Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mike McGuire’s “Brain”

Pea Brain

What a complete, fucking retard.

New Europe: Wild East (Part 1 & 2)

Another great BBC travel documentary with Michael Palin, this time in which he visits Eastern Europe. This is from the third episode called “Wild East” covering his travels through the Republic of Moldova (formerly a part of the USSR and now the poorest country in Europe) as well as the unrecognized breakaway state of Transdniester.

Who Killed the Electric Car (Part 1)

A 2006 documentary film that explores the birth, limited commercialization, and subsequent death of the battery electric vehicle in the United States, specifically the General Motors EV1 of the 1990s. The film explores the roles of automobile manufacturers, the oil industry, the US government, batteries, hydrogen vehicles, and consumers in limiting the development and adoption of this technology.

No irony at all

Um, I don't think so.

Some Perspective on Gas Prices

From an article by Robert Bryce in Slate:

When measured on an inflation-adjusted basis, the current price of gasoline is only slightly higher than it was in 1922. According to the Energy Information Administration, in 1922, gasoline cost the current-day equivalent of $3.11. Today, according to the EIA, gasoline is selling for about $3.77 per gallon, only about 20 percent more than 86 years ago.

In addition to comparing the price of gasoline to other “essential fuels” such as a Starbucks venti latte ($23 per gallon) and Budweiser beer ($11 per gallon), Bryce also compares American gas prices (that he calls “dirt-cheap”) to those in other countries around the world:

British motorists are currently paying about $8.38 per gallon for gasoline. In Norway, a major oil exporter, drivers are paying $8.73. In 2007, out of the 32 industrialized countries surveyed by the International Energy Agency, only one (Mexico) had cheaper gasoline than the United States. Last year, drivers in Turkey were paying three times as much for their gasoline as Americans were. The IEA data also show that in India—where the per capita gross domestic product is about $2,700 (about 6 percent of the per capita GDP in the United States)—drivers have been paying more for their diesel fuel and gasoline than their American counterparts.

Here in Canada (or Victoria at least) we’re paying the equivalent of just over $5 per gallon.

All that’s cold comfort for American drivers perhaps, but there’s something to be said or the contention that prices have been far too cheap for too long — a situation that certainly hasn’t done much to wean motorists off petroleum, move our countries towards energy independence or even encourage automobile companies to provide more fuel efficient vehicles. In fact, overall fuel economy had until recently been in a long period of decline since the late 70s.

Who Killed the Electric Streetcar?

In 1922, according to internal General Motors files, Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., the MIT-trained genius behind GM established a special unit within the corporation which was charged, among other things, with the task of replacing America’s electric railways with cars, trucks and buses.

A year earlier, in 1921, GM lost $65 million, leading Sloan to conclude that the auto market was saturated, that those who desired cars already owned them, and that the only way to increase GM’s sales and restore its profitability was by eliminating its principal rival: electric railways.

At the time, 90 percent of all trips were by rail, chiefly electric rail; only one in 10 Americans owned an automobile. There were 1,200 separate electric street and interurban railways, a thriving and profitable industry with 44,000 miles of track, 300,000 employees, 15 billion annual passengers, and $1 billion in income. Virtually every city and town in America of more than 2,500 people had its own electric rail system.

Together with Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California and Phillips Petroleum, General Motors formed the National City Lines (NCL) holding company, which acquired most streetcar systems throughout the United States, dismantled them, and replaced them with buses in the mid 20th century.

Convicted of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act, GM was fined $5,000 and each executive was ordered to pay a nominal fine of $1 for a conspiracy to force the streetcar systems to buy GM buses instead of other buses (but not for dismantling the streetcar systems, which were also being dismantled by non-NCL owned systems).

Inside the Taliban (Part 6)

6 AM

A short film by Carmen Vidal Balanzat set in New York — winner of the Student Academy Award® in 2006. It’s a documentary in the “urban symphony” style depicting New York City in the moments before dawn.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Ripping Yarns: Tomkinson’s Schooldays

The first of Michael Palin’s post-Python series Ripping Yarns based on British boys’ adventure stories of the late 19th and early part of the 20th century. This one is an affectionate parody of the classic Tom Brown’s Schooldays and other such “school stories.”

And now… A Freaky Parrot

Enough politics for the time being. It’s so depressing.

Cap-and-Trade or Carbon Tax?

Economist and environmental studies professor at York University, Peter Victor discusses the various advantages and disadvantages of cap-and-trade systems (as advocated by U.S. politicians these days) as opposed to a carbon tax.

Personally, I’m disinclined to weigh in on Dion’s proposed carbon tax (or “tax shift”) until details of the plan are revealed (where the proverbial devil resides).

Warren Kinsella offers his gloomy assessment this morning, which is probably sound from a purely political perspective, but one has to ask: if not now… then when?

