Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Much Shorter Robert Sibley - 2 for 1

Robert Sibley is chief editor of the Condescending Pretension bureau at the loony bin of the CanWest-Global media empire.

His blog's subheader reads

Behind most every contemporary political act, policy decision and social value is an idea (usually from some dead white European male, like it or not). Senior writer Robert Sibley considers ideas that shape - or misshape, as the case may be - our world.
With sentiments like that, it's unsurprising that Sibley's blog was abandoned in September. Evidently, even Citizen readers did not find his ideas to be particularly consequential.

Nevertheless, that doesn't deter him from having them:

Article: The Decade when the face of Canada changed.
Canada should keep the darkies out.
Article: The Decade of Disorder
Many political theorists agree that if Westerners don't give themselves more credit for civilizing the savage peoples of the world, the terrorists win.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Where is Harper taking us? And why is Lewis MacKenzie helping?

Lewis Mackenzie is widely considered to be a Canadian military hero, having been decorated for his meritorious service in keeping the Sarajevo airport open to humanitarian aid as Serb militias shelled the city. He is a member of the Order of Canada, and is widely seen as a national icon. For those who have followed his career, however, the meritoriousness of his conduct has not always been so clear.

Ever since Richard Colvin's testimony to the Commons Committee on the mission in Afghanistan, the Konservatives have been revving their propaganda machine into full gear, summoning every minion they have in the media (and they have many) to deny, obfuscate, and deflect any query for information that might verify Colvin's main revelation: that Canadian soldiers knowingly delivered their captives into torture.

Colvin himself is not a "whistleblower" - he did not take his information to the media. He was invited to testify to the committee, and so he did. As Scott Taylor wrote over at Embassy Magazine:

On the other side of the playing field, the Conservatives claim there was no foul committed by them against diplomat Richard Colvin, even when the game tape clearly shows them—and their appointed cheerleaders—mercilessly putting the boots to him. It was Colvin who first began sounding the alarm bell of possible detainee abuse in Afghanistan in 2006.

Once Colvin testified before the parliamentary committee, alleging that military brass and political leadership had ignored his warnings, the gloves came off and knives were drawn. First into the fray were Defence Minister MacKay and his loyal parliamentary secretary, Laurie Hawn, who both launched attacks against Colvin's credibility. MacKay went so far as to suggest Colvin was a Taliban dupe, and Hawn attempted to undermine Colvin by saying it was easy for the diplomat to make wild allegations from the safe confines of North America.

This was a theme that was quickly seized and repeated by retired major-general Lewis Mackenzie. During an appearance on CTV, Mackenzie claimed to have heard "from a very reliable source, that [Colvin] was not permitted outside the wire in Kandahar probably once and not more than once." As such, Mackenzie opined that Colvin's research was therefore limited to second-hand sources via phone and emails. . . .

. . . As reported last week in the Ottawa Citizen, this information spread by Mackenzie and Blatchford on behalf of their DND source(s) is patently false. It was confirmed that Colvin left the base on at least six occasions to venture—at great personal risk—into the centre of Kandahar.

Mackenzie's political colours have not been much in doubt since 1997, when he first ran federally as a Progressive Conservative. They became even less in doubt when he signed on with Harper's much more right-leaning Conservatives. But his record in the Bosnian war was never spotless; as far as many of those on the Bosnian side were concerned, his negligence cost them dearly.

In the late Bosnian President's memoir, Alija Izetbegovic wrote of Mackenzie

On 13 July 1992 the State Commission for the Exchange of Prisoners submitted to UNPROFOR commander Lewis McKenzie [sic] a list of 42 camps that had by then been registered in Bosnia and Herzegovina. McKenzie publicly denied the existence of the camps, and instead of forwarding the letter giving details of the camps to the United Nations, he held on to it.

On 8 August 1992, the Sarajevo daily Oslobodenje published a list of 94 concentration camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the famous photograph taken at Omarska camp, broadcast by CNN. It was only then that the world, albeit unwillingly, began to face up to the horrific truth.

-- Inescapable Questions, Alija Izetbegovic

In a piece in 2005, however, MacKenzie attempts to shift blame for the famous 1995 Srebrenica massacre onto Bosnian Muslim soldiers, suggesting even that some of the deaths may have been attributable to "three years of intense fighting in the area." There may even be some truth to what he says, but it is interesting that he felt strongly enough about the difference between 2,000 deaths and 8,000 deaths to argue the point. When it comes to Srebrenica, MacKenzie seems happy to play the role that anti-semites have with respect to Auschwitz; because 6 million bodies were never found, the genocide must have been exaggerated.

While Mackenzie was on CTV during the 1999 Kosovo conflict as an expert commentator, he was one of the "journalists" whom Belgrade didn't expel. As CBC reporter Carol Off wrote in her book The Lion, the Fox, and the Eagle,

What the audience didn't know was that MacKenzie was in Belgrade as a guest of the Yugoslav government. According to MacKenzie, he obtained a visa for himself and the CTV crew after discussions with the embassy in Ottawa and with Yugoslavian ministers concerning what he might be able to do to help them out. . . . When the indicted war criminal (and soon to be murdered warlord) Arkan encountered MacKenzie in a hotel lobby, he greeted him warmly.
Of the numerous critics of the bombing of Yugoslavia, MacKenzie stands out as one of a select group who are not equally critical of any Western venture into the Muslim world. It is difficult to conclude from the above that MacKenzie's politics are informed by any particular prejudice, but it is hard not to consider the possibility, given the company he finds himself in.

In the light of this, it becomes less surprising that MacKenzie finds fellow-travellers in the likes of Stephen Harper, Peter MacKay, or even Jason Kenney. More than any government in Canadian history, the political agenda they have pursued is slowly transforming Canada from a country identified internationally for its values of tolerance and compassion and the country whose flag American travellers would sew to their backpacks, into a neoconservative bastion whose leaders think little about handing human beings over to a fate of certain torture.

The denials and smear have worn thin. What we must fear now is the next logical line that the Conservatives will fall back on - after obfuscation comes rationalization. The only thing worse than denying that we abetted torture is admitting it and claiming that we were justified.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

God Bless You, Guillaume Morand. . .

. . . regardless of what your religious beliefs are.

From AFP: Swiss businessman builds minaret in protest

BUSSIGNY, Switzerland — A Swiss businessman appalled by his fellow countrymen's decision to ban minarets has extended a chimney above his company building into a minaret in protest.

"It was scandalous that the Swiss voted for the ban. Now we have the support of all the far-right parties across Europe. This is shameful," Guillaume Morand, who owns a chain of shoe stores, told AFP.

The businessman, who is not a Muslim, explained that the he had constructed the mock minaret at his building near western Switzerland's city of Lausanne in protest, and at the same time, to "send a message of peace."

More than 57 percent of voters upset opinion polls and defied their government by approving the right wing motion to ban minarets -- the turrets or towers on mosques from which Muslims are called to prayer.

The outcome of the referendum brought by members of the hard-right Swiss People's Party (SVP) and other right wing groups was also hailed by anti-immigrant party leaders elsewhere in Europe.

Morand blamed other political parties in Switzerland for not having campaigned against the far-right motion ahead of the referendum.

"They were all against it but they did not explain the issue clearly to the country," he said, pointing out that only the SVP's controversial poster campaign was visible.

The SVP had sought support for the ban through a poster campaign depicting a burqa-clad woman against a background of a Swiss flag upon which several minarets resembling missiles are erected.

Morand said he viewed the ban was all the more "scandalous" given that Switzerland actively encourages Arabs to "visit the country and to spend their money here."

The minaret, which has been in place since Tuesday, has "generated a lot of interest," he said, adding that he will wait and see before deciding if further action was needed to push his point.

The fearmongers out there will doubtless retort "Try putting up a steeple in Saudi Arabia!" as they are wont to do. This tells us something about them, however, which is that they aspire to no greater example of religious pluralism than what is set by the ibn Saud.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Canada's Likud Government

We have articulated and implemented a zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitism. What does this mean? It means that we eliminated the government funding relationship with organizations like for example, the Canadian Arab Federation, whose leadership apologized for terrorism or extremism, or who promote hatred, in particular anti-Semitism.

