Opportunity looks back

The Mars Rover 'Opportunity' takes a look back at the 4 inch sand dune it was stuck in for 5 weeks.

Can you imagine being part of the crew that for FIVE WEEKS sent distance delayed signals to the Rover telling it to go left, right, back, forth, etc. in an effort to free itself? Marking progress in fractions of an inch, hoping winds will blow to keep sand off the solar collectors, and all the while knowing that some numbnut bureaucrat could pull the plug on you and declare the Rover 'lost'?

Scientists and engineers don't get enough credit for their brilliance, but in this case they should get an award for their perserverence and patience.

Team Canada Invitees Announced

I guess my only surprises are the geezer contingent, and some of the checkers.

Lemieux, no matter how healthy should be invited. Just having him in the same dressing room as the rest of the players makes us better, and if healthy, there is no offensive force (save Jagr on the Czechs) who approaches him.

But Yzerman...I am iffy on. He's got serious wheel problems now, he hasn't had a full productive season in his last three, and IMO he duplicates much of what Lemieux already brings to the table leadership wise, without bringing the same level of offense.

I've never had a problem with Kris Draper being one of the teams designated checkers - the fact is the speedy pivot has evolved into one of the best shadows in the league, he can skate with anyone, and he has enough ability to score timely goals.

But Kirk Maltby? C'mon. He's a lower rent version of Darren McCarty without the fisticuff ability. As a 2 minutes a game checker he'll be fine, but I would have preferred more speed and skill then he can bring.

Our goaltending? Still the best in the world by a wide margin. Our #4 guy (Turco) would start for any other nation. Brodeur is King, and Luongo is his eventual successor.

Lastly, who did Paul Kariya piss off to get himself univited to these international events? He used to be a fixture on Team Canada. Is it his defense (or lack thereof)? Has his attitude towards Team Canada been soured? Or vice versa? As a top flight scoring winger with wicked wheels he last made an impact for Canada at the Olympics, and since then has been shut out of all tourneys thereafter. Just a question.


The 'Theory' of Gravity

Another gem from the Swift Report. Simply awesome.

Change from Democracy to Theocracy will take time

I just wish I was this smart. Or smart ass.

Culture jamming

The concept is simple, take your favourite album cover and photoshop it into a critique of consumer culture by making an ad out of it.

This was my favourite (if only because Ministry rules), but the link will take you to dozens more that are equally genius.

Chantal Hebert on Stephen Harper

Hat tip to Doug for the link

Which reminds me, I also owe Bob a bow for his as yet uncredited submissions so far.

As for Hebert, I think she gets it right. Harper is anti-gay, and anti-Quebec, and his own statements/actions hang him.

Is it too late to get Peter McKay to run the party?

My journey to the darkside

...to being a full-blown nerd that is.


Proud to be a 'Darwinbot'

I actually had to do a double take after stumbling across this site.

After reading it for a bit though I realized that I am without a doubt her enemy - I am one of those who worship in the 'Church of Sagan and Dawkins', a 'Darwin Fundamentalist', and so on. Part of a wide secularist conspiracy to supress scientific facts about the challenges to Darwin, etc.

Now running across this kind of cheerful anti-science isn't what was surprising, what was unexpected was that she's a Canadian.


The Project for Perpetual Global Domination

Whenever I consider re-evaluating my disgust at the current Republican regime, I just have to visit this website to remind me of why they are so repugnant.

And yet they wonder why nobody other than those they bought and paid for leapt to their aid in the invasion?

Money quotes:

"We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership" (emphasis mine)

"America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of this century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership." (emphasis mine)

Now check out the names at the bottom of this document, no doubt, some of them will be very familiar....

Civilization IV

The good news: multi-player capabilities have been expanded, the leaders for each nation state include a variety of personalities (i.e. Catherine the Great behaves differently than say Stalin), permanent alliances have been added and expanded, and they have tweaked the gameplay to allow for much faster games.

The bad news: It has all been 'cutesie-fied' with animations and graphics that lower rather than raise the realism. Ugh. Units will have a single combat value rather than the old defense/attack/move values - which I see as a move backwards - the a/d/m ratings date way back to military board games and to lose that linkage (not to mention the flexability of building different units) just irritates me. They've also added religion as one of the factors your nation has to navigate - which is fine to a point, but couldn't they have added a different bonus for athiest countries who eschew religion alltogether?

So, is it the debacle that Moo3 was? I doubt it. That sucking sound can still be heard. Is it going to surpass the gameplay of Civ3 Conquests? I doubt that too. Am I going to buy it when it comes out? Of course.

A good old fashioned future

Solar Sailor reduced to coloured bits of metal and plastic

The combined Russia/US attempt at launching a solar sail vehicle was destroyed during take-off.

Suspended animation success!

Zombie wolves! The dead rise to walk the earth again!



Ann Coulter bathes In the blood of virgins

This had me in giggles for HOURS

MGM vs Grokster

The verdict is in, 9-0. But this Reason article suggests that realistically, nobody is happy.

Cassini orbits Saturn

He may be the Attorney General of Torture, but he's no prude.

"Hectice, baby, Mercator says hello to you"

Some things about human nature never change - a fact made apparent by this collection of graffiti found on the walls of Pompeii

Sleaze, religion, napalm, and patriotism

Sleaze - Democrats used to get flayed alive in public by the media and congress when getting caught doing stuff like this. Now, not so much.

The Christian Air Force Academy - My only advice would be to; apologize, move the worst offenders out, and move on.

Napalm - Apparently, it's fresh smell is still good in the morning.

Flag burning - Next up on the GOP agenda, the 'Mom and Apple Pie Act for America Act', or MAAPFA.

