October 26, 2002

Sen. Paul Wellstone Killed in Plane Crash

Terrible news. Sen. Wellstone, his wife, child, and associates were killed in a plane crash today. My deepest sympathy to everyone affected. I disagreed with Senator Wellstone on many things, and we were on opposite lines of the field in recent months over the Iraq situation. Not in spite of, but because his strong opposition to my point of view, he will be greatly missed.

October 24, 2002

Due to circumstances related to Rogers Cable Corp and the Toronto District School Board existing for the sole reason of tormenting my soul, I have lost the server which I used to use to host by Blogroll and various images. Swift, bloody revolution against both is strongly encouraged.

(Legal Note: Not to be taken as encouragement for swift, bloody revolution -Ed.)
People of Toronto: Your Country Needs you!

This artist wants to photograph 5000 nude people in the streets of Toronto. If they let me wear a wireless laptop, I'll consider showing up and blogging the experience.
An Organization called Reporters Without Borders has just published their first ever “worldwide press freedom index”, which lists all the nations of the world according to the freedom of their press. The United States, surprisingly, ranks 17th, below Costa Rica and most of Western Europe.

I always thought the United States had one of the most free presses in the world, so I was curious as to why it wasn’t in the top five. Their description of how they reach their decisions was fairly vague, and in regards to the United States standing, they had this to say:
“The poor ranking of the United States (17th) is mainly because of the number of journalists arrested or imprisoned there. Arrests are often because they refuse to reveal their sources in court. Also, since the 11 September attacks, several journalists have been arrested for crossing security lines at some official buildings.”
Hmm, interesting. What do they mean by “number of journalists arrested”? Is that a total, or a per capita. The United States, being one of the most populous countries in the world is bound to arrest far more journalists the Costa Rica, simply because there are going to be far, far more of them. Even if the number is a per capita (which I doubt), it’s worth noting that the United States probably has the highest number of journalists per capita of any nation in the world. Thousands of newspapers, radio stations, Local News, CNN, MSNBC. The US media is huge, in part because it is also the major source of news for everyone in the world, not just Americans. A country that has a higher number of reporters per capita will always arrest a higher number of reporters per capita. Has Reporters Without Borders taken these factors into account when building their rankings?

Particularly troubling is their statement that “since the 11 September attacks, several journalists have been arrested for crossing security lines at some official buildings”. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I hardly see arresting an individual for crossing a security line at a government building, while there is a threat of immanent attack, to be an issue of journalistic freedom.

Do Reporters Without Borders look at the cases to see whether a reporter was detained for a legitimate reason? Do they see any legitimate reason to arrest a reporter at all? I’m particularly interested in how the EU, with it’s repressive “hate speech” laws, managed to squeak above the United States, where reporters can and do print just about anything without fear of being arrested for lack of “sensitivity”.

I don’t know what method Reporters Without Boarders uses to gauge journalistic freedom, and see no reason why their opinion should be treated with special attention, anyone can construct a list according to their own vague criteria to express whatever results they choose. However, this list has been widely reported in the (American!) media as if it were fact, when in reality their chosen method of ranking nations seems biased and unscientific at best. To me, it looks like they’ve specifically chosen a method of ranking which penalizes the United States, ironically, for having too many journalists.

October 22, 2002

This Could be Serious

You probably didn’t notice, but we were just hit by what might turn out to be one of the biggest and most sophisticated terrorist attacks in recent memory. All 13 Root servers for managing Internet domains were hit yesterday by a DDoS attack, possibly the largest ever. It seems that only luck prevented the whole system from crashing.

First, I want to know how the whole net could be so vulnerable to collapse, and second, I want to know what the chances of this being terrorist related are. If Al Qaeda disrupted the internet on a massive scale, even for an hour, they would instantly loose the support of lefty college kids worldwide, and have to face a generation of video-game trained killing machines barking for their blood. Don’t fuck with us, we play Counter-Strike.
Art pour l’art

Part of the requirements for Grade 13 Art at my school is that each student must log approximately 40 hours of work on projects to get their credit. To fulfill this requirement, two guys at school have cooked up an idea that’s part performance art, part sport, and completely insane: This weekend they will stay in a room, awake, creating artwork nonstop - for 40 hours. The entire event will be filmed for a live streaming webcast, along with a blog, so we can all watch and read as they make beautiful things, then not so beautiful things, then go utterly mad.

