Thursday, September 30, 2004

Off the radar

I know that media types run stories like this only to make people laugh and shake their heads. I don't usually waste my time with them. But today I fell for it. Somebody out there wants the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to do away with their traditional winter hats. You see, the hats are lined with Muskrat fur. To which I can only say: it's a rat, it's a rat, its a rat. It's a rat, get it? It's not rare, it's not endangered, it's not even great to look at. I'm not saying it deserves to die horribly, but on the world scale of things to think about... it's really not on my radar. ***** Speaking of not on my radar, how about that MacLean's Magazine, ever the hot source for breaking news in Canada, from sea to sea? That useless bit of trash written for and consumed by the over 50 crowd in central Canada (probably same ones that can't get enough of the Globe and Mail) is warning us that, *gasp* Fox News is coming to Canadian Digital cable, and we had better brace ourselves for it. The horror! It's a threat to our namby pampy Liberal nature! Not to mention that it's happening during the same year as Sheila Copps leaving the House of Commons and the NHL strike, which is really dirty and unfair. It's all a conspiracy anyway. This is a magazine that I will never forget. A full decade after the Rave scene started, it put an expose on the "New and Dangerous World of Raves" on its cover and confirmed all of my worst suspicions about it. How come they don't seem to care about AlJezeera being a hairs breath from coming onto our cable networks?

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Re-united?

It seems that Americans are breaking for Bush in the presidential vote. The closer it comes and the more they tune in and see John Kerry up close, the less they like him. That seems to be especially so for Christian voters, who see right through Kerry's thin veneer of "Catholicism." I tell you, there is nothing thin about it; it's a shockingly intimate religion if you get familiar with it. But Catholics have not traditionally voted Republican, so what is happening here? Kerry's insincere aura and flip flops surely have something to do with it. But there might also be a realization that Catholics and Evangelical Protestants have much more in common than is usually admitted. In a majority Christian culture, Christians could legitimately split over all kinds of issues. We don't all agree on how things should be done, even if we can be close on what our goals are. Christianity is not left or right and this can lead Christians all over the political map. We might be reaching a period in which Christians have to put the that kind of disarray behind them. They are faced with a very real and growing threats from without and within. The threat from Muslim jihadis is obvious to anyone who is awake. Less obvious are aggressive secularists who will take advantage of a foolishly split Christian vote to continue ripping Christian heritage from all of our laws and institutions if we let them. Secularists will continue to threaten the weak, the old, and the young because they are a hassle to their groovy freedom, man. We can't let it happen. We can't let it happen because there is no reason to think that the threats will stop there. As Mark Shea points out:
we have coasted along on custom in continuing to talk as though our culture still is founded on that mystical Christian faith in human equality. I fear, however, that sooner or later, it will occur to somebody to get rid of this mystical Christian belief in equality as they have gotten rid of so much of the rest of the Christian tradition.
When that happens there will be nothing to stop the label of "non person" from being applied to anyone who is unpopular and vulnerable. I'm not saying it's around the corner, but every inch is an inch too much for my liking. Anyone born after Roe should probably be aware that they could easily not be here, if that had been the will of their mothers. And in Canada, where we have no laws restricting abortion at all (the supreme court struck down the existing law and our government is too gutless to even mention the issue to the public), kids can be aborted at any time for any reason. That would include just seconds before natural birth, if you want to be a stickler about it. That would be a baby that could easily live outside the mother. But, no matter. If she wants to kill it, she can have it killed on taxpayer dime and there is nothing that can be done about it under the present regime. It might be objected that this is rare, to which I say that is a cold response to someone struck by lighting. Liberals and secularists like to say that they do not force people to do anything, and that they want to be fair and impartial to all, regardless of their religion. They like to say that Christians can't be trusted in government because they will "force" everyone to follow their beliefs. To which I say, stop it already. Christians have in the past been reasonable stewards of the rights of nonbelievers in America and they can do so still. I don't claim they made no mistakes. Of course they did. One of the reasons Christianity has been whittled down politically in recent times is that it has allowed religious tolerance and plurality to flourish; hence the divided faith you see today. At this point the Liberal likes to bring up some knuckle dragging stereotype of a fundamentalist as a kind of boogey man. That brand of Christianity has never been in a majority and it is a severe insult to describe Catholics and mainstream evangelicals in those terms. Our positions and our arguments are solid and often science can be used to buttress our claims. On the issue of abortion, for example, we now know that the child has a unique DNA from the moment of conception. If that's not a unique person, I don't know what is. Kind of blows up the "it's my body" argument, doesn't it? So I hope that Americans do rally around president Bush. I hope it is one of many steps Christians can take in reasserting their common bonds and the reasonableness of what they profess. If you've visited my wife's blog, you may know this already. But if you haven't, I'll repeat it here. She was born after abortion was legalized in Canada (I was born before) and as her Mom was older and alone, she was asked if she wanted to carry "it" to term. Thank God she said yes. Rebecca and I will celebrate our third anniversary tomorrow, and our fifth year together.

1,000+

North Western Winds passed 1,000 hits sometime this morning. I have no idea if I'm justified in this or not, but I'm quite happy with that number of visits in one month. The blog was created roughly August 25 but not really promoted until I had a few posts under my belt. You can't invite people over without having snacks in the fridge, right? And I'm still trying to figure this blog promotion thing out. I'll let you know how that goes, ok? Big thanks to everyone who linked or bookmarked this site, especially the guys at Castle Argghhh! (did I spell it right?), Ben at The Tiger In Winter, Kate at The Last Amazon, John Depoe at Fides Quarerens Intellectum (I have no clue what that means). Thanks for your time and encouragement. Thanks also to Flea, who's Red Enisgn Brigade introduced me to most of the people above and lots more. I also have to thank Mark Shea at Catholic and Enjoying it! - his link to my fledgling site gave me my highest single day to date, and by a large margin - 130 hits in a day. I've never been close to that since. And thanks also go to The Maverick Philosopher, for a great blog and more than a few visitors.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Ireland declares war on France

Good joke on Wicked Thoughts. Check it out.

Eternity Road

Over at Eternity Road, there is a small debate over one of my posts the other day.

Yoda?

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

A venerated sage with vast power and knowledge, you gently guide forces around you while serving as a champion of the light.

Judge me by my size, do you? And well you should not - for my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. Life greets it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us, and binds us. Luminescent beings are we, not this crude matter! You must feel the Force around you, everywhere.

I was surprised by this. I expected to be Sam Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings.