Open Marriages and Welfare Moms

An interesting take on why 'Open Marriages' are bad, based on a blog exchange of views between 'Gene Expression' and 'Bitch PHD'.

Here is a summary of GNXP's argument;

1. Open relationships are likely to cause sexual jealousy
2. Sexual jealousy is a powerful negative force in relationships
3. Sexual jealousy is evolutionarily hardwired.
4. Large % of divorces are caused by infidelity
5. Divorce leads to a drop in standard of living for the wife
6. Single mothers tend more often to end up on welfare, etc.

His conclusion (and this is my summary of it, not his) then being that because society as a whole is forced to pay for the single mom's on welfare, society should not endorse open marriages.

However, I think his argument is deeply flawed;

1. Open relationships are likely to cause sexual jealousy:

Ok, sure, but what is unique about that? Sexual jealousy occurs in traditional marriages, and all sorts of other lesser arrangements. It would have been interesting if he'd argued that Open Marriages have MORE sexual jealousy - but he doesn't, in part because I believe it wouldn't be true - Open Marriages have the sexual jealousy right up front and acknowledged in the basic make-up of the marriage itself. What makes sexual jealousy toxic would be to have a marriage where nobody was communicating about the sexual jealousy taking place.

2. Uncontroversial
3. Ditto.
4. Ditto - though what relevance infidelity has on divorce with regards to Open Marriages isn't established. Infidelity is 'cheating', and in an Open marriage this activity isn't cheating because assuming consent on all the parties to the extra-marital sex, no body is lacking in fidelity.
5. Uncontroversial
6. Ditto

Here's GNXP's conclusion;

"Open relationships are one thing when they're between partners that don't have kids. Even a total flameout has fairly isolated effects in that case. It's basically just a bad breakup due to sleeping around, and no big deal from my perspective. Where the equation changes is when there's the possibility of having the taxpayer foot the bill for someone else's mistake."

Only he hasn't established his argument. First he fails because he hasn't established that;

-Open Marriages have an excess of sexual jealousy compared to other marriages

Secondly the argument fails because;

- his linkage of divorce to infidelity conflates infidelity with the very arrangement an Open Marriage legitimizes internally, and

Lastly assuming we overlook the flaws, the conclusion is still at best weak. Even if we accepted there is an increased possibility that an Open Marriage would end more often than other marriages in the single-mom on welfare - it doesn't follow that the institution (such as it is) of Open marriages is any less valid than any other form of marriage. Marriages aren't something to be judged by libertarian cost benefit analysis to society, they should be judged only by those who are actually in the marriage.

Consider an analgous case, assume we discovered Traditional Christian marriages had a higher divorce rate than other marriages (and thus more single moms on the dole), would we be correct in soliciting for the end to Traditional Christian marriages?

Panda's Thumb

Sites like the one these guys are running are more important now than ever. The enemies of empiricism won't be swayed by reason or evidence, and they do not sleep.


'Kelo' refers to the recent SCOTUS decision that allowed for the seizure of private property.

The link above is to 'PoliSci-FiBlog - where an excellent dismantlement of the decision is rendered. Of particular notice to myself was how much in agreement I found myself with, of all people, SCJ Clarence Thomas.

Add this to his medical marijuana dissent, and I am seeing a deeper and more coherent level of analysis than I ever expected from him.

Gonzales as SCOTUS nominee - half a justice?

Ponnuru from the National Review makes the case that Gonzales would be an ineffective GOP pick for SCOTUS because his work with the BushII administration would mean he would have to recuse himself from a number of issues related to his current work.

Conversely, it highlights why Gonzales might be perhaps the best option for Democrats as the replacement for a likely-to-retire Rehnquist.

Could it be that Democrats might actually support Gonzales knowing that he has baggage that would hinder his performance, that he isn't as ideologically fixed as other candidates, and that all things considered, the GOP could concievably cram someone far worse onto the court?


Nifty science blog that occasionally takes on the Creationists, ID proponents etc. of the world.

I lifted this section in particular for comment because it contrasts so nicely with the quote from Mencken I posted earlier. Here is an athiest of moderation, one who has subtlty and tact, but who nevertheless isn't afraid to call out the hypocrisy of the Theocratic enterprise when it arises.

Money quote; "But yes, in general, I do consider religion to be a kind of congealed ignorance, a pattern of behavior and thought that lacks a rational foundation other than tradition, social utility, and perhaps some biological basis."

A post-modern collision of iconic imagery

Harper's three strikes

It wasn’t so long ago that everything looked to be coming up roses for Stephen Harper and the new Conservative party. With the assistance of Peter McKay and Belinda Stronach, the split between the Reform party and the PC’s was sealed by McKay’s willing duplicity in dealing with the David Orchard wing, and by Stronach’s clear-headed negotiations that helped merge to the two parties back into a single Conservative force. The new alliance went through the election with a united ‘right wing’ option for voters to consider as an alternative to the Liberals – and speculation was that they might even be able to form the government if they got the long sought after breakthrough in Ontario.

A divided minority parliament quickly emerged from the election and while Harper didn’t have the seats to form the majority, he clearly looked like he held the upper hand. All he would need to call another election is to get the Bloc and independents to side with the Tories and they could bring down the government at their leisure.

Enter Harper’s first major mistake – Belinda Stronach.

