Saturday, May 31, 2008

Late Show: The Critic

And now for something completely different… “The Critic” — a greatly underappreciated and sadly short-lived animated series from the mid 90s starring Jon Lovitz as Jay Prescott Sherman, “New York’s third most popular early-morning cable-TV film critic” and host of Coming Attractions. Hotchie motchie!

Celestial Junk = Historical Rubbish

Jews at Higueruela

One imagines that it must have required an extraordinary effort of some kind to write a post more comprehensively wrong in almost every single respect than the steaming pile of ahistorical bullshit offered up today by the paranoid, anti-Islamist kook at Celestial Junk. Purporting to edify readers as to precisely why Islam is such a pernicious threat to Western Civilization, Junky Paul delves into “Muslim and Christian foundations and beginnings” to examine how the origins of the world’s two leading monotheistic religions differently shaped their world view. Let’s have a look see what his intellectual skip-weaseling came up with, shall we?

Historically, Islam has persecuted non-Muslims each and every time it has held a plurality. Where Mulsims dominate(d), but did not persecute others, it was generally a result of colonial or dictatorial powers that held them in check. There are no exceptions. It is a fact which stands to this very day.

Wrong. Islam was the dominant religion in southern Spain for more than 700 hundred years, from 711 until 1492 under the rule of the Arabs and Moors of al-Andalus. During this period, also known as La Convivencia (“the Coexistence”), Jewish and Christian communities were tolerated and persisted throughout the era of Islamic rule. Granted, the tolerance included restrictions on building new Churches and Synagogues, and some discrimination regarding giving evidence against Muslims in judicial proceedings. In addition, the Christian and Jewish population had to pay a special tax (that Muslims did not pay), but in exchange non-Muslim males were not subject to mandatory military service. Also, there was a brief period of Christian persecution in the 8th century. Even so, compared to the horrific treatment of minorities in contemporary European kingdoms during that time period, the Muslims were generally much more tolerant of other faiths.

During the High Middle Ages in Europe, the fanaticism of the Catholic Church reached its highest levels with intense persecution of Jews, and tens of thousands were slaughtered by Crusaders and others. During the Crusades, which began about 1100 and lasted for nearly 200 years, Jews were killed during the beginning of each Crusade, being blamed that the Holy Land was not in Christian hands; the Crusaders rampaged through the Rhine and Danube River regions, massacring Jews because “why should we attack the (Muslim) unbelievers in the Holy Land and leave infidels in our midst undisturbed?” But there were also other reasons to kill Jews during the 14th century: disastrous harvests, severe famine, the Black Plaque of 1334-50; Jews were blamed for all of these. I could go on with other atrocities, but you get the idea...

Some historians believe the notion of La Convivencia — that some even misleading describe as a “golden age” — is false and might lead people to believe, wrongly, that Muslim Spain was tolerant by modern western standards. The true position is considerably more complicated. The distinguished historian Bernard Lewis wrote that the status of non-Muslims in Islamic Spain was a sort of second-class citizenship but conceded that: “Second-class citizenship, though second class, is a kind of citizenship. It involves some rights, though not all, and is surely better than no rights at all... A recognized status, albeit one of inferiority to the dominant group, which is established by law, recognized by tradition, and confirmed by popular assent, is not to be despised.” Regardless, this is certainly a far cry from what could be regarded as “persecution” by the relatively unenlightened standards of the Middle Ages.

Notwithstanding Paul’s ludicrous claim of there being “no exceptions” to his ironclad rule that Islam has persecuted non-Muslims from time immemorial, one might argue that La Convivencia is too historically problematic or is inapplicable for one reason or another, so let’s look at a more contemporary example, that being the country of Indonesia.

With a population of 222 million people, it’s the most populous Muslim-majority nation in the world. According to the 2000 census, almost 86% of Indonesians are Muslim with 11% of the population declared Christian, 2% Hindu, and 1% Buddhist. Indonesia is not a Muslim state, but a secular republic with a presidential system. Religious freedom is stipulated in the Indonesian constitution (The 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, Chapter XA, Article 28E). Some Christian groups in the west (supported by rabid anti-Islamist Michelle Malkin amongst others) argue that their religion is “persecuted” in Indonesia, but frequently this seems to be more a case of sectarian clashes with extremist Muslim groups and radical factions within the country than any deliberate policy of oppression carried out by the state.

Well, that’s one monumentally ignorant fallacy dealt with. As time and patience allow, we might look at Paul’s assertion that “Christianity is by and large a pacifist religion” and some of the other hilariously bogus crap being pedaled by this deeply kooky man.

Note: The illustration from the 15th century depicts Jewish soldiers fighting alongside the forces of Muhammed IX, Nasrid Sultan of Granada, at the Battle of Higueruela, 1431. Yes, the Jews were so “persecuted” that they fought on the side of the Muslims against the invading Catholic King John II of Castile.

