Hunter S. Thompson 1937-2005.
Fare thee well, Mr. Thompson.
As you've probably already heard, Hunter S. Thompson, the last unique American, passed away at his home yesterday. I won't say much on the cause of his death, except that it was strangely fitting. He didn't live in our universe. He was exempt from its rules. The world could not kill Hunter. Only Hunter could kill Hunter.
His body of work speaks better of him than I ever could. Perhaps the most fitting eulogy is his own words:"There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die."
-Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas
Read a nice obit in The Guardian
We will miss your voice. Thanks for your words, your visions, your gonzo wisdom.
Stephen Harper: Accountant, Struggling Politician, Bad Historian and Vidal Sasoon's erstwhile nemesis.
Never send an Accountant with an $8 haircut to do the job of a Statesman
Stephen Harpers cavalcade of cynical political opportunism rolls on.
Yesterday, his attack on the Liberal Party for barring Jewish refugees from Canada and interning Japanese Canadians was a dazzling political move, earning top honours for being simultaneously stupid and
First, blaming the current Liberal gov't for the crimes of earlier leaders is pretty idiotic. Its like suggesting the Libs are actually some ancient, giant organism with static values. Actually, that might actually be what they think, judging by some of their more hysterical rhetoric. Seriously though, Canada's racist crimes are a blackmark on our history. But I'd like to think the Canadian people- and that includes the Liberal Party- has come a lone way since then.
Of course, I'm writing this in context of an attempt to constrain the rights of certain Canadians, so maybe we haven't come as far as I think.
Second, Harper's appropriation of one of humanity's worst tragedies to curry more favour with the social conservatives so important to his political survival is disgusting. I'm glad to see the Canadian Race Relations Foundation
was quick to condemn Harper's tactics:It's just trying to score political points and I don't think that it's appropriate to do that with this particular issue," said Pat Case of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.
"For Mr. Harper to try to use the internment of Japanese Canadians in a partisan attempt to criticize a political opponent is simply embarrassing."
and, from the educated (ie: not Stephen Harper)..."I don't think that the memory of six million should be exploited to political advantage today," said Harold Troper, a historian at the University of Toronto.
"And I don't think that human-rights [violations] of the past should be used to justify human-rights [violations] today."
Prof. Troper noted that Conservatives at the time did not speak against the policy.
"One could argue that if the Liberals were bad, the Conservatives at that time were either just as bad or worse."
Read more about the controversy in The Globe and Mail
So, to sum up: Mr. Harper, your strategy is nonsensical, offensive and not grounded in reality. If this is the best you can do, I'd better start clearing my schedule for when my gay friends start getting married this Spring.
I love it when your political opponents make everything so easy
Visitor from beyond....Iran's sovereign borders.
Interesting Difference between Iran and the United States Vol. 1
In the United States, reports of unidentified flying objects are usually attributed to alcohol, boredom or the obsessive need for notoriety that grips Americans like a rusty c-clamp.
In Iran, UFO sightings can almost exclusively be attributed to Illegal Spyflights
conducted by the United States. Crazy, huh?
Now you know.
Come for the Fjords, Stay for the Moral Chaos
Are you a social conservative in the grips of a heady moral panic? Are you worried about the dissolution of Canadian society at the hands of the nefarious gay agenda?
If so, you'll want to see this gripping expose
of the horrors of progressive social policy in Denmark. Must have Windows media player to watch.
This shocking footage courtesy of Rick Mercer's Monday Report
Well, it looks like the vote in Iraq has been more or less a success. The Iraqis who went to the polls at their own peril and made a powerful statement for their personal freedom deserve our awe and admiration. I'm not sure if I would go and vote in the face of the very real risk of being thoroughly blown up.
But I'm getting a little tired of the constant and hysterical cries of "See? See? We were right!" by those desperate to justify Bush's invasion of Iraq. Now I agree the people of Iraq are better off without Saddam Hussein, the brutal dictator who, coincidentally enough, we imposed on the Iraqi people in 1979. So while its good we've rectified our mistake, there are still a lot of problems we need to be aware of:
1) The ends cannot justify the means. While the USA has deposed a dictator, they did it by deceiving their own population, defying the international community and using naked force. Pretty much the trio you'd like to avoid when undertaking a program of nation building.