We have ended government contact with like-minded organizations like the Canadian Islamic Congress, whose President notoriously said that all Israelis over the age of 18 are legitimate targets for assassination. We have defunded organizations, most recently like KAIROS, who are taking a leadership role in the boycott. And we’re receiving a lot of criticism for these decisions. I can’t recall how many times I’ve been sued for some of the decisions that we have taken, but we believe that we’ve done these things for the right reasons and we stand by these decisions.

-- Conservative Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, Dec. 16, 2009, text from the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee

And so it continues . . . Not content with its boycott of the Canadian Arab Federation for its criticism of the government's policies (a move that mainly hurt people looking for ESL training), or its banning of British anti-Occupation firebrand George Galloway from entering the country, Harper's government is at it again. As usual his henchman Jason Kenney is at the forefront, this time crowing to an overwhelmingly Jewish, 100% Zionist audience at having once again moved to stifle criticism of Israel using the oldest trick in the book - scream anti-Semitism.

Even one blogger for the National Post, that insolvent anti-Canadian CanWest rag, sees some inconsistencies in the Kenney's position, as the Honourable Minister attempted to straighten out his story in the Toronto Star:
I did not accuse KAIROS of being anti-Semitic. What I said was that KAIROS has taken "a leadership role in the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (against Israel)." While I disagree with the nature of KAIROS's militant stance toward the Jewish homeland, that is not the reason their request for taxpayer funding was denied. International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda – not me – is responsible for the Canada International Development Agency. And she has been clear that a cost-sharing program with KAIROS was not approved because it did not meet CIDA's current priorities, such as increased food aid.
He didn't accuse them of anti-Semitism, he just mentioned them in the same breath as other organizations whom he had accused of the same thing.

I don't see anything wrong with an international boycott of Israeli goods - that was what ended the apartheid in South Africa, and Israel is no less dependent on international trade. Is, however, KAIROS even advocating that? A 2002 document released by the group answers the question explicitly:
The final step of the Board-mandated process is this paper, which sets out a range of options to enable the members of KAIROS to contribute, each out of their own faith tradition, to their common quest for a just peace in Israel and Palestine. The paper also contains recommendations for KAIROS actions that would support member initiatives. Finally, section 6 of the paper also makes clear that KAIROS is not advocating sanctions against Israel nor a boycott of products from Israel.
(emphasis from KAIROS)
A further reading of the document shows that KAIROS supports "Morally Responsible Investment" and not the more forthright "Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions" campaign. Their "economic advocacy" is ill-defined, but examples provided include moves from other Church groups to divest from companies providing equipment for the construction of infrastruction used by the Occupation, such as the Wall, and requiring the labelling of products made in Jewish colonies in the West Bank.

None of this, however, actually matters to Jason Kenney, or to Stephen Harper. What matters to them is that God gave the Holy Land to the Jewish people in the Bible, and the nasty infidel Muslim Arabs (and in the minds of Mssrs Harper and Kenney, there is no other kind) are standing in the way.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wishing all my Christian friends a Merry Christmas. . .

. . .and reminding them of the plight of the people of Bethlehem today:

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The "Islamist" Montazeri

If you pay much attention to the news, you would know that Grand Ayatollah Hoseyn Ali Montazeri passed away on Sunday. As an outspoken critic of the Khamenei regime and the dubious re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Montazeri had been getting a lot of favourable coverage from Western news outlets.

What's interesting is that no story that I have read or heard on the subject in print, online, or radio journalism has ever referred to Montazeri as an "Islamist." This is odd, given that Montazeri was himself one of the architects of the Islamic Revolution and very much one of Khomeini's fellow travellers. If Khomeini was the archetypal Islamist, then why not Montazeri?

The answer is that this week, we like Montazeri, and so he cannot, therefore, be an Islamist, no matter how religiously-motivated his political activism was.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

It's all been photosynthesized back into virgin Brazilian rainforest

As I've said before on this blog, two facts about the Earth's climate should be beyond doubt for any reasonable person, regardless of their scientific acumen. They are:

1) We have changed the Earth's atmosphere.
2) The Earth is getting warmer.

I don't know anyone who seriously questions 1). Being highly conservative in one's assumptions, it should still be obvious that we have burned billions and billions of metric tons of material including everything from fossil fuels to plant life since the start of the industrial age, and that not all of that could have been photosynthesized, refossilized, and liquefied back into light sweet crude over the last century or two.

Fact 2) is disputed, but only by very stupid people, who make arguments like "if the Earth is getting colder, then why's it snowing in Texas? Huh? Huh? Gotcha!"

Whether 1) is the cause of 2) is, I suppose, a place for legitimate debate. Unfortunately, that debate was tremendously muddied last week with the theft of e-mails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, which has been a windfall for denialist wingnuts out there. See the previous post but one for an example.

I've gone through a small sampling of the e-mails myself, including some of the most controversial ones and while I can see why they look bad when taken out of context, that only highlights the importance of reading things in context - something that the wingnuts have a propensity not to do.

For a more thorough refutation of the denialist haymaking on this subject, I recommend the Dec 3rd editorial in Nature, the ultra-high-impact life-sciences journal.

Climatologists under pressure

. . . A fair reading of the e-mails reveals nothing to support the denialists' conspiracy theories. In one of the more controversial exchanges, UEA scientists sharply criticized the quality of two papers that question the uniqueness of recent global warming (S. McIntyre and R. McKitrick Energy Environ. 14, 751–771; 2003 and W. Soon and S. Baliunas Clim. Res. 23, 89–110; 2003) and vowed to keep at least the first paper out of the upcoming Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Whatever the e-mail authors may have said to one another in (supposed) privacy, however, what matters is how they acted. And the fact is that, in the end, neither they nor the IPCC suppressed anything: when the assessment report was published in 2007 it referenced and discussed both papers.

If there are benefits to the e-mail theft, one is to highlight yet again the harassment that denialists inflict on some climate-change researchers, often in the form of endless, time-consuming demands for information under the US and UK Freedom of Information Acts. Governments and institutions need to provide tangible assistance for researchers facing such a burden. . . .

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Reflections on an itinerant life

Maybe tomorrow, I'll wanna settle down,
Until tomorrow, I'll just keep movin' on. . .

That song played during the closing credits of The Littlest Hobo, during the show's run on CTV. The premise of the show was that an unnamed dog without an owner would move from town to town, helping people, and then disappear, trotting down a forest trail or hopping aboard a rail car as the credits played, only to show up again next week in a new location for another adventure. Intelligent, fierce, and kindhearted, the Littlest Hobo's virtue hinged on his lack of connection to any place or person. The selflessness of his actions was underscored by the fact that he would never stay to appreciate the gratitude of the people he had helped.

He was a dog, but the archetype is a common one for humans - the travelling sage, the wandering warrior, the itinerant scholar. There is something romantic about being homeless by choice, about roaming around under the open sky. Such characters in history and in fiction are often presented as somehow virtuous - rarely are they presented as evil. From the historical Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta, to Marvel Comics' Wolverine character, the wanderer is cast as the the protagonist, and the popular discussion of them consists largely of the extollment of his virtues.

For the past 2 months, I have been trying this lifestyle on for size - moving through five cities, staying in each just long enough to get comfortable before I leave again - and I have to say that the popular conception of it is fictional. There is no great moral virtue in it, and the knowledge one gains is morally neutral - without interpretation and reflection, without time to catch one's breath, the information remains as raw data. It does not translate into wisdom.

This is not to say that travelling can't be fun, or that the adventure of it is worthless, but it isn't a sustainable way to live. Eventually the wanderer has to settle down and find a community. Like everything else, the value of this "community" only becomes clear when you don't have it. What good is virtue if it only comes and goes in the lives of the people you meet? What exactly can you accomplish without a sustained presence?

The obvious rejoinder is: A lot - to pull someone from a burning building, for instance, doesn't require twenty years, and it certainly does make a difference in their life. It does not, however, happen on a daily basis, and if you spend your life waiting for buildings around you to burn, you might be dead before you managed to make any positive contribution. Most of us lack The Littlest Hobo's knack for stumbling over people in distress.