Kids in the Hall: America

Semi-related: I don’t get it. Why would you take a flag to a pawn shop? How is this “inspiring” in any way? What does it have to do with the mission of our troops in Afghanistan... and are they really keeping us “safe” by propping up a corrupt Islamic narco-state on the other side of the planet?

Visionary Art: The Telectroscope

Hardly anyone knows that a secret tunnel runs deep beneath the Atlantic Ocean. In May 2008, more than a century after it was begun, the tunnel has finally been completed. An extraordinary optical device called a Telectroscope has been installed at both ends which miraculously allows people to see right through the Earth from London to New York and vice versa...

I just love this art project on all kinds of levels, not least for the insanely gorgeous design that’s evocative of Jules Verne. What a shame it will only be running until the middle of June.

More at the NYT and at Tiscali’s ultra-cool website.

Headcases (Ep. 5-3)

Our “Amazing” Earth

Various mazes and labyrinths around the world as seen via Google Earth.

Covering an area of three acres with at path length of 3.11 miles, the Pineapple Garden Maze at Dole Plantation on the Hawaiian island of Oahu was officially recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records 2001 as the World’s Largest Maze (there are several others now claiming this title, such as the Northern Ireland “peace maze”).

Speaking of mazes, if you’re an insanely patient kind of person with ridiculous amounts of time on your hands (which by the way, require the steadiness of a surgeon), then check out I’d highly recommend shutting off the music as it will drive you bonkers in short order, especially once you’ve screwed up a number of times.

Architectural Moment of Zen

Milwaukee Art Museum

The Quadracci Pavilion of the Milwaukee Art Museum, designed by Santiago Calatrava. The structure contains a moveable, wing-like brise soleil which opens up for a wingspan of 217 feet during the day, folding over the tall, arched structure at night or during inclement weather.

The Beautiful Game

“I hate soccer, I just abhor it. The whole soccer mom thing is a creation of some pacifist to pussify an entire generation of American men, and I think it should be abolished.”

So says country music superstar and outspoken “conservative” Trace Adkins, doubtless echoing the sentiments that will likely be expressed by many Blogging Tories in response to this.

Installation of Torqued Ellipse IV & Intersection II

Time-lapse view Richard Serra’s Torqued Ellipse IV (1998) and Intersection II (1992) being installed in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden at The Museum of Modern Art last autumn.

There’s an interesting article in Business Week about Pickhan Heavy Fabrication, the niche German steelworks that when not working with Serra on his monumental steel sculptures, fabricates customized pieces for oil drilling platforms, giant ship cranes and other large-scale industrial gear.

The Megalomaniacal Adventures of Brainy the Pooh

Brainie and Pinklet attempt to steal honey from a beehive so they can secretly replace the world’s artificial sweeteners with it and render everyone fat, slow, and toothless.

A “Chronic Silence” on U.N. Child Abuse

A study released earlier this week by Save the Children, a British charity, dealing with sexual abuse of children by aid workers and United Nations peacekeepers showed that children affected by conflict or natural disaster rarely report abuse. They fear that the abuser might come back and hurt them, or that they might lose their aid, or even that their families might punish them.

Save the Children spoke with more than two hundred girls and boys in southern Sudan, Ivory Coast and Haiti. The group says peacekeepers and aid workers traded sex for food, money, soap and, in some cases, mobile phones. Children as young as six were abused.

The United Nations cannot punish peacekeepers for crimes; it can only send them back to their own countries to be tried. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called the issue very serious. He says the cases will be carefully investigated and that his policy is “zero tolerance” for abuse. Well, we’ve heard that before and no measurable improvement in the situation appears to have been made.

How can an organization that purports to speak with moral authority on the issue of human rights have any credibility whatsoever when this inexcusable kind of travesty is allowed to continue practically unabated amidst its own ranks? Given that Canada fancies itself a leading player in the United Nations and a force for good in the world, what the heck is the Harper government doing in this regard… anything at all?

Coultergeist Savages Scotty, Obama

Hmmm, what’s that word that rhymes with what football teams often do on fourth down?

Odious telebimbo and flamboyant public crackpot Ann Coulter appeared on Hannity & Colmes last night to befoul the airwaves with her churlish groaners and trademark inanities. Yes, yes… Scotty is a “not very bright or talented person” who’s just going to “cash in — at least on one book, one time”… Aren’t people a bit tired of her bile-induced vaudeville act?

When Louis Met… The Nazis (Part 5 & 6)

It’s actually quite dispiriting to see how intellectually vacuous and emotionally stunted these people are… from the hateful, swastika brandishing Gaede clan, to Tom Metzger, the self-styled “international politician” and his slimy, ex-felon booking agent — they’re all thoroughly horrid, pathetic creatures.

Friday, May 30, 2008


Something, as Atrios says, “for us geeks.” Yes, I’m a shameless Dr. Who fan, although it must be said, not as much as my wife, who’s quite mad for it and has probably seen every episode ever made going back to the William Hartnell era.

