Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Long Recovery Week 18

Time munches on.
Now over four months after my bike accident, my once-broken arm and shoulder still have a road to travel before they could be said to be recovered.
That said, a lot of progress has been made over the last few weeks.
First, I have graduated to what is referred to in physio lingo as "resisted exercise." You and I call it pulling giant rubber bands. This is significant because my range of motion, while still not yet in the normal range (and may never fully be), is certainly in the range of motion for getting by. The problem is that I have no strength in the arm. In fact I have more range than strength. If I left up my left arm in front on me, I might get 130-135 degrees of rotation. But if I use my right arm to push my left arm up further, I'll get 175-180 degrees of rotation.
So now we're into strength building and re-activating the muscles that haven't had to work in months. Hence the rubber bands. I have eight exercises to do with the bands, plus one exercise with a free weight, a whopping three-pounder!
Other good news: I don't need to do stretches with a cane anymore. I'm flexible enough now that I can do some new stretches that do the job better and don't require the cane. And I'm now down to once-a-week visit to the physio dude.
So now the question is when do I get back on my bike and into my kayak? That remains to be seen. The Victoria Day weekend marks about six months since my accident, which was sort of the time frame mentioned by my surgeon, so that is a target that is on my mind. Sometime I feel that Canada Day is a more realistic time frame, but we'll have to wait and see. The point is that I WILL be back on my bike and on the water this summer.
Woo hoo!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Donald Speaks

I never thought that I'd agree with Donald Trump....

Staying on Message

So I'm surfing for news, and surf on over to CNN.com.
I bookmarked the International edition of CNN over the domestic American version because its jingoism and utter disregard for any story that questioned the Bush regime during the run up to the Iraq made me sick, and its choice to wallow in the most trivial of non-stories (Jon-Benet as one example) has not improved over time.
But the International edition does have the occasional story of interest, and today was one of those days.
Here's the front page:

Al Gore is testifying in Congress and using the phrase "global planetary emergency"! Wow, that's big news. Maybe, finally, the Washington politcos will finally wake up. Maybe, finally, the major American media will stop following the Bush line and take climate change seriously.
Maybe, finally, the proven fact of human-caused climate change will get some serious face-time on American media.
Let's see what the domestic version of CNN has as their front page:

Shades of Jon-Benet. Okay, well, um, at least the front page mentions Gore testifying to Congress.
I think.
Doesn't it?
There is an article entitled "Sceptics Frosty at Warming Warning." Wonder what we get if we click on that?

Wait a minute. This isn't anything like the International edition headline. What's going on here? Isn't the news the news? Isn't the truth the truth (even if inconvenient)?
How can the same news organization present the same set of facts with one slant for one market, and another slant for a different market?
They can't, of course. They have to stay on message. A single message.
And when I returned to the CNN International home page....

Harper Pulls a Bush

Prime Minister Harper continues to use plays from "President" Bush's neocon handbook, using "hardball partisan politics."
Under fire from opposition MPs over erroneous statements by Defence Minister Gorodn O'Connor to the House of Commons concerning Afghan detainees, Harper responded by saying, "I can understand the passion that the leader of the Opposition and members of his party feel for Taliban prisoners. I just wish occasionally they would show the same passion for Canadian soldiers."
Needless to say, all the Opposition party leaders are outraged.
Harper is using an old Bush tactic, attacking the and patriotism and character of his criticizers instead of dealing with the criticism, in this case O'Connor's acknowledged misleading of the House of Commons two weeks ago by saying that the Red Cross would keep Canada informed about the condition of prisoners handed over to Afghan officials by Canadian soldiers. Earl er this week, O'Conner apologized to the House, admitting that the Red Cross is under no such obligation.
Harper would rather ignore the fact that a senior member of his cabinet mislead the House, and would rather insult the people who caught him at it.
That's misplaced priorities, and that's classic Bush.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Upcoming Book Tour - April 4th, 2007

From 28 March to 11 April, M. D. Benoit will be going on a virtual book tour to promote her upcoming alternate reality novel, Synergy. During that period, ten people (myself included) will host her on their blog for one day. There will be discussions on the book, interviews with the author, and so on. Every day during this period, on her own blog, Life’s Weirder than Fiction (http://mdbenoit.com/blog), she will announce where she will be that day, as well as talk a bit about her host.

Synergy’s Virtual Book Tour will culminate with a Virtual Book Launch, on 14-15 April (http://mdbenoit.com/synergy). M. D. can be contacted at mdbenoit (at) gmail (dot) com.

