Saturday, April 12, 2008

Investing to Solve Global Warming

Why are so many of today’s so-called “Conservatives” completely out to lunch when it comes to the issue of global warming and the environment? Moreover, why are they incapable of appreciating the economic possibilities of green technology and alternative energy sources?

Witness the perennially dim-witted “Blogging Tory” Mike McGuire (he of the delusion that Pictou, Nova Scotia is a “Socialist Gulag”) who seems deeply offended for some bizarre reason by the fact that Al Gore actually stands to make money from his investments in various green technology firms. Imagine... the horror! Because rather than simply acting out of “magnanimous good will” he’s a free market capitalist who may quite shamelessly profit from putting his money where his mouth is, this presumably makes him some sort of nefarious hypocrite. Of course, if his investments were in traditional “non-green” companies (Exxon, let’s say) the same bunch of idiots would be shrieking about his hypocrisy. Perhaps Mike simply objects to him making money... period.

So what is it exactly that these “Conservative” deadbeats have against free enterprise, ethical investments, and making money anyway?

McCain Campaign: A Message to Seniors

Max Silvestri from 23/ offers some much needed advice for the handful of voters who happen to be older than John McCain, including various promises for the all-important “first 100 days” of “your next oldest president, ever.”

Stephen Fry: Guilty (Part 2)

“Swearing is a really important part of one’s life. It would be impossible to imagine going through life without swearing, and without enjoying swearing. There used to be made silly, prissy people who said swearing was a sign of a poor vocabulary. It is such utter nonsense. The people I know who swear the most tend to have the widest vocabularies, and the kind of person who says swearing is a sign of a poor vocabulary, usually have a pretty poor vocabulary themselves. The sort of twee person who thinks swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education or a lack of verbal interest is just fucking lunatic.”

Take that, all you “faux civility” fascists.

Richard Dawkins on “Real Time”

From yesterday’s show.

Behind the scenes with “The Onion”

CBS News reporter Serena Altschul sits down with Scott Dikkers, editor-in-chief of The Onion for a look at the satirical paper’s history, favourite targets, and the winning recipe for fake news.

Via Wikipedia, the “fictional history” of The Onion:

Officially, the paper purports to be over 250 years old, having originally published in the mid 18th century. It was named “the Mercantile Onion” because those were the only two English words the paper’s immigrant founder, Herman Ulysses Zweibel, knew at the time. (Zwiebel is German for onion – note the difference in spelling.) The newspaper’s motto was Tu Stultus Es, or “You are stupid.”

In 1896 Zweibel’s 20-year-old son, T. Herman Zweibel became editor, a position he supposedly holds to this day despite being over a century old and largely senile. For much of the 20th century the paper was highly reactionary and violently opposed every social reform the century brought forward, from women’s suffrage to married characters sleeping together in the same bed on television.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Stephen Fry: Guilty (Part 1)

Stephen Fry reveals the things he considers his guiltiest pleasures. These include darts, ABBA, Led Zeppelin, romantic novels by Georgette Heyer, the work of Richard Wagner and TV game show Countdown.

“Simple pleasures are always the last refuge of the complex.” — Oscar Wilde

And still no flowers or sweets…

US and Iran Backing the Same Horse

Raed Jarrar, the Iraq Project Director at Global Exchange and activist with United for Peace and Justice on why both Iran and the US are supporting the same players in Iraq. Considering McCain seems incapable at times of even telling the difference between Sunni and Shiite, this should really be confusing for him.

TDS: The Rise and Fall of FOX News

I know it’s on like five times a day, but in case you missed last night’s special “tribute” to Fox News on The Daily Show here it is. Or part of it at least. Crooks & Liars has the whole thing.

“In the years to come this fearless network will continue to say to America with confidence and absolute certainty. Go FOX yourself.” — John Oliver

Bonus: Here’s another take on Fox from down under (“The Chasers War on Everything”).