Bob Dole Gives Scotty a HARD Time


“In my nearly 36 years of public service I’ve known of a few like you. No doubt you will ‘clean up’ as the liberal anti-Bush press will promote your belated concerns with wild enthusiasm. When the money starts rolling in you should donate it to a worthy cause, something like, ‘Biting The Hand That Fed Me.’ Another thought is to weasel your way back into the White House if a Democrat is elected. That would provide a good set up for a second book deal in a few years.” — Bob Dole

Uncontacted Tribes (Updated)

Strange to think that such people actually exist in this day and age.

The group that released the video and photos, Survival International, works to end illegal logging in the rainforest in order to protect the aboriginal tribes living there. They estimate that 100 “uncontacted” groups exist worldwide, about half of them in the Amazon basin.

Updated: Here’s an interesting switch on the “uncontacted natives”… What happens when five tribesmen from Tanna — one of the most southerly islands of the remote South Pacific nation of Vanuatu — travel 10,000 miles from their “kastom” villages to observe the natives of a strange and exotic land… called Britain?

MST3K: Using Your Voice

The Atheist Delusion

Real News: Is “Clean Coal” Possible?

A couple of really good posts today on the subject of clean coal technology at Rolling Back the Tide of Extremism and Blast Furnace Canada. You just knew those “Balanced Energy” commercials sounded too good to be true, didn’t you?

Although “clean coal” makes for a lot of nice, feel-good corporate publicity (not to mention generous public subsidies) you’ll find there’s vastly more actual investment in terms of money and effort spent by the coal companies on the production of so-called “Nazi fuel” (synthetic diesel derived from coal). Now that’s the future the fossil fuel producers are really committed to — the other stuff is just a scam.

Headcases (Ep. 5-2)

Rupert Murdoch on Obama & McCain

Not the most expected comments from Rupe, I must say.

So Long, Gazoo

Harvey Korman, self-described “luminous second banana” — dead at 81.

Conservative People Fucking (Stupid)

How predictable that our “Conservative” overlords are so paralyzed by the fear of offending their morally righteous “base” of God-bothering ninnies that not a single one of them would agree to attend yesterday’s screening of the provocative film that’s become the focus of the debate surrounding proposed changes contained in Bill C-10. Mortified Cambridge MP Gary Goodyear even went so far as to fire a staffer just for mistakenly suggesting her boss would be attending.

How on earth can these gormless asshats maintain that YPF is “pornographic” (which by all accounts is definitely not the case — and if it were, it would be disqualified on those grounds anyway) and undeserving of federal funding because of the nature of the content when, like “Doctor” Charles McVety, they haven’t even seen the film? Idiots.

Update: Kady O’Malley attended the screening. Her verdict? “Absurdly wholesome, and really very sweet. The kind of movie that sucks you in when you’re flipping through the channels on a Sunday afternoon.” Heh. Much ado about nothing, as usual.

More Crazy Preacher Trouble for Obama

This time it’s Father Michael Pfleger, a priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, going off the deep-end from the pulpit of Trinity United Church of Christ last Sunday while ranting about white entitlement and supremacy. In the process, (2:10 in the video) he mocks Hillary Clinton: “Oh damn! Where did you come from? I’m white! I’m entitled! There’s a black man stealin’ my show!”

Note: Pfleger being considerably more sensible can be seen interviewed here.


Harper 007

Half of Canadians believe Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is not only secretive but arrogant, according to a new Toronto Star/Angus Reid poll. More here.

In other polling news, 57 per cent of Canadians believe the security breach that led to the resignation of foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier should be investigated by the RCMP.

Countdown: Scott McClellan Interview

Related: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Below is Rush Limbaugh spinning like a radioactive centrifuge in an attempt to discredit McClellan while re-writing history. For example, contrary to his assertions about the National Intelligence Estimate, in fact, only a small portion of it was declassified by Bush in 2006 after it had already been selectively leaked to the NYT and WP in the run-up to the mid-term elections. Darn those pesky liberal facts.

O’Reilly: Seething Mad at NBC (Again)

“Alright, I gotta go. I gotta go get a little drink… I gotta calm down.”

Poor Bill… He’s out of the loop and is mad as hell about it. While his nemesis Keith Olbermann was interviewing Scott McClelland, in a now routine segment on “far left media bias” with Bernie Goldberg and Jane Hall, O’Reilly’s frustration erupted in an rage-filled tantrum about NBC.

When Louis Met… The Nazis (Part 3 & 4)

The two little girls in the film, Lamb and Lynx Gaede, subsequently went on to form the musical duo “Prussian Blue” that was featured on a segment of ABC’s Primetime in 2006. During their ABC interview, the homeschooled twins said they believed Adolf Hitler was a great man with good ideas and they described the Holocaust as being exaggerated. Lynx and Lamb, as well as representatives from neo-Nazi National Vanguard with whom they and their mother are affiliated, claim not to be white supremacists, but “separatists” that want a homeland for white people.

