Friday, August 29, 2008


Kevin Grace on a perplexing choice:
WASHINGTON - Americans reacted mostly positively Friday to the surprise selection by John McCain of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as Republican nominee for Vice President. The 37-year-old Palin continued her meteoric rise to political demigod status, which began just 9 years ago, when she was elected Mayor of Kolyma, AK, population 79, and continued two years ago when she was elected Governor after the entire Republican state hierarchy was indicted for corruption and then photographed in a giant hot tub with underaged Boy Scouts.

In an already historic Presidential year, one that has seen left-field Democratic candidate Barack Obama ride a wave of guilty hysteria to triumph over supposed sure-thing Hillary Clinton, Gov. Palin brings her own
considerable exoticism to the table. A working mother, she is married to her dog-mushing school sweetheart, Ookpik, who runs a thriving seal-gutting business when not doing something or other for Alaska's only major employer, Big Oil. Ookpik, who is 1/32 Eskimo on his stepmother's side, is an X-treme moose-eating champion and enjoys staring at the aurora borealis. The Palins have five children, Truck, Trig, Sine, Cosine and Hypotenuse.
Read it all.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I guess you had to be there

DNC attendees found this funny apparently (my emphasis):
What a year we Democrats have had. The primary began with an all-star line up and came down to two remarkable Americans locked in a hard fought contest to the very end. The campaign generated so much heat it increased global warming.
Uggh God! It's like the political equivalent of a Project Genesis joke at a Star Trek convention!

Still, I suppose it's better than that gag about the campaign controversy being so distracting that the abortion rate fell.

Predictable result, predictable reaction

The C.D. Howe Institute has come out with a study finding that Catholic school boards in Ontario tend to outperform public school boards. Of the top thirteen boards (given in no particular order) eleven of them are Catholic. Of the bottom ten, two are Catholic.

Surprise, surprise.

Reaction to the study by the relevant parties was also predictable.

Colleen Schenk, president of Ontario's Public School Boards' Association, was livid. She said:
[The study] us[es] misleading interpretations to assert the superiority of one school system [Catholic] over another [Public].
The report makes claims about the relative success of public and Catholic school boards in the province, based on out-of-date information and couched in language more related to calculating one's odds at winning a coin toss than to offering the public, and parents in particular, accurate information about student achievement in Ontario's schools.
I have to admit that the bit about the coin toss I thought pretty withering. Until, that is, I looked at the study myself and realized that the source of this (as it were) flip remark was an actual coin toss analogy used in the brief, to describe (ironically) the process by which C.D. Howe worked against statistical bias. Ms. Schenk would appear not only to be a derivative thinker, but a rather inept one too.

(I admit that I was disappointed in my expectations that the Ontario School Boards' Association would see the study as proof of the necessity that public funding should be taken away from the Catholic boards. These, after all, are the school boards that gave us the Inquisition and the Crusades. Surely it's clear at what price was bought this so-called "success"?!)

For their own part, representatives of the Catholic boards could do little more than shuffle their feet, sweat, squint, squirm and mumble prayers that the limelight might be persuaded to shine anywhere but on them.
"We don't believe in any kind of ranking; we don't think it's useful," said Chris Cable, the [York Catholic District School Board's] communications manager. "What's really important is that we do take a look at what is happening at each individual school."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

From: Snook (the Elder) at Home

Of Life's Explicable Little Delights

Was lighting my pipe earlier and discovered that a stray ember had dropped onto my shirtfront and burned a hole there--just to the right of my navel. At last!

(Anyone who knows me knows that it is a trademark of mine to wear a small but conspicuous burn hole on my shirtfront. Should they find me otherwise embellished they become suspicious of my true identity and I'm inundated with trivial questions re. my favourite colour (ans: Hunting Stewart), my middle names (ans: Hengist and Gaylord), how many aunts I have (ans: none), etc.)

When I first took up pipe smoking--shortly after I grew my first teeth, I'm told--I thought this inevitable occurrence unique to me and likely some kind of divine or karmic retribution for the habit.* But, one day, my father** happened to notice one of these sartorial wounds and informed me that such was the lot of all pipe smokers; undid his waistcoat buttons to reveal a dapper little burn hole just to the right of his navel on his shirtfront.

He proceeded then to relay to me the story of how, when he was a schoolteacher, he had once incautiously thrust a lit pipe into his jacket pocket ... From which, some minutes later, great clouds of burnt-tweed smelling smoke began to pour forth. Concerned students nearby took up the cry of "He's on fire! He's on fire!" and rushed at him brandishing huge and hardbacked textbooks with which to put him out. It took two of them, apparently, and roughly two minutes of agitated thumping.