Visit the official site.

October 21, 2002

---Attention Confused Canadian Political Fans---

In case you've come here by mistake, I am NOT the Sean Kirby from this article:

On Election Day, that is all likely to spell good news for Chretien and the Liberals who, mostly on the basis of strength in a single powerful province, will probably be left as Canada's only remaining national party.

"Canada is a big country," said Liberal Party spokesman Sean Kirby. "We are just happy that our campaign seems to be resonating" in Ontario.
Sean, if you are here, then please contact me; we need to decide which one of us will wear the “evil twin” devil-beard.

October 19, 2002

Alright, there was some confusion, and the original post got deleted, but here is the proper link my Amazon Wishlist. A fairly odd collection of stuff I know, but that's just the kind of guy I am. Who else has got one?

October 17, 2002

Warning - Bad Puns Ahead

Israelis at center of major astronomical discovery (Jerusalem Post)
Weizmann Institute astrophysicists have managed to track a star, called S2, racing around a dark mass at the centerr of the Milky Way a pioneering achievement that offers additional support for the widely held view that the dark mass is a "supermassive" black hole.
I guess with a name like Weizmann, the place would have to have some smart people...
The United Nations: Preventing Genocide since… uhh… nevermind

While Nelson Mandela is busy accusing the US of flouting United Nation’s resolutions because Kofi Annan is black, would he care to explain why the UN allowed a Nazi War Criminal to become Secretary General, or why we should be paying him a 2.3 million USD pension?

The UN is beyond irrelevant, it’s in direct contradiction of it’s own mandates. It’s not just incapable of preventing genocide, but pays huge compensation to actual mass murderers. The United States, or any other country that values human life, should stop paying dues right now.

And execute Kurt Waldheim while we’re at it.

(link via Ben Fischer)
From The Department of Great Minds

Today’s Mark Steyn column quotes Winston Churchill, twice. As most of you know, this blog gets by largely by quoting Winston Churchill and Mark Steyn. Isn’t it odd then, that Steyn would use the same quote I did a few weeks ago, to make pretty much the same point I had in mind:

I began with a Churchill quote, so let me end with one: ‘Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.’ That’s what happened after 11 September: the brief glimpse of the reality of the Islamist scheme was too much, and so we dusted ourselves off and retreated back to all the illusions, like the Oslo ‘peace process’. That can’t save us, and it certainly can’t save Indonesia.
Yeah, exactly.

October 15, 2002

Won’t somebody please think of The ChildrenTM!?

Here’s a link to a clip from today’s MSNBC broadcast. Part of their “all sniper, all the time” schedule. In it, they state that police are investigating possible links between te “I am God” tarot card, and violent video games (they show a screenshot of counterstrike) which “glorify ‘one shot, one kill’ assassins, and allow players to enter god mode – to become invincible”.

MSNBC has always been a fan of the “It’s the Video Games, stupid!” Explanation for the existence of human cruelty and malice, but this one hits a new low. (Alright, maybe not - Blaming MS Flight Simulator for Sept, 11th was an all-time low.) I need not address the utter stupidity of suggesting that First Person Shooter games are somehow responsible for this serial killer, because if you don’t understand that already, your too dumb to be reading this page, leave now. However, I will mention how magnificently idiotic it is to draw the spurious correlation between the words “I am God” and the incidental phrase “God-mode”, which was slang for having the invincibility cheat-code in Doom, a game that’s almost a decade old. As a friend pointed out, it would make far more sense to investigate links to all forms of religion, if not God himself, then a video game which happens to feature sniper rifles.
It’s election time in Iraq again, this time Saddam is looking to beat his 99.6% mandate. Reading the news, you’d be surprised how many papers fail to mention within the first paragraphs:

1) Saddam is running unopposed
2) Every voters name and address is printed on their ballot
3) Anyone who votes against him is beaten and/or raped.

They seem to prefer running photos of publicly staged “shows of support” then focus on the total lack of any trace of democracy. Is it really so bad to remind people from time to time that Saddam is not a leader as any American, Canadian, or person possessing of common sense should define the word? It doesn't matter anyway.

