Wednesday, November 16, 2005


One of my favorite columnists in Toronto wrote about the latest kerfluffel in the schools there. It seems that a girl was sexually and emotionally abused by a small gang in her school. Not unexampled...though certainly the events were extreme. However, just to stir the pot, the parents of all these little darlings are grasping at the race straw instead of pointing the finger of blame at their own bad parenting. Hey, its a just happened to be black, okay! And its a "small G" sort of gang...the kind that forms in every high school in the nation, not really a "gang", but rather a group of kids who all sort of hang together. (thats a gang....duuh). And this led me to wonder about the nature of groups, gangs, and high school clusters in general. Lots of good books on the subject.The big difficulty with these perps is that they had no idea where to draw the line. I suspect most of them are basically good kids, but they crossed several moral, ethical and legal lines in their behavior. This bahavior went on for what..a year and a half!

Great column...."follow my rules and you won't get expelled". Yup, that about sums it up!

As a boy going to school in the late '70s here in Ontario, I was heavily targeted by bullies. I went through years of soul searching, wondering why the teachers couldn't stop this nonsense. Like most boys, I skinned my knuckles a few times, got into a bit of trouble, got out of it, and eventually graduated. It was a traumatic time. However.........after I was grown up, I looked back on what was a pretty much miserable time, and tried to figure out how I could have done it better. Ms Blizzar's contention that even the teachers have an unclear idea of just what behaviour constitutes bullying resonated, and I believe now that my misery was largely self induced. That as a boy of 15, I knew nothing about real abuse, real injury, real death, and reacted to unimportant things as if they were important.I didn't think so at the time, but I was wrapped in cotton wool, and I had to make my own stressful environment. A very artificial environment. An environment where fighting, drugs, sex, rebellion and angst played a part, and the most important part was our over-reaction to what amounted to mild stimuli....a fight because somebody thought I wore the wrong colour socks for instance. This was pretty low level stress, but the reactions were all there! (reactions? yes, we had suicides, overdoses, pregnancies in our school...these are pretty severe reactions!) Its interesting looking back on it as an adult, and wondering "What was I thinking to fall for THAT!"
Most adults learn to cope with "jackasses" in high school. No point in expelling them all, or you won't have ANY students left! My school expelled the problem students, and their little "lieutenants" just stepped into their shoes! So there WILL be low level violence, (shoving in line, stealing pencils!) In fact, my dear old Ma always said that you didn't go to high school to learn Math, you went there to learn how to deal with the twits of the world! And maybe, just maybe, to learn how NOT be a twit yourself. If this was true though, how come it isn't on the curriculum? Something like "coping with angst 101"? Or, "the motorcycle, the road, the bridge abutment and you?" At least they taught us to drive! So you have to put up with the low level b.s., clamp down hard on the high level b.s. like riding motorcycles down the hallways of the school and gangstas. I know, radical idea, encouraging the low level "violence" (boys interaction with boys, duuuh!) in order to give them the tools to cope. But NO! They drop the boxing courses. They drop the wrestling courses. They drop the Judo courses. They drop the shop courses (we made a hot rod in MY shops class!) They make zero tolerance policies on pocket knives and name calling. Is this sensible? Its not like this is a new problem here dudes! Same students left high school where they terrorized the teachers, drove like maniacs, drank like fish, smoked up like Cheech and Chong, bonked like minks, and went into adult life. I went into the military with these guys, and discovered that all the stupid things I thought were important were, well, stupid. Can you imagine if any of them threatened a military instructor with a knife like what happened to a teacher friend of mine in Toronto last May! Oh My Dog! There is a difference though....the military treats people like adults, the school system treats people like high school students. Wrapping them in cotton wool.

(insert hit single "I'm an Adult Now!" to fade...)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Mercy Killing!!!!

I have heard that Doctors in New Orleans euthanized several patients when the lights went out. Lordy Lordy Lordy!
Jennifer asked the bunch who read her blog to answer the you think it is ever right to do so?

I would hesitate to euthanize a patient, I would not take such a step lightly or without subsequent nightmares and 4 AM quarterbacking, but I would do it if it was the right thing to do. In fact, I have done so. Or rather, signed the paper to allow the doctor to do so. Trouble is, I have actually been in the position of that fellow on the bed, and that experience has, well, sort of coloured my opinions a bit.
When I was lying dead on the bathroom floor (anaphalactic shock leading to cardiac arrest for those that care), I am glad my wife didn't just pick up her bible and say "well, God's will be done". Heck no, she called 911, and 20 minutes later I opened my eyes. When the doctor said to her "well, if he lives, he will be a vegetable for the rest of his life (he did say that, the bastard!) my wife said "well, I'll see what happens". I am thankful to her that she did wait to see what would happen, it would have been so easy to simply say....."He wouldn't want to live like that, don't resucitate him." I had always told her that if I was in such a situation, to not resusitate me. Glad she didn't listen to me! I never asked them to "turn out my lights", I fought for every single measely hour, every minute, every second sometimes. I was barely conscious, barely on this earth, and I fought hard to stay here. I died three more times that night. Finally, I was stable. I could go on and on, but my point is this....nobody wants to leave. We might have to, as responsible adults, help them to enter God's kingdom. Trust me on this one...making that decision for the right reasons will not jepardize your place there. If you do nothing, that too is a decision, and you WILL be judged on that decision. I have been there. I am NOT afraid to die, I have SEEN what happens after you die. But I will still fight! Most people will. A grown up will assess the situation and do the proper thing. Sometimes the proper thing is to bring the old geezer back to life....other times, it might be a mercy to "punch my ticket on the night train". I find it hard to judge somebody who finds themselves in that position, I mean its not like its your dog, lying there with a broken back from an automobile, and licking your hand, asking you to make it better. Or maybe it is.....