Obtuse Like You


How difficult can it be “deciphering” Chantal Hébert’s column this morning given it’s something that’s been stated repeatedly by a number of pundits and is quite plain for all to see — Stephen Harper’s government hasn’t seemed to manage the “psychological transition from opposition to government.” This is something that Rex Murphy said over a year ago with respect to Harper in particular. Hébert’s point, that she also made on last night’s “At Issue” panel on The National was that there’s simply no “institutional memory of government” in the Conservative caucus at the moment, having been almost wiped out in its entirety after the debacle of 1993. Since that time most of the leading figures of the party have come from the Reform/Alliance wing and are, in her opinion at least, perpetually stuck in “protest” mode — they’re anti-everything: the press, the bureaucracy, big business, the cultural elites, and so on.

As clear as this all is to anyone who isn’t totally blinkered, the point somehow mysteriously eludes the hopelessly dense Joanne who offers up her own bizarre, cockamamie version of what she imagines Hébert to be saying before throwing a pass to her fellow partisan spinster Sandy and her “impressive list” of so-called “accomplishments” that the Harper government has piled up during its illustrious time in office. Readers are invited to compare this to previous Liberal administrations… that she contends only ushered in the “Charter of Rights and Entitlements” and Same-Sex marriage. Yep, that’s it… they did absolutely nothing else worthy of note. Ever.

Another Day, Another Flip-Flop

I suspect Grandpa McCain’s reversals of previously stated positions are going to become such a routine event over the months leading up to the election that nobody will ever know what he said, when and for how long before changing his mind entirely.

Of course no reasonable person expects politicians to be altogether consistent about absolutely everything, or thinks that their opinions shouldn’t evolve over time or sometimes even shift dramatically in response to changing circumstances or new information, but McCain’s flip-flops are so flagrantly egregious and transparently motivated to score cheap political points that it’s difficult to see how anyone can accept what he says on a given day without wondering how provisional or fleeting it may be. When will the mainstream press tear themselves away from the silly delusion that this is still the straight-talking, shoot-from-the-hip “maverick” of almost a decade ago?

Update: Speaking of the Cretaceous One — Things Younger Than McCain (a potentially inexhaustible list).

Update2: It seems that McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds (great name) is just about as much of a stupid asshat as my cretinous troll. Today he issued a statement saying “It was remarkable to see Barack Obama’s hysterical diatribe in response to a speech in which his name wasn’t even mentioned.” An “hysterical diatribe”… Wow. Talk about a gross distortion.

Remains of the Slow News Day

Oh no, pity poor WXYZ Action News reporter Peggy Agar. At a photo-op in Detroit the other day, Barack Obama referred to her in passing as… brace yourself… “sweetie”! Imagine the mock horror!

Obama later called Agar to personally apologize for being unaware the local TV reporter wasn’t included in the subsequent presser and for inappropriate use of the heinously offensive term.

The right, forever outraged at political correctness gone mad, react with predictable hypocrisy.

Meet “Trusty” (The Tory Spokesbot)


Need to get a quick read on the position of the Stephen Harper Party of Canada regarding any given issue? Well, look no further than Trusty the Tory Spokesbot!

Trusty isn’t too knowledgeable or accurately informed about… well anything, but when not making shit up out of whole cloth, he’s quite happy to oblige the probing curiosity of his fellow “Conservatives” by reproducing press releases from the PMO’s office — completely verbatim! Plus, true-blue readers can be assured that all the opinions Trusty provides will be entirely uncritical of the Stephen Harper Party of Canada and 100% guaranteed fact-free. That’s right… none of that pesky “reality-based” stuff mucking up the works. And nuance… Ha! Forget that crapola, leftist elitists!

Take Trusty’s latest comprehensive analysis of Dion’s carbon tax proposal with the penetrating title of “Huh?” In it, we learn two things: 1) that the “left-wing” hates the military; and 2) that Liberals “fully endorse” the plan. The first assertion is something that’s apparently so obviously TRUE that no supporting evidence whatsoever is required for this defamatory blanket generalization. As for the “full endorsement” of a carbon tax, that’s sure a surprise to me! Heck, I thought there was actually a lot of debate and discussion over the matter. The Liblogs aggregator is certainly full of different reactions to it and all the news reports I’ve heard indicate that many MPs are quite wary about this emerging plan, the details of which haven’t even been released yet. But no… in the ultra-simple, black and white World of Trusty, Liberals “fully endorse” it. Now, some might call that an outright LIE, but they’d just be those persnickety dweebs who are incessantly quibbling over “the truth” and “reality” and other boring, inconvenient stuff that Trusty simply refers dismissively to as “blah, blah, blah.” Come on, who has time for that annoying nonsense when there’s so much relentless fellating of the Dear Leader to be done?