My father laughed affectionately as he told this story, which he thought very wholesome and amusing: this concern of his pupils that their beloved Senior Housemaster not go up in flames; the readiness with which they leaped into action, with no thought of their own safety. I nodded agreement, and said nothing. The thought did occur to me, though, that neither should I have wasted a second, being presented with the opportunity to beat hell out of that formidable old pedagogue, if I was to suffer no worse consequence for it than to be thanked by him afterwards.


*It had yet to occur to me, heathen that I was, that even if the divine could be bothered with so trifling a vice as tobacco smoking--which, of course, he can't--that as punishments go this was clearly more along the lines of being an attack on my vanity.

**That would be Snook the
elder Elder.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Allan Bloom: Human Rights vs Multiculturalism

... Here again we live with two contradictory understandings of what counts for man. One tells us that what is important is what all men have in common; the other that what men have in common is low, while what they have from separate cultures gives them their depth and their interest. Both agree that life, liberty, and the pursuit of property, i.e., the interests of health and preservation, are what men share. The difference between them is the weight they give to being French or Chinese, Jewish or Catholic, or the rank order of these particular cultures in relation to the natural needs of the body. One is cosmopolitan, the other is particularistic. Human rights are connected with one school, respect for cultures with the other. Sometimes the United States is attacked for failing to promote human rights; sometimes for wanting to impose "the American way of life" on all people without respect for their cultures. To the extent that it does the latter, the United States does so in the name of self-evident truths that apply to the good of all men. But its critics argue that there are no such truths, that they are prejudices of American culture. On the other hand, the Ayatollah was initially supported here because he represented true Iranian culture. Now he is attacked for violating human rights. What he does in the name of Islam. His critics insist that there are universal principles that limit the rights of Islam. When the critics of the US in the name of culture, and of the Ayatollah in the name of human rights, are the same persons, which they often are, they are persons who want to eat their cake and have it, too.

Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Playing field level at 81° of inclination

An interesting précis of a Reuters-Zogby poll at the Telegraph today (my emphasis):

A Reuters-Zogby poll released on Wednesday found the Republican senator leading Barack Obama among likely voters by 46 to 41 per cent, sweeping away a seven-point advantage the Illinois senator held in the same survey a month ago.

At the same time, a Los Angeles Times-Bloomberg poll that gave Mr Obama a 12-point lead in June found that the two candidates were statistically tied. Race continues to be a significant factor with nine per cent of voters saying they would feel uncomfortable voting for a black candidate.

Well, yes, 9% is a significant number. No question. But what is more significant--I would've thought--is that according to the same poll, more than 90% of black voters in the USA support Barack Obama. Ninety percent! The Telegraph piece for some reason doesn't mention this.

So let me get this straight: it is newsworthy that 9% of the American voting public are uncomfortable voting for a black candidate, but not at all that 90% of black voters (that's all America's black voters by the way, not just the partisans) don't want to go with the white candidate? We deduce that "race continues to be a significant factor" in the former case, but not the latter? We deduce this, moreover, in the face of notably declining support for Mr. Obama right across the demographic board--except for this uniquely interested section of the country's population?

... But that's insane!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pots, Kettles

Scott Gilbreath directs our attention to this:
A poll of nearly 2,000 Britons by YouGov/PHI found that 70 per cent of respondents incorrectly said it was true that the US had done a worse job than the European Union in reducing carbon emissions since 2000. More than 50 per cent presumed that polygamy was legal in the US, when it is illegal in all 50 states.


The survey showed that a majority agreed with the false statement that since the Second World War the US had more often sided with non-Muslims when they had come into conflict with Muslims. In fact in 11 out of 12 major conflicts between Muslims and non-Muslims, Muslims and secular forces, or Arabs and non-Arabs, the US has sided with the former group. Those conflicts included Turkey and Greece, Bosnia and Yugoslavia, and and Kosovo and Yugoslavia.

Asked if it was true that "from 1973 to 1990 the United States sold Saddam Hussein more than a quarter of his weapons," 80 per cent of British respondents said yes. However the US sold just 0.46 per cent of Saddam's arsenal to him, compared to Russia's 57 per cent, France's 13 per cent and China's 12 per cent.