Oh my, what a speech! I surprise myself at times!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

God's Judgement upon His Errant People

The Tsunami and the earthquake are God's judgement on the Muslim extremists, who are the true "enemies of God". I know, they don't think so, but honestly, open your minds you bozos and see where God is setting His flaming sword down! I think you are taking God's name in vain! God's judgement is pretty final, and not especially discriminating...after all, if you are an innocent, you get called a little earlier than usual...if you are a guilty, then you are facing,! If they were NOT enemies of God,then Allah would have spared them from flood and earthquake and destruction. It says so right here in the Koran...quote....

008.013 YUSUFALI: This because they contended against Allah and His Messenger: If any contend against Allah and His Messenger, Allah is strict in punishment.
PICKTHAL: That is because they opposed Allah and His messenger. Whoso opposeth Allah and His messenger, (for him) lo! Allah is severe in punishment.
SHAKIR: This is because they acted adversely to Allah and His Messenger; and whoever acts adversely to Allah and His Messenger-- then surely Allah is severe in requiting (evil).

008.014 YUSUFALI: Thus (will it be said): "Taste ye then of the (punishment): for those who resist Allah, is the penalty of the Fire."
PICKTHAL: That (is the award), so taste it, and (know) that for disbelievers is the torment of the Fire.
SHAKIR: This-- taste it, and (know) that for the unbelievers is the chastisement of fire.

this is from...

Note that those verses say the God will do all the punishing...not the Al Quaida or Hamas the CIA, or whatever extremist organization is out there. The Imams are going to have a hard time blaming this one on the United States!Unlike the angry God though, I feel for the women, children and innocents who get caught under His sythe when he mows. So I am donating my blood to the Red Cross today, and as much money as possible to go to relief. Blimey, I didn't want to vent about that! Doesn't make me feel any better....people are dying all over the place (35 thousand last estimate! and Winter coming in!)

And no, don't go telling me that the "fire" is some afterlife hell, these verses are all about here on Earth, and waging war. Unlike a lot of people, I actually READ these things before I stand on my hind feet and expound upon them!

Here's a prayer for you..."God, if it so great in heaven, why do you spare so many people to suffer on here on Earth!"

Saturday, September 24, 2005

from "Collective Sigh"

I have enjoyed Collective Sigh for a long time now, and as usual, cannot help but give a big "Hell Yeah" to this fellow's rants. Of course, he spends a lot of time on American Politics, a failing of so many bloggers, but for once, here is a blog that makes sense. Not that I agree with a single word of it you understand, just that it is so well written that I am in awe of the talent.

Here is a sample. From.....

Wednesday, September 21, 2005
CheerleadingIf you look inside the 9/26/2005 print edition of TIME magazine, you'll find a selection letters from readers.Responding to TIME's coverage of the Katrina catastrope, Suzann Soliday of Fresno, California writes:
How dare anyone blame the president for this disaster. The left-wingers have criticized the Bush Administration constantly. How can anyone - politician or member of the news media - not support our government? The critics have gone too far. We must work together, and those who can't must stay out of the way. I am tired of the divide in this country.You see, Ms. Soliday, it's not JUST the Katrina disaster, but a whole trail of destruction all over the world. And it's not JUST St. George, but the whole host of incompetent, deluded advisors who give the poor boy incredibly bad advice.We left-wingers are simply following the stellar example set by the right-wingers during the Clinton administration; strike early and often. And we actually have reality-based, valid reasons.As Bill Maher said of our Fearless Leader, "On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two Trade Centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans".Opposing the Bush administration isn't hard at all, Ms. Soliday. In fact, we left-wingers are quite pleased to be divided from you and the rest of the sheep cheerleading for President Catastrophe.
Comments (5)

Trackback (0)

// posted by andante @ 8:58 AM

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Crimes and victims

Here we have the ultimate Orwellian fantasy...when is a victim not a victim? Case in point...a lot of folks, bloggers and writers of letters to the editors of many newspapers are going on and on about how the victims of Hurricane Katrina are actually not victims at all, but rather stiff necked head-in-the-sand folks who shoulda got out when they got the chance. Well, I dunno...I have a lot of sympathy for most of those people....I would probably have stayed right here in my home too....especially since it would have withstood dozens of hurricanes over the years, and who would have thought it would have got as bad as it did! But I am happy I did not have to make that decision.

Be that as it may...clearly some folks made an error in judgement, and that puts them at risk. I think that makes them a victim, if only a victim of their own mis-judgement. There is a real person here...who is hungry, de-hydrated, and falling ill from Hepatitus A and B, and maybe a dozen other diseases.

Now contrast that to this article I got from the CyberLaw blog.

Here is the cut and paste of the summary.... of the Washington Post article...