After defeating Peter McKay to take his seat at the head of the party, Harper should have found a way to roll the moderate voice of Stronach into the party machinery. He should have found a way to capitalize on her personal popularity with Southern Ontario voters. He should have found a way to use her as the poster child for a ‘non-threatening’ brand of Conservative policy making that would offer a principled alternative to the Liberals and ND’s. Instead – he gassed it. Big time. Instead of embracing her, he ridiculed her in front of other key Tories. Instead of milking her qualities for the good of the party, Harper marginalized her. And when their single biggest vote came upon them, the chance to bring down the Liberals and launch the party forward with a new election, Harper’s miscalculation of Stronach’s ability to stomach his abuse lead her to walk across the floor to vote against him. Stronach’s jump to the Liberals wasn’t the death blow to the election Harper wants so badly (in retrospect the mortal wound might have been delivered by the idiot who failed to endorse Chuck Cadman as a Tory), but it was definitely a serious injury.

Whit the by-election in Labrador removing another opposition member in favour of another Liberal into caucus, the possibility for Harper's Tories to turf the Liberals became much less imminent.

Harper’s 2nd Mistake – know thy Parliamentary procedures

Harper’s gaff takes place when the Liberal/NDP coalition takes its budget to the floor for a vote. Long experienced in the minutiae of parliament, the Libs find an obscure procedural motion that allowed them to invoke cloture on the budget debate, and send it to the floor as a late evening surprise. The Tories are caught flat-footed as they race to get their members in to the house in time to vote the bill down. They don’t make it and the budget passes. As mistakes go, this isn’t a major one in terms of the actual error made, but it’s overall effects are devastating. Not being able to punt the coalition on the budget effectively reduces the options the Tories have for getting the election they crave – and so long as the coalition between the ND’s and Libs holds, they could conceivably continue to govern for almost the full term. Harper is left to rant to the National media about how craven the Liberals are in consorting with ‘socialists and separatists’, while trying not to swallow his own tongue at how bad things are turning for him.

Harper’s mistake #3 – the GM debate

Harper’s latest error is unlikely to be remembered as being anywhere near as bad as the previous two, but it strikes at what is wrong with his political radar. The Conservatives have a holdover of Reform members and policies that frankly, aren’t popular outside of Western conservative strongholds. In particular, the opposition to gay marriage is one item that Harper has consistently sought to use as a tool both to pander for support, and as a weapon against the Liberals. I find this position in general to be a monstrous error. First because he is standing at the foot of the sea and screaming for the tide to stop rolling in – GM is inevitable for Canada, given our Charter freedoms contain the specific ‘gender’ and ‘sexual orientation’ clauses that GM is built on. But Harper insists on hitching his wagon to the cause of stopping GM, knowing full well it is only playing to his base vote and isn’t making him any in-roads elsewhere.

Which leads us to the situation we have now, the GM bill is going to be passed this summer by the coalition and yet Harper continues to push his poker chips in to the pot in a bid to win with what is surely a losing hand. His latest efforts have Harper visiting a conservative Mosque where surrounded by deeply religious Moslems he rails against the Gm initiative. At the same time a record number of participants in Toronto’s gay pride festival hit the streets in celebration. Could the contrast be any more stark for the public to see? With Harper calculatedly playing to the surly Moslem opposition to gay marriage while gays, lesbians and their supporters engage in joyous public revelry?

His mono-vision efforts to fight GM have painted himself and his party into a tight corner, one where only the most somber, and reactionary religious leaders welcome him while everyone else parties in the street.

It’s time for the Conservatives to consider that Harper’s strengths; his anti-tax stance, his popularity within the West, his public speaking ability, and his innate intelligence, are not being played to. Instead, his image handlers place him in photo-ops with angry Moslem clerics hostile to Canadian pluralism, and he seems genuinely shocked that his party continues to plummet downward in the polls.

He’s taken a furious beating for his callow treatment of Stronach, he’s bungled the possibility of holding a new election that might fracture the Liberals further, and now he has swallowed the bait the Liberals offered on GM. With this hook lodged firmly in his throat, it only remains to be seen whether his political career will eventually choke to death on it.

Ignatieff looks at the transformation of Jeffersonian liberty

A long but very thorough examination of American self-assurance at exporting liberty abroad. Sober and unhysterical.

McCain crushes Clinton in 2008 - Zogby poll

The real problem isn't McCain vs. Clinton, it's getting McCain the GOP nomination over Bill Frist and the Theocrat wing. Can the Republicans be smart enough to nominate a centrist moderate like McCain?

Could Hilary pull a Paul Martin and somehow get McCain to be her VP pick? (I doubt it).

Don't count out either Kerry or Gore in 2008 yet. Both have solid political machines to work with, and both can legitimately see themselves as having been cheated by the BushII election mechanics giving them plenty of motivation. The smartest pick is Gore - at least he'd bring Tennessee with him, whereas Hilary and Kerry are part of the Northern Liberal wing of the Dems that seems to disconnect utterly with Southern Dems.

The evolution of planets

Still not ready for us move in to just yet, but it's nice to see that construction has started.


The bankruptcy of modern villainy

A perfect example of how our politicians and the media fail us by insisting on portraying everything in hysteria-type.

Our new US Ambassador

He is emminently qualified; he's a former legislative speaker being rewarded decades of faithful toadyism to his party, he's noted mostly for being deeply religious, and he's actually visited Canada once before in the 70's.

Colour me underwhelmed.

Quote of the day

"The meaning of religious freedom, I fear, is somtimes greatly misapprehended. It is taken to be a sort of immunity, not merely from governmental control, but also from public opinion. A dunderhead gets himself a long-tailed coat, rises behind the sacred desk, and emits such bilge as would gag a Hottentot. Is it to pass unchallenged? If so, then what we have is not religious freedom at all, but the most intolerable and outrageous variety of religious despotism." - H.L. Mencken, on the Scopes Trial.

I admit, I'm a sucker for Mencken. He is the unrestrained Id of the athiest, unmoderated by convention or propriety. What he lacks in subtlety and tact, he makes up for with sarcastic contempt and venom.