The duo moved with their mother April, their stepfather and their younger half-sister from Bakersfield, California to Kalispell, Montana in 2006 because, in their mother’s words, Bakersfield was “not white enough.” Some of their new neighbors didn’t welcome them; a handful of city residents passed out fliers warning of the family’s views, and signs proclaiming “No Hate Here” appeared on windows around the town. The duo toured Europe in 2007.

PBS Now: Education City (Part 3)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

MST3K: Time of the Apes (Part 3)

Elizabeth May on Dion’s Carbon Tax “Plan”

Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May discusses the Liberal carbon tax plan and the NDP’s negative reaction to it on last week’s Question Period.

”I’m disappointed Mr. Layton is on the wrong side of this one.... I am afraid that it has something to do with wanting to hurt the Liberals more than wanting to help the climate.”

Of course we still need to see the actual “plan” from the Liberals before any informed comment can be made on their proposals.

Headcases (Ep. 5-1)

John Barnes ’08!

Given all the disaffection about the existing candidates, isn’t it about time for a “viral video politician”?


Harper & Berlusconi

Stellar work there, Steve.

Nice to see that well-oiled communications machine in action on the world stage.

Giving “Progressives” a Bad Name

Massa & Company

Irrespective of how one feels about the abortion issue, the proposed imposition of an outright ban on student clubs that are opposed to abortion by the York Federation of Students executive is entirely wrong. Notwithstanding the “gruesome imagery and hostile argument” frequently employed by anti-choice groups, there’s simply no acceptable excuse whatsoever for this sort of thuggish, wholly intolerant affront to the freedom of expression.

The Irony…


Perhaps they shouldn’t have any kids at all — just breed nasty little dogs instead.

Update: Heh.

Trashing Scotty

Of course it was to be expected that the White House would be pissed off (euphemistically described in the media as “upset”) by Scott McClellan’s new book. The trashing of his reputation and character assassination though is really something quite amazing to behold and rather tragic to see.

Mary Matlin: “He never shared any thought. I can’t remember one meeting walking away saying, ‘Wow, that was a contribution!’ ...Scott was not a player, did not make any contributions, and yes, he was asked politely – and I guess the favor’s not being returned – and civilly to take the honor of his service and to move on.”

“To quote my husband recently, this is Judas on steroids... (McClellan) was either living a lie or for decades or he’s now spewing lies to make a living. In any event, at some point, he has to tell his nieces and his nephews and his kids, ‘What did Daddy do?’ ‘Well, I was a liar. I’m a liar for a living.’ And in many ways, it’s just really sad.”

O’Reilly: Scotty & “The Vast Left Wing Media Conspiracy”

Contrary to Bill O’Reilly’s bald assertion that “the far left loves that Scott McClellan… is trashing President Bush in a new book” it seems there’s actually a considerable amount of hostility and resentment coming from most liberal commenters about what Bill O calls McClellan’s “Judas Move”. Arianna Huffington’s reaction is fairly typical:

It’s George Tenet déjà vu all over again. How many times are we going to have a key Bush administration official try to wash the blood off his hands — and add a chunk of change to his bank account — by writing a come-clean book years after the fact, pointing the finger at everyone else while painting himself as an innocent bystander to history who saw all the horrible things that were happening but, somehow, had no choice but to go along?

Of course, that doesn’t quite fit with Bill O’s hoary narrative about the “vast left wing media conspiracy” and how the “far left” (an ever-growing list of outlets that now includes the NYT, Newsweek, NBC News and “hate sites” like Daily Kos) is simply overjoyed about McClellan’s transformation from, as Huffington puts it, a “lie-spouting sock puppet” to somebody who sounds “like a left wing blogger” according to Karl Rove. Also conveniently overlooked by O’Reilly is the fact that McClellan’s assessment of the mainstream press in his new book is apparently less than flattering — he refers to the media as “enablers” that abdicated their responsibility in the selling of the war by the Bush administration. Well, perhaps that was before they all went “crazy” after “Iraq went south” as Bill’s fable would have us believe.

As for the other assertions Bill O makes about the media being in bag for Obama and there being no sympathy whatsoever for John McCain… they’re laughable beyond words. Maybe Bill is unaware that last month the Associated Press’s Ron Fournier and Liz Sidoti, hosted a friendly interview with McCain, greeting him first with a box of Dunkin’ Donuts. “We spend quite a bit of time with you on the back of the Straight Talk Express asking you questions, and what we’ve decided to do today was invite everyone else along on the ride,” Sidoti sweetly explained. “We even brought you your favorite treat.” And maybe Bill forgot about McCain’s chummy little “thank you” cookout for over 40 reporters from a wide variety of news outlets — including the New York Times — at his vacation home in Arizona last March. The love affair of the beltway “villagers” with “maverick” John McCain is well known and easily documented, making O’Reilly’s crackpot media conspiracy theory seem even loonier than is normally the case.

When Louis Met… The Nazis (Part 1 & 2)

An episode of Louis Theroux’s award-winning BBC documentary series in which he accompanied “celebrities” and controversial figures as they went about their day-to-day business. The show wrapped up in 2002 because of increasing difficulties in finding people willing to appear.

