Monday, November 27, 2006

The Big Ouch

Monday, I tumbled off my bike, seriously injuring my shoulder. We're taking pins, plates, possibly even a fork and spoon. I'll post more soon; suffice it for now to say that I am alive, and the long-term prognosis is good.
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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

This just in -- newsflash!

Our most dedicated blog poster, John, took a tumble from his bike yesterday and ended up in hospital.
On the positive side, he recognised that he had an arm injury and actually made his own 911 call. A neighbour stayed with him till the ambulance came and took his bike home. This is actually quite surprising, as many men of my acquaintance (notably Bernie) would be more likely to push the bike home and call for a cab. Maybe the steep hill on which John lives was a factor in the decision, but I prefer to think that the wise choice John made was a sign that he may not have suffered any head injury in the fall.
On the negative side, he's in surgery right now and will not be biking or kayaking for a while.
We'll post what news we get (or John will himself) but for now we'll be optimistic about his surgery and send him plenty of good wishes for a full recovery.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Did you really think any different?

From The Guardian, this little bit of news about the woo-hoo new passports.

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And how hungry are you?

This bit of footage from BBC News is of a pelican altering his habits just a bit.... This isn't the only time this has happened--as this footage shows.
The question that this raises for me is, does this have anything to do with the projected collapse of worldwide fish stocks? Or is this behaviour just something we haven't talked/written about? You know, like the tremendous amount of homosexual activity found across the animal kingdom that researchers just never mentioned. (Or check out Bruce Bagemihl's book Biological Exuberance, or Joan Roughgarden's Evolution's Rainbow for a different take on sexual behaviour and evolution).
I notice that the pelican behaviour above is taking place in parks--neutral spaces where human/bird interations are increased and wild behaviours are set aside--so the question comes up: is this a "normal" or common behaviour, or is the pelican just taking advantage of an unusual situation? That a pelican is eating a pigeon, well, considering the size and volume of their normal diet, it's not too much of a stretch to eat something pigeon-sized. But would the opportunity arise in a non-park setting?
BTW, when it comes to park settings and unexpected behaviour, this bit of video is good for a chuckle.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Runte! --**tweet!**-- Hey, professor! C'mon over here.
You've been a scholar of sociology for years. Learning, teaching, discussing. YOU don't sound incoherent, even when you've been heard to say that you don't know about something and will have to think about it for a while.
I'm taking a course in sociology right now and discovering that sociologists haven't gotten any more coherent than they were back when I got my teaching certificate in 1984. (Orwellian jokes have already been made about that date and event.) They're damn near as incoherent as educational psychologists... oh wait, you teach that subject too. And you're not incoherent.
I am *so* going to have to quote some of your work in my assignments for this course.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Bush in 'Nam

Ted Koppel has had the best line so far: "Thirty-five years ago he joined the Texas Air National Guard to stay out of Vietnam, and now he's going to Vietnam to stay out of Washington."
Not that Bush wasn't short things to say. Upon arriving in Hanoi, Bush remarked to reporters that the lesson of the Vietnam war is, "We'll succeed unless we quit."
Does Bush real know...anything? I wonder what his Vietnamese hosts thought of that statement.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

If It's Good Enough For The Juice....

With the world's most guilty innocent man OJ Simpson about to release a book call If I Did It, Here's How It Happened, describing how if he had stabbed and almost decapitated his ex-wife and her friend, here's how he would have done it, Marty Kaplan takes it a step further.
But OJ's ruse puts a whole new ploy in play. Imagine Rumsfeld writing "If I Committed War Crimes, Here's How It Happened." Plenty of juice, but no risk of international prosecutions. Rove could get a ton of dough for "If Bush Had Been Impeached, Here's What For."

Failed State

Yeah, you can't even think the word democracy when you talk about the United States anymore. Seriously.