Replacing Rehnquist

The bad news? Alberto Gonzales might actually be the BEST we can hope for, and not the worst.

(Can't you just see it? Gonzales would forever be labeled 'Justice Torture' or 'Torquemada', and don't even contemplate the endless puns about his 'tortured logic')

The good news? Replacing Rehnquist with another conservative just maintains the status quo.

It only gets REALLY scarey if the Dub gets a second Supreme to retire.

Death of the Quick Fix

This is the official death knell of the old NHL's winner's buy-all structure. In the past the Rangers would approach the trade deadline with their pants down and a pocket book at hand. For a player they were interested in, no contract was too stupid to pursue. Need a 3rd line centre? Sign Bobby Holik to a $9M a year contract - and after all, why not? He's the best available guy, and you have pockets so deep that $9M a year is chump change to what you COULD spend. Need a superstar? Trade for Jagr's $11M a year deal. Need a defenseman with grit? Kasparaitis is available if you pay through the nose. And so it went.

Now the chickens have come home to roost, and the Rangers face the new salary cap with Jagr geting over a fifth of their cap space, and players like Holik and Kasparaitis impossible to fit in.

And with this news sanity has returned to the NHL.

Paying Holik $9M a year was in my opinion the worst example of the rich get the quick fix, and the small market teams get screwed. Holik should have been a Devil for the rest of his career (he was originally a Whaler), but to be fair, he opted for the ridiculous money that the Rangers offered, and he could have accepted almost as ridiculous money from Philly or Toronto. The Devils were never in the hunt, as Lamouriello had a ceiling for Holik's contract as a second line centre and refused to budge.

Now a team like the Devils will be able to hold on to Holik and Holik will be able to hold on to them. Iginla need never wear a jersey other than Calgary's (and Dallas' which he put on at the draft). The Phoenix Coyotes will finally be able to develop an identity. The Tampa Bay Lightning will have a chance to make a run at a dynasty.

And the Rangers? They get to learn how the rest of the league's GM's do their jobs.


Basketball Jones

I have in the last 6 weeks taken up playing basketball Wednesdays over my lunch hour. Being the meta-poolie-geek that I am I have habitually tracked my own stats for these 5 games (I missed one week with a work meeting).

Here is my stat line since the beginning;

Wk 1: 8 pts, 2 rbds, 0 ast, 1 blk, and one full blown cardiac arrest.

Wk 2: 10 pts, 1 rbd, 0 ass, 0 blk, and one hard foul delivered (a reaching in foul that ended up slapping the ball carrier in the face – mea culpa)

Wk 3: 12 pts, 2 rbds, 1 ast, 0 blk – and for the first time a sense that my hear was NOT going to explode half way through the game. It was also the first week with real athletic shorts instead of the crappy ancient pair I’d been wearing.

Wk 4, or as I refer to it ‘my Big game’; 18 pts, 2 rbds, 2 blks, and 3 asts. I was a monster in the paint, and finally had an entry for every stat. It was also my first game playing against someone both taller and heavier than I am (I'm 6’3, 195lbs) in the presence of my IT guy Scott who is 6’5 and 280(!) - he gleefully took on the job of guarding me. Despite having a certifiable big man against me for the first time (everyone else is under 6ft, and most are well under 175lbs), I was able to take advantage of Scott’s foot speed – it seems there is in fact someone slower than I am. My conditioning was also getting better, and while I still subbed off more often than anyone else, I was able to run by him on a couple of plays for easy baskets. Perhaps what I am most proud of though is my defense improved markedly, and the second of the two blocks was one I wouldn’t have even attempted weeks earlier.

Wk 5: No Scott to worry about, and my offensive stat line continues to improve; 20 pts, 1 rbd, 1 ast, 1 blk. Not overall as good as the week prior, but I shot +70% from the field and even hit a really long 2. I also had my best drive yet, taking a smaller guard wide and then (miraculously) made an ankle breaking cross over dribble that froze the defender and opened a lane to the basket.

Now before I get too high on myself, let me say that the vast majority of my points are from within a foot or so of the bucket. I post up (especially against the non-Scott sized players), call for the lob, and then do a quick catch-turn-and-shoot. Given my height and reach advantage this is usually money so long as I don’t blow it from 12 inches away (which happens).

After the big game in week 5, I even had one player (who I should add is only 5’5” and despite the height disadvantage out rebounds me EVERY game) call me ‘Shaq’. I wish.

Anyway, the fear about a life-ending collapse on the court has abated, and my motivation to quit smoking an add the desire to improve my on-court performance as further incentive.

Cowboy Up

It's that time of year in Cowtown again. The yokels in hats that only escape the closet for a week every year, the boots that have grown too tight, and the endless pancake breakfasts where it is considered good corporate sponsorship to have everyone bombed on champagne and OJ by noon.

Yee Ha!

So here it is, your chance to 'Cowboy Up' and get your own Stampede nickname!

You gotta know that now that the rednecks have figgered out this new fangled internet-thingy, the end times really are upon us.

GOP only superficially supports Brown

A hat tip to Andrew Sullivan for this article.

Rather than tread the same ground AS covers, I'll offer a slightly different take.

I do not believe Brown was nominated by Bush because of her conservative credentials, though for sure, they got her in the door. No, she was picked not for judicial prudence, or philosophical conviction, she was picked because she is a double-whammy weapon against the Dems - she's black and she's female.

Howard Dean was absolutely right in his critique of the GOP as being all white, all male and all Christian - and the Dems are absolutely going to be using that fact wherever possible to regain minority voters lost to the 'security vote' last time around.