The itinerant life titillates the soul and stimulates the mind, but in a sedentary world I have not found it to provide much by way of spiritual nourishment over the long term, because this requires a community of people to collaborate with, contribute to, and learn from. This something that is hard to sustain "on the road," even in the electronic age.

I have enjoyed these two months immensely, and I intend to do this again someday, but at the moment I can't wait for the opportunity to stay in one place again. Tomorrow, I intend to settle down.

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Shorter David Warren

From the Ottawa Citizen, loony-bin of the CanWest-Global media empire.

Article: Copenhagen

Human beings have never changed the environment, and anybody who tells you otherwise is a Communist.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Shorter Swiss Referendum Analysis

Referendum: "MUSLIMS = BAD"

Be frightened children! Their architecture is out to get us!

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Eid Mubarak

Eid Mubarak to all of my readers! Obviously it is intended for the Muslim ones, but hey, if the non-Muslims want to be wished Eid Mubarak as well, I'm open to it.

This Eid provided me with some much-needed reminders about priorities. I hope you found some benefit in it too.


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Monday, November 23, 2009

Much, Much, Much Shorter Hugh Fitzgerald (sentence structure preserved)

Article: Instead of sending troops to Afghanistan, what should Obama do?

Obama needs to understand the texts, tenets, attitudes, and atmospherics of Islam, which were studied before 1970 by Western scholars who were experts in the texts, tenets, attitudes, and atmospherics of Islam, and thereby realize from his new knowledge of the texts, tenets, attitudes, and atmopherics of Islam that we should bomb Muslim countries back into the Stone Age, no matter what.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Lesser Evil indeed.

I was going to post something about this, but a wise old man beat me to it.

If I were Stephen Harper, I would buy every Conservative MP a copy of Michael Ignatieff's navel-gazing exploration of our "new" security situation, complete with little sticky tabs to help them find good quotes to use on the floor of the House of Commons.

What makes me really sad about this story, though, aside from the suffering of the victims, is that the people who did the actual torturing were almost certainly Muslims. Petty, cruel, and venal, we are our own worst enemies.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Something to tide you over

Life has temporarily interrupted my ability to post my wisdom here, but have no fears, regular service will resume before long.

As my fan base, however, is doubtlessly jonesing now for another fix of The Proud Islamist, here is something to tide you over.

The Lost Art of Reportage

Peace and blessings,

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Monday, October 26, 2009

The only minority that matters

A fantastic article on how rulers manipulate the politics of identity, from Dawn's India correspondent, Jawed Naqvi.

. . . a highly popular, secular and now part-time social activist who would hardly pass muster as a Muslim was protesting how he had faced difficulty in renting a house in a ‘proper’ locality of Delhi. ‘They want me to live in a ghetto, and I refuse to do that,’ he told the audience tearfully, which incidentally included a handful of the ghettoised victims of Gujarat violence.

Of course there are people, mostly prejudiced Hindus, who want to ghettoise the Muslims in India, as there are Muslim zealots who have ghettoised the Christians and Hindus in Pakistan, not to speak of the Sinhalese doing it to the Tamils in Colombo. There can be no dispute about that. The question is: have the Indian Muslims ever asked why should anyone at all live in a ghetto, including the Dalits and others who do?

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Blog Referrral

A friend of mine has started a new blog to chronicle his 2-week trip to Yellowknife, and asked me to post a link here.

While I think it's ridiculous to start a whole blog just to tell the world about what you found during a 2-week trip to a town that's inside your own country, it's his time he's using.

Here you go:

Yellowknife Journal

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Notice to impatient drivers, or "How to Drive Islamically"

To all my fanatic followers out there I must apologize for the length of the hiatus between this and the previous post. Things have been busy. Today, however, I will not be delivering any words of wisdom on geopolitics, social justice, the English language, or examples of wingnut depravity. No, today I have something a little more personal to get off my chest.

I'm a big fan of trains. They're efficient, they're quick, they're usually on time (at least the ones I take), they don't often crash, they can move in bad weather, and you can do lots of stuff while riding one. This can't be said about aeroplanes, which guzzle a tremendous amount of fuel, and are often grounded due to weather. It also can't be said of cars, which are still comparatively inefficient, more crash-prone than any other mode of transport, and don't allow the driver to read or work while travelling. In Canada, VIA Rail is a public holding, so you're buying the seat from yourself (unfortunately, the track has been privatized, so your regular fare is a tad inflated).

Anyhow, despite my love of trains, circumstances have recently dictated that I do a lot of domestic travel by car. This month I'll do over 2000km on the highway, with thousands more to come.

On every drive, a certain city has always wound up delaying me, with its 10-lane traffic jams, wherein frustrated drivers crawl along the freeway at 20kph, only to discover after half an hour that the traffic is slowly accelerating to the usual 120kph (because we're all in too much of a rush for the 100kph speed-limit), and with the cause of the blockage remaining a mystery. I have rarely seen any tow-trucks, police cars, or ambulances at the end of one of these slow-downs, so they can't all be for accidents.

But I wander from the point. During one of these little queue-ups, the tendency of most of the drivers is to accelerate to their usual travelling speed, and then hit the brakes when the car in front of them begins looming a tad too large. Even if the space that opens up is less than 50 meters, almost everyone behaves this way.

My philosophy, on the other hand, is to coast. I don't touch the accellerator if I don't think I'm going to go anywhere. So if the car ahead of me lurches forward to 70kph and then screeches to a halt 300m ahead of me, I will take my time to close the gap.

Collectively, we are not going anywhere. At 10kph, I will catch up with that car long before he is ready to embark upon another 200m journey. In fact, I will come to a stop long before I've even closed the gap, because while I am coasting along, fiddling with the radio, or opening a snack, or finding the page where I left off in [i]War and Peace[/i], a whole bunch of type-A personalities from the surrounding lanes will say to themselves "Aha! A gap! Why, that must mean that this lane is somehow travelling faster than the 3 other lanes on this highway!" and fill it in.

While this is happening, some vehicle behind me - it could be a 1979 Camaro or a Volvo 18-wheel tractor-trailer - will see what is going on, thanks to my failure to take advantage of the opportunity to move myself 200m closer to my destination at top speed, and will begin flashing his lights at me. When this, curiously, doesn't work, he begins blasting his horns, in progressively less courteous sequences.

If any of the people to whom I refer above is reading this post, please allow me to explain my behaviour:

When you accelerate, your car gains kinetic energy. This energy comes from the fuel in your tank. When you hit the brakes, you are deliberately dissipating that kinetic energy by converting it into heat. In the process, you are decreasing the life of your engine, transmission, calipers, drums, and discs, not to mention the planet Earth. Your brand new Prius isn't saving the planet if you are slamming on the brakes every 2 minutes.

In doing so, you move yourself less than a few seconds closer to your destination. Yes, you might wind up a few cars ahead of where you might have been, but when we all get back up to 120kph, that difference will wash out. Trust me - I've gently passed lots of people who revved their engines in order to cut me off during the slowdown.

So instead of exhibiting all this excess aggression on the road, to the benefit of no one but car manufacturers and oil companies, take a bit of advice from The Proud Islamist, and exercise a little patience.

Or otherwise, take the train.

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Truth About Rifqa Bary

In August, I wrote here about a troubling case involving 17-year-old Rifqa Bary, an Ohio girl from a Sri Lankan Muslim family who converted to Christianity and fled to Florida, claiming refuge with a Christian pastor against what she claimed was her impending "honour killing."

As I said then, though the truth was far from clear, all of the luminaries of anti-Islam - Robert Spencer, Pamela Gellar, Frank Gaffney, Wafa Sultan, and the like - were flogging the story hard, claiming that Rifqa was in danger, and that her fanatical father was after his daughter's blood, inspired by Islam.

Outside the courthouse

Since then, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) was asked by the state's governor to investigate the girl's claims against her parents in Ohio.

A little excerpt from the FDLE's investigation summary:

. . .