Mr. Gilbreath guesses that this sort of ignorance isn't likely unique to Britons. Other reports suggest that he is probably right:
... After huddled consultation, a young woman stood, gave her nationality, and launched into a spirited reading of the "I am Canadian" rant made famous as a Molson beer commercial in the spring of 2000. [*]When she sat down, everyone in the room laughed nervously --I don't remember any applause. Our host, gracious to a fault, made light of the boorish and insulting tone -- completely out of character with the rest of the evening -- and asked the student if she would be willing to answer a few follow-up questions. Why does Canada have two official languages ("I speak English and French, not American … " says the rant)? How does a prime minister differ from a president? The student giggled, appealing to her friends for assistance. We waited. But the rant was all they had to offer. Finally my husband rescued them, offered thumbnail responses and mentioned a few distinctions of which Canadians are justly proud. On behalf of all, he then expressed gratitude for the hospitality extended to us that evening.

... [I]t is worth reflecting that when it comes to ignorance and jingoistic swagger, there is more than enough to go around on both sides of the 49th parallel, and that proudly sewing a Maple Leaf on your backpack is no guarantee against it.
What a very pathetic lesson! That in clinging so unnaturally to an absence of value for our defining trait (that is: delighting in what we aren't, rather than--what is more obvious--what we are), we have somehow come to embody that most boring of stereotypes about American folly: a crass and uncivilized propensity to dismiss, out of hand, a given group based on an untested and entirely superficial understanding of it.

Bravo, my non-American brothers and sisters! You've done yourselves unproud!


* What ever happened to our man Joe Canadian anyway? ... Oh yeah.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Coffee Cream (or Patching the Fourth Wall)

It's been some time since one of my EMG and EMG segments, but well worth the wait I think you'll find. In this episode, our heroes explore the untamed limits of their artificial world and come back, perhaps bowed, certainly bloody, but not broken. A searing indictment--even if I do say so myself--of the attitude which excuses creative laziness by calling it postmodern.

(Click the image, press play. Repeat for part two.)

Notice a few things: that this episode comes in two parts, that there is musical accompaniment (i.e. opening, intermission, and envoi), and that there's a good deal more by way of sound effects. The first and third of these are explained by the fact that there is rather more action in this than in previous episodes. The second: because it seems to work, and I had a hankering to do so (album and band info. and a downloadable version of the song in full can be found here)--I shall likely include music in future episodes too.

Be sure, by the way, to familiarize yourself, if you haven't already done so, with others of EMG and EMG's adventures via the archive in the sidebar (entitled EMG's Audiotainment Archive).

Total run-time is just under 13 minutes, so pour yourself something.

(Language warning: a little light cussing in this one. Only one f-bomb I think.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Owning his caricature--but not quite getting it

Chris Selley, at's Megapundit, draws our attention to Jian Ghomeshi's most recent fit of self-parody:
A rather senior colleague has asked us to write about Jian Ghomeshi’s column in today’s National Post, in which 25 per cent of Moxy Früvous says he’s “aspiring to become a caricature of myself.” It seems Mr. Ghomeshi was recognized on the streets of London—England, you know—by an “attractive young” Canadian named Diane, who professed admiration for his television work, but later conceded she may have only seen Shaun Majumder make fun of him on This Hour Has 22 Minutes ... [S]eeing how much people seem to like the caricaturized Ghomeshi, he’s thinking about adopting the mannerisms. “Owning your caricature,” he says. “That’s the future.”
Mr Ghomeshi perhaps fancies that this isn't so much self-parody as it is a kind of über-chictellectual meta-self-parody. Alas, no, as Selley points out:
If you find yourself just an iPhone purchase, a few fist bumps and a lame catchphrase away from the grotesquely caricaturized TV version of yourself, then perhaps the goal of becoming a caricature of yourself has already been largely attained.
You'll notice too that yours truly was given a plug at Megapundit re. this Ghomeshi blighter. Does this, then, make EMG a mainstream flavour? Alas again! Not according to Sitemeter. (Think of humble admissions such as this as my way of owning the infinitesimally small place in space and time which I occupy. That's the future!)

Sunday, August 10, 2008


(With apologies for my ongoing neglect of this space.)

I read with great interest of the fuss that has been kicked-up by conservatives over the reaction of one Jeffrey Wells to an op-ed piece written by actor Jon Voight in the Washington Times. This Wells character, they say, appears to be agitating for a form of reverse-McCarthyist blacklisting.

What they didn't draw our attention to, however, was the particular irony of Wells' particular phrasing (my emphasis):
If I were a producer and I had to make a casting decision about hiring Voight or some older actor who hadn't pissed me off with an idiotic Washington Times op-ed piece, I might very well say to myself, "Voight? Let him eat cake."
Doesn't it strike anyone else as only too, too, too fitting that Wells should choose these words with which to attack Mr. Voight? Words attributed to a person so glaringly disengaged from the hard realities of the country over which she reigned that they are commonly treated as the inspiration for one of the bloodiest of revolutions? (An event which, I hasten to add, ended for her on the steps of the guillotine.)

