Wednesday, August 30, 2006

This just makes sense...

Scratch every environment-related reason to buy these--it's still a really good idea to get some.

Not news but still...

Monday, August 28, 2006

This is Wonderful...

Oh, read this, please :-)

It's like this: there are many companies now that provide benefits to unmarried gay couples similar to those afforded married straight couples. So far so good, but this gets better. It seems that one sensible--and also unmarried (but cohabiting) straight--young woman realized that the law says you can't discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. So she wants her benefits, too.

I think this is covered under the Law of Unintended Consequences.

I wonder what'll happen when the asexual or onanist or transiently monogamist singles quite rightly mosey in for their benefits, or ,for that matter, the polyamorists or polygamists. I love where this is going.

I'm in favour of allowing (celebrating, in fact) same-sex marriages (I mean, why not, same thing goes for the polys) but I bet this makes folks write the laws real carefully. Chuckle.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


This article by Paul Wells illustrates the worst mistake being made by the American military in Iraq, the one that fatally undermines the best of what they want to accomplish there.

It's really the same mistake being made by the Israelis and generally by the entire western political presence in the Middle East.

Essentially, it's a lack of respect. A lack of manners. And it's enough to kill the deal.

Why "essential"?

Because it's always enough to kill the deal, and--as it happens, it's the same whether it's your next door neighbour, your friends, your dog or a country across the world.

This is worth reading

I think this is worth reading. It illustrates in fair detail some ethical discussions between top Israeli tacticians about"targetted killings" and it's a bit of an eye-opener. Note that I'm not speaking to the right and wrong of any particular mission here; I'm just noting that the Israelis aren't proceeding near as willy-nilly as some observers might want you to think.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More Importance in the Grand Scheme...

I mentioned that these guys tolerate each other...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

This is important in the Grand Scheme of Things...

These guys and some of their friends hang out occasionally behind the shop I work at. I put out seed and mostly just leave 'em alone. By the way, it might look like the feathered guy is squawking or just pissed at the furry fella, but it ain't so. Moments before they were both nibbling happily away but they paid a bit of attention when I brought my camera out to shoot 'em.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Video Links

One of the best things about the Net is the video available--especially since mainstream TV is so...uh...informative. Right. In any case, here's links to some online video that's worth watching. Hint: especially with the Friedman series, watch it in episode order.

The first is
The Libertarian Alternative series. Understand that I'm not suggesting you watch this stuff so you can go out and vote. I'm not even sure voting's a good idea, especially considering the things folks figure they have a right to vote about. I'm just saying watch this stuff so you get a better idea of what freedom might mean, especially compared to what you have today. Do I agree with everything these folks say? Nope. But not so much I think you'll be worse off for hearing it. Just so you know: I'm not fond of the series host, sometimes I think he's not even listening, and when he does, sometimes he clearly doesn't get it, so thank whatever you thank that the show's guests are pretty bright.

The second is the Milton Friedman's
Free To Choose series. As Billy Beck points out clearly: "this is broad-stroke baby-stuff and should be taken with great care, because there is no morality in it. It is sheerly utilitarian." Totally correct, but... Do I agree with everything Freidman says? Nope. But, again, not so much I think you'll be worse off for hearing it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

About the JonBenet thing...

No link needed--it's all over the news.

Now...about all the cretins that were sure the parents were guilty and that were consequently perfectly willing to dispense with the presumption of innocence and make the parents lives miserable over this...

I wonder if they've learned anything.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

So I'm reading about BB King... the April 206 issue of Guitar World and the interview mentions Jules Bahari who basically handled King's recordings, including the business end, in the early 50's. I'll mention that Jules was white, but that's not the point of all this. Jules would add his name, or the names of relatives, or even pseudonyms, to the songwriting credits so he'd get a share of the royalties, a bigger share, evidently (although that wasn't explicitly stated in the article). The interviewer (Alan D. Perna) asks King about Jules.

He gets, from King: "I'm sure I did get ripped off, but I was crazy about Jules Bahari. I didn't know much about business anyway, and Jules treated me like a person. He was just a good man to me. After I got my royalty check, which was never much--maybe I got a couple of thousand dollars--sometimes I'd walk by a new car and I'd say 'I need two thousand more dollars.' And Jules would give it to me. He made me feel like I was special...Jules Bahari was guy who would hang out with us, drink with us and treat us nice during those segregated times...Jules had my heart in his hand. I still love him today."

God, I love capitalism.

Y'see...that's how it's supposed to work. King was a black musician in 1951 that was able to buy cars, just for the asking. Just because he had a working man-to-man deal with someone he trusted. King "didn't know much about business anyway" and my bet is Jules wasn't much of a guitar player.

You and I can quibble about the methods used to ensure that everybody got paid, or how fair it was, or how legal (as if I give a shit). But King doesn't.

And that's the point.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Let's get real here...