A Question a Douchebag Might Ask

Baby Ezra

It seems Ezra is really scraping the bottom of the rhetorical barrel when he disingenuously asks the childish question:

“Why do Canada’s human rights commissions respect the Koran but ban a prayer from the Bible?”

Hmmm. Well, simply offering up an extract from the letter of complaint to the HRC by the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada is hardly evidence that “human rights commissions respect the Koran.” For what it’s worth, the snippet proffered is actually headed “Importance of the Prophet Mohammad for Muslims” and is part of the premise of the complaint by Imam Syed B. Soharwardy. Also, Quebec’s human rights commission made a recommendation to the city of Saguenay to stop praying before council meetings — it didn’t “ban a prayer from the Bible” as Ezra misleadingly states.

Regardless of whatever one might think about the merits of Levant’s case, it’s hard to see how being a deceptive bullshitter helps his cause.

How Dumb is My Pet Troll?

Tom at Home

The panoramic stupidity of “Tom Robinson” really defies mockery (or at least makes it redundant), so we’ll just let him speak for himself:

“Today, Red Tory Version 2.0 is at it again. He lies and says that Bush took a swipe at Barack Obama by saying he won't talk to Iran or Syria. The problem is, Bush never mentioned Barack Obama during his speech, so it seems kind of childish to equate the two.”

Fact: As soon as the speech hit the wires, the White House aides privately acknowledged it was a reference to calls by Obama and other Democrats for the U.S. president to sit down for talks with leaders like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Everyone on the planet who isn’t a complete fucking moron with pudding for brains has interpreted the speech exactly in the way that I did yesterday morning after first hearing it.

“Red Tory, I know you just had a hip replacement because you fell down your stairs, but grow the fuck up and quit putting words in peoples mouths. What a pathetic piece of shit this goofball is.”

Fact: No, my hip surgery was the result of avascular necrosis, not falling down stairs. My you do love to make shit up, don’t you? As for not putting words in people’s mouths and growing up, maybe you should take some of your own precious advice you pathetic racist twat.

Gay Marriage in California

Oh my Gawd… The end of the world is at hand!!!

Or maybe not. According to a survey by the Mass Equality Education Fund, fully 84% of voters in Massachusetts believe marriage equality has either had a positive impact or no impact on the quality of life in Massachusetts and 82% of those surveyed said allowing gays and lesbians to marry has either had a positive impact or no impact at all on traditional marriages. Furthermore, the last time I checked, contrary to what the likes of Charles McVety and other “family values” wingnuts would have had people believe, the institution of marriage in Canada hasn’t collapsed either.

The unfortunate downside of this development however is that it’s likely to invigorate the efforts of moral fascists “social conservatives” like Tony Perkins, Mullah Dobson, et. al. Doubtless they’ll use the California Supreme Court decision to whip up the usual paranoid, anti-gay hysteria and launch state ballot initiatives across the country purporting to “defend marriage” that will likely have the effect of boosting turnout amongst so-called “values voters” at the polls this fall.

Update: More details on the decision itself at Mike & Dean’s place.

Inside the Taliban (Part 5)

An Islamic History of Europe (Part 6)

Final part of the series.

If you want a perspective that more accurately reflects that of many “Conservative” supporters, you can always visit this place and watch videos of swarthy “terrorists” being blown up by American gunships, seemingly harmless Iraqi cars being torn to ratshit with hails of bullets to the whooping, obscenity-filled cheers of American troops, and so on. Oh, and be sure to check out the jolly assortment of propaganda on offer from white supremacist groups like the BNP.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Talking to Wingnuts

How sad is it when even Tweety can eviscerate a shrieking loon from right-wing radio?

Via Jason Linkins at the Huffington Post:

Matthews, convinced that James was being a fatuous ass, called him out on his knowledge of geo-political history, asking James if he knew what Neville Chamberlain did at Munich in 1938. If you answered, “He signed the Munich Agreement, conceding a portion of Czechoslovakia to the Nazi regime,” you are right. If you answered, “He talked to Hitler, and caused 9/11 to happen and made the Statue of Liberty cry, just like Barack Hussein bin Laden wants to!” then you are Kevin James.

h/t: Blues Clair

Harper’s “White Box” Program

Doesn’t the Harper government already have a policy dealing with polar bears?

Dallaire Backtracks (sort of)

Obviously Stéphane Dion must have applied some pressure to Senator Romeo Dallaire yesterday, as he’s now backtracked on some of his more contentious assertions about a “moral equivalency” between the U.S. and Canadian governments and terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda. Probably just as well — those comments were unfortunately too easily prone to misinterpretation (quite deliberately so in the case of partisan thugs like Jason Kenney). Not exactly a profile in courage, but sensible politics. The last thing the Liberals need is something that feeds into the “soft on terrorism” meme.