I'll be hosting the Benoit Virtual Book Tour April 4th. Please be sure to come by my blog on that day, as she will attempt to respond to whatever comments you leave on my blog that day.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

This is how you make a point

Welcome to the UK Home Shopping Network. Amazing what you can get, innit?


Apparently these explosively formed penetrators are causing a certain amount of grief to the Amerikan troops overseas. Not hard to see why; they're formed out of plastic, filled with plastique, and have only a couple of metal bits, but are tremendously effective. This Discovery Channel vid raves about them (the hardon this guy gets from things that go boom is one of the reasons I don't watch FutureWeapons), but I have to say, this is the sort of thing that makes a large military force terribly vulnerable. The whole clip amounts to a sales/training manual for guerilla fighters.

Monday, March 12, 2007

They Report, We Deride

Welcome to Pottersville has posted a whole bunch of faux pas by Fox News. Most are deliberate, although I would hope that some of the most outlandish are mistakes.
But I doubt it.
Here's three of my favourites, click here for more of Fox's best moments.

The Tyee

Some articles of note in The Tyee today.

In the interests of fairness, a positive review of 24 and Jack Bauer--quite a bit different than my take on the series....

A savage review of 300--the new comic book treat in the vein of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorow.

"Some might say this policy is anti-women, anti-poor people and
anti-child. But I think this ignores the policy's subtle genius.
Finally, we have a conservative policy that is pro-environment."

An enraged article by Terry Glavin, I writer I deeply respect, defending the seal hunt. I must say, this gave me pause for thought. "It's long past time for conservationists to make a clean, clear, open
and unequivocal break with crystal-gazing animal-rights eccentrics and
all their camp followers. For them, the conservation of wild resources
was always just a flag of convenience. They're dead ballast, so over
the side with them."

And remember that day when the RCMP shut down th offices in the Legislature and cleaned out all those boxes of documents, arresting Basi, Virk, and Basi? Well, "In a nutshell, the defence has alleged that there was an internal
political decision by the B.C. Liberal government to "fix" a $1 billion
dollar deal and pay off the losing firm with another deal worth up to
$100 million. And it seeks internal RCMP and government information on
whether the B.C. Rail deal should have been rescinded." It looks like this might be a very interesting chapter in BC political history--and that's saying something!

And when it comes to a democratic deficit, there ain't any place that does it better than Alberta. Liberal leader Kevin Taft, another writer I very much respect, details many of the Alberta Conservative's scandals in his new book Democracy Derailed. Check out Jeremy Klaszus' review.

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Now THAT'S Different!

Israel is replacing its ambassador in El Salvador
after the current envoy was found in a street, drunk, wearing only
bondage gear, officials said.

Sad thing is, there's no pictures to accompany the BBC article....

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Spin? Slant? Fear?

The shrub has been having a rough ride during his tour of South America, what with the thousands of demonstrators in each country, and Hugo Chavez dogging him. The BBC and CBC both cover Chavez's comments on the shrub and Amerika. Interesting how the Beeb is superficially harsher in its coverage, while the CBC is gentler on Bush, but adds more of Chavez's comments--which are far harsher than the one's in the Beeb report. I suspect this might reflect the underlying Canadian attitude towards Amerika: the visible appeasement of the bully masking a very critical and angry attitude.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Why I Watch Stephen Colbert

This is a classic. Not only the Fox reaction to the death of Captian America, but listen for the last line of The Word; it sum things up exactly.

News Bites of the Day

Our asses are being handed to us on a plate:
European Union leaders have agreed to adopt a binding target on the use of renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, officials say.
The downside is the 10% biofuels target; yes, lower greenhouse gases, but even at current rates of biofuel conversion, we've seen an international rise in the price of cereal grains, making them less affordable for the poor around the world. Also, a lot of oil palms are being planted to be used for biofuels. And that process is neither environmentally sensitive nor carbon neutral. In a related bit of news, Bush is touring Latin America this week. His first stop is Brazil, which is the poster child for alternative fuels--specifically ethanol. But according to the Guardian, there is a bit of a dark side to this particular revolution.

Europe's food watchdog is to assess whether meat and dairy products from cloned animals are safe to eat.
Of course, the FDA in the US has already concluded that it is, but considering that the FDA is now run by Cargill, Monsanto and other food manufacturing concerns, they really don't have a lot of credibility, do they?
It is likely--or at least possible--that the EU will use the results of this study to restrict imports of EU produced meats (much as they have done with GMO cereals and oilseeds), but I certainly can't say that's a wrong thing. Carbon neutrality demands the reduction of food imports and a rise in local production for local consumption. Andrew Nikiforuk's new book Pandemodium details many of the biological costs of our international trade--particularly in food, animals, and plants.