The GOP therefore have to find more conservatives from minority backgrounds to broaden their appeal, and Brown satisfies that criteria to a T. This explains the constant reference to her background as 'daughter of a sharecropper', it's Because THAT is what is actually important to the GOP about her.

They won't defend her philosophy because the majority of the GOP no longer share it, they are quite happy with Big Government now that they are in charge of it - but they will cheerfully play her race and gender for their own benefit.

Quote(s) of the day

The greatest movie ever made (Bladerunner for you phillistines) has no quotes in the AFI Top 100.

Here are some of my favourites;

"Nothing the God of Bio-mechanics wouldn't let you in heaven for." Roy to Tyrell immediately before killing him.

"I'm not in the business. I AM the business" - Rachel to Deckard

"I want more LIFE, Fucker*" - Roy to Tyrell - the quote can almost be heard as 'father' because Dir. Scott used the mixing board and Hauer's diction to blur the meaning deliberately between 'Fucker' and 'Father'.

"Wake up! Time to die." - Leon to Deckard.

"Commerce is our goal here at the Tyrell Corporation. More human than human is our motto." - Tyrell to Deckard.


Alan Turing's Birthday today

This details the sad end to the life of a certified genius who faithfully served both his country and the world.


Hmmm, I wonder when the 'Splinter Cell' version of this game will show up.

A History of Violence - the Trailer

Word from the street at Cannes was that Cronenberg's newest flick nearly took the top prize.

Could there actually be an Oscar in Cronenberg's future? The mind staggers.

The Ministry of Peace

This Wapo article details how the US military wants to keep a database of information on teens, including ethnicity and grade point average, to better target potential recruits. Schools that don't comply and provide them with the information may lose their federal funding.

I have been suggesting that the Neo-cons want to roll the clock back to the 1950's. I was wrong, they prefer to live in 1984.

AFI Top 100 movie quotes

Unfortunately, there are exactly 'zero' in the top 100 from 'The Usual Suspects'. To correct that oversight, I offer you my favourite;

"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." Verbal

"When the plane crashed, my child was a Canadian"

Rattan Kalsi on the 20th anniversary of the Air India bombing that cost him the life of his child.


David Cronenberg interviews Salman Rushdie

It's like Batman meets Muhammad Ali. Utterly glorious and totally weird.

Cronenberg: Faint! Well, that's very good. I've done that, but it's-

Rushdie: I did it at a reading!

Cronenberg: Oh, at a reading. I was going to say, it's easier to do with film, because you have a group of people and it's a visceral thing. I think with The Fly I had some people go down.

Rushdie: I did a reading in Germany for Midnight's Children, several years ago, and there's this scene where the boy gets a piece of his finger chopped off when he slams the door on it. And when I read this I suddenly saw people leaving. And I thought, "Oh God, they don't like it." And then I realized they were carrying someone out. This lady had passed out.

Cronenberg: What power.

: But I think crying is better. Actually both is all right.

Cronenberg: I think crying is harder. I shouldn't say that. I've seen some films, Forrest Gump is an example, that become so sentimental, and yes, you get people crying. But so what? Because it's easy to provoke crying, you know, you kill the kid's dog and you'll get people crying.

Sex advice from an interior designer

Money shot:

"Q: Other than a bed, what's the best piece of furniture to have sex on?"

"The Mies Van Der Rohe Barcelona chaise."

The conservative GM responses recap

Let me first say that both of these individuals stood out for having mostly complete sentences, and for at least making an argument of some kind beyond 'Never equal marriage, never!'.

In 'Theresa's we move quickly from the equation of homosexuality with pedophilia, to fear mongering about the gay pride parade, to a version of the biological argument sprinkled with God's blessing. She caps it off with her commentary on the inadequacy of homosexuals as parents because of the confusion it will cause them as role models, and ends with her contempt that a Christian would ever endorse equal marriage rights.

On the whole, she covered the content of just about every negative response that went up in one way or another.

The response by 'Brainwalsh' I included because along with his amusing phobia of future gay fashion babies, he managed to roll frankensteinian dread into the mix. Weird, but definitely novel.

Responses to: Shouldn't Gay Marriage be the Conservative position? Part II

'brainwalsh' on Free Dominion writes me back; "Valid points but what I am suggesting here is something that I mentioned in a prior thread on this subject...

the idea that gay's being lovers of fashion and choice would not be satisfied long with adoptions, or surrogate mothers, but would highly desire genetically engineered children... the ultimate fashion statement.

This scares me not because it sounds so bad but because we know so little in comparison to our capabilities."

Responses to: Shouldn't Gay Marriage be the Conservative position?

From 'Theresa' a poster on Free Dominion: "You are willing to risk children hoping that some male homosexuals might become monogamous. You are willing to risk children because a very small percentage within the homosexual community have monogomous relationships.The majority have told us what their culture entails, watch a pride parade. If that is what you want children to be adopted into , then keep advocating for gay marriage. Sorry but you cannot play with what God has ordained. We can play with words all we want on tradition, and cultures, but homosexual marriage does not fall under any of those categories. Why? Well because they cannot procreate. When a man and a women join together they become one, and let no man put them asunder. How do they become one, they compliment one another sexually and become one through their offspring. That will never happen with homosexuals. Tell me can your children function and thrive just as well without a “mommy” or a “daddy “’ to be their lifelong role model. Just because heterosexuals have made a joke of marriage does not give us the go ahead to further erode marriage. If you are Christian, you should know that."
“In the evening of life we will be judged by our love…” St. Therese

My first post on Free Dominion

I owe a debt to Andrew Sullivan and I acknolwedge lifting the core argument from one his own excellent posts (which can be found at andrewsullivan.com). I'll also post some of the commentary I recieved so you can see for yourself the kind of nuanced conservative thinking we have here in Canada.