The election is already over, and Saddam lost 77-23.
From Sea to Shining Sea.... to Shining Sea?

A Recent survey says that 38% of Americans support the annexation of Canada.

So what I want to know is, what percentage of Canadians would support such a move? I'm firmly in the YES (and remember: my vote counts as an American and a Canadian). We get to consolidate the North American landmass into one nation, all protected by the same military. The US gets lots of oil, timber, and fresh water, Canada gets the Bomb. Everybody wins.

Cast your Vote below.

October 14, 2002

CalPundit attempts to discredit fisking by using it (very badly) against the Gettysburg Address. Instapundit says that doing it wrong doesn’t mean that it’s a fundamentally bad form of writing. Glenn is right, fisking can be masterful when done right, but it’s also very hard.

Let’s ask an expert:

“I think so, but then again, so are most writers.”
-T.S. Elliot, when asked if he thought editors were all failed writers.

October 11, 2002

Important Notice:

The Nobel Peace Prize Committee can go straight to hell, and Jimmy Carter is a disgrace for taking part of what is fast amounting to World Annual Blame America Day.
National Coming Out Day

According to Connie Chung, today is National Coming Out Day. And it's critically important to take part. Of course, I'm not actually in the nation that this refers to, and I’m fairly sure I’m already "out", but that’s no reason to neglect my social responsibilities right? I’ll make it quick:

I'm here, I'm queer, and nobody really gives a damn.

Ok? Good. Moving on....

October 10, 2002

--No Dogs, Jews, or Niggers--

“Your kind ain’t welcome around here” policies are alive and well in Ireland, where a hotel owner is refusing to take bookings by Israeli citizens “due to the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government”.

Even presuming (and I don’t) that the hotel owner’s criticism of Israeli policy is justified (and it’s not), how does that make it ok to punish every citizen of Israel he comes across in any way he can? Does he expect citizens to return home, and petition their government for a change in policy, because they can’t get a decent hotel room outside the country? What kind of dumbass “political activism” is this?

Don’t answer, I know. It’s the “blame the Jews” kind.

Just hope this guy isn’t planning to visit the holy land any time soon. It would be a shame if he couldn’t get a place to sleep. What with the dangers of Irish terrorists and all.

October 09, 2002

What does he want? His face on the one dollar bill?

Robert “The Pork barrel” Byrd is threatening to filibuster the Iraq bill. You may have seen a clip from the debate in which he said we should “Hang a sign on the statue of Liberty – ‘Out of Business’.”

If Byrd’s approach to government funding is any indication, you could expect it to follow soon after with a sign reading “Under New Management – Welcome to the Robert C. Byrd Statue of Liberty!”

October 06, 2002

A French Oil Tanker has been hit by an explosion off the cost of Yemen, in almost the exact same way the USS Cole was bombed. Eye-witnesses and French Officials say it was a terrorist attack, Yemen denies it. There is one individual still unaccounted for. Let’s hope he’s ok.
There are three utterly brilliant pieces of writing on the net right now. If you have the time, read all of them. If you do not, read all of them anyway.

The first is Mark Steyn’s column in the Spectator about Europe, defense, and Iraq. Read it HERE.

The second is James Lileks' fisking of Senator Paul Wellstone’s anti-war speech. Lileks delivers a lightsaber blow to this guy. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Read it HERE.

The third piece is an excellent and captivating portrait of Saddam Hussein, his life, his routine, and his psychology. It’s written by Black Hawk Down author Mark Bowden, and offers perhaps the best explanation for the need to take out Saddam as any I’ve seen. Read it HERE.

CNN last night aired a program in which they discussed three possible scenarios for invading Iraq:

1) Gulf War style: Bring in carriers, have a sustained bombing campaign, then land troops and amour to fight their way in. Slow, steady, and safe.
2) The Afghan Plan: Arm and assist rebels in the north and south, fight side by side against the Iraqi army. This is a faster, more surprising attack, but still involves prolonged conflict with Iraqi regulars.
3) The Inside Out approach: Land hundreds or thousands of American troops in Baghdad, by airdrop. Have them seize the city, take out Saddam. The fastest, most surprising attack. It gets Saddam right away, presumably taking out the heart of the Iraqi infrastructure. The military folds. However, it would also involve lots and lots of very deadly urban combat, high casualties.