Absolut Leviticus

I have a bookmark for an article by Eugene Volokh, published by Slate, and I'm not sure where it came from, although I think it was one of Ben's links over at The Tiger In Winter. If it's not, well, there's a free link for you. ;-) In it, Volokh talks about some of the criticisms that conservative people have about those who are more liberal. I'd like to comment on some of his observations, which seem to be those of a secular conservative befuddled by some of the "inside baseball" stuff that Christians say. 1) Moral absolutes Leviticus is terribly misunderstood. It is frequently invoked to argue that Christians are arbitrary, hypocritical and inconsistent. Well, make that charge if you must, but leave poor Leviticus out of it because it won't help your case. Volokh is not really attacking Christians here, but he does seem to make what is a common error:
Leviticus condemns male homosexuality as an abomination, but it also condemns eating shellfish as an abomination (11:10). Most Christians don’t follow the dietary rules in Leviticus -- and they may have good reason to do so, reasons based on interpretations of other parts of the Bible, or on tradition, or on their reasoning about what God must care about. But this just means that they, like those who follow a secular moral code, must make hard moral judgments that may often lack clear textual authority.
Non religious and non practicing Christians are often unaware that Leviticus is from the Old Testament, and the rules it contains were among the many things that were dropped after Christ's coming. So it's irrelevant. I didn't know it until recently either. My Study Bible's reading guide to Leviticus says:
... Since many of the actions in the first half of Leviticus are tied to priestly roles in the Temple, the book has become a negative symbol for Christians who emphasize the so called "freedom from the law" that Paul speaks of in his letters in the New Testament. Even the current name of the book means basically "That which pertains to the levitical priests."
There might be strains of Christianity that adhere to Leviticus, but they are to the best of my knowledge minor groups, likely with a very literal take on the Bible. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong. Leviticus is also part of the Jewish Torah. Having a fuzzy idea of how mainstream Christian morality is anchored leads Volokh to draw a weak parallel:
many nonreligious people do operate using what they see as moral absolutes, such as the need to maximize human happiness, or the need to promote human flourishing, or respect for individual freedom, or what have you. Now naturally these foundational moral principles are pretty general and abstract, and thus ambiguous in application.
It IS true that "many nonreligious people do operate using what they see as moral absolutes." And it IS true that mainstream Christians have to find ways to apply their moral principles, just like non religious people do. The difference is that a non religious person could drop a moral absolute for any reason at all ("I was wrong," "I changed my mind," "it's too hard"), and a religious person cannot. He can't change them because they are not his to do with as he sees fit. I think that's a pretty important difference and advances in medical science are making it more important, not less, everyday. One stance is absolute and one is "what I think or feel right now." 2) The means justify the ends Volokh writes:
Some ends do justify some means, in the sense that some of our moral principles (don’t kill, don’t let people trespass on others’ property) operate differently depending on whether there’s a pressing social need to do something (fight a war, enforce the law). We can surely criticize others for their moral errors in deciding which ends justify which means. But I don’t think we can criticize liberals on the grounds that they are more likely to say the ends justify the means, or on the grounds that “the ends justify the means” is inherently an immoral position.
This is a credo that utopians of all stripes use to justify acts that range from annoying to murderous. It IS true that there is such a thing as a religious utopian - jihadis come to mind - but violent theocrats are not very common in the west today. On the other hand, we do see things like ecoterrorism and other forms of violence advocated more often by the left than the right. Disrupting the Republican Convention comes to mind too. How many Republicans tried to mess up the Democratic convention? How many advocated it? Practically none, as far as I know. I would argue that this is because the right is better tethered to our religious heritage and that heritage rejects this argument in all aspects. Now, wait a minute, somebody is going to bring up the Iraq war as an example of the right using the ends to justify the means. But war is not forbidden to Christians. The Catholic Church allows a war if it can be proven to be just, and it gives criteria to evaluate a potential conflict. Whether Iraq meets that criteria or not is a matter of much debate, and is beside the point I want to make. Catholics see the world and everyone in it as fallen. As a result, it is inevitable that we will be put upon by others acting out of ignorance or malice. We can respond in many ways. "Turn the other cheek" is often used to invoke a very strict pacifism, a pacifism that I reject. The Bible also says that to enter heaven we must "hate our parents" and no one takes that literally. It means we must put God first, even if it puts us at odds with our parents. God is the higher good. I read "turn the other cheek" in a similar way. Turing away might be the ideal response, but it may not be practical - it's a fallen world, remember? By turning the other cheek we might allow great harm to be done, and this is also sinful. So we will sin no matter what we do. The choice is really to figure out what is the lesser sin and to do that with as little sin as we can. And when the fighting is done, we are to fogive our opponent and seek the same from God. I'll end with a quote from an editorial from one of the the Vatican newspapers, Avvenire, dated Sunday, September 26, 2004:
Even the European countries that opposed the American decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime with a unilateral war know well that an Iraq in the hands of the worst terrorists and criminals goes against the interests of all: of the West as of the Arab-Islamic world. Thinking that the withdrawal of American troops would of itself permit the improvement of the situation, or even the reduction of concern, is pure naiveté. Moreover, the only condition that can bring about a reduction in the American presence in Iraq is the multilateralization of the crisis: including, and especially, from the military point of view.
** Ben tells me I got the name of the writer I'm refering to wrong. The post has been corrected to reflect that.

Monday, September 27, 2004

How to name a bar

This post from the Lazy Logician made me laugh. *sigh* I'm never that funny. At least, not intentionally.

It ain't easy

Nice post by Flea. Go check it out! Not everybody's a history buff so this is a valuable link if you are in that category or know someone who is (and who doesn't?). He shows how our "unique" historical situation in Iraq is not so unique, and we therefore have much to learn from how such conflicts were handled in the past. Flea also addresses the impact of new media technologies on war coverage, and how they impact people with no context in which to evaluate what they are being shown. I'll just add that the Nazis did try to create an underground terrorist network called "Operation Werewolf," which was supposed to do the kind of things we are seeing in Iraq. It never really took off. Germany was reeling from the bombing and five years of war. People just wanted normalcy to return as quickly as possible. Even terrorists have to eat. There was also no precedent in German culture to draw on for such a thing. The only thing close was the Nazis themselves and they were discredited by the war. In Iraq the jihadis have yet to be discredited. I'm not sure how that is to be done, but I am sure it needs to be done if the West is to succeed in its aims.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

The power of stupid thinking

The Maverick Philosopher has an interesting look at the later George Orwell, as seen by Linoel Trilling:
he [Orwell] began to fear that the commitment to abstract ideas could be far more maleficent than the commitment to the gross materiality of property had ever been. The very stupidity of things has something human about it, something meliorative, something even liberating. Together with the stupidity of the old unthinking virtues it stands against the ultimate and absolute power which the unconditioned idea can develop.
Curt's shorthand: Top down ideologies suck. Don't be afraid to be "stupid."

Naturalism and Reason

For most of my life I considered myself to be a agnostic. I was never an atheist; it was clear to me at a very young age that atheism was a dogmatic view, as dogmatic as an religion could be. I never expected to find an argument that would get me off of that fence. It seemed to me that it could never be answered because our minds were limited by what we saw and heard. If God could not be seen by any sense, how could we know the least thing about him? Then, after leaving university no closer to any answers, and with a diminished view of what a university is and does, I began to read. Libertarian books, such as Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, and books on evolution, such as Dawkins' The Selfish Gene and Matt Ridley's The Red Queen. I was still plagued by what I call the "yes, but" syndrome. These theories sounded fine, but... I was always finding people who read them in ways that to me were too much (or too little, depending on your approach). How could I explain my resistance to things like abortion, euthanasia, promiscuity and so on? How could I say that yes, the state has no right to force you to do (or not do) that, but that you ought to find the reasons yourself. My first attempts involved arguments from utility and from biology. These things seemed destructive to me, in the long term. Couldn't people see that? They certainly told me that they didn't. Reason this and reason that, people came up with the darndest and most clever reasons for the most horrible things. Very interestingly to me, none of these people I was reading had positions that other people rallied around in large numbers. The results they were getting almost began to appear to be the result of how they defined things. The definition lead to the conclusion, but it began to seem that it could just as easily be the other way around. The more evolution I read, the less impressed I was with human reason, and the ethics people were putting forward on the basis of evolution reinforced it. So what was this thing, reason, and why did we put such faith in it, if evolution said we shouldn't? And wasn't evolutionary theory itself a product of reason? Yet there had to be something to evolution. Microbes, which have a much faster evolutionary speed than humans do, were clearly mutating and causing doctors to worry about finding new ways to combat the newly evolved "superbugs." So our minds are not completely shot after all. And yet, if our minds are the product of evolution, why is this so? Why should we have a hazy grip on ontological reality? Evolutionary utility did not seem to be enough to account for it. Here is the best answer I have seen. I think it is good enough to say that Monotheism is true, and that atheism and the naturalism it often springs from, are wrong. I have seen it in a few places, but I'll use C.S. Lewis since he is so approachable:
All possible knowledge, then, depends on the validity of reasoning. If the feeling of certainty which we express by words like must be and therefore and since is a real perception of how things outside our minds really 'must' be, well and good. But if this certainty is merely a feeling in our own minds and not a genuine insight into realities beyond them - if it merely represents the way our minds work - then we can have no knowledge. Unless human reasoning is valid, no science can be true. ... A theory that explained everything else in the whole universe but which made ut impossible to believe our thinking was valid, would be utterly out of court. For that theory itself would have been reached by thinking, and if thinking is not valid that theory would, of course, be itself demolished. It would have destroyed its own credentials. It would be an argument that no argument was sound - proof that there are no such things as proofs - which is nonsense. ... Naturalism... discredits our process of reasoning... to such a humble level that it can no longer support naturalism itself.
From C.S. Lewis, Miracles. Obviously, this argument does not prove that any particular monotheistic religion is true. It did make agnosticism untenable. Evolution is true and despite this we are capable of knowing about evolution and a lot more. This suggests to me that God is at a minimum somewhat kind, because we could have had minds that were merely the result of what Lewis calls the "interlocking system of nature," which would be cruel or indifferent. From my point of view a religion that denied evolution (fundamentalism) or our ability to know (naturalism) would be fatally flawed; it would be too self enclosed to pass as reasonable. The best fit that I know if is Catholicism, which 1) has a doctrine of grace, that allows us to know through God's grace, 2) the doctrine of original sin, which explains why mankind has such difficulty knowing things, including our own nature, and 3) does not not deny that evolution could be true, and is not threatened if it is true. After doing this work, I have very little time or respect for university folk who argue for the following 1) naturalism, 2) athiesm 3) decontruction. All of them cut the floor out from under themselves and it's not that hard to see once you familiarize yourself with this particular delimma. Why this problem underlies so much of modern thought and study is a whole other subject.