Shouldn't Gay Marriage be the Conservative position?

I sympathize with those who are concerned that 'Equal Marriage' represents a threat to principled conservatism and traditional marriage, but I find it all to be very misguided.

If we consider 'Family' to be a core conservative value (and I do), doesn't allowing gays and lesbians to form legal stable families represent a 'win' for conservative principles?

Endorsing equal marriage would also give the gay community, especially the gay male community, an alternative paradigm to counter the reckless hedonism that fringe elements embody. Shouldn't we be embracing these more conseravtive elements of the gay and lesbian community, and welcoming them in their acceptance of a conseravtive lifestyle?

My endorsement of Equal Marriage shouldn't be seen as a threat to 'traditional marriage'. A 'traditonal marriage' can only happen within a 'tradition', and it is assumed that while these traditions may be radically different in origin, ceremony, etc., they can all fall under the same general category 'traditional marriage' in that they are exclusive to themselves - a traditional Sikh wedding is not the same as a traditional Mormon wedding - but they both represent a 'traditional marriage'.

In contrast to these marriages within a 'tradition', you have the secular ceremonies, etc. that the state, military, and other bodies are designated the ability to perform - this is the run-of-the-mill basic 'Marriage', and it is the only kind of marriage would she allow the Liberal government to enforce as being the legal definition. These events are not in any way 'traditional marriages', rather, they are recognition of those relationships that occur outside of any tradition.

My point here is that whereas there is clearly something 'special' about 'traditional marriages' they best way to delineate this more intense special traditional bond is to add the appropriate modifier to 'marriage' - not to attempt to cling to the word 'Marriage' when it is already insuffucient on its face to carry the special meaning desired.

'Traditional Christian Marriage' or 'Covenant Marriage' would far better describe the richness of the tradition into which those people have agreed to be wed, and also distinguish it from the neutral and colourless 'Marriage' that the state makes available.

When Brittany Spears can go to Vegas and get 'Married' in what amounts to a publicity stunt, the word 'Marriage' has evaporated any meaning that someone married in the 'Traditional Christian Marriage' would want the word to have.

These 'Traditional Marriages', of every religious stripe, would still be available within those respective 'traditions' or faiths - and by defintion a 'traditional marriage' in this sense isn't available to anyone outside of that tradition - so if Catholics don't wish to include gays and lesbians in the definition of 'Catholic Marriage' that is something left up to the Catholics to decide.

I will lastly argue that endorsing 'Equal Marriage' would not only be the sensible position philosophically for principled conserativism to make, but one that can be of immediate political benefit to the party. By re-framing the Equal Marriage debate as one that is in-keeping with traditional conserative principles, while also explicitly defending and protecting the rights of churches to define their own 'traditions' of marriage, we can defuse the smear that conservative principles reflect scarey bigotted, or intolerant positions on the equality of gays.

Quote of the day

"Canada - The most decentralized country in existence, which causes Canadians to complain constantly about the power of the central government." - John Ralston Saul

Help Terry Frei find another job

I'll use this as my first piece of evidence in the prosecution of Terry Frei as to his unworthiness at being a hockey columnist for ESPN.

In this article Mr. Frei goes on at length (he is likely paid by the word) about what a wonderful idea it would be to 're-boot' the NHL and have a new draft. His first fantasy suggstion is that the Rangers pick Jarome Iginla.

This is what passes for hockey journalism by Mr. Frei. An extended fantasy sequence where existing contracts don't need to be honoured, and where franchise players like Iginla are passed around like blonde teenagers in a holding cell.

He even seems to understand at some level that with so few players currently under contract, we are going to have the biggest open-season on free agents ever anyway -but he clings to the fantasy indicating it's purpose would drive fan interest back to the game.

Puh-lease. If Iginla were stripped from the Flames, would anyone sign up for season tix? What logic is their in denying the Flames the services of Iggy Pop when they have already gone to the effort to sign him to a contract.

My guess is this is more Rangers fan-tasy, finding some way, anyway, to get the best player in the game to play for NY.

Hockey Update

Dale Tallon has just been named the new GM of the Blackhawks. Brian Burke has accepted the post of GM for the Ducks (at AR we don't EVER refer to them as being 'Mighty').

All of which points to the conlcusion of the lockout and the resumption of regular season play. Finally.

In the case of Mr. Tallon, the Slackhawks get a new GM and say goodbye to a Sutter bro. I don't understand this. Isn't the record of Sutter bros. in the NHL at the point now where you know they will deliver a top quality job as coach? Who is going to be better than a Sutter to run the bench in Chicago?!? If Calgary could hire him back, even if it meant that current coach GM Sutter was bumped up to being just the GM, they should.

As for Burke, well, I am of the simple opinion that he is one of the five smartest men in hockey. He could easily be league commisioner one day. He's going to turn the Ducks into a deep playoff contender before too long, and he won't bust his cap doing it. Let me add that Vancouver was TOTALLY INSANE to let him go. Nothing against Mr. Nonis, but if I were starting a team there is exactly one name at the top of the list for GM, Brian Burke. Kudos to the new Duck owners (and while I have your attention, can you do something about the name of your team? Please? It's worse than embarrasing. You are named after a Disney movie. This is way beyond sad. Trust me.)

The gap between the Creationist and the Scientist

The 'Daily Duck' blog just made my day.

Money quote: "Fundamentalists are allergic to rational inquiry and freedom of conscience. No amount of evidence, no matter how detailed, will convince them otherwise."

He details the rigid differences between science and creationism, and in a relatively sober analysis gives us good reason to think these Flat Earthers are never going to go away. Too much is at stake in their world view for them to give up now.