Ms. Bary discussed her upbringing and stated that she had been a cheerleader at New Albany High School. When asked if her father approved of her cheerleading she stated that her father had no real idea what the concept or activities involved in cheerleading were, and allowed it. She stated that she always wore sweatpants or other coverings to hide the short skirt of the cheerleading outfit from him. She stated her father had never been to an event in which she performed as a cheerleader. Furthermore, she stated the family had no photos of her cheering or team photos as would appear in a yearbook.

On August 27, 2009, Mr. Bary stated to FDLE that he knew about his daughter’s cheerleading activities. He said that she had asked her mother for permission to cheer and was denied. Ms. Bary then asked Mr. Bary for his approval and he subsequently allowed her participation.. Mr. Bary stated that he drove her to cheerleading practice occasionally during the week He said he had never seen her perform due to his work commitments.

On August 27, 2009, Rilvan Bary told FDLE that his parents seemed to be supportive of his sister’s cheerleading activities.

When FDLE and other investigators visited the Bary household on August 27, 2009, several photos of Ms. Bary dressed in her cheerleading uniform were prominently displayed in the family living room.

. . .

FDLE’s investigation has not developed any information which supports an allegation of criminal activity in the state of Florida. Furthermore, our investigation has provided no clear evidence of criminal activity in other states which may be supportive of the above allegations. FDLE is prepared to assist the state of Ohio or any other entity in furtherance of investigative matters which may pertain to their areas of jurisdiction.

In other words, the cops in Florida saw no evidence that Miss Bary had never been the victim of a threat or criminal act by her family.

This, of course, puts the Anti-Islam brigades in a tough position - either they got all hot and bothered over a truckload of teenage acting-out, or the FDLE is willfully blind to the "jihadist agenda" as it pertains to Rifqa Bary. Guess which one they picked?

Kyle over at RightWingWatch puts it beautifully:
So, in short: the FDLE report concluded that Bary was in no danger and that pretty much everything her right-wing supporters had been claiming was false, which, according to those right-wing supporters, only proves that the FDLE and others are engaged in a conspiracy to kill Bary and "replace our Constitution and the liberties it enshrines with the brutal and repressive program known as Shariah."

If this were just another story of paranoid delusions and wingnut tomfoolery, I would be happy to leave the story there, and walk away gloating over another embarrassment for the anti-Islam brigades.

This, however, is a story about a real girl and a real family. As I wrote in my first piece on this, half of me wanted Rifqa's claims to be true, because if they were, then she had a good reason to tear her family apart, because her father would have been, as she claimed, a monster.

It is impossible to say for certain whether he was a model father, but we do know for certain now that there are an awful lot of things that Miss Bary both embellished and lied about in order to make her story more dramatic. That by itself is a terrible thing, because it means that she has torn her family apart for the sake of people who are interested primarily in using her to grind an axe against the Muslims of the world. In so doing, she has shamed and dishonoured her parents.

It is not the Christian thing to do.

May she and her family find a way to reconcile. Ameen.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Armed white man harangues tribesmen on "security"

From what used to be Canada's most conservative newspaper:

Top soldier lambastes local Afghans

A trip by Canada's top soldier in Afghanistan to the model community where troops are implementing a long-term security strategy turned into a lesson on the limits of Canadian tolerance. . .

Yes, it was a beautiful Afghan day, with sunny skies all over Dand district. Since there was no insurgency going on, Canadian General Jonathan Vance decided to take advantage of the peace and quite and drive through the insurgency free town of Deh-e-Bagh, where Canadian peace troops had distributed lollipops and medical supplies in recognition of how safe Canada's presence has made all of Afghanistan.

As General Jonathan Vance was driving this morning into the village of Deh-e-Bagh in the Dand district, southwest of Kandahar city, the shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade hit one of the armoured vehicles in his convoy

But never mind one isolated incident! Canada's securifying force of trust-building and not-civilian-killing has made sure, though, that the whole region is free of bad guys. You know, the mean ones with the beards and the booming laugh that they unleash shortly after they have revealed their nefarious plans to the captive-but-secretly-armed Canadian soldiers in front of them.

And, when Gen. Vance had travelled about a kilometre past the village on the way to another community where the Canadians hope to implement the same secure-and-stay policy they have used in Deh-e-Bagh, an oncoming Canadian military vehicle was ripped by a bomb planted in the road.

"Ok," thought General Vance, "not cool. I mean one RPG is jokes, but an IED is more that my Canadian tolerance can tolerate!"
Gen. Vance called an immediate meeting, known as a shura, with Deh-E-Bagh's elders. “It's a sad and serious day,” he told the 24 Afghan men who turned out to the district centre to hear what the general had to say. “Why is it I feel that I am the only one, with my soldiers, who is taking responsibility for security?” Gen. Vance asked. “I am saddened sometimes on days when I feel I am more concerned about Dand district than you are.”
Yeah, you tell'em Jonny! I mean, don't these losers care at all that you have a mission to complete here? I guess it's hard for them to understand the responsibility that you shoulder in this situation. After all, you gotta give your boss a progress report about this place; they only live here.

And he made it clear he was unwilling to sacrifice more Canadian lives. “If we keep blowing up on the roads, I am going to stop doing development,” said Gen. Vance. “If we stop doing development in Dand, then I believe Afghanistan and Kandahar is a project that cannot be saved.”
"NOOOOOOO!" Cried the townspeople in unison! "Don't leave us! Afghanistan without a foreign occupier is like Hockey Night in Canada without Don Cherry!"

Before the general and his convoy had left the compound, the local chief of police and a security officer approached him to say they suspected a man from a neighbouring village of being complicit in the crime. His uncles are Taliban, they said, his brother was blown up trying to plant a bomb, his own toes were mysteriously blown off, and he seemed to know where explosives had been planted. He also worked occasionally with the police, which complicated matters a little.

The man was taken into custody for questioning by the Canadians. So, rather than head out to another spot where the secure-and stay approach is being implemented, the general's convoy returned to the Kandahar Air Field with the prisoner.

And after that, young Abdul-Latif would never stare at Officer Mustafa's daughter again.

How can anyone write this jingoistic crap with a straight face?

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Beautiful B.C.

While summer may be ending, the hearts of British Columbians are warming, full of brotherly love for their fellow human beings. Yes, British Columbians have decided that the weakest amongst them must not be allowed to perish in the cold during the winter months, and instead, have decided to give them a helping hand into a heated building and a warm bed. Other Canadian provinces should feel ashamed that they do not possess B.C.'s generosity and care for its weak and destitute.

Of course, that this sudden wave of care, consideration, and bonhomie has coincided with the Winter Olympics is pure, pure, coincidence. Vancouver is not like Beijing, or Sydney before it! The elected representatives of the good citizens of BC have no intention of sweeping the unsightly wrecks of their province's socioeconomic failures under the rug when the rich and influential of the world turn their eyes to Vancouver. They just want to lend a helping hand to those who need it.

And if "those who need it" don't want it, well then, tough. That helping hand is going to grab them by the scruffs of their grimy necks and toss them in with the rest of the human trash, so that they don't bother the respectable, hard-working - and most importantly - free-spending people who've come to visit and enjoy the spectacle.


If you missed the dripping sarcasm of the above, I recommend listening to The Current's interview with B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman here (forward to 14:50). I won't say if I believe he is sincere or not, but his answers to the reporter are unimpressive, to say the least.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Eid Mubarak!

To all my Muslim readers!

And what's more, no Moonfighting! Although the ibn Saud continued with their literalist insistence upon actually seeing the new moon before declaring the end of the month, their chosen date coincided remarkably well with what ISNA and others said long ago - that Ramadhan this year would end this Sunday. Most, if not all, of the Muslim world will, inshallah, have celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr on the same day.

It is sad that this is an accomplishment, but it is at least progress.

And, to round out my own Ramadhan, here is an interesting video to reflect upon, considering that the decision to fast is, very obviously, a conscious choice.

And yes, in fact, I do believe that we are metaphysical beings!

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Amira Hass: The one thing worse than denying the Gaza report

Now that international jurist and affirmed zionist John Goldstone has suggested in his UN report that the IDF committed war crimes in Gaza, the denial machine amongst zionists worldwide has swung into overdrive.