Bush’s Clumsy Appeasement Smear

Worth less than a penny

Taking a not-to-subtle swipe at Barrack Obama — who has previously indicated a willingness to negotiate with Syria and Iran — while addressing the Israeli parliament today, Bush described such a notion as a “foolish delusion” and the “false comfort of appeasement which has been repeatedly discredited by history.” In doing so, he invoked a famous quote from Sen. William Borah who, on hearing of the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, lamented: “Lord, if only I could have talked with Hitler, all this might have been avoided.”

A couple of things Bush didn’t mention… First of all, Borah was a Republican (he made a failed bid for the party’s nomination in 1936, losing to Alf Landon) and leader of the “Irreconcilables” whose resolute opposition to the League of Nations led to the Senate’s ultimate rejection. And second, far from being indicative of Borah’s “appeasement” the remark could actually be construed as a repudiation of his own long-standing policy of isolationism and aversion to entangling alliances in foreign policy and involvement with European power politics in particular. In the past, Borah had said, “America has arisen to a position where she is respected and admired by the entire world. She did it by minding her own business.”

Update: It should more accurately be called “Retarded Thinking Unabridged” if Luca Manfredi honestly believes that simply talking to regimes such as Iran and Syria and other so-called “enemies” of the U.S. is a form of “appeasement” on the same level as that which enabled Hitler to solidify his position in Europe prior to WWII by various means.

Luca’s prerequisite that “Negotiating involves two parties in full possession of common sense and willing to come to an agreement” is beyond laughable. One wonders who will be the arbiter of “common sense” in this regard, and since when did achieving “an agreement” become the sine quo non of diplomacy?

Bone Idle Wanker of the Day

Rubic’s Boob

No contest here. In a post entitled “The Unreported Speech” perpetually benighted “Blogging Tory” douchebag “Hunter” asks “What is the MSM doing these days? They sure aren’t reporting on anything the Prime Minister does, like this excellent speech at the 60th Anniversary of Israel. NO coverage at all…”

Um yeah. No coverage, huh? Unlike the stories here, here, here and elsewhere. Maybe if “Hunter” pulled her head out of the Dear Leader’s rectum for a breath of air once in a while, she’d really be “climbing out of the dark.”

Tales of the Enlightenment

Meet bar owner Mike Norman, who’s come up with the wickedly clever idea of peddling T-shirts featuring a knock-off of the “Curious George” character peeling a banana, with “Obama in ‘08” underneath. Norman, 63, the longtime proprietor of Mulligan’s Bar and Grill in Marietta, Georgia, acknowledges the imagery’s Jim Crow roots, but says the shirts aren’t meant to offend. He claims to see nothing wrong with depicting a prominent African-American as a monkey. “We’re not living in the 40’s,” he said. “Look at him…the hairline, the ears — he looks just like Curious George.”

The usual battlelines involving free speech on the one hand and allegations of racism on the other are at play of course. Norman (who Anderson Cooper referred to on his program as “a stupid jerk”) figures that he’s providing a public service of sorts, reminding people they have a right to offend. “This is my marketing tool,” he said. Apparently, proceeds from sale of the shirts are being donated to charity. I’m sure the folks at the Muscular Dystrophy Association will be thrilled.

The Edwards Factor

Nice timing for Obama, coming as it did a day after Hillary Clinton trounced him in West Virginia and good timing for Edwards as well. Even though he’s long since been out of he race, his name was one the ballot in West Virginian and he got 7% of the vote.

Perhaps his endorsement will help Obama somewhat as he tries to gain some traction with “Reagan Democrats” in Kentucky — doubtful, but it can’t hurt. It may even quell the prevalent narrative about Obama’s non-electability amongst white, blue collar voters. But the main significance is this: in his endorsement Edwards came on a day when Obama picked up five more Superdelegates, adding to the impression that the party is now finally starting to come together around the presumptive nominee.

Inside the Taliban (Part 3)

An Islamic History of Europe (Part 5)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bizarre Nazi Propaganda

Here’s a film I’d never heard of before today. Kolberg is a 1945 German propaganda film directed by Veit Harlan and Wolfgang Liebeneiner. It opened on January 30, 1945 simultaneously in Berlin and to the crew of the naval base at La Rochelle. It was also screened in the Reich chancellery after the broadcast of Hitler’s last radio address on January 30.