My favourite part is a bit extended, but it hits correctly on the two-pronged strategy that Creationists are attempting;

1. Science is just another form of religion, and thus undeserving of being priviledged over Chrstian religious thinking in schools, etc., and

2. The religious ideas in Creationism and ID are in some way 'scientific'.

Both claims are false prima facie.

1. Science is not religion precisely because it is rooted in an operationally athiestic materialism necessary to produce results. If scientists worried about whether their experiments with electricity were being influenced more by 'Thor' or by 'Zeus' and set themselves to determine which particular Lightning God was the bigger influence, nobody would ever build a working generator. Unlike religion, science can make claims about the world and how it works, because it is willing to test those claims against the evidence the world returns and to recant or modify theories when they are demonstrated to be wrong.

2. ID and Creationism are not scientific. They make no claims about the world that are testable or verifiable - and exist purely as a theological discussion. No matter how hard it tries to cloak itself in scientific legitimacy, Creationism is doomed to fail the basic standard of what science is.

Pointing out that Creationists operate soley at right angles to natural empiricism is not going to stop them though. They have something they feel more powerfully than anything like the 'truth'.

They have 'faith', and it sustains them.

Why does Bush hate the US flag?

The flag burning amendment is just the latest in the Orwellian drama playing out down South. Actually enacting legislation of interest to Americans is nowhere on the agenda, instead, the Bush regime is looking to ‘Mom and Apple Pie’ the public into a stupor as their preferred method of responding to the growing dissent over Iraq.

Bonus points for Rob Courdry on ‘The Daily Show’ last night where on camera he lights a flag on fire (accidentally of course) and then stomps it out. Sweet.

Lyric of the day

"You put your life in the hands of the highway designer
Your stride an unforseen side-effect
Of the urban planners realized blue-print dream"
- '21st Century Pop Song' - Hymie's Basement

Richard Haass on the limits of Regime Change as a policy

Iran is going to pose a very thorny problem for the Bush administration. It's too big to invade, diplomacy is a non-starter given the history of US involvement with the Shah's regime not to mention the total ineptitude they have displayed already in the field of diplomacy, and Iran's religious leaders are inching ever closer to having a nuclear deterrent of their own.

Maybe Israel can solve the problem for them by flying another bombing raid, but given that trick has already worked once before, it likely won't again.

Don't bet against Bush taking the fight to Iran (or Syria to stop the flow of islamic radicals fueling the insurgency - in what would be an eerie echo of Nixon's illegal campaign in Cambodia to stop insurgents from crossing into Viet Nam), he's already demonstrated that he isn't constrained by reason, ideaology, or any thing other than his own hubris.

Pound for Pound

Canadian Astronomers punch WAY above their weight class.

Kansas vs Modernity

I have to admit, I found the position that scientists took vis a vis the Kansas evolution debates to be initially perplexing, but in the end I have come around to thinking that is fundamentally (pun intended) brilliant.

By refusing to give any dignity to the Kansas proceedings by studiously ignoring them, scientists were able to make the most important point possible - those who are proponents of Intelligent Design (ID) do not have anything like a theory that is coherent, do not have even the possibility of providing evidence for it being a testable theory, and most importantly, do not have a case for ID as being part of a 'controversy' regarding the basics of evolutionary theory.

The fact is you simply cannot function as a modern scientist and not see the truth in Darwin's dangerous idea - it has deeply influenced every field from micro-biology to cognitive psychology to political science.

So while on the one hand it looks like the science ostriches are sticking their heads in the sand by refusing to participate, on the other, they are sending a clear message to anyone who will listen - ID simply isn't worth the effort to even debate.

Man Vs Machine

Despite the length of time that has passed since Kasparov was defeated by Deep Blue, chess masters continue to test themselves willingly against chess programs - often under conditions that are decidedly unfriendly to the human player.

One day in the future chess programs should routinely clean the clocks of even the best human players - and while that seems an inevitability I still can't help but cheer for us scrappy homo-sapiens to hold on as long as we can.

A 'Great' President

There has been mounting criticism regarding the Iraq war, and in most cases I think it is legitimate. The case for war has been damaged by the lumbering spin machine of the GOP, and the tactics it has used to propagandize the adventure.

The fact is and always has been, that the war was never about the stated objectives that the Bush administration provided be they; WMD’s, removing a tyrant from power, 9-11, creating a Middle-East democracy, etc. No, the war in Iraq had its germination long before any of those excuses were uttered. The war is and always has been about politics – specifically American electoral politics.

When Bush was first elected in what can only be generously described as a ‘squeaker’ he quickly ordered his cabinet staff to make the case for invading Iraq. In his own words to his biographer this was a war he wanted to wage, at least in part, to establish his popularity with the American people and to give him ‘political capital’ to push through the legislative initiatives he wanted.

His basis for this thinking is almost certainly found in two historical parallels; The Falkland Islands war as waged by Thatcher, and the invasion of Grenada by US forces under Ronald Reagan. In both cases a seriously out-gunned opponent is thrashed ruthlessly in a short spate of conflict, with the victorious army/navy returning home to receive the dividends of victory. These are the paradigms that the Bush war-makers strove for, all the while believing that they would be greeted with a rain of flowers and welcomed with open arms by all Iraqis.

It’s these historical cases that give explanation to the wilful blindness that seems to infect the Bush war cabinet. They really did believe they would be welcomed as liberators. They really did believe that after a short conflict they would be able to return home as heroes, with a fully functioning Middle-East democracy (completely under the thumb of the US and it’s interests) as the big prize.