An internal justice department investigation has documented multiple abuses by the FBI in obtaining the private records of U.S. residents.
I guess that it's not really news when a department dedicated to control of a population and the maintenance of the current order goes beyond what is legal. But it is still disturbing to me, which is why I think CSIS and the RCMP both need strict non-political civilian oversight.

It's nice to know that Bush still has God on his side. Hate to think what would happen if it was the Great Liar whispering in his ear.

Microsoft said it will not issue its scheduled monthly software security fixes in March after a report said its security suite ranked last of 17 tested. Man, ain''t that a kick in the slats? An Austrian project found that Microsoft's Windows Live OneCare security suite didn't meet the minimum standards to even be included in the testing regime. Wonder why the majority of software on my machines is open source? Look no further....

The cost of justice is beyond the reach of many middle-class Canadians, the chief justice of the Supreme Court said Thursday. That would be chief justice Beverley McLachlin. She makes a number of points about the current status of the justice system in Canada. Who can use it, who gets screwed, and who shouldn't be involved in the first place. A short but interesting report on her talk.

With the increased number of women serving in the US military, something else is on the rise too: rape and sexual assault by their male comrades. I'm really not suprised. There's something wrong with the way we train and treat our soldiers. I'm not sure what it is, but I keep looking at the Dutch military and admiring them for at least trying to change things.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Don't you love Ann Coulter calling John Edwards a faggot? And don't you love that her new BFF is Cpl. Matt Sanchez--oh wait. Isn't that Rod Majors from Glory Holes of Fame 3 and Donkey Dick? Or Pierre LaBranche from Jawbreaker, where his "11-inch uncut monster cock" earned him legions of fans? (Okay, the photos show a much more reasonable 8"). Why, yes it is! They're all the same guy!(totally NSFW!) It's Jeff Gannon all over again--including the escort business!

Pretty Big Brother

AT&T, of course. The deathstar is back after being forcibly broken up in the seventies. IANd the payback for being allowed to re-assemble?
"In the name of fighting the "war on terror," the Bush Administration has secretly enlisted the help of telecommunications agencies across the nation to do "datamining" -- using pre-programmed criteria to sift through the private information of Americans on the web and telephone lines in search of clues." Check out the story and video.

New World Order

I think it is symptomatic of the rapid re-arrangement of the world order that while Amerika released it's worldwide human right report this week and, as is usual, targeted China as a major offender, China is feeling strong enough to call Amerika on it's own record.

"Relying on its strong military power, the United States has trespassed on the sovereignty of other countries and violated human rights in other countries," Xinhua quoted the document as saying, released by the State Council, or cabinet.
It cited foreign media reports in detailing the number of civilian deaths in Iraq.
"The document says the United States has a flagrant record of violating the Geneva Convention in systematically abusing prisoners during the Iraqi war and the war in Afghanistan," Xinhua said.
(Reuters news agency)

More Evidence That Amerika is a Failed State

As if you need it.... Attorney general Alberto Gonzales is under pressure for his firings of several US attourneys last December. Of course it turns out that they are attorneys who have either prosecuted Republican corruption, failed to deliver indictments against Dems early enough to influence the November elections, or in the case of the US attorney in Arkansas, "was thrown out to make room for a crony of Karl Rove who specializes in opposition research. (Could that possibly be related to the presidential candidacy of a certain former Arkansas resident?)" Check out the Truthdig article....

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Coalition of the Unwilling

Over at Truthdig, Sarah Stillman confronts her American ignorance on climate change. "Why," she asks, "are the Brits kicking our [American] arse on climate change awarenness?" The resulting article is interesting and informative, and well worth a read.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

We're Number One! We Are! Really!

According to this BBC poll, Canada was viewed as having a positive influence in the world by 54% of the respondents, top in the poll. Japan was also viewed as having a positive influence by 54% of the repsondents, but Japan also had a slightly higher number of people who said that it had a negative influence, 20% to Canada's 14% negative influence score, the lowest in the poll.
At the other end, The United States had a postive rating of only 30% and a negative rating of 51%. Only Iran (54%) and Israel (56%) had lower negative scores, with North Korea close behind (48%). Israel also had the lowest postive influence score at 17%.