The increasingly common law enforcement tactic of having adult officers pose as children in Internet chat rooms to arrest potential sex offenders came under legal attack on September 7 when Maryland's highest court ruled that the law does not allow the prosecution of people who merely believed they were dealing with children. The Maryland Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the Frederick County Circuit Court conviction of Richard J. Moore, saying he could not be found guilty of committing a crime with a nonexistent victim."Court Overturns Child Porn Conviction

This really makes you think now don't it! The police officers who are protecting our most vulnerable have been told that their "sting" operations are not valid! This will make ANYBODY sit up and say WHAT the HELL?

Originally I could not believe it, then I got thinking about it. Here is a perp who is trolling for underage nookie. He finds a cop pretending to vulnerable and underage. The perp falls for it and ends up in court. However, there never WAS a real live victim. So therefore, no crime. Ahh, (you say) but there was "intent". Well trouble with "intent" is that "intent" is a "Thought Crime". Remember the term "thought crime"? It came out of George Orwell's book 1984. I can walk down the street and "think" about robbing the store with all the jewelry in the window, but until I pick up the coping stone and actually THROW is not a crime.

My head just hurts from this line of thinking. Here we have live victims in a flooded city who are not really victims, and "virtual" victims who never existed at all but are real enough to put a guy in jail! No wonder the court in Fredricksburg overturned the conviction!

So, by extension, how many other "crimes" are there which don't have a victim? Dr. Keon who picked up an undercover cop in the market thinking she was a hooker...shall we overturn this conviction?

I invite others to comment on this....

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Economic Meltdown!

Economic meltdown....
A casual walk through the hardware store showed me yet again that we are heading for a serious disaster. Everything for sale is made in China. So what does China DO with all that money? They buy treasury bonds, of course. I am honestly not looking forward to the back lash....and just because I predict it, doesn't mean I can do a damned thing about it! However, I am trying to become a little more self sufficient. Hard to do without electricity, but a machine shop in my back yard is a start. Fencing to hold in a flock of chickens or pigs might come in handy as well. Sealer rings and sealer jars came in handy according to my grandmother, who lived through the great depression. Tool, tools and more tools. Hard to say...Here is an article in "The Australian" that says it better than I can. Dumping of US dollar could trigger 'economic September 11'There is a potentially fatal flaw at the heart of the global economy: the strong possibility of financial meltdown following a collapse of confidence in the greenback, Clyde Prestowitz tells Bruce StannardAugust 29, 2005THE nightmare scenario that haunts global strategist Clyde Prestowitz is an economic September 11 -- a worldwide financial panic triggered by a sudden massive sell-off of US dollars that would lead inexorably to the collapse of economies around the world.If that happens, Prestowitz predicts: "It would make the Great Depression of the 1930s look like a walk in the park."Australia would be sucked into the vortex of such a recession, which would cause great hardship throughout the world, he warns.Prestowitz is not a doomsayer, neither is he alone in his views. As president of the Economic Strategy Institute, a Washington think tank, he is in regular contact with the most influential US business leaders, several of whom -- Warren Buffet and George Soros included -- have taken steps to hedge their currency positions against the possibility of a cataclysmic plunge in the greenback."Right now," he says, "we have a situation in which the US is running huge trade deficits -- about $US650 billion ($766 billion) in 2004 -- which are financed by borrowings from the central banks of Asia -- mainly the Chinese and the Japanese. All the world's central banks are chock-full of US dollars -- they're holding many more dollars than they really want. They're holding those dollars because at the moment there's no great alternative and also because the global economy depends on US consumption. If they dump the dollar and the dollar collapses, then the whole global economy is in trouble."However, some countries have a bigger stake than others in maintaining the status quo. China and Japan have a big stake in maintaining the flow of their exports to the US and keeping the US economy humming. Russia, on the other hand, does not export much to the US. India doesn't export much to the US. Yet Russia and India are also big dollar-holders. They hold many more dollars than they really want or need."It doesn't take any great stretch of the imagination to see what could happen if one of these central bank managers decides to dump dollars. We had a situation recently when a mid-level official at the Central Bank of Korea used the word 'diversification'. It was a throwaway remark at some obscure lunch, but there was instantaneous overreaction. The US stock market fell by 100 points in 15 minutes because the implication was that South Korea might be shifting out of US dollars."So picture this: you have a quiet day in the market and maybe some smart MBA at the Central Bank of Chile or someplace looks at his portfolio and says, 'I got too many dollars here. I'm gonna dump $10 billion'. So he dumps his dollars and suddenly the market thinks, 'My god, this is it!' Of course, the first guy out is OK, but you sure as hell can't afford to be the last guy out."You would then see an immediate cascade effect -- a world financial panic on a scale that would dwarf the Great Depression of the 1930s."Prestowitz says the panic could be started by something as simple as a hedge-fund miscalculation."We had exactly that scenario in the US recently," he points out, "when a big hedge fund called Long Term Capital Management went belly-up. These guys were pros. They had two Nobel prize-winning economists writing their trading algorithms, and their traders were the creme de la creme among New York bond traders."They made a big bet -- a trillion dollars leveraged 20 to one, and they blew it. They went belly-up. That threatened to bring down the whole system so US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan had to organise a bail-out through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York."Now consider this: there are currently 8000 hedge funds in the US alone. Every day $6 trillion of derivative instruments trade on international markets. If there are four people in the world who understand those trades, I'd be surprised. So the potential for another disaster is not insignificant. This is why Warren Buffet, chairman of investment giant Berkshire Hathaway, is betting $US21 billion against the dollar. This is why currency speculator and hedge fund manager George Soros has also made a big bet against the dollar."Soros is one of the greatest currency speculators of all time. He was the guy who broke the British pound in the early 1990s by betting $US10 billion it would fall. He made a quick billion when it did. In 2002, he warned that the greenback was in danger of losing a third of its value. Of course, it could be argued that Soros is a professional hedge fund manager whose job is to play the ups and downs of currencies and his remarks could be seen more as manipulation than prophecy. And yet, in conversations with me, Soros has expressed concern about the market fundamentalist view that prevails in Washington and parts of Wall Street."This is the belief that markets are self-correcting and best left alone. Soros calls this a dangerous siren song. Far from being self-correcting, he emphasises, markets tend to excess. They over-shoot. Anyone with any experience of markets knows this."When markets are going down, all the weaknesses get concentrated, and you need intervention at the right time to stop things from getting out of control. If the dollar started to melt down, the results could be really nasty. A 1930s-style global depression is not out of the question."To underscore the point that he is not alone in this, Prestowitz cites Paul Volcker, head of the Federal Reserve before Greenspan, who has said publicly there is a 75 per cent chance of a dollar crash in the next five years."No wonder people look at this and say, 'Holy cow!'," he says. "No one knows for sure what will happen, but clearly the global markets could implode very quickly. The lack of an alternative to the dollar is the only reason it hasn't taken a big fall already."Prestowitz, formerly a trade adviser and negotiator for former US president Ronald Reagan, believes the US will continue to be the world's most powerful economy for the foreseeable future. But he foreshadows an inexorable decline, a trend that is likely to continue "depending on the way we play our cards"."Right now, we're playing them just about as badly as it's possible to play them, and that has geo-political implications." he says. "We've outsourced trying to deal with North Korea to China, we really can't deal with Iran, so we've outsourced that to the EU, which is struggling, and Iran is cozying up to China. Other bad actors like Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and Sudan are cozying up to China."America's global hegemony is already under challenge, and that challenge is going to become more and more evident as the extent of the relative US economic decline becomes evident. Right now, the US dollar is probably 40 per cent overvalued versus the Japanese yen or the Chinese renminbi. How's the US going to look as a global power when the dollar is at 50 per cent of its current value?"Three Billion New Capitalists by Clyde Prestowitz is published by Basic Books at $US39.95