George W. Bush Collector’s Plates Series

For the Umpteenth Time…

Oscar Redux

Groan… Forever the same old song and dance gets trotted out:

“Red Tory, please, for the sake of clarity, remove Tory or any other symbol of Canada or Conservative from your name as you are nothing but a Canada hating, America bashing apologist. You would be best served in the mosque of a radical imam or the Communist party of Canada, which, it appears the Liberals have become.”

First of all, I’m anything but “Canada hating” — that’s an outrageous, blatantly absurd LIE plain and simple and if I was of a litigious nature I’d sue you over it. I have no idea what an “America bashing apologist” is because this is a meaningless slur. Given that I’m an avowed atheist, I doubt that I’d be “best served in the mosque of a radical imam” and if the truth be told, I wouldn’t even know where to find one. The same could be said for the Communist Party of Canada… apparently, they’re not listed in the phone book.

Look, as long as I have preeminent ranking on Google for the term “Red Tory” and in the absence of any truly compelling argument that I am in some respect unworthy of that estimable term, I’m keeping the name. In the meantime, allow me to draw your attention to what was said by many about one of my fondest personal heroes Oscar Wilde way back when…

“He thinks like a Tory, and talks like a Radical, and that’s so important nowadays.”

THIS is the very essence of my position on the matter. Now fuck off.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Kids Do the Darndest Things

People are so incredibly depressing sometimes.

“Loving children is a moral obligation. If a parent doesn’t like children, he should grow up and learn to do so.”Suzie ALL-CAPS

Whatever. The world might just be a whole lot better off without the presence of folks like this in it. Maybe there’s something to be said for the old Spartan practice of tossing such rubbish off Ταΰγετος. Oh, and don’t send me letters… I’m just being grumpy.

1,867 words in search of a point…

Please, someone get this guy an editor, stat!

Here, I’ll save you the trouble of wading through that painfully tedious morass of self-righteousness. It’s Patrick’s contention that “Canadian Cynic” and his “sycophantic cohorts” aren’t “Progressives” because they’re big meanies. That’s it. Period.

There. I just saved you several valuable minutes of your time. You can thank me later.

“Holy Humdrum” Update: “Some may recall…” Zzzzzzz No. As a matter of fact, we don’t. Nor do we care. As W.C. Fields infamously said, “Go away kid, ya bother me…”

LIES and Fabrications Update:

Rayner’s response? “You can’t define what a progressive is, so you can’t tell us we aren’t progressives.”

This is an outright lie AND a complete fabrication. I never said any such thing, even though it’s misleadingly being passed off by this petulant jackass in quotes.

Having accepted Mr Rayner’s insistence (that one can claim to be something despite failing to meet the requirements), I’ve decided to indulge myself…

Quite aside from the horrific abuse of the English language involved, no such “insistence” was made on my part. Another complete LIE.

The rest of the post involves Patrick indulging himself — that is to say, polishing his own knob, in his typical, insufferably BORING and utterly humourless fashion.

Richard Warman — Scourge of Liberty!

Witch-Finder General

As many know, professional scold, so-called “human-rights lawyer” and hopeless political fringe candidate (he’s run four times for the Green Party, finishing at or near the bottom of the pack every time — go figure) Richard Warman has co-litigated 13 complaints under the Internet hate messaging provision of the Human Rights Act over the past eight years. Some have praised him for this dubious achievement. For example, in 2005 he received a certificate of appreciation from the Law Society of Upper Canada for his “tireless efforts” in this regard. Others have not been so thrilled by the relentless crusade of this modern-day incarnation of Matthew Hopkins, especially those who now find themselves the target of a libel suit filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