What's most important about the DSM is not that the ‘intelligence was fixed’ around the policy – most keen observers have already taken that for granted based on the events so far with Powell’s castration at the UN, the Yellowcake debacle etc. No, the real importance of the DSM is that it shows that Bush wanted a war (and more specifically, a war with Iraq) for political reasons, that he had zero plan for what would happen after the defeat of the Iraqi army, and that he was going to go ahead regardless of any objection from anyone.

Iraq is a convenient target for many domestic political reasons; there is the Bush family history with Iraq and Junior no doubt would have loved to claim that he finished the job 41 started, but at, or near the top of the list is that Iraq really never posed a significant threat to defeating the US military in combat operations and could prove to be a huge benefit to giving Bush some semblance of a popular Presidency. What could be better for GWB than a quick military victory over Iraq's evil (worse than Hitler remember?), the Iraqi people rising up to greet the US army as heroes, and the resultant spike of goodwill and tidal wave of patriotic harmonious love that would catapult him through a second term?

When David Frum wrote his now infamous Bush speech about the ‘Axis of Evil’, he got two of the three correct – North Korea and Iran are both actively pursuing nuclear technologies and as such pose serious threat to their regions and beyond. But Iraq didn't have nuclear weapons, and the evidence of the DSM is that the Brits knew there was no evidence, or else why fix the intelligence?

Iraq was included on the list not because it was a genuine threat to anyone, but because they were the target the Bush advisors already approved of invading if given half the chance, and rolling them in with the actual threats gave a further sheen of respectability to the invasion.

And because everyone knew that unlike NK or Iran, Hussein was going to be a push over.

Keep in mind as well that the policy on North Korea and Iran has been largely ignored during the Iraq war. That or bungled outright as with Bush's ill advised backhand to the Iranians that drove the conserative religious voter out in masses showing of again the deaf ear that Bush has for international politics.

Iraw was well suited to an invasion for military reasons as well. Hussein’s forces had been effectively smashed by Bush Sr., and while he was no doubt interested in WMD’s as a way of shoring up his fading ability to maintain some international gravitas, it was by all accounts a program at least a decade away from bearing any fruit. He was acknowledged as a horrible despot by all but the most navel-gazing pacifists, and his presence on top of one of the world’s largest oil reserves gave the Bush administration all the remaining incentive it needed to push for the plan. The American forces are rightly considered the best in the world, and would doubtlessly rout the Republican Guard. What could possibly be wrong with this plan?

Now before I get attacked by the blogosphere denizens for being ‘soft’ on Iraq, let me say that if Bush had gone about it the right way, I would have been a keen supporter for the invasion. The right way (IMO) is to get international backing from the UN in a legal context to proceed – this gives you three key things; legitimacy, money, and troops. But doing that would require two things the Bush people lacked; skilled diplomacy and time. Once the decision to go to Iraq is made early on after his inauguration (or as I suspect even before the election itself between, Bush, Rice and Rumsfeld), Bush began moving troops and operational personnel into the region – all while insisting publicly that war was 'not inevitable'. These troop movements, naval manoeuvres, etc. are extremely expensive and could not be maintained indefinitely while Bush waited for Powell’s painful and handcuffed efforts at the UN to give them the cloak of endorsement and legitimacy. After a few more months of positioning his pieces and amping up the voltage at the UN (which must have just destroyed Powell), it was inevitable.

After 9-11 Bush (or more likely, Rice and Rumsfeld) saw his chance and quickly adopted the position of ‘you are either with us, or with the terrorists’, and that the US was ‘willing to go it alone’. In the case of Afghanistan, the world community was more or less willing to acknowledge the Taliban's role in supporting Bin Laden, and endorsed the use of American military might to affect 'regime change'.

But Iraq wasn't a part of 9-11, and the world community more or less did not accept the link that nebulous concepts like 'terrorism' and 'islamo-fascism' posit as sufficient to merit an urgent case for invasion. By all means, hunt for Bin Laden in Afghanistan, get rid of the Taliban, but what does Iraq have to do with anything?

Bush proceeded to bull his way through Europe with all the subtlety of a fragmentation grenade in a kindergarten playground, and the international community reacted en masse by listening to the protests of their own people at Bush’s increasingly hysterical rhetoric and slowly backed away from the US position as carefully as they could.

So, now the US finds itself in theatre; without sufficient troops to pacify the population, no genuine international efforts to secure co-operation from other nations, falling recruitment numbers, dwindling likelihood of sufficient political will internal to the US to provide for a draft, and an insurgency that seems to be growing in strength rather than waning. The cost of the invasion is a burden that future Americans will have to bear in the form of rising taxes and lower entitlements.

Perhaps the greatest irony of all is that the next major super-power to emerge to challenge the US will likely be China, and they have eagerly lent the US the money necessary to conduct this war. One day, that debt owed to this Communist regime will come back to haunt the US in its efforts to manage and contain Chinese ambitions in their region and in the world.

At the end of this mess, however it finally plays out, whenever someone asks “How did we get to this point?” the true answer will track back to one man’s overriding ambition to be remembered as a ‘Great President’.

Hockey Update

Jaromir Jagr said what was on every players mind yesterday when he decried the process the PA gambled on for the new CBA. The fact is the players played chicken with the NHL brass, and ended up going over the cliff. A deal could have been had last year that would have saved the season, but the PA refused to consider a cap and cost us all a year of the best sport on Earth.

Will Goodenow survive the repurcussions? I think so. But his position has been severely weakened both with the NHL and internally with the PA.

Welcome to Antiphon Rising!

Here at AR we eschew the Left-Right Manichean dualism that currently cripples political discourse, and seek to define less polarizing forms of political and philosophical critique.

I am not taking comments to any postings just yet, but I will in the future as I get more adept at working the blog tools.