This is a gift, surely!


Friday, August 01, 2008

That Tangled Web of Hate

See if you don't find this strange:

On July 28th, apparently apropos of nothing, Warren Kinsella makes it known on his blog that he disapproves of the practice of police posing as reporters during criminal investigations.

Now this might not strike you as weird, but it certainly did me. Why? Well, because upon reading it, the first thing I thought of was this piece written by Kevin Steel some months ago, about the very odd behaviour of Warren Kinsella re. one Grant Bristow--CSIS agent and co-founder of the Heritage Front--around the time of the publication of Kinsella's book Web of Hate. In the piece, Mr. Steel observes (my emphasis):

Web of Hate purports to be an authoritative study of the far right in Canada. The author claims the work is the result of ten years worth of research. The chapter on the Heritage Front, “The Wolfie and Georgie Show,” is the longest in the book, 52 pages. Yet somehow the author overlooks the fact that Grant Bristow was one of three founding members of the Heritage Front. More damning, despite the fact that Kinsella himself had made a police complaint against Bristow—in May 1993, long before the research for Web of Hate is completed in October 1993—in a very serious incident where a known member of the Heritage Front attempted to gain access to the files of a high profile Jewish organization, the incident does not appear in Web of Hate.

Of equal or even more significance is how that complaint supposedly came about. As the SIRC report tells it, Bristow presented himself to a Jewish student leader as an Ottawa Citizen reporter using the name “Trevor Graham” and claiming to be engaged in research on Kinsella’s behalf. Suspicious, the student leader checked up on Trevor Graham and discovered no reporter by that name. A few days later she went to Bernie Farber’s office at the Canadian Jewish Congress and identified Bristow through the picture that appeared in a major (nearly 2,000 word) November 29, 1992 Toronto Sun story, “Canada’s Neo-Nazis: White Rights Groups Readying for Racial War.” Farber alerted Kinsella and Kinsella made his complaint, first to the Ottawa police and then to the Toronto Metro police by fax.

Keeping up? No? This Grant Bristow (who, I'll remind you, was a CSIS agent) in his role as white supremacist, posed as a reporter in 1993 as part of his ongoing efforts to infiltrate and expose what was believed to be a vast neo-nazi conspiracy in Canada. He did so, moreover, with an explicit mention of the name Warren Kinsella--then a reporter for the Ottawa Citizen. Of course, of itself, this isn't so remarkable, except that there is this odd business of the first edition of Mr. Kinsella's authoritative study of the white supremacist movement in Canada, Web of Hate, completely avoiding any mention of Mr. Bristow, in spite of the man's known central role as co-founder of the Heritage Front, and in spite of Kinsella's own, albeit indirect, encounter with him.

Mr. Steel asks:
... Why doesn’t Bristow’s name appear in Web of Hate? Specifically, why didn’t Kinsella mention the police report in which Bristow attempts to obtain info on Jewish organizations, using Kinsella’s name, especially after a Jewish activist’s house was set on fire twice, the first a confirmed arson? Why were neither of Monna Zentner’s fires described in Web of Hate? ...

In the timeline, Bristow’s non-existence in Web of Hate certainly looks less like editorial license or carelessness or stupidity on the author’s part. When the sequence is examined, it looks deliberate. If Kinsella removed references to Grant Bristow from his book because at some point he learned that Bristow was a CSIS agent, then he suppressed knowledge that the Heritage Front had been infiltrated by CSIS at the highest level, making the book worthless as a description of the far right. Further, it would make Web of Hate look like a contrived CSIS asset and, by extension, its author would be an asset as well. And being an asset of Canada’s secret service would pretty much negate anything Kinsella has written or said on the subject of hate laws, human rights commissions and free speech in the last 13 years.

Getting it now? There is a suggestion here--a suggestion, let me emphasize--that failing Mr. Kinsella's being the worst journalist of all time, the possibility exists that in the Bristow affair his journalistic integrity took a back seat to the interests of CSIS.

Which brings me back to this odd business of Kinsella condemning, seemingly out of a clear blue sky, the practice of the police posing as journalists in their investigations.

It is curious to note, gentle reader, that not two days after his post of July 28th, Grant Bristow himself--also seemingly out of a clear blue sky--broke a 15 year silence to pen a paean to the great virtues of his own work in bringing down the neo-nazis and, indeed, to those whom he clearly sees as his successors in this work, the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Sure enough, the piece was then given a plug at Mr. Kinsella's site.

I'll ask only this: what are the odds?



Let me also direct your attention to Ezra Levant's excellent response to the Bristow piece--and to some other fascinating stuff on the manufacture of hate in this country.