More Chesterton

The philosophy of the tree, 1909 In a letter from 1909, Chesterton defended traditionalism by comparing it to a tree:
I mean that a tree goes on growing, and therefore goes on changing; but always in the fringes surrounding something unchangeable. The innermost rings of the tree are still the same as when it was a sapling; they have ceased to be seen, but they have not ceased to be central. When the tree grows a branch at the top, it does not break away from the roots at the bottom; on the contrary it needs to hold more strongly by its roots the higher it rises with its branches. That is the true image of the vigorous and healthy progress of a man, a city, or a whole species.
Taken from Tolkien: Man and Myth, by Joseph Pearce.

What herb are you?

YOU ARE MOLY What herb are you? brought to you by Quizilla

Logistics and axioms

Before I turned in last night I agreed with Ben's post on Heather Mallick but drew attention to two things that I saw as watering his points down a tad. Ben overlooked my sleepy English and came back with a comment and new post. Rather than swamp poor Ben's comment section, I'm copying his post here so that I can respond without overlooking anything. Ben said:
Here's my take. Till recently, I have been among those who would, like those writers, describe ideas and people I didn't like as being "scary." Scary isn't that. When I have the luxury to sit around and get drunk with my friends and talk about books and horrible politicians (when that's everything, I mean; even in the middle of a world war, I'll find some time for it), I'm not scared. I'm part of a very lucky social class -- those who have not had to work for a living. (Not because I'm wealthy. Quite the contrary. It's because I've been a spoilt only child of middle-class parents.) But are we really that lucky? When we have the luxury to sit around in our little cocoons from the world, we tend to forget what actually matters and what is merely a fashionable pose for the season.
I think the best thing I can do here is just groan and smile. It is a bit sheltered and thankfully most of us get past it. Sadly, quite a few of those who remain on campus do not. In fact, campus culture can be really odd, with students looking to their profs for leadership (as they should) but many of the profs unfortunately looking to the students for affirmation that they are still "with it." The result is a leadership vacuum that seems to me to fuel the zealotry and demonization ("scary") you describe. Jonah Goldberg says that the trouble the liberal profs have is that for them,
youth has a moral authority independent of the substance of its arguments. Youth politics is a variant of identity politics which imbues in young people an authority they did not purchase with work or with insight — just as liberalism does with gender, race, infirmity, etc.
Goldberg, by the way, is a pretty good writer if you're not already familiar with him. Ben continues:
I'm not going to go all Bolshevik and rhapsodize about the working class. Far from it. There are informed and ill-informed opinions, and we've been stuck with those of both types since time immemorial. But I wonder whether the intellectual class of the West hasn't taken a wrong turn somewhere -- whether we mightn't have a death wish of some sort. And so it lies with the rest of the country -- the parts that do a lot of work* -- to pull us back into reality. [*Yes, I work hard too. I spent a lot of time at the library last year, and the year before, my thesis was a really hard slog. I work. But it's a different sort of work.] Education is a funny sort of thing. Someone like Mark Steyn, for instance, has little more than a high school diploma, yet he can run intellectual circles around people with doctorates. And he'll sound an awful lot more informed than they will. (Because he is. Well, when he's not talking about residential schools. He got that one awfully wrong. Well, the rest of that essay, "The Slyer Virus," is awesome, anyway.) There was a time when writers and artists took pleasure in shattering the little orthodoxies that bourgeois society held dear. Now, it is the rest of society (for that bourgeois society is at one with Nineveh and Tyre) that is beginning to shatter the orthodoxies of those who write and "create" for a living.
I think you're on to something here. The way I see it, we need to find a way to "keep it real." The danger that occurs when you do a lot of work that is mental - not just scholarship but also jobs like writing or marketing - is that you tend to overlook or oversimplify logistics. My wife works with a sales crew and has to remind them from time to time that they can't promise things in an effort to close a sale, that she can't get for them. Students of history and things military know that a good grasp of logistics can make the difference in any battle. But how do you teach it? To some degree it's a school of hard knocks kind of thing. So upper class or lower class, we all have to respect people who have the experience in the subject at hand. The dentist might have ideas about the stock market, but I don't give them more weight than the ones I get from anyone else. If he tells me I need work on my teeth, though, I get the work done. The opinions of an English professor on Bush's economic record are no better than anyone else who lacks real world experience in understanding the data. And my plumber knows best about my plumbing, no matter what the professor says. Things that are said to be axiomatic on the campus are not beyond question and kudos for recognizing that. Sometimes I see left /right disputes as a struggle over what it will take to get a job done. We all want peace and we all want the truly unfortunate to be cared for. The question is how - how do we do it and how much is even possible?
I'm not about to give up the prospects of the academy for a life of "honest toil." For one thing, I wouldn't be good at it; I haven't been brought up for it. For another, I wouldn't enjoy it -- I wouldn't see the point (though there's always pleasure in a job well done). But the least I can do is not sneer at those who do live it, and to take their thoughts seriously. I might actually learn something new. Isn't truth the highest goal, in the life of ideas?
Nor should you. Follow your talents while keeping a strong heart and an open mind. The academy needs people like that. Finally, I mentioned finding problems with Libertarianism. The problem as I see it is that liberty is not the highest good, even if it is a very good thing. People need love more than they need liberty. Liberty exists so that people can give themselves in love. They are free to start families if they wish and they are free to study or to work, or to some combination. But they are not free to do things that hinder others (obviously, although this has more impact that is first apparent) and they are not free to undermine the concepts or the high value of love or freedom themselves. I'll conclude with Goldberg again:
Personal liberty is vitally important. But it isn't everything. If you emphasize personal liberty over all else, you undermine the development of character and citizenship — a point Hayek certainly understood. Kids are born barbarians, as Hannah Arendt noted. Without character-forming institutions which softly coerce (persuade) kids — and remind adults — to revere our open, free, and tolerant culture over others, we run the risk of having them embrace any old creed or ideology that they find most rewarding or exciting, including some value systems which take it on blind faith that America is evil and, say, Cuba or Osama bin Laden is wonderful. That's precisely why campuses today are infested with so many silly radicals, and why libertarians in their own way encourage the dismantling of the soapboxes they stand on.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

The Medium is the Message

"Be in the world, but not of the world." Johnny Dee makes the point in two posts, here and here, that Christians cannot simply adopt pop media styles and change the words in the hope of finding an easy way to get their message out. He's right about this. Most people I know, including me, find Christian pop music to be quite boring and not in the least inspirational. John's table is a quick look at how the medium alters the message. Anyone familiar with the work of Marshall McLuhan will recognize this theme and its truth right away. Christians must be willing to stand for their faith, both in its words and in its forms. When people tire of the pop experience, they will look for a truer, deeper, safer mental space, and we can and must be willing to provide it, although this is not an easy thing to do. We need to critique the pop world and stand tall in the face of the flak this will inevitably bring. The Catholic faith has a nice phrase for this - it says we need to be "in the world, but not of the world." We must be willing to stand apart, to resist the crowd and to speak the truth as best we can. That would be a powerful message, coherent in both content and form. The Christian pop approach is only a pale reflection (not pop, not Christian) and people seem to instinctively know it.