From previous postings on this issue (here and elsewhere), readers should be aware that I’m adamantly opposed to the existing “hate-speech” provisions of the Human Rights Act, and for that matter, pretty much anything that infringes in the least on the right to free speech irrespective of how hateful or objectionable it may be. I have to part company with some of my “liberal” friends on this matter, but to me, such things are just an unfortunate consequence of living in a free society; a “necessary evil” in much the same way as is government itself, as Thomas Paine so rightly said. In my opinion, there are a number of much better ways of dealing with so-called “hate-speech”... Sunshine, as the old expression goes, is often the best disinfectant; simply exposing hateful sentiments to the light of day where they can be properly ridiculed, mocked, scorned and derided is usually all that’s needed to discredit them and ensure their banishment from the public discourse. By contrast, applying the heavy hand of government to suppress them by means of Kafkaesque tribunals quite perversely has the opposite effect of ennobling them (as aptly illustrated by Jonathan Kay). Once cloaked in the contentious argument over freedom of speech that almost inevitably ensues, the loathsome content of the actual message is often obscured completely, or at least is relegated to tertiary consideration. A classic case of the law of unintended consequences at work, I suppose.

The present state of Canada’s libel legislation is another bête noire of mine. Simply put, it’s archaic (quite literally medieval, dating back to the time of Henry VII in fact) and in desperate need of overhaul. Under the current legal regime, one can be sued for anything said about another person that allegedly damages their reputation. If sued, the onus is on you to prove the truth of your statements; the fact that you genuinely believed them to be true is not good enough. Even truth is not an absolute defense — if the court finds you told the truth but your intent was malicious, you might lose anyway. Little wonder that people come from all over the world to file libel suits in Canada, particularly in the province of Ontario.

As with the case of another highly litigious crank some may be familiar with, Wayne Crookes (also associated with the Green Party, curiously enough), who launched a sweeping libel action a while back against numerous individuals he alleged had made defamatory remarks on blogs and in various online forums, this latest action by Richard Warman is a matter that should be of legitimate concern to all bloggers and any self-respecting citizen worried in the least about protecting the right to freedom of speech in this country.

It’s important to note that one need not be in the slightest bit sympathetic with the likes of Kathy Shaidle, Kate McMillan, Ezra Levant, the proprietors of FreeDominion, or others named as defendants in the suit — goodness knows, they’d probably regard such drippy sentiments with utter contempt in any case — to realize that “libel chill” is most definitely in the air and freedom of expression, a core value of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is now under threat.

I may well be overstating the case here, but consider that simply calling him a “censorship champion” was regarded by Warman as defamatory pursuant to the libel action he filed against FreeDominion last year… Granted, there were plenty of other more highly creative epithets (e.g., a “felching fecalphiliac” being one of the more amusing ones) singled out for mention, but at the same time these were freely intermixed with other allegations that any reasonable person would likely deem to be fair comment. Quite ironically, one of them was that a commenter accused Warman of “attacking free speech” and another that he was “childish and looking for attention.” Hmmm. If such relatively harmless remarks are considered “libelous” then I’d venture to suggest that ALL bloggers are potentially at risk.

With regards to the actual substance of the latest complaint involving the infamous “Cools Posting” I have nothing to say one way or the other regarding the facts of the matter or the conduct of the parties involved, however, the aforementioned concerns with respect to the various comments made contingent to that matter on a number of different blogs are just as applicable. To me, they constitute fair comment and opinion, and as such, should be protected forms of expression. It’s truly unfortunate that what may well be a perfectly legitimate complaint on the part of the plaintiff has been conflated (whether deliberately or unintentionally) in such a hopelessly muddled fashion with expressions of opinion.

You might well ask why I’m writing this. Good question! Although I rather doubt it, I suppose the Google-happy Mr. Warman could conceivably take it upon himself to sue me, after all, I’ve repeated alleged libelous statements and have insinuated that he’s a “litigious crank” and furthermore have suggested by implication that he’s a self-appointed “Witch-Finder General” amongst other things. Well, all I can say to that is I wish him much luck in such a futile endevour — no blood will be forthcoming from this stone, I assure you. The reason is quite straightforward and perhaps rather naïve — it’s simply to express my concern as an individual about the state of free speech in this country. The inviolability of this particular right is something that I believe is absolutely paramount and is an issue that touches all of us in a quite direct manner. Debate on political issues cannot be robust and wide-open if the looming threat of a potential inquest under the Human Rights Act or a libel suit hangs over you. Is that really the sort of country we want to live in?