I honestly don’t know what the best plan is, I suspect it will be a mix of some or all of them. I will, however, say that we should not totally discount the third option simply because of the high casualties involved. It could be very bloody (everyone is of course remembering Mogadishu at this point), but it might also be the only way to make it work. Consider that at this point, Saddam knows that as soon as the battle starts, it will not end until he is captured. He knows there is no chance of reprieve, and will thus probably not hesitate to use whatever weapons he’s got to stop American troops. Going right for him, skipping the sustained desert battle, might actually be the best way to go. ON the other hand, I’m not to fond of the idea of having to fight a full scale battle in a city the size of Los Angeles, to many things could go wrong.

It’s too bad that assassination is *ahem* out of the question.
Some Amusement for a Sunday Afternoon

In response to Bill Quick’s rant about never voting Democrat again – this guy has written a rather serious condemnation of such crude, insulting, offensive tactics by the right. The comments then go on to call all right-wing people racist, fascist, sexist, unpatriotic, brown shirt-jackbooted mother fuckers. Our always wacky friend “ct” even shows up towards the end to boast about his bible-thumping skills, and then call everyone a moron. Fun for the whole family.

October 04, 2002

”No Free Speech for Hate Speech” Watch

Canadian Custom has seized boxes of literature from the Ayn Rand Institute in the United States, destined for the University of Toronto. The material is described as "a intellectual argument in defense of Israel". Customs is looking into whether or not it is "obscene or hate propaganda", before allowing it to pass into the country.

I’ll tell you what’s obscene. Obscenity is when someone reads the phrase “intellectual argument in support of Israel” and their first reaction is to censor it, lest it be considered hate propaganda. Obscenity is when basic freedom of expression is sacrificed to open-ended “hate speech” laws whose only purpose is to make unpopular opinions criminal. Obscenity is when those laws, and the attitudes they foster, are used so effectively as to make a belief in Israel’s right to exist and defend itself “an extreme position”. Obscenity is when this country is more worried about the potential “hate speech” of some papers then it is about the real, violent, racist hate brewing in such fine establishments as Montreal’s Concordia University. Everything about this scenario is obscene and hateful, save the documents themselves.

UPDATE: Eugine Volokh points out that clicking on this link to the offending pamphlet, under broad-readings of Canadian import law, may be a crime. Come and get me.

ADDITIONAL UPDATE: If I were to encourage readers to print out the PDF and distribute it, in violation of the law, would I get into trouble? I guess we'll never know...

UPDATE-THE-THIRD: The material has now been cleared of customs, as we all knew it would, but that certainly doesn't make this action ok.

October 02, 2002

Kevin Mitnick's 486 laptop - the one siezed by the FBI, is being auctioned on eBay for (currently) $10,000 US. Like a sword bent after a warrior's death, it's been loaded with a fresh copy of Windows 95.

Readers are encouraged to buy it for me.
Memo to Ms. Streisand: Shut the Hell Up.

Seriously, she needs to stop talking altogether. If it's possible to make a bigger fool of herself, she will find a way.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, go read the Drudge Report (like you haven't already)

October 01, 2002

Anti-Semitism: A Vast Jewish Plot!

Salon.com has gotten on my bad side with this horrible editorial. What bugs me the most is that it’s written in a “reporter” tone, thus giving that sly suggestion of objectivity and fact without actually crossing the line from crappy opinion piece into biased, false reporting.

Without further adieu:

On Sept. 18, the conservative Middle East Forum launched Campus Watch, a Web site designed to "monitor and gather information" on academics who are not sufficiently pro-Israel.

Within the first sentence, the article has already tossed away any pretence of credibility. They make Campus Watch sound like an Orwellian database of possible enemies of the state, instead of an independent political website aimed at making public the views and opinions of high profile academics. Apparently, asking who is and is not “Pro-Israel” is now a right wing plot.

There are "dossiers" on eight professors of Middle Eastern studies, six of them Arabs.

Racist pigs! How dare you create any form of list, catalogue, or database in which Arabs are featured more prominently then others. Profilers! Racial Profilers, the lot of you!

Since appearing on the list, all have been deluged with hostile e-mail and one has been threatened by phone.