Four out of ten isn't bad?

Media gets 44% approval rating overall in new poll According to this story in Editor and Publisher, 39% of Americans say they have say "not much" confidence in the media's ability to report the news fairly, and and 16% say they have "none at all." Joe average isn't so average it seems. The crap war coverage might have something to do with that. The only ones in a "quagmire" are the 60's retreads in the media. Mark Steyn observes about the media's reaction to the Iraqi presidents visit this week:

They're six feet from Iraq's head of government and they've got not a question for him. They've got no interest in Iraq except insofar as they can use the issue to depress sufficient numbers of swing voters in Florida and Ohio. Who's living in the fantasyland here? Huge forces are at play in a world of rapid change. As the prime minister said, ''We Iraqis will stand by you, America, in a war larger than either of our nations.'' But the gentlemen of the press can barely stifle their ennui. Say what you like about the old left, but at least they were outward-looking and internationalist. This new crowd -- Democrats and media alike -- are stunted and parochial, their horizons shriveling more every day.

Of course they are

Paul Martin (PM the PM) says that despite the evidence, other Liberals are not organizing leadership bids in the expectation that he will lose his job when the minority Liberal government is defeated. Which means, of course, that that is exactly what is happening.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

The Red Ensign

Ben over at The Tiger in Winter did a nice round up of what's been happening at the Red Ensign blogs lately. I don't envy him this job, as there are a good number of blogs on the roll and the numbers seem to be growing. Taylor and Co. are to do the next one October 7. How does this work guys? You just ask to give up a night or two of your life and the honour is yours?

Ditch the U.N.

After Paul Martin's (PM the PM) regrettable speech to the UN the other day, it seems like a good time to think about what the UN is and who runs it. Fortunately we have Victor Davis Hanson writing about just that in the Wall Street Journal today:
the U.N. is not the idealistic postwar organization of our collective Unicef and Unesco nostalgia, the old perpetual force for good that we once associated with hunger relief and peacekeeping. Its membership is instead rife with tyrannies, theocracies and Stalinist regimes. Many of them, like Algeria, Cuba, Iran, Vietnam and Zimbabwe, have served on the U.N.'s 53-member Commission on Human Rights. The Libyan lunocracy--infamous for its dirty war with Chad and cash bounties to mass murderers--chaired the 2003 session. For Mr. Bush to talk to such folk about the need to spread liberty means removing from power, or indeed jailing, many of the oppressors sitting in his audience. ... the present secretary-general, Kofi Annan, is himself a symbol of all that is wrong with the U.N. ... he enjoys the freedom, affluence and security of a New York, but never stops to ask why that is so or how it might be extended to others less fortunate.
After September 11, 2001, Hanson concludes:
Deeds, not rhetoric, are all that matter, as the once unthinkable is now the possible. There is no intrinsic reason why the U.N. should be based in New York rather than in its more logical utopian home in Brussels or Geneva. There is no law chiseled in stone that says any fascist or dictatorial state deserves authorized membership by virtue of its hijacking of a government. There is no logic to why a France is on the Security Council, but a Japan or India is not. And there is no reason why a group of democratic nations, unapologetic about their values and resolute to protect freedom, cannot act collectively for the common good, entirely indifferent to Syria's censure or a Chinese veto.
PM the PM thinks the UN ought to be entitled to to take arms against states that harm their own people. He has things like Sudan in mind. He forgets who he is talking to. He does not see that this group would quickly find a pretext for destroying Israel (using the so called "real terrorist" crap they love so much), and having done that, who knows what might be next. Maybe they'll "liberate" Quebec. Tyrannies, theocracies and Stalinist regimes don't respond nicely when you give them something. They see it only as weakness. If you give them a finger they will rip off your arm and beat you to death with it, if they don't enslave you first. PM the PM. God help us all. A real statesman would see that now is the time to look for partnerships with like minded people. An Anglo Alliance would go a long ways - the US, England, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, these are our natural allies. Lets stop pretending that most of the things we love about Canada don't come from those cultures, from those people. There is nothing wrong with newcomers to Canada, my own family included, but the newcomers come here because they see something they think is valuable. They don't come here, for heaven's sake, so that they can endure a trial under Sharia law. It's about time we valued the things that bring people here ourselves. Read more at Taylor and Co.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Many, Many Mapes

Mapes an ideologue, says former co worker Dan Rather's producer, Mary Mapes, set up Memo gate because she was ideologically driven, says a former Mapes co worker. John Carlson, a former commentator at KIRO-TV in Seattle says:

Mapes was "quite liberal" and disliked the current President Bush's father.

"She definitely was someone who was motivated by what she cared about and definitely went into journalism ," Carlson said. "She's not the sort of person who went into journalism to report the news and offer an array of commentary."

Carlson spoke with Mapes about the National Guard story a week ago, and said that he believes she "put so much time into it that she wanted something to come of it."

"This was a woman with a good reputation," he said. "The mistakes she made were so obvious. This was a story that was rushed because they clearly believed it was true. They wanted it to be true."

One wonders how it is Mapes could be considered a "good journalist." Unless journalists have thrown out the idea the journalists should try to be "objective." Oh! Wait! They have... I know it because the model of "objective journalism" is considered to be an outdated laughingstock by every journalist I have ever met, and every Media Professor I ever had derided it. So, we the public, ought to know about the changes in the trade, eh? I mean acting as a hack for one political party under the guise of objectivity might be considered unethical by some. If you ran a big donkey under the CBS logo, at least that might be honest. But no. You can trust journalists -even though there are some good ones still out there- about as much as a used car salesman. Ethics? Honesty? Objectivity? How Passe. Journalism today is about "making a difference." In plain language this means foisting your politics on everyone, while lying about doing it: ie. cherry picking stories, using dubious sources, all the while claiming that it is nothing more than "honest reporting." There is probably nothing special about Mapes other than that she got caught. This ought to remind us to treat journalists like the British do, as ink stained wretches who thrive on scandal and titillation, not news. The root cause of this problem, I believe, is that for most of the intellectual class, politics has replaced religion. They see everything - EVERYTHING - through the lens of left and right and are almost incapable of knowing that they are doing it. There is nothing wrong with wanting to make a difference, but journalism is not the career for it. Be a teacher or get involved with a charity or a church. If you must be a typographic ideologue, find work with a political party. Or just be up front about your bias.

This is no surprise

Which British Literary Period are you?