Commenting on Bush Jr's statement that “this nation is at war with Islamic fascists...," Parvez Ahmed, board chairman of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations wrote Thursday in an open letter to President Bush:

"Unfortunately, your statement this morning that America 'is at war with Islamic fascists' contributes to a rising level of hostility to Islam and the American-Muslim community...You have on many occasions said Islam is a 'religion of peace’...Today you equated the religion of peace with the ugliness of fascism.”

An OPEN LETTER to Mr. Ahmed

Mr. Ahmed, my friend, Peace be upon you.

With respect, Bush did not equate Islam with fascism; he merely publicly associated the two, which is consistent with the present facts. Mr. bin Laden, for example, has made it plain through his actions that he is both Islamic and fascist (as have any number of very active and associated and non-associated terrorists) and he has made it plain he considers his religion to be tightly woven with his political philosophy, essential to it, in fact. I suppose you could request of Mr. bin laden that he also cease to so closely associate his politics with his faith, but I don't see that happening.

But in any case....

I know there's a certain uncertainty when it comes to defining fascism, but just for clarity, I'll pull some stuff from Wikipedia:

"A recent definition is that by Robert O. Paxton:

"Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."


"Fascism is associated by many scholars with one or more of the following characteristics: a very high degree of nationalism, economic corporatism, a powerful, dictatorial leader who portrays the nation, state or collective as superior to the individuals or groups composing it. Stanley Payne's Fascism: Comparison and Definition (1980) uses a lengthy itemized list of characteristics to identify fascism, including the creation of an authoritarian state; a regulated, state-integrated economic sector; fascist symbolism; anti-liberalism; anti-communism. A similar strategy was employed by semiotician Umberto Eco in his popular essay Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt. More recently, an emphasis has been placed upon the aspect of populist fascist rhetoric that argues for a "re-birth" of a conflated nation and ethnic people."

True, it is absolutely possible to be Islamic and not fascist, as it is possible to be fascist but not Islamic, and you, I and Mr. Bush all know that--and so do, for example, most North Americans. But the fact remains, we are at war with Islamic fascists. I'd be thrilled were that not the case, but, alas, it is so. Unless, of course, you don't think the bulk of the above definitions of fascist apply to the majority of Islamic folks with whom we are at war, but you haven't explained how that might be. Or, of course, if you don't think the folks we are at war with are Islamic, but that would be an even more difficult case to make.

I know full well that you are afraid that people will equate the two, and it is a plain fact that many people have already done so, so you have good reason to be afraid. But the situation will not be helped by evasion on your part when the connection is brought into the open; that just makes you look dishonest. Worse, it makes you look both dishonest and sneaky when you ask others to ignore or suppress the connection. I'm not accusing you of being either; it just sadly looks that way.

The big problem with that is: your evasiveness, which might well be more accurately described and understood as confusion based on embarrasment or fear (or what?? You tell me...), does unfairly increase distrust of your faith given that you are a spokesman by choice. I am sorry you might be embarrased or afraid, or both, but whatever it is that is behind your actions: it doesn't help.

With sincere best wishes,


Taking things a step further...

Just as a response to some private email I received on my post below "Interesting Questions."

Western governments, or at least the citizens of western governments, have every right to eliminate the threat to themselves coming from Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, as quickly and efficiently as possible. The fact that Arab peoples in general have legitimate grievances does not change this. My only point is that a successful end to Middle Eastern problems will only come when we in the west start acting consistently according to and towards our highest ideals.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Although a little out of date (2003), I think this interview with Bernard-Henry Levy still worth reading.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

About Mel...

Mel Gibson has apologized directly for his drunken anti-Semitic comments, even going so far as to ask to "meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom [he] can have a one on one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing." Well, he screwed up major big-time, that's a fact. That was just plain nasty bullshit he was spewing. And it's perfectly fair to nail his ass when he's being an asshole.

I’m watching to see how folks react to his apology.

The standard line, of course, is that we all say folks should apologize when they are wrong, when they hurt people around them, and that they should do what they can to make things right. Well, Mel is at least starting on his way down that path. The other side of the coin is that the injured—and those as well who are offended by the behavior—are supposed to forgive and maybe even work to assist the erring person to reclaim the benefits of correct behavior. Heck, we’ve been taught that since we were all kids.

Are you going to have some fun bad-mouthing him, calling him names, making jokes, laughing at his misfortune, taking delight at the damage he’s caused himself? Are you going to wallow in nastiness, joining your friends in putting him down? Are you going to see how clever you can be while doing everything I just listed? Are you going to dismiss his apology as self-serving and insincere? Are you going to write him off? Are you going to feel morally superior when you do all this? Well, bottom line: you can be as cynical and mean-spirited as you wish and my bet is hardly anyone will even think to ask you to examine your motives if that's what you choose.

When you’re figuring out what you’ll do, it might help to think about how a lynch mob acts. They don’t just do the wrong thing. They wallow in the togetherness, the group-think mutual approval, and sheer raw power of the mob, and they enjoy looking forward to the hopefully upcoming misfortune of others; they enjoy the punishing and the hating. Take a look around the world. You might see a few mobs in action right now.

You gonna join the mob?