The film was intended to boost the morale of the Germans in the last phase of World War II. It was based on the autobiography of Joachim Nettelbeck, the mayor of Kolberg. It told the story of the 1807 successful defence of the fortress town of Kolberg against Napoleon’s Grande Armée. The mayor was able to convert the local population into an effective and fanatical militia despite the pessimism of the local military establishment. Nevertheless, a young officer, Count August Gneisenau, later the great Prussian Field-Marshal and reformer, replaced the local military commander. He and Nettelbeck thereafter worked in concert to hold the town for their King.

Started in 1943, the Kolberg was made in Agfacolor with high production values. At a cost of more than eight million marks, it was the most expensive film of the Nazi era. Thousands of soldiers were used in the film, even though every man was badly needed at the front lines (they were quickly returned to the eastern front afterwards). To film scenes with snow during summer, 100 railway trucks brought salt to the set in Pommern. The film was finally completed at the Babelsberg Studios at Potsdam while the town and nearby Berlin were being steadily bombed.

The film was opened in a provisional cinema in Berlin and ran under the constant threat of air raids until the fall of Berlin in May 1945; Kolberg came far too late for the hoped-for propaganda effect, however. By that time, most of the theatres throughout Germany had already been destroyed.

Whatever Happened to “Expelled”?

Despite a lengthy and fairly elaborate promotional campaign lasting several months and the fact that the film opened in wide release across the United States, to date it’s only grossed a paltry $7.2 million in box office receipts. By comparison, “Sicko” Michael Moore’s latest documentary about the American healthcare system that was widely regarded as “a flop” earned $15.8 million in less time and in 600 fewer theatres. So I guess unlike the filmmakers and their front man Ben Stein would have had people believe, there really wasn’t any great pent-up demand for a documentary film countering the theory of evolution after all. Go figure.

Attention: Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Committee

I think we may have some new entries for you shortly courtesy of “Blogging Tory” whackaloon Frank “Mess-O-Potatohead” Hilliard.

“The first Susan heard about it was when Ron’s red F-150 pulled up in the driveway. She watched him get out and amble up to the door with the imposing presence his bulk always generated in the opposite sex. At 6’ 2” and 240 lbs, Ron Westlake was a handsome hunk of a man, respected by women, deferred to by men.” — Frank Hilliard

Don’t all rush at once to purchase his new collection of “erotic short stories”… {{{shudder}}}

Canwest: Using War Widows as Propaganda Tools

In an article appearing in the uber-conservative Calgary Herald yesterday headed “Widow of fallen Calgary medic supports Canadian mission in Afghanistan” it appears that Nicole Starker, the wife of a soldier killed in an ambush in Afghanistan last week either doesn’t have a clue what the “mission” is or Canwest is deliberately misrepresenting her views.

In the piece, she’s quoted as saying “I support Canada as a peacekeeping nation and what happened to Mike hasn’t changed that for me.” Well, that’s just dandy, but we’re not actually “peacekeeping” in Afghanistan. This is something our more bloodthirsty, bellicose “Conservative” friends are quite eager to point out when they seethe with contempt at the whole notion of peacekeeping; a military activity they regard as nothing but a shameful relic of the Liberal past, or as that moronic twat from Pictou (no, the other one) Mike McGuire put it yesterday, “a glorified blue bereted constabulary, puppets of the UN globalists.”

So, given that Mrs. Starker may have the wrong idea altogether about what our troops are actually doing in Afghanistan, why is the Calgary Herald misleadingly making it seem as though she supports the present “combat mission”? And furthermore, why are we treated to simpering inanities like this: “I thought he was too good a guy for anything to happen to him”? Wow. With all due respect, statements really don’t get much dumber than that. As if only “bad” people get killed in war.

h/t: Foottothefire

Robert Rauschenberg RIP

Critic James Kalm accompanies viewers on a walking tour of “Runts” a selection of Robert Rauschenberg’s recent works shown at Pace Wildenstein in New York at the beginning of this year.

Rauschenberg died Monday at his home on Captiva Island, FL of heart failure. He was 82.

The “Beautiful People” of the Right

The Right-Wing Glitterati

I see your eye-gouging ugly, Lulu… and raise you a hateful termagant and a “mudfortunate” quack.

Hokey Smoke… The Sacrifice!

Never let it be said that President Gump hasn’t made some pretty heavy-duty sacrifices in this time of war (he is a “war president” you may recall). Via ABC (Australian) News we learn that he quit playing golf in 2003 because of the war.

“I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal. I don’t want some mum whose son may have recently died to see the commander-in-chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them.”
— G.W. Bush

Wow. Flag pins, bumper stickers and not playing golf… now THAT’S showing support for the troops!