Restoration

1660-1785--Pope, Swift, Johnson. Times they are a changing. You're very cynical and you like looking out for the little guys. You have a sense of humor a lot of people just don't get.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz Brought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests.
Let's see- French Revolution was 1789 - this sounds about right. Except I don't think I'm cynical. I like to think I'm a realist rather than an ideologue. Maybe that's what they're saying. Thanks to Flea for the link.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Another day for progress

Rascal Flatts have a song out called Mayberry, about a longing for the world that television show represented. It has a couplet that has always struck home with me:
Sunday used to be a day of rest, Now it's one more day for progress.
As someone who is new to thinking about himself in Christian terms, the whole concept of a Sabbath was one I have had to reflect on. I certainly don't spend all of my Sundays refraining from work and studying the Bible, but I have to come to respect the idea of a family and communal day. How often do we complain that we have no time for the people we love? For things we love to do? Who has not rued not speaking to an old friend because "I haven't had time." Who hasn't sighed that the gardening or some other favorite hobby is coming along poorly because "I haven't had time." Who hasn't wondered why their family isn't closer, or that they don't know who their neighbors are? How much could we improve these things by making better use of Sundays? If we all settle on one day for such things, we would have a lot less hassle scheduling time to spend with one another. The Sabbath and what we've done to it were brought to my mind by the first passage in this Sunday's reading, from Amos, a rather scary figure from the old Testament:
"When will the new moon be over," you ask, "that we may sell our grain, and the Sabbath, that we may display the wheat? We will diminish the ephah, add to the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating! We will buy the lowly man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!"
Gutting Sunday shopping laws was passed as a way of increasing freedom, but freedom for who?And for what? If you have money you can go shopping on Sunday. That's a minor perk. But what about all the clerks and other people who now work Sundays, who are robbed of that time? They will have more money than before, it's true, but they've lost something as well. I would never seek to have Sunday shopping banned again. I don't oppose it on church and state grounds because everyone would be free to spend Sunday as they wished. You don't have to go to church. I would oppose it because I think it goes too far in terms of having morality legislated. People have to want to do the things that are good for them if they are to really appreciate them. Christians might get a better reception from the world if they were less quick to try and use government as a lever to produce the society they want. Social change is tougher than that. You have to convince people by argument and by example. But make no mistake, Sunday shopping favours those with the cash. They still have their leisure. Those without loose a day of rest and have their family life diminished. And we all have less of a community to share, in exchange for trinkets. I'm not above criticism on this count.

Reuters joins CNN on the bench

Makes room for CanWest to join the majors Kudos to CanWest for calling a terrorist a terrorist. Many, including The Last Amazon, will be happy to hear it. Reuters is among the worst of the major western news services, where I would also place the BBC and the CBC. Unsurprisingly, Reuters is not happy about the changes CanWest made to Reuters wire stories:

Our editorial policy is that we don't use emotive words when labeling someone," said David A. Schlesinger, Reuters' global managing editor. "Any paper can change copy and do whatever they want. But if a paper wants to change our copy that way, we would be more comfortable if they remove the byline."

Mr. Schlesinger said he was concerned that changes like those made at CanWest could lead to "confusion" about what Reuters is reporting and possibly endanger its reporters in volatile areas or situations.

"My goal is to protect our reporters and protect our editorial integrity," he said.

Reuters has long claimed, delusionally, that by dropping the word "terrorist," they are somehow adding to the "objectivity" of their reporting. I say that by dropping the word they are whitewashing what major actors around the world are doing. Look, a terrorist is someone who 1) does not distinguish between a combatant and a civilian and usually prefers a softer civilian victim. A terrorist 2) claims that the ends justify the means. Terrorism has nothing whatsoever to do with economics. That is a smear we hear from terrorists and their apologizers, one that is designed to confuse and paralyze any response. It is rooted in Marxist writing and thought and by now we ought to know what a pile that stuff has been. When you hear a terrorist ask about "who the real terrorists are" he is babbling pseudo Marxist garbage and should be called on it by any reporter worth the name. Reuters claims that by whitewashing their reports, they are protecting reporters. I say, groups that harass reporters should be cut off. Don't air their videos either. Eventually they will beg for some means to get their word out, probably by a temporary ceasefire - and that's better than no ceasefire. I don't see blogs changing this. Bodies like the CRTC have to help by keeping things like Al Jezeera out of Canada. It is an act that would help to justify the existence of a governmental body like that. CNN was even more blunt last year. They said they had to be in Iraq, even if it meant spoon feeding Ba'athist garbage to the world, because if they were not, then others would be and CNN would be getting scooped. This is short term thinking. When those news sources are revealed to have caved in to totalitarian lies they will be discredited. How can it be "objective" to cover for people who would remove your freedom to report the news in a way that you feel is "objective?" How can it be "objective" to watch terrorists place a bomb in the road and not warn people that it is there? How can that not be collaboration? If you agree with these sentiments, you can help by canceling any subscription you have when that publication whitewashes terror. And don't forget to tell them why you're doing it. That would get the attention of people like David A. Schlesinger real fast.

You're not paranoid

when they really are out to get you Why is the coverage of Nigerian yellowcake uranium so low key now? I almost missed this update and to my eyes this is a story with the potential for legs:
The Italian businessman at the centre of a furious row between France and Italy over whose intelligence service was to blame for bogus documents suggesting Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy material for nuclear bombs has admitted that he was in the pay of France. ... Italian diplomats have claimed that, by disseminating bogus documents stating that Iraq was trying to buy low-grade "yellowcake" uranium from Niger, France was trying to "set up" Britain and America in the hope that when the mistake was revealed it would undermine the case for war, which it wanted to prevent.
Why is it that when this guy's story can be used against Bush, it's all we hear about. Now that story takes a turn somewhat in favour of the Republicans - it's not all gravy because the fake should still have been caught before was trotted out in favour of going to war - now it's kinda quiet. In most cases I'd put the limited coverage up to simple things. Many editors feel the public is tired of the story, which they might be, and that it is getting confusing who said what to whom. Who can tell who is reliable? And the editors themselves just don't like the story. It goes against their personal political hopes and beliefs, objectivity be darned. Memogate just might indict the media even farther, as it appears, circumstantially, that CBS and the Democrats might (might) have colluded to smear Bush. As we learn here, CBS begins the story September 8 and the Democrats start their "Fortunate Son" ad campaign September 9. The Dems just happened to have everything ready to go and the story happened to break the day before? What are the odds? About the same that a 70's era typewriter would create column returns that match MS Word? It's all kind of smelly.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Geeks in Love

Have I mentioned that I have a wedding anniversary coming up? I was just digging through my old pictures and thought I'd share one. Weren't we cute? We really did meet on the web you know. Posted by Hello

If dogs could blog...

What browser would bowser use? Ach. My inner journalist got carried away with the headline. If you're a pet owner, you'll probably love this cartoon (click to enlarge). If you're not, you'll probably just shake your head. I think they'd use Firefox, which just released a new version, PR1 (preview release number one). It looks like they're getting ready for the release of 1.0. I don't normally rush out and try beta ware but I have found Firefox to be a real joy to use, for too many reasons to list. Its smart layout and uncluttered layout would be at the top though. More and more in the software I use, I appreciate programs that show maturity. They're well thought out and stable. They do not take the swiss army knife or kitchen sink approach that Microsoft is infamous for. I have not yet tried PR1 and am leary to make the jump because at this point it appears that my extensions might not work or carry over (I'm sure that'll be temporary). I am looking forward to 1.0, however. Here is a story on one of the guys making it happen.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

The Lord of Rings re-casted

This recasting of The Lord of the Rings with present day politicians is amusing.

A "little" Chesterton

1874- 1936 It's a very rainy day on the wet coast of Canada today; a good day for blogging. Sadly, our summer ended quite early and abruptly this year -about mid August. I wanted to put up a quote from G.K. Chesterton's book, Orthodoxy, about the virtues of being married (my anniversary is coming up quickly; see #5). But as usual with this book, I could not put it down. It's probably one of the best books I think I've ever read. So instead of one, you can have twelve. Quotes from "Orthodoxy": 1) The modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but also the doctrine by which he denounces it 2) It is easy to see why a legend is treated, and ought to be treated, more respectfully than a book of history. The legend is generally made by the majority of people in a village, who are sane. The book is generally written by the one man in the village who is mad. 3) Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be alive. 4) Tradition asks us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our father. 5) Keeping to one woman is a small price to pay for so much as seeing one woman. 6) What is the evil of the man commonly called an optimist? ... The optimist, wishing to defend the world, will defend the indefensible. He is the jingo of the universe... He will not wash the world, but whitewash the world. 7) The moment we have a fixed heart we have a free hand. 8) That Jones shall worship the god within him means only that Jones shall worship Jones... Christianity came into the world firstly in order to assert with violence that a man had not only to look inwards, but to look outwards... The only fun of being Christian was that a man was not left alone with the Inner Light, but defiantly recognized an outer light, fair as the sun... 9) It is easy to be a modernist; as easy as it is to be a snob... It is always easy to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands. 10) Darwinism can be used to back up two mad moralities, but not a single sane one... That you and the tiger are one may be a reason for being tender to a tiger. Or it may be a reason for being as cruel as a tiger. 11) ... only with original sin can we at once pity the beggar and distrust the king. 12) I want to adore the world not as one likes a looking glass, because it is one's self, but as one loves a woman, because she is entirely different. Posted by Hello