The time has come for legislative reform, not only of the Human Rights Act, but also of Canadian libel law in general. A good first step would be to reverse the burden of proof in lawsuits involving public figures: the plaintiff, not the defendant, should have to prove the statements in question are false. Furthermore, statements of personal opinion or belief should be exempted and the plaintiff forced to prove that the statements were actually made with malicious intent.

I wish the government, or the Liberal opposition if it ever manages to locate its testicles, would aggressively pursue these legal reforms with some vigor… but will they? Well, that’s very much up to YOU, isn’t it?

Update: Okay, maybe I’m not paranoid. The consequences are now becoming evident.

Nedumentary: Part 2

Maybe it’s a Brit thing, but I suspect not.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Lizards, Jews... and Richard Warman

I’ve wanted to post this video for a while now since inadvertently stumbling upon the gloriously fantastic whackjob that is David Icke for the sole reason that it also happens to shed some rather intriguing light on the character of “human rights” crusader Richard Warman. This latest incident involving Warman makes it seem like an appropriate time to do so. Fast-forward to about 17 minutes into the video...

Update: Somena Woman sums things up quite nicely.

Pennies are Bullshit

Pennies have to go. They’re completely and utterly useless. As for eliminating the nickel and changing the five dollar bill into a coin, those proposals are sure to be non-starters.

Meet the Mullets (Extended Play)

Some of the witty repartee behind the scenes of the Devine campaign that you may have missed in the abbreviated clips that have been shown ad nausea on the news. Who says that “Conservatives” don’t have an absolutely terrific sense of humour?

Nedumentary: Part 1

Rick Mercer: Harper-Cadman

I haven’t been following the domestic news all that closely of late, but was the “Cadman Affair” ever resolved to anyone’s satisfaction? Like so many of the mini-scandals surrounding this government it seems, there was an initial flurry of hysterical coverage in the media, then a furious barrage of denunciations/accusations by the opposition, followed by denial, stonewalling and several different versions of events, the obligatory threatened lawsuit and then… nothing. Like other stories (dubious campaign financing, for example), it just drops off the radar, fades from view, and presumably, memory too. In any case, looking back, it sounds even more patently ridiculous when viewed through the prism of one of Mercer’s rants.

Belgians prefer Obama over McCain by an almost five-to-one margin

Who cares? Precisely.

p.s. The video really has nothing to do with this other than the fact it’s from a Belgian show called “Boomerang” and features an interviewer who simply cannot help from laughing whenever his subject (and later an audience member) speaks. You’ll quickly discover why.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Thus Spake “Hunter”

“it’s like a shift is going on in this country, good governance is worming it’s [sic] way into our daily lives.”

Ah yes… good governance “worming its way” into our lives. What a delightful image.

Timing is Everything (Updated)

A speech John McCain delivered Monday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars at the National World War I Museum, highlighting a sharp drop in violence in recent months was suddenly interrupted by “breaking news” coverage of the latest round of bomb blasts inside Baghdad’s “Green Zone”… D’oh!

“Potty-Mouth” Update: It’s well known that McCain has called his opponents and colleagues “shitheads,” “assholes” and in at least one case “a fucking jerk,” but whatever will the pearl-clutching ninnies of the “family friendly” Right have to say when they find out that he called his wife a “cunt” in front of reporters and aides? Mind you, that was 16 years ago and he was only 55 at the time…

“Smear Update” — Funny thing… I took issue with ATY over the trope that McCain has actually seen/experienced war because he was a bomber pilot and look what’s just come over the transom… It seems that Sen. Jay Rockefeller has gotten into hot water for stating the fact of the matter that McCain “was a fighter pilot who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit.” Well, quite so.

“Dumb As a Rock” Update: He just can’t seem to get the whole sectarian thing right.

Stephen Harper = Robot Fish?