In this program, Louis spends some time with a community of Nazis, “trying to find the humanity in people whose world view is probably the most abhorrent and discredited conceivable.”

Update: Oops!

PBS Now: Education City (Part 2)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

MST3K: Time of the Apes

A plot device transports a woman and two kids to a time when apes rule.

Curiouser and Curiouser!

Interesting. Or at least it would be if it wasn’t all so terribly predictable.

Scenes from “The Greatest Government in the World”

I get the impression that EPA head Stephen Johnson derives a good deal of perverse enjoyment from deliberately messing around with Congressional oversight committees.

Teh Stupid Profiling at SDA

Oh my, it’s simply horrible that the Liberals are engaging in “racial profiling” when targeting potential voters.

Why the Conservatives would never, ever…

Oops. Hang on a minute.

Never mind.

The Harper “Accomplishments” — Part XXXIV

Teeny Tiny Accomplishments

Now in miniature form!

Another novel variation in case you were getting somewhat fatigued from the overwhelming tedium of hearing the hacktacular Sandy Crock rambling on about the Harper government’s so-called “accomplishments” again and again and again and again and again and again… until she starts to froth at the mouth and fall over backwards.

PBS Now: Education City (Part 1)

While America’s reputation in the Middle East is hovering at historic lows, the demand for American university-branded education has never been greater. The PBS program “Now” explores how the oil rich nation of Qatar is importing top-notch American education at a cost of billions of dollars.

An initiative of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, Education City covers 14 square kilometers and houses educational facilities from school age to research level and branch campuses of some of America’s leading universities such as Georgetown, Texas A&M and Carnegie Mellon. Qatar aims for it to be the center of educational excellence in the region and is also conceived of as a forum, where universities share research and facilities, not only with each other but also by forging relationships with businesses and institutions in public and private sectors.

Us & Them

Dr. Douche

Hmmm. Maybe the malevolent mantras of the right-wing noise machine are so thoroughly occluded into the mudfortunate mind of the moronic medic that he’s no longer able to differentiate between the armed forces of the United States and those of Canada. Or perhaps he really does view the President of the USA as our “commander in chief”…

John McCain — A Real Tough Guy

Scott McClellan: Wha Happened?

Politico reports that in his new book, former Bush White House press secretary Scott McClellan says that Bush was not “open and forthright on Iraq,” adopted a “permanent campaign approach” when it came to governing, and used “propaganda” to sell the war. Wow — there’s some real shockers, huh?

McClellan now maintains that the media wasn’t tough enough on Bush: “If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq. The collapse of the administration’s rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise....In this case, the ‘liberal media’ didn’t live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.” Well, no shit, Sherlock.

Why anyone would pay $27.95 to have this shameless little weasel tell us what most of have known for the past six years is beyond me. If Scottie was hoping for some kind of absolution from his supposed epiphany, I suspect he’s bound to be disappointed.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

MST3K: Hired! (Part 2)

The thrilling conclusion.

A History Lesson for Obama

Your “uncle” couldn’t have been “...part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps” as it was freed by the Soviets in mid-January 1945. Patton’s Third Army was still engaged in the Battle of the Bulge at that time. A pretty egregious gaffe, I’d say. Very sloppy.

Naturally, the wingnuts are all over this. SDA seems strangely MIA… probably just late to the party. Get with it there, Kate!

Note: Video is rare Russian footage of the liberation of Auschwitz with German narration.

Update: The quote in question (better audio than some clips floating around).

Poor Old Joe


No respect.

“Harper is a heavy weight,” says JR.

Indeed. But it’s rather impolite to always be going on about his unsightly corpulence, isn’t it?

Update: On a more serious note, Clark actually expresses the concern many people have about Harper and that is not knowing “where he really is” on various issues. It’s understandable I suppose that fans of the Dear Leader would perceive this as being an insult rather than admitting that they’re every bit as much in the dark about Harper’s beliefs and intentions as everyone else.

Hate Couture

KKK seamstress

Where do KKK robes come from? Actually, it’s not something that ever occurred to me, but the folks at Mother Jones have the answer:

Coming from five generations of Ku Klux Klan members, 58-year-old “Ms. Ruth” sews hoods and robes for Klan members seven days a week, blessing each one when it’s done. A red satin outfit for an Exalted Cyclops, the head of a local chapter, costs about $140. She uses the earnings to help care for her 40-year-old quadriplegic daughter, “Lilbit,” who was injured in a car accident 10 years ago.

Sad that there’s even a market for this shit.

Nightline: Tesla EV Roadster

Powered by an 3-phase, 4-pole AC electric motor, the Tesla EV Roadster has 248 hp, is capable of accelerating from zero to 60 mph in about 4 seconds and can travel 250 miles per charge at a cost of about two cents per mile (small consolation given the $100,000 sticker price). The starting point is a high performance sports car (now in production), but the company’s long term vision is to build cars of all kinds, including low-cost family vehicles. More at their website.