Inside the Taliban (Part 2)

An Islamic History of Europe (Part 4)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A “Seismic” Shift

Little noted in all the hoopla and yammering over Clinton’s victory in West Virginia was the defeat of the Republican congressional candidate earlier tonight in Mississippi. Travis Childers joins new Democratic Reps. Bill Foster (Ill.) and Don Cazayoux (La.) to give Democrats a trifecta of upsets in conservative House districts over the last two months. That doesn’t auger well for the GOP in the fall. It’s also interesting to note that in the dying days of the campaign, the Republicans linked Childers with Obama and by extension the Rev. Wright controversy, indicating that the “issue” may well have lost its punch.

Just for fun, here’s one of the negative attack ads from the Republicans.

Late Edition: Earthquakes

Marcus Brigstocke reports on the minor earthquake that hit Britain back at the end of February.

It’s even more laughable in light of the disastrous quake that struck western China on Friday, killing over 12,000 people. Just imagine if something of similar magnitude occurred in America or Britain. The coverage would be non-stop for goodness knows how long, rather than just rating a brief mention on the nightly news for a few days before being quickly forgotten or superceded by the latest minor flood, tornado or wildfire closer to home.

Shorter Crock-O-The-Matter: “Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo!”

More blubbering self-pity from a whiny partisan hack about the atrocious deficit of “civility” on the Intertubes. What Sandy doesn’t mention in her mewling diatribe is that she deletes/blocks comments that take issue with her hallelujah chorus of uncritical praise for the Dear Leader and his laughable “accomplishments” and, just like her prissy, thin-skinned, control-freak compatriot at “Blue Like You” who gets flustered by pesky “facts” that contradict her bullshit, opposing points of view must be carefully sanitized beforehand... apparently, for their protection. Well, we certainly wouldn’t want their precious little feelings to get hurt, now would we? Whatever would Miss Purcell think!

Bill Moyers: On Democracy & “Bumper Sticker Media”

Sigh. Why aren’t there more journalists like Bill Moyers around?

Yesterday, he appeared on Countdown with Keith Olbermann discussing corporate media bias and the way their narratives damage American politics by ignoring critical issues and grinding information into sound bytes and bumper sticker-type messages.

“We’re not going to have a discourse in this campaign over the fact that the great American wealth machine is benefiting only those at the top. We’re not going to get to the fact that 10% of the people own 60% of the wealth and 70% of the people have no net worth. We’re not going to get to the issues of how do we rebuild the infrastructure, the sewer, the water, the highways, all that. We’re just going to be constantly in this battle of bumper stickers.” — Bill Moyers

If you haven’t watched his weekly program on PBS, you really should as it provides some of the most insightful, thoughtful political commentary on television today.

h/t: Crooks & Liars

More Fun with Americans

Apologies up front to KEv.

Another bit from the Chasers boys, this time with Charles Firth hitting the streets and mall parking lots of America to poll “average” views on the current state of the war in Iraq.

The REAL Bill O’Reilly

Not that there was ever any doubt that Bill O’Reilly is a petulant, rage-filled bully, but this clip from his Peabody award winning days on Inside Edition has to be one of the most clear demonstrations of what an obnoxious dickhead the guy is. And check out that potty mouth! Why, it must give his right-wing camp followers the vapours… after all, everyone knows what delicate sensibilities those paragons of “civility” and “family values” have.

h/t: PSA @ Canadian Cynic

Getting Things Done — In Secret

Super Secret Access

Great headline, huh?

Nice to see that under the “open” and “transparent” so-called “Conservative” government, that Access to Information requests have skyrocketed, while their processing has slowed to a crawl. The obvious solution to the problem? Give ordinary citizens the bum’s rush and make them wait even longer to get the answers they’re looking for from their government. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Let’s hear it for “accountability” and “democratic reform”! What a joke.

Update: Oops. Related to this, I forgot to mention that the “Conservatives” also just recently dumped the Access to Information registry. Another part of their whole “accountability” program. I’m sure you’ll hear great howls of protest about it from the “Blogging Tories” because they’re always concerned about such things. Well, at least they were when the Liberals were in power. Not of course that I’m suggesting they’re a sniveling bunch of hypocritical douchebags whose concerns about the transparency of government or interest in ensuring the right of citizens to obtain timely access to information ceases altogether the moment a “Conservative” government is in power. Perish the thought. Besides, I’m sure they’ve all got much better things to do… like say, regurgitating Kathy Shaidle’s latest post, which was just a truncated reiteration of another blogger’s post, and so on. Not that I’m suggesting they’re lazy or anything.

Toxic Alberta (Part 9 & 10)

Two more parts from the VBS feature on the Alberta Oil Sands. In this instance, some of the not-so-good-life in Ft. McMurray.

Hey, check this out. For a mere $470,000 you could be living in a crappy mobile home in the middle of fucking nowhere! Or, a bit closer to half a million, perhaps you’d rather live in a hideous four story condo building with a spectacular view of a scrubby dirt hill. Luxury!

Inside the Taliban (Part 1)

America: Land of the Free?

