Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Toronto's New Mayor


Mine wasn't a vote for Rob Ford so much as it was a vote against Justin Trudeau.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Selley on partisanship and power

In all these cases, the real villains are governments that believe, with ample justification, that they can do what they want to whomever they want, whenever they want. Governments don't care what party you voted for, or what you think about the war in Afghanistan, or whether your bookshelf's stuffed with Noam Chomsky or Ayn Rand. If it's in their best interests to steamroll you, they will. Ideological partisanship dilutes by half the democratic force of the revulsion we feel -- or should feel -- when they do. It enables the very thing we all claim to detest when it happens to people we like. The answer lies in sticking up for people we don't like too.
Chris Selley, Civil liberties vs. knee-jerk loyalties

Friday, August 06, 2010

What's he(mg) listening to?

The Dancing Pigeons, Ritalin (Valium too):

Kasabian, Vlad the Impaler (full song here):

Robots in Disguise again, La Nuit:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chubbo's too good looking too

What did the Guardian editors do when they were hiring woman writers? They thought of a man, then took away reason and accountability:
... It's time to get the point, Lynne. The Hill ain't ever going to look like Joanie. Giving the British woman Joanie as a role model is never going to make her feel good. At least Kate Moss's hair sometimes stands on end. At least Cindy Crawford's got a damn mole. If we're talking about images of unattainable perfection, Joanie, with her hips, bust and stature could take home a newly-invented Nobel for the accolade. Oh sure, she looks like she could pack a few Big Macs – although I'm sure Featherstone would warn us against those – but as an ideal she is quite as unattainable as any other. Her BMI, in fact, is precariously near that of a model's – at 5 foot 8 and 140 pounds it works out as 21.3 (according to Joanie's driving licence). In other words, she's the equivalent of an old-fashioned perfect 10 ...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Take, eat; this is my Scooby Snack, which is given for you

Just taking a little break from my, well, break to draw your attention to this:

St. Peter’s Anglican Church has long been known as an open and inclusive place.

So open, it seems, they won’t turn anyone away. Not even a dog.

That’s how a blessed canine ended up receiving communion from interim priest Rev. Marguerite Rea during a morning service the last Sunday in June.

According to those in attendance at the historical church at 188 Carlton St. in downtown Toronto, it was a spontaneous gesture, one intended to make both the dog and its owner – a first timer at the church — feel welcomed. But at least one parishioner saw the act as an affront to the rules and regulations of the Anglican Church. He filed a complaint with the reverend and with the Anglican Diocese of Toronto about the incident – and has since left the church.

Telling reporting as always ... You see, the thing about giving the body of Christ to a dog is not so much that it offends any particular 'rule' or 'regulation' of the Anglican Church, as that it rather conspicuously offends what Christians believe (have to believe, if they are Christians) is the person of God himself. I won't bother explaining why this is so, as there is only one type who would feign ignorance of so obvious a fact, and they are precisely the people who would also defend the right of Muslims to keep dogs out of their buses and taxi cabs.

This line from the piece is of consequence though:
But congregants of the church say the act wasn’t meant to be controversial.
When the hell did people start believing that if a thing wasn't meant to be controversial, that it wasn't, then, controversial? She gave a dog communion!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Father Crouse on faith and pharmaceuticals

Much of modern Christianity seems to be very world-affirming. Popular preachers often recommend religion as though it were some sort of pharmaceutical preparation designed to produce health and happiness, and maybe even social and financial success. And if it doesn't produce these obvious rewards, at the very least, it should provide us with something called "peace of mind". And on a slightly more sophisticated level, some of our leaders, and the Church press in general, speak as though the real end and purpose of Christianity were the improvement of social and economic conditions: making the world a better place. For many, that is the main justification of the Church.


But consider these lessons more closely: it's a strange kind of happiness they describe, and a strange kind of prosperity they promise. "Happy are ye," says St. Peter, "if ye suffer for righteousness' sake" -- happiness in suffering. And consider the conclusion of the Gospel lesson: it appears that the miraculous draught of fishes was simply a teaching device: sort of a parable in action. The point of it was not the astonishing catch of fish -- that was rather incidental. "From henceforth thou shalt catch men". And immediately convinced of the sinful futility of their lives, they forsook their occupation, and followed Jesus.

In the end, these lessons turn out to be very anti-worldly. And I think it must be said that the Gospel is not, on the whole, very world-affirming. Certainly, the world is god's Creation; and more than that, it is the sphere of his redeeming love in Christ: "God so loved the world..." But the end and object of God's creative and redemptive power -- the salvation of the world -- is somehow beyond this world. We are solemnly warned again and again not to set our affections on earthly things; and we are certainly not promised rewards of earthly happiness and prosperity. Rather we are promised tribulation. Happy are ye if ye suffer for righteousness sake."


What we are really concerned with here is the everlasting life of the spirit, and our earthly goods are really goods only insofar as they serve that higher end. In worldly terms, their end is destruction: "moth and rust corrupt, and thieves break through and steal." Even this planet of ours must surely have an end, and our sun is, after all, a dying star. "Here we have not continuing city," "but our homeland is in heaven, and from it we await a saviour." What is saved is the harvest of the spirit -- spirits made perfect in the knowledge and love of God.