2) Democracy is not just voting. While the Iraqi vote was significant, it does not guarantee a democratic state. And in the Iraqi case, there is a lot of things to be worried about. First, a substantial portion of the population has not bought into the process, either refusing to participate or opposing the new order with violence. On the one hand, this is a legitimacy issue, and on the other, a stability question. It will be difficult to build a state under the constant threat of violence. Further, it will be very hard to build legitimacy when the new government will be highly dependent on the American military for defense. I'm not trying to condone those who resort to violence in Iraq; rather, I mean to suggest that the work is far from done and success if far from assured.
3) Democracy has no hard definition. Western democracy is not god-given, nor did it arive on this earth fully formed. It is the result of 2000 years of unique history, and is entirely contingent on the political, economic and social milieu in which it developed. What the United States is currently doing is imposing a Western understanding of democracy upon a nation which has no framework for understanding it. What Iraq needs to do is develop a democracy which comforms to its unique history and culture. Such a system, which will take time to develop, will build legitimacy and stability. Unfortunately, this can't happen with the kind of political pressure and control the United States is exerting. What the US wants, and always wants, is a strategic centrepiece in the middle east to work their economic and political agenda. The style of government is therefore irrelevant; the United States will support any leader, regardless of stripe, who plays ball with their grand strategy. Its why they supported terror-states in Guatemala and El Salvador, while destroying the flawed but deeply progressive Sandanista government in Nicaragua through an illegal proxy war. Its also why they supported Saddam Hussein in the 1980's (during which time he committed some of his worst atrocities) until he slipped out from under the State Department's thumb. The pervasive hypocrisy of American foreign policy does not bode well for the development of a meaningful democracy in Iraq.
Of course, all of this takes place in context of a debasement of democracy in the west, where the massive public relations exercise in 'managed democracy
'that is the Bush administration holds sway. They are hardly the ones to lecture the world on freedom and democracy when these concepts are so poorly served at home.
Due to the heavy-handedness of the American invasion, democracy in Iraq cannot survive with or without the US Army. So while the vote has been a success, the Iraqi people now face a treacherous climb towards true democracy and sovereignty. My hope is with them, and our collective duty is to help build something real, something not dominated by the cynical realpolitik of Bush.
In case you were wondering, courtesy of The Onion
Torture? We Deliver.
Seems the CIA has gotten into the airline business.
But instead of ferrying happy tourists or businessmen, the CIA is shipping 'terror detainees' to third-party in the country where they are tortured. This torture-by-proxy allows the American government to benefit from the brutal abrogation of human rights without getting their hands dirty.
When did we become savages again? Or did we ever stop? Are we so blinded by fear that we'll join terrorists in the ranks of inhumanity?
The torture airline revelations are contained in a story published in The Independent
. You sure as hell won't be able to read about it here.
Listen to the Meaning of Monster
My CBC Outfront Doc
is now on-line for your listening enjoyment. Check it out at your leisure.
Did Bob Rae's Report Call For Higher Tuition Fees?
In response to a comment on an earlier post, I've decided to take a crack at this question.
The short answer is no.
Nowhere in the Rae Report is there a call for higher fees. What's all the fuss about, then?
Well, certain groups have seized upon several unfortunate ambiguities in the report as clear evidence of a conspiracy to hike fees. While heresay and conjecture are indeed kinds
of evidence, let's look at this thing factually.
1) At several points, Rae jigs a financial aid threshold at $6000 for low-income grants and tuition loans. "My god!" some hysterics say, "That's a 20 per cent increase from the current average tuition level of $4,960! Vive le revolucion!". Not so, friends, not so. While average tuition is indeed only $4,960, ancillary fees in the province are $681. That's $5641 in actual fees. Rae has included both these costs in his calculations. So, a $6,000 grant or tuition loan will actually cover your costs, while only providing room for a 6 per cent tuition increase. And again, Rae doesn't ever ask for this. I should also point out that many students in the province pay much more than $4960 for tuition, like those in law, medicing or dentistry. So if Rae really wants tuition at $6,000, then fees for these folks will actually go down by between 66 and 133 per cent. I don't want to confuse some people with the facts here, but if they're going to play fast and loose with the truth, then they're in for a surprise.