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It's not possible to be this clueless

The no-cons still running Washington (or, perhaps more or at least as accurately, the anti-democratic proto-fascists still running Washington) still think that there's something to win in Iraq. Now there's a report from the Guardian that the raving rightists want to commit more troops--some 200,000 more--to help stablize Baghdad.

"You've got to remember, whatever the Democrats say, it's Bush still
calling the shots. He believes it's a matter of political will. That's
what [Henry] Kissinger told him. And he's going to stick with it," a
former senior administration official said. "He [Bush] is in a state of
denial about Iraq. Nobody else is any more. But he is. But he knows
he's got less than a year, maybe six months, to make it work. If it
fails, I expect the withdrawal process to begin next fall." (The Guardian)

Ah yes, this has the stench of that old war criminal Henry Kissinger all over it. The old "realists" of Bush 1 are trying to construct a way to declare victory while giving up, but with Henry's help they'll find a way to stretch it out until thousands more have died. But what the hell, they're only rag heads, right? It's the couple of thousand Amerikan troops that matter, not the 500,000 to 1,000,000 Iraqis that have been killed by these butchers.

The Amerikan empire doesn't just need to be stopped. It needs to be shattered, the pieces pissed on, and the ground salted so that nothing will ever grow there again. I have to say that I'm opposed to the impeachment of Bush--that would let too many people (like Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, Feith, etc etc) walk away from their actions. Best case senario? An international war crimes tribunal like the one the Germans went through. Like the one Rumsfeld may be facing in Germany. A fair and honest hearing, and let those responsible become accountable. Radical fucking notion, that.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

When You've Lost Pat Buchanan...

... you know you've lost the right.
Our hawkish elites bemoan the fact that Americans seem ready to give up on Iraq when U.S. casualties are not 10 percent of those we took in the Korean War. That is because they do not understand the nation.
Americans are not driven by some ideological vocation to reform mankind. We do not have the patience or perseverance of great imperial peoples. If an issue is not seen as vital to our own liberty and security, we will not fight long for some abstraction like democracy, self-determination or human rights.
It is a myth that we went to war to save the world from fascism. We went to war in 1941 because Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. That Hitler had overrun France, booted the British off the continent and invaded Stalin's empire was not a reason to send American boys across the ocean to die.
In 1990, Americans were not persuaded to throw Iraq out of Kuwait until Bush 1 got to talking about Saddam's nuclear weapons. Even after 9-11, Americans were skeptical of marching to Baghdad until we were told Saddam was building weapons of mass destruction and probably intended to use them on us. Americans have often had to be lied into war.
Democrats are probably reading the country right. Americans will not send added troops to Iraq, as McCain urges. They want out of this war and are willing to take the consequences.
But those consequences are going to be ugly and enduring. That is what happens to nations that commit historic blunders.

The occupation of Iraq has passed from brutality to mere idiocy

But, you know, don't take my word for it. Read the rest of the article at the Guardian.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

And so it begins (maybe)....

The Center for Constitutional Rights filed a criminal complaint in
Germany today against outgoing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
The complaint requests that the German Federal Prosecutor open an
investigation - and ultimately, a criminal prosecution - looking into
the responsibility of high-ranking U.S. officials for authorizing war
crimes in the name of the so-called "War on Terror."
(Democracy Now)

War Crimes Suit Filed....

Yes, the world--and I do not mean just or only the governments (who would rather just shut up and go along to get along)--but the people of the world, the populations of Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and even Asia from what I can tell, are plenty pissed with Amerik right about now. Hell, even Canadians feel that Amerika is a greater threat to world peace than any other country. And those who are paying attention know that it's even worse than that: Amerika is doing its level best to turn the clock back to pre-Magna Carta days.

And now Germany. Who else in the modern world has a greater understanding of what comprises a war crime? So who better to turn it about on the Empire?