Well perhaps... if you’re not a Muslim, that is.

Some embarrassing MOS interviews from the Australian comedy program Chasers War on Everything. Here, Charles Firth hits the streets of America to see where people really stand when it comes to identifying Muslims. The comparisons to Nazi Germany are obvious (and disturbing).

An Islamic History of Europe (Part 3)

Monday, May 12, 2008

“Baghdad Patty”

It's Another Sign of Success!

Hey, let’s not forget my other stalker, because he needs attention too!

And if it takes being a complete fucking retard to get some, well, by gum… so be it.

Hopeless Tosser Update: Shorter Pantload — “Photoshopped lampoons mean nothing! Now watch this whack video I found, but can’t even figure out how to make fit properly on my broke-ass little blog that nobody reads.”

Toxic Alberta (Part 7 & 8)

Two extracts from a lengthy investigative piece on the Alberta Oil Sands by the independent online broadcast network VBS.


Why doesn’t it surprise me in the least that paranoid crackpot, loony libertarian, and gun nut Frank Hilliard (aka Mess-O-Potatohead West) has written a self-published book called “Home Invasion Prevention” that claims to go “well beyond anything you’ve read anywhere else, beyond what police, security companies and most consultants traditionally recommend.” Frank invites readers to think of his “security game plan” like “a Russian doll” insofar as “you take it apart and there’s another doll inside that, and then another, and another.” Following the Matryoshka metaphor of nested dolls, one presumes that whatever is at the ultimate core of this cunning plan isn’t anything of great significance.

Not that it matters I suppose, but there’s no actual definition of what constitutes a “home invasion” so the statistics provided in the book have to be more than a little suspect. Nevertheless, according to his own “database” of such crimes, as of last month, there was all of one “home invasion” in Victoria. Yep, out of 146,000 households here (according to StatsCan) there was ONE such incident. To put the odds in perspective, you’re 29 times more likely to shoot a hole in one as being a victim of a “home invasion.” For Toronto, the odds are even more remote: 1 in 294,000. It’s hard to imagine losing any sleep over something so improbable ever happening, but such is the kooky, fear-filled world that lunatics of the far Right like Frank inhabit.

Update: Aside from being a pack of outright LIES and fabrications, my new little stalker buddy manages to miss the whole point of the post by a country mile. First some facts: Michael Moore is not my “idol” as claimed; there is nothing deliberately “anti-American” about this post; and it has nothing whatsoever to do with gun control.

The point was that traditionally, Canadians haven’t lived in FEAR, but have taken a fairly sensible approach to matters of law and order, and furthermore, have regarded the probability of being victims of crime with a certain amount of rational equanimity. Unfortunately however, gullible far-right lunatics like Frank and Tom that have been transfixed by media sensationalism, their own innate sense of paranoia, and the cynical bullshit of politicians happy to exploit such fears, live as a result in an edgy state of perpetual dementia about the ominously “threatening” world around them, even though the potential odds of their fears ever being realized are remote in the extreme.

Ironically, people like Tom, who justifies his abhorrent racism around the cockamamie pretense of preserving traditional Canadian culture are, in fact, actually working to undermine it with their hateful, terrorized approach towards our society.

Clinton’s “West Virginia Math”

Maybe this accounts for some of the more bizarre calculations the Clinton team is coming up with these days…

Speaking of West Virginia, this article in the Financial Times pretty much sums up the mentality of her “winning coalition” that’s comprised of “hard-working Americans, white Americans” and so on.

“I heard that Obama is a Muslim and his wife’s an atheist.” — Leonard Simpson (lifelong Democrat and retired coalminer from Mingo County, West Virginia)

Dear Tom…

Your comments last night about not feeling like you’re in Canada when visiting Toronto (“as if I just got off a plane in China, or India, or Palestine”) and the subsequent anti-immigrant diatribe was one of the most asinine loads of fact-free, racist bullshit I’ve read in quite a while.

I’d certainly be interested to know what the basis is for your contention that “most Canadians see [Toronto] as a complete failure” because, at least according to you, of the relatively large number of immigrants living there. Complete and utter rubbish — likely pulled straight out of your backside, I suspect. By the way, not that you ever seem to let those ever-pesky facts get in the way of things, but the population of Toronto (metropolitan area) is closer to 5 million, not “about 3 million” as you stated. But hey… when you’re making shit up, what’s a couple of million here or there, right? Also, half of 3 isn’t 1. And the “immigrant population” isn’t 50 percent of the population; it’s more like 46% according to the most recent census stats.