Up, up and away….

Unfortunately, without French skydiver Michel Fournier.

Make way for former special forces soldier turned stuntman and television presenter, Steve Truglia.

Update: The Daily Telegraph covers the disappointment.

Hillary Clinton: Still Undead

The Undead

Via Jon Swift:

It’s funny that so many bloggers, who are as young and naïve as many of Obama’s idealistic young campaign workers, think that Obama has the nomination in the bag. They don’t realize that we are at the point in the narrative where the Terminator has been left for dead only to rise one more time, that Carrie is just about to stick her hand up from the grave, that Glenn Close is just about to rise up from that bathtub and attack Michael Douglas again. If the Obama children have any pet rabbits they might want to request Secret Service protection for them.

Speaking of risen from the dead, I was worried that Jon had expired during his two month hiatus. Nice to see him back!

Mysteries of “Teh Google”


They’re unfathomable to “Christian Conservative” it seems — at least if this sub-Janke bit of detective work is any indication. Sheesh.

Appealing to Assholes

Here’s a rather unconventional advertising pitch. Kieffe and Sons, a Ford dealership in Mojave, California, has a new radio ad in which they try to court Christian car buyers by announcing that they believe that non-Christians in America should “sit down and shut up.” What that has to do with purchasing a Ford escapes me, but I suppose it might be appealing to a certain demographic. I guess we’ll see if “any publicity is good publicity” as received wisdom would have us believe. More here.

Bernier Out, Emerson In

Took long enough.

Amongst other things, the appointment of Emerson demonstrates how awfully shallow Harper’s talent pool is. The former Liberal is now Minister of International Trade, Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics, AND interim Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Update: Oh, by the way, here’s the “narrative” for the Blogging Douchebags Tories to follow (via Stephen Taylor) — The Dear Leader promptly dealt with the issue while holding the line on “fabrications” and pointless “fish tales” of the opposition. Janke and others are totally down with the meme, of course. And look, over there… a shiny rock! Um, I mean, Jason Kenney.

Update 2: You have to love this line from Bernier to Couillard at the outset of their relationship as reported in The Star this morning: “I can’t switch girlfriends like I change shirts, so you have to be my official girlfriend for at least a year, in spite of what might happen between us.” Yowza.

In God’s Name (Part 5)

Does one of the leaders of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship share the extreme view that Islam is the work of the devil? Essentially, yes. According to Andrea Williams, it’s a “false religion” because it rejects Christ (by implication then all other religions are “false” and therefore works of evil) and to that end she arranges a conference called “Understanding Islam” where we learn from a former Muslim that the Islamic faith is based on hate and that it’s followers are “brainwashed” and “indoctrinated” — all said without the slightest trace of irony.

Then it’s back to another demonstration against the Human Fertilisation Embryology Bill that’s finishing its passage through the House of Lords before heading to the Commons where Andrea is now focusing her lobbying activities, working closely “as part of the team” with the Conservative MP Nadine Dorries (Mid-Beds) who leads the anti-abortion movement in parliament. Again, the LCF and other Christian pressure groups are writing the anti-abortion amendments for the MPs to put forward.

Dawn Primarolo, the UK’s Public Health minister, has accused MPs such as Dorries of having a hidden agenda which aims ultimately to prevent all terminations. “Those seeking to reduce the time limit have made it clear it’s because they don’t support abortions. I don’t think this has any place in the Bill. If they are honest they are saying they don’t like abortion. They want to prevent it and see gradually changing the time limit as the way to do it. This Bill is important and frankly, it’s been hijacked,” said Primarolo last week.

The Road to Total War (Part 6)

Who Killed the Electric Car? (Part 11)

Final part of the film.

It seems a little curious to me that of the few people who posted unnecessarily hostile and personally insulting comments in response to this film, not one of them ever provided a verifiable link that would corroborate their angry refutations or identify the source of their information, nor did they see fit to explain, even when asked directly, why they were so vehemently indignant about the film’s premise.

Monday, May 26, 2008

MST3K: Hired!

Door-to-door automobile sales… who knew?

Bill Clinton’s Latest Conspiracy Theory

Campaigning in South Dakota from the back of a cherry red pickup truck, Bill Clinton now insists that there’s a “cover up” by the media to hide Hillary’s chances of winning. Groan. Go home to Chappaqua and let Fred Thompson have his truck back.

FOX Pundit Wishes for Obama Assassination (Updated)

Another day, another low.

In case you missed it elsewhere, here’s Liz Trotta, former New York bureau chief of The Washington Times and now a Fox News contributor, discussing Hillary Clinton’s controversial assassination remarks, first mixing up Osama and Obama, then casually suggesting that “knocking off” both would be great “if we could.”

Update: Liz is terribly sorry for her “lame attempt at humour” gone awry. As weasely non-apologies go this one isn’t too bad.