And it doesn't get any easier for Rumsfeld, Cheney, et al. Former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski has already given evidence, and is willing to testify about where the orders came from. To quote the head; "Fmr. Abu Ghraib Head Janis Karpinski Points to Signed Rumsfeld Memo Listing Harsh Interrogation Techniques"

(a transcript of an interview with her is available at the link).

Any Amerikan standing in front of a war crimes tribunal means the end of Amerikan hegemony and possibly, just possibly, the birth of a new world. But I ain't holding my breath, eh?

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Monday, November 13, 2006

It might be free if it wasn't paid for....

So much for the government's whingeing about "biased" media coverage of the Iraq war. New research suggests Tony Blair et al might have got off lightly: academics who have analysed coverage of the war have found that many media reports filed during the conflict favoured coalition forces - with more than 80% of all stories taking the government line on the moral case for war. "Our findings fail to offer strong evidence of media coverage that was autonomous in its approach to the official narratives and justifications for the war in Iraq," the report says.
So says this report in the Guardian newspaper:
The press toe the line

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Don't Point That Finger at Me

...because three fingers are pointing back at you.
Again, thanks to Alternet and Jennifer L. Pozner, a great article : The Terrrorists Who Aren't in the News

Pozner writes; Since 1977, casualties from this war include seven murders, 17 attempted murders, three kidnappings, 152 assaults, 305 completed or attempted bombings and arsons, 375 invasions, 482 stalking incidents, 380 death threats, 618 bomb threats, 100 acid attacks, and 1,254 acts of vandalism, according to the National Abortion Federation.

The religious right in Amerika has this habit of pointing to others who are committing the same crimes they are themselves responsible for. This pointing isn't restricted to those on the right--it is a common theme back at least to the begining of the 20th century in Amerikan politics; the biggest problem with the Nuremberg war trials was ensuring that crimes the Germans were charged with were not crimes that the Allies (particularly the Amerikans) had committed. In fact, proving that the Allies had committed the same type of act during the war ensured that the charges would be dropped at Nuremberg.
But there is a myth of purity in Amerika the Empire. I suppose that it is common to all empires, hell, all nations during all eras. Canadians and their national myth of not being a war-like people is a good example (Canadians are great at waging war--we're just really crappy at holding on to colonies other than our First Nations). This atitude that we can't possibly be doing anything wrong is, I think, what prevents us seeing how profoundly deep the democratic deficit is here in Canada. It's what also leads us to blame victims for our crimes (viz. First Nations, above).
But in Amerika this proccess has become institutionalized. The owned media cover only those stories which support the current national narrative--thus a great deal of coverage of the "good" being done in Iraq, and no mention of the terrorist wars going on at home. In Canada, it's how much good we're doing in Afghanistan as opposed to how little good we're doing at home.

But for some less sucky thoughts, check out this article on the power of the religous right in Amerika:
"God Gap" narrows in US politics

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Saturday, November 11, 2006


Once again, fear and desire drive men insane. No, really. Check this out (once again, thanks to Alternet):
As a father, I find this deeply disturbing--and symptomatic of the horror at the heart of the Amerikan "Christian" Fundamentalist movement.