Fifty Memogate Cartoons

Also, Bush looks like a chimp and is a bad man Ratherbiased has 50 cartoons on memogate. Some of them are great. If you can't read it here, the full sized version is at Ratherbiased. Posted by Hello

Communists for Kerry

Warning: Sarcasm and Irony ahead There's some funny stuff at Communists for Kerry.com. Love the .com at the end of that. Kind of a giveaway. Shoulda been .org ;-) Posted by Hello

Friday, September 17, 2004

Brute Facts and Meta Ethics

Johnny Dee has a good, smart little series of entries on his blog, Fides Quaerens Intellectum (say it three times fast) on Meta Ethics, and he concludes beautifully:
Supernatural essentialism avoids the Euthyphro dilemma entirely by suggesting that God is essentially good in his being, so he does not have to measure moral standards by something outside of his being. Thus, God wills moral properties to exist, and yet he could not have willed just any moral values. This is no real limitation on his power or goodness though, just as God's inability to lie is not such. The main objection to this position is the inquirying mind who wants to know on what basis is God considered to be good. But asking this question misses the point of essentialism. God by his very nature is good, so nothing makes him good; he simply is good. This is parallel to the divine attribute of aseity--that God's existence is not supported by anything else; he simply exists. These are, for me, "brute facts," and I am happy leaving them brutely stop with a being like God. Is this account of moral grounding a little mysterious? Yes. But it satisfies all of the major questions a meta-ethical theory should in a non-problematic way. If there is any breakdown, it is in one's understanding of God, but that is a completely different issue.
"Is this account of moral grounding a little mysterious? Yes. But it satisfies all of the major questions a meta-ethical theory should in a non-problematic way." I have no idea what branch of Christianity Dee follows. But the conclusion, with the emphasis on and acceptance of mystery, sounds Catholic. I'm happy to say that I solved this problem my own, after becoming aware of it, which kinda vindicates my theory that my education after leaving University was better and cheaper than it was inside the ivory tower. Where did I go after getting my BA? Well, the call it the University of Amazon.com. Oh, that and that internet thingie. Solving this problem was one of the major steps in conquering the agnostic naturalism that I fell into by default. There was an earlier problem too, which Dee alludes to, and that was the non cognitive approach that a narrow reading of Darwin (the most common one) had me stumped on for a while. I hope to explore it here sometime soon.

When you're holding a hammer...

Everything looks like a nail In doing this blog I have come across a larger number of blogs than I ususally do, and it has been a pleasure to find a few jems. Bill Vallicella's Maverick Philosopher is amazing. I will leave one quote, from the many I could have used:
There are other people for whom truth counts for nothing, but power for everything. They interpret every type of interpersonal transaction as a power struggle. Thus if you calmly try to persuade such a person of the truth of some proposition by appealing to facts and reasoning correctly from them, he will interpret that as nothing but an attempt to dominate him psychologically. Such people are utterly blind to the fact that truth can sometimes be attained by dialectical means. They project their own lust for power into everyone else interpreting everything that is manifestly not a power-move as latently a power move.
Every Marxist professor I even had spoke and thought just like this. My Union acts like this. They cannot seem to comprehend this at all. It's really weird but Liberals think we are determined by our surroundings, like we were cabbages or something. Then they turn around and say we need to change the environment to get better cabbages. How can a cabbage question or alter it's environment or itself? One explanation is that they think other people, people they look down upon, are determined, but they, the aristocratic ubermensch, are free. They'll never admit it though. Ok, so I wiggled two quotes in there.

Friday Night Silliness

More light material here. Recognize these folks? I Thought you might. Their schtick is getting mighty old, mighty fast.

Gabba Gabba, Hey!

From National Review:
On Thursday it was announced that guitarist Johnny Ramone, one of the great independent-minded rockers, died in his sleep after battling prostrate cancer for the last five years. He was 55 years old. Born John Cummings, he was one of the founding members of the legendary American punk-rock band the Ramones (named after an alias that Paul McCartney used when checking into hotels). ... Johnny Ramone, was indeed, an unforgettable character. While the Ramones were being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, Johnny took his opportunity at the microphone to make his allegiances known. "God bless President Bush," he said, "and God bless America." Bedecked in his trademark torn jeans and black leather motorcycle jacket, he understatedly thumbed his nose at he lockstep orthodoxy of the rock establishment. Now, that is punk rock. ... Ramone had an eclectic collection of friends who included shock rocker Rob Zombie, provocative filmmaker Vincent Gallo, and Bush-basher Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. After Vedder impaled a mask of President Bush during a concert, Ramone tried to convince him of how alienating his political theater was for fans.

"I try to make a dent in people when I can," he said. "I figure people drift toward liberalism at a young age, and I always hope that they change when they see how the world really is."

I think most of The Ramones are gone now. The band did go through a few lineup changes. I discovered them well after their hey day but when I found them, I loved them. It was fun, silly stuff. They'll be missed.
Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The Strength of Tradition

I've been meaning to point out this column by David Warren, who's stuff is always very good. It just dawned on me that I can use it to further explain my post yesterday on the controversy at the Toronto Film Festival. A big quote follows (emphasis mine):

A great advantage of this Christian worldview -- on which our State and nation were founded, and which was once taught in our schools and upheld in law -- was its internal coherence. The greatest minds through twenty centuries had thought through the legal implications, but more profoundly, "discovered" layer behind layer of morality, written into nature. There is a moral order in the world, a law behind human law, and indeed all the "great religions" allow that good is good, and evil evil. Today, none of this is possible, for Christian or any other religious reasoning is ruled out of court, and all judgments must stand or fall on "pure reason". Which is a problem, because pure reason is no more apparent than God or the human soul. Which is to say, absolutely obvious to the eyes of faith, and otherwise invisible. The removal of the postulated God and human soul from public philosophy thus leaves a system of legal reasoning that makes no sense. We have, in effect, a worldview that makes "demonization" illegal, but cannot acknowledge the defining demon. Meanwhile it invents new crimes, and forgets old ones, while flailing about in the de-oxygenated chamber of "pure reason". There were many random directions we could have gone, after the supply of oxygen was cut off, but the one we seem to have hit upon is to define "crime" as belief in the existence of crime itself. The worst human deed is now to demonize something -- a person, group, practice, object, whim, or ... anything at all.
This is exactly right. We are now headed to a place where we have to defend finding a discussion of cat killing offensive, even evil (The film "Casuistry" at the Toronto Film Festival). We have to defend wanting to keep children away from adults who want to drug them and molest them (Robin Sharpe). We have to defend the notion that Criminals should not be allowed to threaten members of the public while in jail (Mark Emory). We have to defend these positions anew because we can't seem to allow ourselves to use tradition as a defense anymore. This is not to say that changes are not possible, but any science student knows that in an experiment you alter only one variable at a time. Otherwise there's no way to follow the chain of causation. Not that science is a model for social issues anyway. Controlling the variables on a society wide scale would involve coercion beyond toleration and (thank goodness) our abilities. Tradition means evolved solutions to social problems. The idea that we can think up "perfect" solutions is childish, reckless and dangerous. Change must be evolutionary, not revolutionary, or we risk not knowing up from down. We run the of risk having to re-build the wheel, if we can.