Nothing Makes Any Sense

Mark Steel:

There’s a trial currently taking place in Belfast, that seems to explain plainly how nothing makes any sense. It revolves around a factory owned by the arms company Raytheon, which was set up in Derry soon after the IRA ceasefire. John Hume, who’d just won the Nobel Peace Prize was among those who announced the opening of the plant, welcoming it as a result of the ‘peace dividend’

So at last, now the men of violence had agreed to give up their weapons, the area could attract a peaceful company with a turnover of seventeen billion dollars from making weapons. Clearly, all the while the IRA were decommissioning their arms, most of us misunderstood this process. Because the government reports must have gone “They possess 100 rifles, 10 RPG 7 rockets and a shed full of semtex. If they want to be taken seriously this isn’t NEARLY enough; they need Tornado bombers and a car park full of tanks - we can’t deal with these amateurs.”

For example, when Raytheon won a contract to develop a new missile system for the Israelis in 2006, a spokesman boasted they would “Provide all-weather hit-to-kill performance at a tactical missile price.” Next they might have adverts, that go “Hurry hurry hurry to the Raytheon springtime sale for lasers, tasers and civilian-erasers that will make flesh sizzle through snow, sleet or drizzle WITHOUT making a casualty of your wallet.”

Despite this, the government in Northern Ireland welcomed the new plant, claiming they’d been assured it wouldn’t be making weapons. To which a reasonable response would be ‘Right - they’re a weapons manufacturer - they supplied weapons to, amongst others, the Indonesian military junta - this might, if you were cynical, suggest they make weapons. Or what do you THINK they’re going to be making - FAIRTRADE FUCKING CUSTARD!’

Militainment, Inc.: Militarism & Toys

Happy Memorial Day!

All in the Family


Surprise, surprise.

Well, as they say: it’s not who you know, it’s… oh wait, never mind.

Lest We Forget

Because it seems that “Conservative” MP Tom Lukiwski has.

Being somewhat naïve perhaps, like many, I felt that Lukiwski’s seemingly heartfelt apology was sincere and genuine. In rather dramatic fashion he stated that he was going to spend the rest of his life making amends, but after more than a month since the controversial incident he still hasn’t even responded to gay advocacy groups in his own riding that have extended invitations to meet with them.

So when does that amends-making begin, Tom?

In God’s Name (Part 4)

Oh dear, another defeat for Andrea Williams: the employment tribunal finds against the former magistrate’s bid to have his prejudices accommodated in the workplace. “So far Andrea has only limited success in the courts,” states the narrator who goes on to speculate that “perhaps one the problems is that she relies on evidence that has no apparent basis in reality.” When asked how old she thinks the world is, Andrea says she doesn’t think anyone has the answer but guesses it might be “about 4,000 years.”

Evidence isn’t an issue for John Pierce, a driving instructor in Bristol who sees God’s hand in everything. When in need of pupils, rather than rely on conventional advertising methods, he simply prays and the good lord delivers them to his aptly named Miracle Driving School. John is 29, lives alone and is a virgin. Affixed to the ceiling above his bed, a piece of paper with the name “Jesus” on it is the first thing he lays his eyes on every morning. This reminds him where his “focus needs to be” and allows him to block thoughts about sex from coming into his mind. Another handy method of suppression John employs involves reading “the word of God” into a Dictaphone and playing it back to himself. John claims this does more than just control “negative thoughts” — it gets rid of them altogether. In his spare time, John wanders about the streets of Bristol handing out “free tickets to heaven” to somewhat perplexed locals.

Wrapping up this part of the program, we rejoin Stephen Green and his followers back at the site of the planned mosque in east London where they’re beseeching the Christian deity to intervene on their behalf: “Lord will you stand against this, will you put obstacles in the way, and will you push back the powers of darkness.” At the end of the get together, Green makes a number of assertions bound to offend Muslims. For example, that “Islam is of the pit of Hell”; and that “Allah is Satan… because he’s just contradicting things that are in the Bible. So it’s not coming from the spirit of righteousness, it’s coming from another spirit altogether and the obvious candidate is the Prince of Darkness, the Father of All Lies — Satan himself.”

The Road to Total War (Part 5)

Who Killed the Electric Car? (Part 10)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Barr Wins Libertarian Nomination

It took six rounds of balloting, but former Georgia Republican Rep. Bob Barr beat Mary Ruwart, the choice of the Libertarian Party’s radical caucus, for the LP’s presidential nomination earlier today. Wayne Allyn Root, another ex-Republican, took the vice presidential slot after a tight race with medical marijuana activist Steve Kubby. Mike Gravel made it to the fourth ballot, but was eliminated at that point with just 76 out of 629 votes.

In a subsequent vote for the running-mate spot, Root narrowly edged Steve Kubby, a California activist best known for successfully promoting a ballot initiative that legalized medical marijuana in that state.

Barr is someone who brings an instant level of credibility to the LP that it hasn’t had in its entire history. In a year with so many disgruntled libertarian-leaning conservatives, he represents a real opportunity to siphon off votes from McCain.

Europe Ho!