The brilliant Israeli journalist Amira Hass explains the horror of this well in her latest piece for Ha'aretz:

. . .
Israel struck a civilian population that remains under its control, it didn't fulfill its obligation to distinguish between civilians and militants and used military force disproportionate with the tangible threat to its own civilians. Air Force drones and helicopters fired deadly missiles at civilians, many of them children; the Tank Corps and Navy shelled civilian neighborhoods with weapons not designed for precision strikes; soldiers received orders to fire on rescue crews; others fired on civilians carrying white flags; and others killed people in or near their homes. Troops used Gazans as human shields, soldiers detained civilians in abusive conditions, the army used white phosphorus shells in dense civilian areas and, on the eve of withdrawing, destroyed wide residential, industrial and agricultural areas.

There is only thing worse than denial - the admission that the IDF indeed acted as has been described, but that these actions are both normal and appropriate.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Shorter David Warren

Article: Gathering Storm

Just as World War II was the result of us not finishing the job in World War I, our failure to invade every Muslim country on Earth will result in a terrible tragedy. In the meantime we are wasting time on prosecuting torturers and such-like.

EDIT: Interestingly, despite writing with such fervent enthusiasm for so many wars, past and ongoing, I can't recall a single one that Warren ever covered from anywhere besides his Toronto apartment. Not Iraq, not Afghanistan, not Lebanon. Such is the pattern with chickenhawks - they use their enthusiasm for wars to compensate for their failure to actually risk their necks by being anywhere near one.

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The "Ultra-Secretive" Muslim Brotherhood

Since I enjoy subjecting myself to large doses of online wingnuttery, I was reading an article in Human Events, the self-proclaimed "Headquarters of the Conservative Underground." In the the minds of its publishers, conservatism in the United States has been somehow driven "underground."

According to the headline by Rowan Scarborough, the "FBI Partners With Jihad Groups!" Oh noes! Which Jihad groups?

A former agent told HUMAN EVENTS the bureau is dealing with the groups that maintain an under-the-radar alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood. The ultra-secretive Muslim Brotherhood, with chapters worldwide, is the glue for a network of Islamic groups.

"ultra-secretive", eh? Wow. That's between mega-secretive and terra-secretive, right? I wonder if it's possible to find traces of this shadowy organization on Ye Olde Internets.

Conveniently, they are at http://www.ikhwanweb.org . Of course, one can't expect to find any meaningful information on the Brotherhood's site. You're probably never going to find the celebrated manifesto, for instance, where members of the Brotherhood propose a "kind of grand jihad in America." It's probably all just propaganda, codewords, and side-of-nose-tapping to signal execution of plans made three years earlier in a musty room with a single swinging lightbulb somewhere near a railway track.

Let's try searching the site for the terms "grand jihad," :

Reporting The Muslim Brotherhood
In a federal courtroom in Dallas last October, the leadership of the now-defunct Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, once the nation’s largest Muslim charity, stood accused of using the charity as a Hamas fundraising front. It was the federal government’s most important terrorism fundraising case to date.

By Rod Dreher

What follows is a damning exposé of the Brotherhood's alleged role in fomenting radical interpretations of Islam in the United States, along with the same quotation from the manifesto produced above.

So not only is the Muslim Brotherhood no more "ultra-secretive" than, say, any major political party anywhere (and it is Egypt's largest opposition party, despite being banned by Mubarak's repressive regime), it also publishes withering criticism of itself on its own website. Either the Ikhwan (Arabic for brotherhood) are true believers in open debate and ideological forthrightness, or they are very careless about what they post on their website.

So why the hyperbole in the Human Events article? Simple: to make people scared. As one lone commenter added after the article:
The hypocrisy festering below the surface of this, and most articles I read on this website, astounds me. Who armed the jihad groups in the first place in the 1980s? And have you seen the photos from that same decade, of U.S. politicians shaking hands and smiling and being buddy-buddy with Saddam and other dictators (ahem, Rumsfeld, Bush I, etc.)

I'm a scientist. As such, I understand that the search for truth (if it can be found) fundamentally depends on identifying my own assumptions and biases. This website and almost everything in it fails to meet this most basic principle. You play on emotions and fear and this is irresponsible journalism at best, and anti-american and anti-humanity at worst.
- Casey, Clemson
At which point, the anti-intellectualism of the "Conservative Underground" necessitated a pile-on.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Toronto International Film Festival . . .

. . . has become an unwitting tool for zionists in Canada, as they seek to dampen the growing movement for boycott and divestment from the world's last formally colonial state.

Naomi Klein, Jewish Canadian author of No Logo and The Shock Doctrine , lays it all out in a commendable article for the Globe and Mail:

We don't feel like celebrating with Israel this year:

. . .For more than a year, Israeli diplomats have been talking openly about their new strategy to counter growing global anger at Israel's defiance of international law. It's no longer enough, they argue, just to invoke Sderot every time someone raises Gaza. The task is also to change the subject to more pleasant areas: film, arts, gay rights – things that underline commonalities between Israel and places such as Paris and New York. After the Gaza attack, this strategy went into high gear. “We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theatre companies, exhibits,” Arye Mekel, deputy director-general for cultural affairs for Israel's Foreign Ministry, told The New York Times. “This way, you show Israel's prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.”

Toronto got an early taste of all this. A year ago, Amir Gissin, Israeli consul-general in Toronto, explained that a new “Brand Israel” campaign would include, according to a report in the Canadian Jewish News, “a major Israeli presence at next year's Toronto International Film Festival, with numerous Israeli, Hollywood and Canadian entertainment luminaries on hand.” Mr. Gissin pledged that, “I'm confident everything we plan to do will happen.” Indeed it has. . . .

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Follow the money, presume guilt

Until today, I had never heard of Samling Global Limited.

Then I came accross the Global Witness website, while doing some reading about the role that the global mining industry has played in the conflict in Eastern Congo.

Here is a fascinating exchange between the Corporate Communications director of Samling, and the director of Global Witness. The organization, which monitors unethical practices in resource exploitation, has accused the Malaysian lumber firm of sponsoring illegal logging in Malaysia, Guyana, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, and most recently, Liberia.

In dealing with individual human beings accused of a crime, natural justice requires the presumption of innocence. Corporations are not human beings, and in the developing world, it is often difficult to take them to court for a variety of reasons. So when they are faced with a pattern of accusations and a trail of money that supports the accusations, the only reasonable thing to do is to presume guilt.

So God bless you, Global Witness.

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ramadhan Ideas

Sitting in Tim Horton's (the American-owned Canadian institution) after midnight with a large group of occasionally rowdy Muslim guys. The store management must either love or hate this time of the lunar year: love, because people like us give them late-night business, or hate, because we drive everybody else away.

In a discussion about Arab vanity projects - 6-star hotels and indoor ski hills - one wise individual uts forward the following thesis on the failures of the Ummah:

"Where in the Muslim world do you see an equivalent to the Library of Congress? Where are the massive libraries of the Muslim world? We don't realize the power that comes with the ability to write history. We started with a simple oral tradition, but not one that can satisfy historians today. How did the Companions defeat the Romans and the Persians? We have few details of how they saw it, just "We had an army of so many men, we went out to meet them, and then we won." It's such a simple story. But the ability to write the history and to record it gives you the power to create a narrative. Look at how zionists have controlled the narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: 'in 1948 they were attacked by six Arab armies and bravely repulsed the invasion,' and now that's what most people around here believe. We need to start writing our own history."

Something to think about.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Shorter Hugh Fitzgerald

Perusing the Fearosphere so you don't have to! We present a five-parter from the pseudonymous "Hugh Fitzgerald," master of the run-on sentence.

"We Walked Away From Them Twice," Or, What Exactly Does Robert Gates Know About Pakistan, And While We Are At It, What In God’s Name Does He Know About Islam? (Part One)

The problem with U.S. policy in the Muslim world over the last half-century is that it has reflected a series differing priorities and interests, responding to shifting regional and geopolitical conditions. It would have been more sensible to see all events through the lens of the cosmic struggle of Good vs. Muslims, in which the Soviets really had a lot of redeeming qualities despite being filthy commies.