2) Rae's paper does unfortunately ask for institutional autonomy in setting fees. This is a bad idea. However, in Rae's defense, he asks that before this happens, the province inject at least $1.3 Billion into the system. This would take a lot of the pressure of institutions to hike fees, and they would have a hard time justifying one in the face of such a huge investment. At any rate, deregulation, in any form should be actively opposed by students and their representatives.
3) Finally, a word about demonization. Some folks like to present universities and Bob Rae as fundamentally evil beings who have some draconian agenda to screw students. This is kids stuff. To devolve the debate into this kind of G.W.Bushian "you're with us or you're with the evildoers" kind of mentality is to do everyone in the province a disservice. We need to approach universities and politicians with ideas, not rhetoric.
The challenge before students is to take what's good out of Bob Rae's report (low-income grants, financial aid overhaul and increased public investment) and fuse it with a picture of what's good for students: regulated tuition, no tuition increases and accessible, high-quality institutions.
Ann Coulter. Note weirdly long arms and man-hands.
Oh Ann, you crazy fascist
Wanna see Ann Coulter stick her entire leg in her mouth?
A few weeks ago, Ann Coulter appeared on an excellent Fifth Estate Documentary, "Sticks and Stones", about media bias. She got into a ridiculous exchange with reporter Bob McKeown, where she claimed Canada sent troops to Vietname. We didn't. But like a good ideologue, she wouldn't let it go. Watch the embarassment
Looking in her eyes is like looking out the window.
And a big hello to new and unexpected friends!
Always nice to have fans. As new visitors, you're probably a little shaky on some rules of etiquette. So, here's a quick primer:
1) If you'd like to make a comment (and I know you do), please use the link provided. Anything else is a touch passive-aggressive and a bit 3rd grade, don't you think?
2) My job is my job. I work there; they pay me. The arrangement has been mutually beneficial. But my job has not consumed my entire existence. So when I go home and post on my blog, its my own deal. Not my employer's. I would think that's pretty self-evident, but I guess some folks take a bit longer to learn.
3)Brevity is a gift. When responding to a post, please endeavour to keep the ratio of my words to your words as lose you 1:1 as possible. When you write an 800 word response to a 72 word comment (0.09:1, in case you were keeping track), I get to thinking you don't have enough to do at your respective place of employment.
4) Turnabout is fair play.
OK, that should do it. Hope you enjoy your visit!
Deep Throat Update
Man, seems like everyone is talking about this now.
Now, writer Adrian Havill claims DT is actually George Bush, Sr. According to the Daily Telegraph
, Mr. Havill began to suspect GHWB when perenially media-hostile Bush the Junior gave Bob Woodward seven hours of interviews for his new book. The plot thickens...
The Infamous Monster. Forged photo, anyone?
The Meaning of Monster
You can now read about my CBC Radio 1 Documentary, "The Meaning of Monster
You'll be able to listen to this odd exploration of myths and wonder on your local CBC Radio 1 station, at 11:45AM on Wednesday Feb. 9th. Its monsterific.
The disturbing world of Dr. Falk
Just wanted to give a quick shout out to my good friend Chris Bittle for posting some kind words on his blog.
Chris is a war buddy back from my Queen's days, where his ascerbic wit and deftness with offhand humour proved invaluable. Check him out
Barbara Amiel Black Speaks!
Predictably, nothing of value results.
In a New York Post
Article, she decries her suffering at the hands of those who have "turned their backs on capitalism". I think this comment reveals what people of her ilk actually think 'capitalism' means...basically extravagance and personal profit at the expense of shareholders and citizens. Kind of like what a Viking means when complaining about peasant objection to their 'boat cruises'.
Oh well. I guess she can comfort herself with the $2000 handbags and $40,000 parties.
Like pearls before swine.
The End of Deep Throat?
Apparently, Bob Woodward has informed his editor that Deep Throat, the man who brought down Nixon and indavertently inspired one of the most successful porn films of all time, is ill. In fact, Woodward has reportedly written D.T.'s obit and speculation is rampant that the name of the world's most famous unnamed source will finally be revealed.