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Tarrifs, Trademarks, and National Identity

I remember when Walmart first showed up in Ottawa, and even before they put shovel into ground, they took on a little mom and pop operation for name copyright infringement. Wool-Mart had been in Ottawa longer than Wal-Mart had been in Canada, but that didnt matter to the lawyers. (an out of court settlement allowed Wool-Mart to change their name to Wool-Time) Then a few years later, Rockin' Johnny's restaurants are popping up all over Ottawa. A well established US company called Johnny Rockin' again took them to court,same reason, even though they were in a separate country, and no competition can possibly occur. Don't really know the results of that case, but the owner sold one restaurant in South Keys, but is still hangin in there on St Laurent blvd.
Now I see that the Supreme Court of Canada granted US toymaker Matel Inc permission to appeal rulings by the "Trademarks Opposition Board" (ever hear of that before?) that allowed a Canadian company to continue business as Barbie's BBQ Restaurant. This case is a little different though.....seems they really are blatantly ripping off Mattel, who registered Barbie and Barbie's marks many years ago for Doll related items, but neglected to register them for restaurant, and presumably clothing related items.
I am reminded of when KFC used to be Kentucky Fried Chicken. Until sometime in the late 80's when the state of Kentucky demanded huge licenceing fees for using their they changed it to KFC. So why KFC Canada? Another lock step move from the parent company I suppose...
Ahh well...I remember when my friend D'Arcy came up from Texas and we drove all around the Milton Oakville area looking for the UPS depot. She said it looked so much like West Texas that it was uncanny! Same little strip malls, same big box stores, even the big traffic signs over the highway had a sort of universal look to them. She noted at the time that Ontario was looking more and more like just another midwest state every year. I wonder if that is all bad though....

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The usual bullshit....

WASHINGTON (CP) - High-profile U.S. conservative Newt Gingrich has agreed to retract his statement that terrorists involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks entered the United States from Canada. The move came Wednesday after Canada's Ambassador Frank McKenna fired off a letter of complaint.

Gingrich, former Republican speaker in the U.S. House of Representatives and a potential presidential candidate in 2008, "deeply regrets the error," said spokesman Rick Tyler.

"That's become accepted conventional wisdom here. But he'll help to correct the record."

"He wishes he had not repeated that error and had checked it out," Tyler said from Lincoln, Va.

"We're in complete and utter total sympathy with the Canadian ambassador and all Canadians, for that matter."

Gingrich, appearing Tuesday on a Fox News Channel political show, said: "Far more of the 9-11 terrorists came across from Canada than from Mexico."

McKenna, who became Canada's top envoy in the United States last month, wrote Gingrich's comments "perpetuate an urban legend that can take on a life of its own, especially when repeated by people whose opinions are deeply respected in the United States."

"Canadians and Americans are great friends. And great friends can tell it like it is."

"In the interest of that friendship and to set the record straight I ask that you retract your statement."

McKenna noted former U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft is on the record saying: "None of the terrorists from the Sept. 11 carnage came to the United States through Canada."

A 9-11 commission report has also detailed how the terrorists entered with U.S. visas and none came through Canada.

The faulty perception began shortly after the attacks, when U.S. news reports wrongly said some of the hijackers crossed the border.