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Friday, August 21, 2009


One more year.

One more chance for renewal.

One more chance to reclaim the self.

Feeling hungry, feeling alive.

Feeling thirsty, feeling strong.

The rhthyms of prayer amplified to a crescendo.

The gates of Hell locked for a month.

The month of the Qur'an.

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Rifqa Bary

The troubling case of Rifqa Bary.

I don't know if Rifqa's father actually threatened to kill her, or if she really has been brainwashed by Pastor Lorenz to lie against her family. Neither would surprise me. There exists no shortage of bigoted Muslim fathers or creepy wingnut Christan pastors in the world to make either story implausible. For all we know, both narratives may carry some element of truth.

Some parts of her story make sense, and some do not - the argument, for instance, that Islam mandates the death penalty for those who forsake it, is based on a particular reading of hadith (collections of narrations from the Prophet Muhammad's life), and not upon the Qur'an, the fundamental document of Islam. It is clearly a line she has been fed. Sri Lanka has a 7.6% Muslim population with the rest being Buddhists (the majority), Christians, and Hindus; hardly the environment for Muslims to be setting up insane asylums for the religiously wayward. "Honour killings" are called that because they are committed to preserve family honour, not because the murderer feels somehow honoured to have been involved - and they are a mostly South Asian phenomenon, and not restricted to Muslims.

The anti-Islam brigades are meanwhile exploiting the story to the hilt to demonstrate that misogyny and religious intolerance on the part of some Muslims is attributable to Islam itself.

Half of me does not want Rifqa Bary's story to be true, but the fact that it is so plausible is itself troubling. If this is a conceivable thing for a Muslim father anywhere to do - be it in Pakistan, Iraq, or in Canada - then the Ummah has failed; we are not the enlightened nation that we make ourselves out to be.

The other half of me wants it to be true - because if Rifqa Bary has fled her home, taken refuge with a Christian Pastor, and levelled these kinds of allegations against her own family, then I sincerely hope she has done it for good reasons. If she hasn't, then how can her family ever recover?

For now, though, the wise will wait for the truth to come out, because eventually it always does.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pakistan Zindabad

August 14 brings another bittersweet anniversary for Pakistan.

The bitter.

The sweet.

The shameful.

There is too much else to deal with in one post, from the relations with India, the popular war against Pakistan's Taliban, the American desire to force a war with Afghanistan's Taliban, the bizarre presidency of A.A. Zardari, the restoration of the independent judiciary, the decline in religious tolerance in the country, the ramshackle infrastructure, etc, etc. Dawn's Cyril Almeida summed it up well:

Were Pakistan a person, chances are you’d do anything to avoid being in her shoes. Of course, what happened in year 62 has a history, some might argue a 61-year history, so we should at least be glad that we’ve finally begun to get some things right some of the time. Only time though will tell if what we’ve done right so far amounts to applying a Band-Aid to a cancer-stricken body or is actually the beginning of a genuine turnaround.

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dr. Abdel-Rahman Lawendy is a resident in Orthopaedic Surgery and Trauma at the London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ontario, who visited Gaza during the bombardment. His talk here is informative on an intellectual and emotional level. A spirited discussion follows in the Q&A, also available on YouTube.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Those are outdated concepts. . .

More fascism from Canada's Konservative party:

From Embassy Magazine:
Leaked DFAIT Memo Documents Struggle between Conservative Political Staff and Foreign Service

"Furthermore, the word 'humanitarian' is excised from every reference to 'international humanitarian law.' References to gender-based violence are removed. And in every phrase 'child soldiers' is replaced by 'children in armed conflict.'"

. . .

Given this ambassadorial "gagging," the source said, it's no surprise Conservative political agents are delving deeper into the fundamental language of Canadian foreign policy.

"It's more than just a close-hold by the PMO....in this case there's actually a determined effort to re-orient Canadian foreign policy, and so the standing speaking lines don't work and need to be checked.

(Hat-tip to Atlas Hugged).

In principle, it is the job of the civil service to inform and to execute the decision made at a political level. In practice, though, the implications of this are frightening. Either the political agents don't know what they're doing, in which case somebody in the bureaucracy has to do a better job of informing them, or even more frighteningly, the political decisions are being made deliberately - that is to say, with deliberate disregard for any common Canadian sense of ethics or decency.

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rates of Change

In calculus, the second derivative of a function describes the rate of change of a rate of change. So if you're heading east along a highway at a constant speed, the derivative of your position with respect to time would be your speed, and it would be positive, but the second derivative of your position with respect to time would be zero . . . until you accelerated.

Late last year, I became the proud owner of a Palm TX. It was a good purchase, because I've actually used it quite a bit - it stores memos and contact information for me, reference materials that I use often for my work, and local transit schedules. It allows me to surf the internet (if I've got a Wi-Fi signal), functions as a second alarm clock, and I can play chess on it.

The other day, a coworker saw me tapping away on it, and remarked "Don't you feel a little outdated using a Palm, now that everyone's got iPhones and BlackBerries? I mean, tapping away with a stylus?"

I grew up around computers. When I was little, my parents started a small business, building and selling them. Though they've more or less abandoned it now, they still have a few clients who call them for service and upgrades. I was the first kid in my class who could boast of an internet connection at home, which really wasn't much a boast since none of my classmates had ever heard of the internet, much less thought that there was anything cool about it.

Paradoxically though, I have never owned a Discman, iPod, portable gaming device, or any other fashionable piece of consumer electronics. My only phone is of the kind that has no roaming charges. The idea of walking around with electronic equipment wrapped around my head has never appealed to me, and to people who know me personally, I'm sure I seem like quite a Luddite.

Not 300 years ago, if you bought a vehicle, chances were that the horsepower was not that great. Actually, the horsepower was unlimited so long as you could get that many horses to run in step. If it was 1750, and you went to buy a new axel for your the buggy you bought in 1730, nobody said "sorry, they don't make those axels anymore." That's how it had been since the discovery of the wheel and the domestication of the first animals, and that's how it continued until the invention of the automobile (considering that few private citizens have ever owned trains).

My paternal grandfather bought a 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster. It is a good car, and I can use the present tense because it is still in operation. The engine has been re-bored and the pistons changed, and it has probably had some other replacements, but it is still essentially the same car; it's the only car my uncle owns.

My parents, on the other hand, have owned 4 different cars since 1978, and have leased a few others in between. People my age seem to get a new one every two years.

A device that I purchased in September is now considered outdated.

"Planned obsolescence" is often lamented as scam, dreamt up by engineers at GM or IBM, or some other large, faceless, blamable corporation as a scheme to fleece the consumer by bringing out a new product every year with totally different components and requirements from the previous year's offerings.

It certainly is a scam, but it takes advantage of our own weaknesses, raised as we are in a consumer-oriented economy, inundated with advertisements from those same corporations. How much better does an iPhone make a person's life? It might be true that using one finger to get directions or send e-mail while "on the go" (the default state of the modern North American) probably does have advantages.

But then, probably not as many advantages as whatever comes out next year.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tursun Gul

Pursuant to a recent Mona Eltahawy article that I came across while setting up the last post.

Google it.

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That happy post that confuses you

From award-winning Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy.


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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Die, CanWest, Die!

So it looks like Canada's largest purveyor of fascist-minded diatribes is in considerable financial difficulty. Obviously, this isn't exactly a victory for any of their detractors, as much as it is vindication for those of us who thought that they couldn't support a crappy, ideologically-driven publication like the National Post forever.

Of course, the fact that some of its creditors might approve of the work CanWest is doing might be one reason why the company has managed to "stave them off" for so long. They don't want to see the country's main source of popular fiscal Konservatism go out of business.

It's not all roses, however; If CanWest is forced to sell off its assets, who will buy them? BCE? The only thing worse than a print and broadcast oligopoly is a print and broadcast monopoly.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

JihadWatch Tolerance Epic Fail!