Your contention that “people are leaving Toronto because of this problem” is total crap. The change in the percentage of immigrants to those born in Canada in Toronto is simply due to the number of immigrants increasing, not an outflow of “people” (by which I presume you mean “whites”). Over the period of 1986 to 2001, the number of immigrants living in Toronto increased by almost 800,000 or 65%. In comparison, Toronto’s Canadian-born population increased by almost 400,000 or 18%.

I have no idea what a “multiculti fanatic” is, unless that’s how you describe people who aren’t insecure, xenophobic racists. Also, what is a “real Canadian”? I’m an immigrant — I was born in England. Does that mean I’m not a “real Canadian”? Or is this just another euphemism abhorrent douchebags like you use when you actually mean white people?

How extra precious that you “like immigrants” provided of course that they “have the same Western culture” (whatever the heck that might mean — monster truck pulls?) as you. Again, I suspect the bottom line here involves your broke-ass racial bigotry more than being attributable to any “cultural” preference.

As for Canada looking “like a middle eastern country” in 25 years, that’s highly doubtful. In terms of the country of origin for foreign-born people in the Toronto area, the highest proportion came from India, followed by China and then Italy. In Vancouver, of the immigrant population by place of birth, only 4.4% came from the Middle East. Your fear of winding up living in a Muslim caliphate is nothing but a ludicrous figment of your febrile imagination.

Invoking the sacrifice of soldiers who fought and died in this country’s past wars as some kind of justification for your loathsome prejudice is truly reprehensible; if anything it’s a mark of your moral and intellectual depravity. With respect to Canada being founded on principles derived from the Judeo-Christian tradition, what that has to do with your dismal brand of racism and irrational fears about your precious “native culture” (presumably you’re not referring to the displaced First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities) being “overwhelmed” escapes me.

Tragically, the profound ignorance and despicable attitudes expressed in your comments aren’t altogether uncommon amongst rank and file supporters of the “Conservative” Party, even if they may have been largely extirpated (or at least temporarily suppressed) within the political caucus itself. One can only hope that even this hapless bunch of asswipes and reactionary mental midgets have the good sense and/or a modicum of common decency not to ever become complicit in a strategy of pandering to white racist scumbags like you.

Update: Oh goody. I’ve got my own personal stalker now.

An Islamic History of Europe (Part 2)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Hillary’s Last Days

Not a perfect fit for obvious reasons, but still pretty funny.

What an embarrassing spectacle it’s been over the last several days watching Clinton’s surrogates and apologists frantically scurry around the TV yak-show circuit, making complete fools of themselves in their increasingly desperate efforts to convince voters that Hillary can still somehow conceivably seize the nomination.

Mother’s Day

It’s a thankless job sometimes…

Louisa Taylor of The Ottawa Citizen weighs in with the entirely predictable, thoroughly hypocritical moaning about the commercialization of Mother’s Day — which always appears without fail only after the papers have already taken in vast amounts of revenue from advertisers flogging merchandise connected with the “holy” day dedicated to the “truth, purity and broad charity of mother love.”

Some “Sign of Success”

It takes a special kind of stupid to take yesterday’s report that Afghan security forces foiled two improvised explosive attacks in the province of Kandahar and declare this “Another Sign of Success in Afghanistan” when you consider that over 920 police officers were killed by militants in 2007 and that on the very same day as the “sign of success” in question, Afghan police killed a protester and wounded three others who were demonstrating the earlier killing of three civilians by coalition forces in eastern Afghanistan (see video below). Four days prior to that, a roadside bomb hit a truck, wounding five police trainers in Kandahar and three and half weeks ago, 11 Afghan policemen were killed in southern Afghanistan while asleep at an isolated checkpoint. That incident came two days after eight policemen were killed at another checkpoint and week after a further seven were killed in Kandahar city, and so on…

The truly laughable thing is that the same fatuous moron cavalierly dismisses critics of the war as nothing but “historical revisionist naysayers.” Ah, the irony…

Boris Johnson: On being a “Tory tosser” etc.

Here’s a couple of clips of the new Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, appearing on Paul Merton’s comical chat show “Room 101” several years ago. What a shame we don’t have some politicians here at home more like this in terms of being amusing and honest almost to the point of recklessness. In addition to Danny Williams, I mean.

Why is it I wonder that our lot are so dreadfully unfunny for the most part? For a nation that’s widely renowned for spawning sharp comic wits, with one or two exceptions, they’re certainly conspicuous by their absence amongst the political class of this country. Is it simply an extreme fear of being inadvertently offensive or is there perhaps some other dynamic at play that escapes me altogether? Surely they can’t really just be as awfully drab and tiresome as they come across on television… can they?

An Islamic History of Europe (Part 1)

Author and presenter Rageh Omaar uncovers the largely forgotten story of Europe’s Islamic past and looks back to a golden age when emirs and caliphs dominated Spain and Sicily and European civilization was enriched by Islamic learning.