The Long Recovery Week 15

It's hard to believe that 15 weeks ago, almost four months, I was just coming out of surgery on my shoulder. Range of motion is still an issue, and as yet I'm still not doing any real strength training, but that should start any time now.
Today my doctor said that everything was as it should be. He ordered up another set of xrays, but he figures this will be the last set because the bone and the titanium look good. Now it's just a question of how well the soft tissue comes back.
Here's one of today's x-rays. This is from the side -- a profile shot, if you like.
Man, that's a lot of titanium.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President

Very funny and sharply satirical video on Susie Bright's blogsite. You have to go about halfway down the page to find it (sorry I couldn't link directly to it...), but it's definitely workth watching. Oh, the video is probably not work safe, eh?

Of course, the rest of the site contains some pretty good reading as well.

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder....

I recently read in Boulevard Magazine and interesting bit of news. Something I do every day but didn't really think about. I look in a mirror daily...so what..only what I am seeing is not what others see. I don't really see "myself". The image is reversed....how in the future this may change and I will truly see myself. How? By looking into a true mirror....read below from the site I found on the True Mirror.
For all of our history, when people think they see themselves, they are always seeing themselves reflected backwards. Recently, with cameras and video, they can get a sense of what they look like forwards, but its a static or non-eye to eye view. However, as it turns out, the backward images and person we see in a mirror is profoundly different from what is real. The backwardsness distorts not just our features, but the information in our faces and personalities as well. No wonder we see ourselves differetnly than others see us!

A True Mirror is surprisingly more than an amazing novelty. We are excited to promote as a new source of self-discovery and enlightenment.

The introspective use of the True Mirror can be an important boost towards your own self-acceptance and greater self-esteem. This happens by authenticating your own actual image and expressions as you exist in real life, and as your are seen by everyone else.

In contrast, the incorrect view seen in a traditional mirror can be major source of self-doubt and self-criticism - simply because it is not the "real you" when your eyes meet in the mirror. How can you understand yourself, your emotions and your expressions when there is such distortion?

We've discovered some fascinating aspects of human nature that arise when people see their true appearance. Because it is very challenging to confront new information about one's self, the responses are usually very dramatic...some love it, some hate it, and some will not even look! But we feel its just a matter of time to become familiar with the new image, and most people will begin to prefer the new look. Its natural, after all.

the photo attached at the top of this post are comments from people who have truly seen themselves....

The world's largest nation...

is expanding outward. Talk about your "Great Leap Forward," China figures to have a man on the moon in 15 years. The future just keeps looking more radically different than ever, doesn't it?

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I'm not sure what this means

....but I'm pretty sure it isn't good.

"Industrial pollution coming from Asia is having a
wider effect on global weather and climate than previously realised,
research suggests."

But what it does tell me clearly is that nobody lives alone on this planet. We're all connected in the most unexpected ways.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

The More You Know, The Worse It Gets

If you're not regularly reading George Monbiot, you should be. The smell of bullshit drives him crazy, and he's willing to do the legwork to show exactly how the power structure is lying to us. Back in December, he pointed out just how Amerika is torturing Jose Padilla, and how that torture is used in Amerikan civilian prisons as well. Horrifying? Yes. But essential to know what the future looks like for all of us unless we manage a revolution of democracy both here and in the rest of the world. With Amerika now heading down a path that is taking it back to pre-Copernician times, we should all be digging in to defend modernity.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Is Progress Possible?

Jeffrey Feldman writes about Dinesh D'Souza's latest book, The Enemy at Home, and discusses the pressure on the Right in Amerika to recognize Osama bin Laden's allies in Amerika--the progressive Left--and to begin the taking up of arms against them.

"While he never comes right out and says that Americans should kill liberals, D'Souza's book shuttles his reader swiftly to that conclusion. By defining liberals as a "hidden" second front of terrorism, D'Souza's book invokes a very simple, widely held idea in America: that "War on Terror" means first and foremost, "kill terrorists." Thus, The Enemy at Home gives intellectual legitimacy to a widely accepted, rapidly growing Republican tendency to frame national security in terms of killing Democrats."

What Feldman mentions, but fails to see, is D'Souza's linkage between "traditional" cultures around the world and what he wants to see again in Amerika; the return to an unquestioned faith in external authority.