Aside from just being exceptionally cool, I thought it was more than a little funny that this clip of robotic fish equipped with autonomic sensor apparatus from Essex University in Britain appeared in the “related videos” section of PM’s YouTube account. The mysterious and ever-curious wonders of the Googlemind never cease to amaze…

Cheeky Monkeys!

Man, I HATE “political correctness” sometimes.

The End of Suburbia

The suburbs, as described by the inimitable James Howard Kunstler in his book The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape:

“…depressing, brutal, ugly, unhealthy, and spiritually degrading — the jive-plastic commuter tract home wastelands, the Potemkin village shopping plazas with their vast parking lagoons, the Lego-block hotel complexes, the ‘gourmet mansardic’ junk-food joints, the Orwellian office ‘parks’ featuring buildings sheathed in the same reflective glass as the sunglasses worn by chain gang security guards, the particle-board garden apartments rising up in every city with their clusters of discount merchandise marts, the whole destructive, wasteful, toxic, agoraphobia-inducing spectacle that politicians proudly call growth.”

The film was released in 2004, when oil was still a mere $38 per barrel (it’s over $110 now) and its message is understandably even more powerful and relevant now. Currently it’s being shown at a small number of public screenings by environmentalists, “new urbanists” and others concerned about the future effects of “Peak Oil.” More at The Tyee about a recent event in Vancouver.

A Sphincter Says What?

Dr. Illiterate


Monday, April 7, 2008

Run Away!

Gosh, what a surprise. Not.

The Google “Master Plan”

The world must be a much more interesting place if you’re into conspiracy theories.

Here’s the top four related to Google, presented in a format that describes the problem with each along with why they just might work. If nothing else, it’s fodder for speculation.

Lying for Mohammed

You may never see a more astonishing collection of outright lies, distortions and pure fabrications than have been compiled in this film “The Collapse of Athiesm” by the Turkish creationist Adnan Oktar (aka Harun Yahya) who takes the rather novel approach of contending that scientific discoveries and political developments of the last century have not only proven the existence of God, but have also led to the collapse of atheism.

Here’s just one whopper to give you a taste of what’s included in the film:

“Scientists in many western countries, particularly the United States, today reject Darwinism in favour of the theory of Intelligent Design. The reason for that is that the scientific facts show that life emerged with design, not by chance. In short, science once again confirms the fact that God created all living things.”

Here again is something that the Christian fundamentalists have in common with their Islamic counterparts: they’re completely shameless liars.

According to Wikipedia, Oktar’s ironically-named Science Research Foundation (SRF, or BAV in Turkish) spearheaded an effort to attack Turkish academics who taught evolutionary theory. A number of faculty members were harassed, threatened and slandered in fliers that labeled them “Maoists” for teaching evolution. In 1999, six of the professors won a civil court case against the SRF for defamation and were each awarded a large sum of money. Nonetheless, the effect of the SRF’s campaign has been to discourage anyone in the Turkish Academy of Sciences to speak out against the creationist movement for fear they’ll be attacked by the radical Islamists and the BAV.

There’s something you’re not likely to hear from the folks behind the new film “Expelled”…

Bush Press Conference

Bush announces the next phase in the Global War on Terra.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Demoralizing Facts for Aspiring Authors

Failed Poet

According to statistics cited in the book “The Long Tail” by Chris Anderson, in 2004, an astounding 950,000 books out of 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen BookScan sold fewer than 99 copies. Another 200 sold fewer than 1,000 copies. The average book in the U.S. sells 500 copies.

A Rough History of Disbelief: Noughts and Crosses

With the domination of Christianity from 500 AD, Jonathan Miller explores the ways in which disbelief began to re-emerge in the 15th and 16th centuries. Contrary to conventional wisdom, he discovers that division within the Church played a more powerful role than the scientific discoveries of the period. He also visits Paris, the home of the 18th century atheist, Baron D’Holbach, and shows how politically dangerous it was to undermine the religious faith of the masses.