Something about Mary

I'm new to Catholicism and one of the most puzzling things I have learned since becoming interested in the old Church is how some other Christian groups accuse us of worshiping Mary. It's pretty plain that there is only one triune God and that Mary is not part of God or God-like. She is revered, however, as being first among humans. John Paul II says that the sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary are a source of inspiration and consolation for believers facing the difficulties of everyday life:
Father Stefano De Fiores, professor of Mariology at several pontifical universities, explained on Vatican Radio that the liturgical memorial of the Our Lady of Sorrows is much cherished by Catholics because "people identify with Mary and see in her the expression of their pain." "However, it is salvific, not desperate, pain -- a pain that, despite the harshness of the suffering, is mitigated by faith in the Resurrection, as Mary precedes others in faith," the theologian said. ... "This is the Gospel of suffering," he added, "the joyful news that even loneliness or the worst moments the human psyche can experience can be transformed into acts of faith, hope and love."
"The worst moments the human psyche can experience can be transformed into acts of faith, hope and love." This is powerful stuff. It is just what our me me me culture of nothing I want can be denied me 'cuz I have rights culture needs.

Nice Blog

Minority of One is a pretty ice blog. Quote:
Paul Martin Jr is well on his way to becoming the worst prime minister in Canada's history. Worse than Joe Clark. He committed political regicide, lost the Lib majority and has already shown he is incapable of governing. Perhaps Jr should just go back to running CSL, where he can bark orders to flunkies and know they will be obeyed. As a prime minister, he is a total washout. The only remaining question is whether the Libs will have time to dump him before the next election.
And the author lives in Ontario. In Ottawa. Go figure. I think it might be a bit early to call PM the PM, the worst PM in history, but I can't deny that the signs are tending to point that way. I love it when he turns all red and throws his hands around and says things like "let me very clear...." And then proceeds to spew liberal gibberish that amounts to "please like me, please like me, I'll be your friend, I'll buy us all ice cream...." Come to think of it, maybe I don't like it all that much. It wasn't all that much fun in third grade either.

Daily Kerry Dis

New polls and new woes for the Kerry campaign:
The Fox News poll asked Kerry supporters if their vote for the Democrat could best be described as motivated by support for Kerry (41 percent) or by opposition to Bush (51 percent). By contrast, Bush voters emphatically say, by 82-13, that they are voting for the president rather than against the challenger.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Intelligent debate

Leading up to the film festival, animal rights activists had demanded that "Casuistry" be pulled from the program. ... [Toronto Film] festival co-director Noah Cowan rejected the calls. "Film festivals exist, in part, to generate intelligent, reasoned discussion, not to stifle it," he said in a statement before the festival began.
Bless the kind souls who are pushing to take a discussion of the possible glories of animal torture off of the screens of Toronto. Because if they succeed we may be able to delay cinemas showing films discussing things that are even worse. These kids committed an act of that was utterly horrific and pointless, which they then tried to justify by using the relativistic crap they learned in "art" school. Is it any wonder "art" schools and "artists" are so widely held in such disrepute?

Emory is Kind Da Offside

There is a raging debate in Canada over the legal status of marijuana, and no where more so than in Vancouver B.C., home to some of the most loud mouthed and aggressive potheads in the country. Now, I don't care for drugs, but I will allow that there is room for debate over how such substances ought to be handled. The usual methods of debate should be good enough - flyers, newspapers, political debates, and so on. There have been some changes to our laws recently, notably the change to allow the consumption of pot to relieve pain, on a doctor's orders. The changes we have seen to date are not good enough for many of those who want full liberalization. Many of them want what they want right now. Which brings me to the subject of the Da Kind Cafe in Vancouver, and Mark Emory of the Marijuana Party, who is currently residing in a Saskatchewan jail. Both the cafe and Emory have taken their debates over the line. They are offside. Emory, in a dumb stunt, intentionally got himself arrested in order to prove he was an idiot. Oh, sorry, he wanted to prove that we are idiots. Boring story so far, I know. But now that Emory is in jail, he is using his time in the "slammer" to blog about his experiences, which you can read about on the B.C. Marijuana Party website. The Vancouver Province is reporting today, in an article by John Ferry (subscriber only) that Emory has used his internet access to ask his followers to picket and harass a woman in the neighborhood of the Da Kind cafe, simply because she was concerned that there was an elementary school nearby. Emory is reported to have asked people to picket her and call her a "Nazi." Her van has had a nail put into the tire. Even if no direct connection can be made between Emory's fatwa and the harassment she is now under, why is Emory allowed to have access to his blog while he is in jail? I could not find the entry asking marijuana activists to go on the offensive, so I maybe lazy and blind, or perhaps it has been deleted. There is no right to the internet in Canada. Denying Emory the internet would do not great harm. Do we allow more serious criminals the internet? Hell's Angels, the Mob, Triads? Maybe Al-Quaeda? They would likely be in a higher security jail, but we are so lame on justice issues I'm not much reassured. As for Da Kind, and even the Marijuana Party generally, does no one ask who their major donors are? How much can you raise from people immersed in the drug culture? There are working people who use the stuff but they are probably responsible enough to vote for larger parties because they know the country faces more serious problems. The responsible marijuana activist would do well to follow that route too. I suspect the people with the greatest interest in forcing the issue are the dealers themselves - Emory is an admitted dealer, for example. The operators of Da Kind are reported to have criminal records for fraud. Would it surprise anyone if they were merely a front for a larger, more motivated party that can't be seen to be trying to change public policy?

Rather pathetic

Dan Rather says:
If you can'’t deny the information, then attack and seek to destroy the credibility of the messenger, the bearer of the information. And in this case, it’s change the subject from the truth of the information to the truth of the documents. This is your basic fogging machine, which is set up to cloud the issue, to obscure the truth.

Since when is the onus on anyone to believe Dan Rather and 60 Minutes? You have an accusation, back it up. Or shut up. Somebody - let's say it's me - types a document in MS Word to the effect that Dan Rather is full of crap. Ok Dan, answer the question. I have the documents to "prove" it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Anything for a buck

I made the mistake of perusing the local paper tonight (and it was the "good" one too) only to see the letters section still debating Michael Moore's idiotic 9-11 movie. For heavens sake, why? The guy who liked the film had a paranoid list of U.S. Atrocities and falsehoods that was missing only the fake moon landings and the UFO parts being kept in Roswell. The letter writer in question also knew - for a fact - that the U.S. sunk it's own ship, the USS Maine, as a pretext to start the Spanish American war. They also killed only black sailors in doing so. Don't ask how that's possible, or how the nutjobs come to know these things. They just know, y'know? Moore's questioning of the president is not a bad thing. But his line of questioning is so weak it must be dismissed. If you can call the president a fascist in the media and not go to jail, you are rather obviously wrong on that point. Why is no one asking questions about U.S. overreach? About what might happen to Iran in a second Bush term? About what might happen to Taiwan (for example) if the U.S. is seen worldwide as being stretched to the limit by being in Iraq and Afghanistan? There are good questions to be asked. To return to my point, why do such stupid, ranting accusations continue to get printed? Because very few people in the media actually subscribe to the notion that they have a duty to tell the truth. They see the truth as being irrelevant to what they do. What they do, really, is sell papers. And they will do anything, print anything, say anything, to achieve that end. Under the old paradigm, media outlets sold their credibility, and they had to be wary of what they published lest they sully that reputation. Letters for and against Moore get people riled up. The sell ads. The merit of Moore's attack on the presided is utterly beside the point. Record companies that sell profane, sexist crap to kids are doing the same thing. So are women's magazine's that scream "you need to buy this" and fill their with sludge extolling the virtues of the products advertised in their pages. There's a word for people who'll do anything for a buck... Maybe it's not all their fault. Maybe they were just raised that way. Brainwashing 101 :: AcademicBias.com

What's wrong with this picture?