Comedic Eye for the Outraged Guy

So Rummy has left the building. Does anyone really believe this? This guy has been around since at least the Nixon White House, and survived like a cockroach after a nuclear blast.
Over at Alternet, Evan Derkacz has posted this bit from Craig Ferguson's talk show;
Craig refers to Rumsfeld as "a great friend of the show" in his intro to the footage of Rumsfeld's press confrences. The gag--the addition of hands making it look like DR is doing anything but answering the questions (or even listening to the questions)--is funny. But it speaks also to the attitude of the White House (and not just it's current occupants): when you're running an empire, why would you bother with anyone but your cabal? We have to keep things under control in order that we might continue strip mining the wealth of the planet. What the hell do you mean, we should concern ourselves with bullshit like democratic oversight?
Amerika may have been founded on the idea of keeping tyrants in check, but even the founding fathers decided that economics and social status trumped democracy. Even in the middle of a democratic revolution, they had to ensure that the hoi polloi didn't get their hands on any real power--those who know better must ensure that the masses don't do anything stupid, after all--and thoughtfully ensured that the structure of this new government was messy enough to impair it's effectiveness as a democracy.
Satire, like the clip above, is the last refuge of the outraged, mining the gulf of hipocrisy, exposing the differences between the private and public face. It is also powerless--even though occasionally someone becomes so big a joke they are forced from the public eye (Stockwell Day's leadership of the Conservatives comes to mind). But satire doesn't kill--not even careers (again Stock comes to mind). All satire really exposes is rage--and then bleeds that rage off before it becomes action. in politics, democracy is about agument and organization. Satire is about rage and powerlessness. So, less mock, more talk, walk the walk. That's democracy.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Liberals Lead Without A Leader

The leaderless Liberal party is outpolling the governing Conservatives and Prime Minister Stephen Harper in every province except Alberta.
What else can you expect from a province that keeps electing Ralph Klein?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Coming Train Wreck

With Rummy gone and Bush on the ropes, with Democrats running Congress again, everything should be fine now, right?
Robert Jenson doesn't think so.
Here’s the unavoidable reality: Our train is on an unsustainable course in cultural, political, economic, and ecological terms. In a predatory corporate capitalist economy in an imperial state—a system that values the concentration of wealth and power, and devalues people—certain things are inevitable:

-- Our deepest values concerning justice and solidarity will be undermined by the anti-human values of capitalism and empire.
-- Truly democratic politics, in which ordinary people have a meaningful role, will be subverted by the concentration of wealth.
-- An increasingly fragile economy mired in self-indulgent deficit and debt, with an artificially inflated currency, will start to collapse when our military and political power are unable to keep the rest of the world in line.
-- The ability of a finite planet to sustain life as we know it will diminish dramatically in a system based on fantasies of unlimited growth marked by the glorification of domination.
The train moves forward, as the vast majority of Democrats and virtually all Republicans avoid these realities. Where can such a train take us? Pick your metaphor.

-- It could be that the train tracks end at a cliff, or
-- it might be that the train is heading for a brick wall, or
-- perhaps the train will derail along the way, or
-- maybe the tracks will simply end abruptly and the train will run into the ground.
If we don’t take radical action relatively soon, every ending we can imagine is likely to be brutal and violent, deadly not only for most of the world’s population but also for the non-human world. This isn’t irrational apocalypticism but a rational approach to the evidence in front of us. No one can predict how this will play out, but it will most certainly play out ugly unless we change the trajectory.

Anything for a Buck, eh Dick?

The lies, cheats, and crimes Dick, and George have committed have done what all lies, cheats, and crimes do -- they have led to more and more lies, cheats, and crimes, and now the misconceived nature of the whole enterprise is apparent to all. It doesn't matter at this point if they manage to steal the mid-term election this year or not. Iraq is such a mess that even Dick's friends and allies can't think of a way to save it or to clean it up. The Iraqis, I am sorry to say, have to pay the price, but at least they know who's to blame.
Iraq is not the point, Iraq is only the canary in the mine, giving voice to the coming cataclysm. Not even the US is the point, although since 1980, the Republicans have been pandering to the greedy appetites of Americans for driving big vehicles, arming themselves, and thinking themselves superior to everyone in the world. They have egged Americans on to destroying the world's environment for the sake of more and more goods, and now America is in big trouble. But empires come and go. Get over it.
What is the point is human survival. If Americans had started taking the meaning of oil dependence seriously in 1977, when Jimmy Carter asked us to, or had not ridiculed the idea of climate change in 1992, when Al Gore brought it up, we might have gotten a start by this time in reducing emissions, we might not be looking at one horrific disaster paving the way for another.
But we are. There aren't many tyrants in history who can truthfully say they put the entire future of civilization at risk just to make a buck and feel the power, but Dick Cheney can.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bush 'n' Rummy