Fr. Robert Crouse, Sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity

Monday, June 28, 2010

Do What You Feel Weekend

Best video summary of the G20 thus far:*

And everybody's getting in on the act!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Unfinished

I did this one, like, a year ago, but couldn't be bothered finishing it. Listening to it yesterday, I thought: ending-shmending!

EMG and EMG discuss the etymology of the word 'shitloads'. (Click the image, press play)

It's four and half minutes long. And, no, I didn't put in any music. I figured, why bother? We're all just going to die anyway.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Dan Gardner on "progressives"

You'll have noticed how often I'm irate at the left's attempts to construe differences of political degree as differences of political kind. Put this way, I'm struck by how incredibly fucking awesome it would be if it wasn't a fantasy:

... So what does "progressive" mean today in Canada? Yesterday in this newspaper, Matt Browne and Eugene Lang published an impassioned appeal for "progressives" to unite because, apparently, most Canadians are "progressives" and the government should reflect that. "While conservatives have governed this country for four years," they wrote, "election results and polling data show consistently two-thirds of the electorate support political parties with a progressive orientation."

But since they didn't define what a "progressive orientation" is, I was left with the suspicion that, to Browne and Lang, any party that is not the Conservative party is a "progressive" party and anyone who is not a Conservative is a "progressive." That suggests that "progressive" is whatever John Baird shouts at. Which isn't much of an orientation, it seems to me.

Now, I am being a little unfair. Browne and Lang did suggest en passant "progressives" are those who "wish to use government as a force for good." This is helpful. It distinguishes "progressives" from those who wish to use government as a force for evil, such as Emperor Palpatine from the Star Wars movies.

There I go being unfair again. What Browne and Lang meant, of course, is that "progressives" believe government has a constructive role to play in society, as opposed to conservatives, who believe, as Ronald Reagan put it, that "government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem." It was this ruthless political philosophy that led Reagan to dramatically reduce the roles and responsibilities of government and shrink the federal budget to a miniscule ...

Oh, right. Reagan's famous aphorism got lots of Alex P. Keatons totally stoked 30 years ago but it actually meant very little to how he governed: When Reagan left office, government spending as a percentage of GDP was higher than when he entered. In modern times, the only significant drop in the U.S. government's share of GDP happened during the administration of that heartless conservative, Bill Clinton.

Canada got the same savage treatment at the hands of Jean Chrétien. More recently, Stephen Harper has spent money at a clip not seen since the glory days of Pierre Trudeau, and often on positively Trudeauvian schemes like regional development agencies.

And yet it's Jean Chrétien who's now involved in talks to unite "progressives" against Conservatives who, we are told, hate government so much they are shoving money down its throat. Maybe they think it will asphyxiate. Or make a nice foie gras.

Look, step back a bit and it's obvious there are great swaths of consensus clear across the political spectrum. That's true in every developed country. It's especially true in Canada. Every party supports government-funded health care. Every party supports trade liberalization. Every party supports progressive taxation. Look closely at what parties actually propose and vote for and even something as divisive as the Conservative "tough on crime" agenda is not actually all that divisive, much as some of us wish it were.

Of course the Conservatives sometimes have different priorities and emphases than the other parties. But there are also significant differences between the Liberals, New Democrats, Bloquistes, and Greens. So aside from the direction of John Baird's shouting, what defines people and parties as "progressive"?

Forget political philosophy. I think the answer is found in psychology.

Dan Gardner, Progressives unite, whoever you are.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Towards ignoring the questions

Why does Hashem make us feel the questions if he's not going to give us any answers? - Larry Gopnik
We can distinguish between a craving for chocolate, say, and a craving for bread. A craving for water and one for wine--or indeed one for beer rather than wine. That is to say, a person does not simply crave food or drink or sleep, but a very particular set of things and circumstances, sometimes one and not the other, and often without any absolute physical need of them.

Why not then a craving for God?--as often, say, we crave the company of a particular friend and not just anybody? Or our mother rather than that friend? What person hasn't had the experience--however inexplicably--that only that person will do? Only they offer the comfort or nourishment that we need? Why then is it so hard to accept a need for this thing we know to be God? Why is the craving for Chinese food not also ludicrous?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

P'itchens on selective outrage

I have been to Gaza once, long ago, and can confirm that it is pretty grim, and no doubt has grown much worse since. I think the idea that a blockade will persuade the Gazans to throw out their Hamas government is nonsensical and doomed, and I think Israel's recent behaviour towards Gaza has been cruel and stupid. I opposed and still condemn the recent Israeli military attack on Gaza, which failed to meet the criteria for a just war.

But I have a nagging suspicion that those who now adopt the cause of Gaza (and have swallowed whole the propaganda narrative of the 'Aid Convoy' versus the 'Wicked Zionists') are much, much more interested in undermining Israel's long-term right to exist than they are in the undoubted plight of the Gazans. And why, exactly is that? What is the reason for this selective outrage against one nation among dozens, by no means perfect but also by no means the most oppressive or violent or ill-run state in the world, let alone the Middle East? You tell me.