Like any blog that is trying to establish itself, NWW has been seeking out well placed links, in an effort to get people to come and have a look. That means I've been adding myself to blog rings and directories, among other things. One of the major blog directories in Canada appears to be Blogs Canada. It's a useful site and they did give me the little "thumbs up" symbol when they listed me under What's New. But what is wrong with this picture? You guessed it. Under Politics, they have two categories - Politics General and Politics Right. Why are they separating right leaning blogs from the others? That's ok, but why not call the other category Politics Left? As it is, the directory structure suggests that there are "normal political views" and then there are those, ugh, right wing people. I'm not going to honour the modern Canadian tradition and ask for a CRTC review or anything like that. Blogs Canada can set themselves up however they like. But I wonder if we ought to tell them we think it makes them look mighty partial. How about it? Especially everyone flying under the Red Ensign? Any ideas or opinions? ********* PS. Flea kindly points out that Blogs Canada does have a Politics Left section. The dirty rats. It turns out that their table runs left to right and not top to bottom as I had supposed. D-oh!

Dan Rather blows up Self, Kerry

Dan and John go boom Things are not going well for dear John Kerry and now the Fake Memo story is making his odds even longer. Unless you think some Republican planted fake memos at CBS, to make the Dems look bad. And if you think that, you need to refresh yourself with Occam's Razor. Am I the only one who thinks it is very odd that no major Canadian news outlet is reporting on this story? Nothing on The National Post this morning and nothing on Canoe News as of 4.20pm Pacific. Maybe they really are all on Kerry's side. Memo to major Canadian media: You suck. Imagine the surprise in Canada the day after the Election, and Bush wins by a decent margin (not a landslide). Canadians wake up and ask, "How did that happen? We didn't see it coming." Dan Rather is being such zero about the whole thing too. As Jonah Goldberg at National Review points out,
... it seems impossible that [Rather] can prove they [the Killian memos] are real. Indeed, Rather has already largely conceded all this. His defenses are all about how you can't prove the documents are false, as if the burden of proof for a journalistic icon is for other people to prove what he says is wrong rather than for him to prove it is right.
Rather must think he works in an Ottawa sinecure of some sort. I also agree with Goldberg when he says:
we are officially at the Goodbye To All That moment of old media.
But only a handful of people know it yet. The major media are wary but concede nothing. The man on the street doesn't know what a blog is. This will take some time to play out, but we just might have the makings of a Linux style news reporting here. And that isn't all positive. Linux is reportedly a really solid operating system, but most people can't use it. Like me, for example. So what will happen when people who can't use logical precepts like Occam's Razor, start to attempt to get their news from Blogs? Or at the very least, to vet the news through blogs? My guess is that we'll see a lot more of groups like Moveon.org trying to sell paranoia and despair. And they'll have some takers, I have no doubt.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Hello! and Thank you!

A big red Hello! to anyone visiting from Catholic and Enjoying it! and also to anyone from the Red Ensign Blogs. And thanks to Mark and Nick for helping me to gain a wee bit of attention. This is my first attempt at blogging, so I'd love to hear your comments and suggestions. I am a Canadian guy who completed the R.C.I.A. program this past spring and I am awaiting, along with my wife, the results of an annulment tribunal. As new Catholics to be, we are interested, motivated, and a bit unsure about all of the details of our faith. So we read and we share with the blogosphere. This blog is the more political and philosophical one, my wife's, Doxology, is more personal. Make yourselves at home... and don't forget to bookmark us.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

The destruction of Canadian History

Canada, the first country in the EU A bit of Canadian history, from February 15, 1965:

The Canadian Red Ensign, bearing the Union Jack and the shield of the royal arms of Canada, was lowered and then, on the stroke of noon, our new maple leaf flag was raised. The crowd sang the national anthem O Canada followed by the royal anthem God Save the Queen.

The following words... added further symbolic meaning to our flag: "The flag is the symbol of the nation's unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion."

The Red Ensign was the product of 250 or so years of Canadian History, as was, it should be noted, the constitution as it exited prior to Trudeau. The old flag remarks on Canada's British and maritme roots and had a bit to mark each province as they were added. Then, poof. We get this red and white abstraction that means nothing, says nothing, is nothing. Because it's from nowhere. I'm not being cute here. That's what was intended. "Beyond any doubt, [the flag] represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion." Why emphasize it so? If it were true, there would be no need. It's like a person who says, "I'm as good as you." If they really thought so, why say it? The second part simply says Canada's history is no longer relevant to how we intend to govern. The constitution is simply the fulfillment of what the flag ceremony intended. The current Canadian flag is like those new Euro bills with pictures of buildings that don't exist. I got to thinking about this after seeing a number of Canadian blogs aligned under the Red Ensign. Which I might like to add to NWW.

Cold Mountain

Film Review I was reluctant at first to see Cold Mountain. The war in Iraq was getting hot and I was hearing about how it was a critique of American "Yankee" militarism. Geez. That's a brave and usual stance these days. It's not that the U.S. is beyond criticism, it's just that most such criticism is so stupid, especially if it is coming from Hollywood. Then I learned that Anthony Minghella, who had done The English Patient, was the director. I really enjoyed The English Patient and decided to give the new effort a whirl. I was not disappointed. It is a somewhat dark film, but not nearly as dark as it might have been. If you watch the cut scenes on the second disc, especially the one with Natalie Portman, you can see that there was a danger of the film falling into an unintended comic morbidity. As it is, the film is quite good, beautiful to look at, well cast and well acted. Rene Zellweger steals the show, with the best performance I have ever seen her do, and all of the best lines. Nicole Kidman, who has always been so easy to look at, finally lands in a film that does her justice; she can certainly act. Jude Law is very fine as the stolid Inman and the supporting cast is sharp as well. The film's stance towards war is a bit of "a pox on both your houses," but the measure and type of pox dealt out is different and revealing. The Yankees, from the beginning, are shown to be ruthless, cold, mechanical and overly confident that the rightness of their cause will justify any atrocity on their part. There are shades of the Abu Gharib issue here. But the worst criticism, I think, is on the South, who are naive in the extreme about the nature of the conflict they face, and what it is they are fighting for. The South did have a few things worth fighting for - protecting states right vs. Federal encroachment being one, but the main issue was undoubtedly slavery. Most of the men doing the fighting did not even own slaves and they allowed themselves to be led to slaughter by the weak Confederate leadership. By foolishly choosing to enter a war they could not win, the Confederates brought terrible hardship to the entire U.S., but particularly to the south. Recently in Iraq, we have seen the U.S. deaths in action pass the 1,000 mark. Every one of those is a tragedy but in historical terms the Iraq war remains (and I hope will stay) a tea party. Deaths in the U.S. Civil War were something like one half million. In a part of the country that was rural and agricultural, and with a fighting strength of just over 1/3 of the north, and nowhere near the industrial capacity, it was sheer foolishness to allow the conflict to take place. Entering and thereby losing the war meant that the social fabric of the south was rent apart, and we see this in the film, in Inman's Odysseus like journey home, and in the degeneration of the small town of Cold Mountain. I have not been able to learn too much about the author of the book, about his intentions for the story, but it seemed like a very Christian tale to me. Inman is a sort of Christian everyman, enduring hell and wondering all the time, why me? Why do I suffer so? And the midpoint of the film is his meeting with the old hermit woman in the woods. I have heard her described as a witch, which seems to me wildly inappropriate. "Bird eats a seed, shits a seed, the seed grows," she says. "Bird has a purpose, shit has a purpose, seed has a purpose." There's a lot of religion and philosophy in that little statement, and it isn't necessarily pagan. It makes me want to take a look at the Book of Job, in fact. And (spoiler warning) the purpose of Inman's survival does seem to have a bit to do with seeds. The old woman's kindess to Inman and her attitude towards her goats are worth pondering. Rene Zellweger has a good line too, when she says, referring to the disastrous war, "They complain that it's raining outside, but it's them that made it rain!" (paraphrase). A good deal of the suffering we face is God's only indirectly; we do it to ourselves and to one another but have a hard time recognizing this. Inman rejects the war, recognizing how it is hopeless and how it eats at him. He also rejects the nihilism that grips the South as it's people begin to realize the scope of the catastrophe. Inman remains true to what a reasonable Christian would recognize as a Christian code of behavior, even allowing for the Spartan nature of his "wedding" to Ada. Inman is no Pharisee. There aren't too many movies that I see twice in one week. Recommended. Posted by Hello