The professional fearmongers over at Robert Spencer's "JihadWatch" recently posted this article from the distressingly confused Anti-Defamation League (ADL), complaining that the WhyIslam? website linked to other websites that "feature extreme anti-Semitic and anti-Israel invective."

While two of the examples cited at least complain of what could legitimately be called anti-Semitic, or at least Anti-Jewish sentiments, this one was interesting:

"- IslamOnline, a Web-based publication connected to Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi, a radical Muslim brotherhood ideologue based in Qatar. The publication promotes anti-Israel terrorist groups, has referred to Zionism as a "cancer," and has repeatedly claimed that the close ties between the U.S. and Israel demonstrate their mutual desire to oppress Muslims. In January 2008, IslamOnline published a poem in its Arts and Culture section that gave graphic instructions on how to behead someone."

Thanks for giving us the whole story, guys. It's also nice to see the ADL reiterating its position that Zionism = Judaism.

Now, let's see what we can find on the front page, sans disclaimer, of the lovely JihadWatch website - leave alone the site's own numerous calls to end Muslim immigration to Western countries.
  • One doesn't have to scroll far down to find "Bare Naked Islam," a site hosting stories like "Islam's rules for having SEX WITH ANIMALS" and a banner slogan at the head of the site stating "It isn't Islamophobia when they really are trying to kill you!" along with such gems as

Arab presence in the land called Israel was VIRTUALLY NON-EXISTENT until the late 19th-early 2oth Centuries when the Zionists took over.

Only the mentally unstable deny the existence of Palestinians, while posting in turquoise.

  • If that doesn't do it for you, how about the infamous "Religion of Peace" website! The content speaks for itself, as does the fact that it was one of the earliest links added to the JihadWatch sidebar. My personal favourite gem from this one: "Muslim immigration into the UK has left a trail of rape victims, but as long as the political elite place a higher value on multiculturalism, Britain's women will just have to keep taking one for the team!
  • Or how about the "Stop the Islamisation of Europe" site. The graphics accompanying its campaign to end Mosque construction speak for themselves.

  • Then there's this lovely gem from the "What should a free man do?" blog: More mayhem in Europe. More blatant, in-your-face disobedience here. More recruitment into state-side versions of these once sand-bound savage tribes.
  • Or how about this lovely passage from yet another "essay" by European "essayist" Fjordman, whom Spencer has gone to lengths to defend:
"Muhammed was a brilliant intuitive lea der/general, and he and his companions devised a near perfect closed system of war aginst the rest of humanity. Only by showing that Allah is not infallible can we be victorious in keeping our freedom, our life, our liberty and pursuit of our happiness. Muslims are extremely childish in their view of themselves and the world - they are superstitious and thus afraid of dogs, of the Koran getting dirty etc. T hey continually tell us the truth about their paranoia, and their intentions. Therefore, one of the best tactics for us to take in the War on Terror is to mock them and exploit their childishness, so that they will expose themselves to everyone."
You don't need, however, to go hunting (or actually, randomly clicking) on links from the Jihadwatch sidebar to find the fearmongers. The site itself is dedicated to the purpose, as are all of Spencer and co.'s hate-filled screeds about Islam and Muslims.

Did the editors of the WhyIslam site display some bad judgment on their Resources page? Perhaps, but for JihadWatch to complain . . .

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

PHR - Afghan Massacres

The editing is a little melodramatic, and the use of the word "massacre," while technically appropriate, does not quite convey what happened. 2,000 Afghans were not lined up and machine-gunned down; they died as a result of being stacked into unventilated steel containers for several hours.

Still, criminals are criminals, and if your neighbour were responsible for something like this - or even involved in it - you would not sympathize with him. The President of the United States should be held to at least that meagre moral standard.

Now before my right-leaning readers (and I apparently have them) roll their eyes and say "Yet another 'human rights NGO' dedicated to bashing the Bush admininstration" let me point out that PHR does not discriminate. The organization has ongoing campaigns to free the Alaei brothers, two physicians who were jailed in Iran without charge (but probably because of their HIV/AIDS advocacy work), and to provide a solution for Zimbabwe's "man-made" health care crisis.

Those problems, however, are not something that North Americans can have much of an impact upon; at the most, we can pressure our governments to pressure their governments. Moreover, they are not controversial - everybody agrees that the Alaei brothers should either be charged or released, and that Robert Mugabe has ruined his country's economy.

The great shame is that the criminality of White House staff, including the U.S. President is controversial; whether our government in Canada is Liberal or Conservative, both Ignatieff and Harper would gladly shake the hand of George W. Bush.

Any other serial killer would be treated differently.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Heroism at Sea

From Al-Jazeera's English service:

It should be noted that the siege of Gaza was imposed not as a response to rocket attacks, which it pre-dated, but as a response to the 2006 Palestinian elections, in which Hamas won a democratic majority over the notoriously corrupt and ineffectual leadership of Fatah.

One of the few Israeli journalists of conscience, Gideon Levy, puts it well:

The Israel Defense Forces has once again used its power to overcome the weak; the navy has once again acted like pirates. The Arion was abducted in the framework of protecting Israel's security for all eternity, blah, blah, blah. . .

. . . This then is the great progress of the "people's army" to train women to kill, while their comrades, soldiers and Border Police, are routinely sent to shoot live fire at unarmed demonstrators at Bil'in and Na'alin. This, for the most part, is the IDF's balance sheet. This is what largely preoccupies the best, most moral army in the world. Pilots who have never fought in an air battle and soldiers with no army against them now spend most of their time maintaining the occupation in a kind of pathetic combat, and they are our protective shield. When the day of reckoning comes, we will remember this.

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On the thorny issue of homosexuality

A thought-provoking essay from Tariq Ramadan:

. . .

To affirm one’s convictions and respect others is no longer sufficient. Muslims are now being called upon to condemn the Qur’an, and to accept and promote homosexuality to gain entry into the modern world. Not only is such an attitude doomed to fail (the majority trends in both traditional and reformist Islam, as in other religions, will never waver on this question) but it also reveals a new dogmatism—and a whiff of colonialism, not to mention xenophobia—at the heart of so-called modern, progressive thought. Certain prominent intellectuals and lobbies have ordained a new form of political correctness; they would like to force everyone to be “open” or “liberal” in the same way. At first glance, this open, liberal thought would seem to warrant respect; but it reveals a troubling tendency to impose its own dogmas, leaving little or no room for the convictions of traditional philosophical, spiritual or religious world-views. Betraying the ultimate goal of modernity, which should help us manage freedom and diversity, we are now told that there is only one way to be free and modern. Both dogmatic and dogmatizing, this trend, in the name of liberal thought, is a dangerous one, and should alarm all women and all men, whether atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Christians or Muslims. It strikes at the very heart of our freedom of thought, of the most intimate aspects of our lives, of the ways we strive for social and intellectual emancipation. . . .

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Did the Pasdaran kill Michael Jackson?

Since the disputed Iranian election on June 12th, every major English and French news network available in Canada has been dominated by the story, with hourly, if not quarter-hourly updates on the protests and the government's responses.

If you've been wondering why I haven't weighed in on the subject (and I assume that you have been wondering exactly that), it's partly because I have little to say that isn't already being said. That fantastic British journalist Robert Fisk has been in Iran, and I recommend his columns in the Independent for some analysis that cuts through the jungle of Twitters and the forest of TV news coverage.

Thursday night, however, something happened that pushed the Iranian story from the main headline to the second or third story on the news - Michael Jackson had died. Ever since, it's all that English broadcasters seem interested in (although, as usual, French media seem to offer just a bit more depth).

Rather convenient for the Iranians, eh? In fact, suspiciously convenient . . .

Seriously speaking, it really says something about our culture, when an ongoing crisis with profound implications for the geopolitics of the Middle East and the fates of millions of people is displaced in our consciousness by a man who was famous for singing some catchy tunes, dressing up in funny clothes, building a small theme park, molesting some children, and having a heart attack at the age of 50.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"God is the Light
Of the heavens and the earth.
The parable of His Light
Is as if there were a Niche
And within it a Lamp:
The Lamp enclosed in Glass
The glass as it were
A brilliant star:
Lit from a blessed Tree,
An Olive, neither of the East,
Nor of the West,
Whose Oil is well-nigh
Though fire scarce touched it:
Light upon Light!
God doth guide
Whom He will
To His Light:
God doth set forth Parables
For men: and God
Doth know all things.