"From the American founding until World War II, there was a widespread belief in this country that there is a moral order in the universe that makes claims on us. This belief was not unique to Americans. It was shared by Europeans since the very beginning of Western civilization, and it is held even today by all the traditional cultures of the world. The basic notion is that morality is external to us, and it is binding on us. In the past, Americans and Europeans, being for the most part Christian, might disagree with Hindus and Muslims about the exact source of this moral order, its precise content, or how a society should convert its moral beliefs into legal and social practice. But there was little doubt across the civilizations of the world about the existence of such an order. Moreover laws and social norms typically reflected this moral consensus. During the first half of the twentieth-century, the moral order generated some clear American social norms: Go to church. Be faithful to your wife. Support your children. Go when your country calls. And so on. The point is not that everyone lived up to the dictates of the moral code, but that it supplied a standard, accepted virtually throughout society, for how one should act." (The Enemy at Home, Introduction)

That history can be seen as the struggle against such imposed authority is so far out of view as to be invisible. That this struggle against imposed authority is the foundation of democracy, self-determination, and individual freedom is equally ignored by D'Souza and missed by Feldman. But the discussion of the book and the social climate in which it has appeared is very interesting. Definitely worth a read.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

In Search of Cheney's Brain

The Vice-President, Dick Cheney, spoke to members of the American media on Air Force Two during his recent Middle East visit. But he insisted that he would speak only as long as he was indentified just as a "Senior Administration Official," not as "The Vice-President." Apparently he doesn't want to be associated with his own quotes.
However, the ploy backfired because he identified himself, and then spoke of himself in the first person during his opening statement, pretty much destroying his attempt at being anonymous:
"Let me just make one editorial comment here. I've seen some press reporting says, "Cheney went in to beat up on them, threaten them." That's not the way I work. I don't know who writes that, or maybe somebody gets it from some source who doesn't know what I'm doing, or isn't involved in it. But the idea that I'd go in and threaten someone is an invalid misreading of the way I do business."

Why Cheney, who has always spoken on the record as the Vice-President since February 2001, now wants to be an anonymous Senior Administration Official, is unknown, although there probably have been many times in the last six years when Bush had wished that Cheney had spoken anonymously.
Jeffery Feldman comments more on this story here, and the offical White House version (of an Interview with a Senior Official, released by the Office of the Vice-President no less) is here.

Friday, March 02, 2007

viral advertisment

Okay, this is one of the wierder things I've seen. Check it out at your own risk.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

O Sinnerman

I cannot say how strongly this video affected me this morning. My only wish is that the message spelled out was something less US-centric and a little more globally aplicable, but that's a small caveat. The music and pictures work well together. I highly recommend it.

O Sinnerman, where you gonna run to? Better than the B5 use of the song.

It's Not My Fault

if you click on any of these videos. You're on your own here....

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Something Ugly?

It looks like something ugly is going on--more than just an illegal and immoral war based on lies. A year and a half ago, a 19-year-old Florissant woman became the first female from Missouri to die during the Iraq war. Now questions are being raised about how she died, and it looks like the Amerikan military is covering up a rape and murder.

After two WaPo (Washington Post) writers exposed the truly horrific conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Army brass responded with the application of a lot of white paint. Seriously, a whitewash.

And then the responses to the story. Check out this bit of lunacy--why did it take so long for reporters to become aware of the conditions at WRAMC? Because they had to figure out (or be told) that they could "attack this administration from the right." (approximate quote). Really. Check out the video. It can't be an incompetent administration, so it has to be the fault of the reporters for reporting the story.

But occasionally the chickens come home to roost (and I don't mean 9-11). Sam Fox would like to be this administration's appointment to the post of ambassador to Belgium. To achieve this, he has to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and answer a few questions about his suitability. No big, eh? Except that after the last election, it happens that Barack Obama is chairing the meeting, and Fox has to face questions from John Kerry. Particularly questions about how Fox had given $50K to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to disseminate lies about....John Kerry. Depending on which side of the room you're sitting on, this can be, or won't be, a whole lot of fun.

Meanwhile, over at the Guardian:
"An elite team of officers advising the US commander, General David Petraeus, in Baghdad has concluded that they have six months to win the war in Iraq - or face a Vietnam-style collapse in political and public support that could force the military into a hasty retreat."
The fact that once again the US military has faced a Viet Nam, not in public or political support, but in defeat by a vastly less-well-equipped foe, seems to be going un-noticed. Like the British in India, the Amerikans can be defeated. Guerilla tactics work against the US military (and, as Afghanistan showed, the Russian military as well), because the majority of the Amerikan public have no stomach for wars of empire. And, like Viet Nam, Iraq bids fair to finally have a chance at creating its own destiny free from Amerikan imperialist involvement albeit at the cost of a million or more dead and the complete destruction of its infrastructure. If only Canada had the same opportunity, just without the death or destruction. Hell, if only the nations of the world had the same opportunity, free of any imperialist interference from any country. Self-determination could be the rallying cry for a better, or at least freer, world.

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