So in the midst of this confusion, we now find ourselves in a huge row over the alleged 'Aid Convoy' manned by alleged 'Humanitarians' which approached the Israeli coast at the weekend and was boarded by Israeli armed forces.

Is this description 'Aid Convoy' (adopted by many media outlets) not itself partial? It most certainly is. The Israeli authorities offered unequivocally to deliver the ships' cargoes to Gaza if they were unloaded at the Israeli port of Ashdod and passed through the normal checks against contraband. The leaders of the 'Aid Convoy' refused this offer. Therefore it is plain that its prime purpose was not to deliver the aid, but to deliver it in a certain way, in defiance of the Israeli blockade of the Gazan ports, an action they knew from the start would bring the Israeli armed forces about their ears.

If you want to be wholly dispassionate, you might call it a 'convoy' without adornment. But to call it an 'Aid Convoy' is itself a departure from neutrality. I myself would call it a propaganda fleet, but then I am openly partisan on this issue. The use of the expression 'humanitarians' is likewise suspect, as is the use of the word 'activists' without saying what sort of activists they are.

Peter Hitchens, The Joys of Selective Outrage.

Collective ignorance: not quite the same thing as consensus

It's an oft-repeated truism in ethics: "Good facts are essential for good ethics." So surely we need the facts about an issue as ethically fraught as abortion. Yet not only do we not have them, but they are intentionally not gathered or, if some are or might be available, access to them is denied.

That allows two myths that favour the pro-choice stance on abortion to be propagated: That late-term abortion is rare and that there is a consensus in Canada on the public-policy regime that should govern abortion (which, at present, is the complete absence of any law).


The facts on late-term abortions are intentionally made difficult to obtain. Some time ago, I contacted a staff member at Statistics Canada to ask about the numbers of late-term abortions. She told me they were instructed for political reasons not to collect statistics on the gestational age at which abortion occurs. She explained, however, that hospitals must report the number of abortions and about 45 per cent had continued to report gestational age. From these unsolicited reports, it's known that at least 400 post-viability abortions take place in Canada each year and the actual number is most probably more than twice that. The Canadian Medical Association sets viability (some chance of the child living outside the womb) at 20 weeks gestation.


As to trying to get specific facts on abortion, in general, two British Columbia hospitals, Vancouver General and Kelowna General, have applied to stop a freedom-of-information inquiry initiated by pro-life activists, John Hof and Ted Gerk. After the hospitals refused their request last year for information on abortion statistics, Hof and Gerk initiated applications for access to the information through the B.C. Office of Information. The province's Freedom of Information Act was amended in 2001 to specifically exclude access to information about abortion, but they are using a "public-interest-override" clause in the privacy legislation, to argue that the release of the information is in the public interest and should not be withheld. The hospitals have applied for a Section 56 exemption to Freedom of Information rules requiring disclosure, claiming that it was "plain and obvious that the records sought by the Applicant will not be disclosed." The dispute remains to be resolved.

These situations raise the issue of the ethics of intentionally blocking access to information on abortion.

Such blocking is not neutral, but a strategy to help to maintain the status quo of the complete void regarding abortion law. The unavailability of this information makes the pro-choice lobby's claims that late-term abortion is rare and that there is a consensus on abortion in Canada, much less likely to be challenged, and, therefore, bolsters its case that we do not need any law on abortion.

It is also a stance that appeals to many politicians who are terrified of an abortion debate for political reasons. A striking example of the lengths to which they will go to avoid that debate are manifested in a motion just passed unanimously by the three parties in the Quebec National Assembly, in favour of unrestricted access to free abortion, with no limitations mentioned. One can only wonder whether they all, or even just some of them, understood that they were endorsing a position that there should be no legal restrictions on aborting viable babies. If they did not understand that, it's deeply concerning; if they did, in my opinion, it's horrifying.

Margaret Somerville, Busting the abortion myths.


The inimitable Kate Beaton kicks ass once, sometimes twice a week chez Hark! a vagrant. You should be visiting if you aren't already.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Portrait of the artist as a spoiled brat

The middle class is fast being taken over by a generation so trivial, ignorant, incoherent and self-regarding they make the hippies look like sophisticates.
Unity holds no allure for Maya — she thrives on conflict, real or imagined. “I kind of want to be an outsider,” she said, eating a truffle-flavored French fry. “I don’t want to make the same music, sing about the same stuff, talk about the same things. If that makes me a terrorist, then I’m a terrorist.”
(Read the whole thing.)

Something you should bear in mind: MIA's rise to fame is in no way remarkable. It was totally and utterly predictable. Something else you should bear in mind: you are responsible. You and all your idiot, shrugging friends.

And know that if you do not do your bit to change this culture, it will, eventually, flay off your skin and wear it as a baby-T to the Grammys.

(MIA's reaction to the NYT piece is further--and, I would say, damning--evidence of your appalling cowardice.)