable, vicious dogs out of my country's highest offices.

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02 June 2009

Will Somebody Please Put a Fork in Cheney and Let Him Know He's Overdone?

Unable to lie quiet, Cheney seems to have found a second wind, with which to try and explain away the grotesque, capering, misdeeds of the Bush calamity of an administration. From today's "Say What" sampler over at Doonesbury we have this justification for Bush's inaction on "terroristic" threats prior to Semptember 11th, 2001:
"You know, Dick Clarke. Dick Clarke, who was the head of the counterterrorism program in the run-up to 9/11. He obviously missed it."
-- Dick Cheney, on Richard Clarke

"Bin Ladin Public Profile May Presage Attack" (5/3/01)

"Bin Ladin's Networks' Plans Advancing" (5/26/01)

"Bin Ladin Attacks May Be Imminent" (6/23/01)

"Bin Ladin and Associates Making Near-Term Threats" (6/25/01)

"Bin Ladin Planning High-Profile Attacks" (6/30/01)

"Planning for Bin Ladin Attacks Continues, Despite Delays" (7/02/01)

-- subject lines of Richard Clarke emails to Bush Administration prior to 9/11/01
Unfortunately, I think we're due for rather a lot of this crap until either someone buries his head across running water from his body, or until someone shuts off the liquid helium pump that powers his circulatory system.

It's over, Dick. The bad guys have been consigned to the rubbish bin of history and a lucrative career on the rubber-chicken circuit (instead of Gitmo, alas, where they properly should be held until a fair trial can be arranged) and the good guys have to try and pick up the pieces. All you're doing is offering lame-ass excuses for failing to close the barn door before the horse bolted, and trying to justify your horrifying criminal actions afterward.

Shut up and lie the hell down.

Or, if I may quote someone whose name escapes me:

"Go fuck yourself."

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