There's not much I can add to the well-deserved smackdown Bush and the Republicans received at the polls last night.
There's not much I can add to Rumsfled quitting either, except to say "'Bout time!"
But I will mention a couple of things about Bush's farewell to Rummy today.
While I won't mention that Bush told yet another lie when he told reports last week that Rumsfeld would be serve out Bush's term with him (Bush was already looking for a successor at that pont), I will point out that even the usual political hokum spewed at events such as these gets mired in obsfucation and half-truths when it comes from Bush.
First, he acknowledges that he "recognize[s] that many Americans voted last night to register their displeasure with the lack of progress being made" in Iraq. But golly, didn't he and the Vice President say like week that tremendous progress is being made there. Haven't they said that every day for the last three years?? But now, with Bush never having to the face the electorate again, suddenly there's a lack of progress being made there.
Is this a sign that Bush may try a new tactic like honesty? I don't know, that sounds like a crazy longshot to me.
Bush also said, "I thought when it was all said and done, the American people would understand the importance of taxes and the importance of security. But the people have spoken, and now it's time for us to move on." What Bush seems to be saying is that the elctorate don't understand the important issues, while presumably he does. Perhaps Bush doesn't understand that the electorate fully understands the economy and security issues, and that's why they gave him a thumpin'.
Then Bush talked about Rummy's replacement, Bob Gates and said "[a]s President Reagan's Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, he helped lead America's efforts to drive Soviet forces from Afghanistan." This is, of course, the exact opposite of what the CIA did in Afghanistan, where they in fact ran the largest covert operation in the CIA's history to get the Soviets into Afghanistan. The CIA funded and armed hard-line Islamic extremists in an effort to get the Soviet military bogged down and give them their own Vietnam. One of the extremists they funded was Osama bin Laden.
And we all know how well that worked out.


According to the New York Times, this is from a slide show used by the United States Central Command to track Iraq's descent into chaos.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

We're in Trouble. No Fish.

I remember a former BC Environment Minister saying that "there will be trees in the forest as long as there are fish in the sea."
Soon, we'll have neither. According to this story, fish stocks in the oceans will be gone - that's GONE!! - by 2050 unless we radically rethink how we live on this planet.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Neo Culpa

The Neo-cons who installed Bush and put invading Iraq on the agenda are now backing away from Bush as fast as they can, and laying all the blame as Bush's feet, not theirs. From Vanity Fair:
Richard Perle: "In the administration that I served [Perle was an assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan], there was a one-sentence description of the decision-making process when consensus could not be reached among disputatious departments: 'The president makes the decision.' [Bush] did not make decisions, in part because the machinery of government that he nominally ran was actually running him. The National Security Council was not serving [Bush] properly. He regarded [then National-Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice] as part of the family...
Huge mistakes were made, and I want to be very clear on this: They were not made by neoconservatives, who had almost no voice in what happened, and certainly almost no voice in what happened after the downfall of the regime in Baghdad. I'm getting damn tired of being described as an architect of the war. I was in favor of bringing down Saddam. Nobody said, 'Go design the campaign to do that.' I had no responsibility for that."

This would be The Usual Neo-con Ploy: deny any repsonsibility for anything. (Also known as the Krusty the Clown Therom: Don't Blame Me, I Didn't Do It!)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Iraq War is Over -- According to Army Recruiters Anyway...

ABC News reports the following:

An ABC News undercover investigation showed Army recruiters telling students that the war in Iraq was over, in an effort to get them to enlist.
ABC News and New York affiliate WABC equipped students with hidden video cameras before they visited 10 Army recruitment offices in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
"Nobody is going over to Iraq anymore?" one student asks a recruiter.
"No, we're bringing people back," he replies.
"We're not at war. War ended a long time ago," another recruiter says.