The ambassador also wrote a letter to the New York Times newspaper last month after an editorial alleged terrorists routinely cross the enter the United States from Canada.

He noted Canada has spent over $9 billion Cdn on security since the attacks, especially on implementing the so-called smart border plan.

Gingrich plans to personally reply to McKenna, said Tyler, and will do what he can to debunk the claim.

"He's a public figure and I'm sure he'll be asked about it. He'll correct the record whenever he's asked."

Monday, April 18, 2005

Oil for Food....the Canadian Connection

Man oh man......Why does Maurice Strong's name keep coming up? Now we discover he is the number two man in Kofi Annan's son's corrup Oil for Food program.

I am just too depressed....check it out for yourself....

Saturday, April 16, 2005

On Strategy....William Lind

It is useful to think that there are some people still thinking about strategy, tactics and low level philosophy. I have always liked William is his classic statements on strategy. In this article, he warns of "maximalist" strategy..that is to say..."all or nothing" strategy. Bill Lind uses America's War in Iraq to illustrate some of his points.
I like his last line....An administration that has made loyalty to the White House’s maximalist objectives its most important test is not likely to encourage consideration of alternative strategies. When it becomes clear that we will not attain those maximalist objectives, there could be a sudden, desperate quest for some way out that leaves a few of our tail feathers intact. At that point, the thoughtful work of a small group of Marines might find an audience.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Bike week in Metcalfe....

What a great day for motor bike racin'!

So instead of blogging here...I think I'll get the wind in my hair, the mosqitoes in my teeth, and burn off all the old gas in the tank.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Softwood Lumber disputes....kuuul...

For as long as I have been alive (some four and a half decades I guess) there has been a dispute on Canadian lumber being sent to the US. There is HUGE US lumbering lobby which has always hated the competition, and have, for the last century or so, demanded AND RECEIVED huge duties to be paid by anybody with the guts to send lumber Stateside. Yup, you heard that right...the duties are collected at the border, and sent directly to US lumber interests. Not to General Revenue as you might suppose! Note please that this does not lower the price of a house....actually, it keeps the price up nice and anybody who has purchased a couple of two by fours in the last couple of years can testify to.

Now the reason why I find this whole thing so kuul is the simple fact...THERE ARE NO CANADIAN LUMBER INDUSTRIES!!! Yeah, seems MacMillan Bloedel is wholely owned by Werehouser Corp. Beaver Lumber got bought up by Builder's Warehouse, and in fact, only 8 percent of lumber sold in Canada is cut and sold by Canadian companies. And none of the lumber being shipped to the states comes from a Canadian company. So all these duties supposedly paid by the Canadians is actually being paid by the American subsidiary. Essentially, they pay a stiff duty at the border, and get it back from Uncle Sam the following week. This keeps the prices up, and their fat profits rolling in! No damned wonder there has been no movement on the softwood lumber dispute in the last half century!

So get this...the Canadian government has decided that what works for the Goose also works for the Gander! So it is slapping big duties onto cigarettes (hah! no surprise there!, big tobacco is always a fair target) oysters (like we don't catch our own....well, subsidies to our fishing industry is pretty normal too) and live pigs. Well, they don't want our cows, which keeps their prices up, so we stop bringing in porkers, which should keep the price up here in Canada.

Sounds like a win win situation, the only person losing is anyone who wants to build a house, or salt down a pig!

Cut and past follows of part of this article....
(CP) - Canada has turned up the pressure on its largest trading partner, slapping rarely used sanctions on the United States to force an end to an internationally condemned trade law.

The stakes are high: if Ottawa fails in this fight against the U.S. law known as the Byrd amendment, Canadian softwood lumber producers stand to lose more than $4 billion in duties paid so far in the longrunning trade dispute.

Even worse, the Byrd amendment would then hand all those Canadian payments over to their American lumber competitors.

To pressure Washington, Ottawa announced Thursday it will slap a 15 per cent surtax on cigarettes, oysters, live swine and some fish imports from the U.S., effective May 1.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Canadian Politics and Fascism..

Well, Sunday morning, and hung into a discussion last night. Politics. Yuk! Why do people think politics is somehow a matter of opinion? Political science is clearly can't just go and play with the definitions to support some half baked idea you have. And if you live your life by half baked ideas, you have bigger problems than I can fix over a half dozen beers!
Last night the discussion devolved, as it usually does, into a statment very like this one....."Bill, your conservative views are just fascist". At least I didn't respond with the usual line (cause I know better...grin!) that "Your liberal views are Marxist". Both statements are so wrong, yet I have seen people that I generally admire make just such statments. Admittedly, taking a conservative view might put you on a slippery slope to fascism, and admittedly, Marx might be considered the ultimate liberal...but not by me, and there isn't enough beer in the bar fridge to make these connections work!
So, I did a little googling to find some definitions. I discovered that "fascism" is a catch phrase which most people really don't understand. Even military members such as I was for so many years don't really understand exactly what a fascist government is all about. ("isn't that when the military is the ruling party?" is one of the usual questions I get.) One of my uncles died fighting fascism...but probably didn't understand it either. As a political system, it is no more evil than most, but seems to be easily corrupted, and even more easily created. The name of course comes from "Fascia", a bundle of sticks tied tightly around a central core which is an axe. The imagery is stunning....the sticks can all be broken separately, but together, they are strong, and they support and surround the "axe"...the axe being the central power. Doctor Lawrence Britt studied the Nazi and italiam Fascist regimes and came up with 14 defining characteristics. Admittedly, he picked defining characteristics which show that it is a bad system...he conveniently leaves out things like "safety in the streets", "crushing of organized crime", "national security", and "separation of church and state". And then of course, there is the way that a fascist governement can drag a population into the 21st century by the scruff of the neck (so to speak) against the opposition of interests who have a vested interest in the status quo. A casual perusal of Ataturk and his "devil take the hindmost" way he dragged Turkey from its medieval past into moderninity needs to be examined, as well as Peter the Great's ride roughshod over his Boyars is also instructive of this point.