Steve Harper: Green Crusader

“This trip is a short, tightly focused journey and it is definitely a working visit.”

What an odd thing for Buckler to say. Why would anyone presume it wasn’t a “working visit”?

The Emotional World of Farm Animals

Via Animal Place Shelter:

Jefferey Masson, author of When Elephants Weep and Dogs Never Lie About Love, leads viewers through the personal journey he underwent while writing his latest book, The Pig Who Sang to The Moon. This journey into the sentient, emotional lives of farm animals brings Masson to animal sanctuaries around the country where caregivers and the animals themselves tell their harrowing stories of rescue and escape. Masson delves into the rich ancestry of these curious and intelligent animals and interviews top experts in animal behavior who offer scientific perspectives on these amazing creatures.

Firth in the USA: The Michael Moore Challenge

Chasers’ correspondent Charlie Firth tries to top Michael Moore’s career total of being kicked out of 34 “evil” corporate headquarters — in just one day.

Real News: Fear of Islam Hurts Obama in KY

It’s astonishing how resistant to facts this meme has proven to be, especially in the rural backwaters of the south and parts of the industrial northeast. The truly unfortunate thing is that the Republicans, some hysterical right-wing bloggers and even more than a few Clinton supporters cultivate these baseless fears and cynically pander to them for their own political advantage.

In God’s Name (Part 3)

The ubiquitous Stephen Green and his band of Christian fanatics are back… this time protesting the construction of a mosque in east London. After once again showing reluctance about being filmed, he prays that the BBC journalist “wouldn’t end up in that lake of fire” then decides he wants to be in the program after all, allowing the crew to join his group picketing gay events. According to Green, divine retribution for “sins” such as homosexuality will come in the form of Islam and steady shift in demographic balance due to the higher reproductive rates amongst Mooslims that will ultimately enable them to achieve a political takeover of Britain. “And if that isn’t going to be judgment of God, I don’t know what will be,” concludes Green.

Meanwhile, LCF’s Andrea Williams has her knickers in a twist over the issue of “animal human hybrids” that she purports will be the outcome of the Labour government’s proposed Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. In fact, her primary objective is just to utilize the bill as a means of getting the abortion laws tightened. To that end, we see her and other representatives of pro-life groups meeting with the Conservative peer Lord Tebbitt to pass along an amendment that she’s conveniently prepared for him to table in the House of Lords. Then, it’s off to deal with her court battle on behalf of a magistrate who resigned in protest at a new law allowing gay couples to adopt children. The LGF (funded in this case by the American Christian legal advocacy group Alliance Defense Fund) has encouraged him to file a complaint with an employment tribunal on the premise that he was “forced” to resign because of his religious convictions.

Mars Touchdown…

The Phoenix Mars Lander is supposed to touchdown in the northern arctic plains of Mars today. Data collected by the probe hopes to provide important answers to the following questions: 1) can the Martian arctic support life; 2) what is the history of water at the landing site; and 3) how is the Martian climate affected by polar dynamics? More info on the mission here.

Charity Cheapskates

Tory Charity

Oops, seems Bev forget to mention that the Stephen Harper government’s “matching funds” won’t apply to the vast majority contributions made by Canadians. Oh well. It’s the initial public impression, errr, thought that counts you know.

Update: As some have pointed out, the perfidious Liberals introduced a similar matching funds scheme when they were in government in response to the 2004 tsunami disaster. The difference? They made it RETROACTIVE to the date of the earthquake. What bastards, huh?

The Road to Total War (Part 4)

Big Bucks, Big Pharma (Part 6)

Final part of the series. This segment explains how the commercialization of research frequently results in the distortion of clinical findings while also undermining the credibility and integrity of reporting in medical journals (“marketing dressed up as science” according to the film).

Who Killed the Electric Car (Part 9)

The hydrogen fuel cell was presented by the film as an alternative that distracts attention from the real and immediate potential of electric vehicles to an unlikely future possibility embraced by automakers, oil companies and a pro-business administration in order to buy time and profits for the status quo.

The film backs up the claim that hydrogen vehicles are a mere distraction by stating that “A fuel cell car powered by hydrogen made with electricity uses 3 to 4 times more energy than a car powered by batteries” and by interviewing the author of The Hype About Hydrogen, who lists five problems he sees with hydrogen vehicles: 1) Current fuel cell cars cost an average of $1,000,000. This cost, in his words, “has gotta drop.”; 2) Current materials cannot store enough hydrogen in a reasonable space to “give you the range people want.” 3) Hydrogen fuel is “wildly expensive.” In his words “even hydrogen from dirty fossil fuels is two or three times more expensive than gasoline.” 4) The need for an entire new fueling infrastructure. He claims “someone’s gonna have to build at least ten or twenty thousand hydrogen fueling stations, before anybody is going to be interested.”; and, 5) Competing technologies will improve over time as well. “You have to hope and pray that the competitors in the marketplace don’t get any better. Because right now the best car in the marketplace just got a lot better, the hybrid vehicle...”