Paul-Henrl Thiry Baron d’Holbach (“Good Sense”):

“When we coolly examine the opinions of men, we are surprised to find, that even in those opinion, which they regard as the most essential, nothing is more uncommon than common sense; or, in other words, nothing is more uncommon, than a degree of judgment sufficient to discover the most simple truths, or reject the most striking absurdities, and to be shocked with palpable contradictions. We have an example of it in Theology; a science revered in all times and countries, by the greatest number of men; an object regarded by them the most important, the most useful, and the most indispensable to the happiness of society. An examination, however slight, of the principles upon which this pretended science is founded, forces us to acknowledge, that these principles, formerly judged incontestable, are only hazardous suppositions, imagined by ignorance, propagated by enthusiasm or knavery, adopted by timid credulity, preserved by custom which never reasons, and revered solely because not understood.”

So It Begins, Teh Stupid!

Oh dear, not another crusade against the dreaded “MSM”… Is there ever a month that doesn’t go by when some witless right-wing goober doesn’t launch one of the dismally pathetic campaigns to expose the alleged vicious “liberal” bias against the pitiable, victimized “Conservatives”?

Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo!

Last time it was Sandy Crock… whose dimly lit quest into the “Dark Side” of media bias simply ended up being fodder for much hilarity. Now, it’s the even more phenomenally dense “Hunter” who’s off tilting at the big, bad media that are, she says, “too stupid to understand that they are awakening those that have slumbered.” Judging by her first effort, she’d be better off just going back to sleep.

How thick is “Hunter”? Well, if she’s going to be called a “knuckle-dragger” by Bob Fife (which she presumes refers to a “prehistoric monster” for some odd reason) then she wants to be analogous to the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Of course most reasonably intelligent people know that the expression refers to apes or cavemen, not dinosaurs. Even so, it obviously never occurred to her the T-Rex with its notably tiny forelimbs would be an especially poor choice for knuckle-dragging.

Conservatives in their natural habitat

Okay, so she’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, let’s look at a couple of examples of “bias” shall we? First up, she’s angry that the identity of the person who released the Lukiwski hasn’t been disclosed, but she’s heard a rumour that it may have been former NDP minister Pat Atkinson. She therefore decides to “look at her record” which to “Hunter” consists of highlighting one letter from the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce to Atkinson when she was Finance Minister that was highly critical of the government’s so-called productivity agenda. From this, and this alone, she deduces that Atkinson (who may not even be involved at all, remember) is “incompetent” and “she couldn’t care less.” And her “proof” for these baseless assertions? Because “Saskatchewan is booming under the Saskatchewan Party.” Huh? Good grief, have you ever heard such a catastrophically stupid, illogical line of reasoning? The new government has only been in office about four months… does she think the provincial economy was in the gutter or spiraling downward before that? What a delusional, clueless idiot. And THIS jumble of harebrained nonsense is supposed to demonstrate “media bias” against the “Conservatives”?

Her second example of “bias” relates to a story about Harper paying his respects at the Auschwitz concentration camp is laughably feeble. “CTV did not allow any comments, even though they allowed people to comment endlessly on the Lukiwski story,” she whines. Of course, she doesn’t point out that there are many stories that CTV doesn’t open up to comments. I have no idea what their policy is that determines which are or aren’t open to comments, and neither does “Hunter” I’m quite sure. She’s also ticked off that with regards to the same story, “The Globe and Mail, allowed only 43 comments then they closed comments, they also erased the picture of PM Harper kneeling to pray for the Holocaust victims.” So what? They close off comments arbitrarily and change pictures all the time; again, there never seems to be much rhyme or reason to it. Why doesn’t she write to them and ask why instead of jumping to conclusions?

And on it goes with even more feeble and tenuously supported examples that could easily be refuted but aren’t worth the time bothering. Maybe if “Hunter” truly wants to understand how “media bias” works she should watch the documentary posted above. But of course she won’t because it’s easier to just continue nurturing her paranoid conspiracy theories about the “liberal media” and moaning like a gut-shot dog. It’s what “Teh Blogging Tories” do best, it seems.