Well, that’s the risk you run when you engage in controversial public debate. Look - Campus Watch isn’t calling people pedophiles or making them wear scarlet letters here. All it has done is present the views of some professors to a less receptive audience then they are accustomed. I would think that these people would like the chance to reach a wider audience; instead, they blame Campus Watch for the negative feedback they received.

There's also a page on Campus Watch for students to submit complaints about their teacher's pedagogical treason.

Pedagogical treason? Has the person who wrote this essay been to a college campus in the past 50 years? Calling support of Palestine “pedagogical treason” is roughly equivalent to “standing bravely in support of beer” in such an environment.

The project is designed, says Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes, to push ideas that are "outside the bounds of mainstream discourse" off college campuses.

Notice the way the first half of Pipes’ phrase is in quotation marks, while the second part is not. He could have used the words "outside the bounds of mainstream discourse" in any number of contexts, but here it is matched up with the worlds “push… off college campuses”, words which are the writers own conjecture. They have just barely avoided falsifying the quote outright, but any casual reader would certainly miss the ruse.

His message to professors of Middle East studies: "Be careful. You should behave yourself."

Again, who knows how or when Daniel Pipes said this, the quote (possibly) is authentic, while its context is anyone’s guess.

Pipes' enemies list is one of the latest firefights in the battle over the Middle East that's being waged with passionate intensity on campuses across North America, and it's further evidence of how nasty and polarized the debate has become.

I would think that the REAL firefights are already sufficient evidence of the nastiness and polarization of the Middle Eastern, but apparently the opinions of Daniel Pipes trumps tank battles and suicide bombers in terms of drama and divisiveness.

Colleges might be the ideal place to hash out the myriad entangled issues and competing narratives of the impossible Israeli situation, but all too often, the loudest voices belong to partisans on each side trying desperately to shut each other up.

A classic tactic of anti-Israel writers has been to present the conflict as being so complex and convoluted as to be beyond comprehension of blame. It’s a way of disarming those who would side with Israel by making both sides seem hopelessly flawed and equally guilty, and presenting one’s self as being somehow “above” the whole messy situation. I take issue with their characterization of the situation as “impossible”.

With depressing predictability, political tragedy abroad has metastasized into petty culture war in the schools.

This is just appallingly bad writing. Straight from the “paper does not refuse ink” school of journalism.

The human rights disaster in the occupied territories is the latest radical chic cause, and some college activists have mobilized against the Israeli occupation by setting up mock checkpoints and Palestinian graveyards on campus, donning kafiyehs with all the histrionic self-righteousness of '60s students draping themselves in the Viet Cong flag.

I again take issue with the implication here that Israel has abused human rights to the point of “disaster”, which I think is outrageous, but the writer does manage to identify the new wave of student activism for what it is – poorly recycled anti-Vietnam romanticism.

Meanwhile, a few Jewish students and professors declare that critiquing Zionism is tantamount to bigotry…

Meanwhile, Palestinian student groups distribute blood libel pamphlets, tag walls with “Kill Jews” graffiti, and physically assault holocaust survivors.

…and neoconservatives have seized on Sept. 11 to excoriate tenured fifth columnists, their longtime bêtes noires.

Neoconservatives have “seized” on Sept. 11th? In what way? Is it somehow unfair of writers to criticize their opponents when public opinion shifts out from under them? Was the terrorist attack a big ploy, to lure leftist columnists into saying something incredibly stupid, just so we could point it out? If anyone is under the illusion that tenure should make one impervious to criticism, just wait and see which part of you gets “seized” on next.

Speakers on both sides of the issue have been driven from campuses; partisans on both sides have gotten death threats. Anti-Semitic violence is up; so are baseless accusations of anti-Semitism. While Campus Watch claims that pro-Israel, pro-American voices are silenced by a professoriate steeped in p.c. Marxism, the most passionate critics of the Israeli occupation are also finding themselves unwelcome at some universities.

You can almost taste the moral equivalence in this paragraph. Passionate critics of controversial issues will always be unwelcome somewhere, that’s the nature of free speech. The difference is in how that unwelcomeness manifests itself. When Benjamin Netanyahu is forcibly prevented form speaking by a violent, bloodthirsty mob and Arab speakers are peacefully protested but nonetheless allowed to have their say, things do seem a tad unbalanced.