This news has also re-heated the decades-old debate about the ethics of using unnamed sources in journalism. Read an excellent analysis of the significance of D.T.'s passing in The Los Angeles Times
On the up and up
It has been a good week.
First, I found out my CBC Radio Documentary will be going to air, February 9th at 11:45 AM.
Second, I've been accepted to the London School of Economics in the new MSc Politics and Communication program.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, my policy work got a big shout-out in yesterday's Toronto Star:
"Sources say [Bob] Rae [who is currently reviewing the higher ed system in Ontario] was impressed by one student organization's recommendatio that Ontario waive tuition for the 15 per cent of students with the lowest family income."
That's all OUSA, baby. Awesome.
Terry Jones...old (old) school.
Do you like Monty Python?
I know I do. And as 1/6 of this legendary troop, Terry Jones deserves my eternal fealty.
And, as it turns out, I can admire him for some pretty cutting political satire, too.
Check out the interview in Mother Jones
Hitch: The Contrarian in Repose.
Like me, you might be confused as to what, exactly, Christopher Hitchens stands for these days.
Here's a great Village Voice Article
which clears some things up.
This is getting old.
Is it me, or do the same-sex marriage opponents get dumber with every passing day?
The National Post
leads today with their new crackerjack poll claiming that 66 per cent of Canadians oppose same-sex marriage. Even if we assume this is accurate (See: volumes of scholarly work about how polls are deeply flawed), people have to realize that at the end of the day, WHAT THEY THINK DOESN'T MATTER. This is a rights issue. Even if you think gay marriage will cause the Earth to spin of its axis and people to marry their pets/siblings/multiple spouses, so long as you believe in this pesky thing known as THE RULE OF LAW, you have to accept it. The same thing that protects your right to free expression allowss gay people get hitched.
Kudos to The Globe and Mail
's John Ibbitson for correctly identfying the cynical tactics of the Conservative Party and religious-right groups like the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. The Conservatives are simply trying to divide the Liberal Party (and thus decrease their appeal) while simultaneously presenting Stephen Harper (you know, the accounting geek with an $8 haricut) as 'strong leader'. For their part, the EFC and Co. are trying to show they can flex the same political muscles as their lunatic counterparts in the U.S.A (See: red states). Also, instead of framing their objection to same-sex unions as "we think gay people are evil" they are spinning themselves off to be the victims. "Our religious freedom is being trampled!" they plaintively cry, which plays a lot better in the media (and with most Canandians) than "we're intolerant jerks!" This messaging is particularly annoying in light of the Supreme Court and most of Canada's legal experts finding that same-sex marriage won't affect anyone's freedom of religion. Did I say annoying? I meant to say it was a bald-faced lie.
If conservatives had the brains to match their mouths, and integrity instead of shallow political profiteering, this debate would be over.
Alliesallover...The Best 10 Bucks You'll Spend this Week
Just a quick reminder that Alliesallover excellent show, "The Brother Hood of Manns" is continuing its run this week. That means you have five more chances to check out their unique brand of performance.
Check out www.alliesallover.com
for tickets and more info.
Spongebob finds a spiritual home. Air is not good, Patrick. Air is not good.
Finally, some acceptance.
Some of you (like the half-dozen or so who read this site) remember my annoyance at Spongebob being pilloried as a gay icon. But here are some progressive folks that have welcomed Spongebob with open arms
. See? Christians can be rational and funny.
O'Reilly as nature intended.
Bill O'Reilly is an Idiot
Not breaking news, I know. But it bears repeating.
It seems he took exception to The Fifth Estate's excellent doc, "Sticks and Stones" which shined a fairly harsh light on his circus of lies, bullying and general apery. So, his patented brand of distortion, heresay and bullshit has now been levied against the CBC.
Read about how dumb his assualt is in the Toronto Star
. Jackass incarnate.
If I were a young conservative (which I thank my properly-developed frontal lobe that I'm not), I'd be decrying my lack of role models right about now. Or, perhaps I'd be becoming a lying, dogmatic, bullying asshole. Actually, that last bit sounds about right.
The world is dumber for having reared Bill O'Reilly.