"(Lit is such a Light)
In houses, which God
Hath permitted to be raised
To honour; for the celebration,
In them, of His name:
In them is He glorified
In the mornings and
In the evenings, (again and again) -

"By men who neither
Traffic nor merchandise
Can divert from the Rememberance
Of God, nor from regular Prayer,
Nor from the practice
Of regular Charity:
Their (only) fear is
For the Day when
Hearts and eyes
Will be transformed
(In a whorld wholly new) . . . "

-Qur'an, Surah XXIV, "Light," v.35-37, trans: A. Yusuf Ali.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

What wasn't seen when Mr. Obama went to Cairo

Another astute article from the fantastic Robert Fisk:

A glimpse of Obama in a Cairo emptied of its people and its poor

It seems like an almost universal phenomenon in this age - when foreign dignitaries come to visit, the local population is held away by fences and riot police at a tremendous distance, to save the guests the offence of having to see them.

Or in Obama's case, to keep at bay any reminder that the men he embraces torture their subjects at his own government's behest.

The POTUS wasn't being protected from danger, I was sure. He was being protected from the words these Egyptians might utter, from their views of the Arab world, of Egypt, from their views, perhaps, on the nature of democracy amid all these cops and security lads. They might have spoken of corruption and nepotism and violence. But the POTUS never saw them. Anyway, he had too tight a schedule: there were words to utter across town, about human rights and justice in what he called "the timeless city of Cairo". Timeless yes. And its people silent.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Shorter Moshe Arens

Article: So what's your solution?

Israel can't give the Palestinians a state until they agree to stop resisting the occupation and admit that Jews should have more rights than they do.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Shorter Mark Steyn

Article: Tamil questions that can't be asked

Just because I engage in fearmongering directed at visible minorities and incessantly mourn the death of white European culture does not mean that I am a racist.


As an aside, it's interesting to note the sleight of hand that Steyn uses when discussing the Tamil population of Toronto:

News reports suggesting that Toronto is home to “200,000 Tamils” prompted a lot of pooh-poohing about inflated figures and unreliable statistics. And surely they are. I doubt there are verifiable numbers on the Tamil population of Ontario. But, even if they’re half that 200,000, it would seem to be more Tamils than anyone might reasonably need—or indeed, even if you did need them, more than you could reasonably expect to acquire. A six-figure population of Germans, Russians, Chinese, Indonesians, sure. But Tamils are a small minority (15 per cent or so) of the population of a small island of 20 million people on the other side of the world. Yet Canada has somehow managed to preside over a bigger population transfer than the British did when they ran both Sri Lanka and India and imported a massive Tamil population from the mainland to work on tea plantations. The largest Tamil city in Sri Lanka is Jaffna, population 85,000. Is Toronto now the largest Tamil city in the world? And, if so, why?

The largest Tamil cities in the world are, without a doubt, in India, with its 60,000,000 Tamil-speakers, the majority of whom are, without a doubt, ethnically Tamil. Toronto not even close to being the largest Tamil city in the world, but Steyn would like you to imagine that to be the case, because if you are as obsessed with racial purity as he is, you might just find his argument convincing.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Anatomy of a Photo-Op

The auditorium is full of people attending a lecture. Just as it ends a door opens, and a a few people in suits file in, followed by some people in casual clothes with cameras and microphones, followed by more people in suits.

The Management walks in, proud of herself as usual, leading two men with the remainder of their entourage. One is overweight, the other obese. After letting the cameramen position themselves, the Management turns imperiously to the audience, takes a mic, and introduces her esteemed guests: a local representative for the riding in which the institution is located, and the government Minister himself. Now, assuming the air of a tour guide, she explains to the Very Important People what they see before them.

She extols the government's virtuous generosity in having provided money for a public institution; she knows that she must; somewhere, sometime, another Management at another public institution will do the same.

The representative offers his congratulations to the audience on their extensive accomplishments. The audience is used to it. He utters some bland platitudes, pausing for applause. The audience knows the script, and reluctantly obliges. He then cedes the floor to the larger man.

The Minister utters more bland platitudes. The audience again obliges. The Minister then offers some selectively quoted factoid about the accomplishments of his government. The audience obliges again. He is reminded by the Management of his generous offer to the audience: the return of a small sum of their own money.

At this, the audience is thrown into extasies. "I'll clap for that!" says one rube, overcome by the Minister's boundless generosity.

The Minister and the representative are once again thanked, and they offer a formulaic farewell to the audience. The cameras leave, and the players exit stage right.

The props, however, remain.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009


From a Washington Post article about a recent shooting spree at a US Military mental health clinic in Baghdad, where a soldier killed 5 of his comrades.

In an effort to prevent the mental strains, the Army is conducting resilience training known as "Battlemind" throughout its ranks and during different phases of deployment. "Battlemind" is an unprecedented effort to toughen soldiers psychologically for war, said Richard Keller, who leads the program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring.

"We show them what the deployment experience can be like, what things you might see, smell, think, feel, hear -- all the sensory inputs . . . so they are not taken by surprise," Keller said.

"Some people have a tendency when an event takes place to catastrophize it, and make it appear more intense or difficult than it actually is," he said, so the training seeks to reinforce constructive reactions to combat and life-threatening situations.

While I've nothing but sympathy for people who suffer from warzone-related mental illnesses, there is something about this that strikes me as problematic. How exactly will these soldiers be mentally conditioned? What happens when you tell people to treat combat as a normal situation?

"So, you've just blown a door open before searching a house, and noticed on your way out that there's a child with an open head wound bleeding onto the floor. This is a normal combat-related accident, and when it happens, you'll be tempted to catastrophize it in your own mind. . . "

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pakistan's Taliban - It's the economy, stupid

The picture of Pakistan's "Taliban" that is most often seen in the West is of a strictly religious movement that seeks to impose an "Islamic" government on Pakistan, with the mandate of such government being primarily focussed on the oppression of women, the perpetration of public brutality, and the general banning of fun.

Without a doubt, there is certainly an element of such sentiment amongst those South Asian Muslims (and perhaps even Muslims generally) who are sympathetic to the militants' worldview.

The aspect of the movement that is rarely discussed, however, is how and why it has been able to command such popular support in areas such as Swat, where the Pakistani government has recently launched a fresh military offensive, following the breakdown of the peace accord it signed just months ago with the rebels.

As this article from Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah explains, the key to the Taliban's success has little to do with restricting education or burning down cinemas, but with the total failure of Pakistan's landowners to institute meaningful land reform that would benefit the country's peasants.

Sunni militancy is taking advantage of deep class divisions that have long festered in Pakistan, he said. “The militants, for their part, are promising more than just proscriptions on music and schooling,” he said. “They are also promising Islamic justice, effective government and economic redistribution.”

. . .

After Shujaat Ali Khan, a senior politician in the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, narrowly missed being killed by a roadside bomb, he fled to London. A brother, Fateh Ali Mohammed, a former senator, left, too, and now lives in Islamabad. Mr. Nasir also fled.

Later, the Taliban published a “most wanted” list of 43 prominent names, said Muhammad Sher Khan, a landlord who is a politician with the Pakistan Peoples Party, and whose name was on the list. All those named were ordered to present themselves to the Taliban courts or risk being killed, he said. “When you know that they will hang and kill you, how will you dare go back there?” Mr. Khan, hiding in Punjab, said in a telephone interview. “Being on the list meant ‘Don’t come back to Swat.’ ”

One of the main enforcers of the new order was Ibn-e-Amin, a Taliban commander from the same area as the landowners, called Matta. The fact that Mr. Amin came from Matta, and knew who was who there, put even more pressure on the landowners, Mr. Hussain said.

The insurgency that Zardari and Gilani are now trying to rally the army to fight in Swat is, with a sort of predictable irony, a product of the failure of landowners, like Zardari, to institute meaningful land reform that might have created less favourable conditions for the Taliban.

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