Anyway, I'll just do a cut and paste from Mr. Britt's site.....I am sure he won't mind as long as I credit can read it all right here>>>
It seems instructive to examine Canadian politics in the light of these points. (Or for my beloved American you suppose any of the US policies seem to be well on the slippery slope? Personally, I don't think so, but I am sure there might be some warning signs.)

Fourteen Defining
Characteristics Of Fascism
By Dr. Lawrence Britt
Source Free

Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread
domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

From Liberty Forum

Saturday, March 19, 2005


It is good once in a while to examine the may be crumbling...grin! In this case, Robert Conquest's article on Democracy. His point is quite simple...that "Democracy" tends to get used by a lot of different people to mean different things...and that perhaps one of these special interest groups may be misleading the rest of us. I have a very fine bull shit detector, and far from this article being bull shit, it is actually one of the sharper knives in the drawer. As a former peace keeper, THIS is what I mean when I tell people to THINK! Here is the link to the whole article...pleasant reading....

And below is a snippet of his writing, just to give you a taste.

The countries without at least a particle of that background or evolution cannot be expected to become instant democracies; and if they do not live up to it, they will unavoidably be, with their Western sponsors, denounced as failures. Democracy in any Western sense is not easily constructed or imposed. The experience of Haiti should be enough comment.

What we can hope for and work for is the emergence, in former rogue or ideomaniac states, of a beginning, a minimum. The new orders must be non-militant, non-expansionist, non-fanatical. And that goes with, or tends to go with, some level of internal tolerance, of plural order, with some real prospect of settling into habit or tradition.

Democracy cannot work without a fair level of political and social stability. This implies a certain amount of political apathy. Anything resembling fanaticism, a domination of the normal internal debate by "activists" is plainly to be deplored. And democracy must accept anomalies. As John Paul Jones, the American naval hero, sensibly put it in 1775, "True as may be the political principles for which we are now contending, . . . the ships themselves must be ruled under a system of absolute despotism." The navy, indeed, is an extreme case; no democratization in any real degree makes sense, any more than it does in, say, a university, at the other end of the spectrum.

Democratization of undemocratizable institutions is sometimes doubtless the expression of a genuine utopian ideal, as when the Jacobins by these means destroyed the French navy. But more often it is (in the minds of the leading activists, at least) a conscious attempt to ruin the institutions in question, as when the Bolsheviks used the idea to destroy the old Russian army. When this, among other things, enabled them to take power themselves, they were the first to insist on a discipline even more vigorous.

In its most important aspect, civic order is that which has created a strong state while still maintaining the principle of consensus that existed in primitive society. Such an aim involves the articulation of a complex political and social order. The strains cannot be eliminated but can be continually adjusted. Political civilization is thus not primarily a matter of the goodwill of leadership or of ideal constitutions. It is, above all, a matter of time in custom.

All the major troubles we have had in the last half century have been caused by people who have let politics become a mania. The politician should be a servant and should play a limited role. For what our political culture has stood for (as against the principles of total theorists and abstractionists) is the view of society as a developing and broadening of established liberties and responsibilities, and the belief, founded on experience, that in political and social matters, long-term predictions, however exciting and visionary, seldom work out.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Tip of the Iceburg

Read in the Boston Globe that now that same sex marriages are becoming legal, companies are expecting their employees to do the right thing....get married before demanding benefits. This is only the tip of the iceburg....a friend of mine had his wife walk out on him for another woman, and for 12 years took him for every thing he had. Last year the Ontario judge ruled that since she had lived in a "Consentual Sexual Relationship" with her girlfriend for more than 6 months she was subject to the rules of "common law". In other words, she was married to the other one, there would be NO impediments to divorce, and all support payments were to cease forthwith. This has become precedent now! Though I don't see the courts suddenly straining under the weight of gay divorces...but now a break up can lead to property divisions familiar to the 80% of us hetero's who have discovered that marriage isn't all rose petals in the bath and candles in the bedroom!
You know, this might be the start of a whole new world. Equality under the law, even for ex-spouses and employees adept at squeezing the tits of the system. Now there's a concept! A tiny light of encouragement...good to see.

Unmarried gay couples lose health benefits
By Kimberly Blanton, Globe Staff | December 8, 2004

Many of the state's largest employers are dropping health benefits for unmarried gay couples, seven months after Massachusetts became the only state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Massachusetts companies, some of which pioneered so-called domestic-partner benefits for unmarried, same-sex partners, said they are now withdrawing them for reasons of fairness: If gays and lesbians can now marry, they should no longer receive special treatment in the form of health benefits that were not made available to unmarried, opposite-sex couples.

more on this story here....

Sunday, March 06, 2005

John Gilmore and the electrifying, mystifying, air plane ticket

I don't quite know how to take this guy. However, in balance, I think I rather like him. He represents a rebellious streak in the US citizen which IMHO made the United States a great nation.
The story is simple....he bought an airline ticket cash, with no ID. No amount of patting down or checking out or anything else will allow him to fly on that airplane without "Das Papers". Fine...except believe it or not, the law which prevents him from flying is in itself, secret, and cannot be examined! Its not the requirement to have an internal passport that frosts his noodles, but rather, the cavalier way his beloved government has brought in this legislation.
In Canada, of course, the government cannot keep you ignorant of the law on purpose, and I always figured that was the case south of the border in the land of the....well...mostly free. They are trying to do it with the "prohibited/restricted/allowed weapons laws, but us "evil weapons dealers" arn't letting them get away with it. This could become a regular rant on this site, but for now, please, go to the Post Gazzette, and read this article....

here is a sampling.....

Grounded: Millionaire John Gilmore stays close to home while making a point about privacy
He's unable to travel because he refuses to present a government-approved ID
Sunday, February 27, 2005

By Dennis Roddy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

SAN FRANCISCO -- John Gilmore's splendid isolation began July 4, 2002, when, with defiance aforethought, he strolled to the Southwest Airlines counter at Oakland Airport and presented his ticket.The gate agent asked for his ID.

Gilmore asked her why.

It is the law, she said.

Gilmore asked to see the law.

Nobody could produce a copy. To date, nobody has. The regulation that mandates ID at airports is "Sensitive Security Information." The law, as it turns out, is unavailable for inspection.

What started out as a weekend trip to Washington became a crawl through the courts in search of an answer to Gilmore's question: Why?

In post 9/11 America, asking "Why?" when someone from an airline asks for identification can start some interesting arguments. Gilmore, who learned to argue on the debate team in his hometown of Bradford, McKean County, has started an argument that, should it reach its intended target, the U.S. Supreme Court, would turn the rules of national security on end, reach deep into the tug-of-war between private rights and public safety, and play havoc with the Department of Homeland Security.

At the heart of Gilmore's stubbornness is the worry about the thin line between safety and tyranny.

"Are they just basically saying we just can't travel without identity papers? If that's true, then I'd rather see us go through a real debate that says we want to introduce required identity papers in our society rather than trying to legislate it through the back door through regulations that say there's not any other way to get around," Gilmore said. "Basically what they want is a show of obedience."

Phishy, Phishy, Where are You..dum de da dum de dum

Senate Democrat Introduces Phishing Bill

By Brian Krebs Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 1, 2005; 5:43 PM

A senior Senate Democrat on Tuesday introduced legislation to impose tough penalties against persons convicted of launching "phishing" scams -- a form of online fraud in which criminals use deception to trick computer users into giving up their personal and financial information.

The Anti-Phishing Act of 2005, sponsored by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), would allow prosecutors to impose fines of up to $250,000 and jail terms of up to five years against anyone convicted of creating fake corporate Web sites and fraudulent e-mail messages designed to fleece consumers. The legislation would prevent online parodies and political speech from being prosecuted as phishing.

View the whole article here.....

The Right of a Free Press shall be Infringed....Apple Computers.

I cut and pasted this entire article from the Mercury News. I hope that Dawn Chmielewski will not mind. It is an amazing which has far reaching ramifications.

Apple 1, bloggers 0


By Dawn C. Chmielewski

Mercury News

In a case with implications for the freedom to blog, a San Jose judge tentatively ruled Thursday that Apple Computer can force three online publishers to surrender the names of confidential sources who disclosed information about the company's upcoming products.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg refused to extend to the Web sites a protection that shields journalists from revealing the names of unidentified sources or turning over unpublished material.

Kleinberg offered no explanation for the preliminary ruling. He will hear arguments today from Apple's attorneys and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco digital rights group representing two of the three Web sites Apple subpoenaed -- Apple Insider and PowerPage.

The case raises issues about whether those who write for online publications are entitled to the same constitutional protections as their counterparts in more traditional print and broadcast news organizations.

Apple sought subpoenas in December against two online news sites that focus exclusively on its products: PowerPage (www.power and Apple Insider ( The company filed a separate suit against Think Secret ( on Jan. 4.

Apple's argument

Apple maintains that disclosures about an unreleased product, code-named ``Asteroid,'' constituted a trade secret violation. The company asked the court to force the Web sites to identify the source of the leaks.

In its court filings, Apple argued that neither the free speech protections of the United States Constitution nor the California Shield Law, which protects journalists from revealing their sources, applies to the Web sites. The company said such protections apply only to ``legitimate members of the press.''

Subpoena fight

The court earlier authorized Apple to serve subpoenas on the Web sites, seeking all documents related to Asteroid and information about anyone with knowledge of the postings about the product.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation fought the subpoenas, arguing the online publishers, like their print and broadcast counterparts, frequently rely on confidential sources to report on issues in the public interest.

``Compelled disclosure of journalists' sources would have a devastating effect on the free flow of information,'' said Kurt Opsahl, an EFF attorney. ``It's the lifeblood of a functioning democracy. Therefore the courts have to understand the vital connection between the confidentiality of sources and the freedom of the press.''

An Apple spokesman declined to comment on the case.

Adding support

Thomas Goldstein, a former dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism who worked as a reporter for the New York Times, filed a brief in support of the Web sites.

``Just because Apple does not want these publications to report on its activities does not mean that they are not news publications,'' Goldstein wrote.

Contact Dawn C. Chmielewski at or (800) 643-1902

Monday, February 28, 2005

Sex, lies and the turkey baster...

Fascinating story....guy does not have sex with married co-worker, but does get a blow job. She uses it to get preggers. Court backs her up...he has to pay...he IS the baby's father after all. So he counter sues.... Oh brother! What do YOU think? I dunno...I am vaguely reminded of the way some of the high school girls I knew would get knocked up in order to "build a relationship with her chosen man!"

By CARLA K. JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO - A man who says his former lover deceived him by getting pregnant using semen obtained through oral sex can sue for emotional distress — but not theft, an appeals court has ruled.

Dr. Richard O. Phillips accuses Dr. Sharon Irons of a "calculated, profound personal betrayal" six years ago, but she says they had the baby through sexual intercourse.

The Illinois Appeals Court said Wednesday that Phillips can press a claim for emotional distress after alleging Irons had used his sperm to have a baby, but agreed that however the baby was conceived, Irons didn't steal the sperm.

"She asserts that when plaintiff 'delivered' his sperm, it was a gift," the decision said. "There was no agreement that the original deposit would be returned upon request."

The ruling sends the case back to Cook County Circuit Court.

Phillips, a Chicago family doctor, alleges that he and Irons never had intercourse during their four-month tryst, although they had oral sex three times. His suit contends that Irons without his knowledge kept some of his semen.

The relationship ended, the suit said, when Phillips learned Irons had lied to him about being recently divorced and was still married to another doctor.

Irons, who practices internal medicine in suburban Olympia Fields, said in a telephone interview Thursday that Phillips knew she was still married during their affair, and also knew she was pregnant with his child.

"He was very supportive and very happy about it," she said. "He said, `You need to hurry up and get your divorce.'"

He promised to marry her and asked her to quit her job, she said, but several days before her last day at work, Phillips informed her that he "couldn't go through with it."

Nearly two years after their affair, Irons filed a paternity suit and Phillips was ordered to pay $800 a month in child support, said Irons' attorney, Enrico Mirabelli.

Phillips then sued Irons, claiming her actions caused him nausea and headaches and robbed him of sleep and his appetite. He is haunted by "feelings of being trapped in a nightmare," court papers state.

The appeals court ruling followed a decision by a lower court judge who dismissed Phillips' suit in 2003.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

This is the way we treat our heros!

I am just too disgusted to do a cut and paste on this. But really, you would think the minister could have at least driven the two hours to Trenton to greet the returning troops!

Shame...........Shame...........Shame on you, and Welcome back DART hero's!

Look Boss, the Cost, the Cost!

Man, it never seems to end!

OTTAWA (CP) - The cost to taxpayers of sorting out the Maher Arar affair has soared to over $23 million, government figures show. Spending estimates tabled Friday in the Commons show an operating budget of $8.7 million was set aside in fiscal 2004-05 for the public inquiry headed by Justice Dennis O'Connor.

Francois Jubinville, a spokesman for the Privy Council Office, said an additional $3.7 million has been budgeted for the new fiscal year that starts April 1, bringing the inquiry's operating funds to $12.4 million.

O'Connor is looking into the role played by Canadian officials in Arar's detention in the United States and subsequent deportation to Syria, where he says he was tortured into false confessions of links to al-Qaida.

The official budget for O'Connor's work makes up a little more than half the total tab to the government so far.

Another $11.2 million has been run up by five federal departments and agencies.

The figures made public Friday show the Justice Department was by far the biggest spender, reporting $6.05 million in costs for "activities associated with" the affair.

Seamas Gordon, a department spokesman, said most of that money went to pay the fees for lawyers representing federal officials called to testify before O'Connor.

It's standard practice for the government to cover the legal costs incurred by any present or former bureaucrat in the course of official duties.

Other spending included $2.19 million by the Foreign Affairs Department, $2.07 million by the RCMP, $667,000 by the Privy Council Office and $198,000 by the Canada Border Services Agency $198,000.

That brought the grand total so far to $23.6 million.

The commission headed by O'Connor is no the only one that has been running up bills for the government over the last year.

The operating budget for another inquiry into the federal sponsorship scandal, under Justice John Gomery, is expected to be well over $30 million and possibly climb to $40 million.

Another $39 million in associated costs have been incurred by various federal departments, driving the total sponsorship bill close to $80 million.

Both inquiries were created last year by Prime Minister Paul Martin, in response to controversies he inherited from the previous regime of Jean Chretien.

Martin has defended the cost of the Gomery inquiry, saying it's worth it to find out what went wrong with the sponsorship program that saw millions of federal dollars flow to Liberal-friendly ad agencies.

Officials offered a similar justification Friday for spending on the Arar inquiry and related departmental costs.

"There is no question that commissions of inquiry are costly undertakings," said Stephen Bindman of the Justice Department.

"But in the case of the Arar inquiry, the government called one because it wanted to get to the bottom of the role of officials in what took place."

Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen, was detained in New York on suspicions of terrorism in September 2002.

The telecommunications engineer, travelling on a Canadian passport, was eventually deported to Syria by U.S. authorities.

Arar, 35, says he was tortured for months in a grim Syrian prison before being released in the fall of 2003. He denies any involvement in terrorism.

Commission hearings are expected to extend well into this year. A final report is not expected before late 2005