Surf over to: http://ahabswhale.blogspot.com Adjust bookmarks accordingly. -Tim and James
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Googlezon v. The New York Times
If you have a spare 8 minutes and audio availability, check out this futuristic look at media history from 2014 and the introduction of EPIC - the "Evolving Personalized Information Construct". Very, very cool. One captivating statement on where blogging fits in the upcoming media revolution. No time or desire to make much of an insightful commentary at the moment - but consider it a solid topic for reflection and fortune telling over a few pints. The seismic shift will arrive sooner than expected, and it should be nothing short of massive. [NOTE: I found this flash presentation in a roundabout manner that is worth mentioning - One of Sullivan's guest bloggers pointed me to a post trashing their contributions. That post, which contains a random link to a "terrifying, Google-controlled future" is here. So thanks go out to killerboots.blogspot and its author Tom Berman - though I have to agree with Ross that the posted photo is indeed egregiously faux-intellectual...] UPDATE - Here one of the EPIC co-authors comments on the speed with which the program is making its rounds. Fascinating - and check out the technorati site, a search engine through recent blog entries.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
So Long, Farewell...
...(almost) to 2004. As anyone that has popped by here recently is no doubt aware, holiday blogging doesn't seem to be our thing. So here is a pre-emptive au revoir to one of my favorite years of all time - from New Year spectacularity at the Domus through to working for Dean in NH, a weeklong trip to Ottawa in March, Graduation from Law School, the Rockies, the Pacific (ah Tofino!), immigration hassles, the sunny beaches of Lagos, the lighthouse at Cabo Sao Vincente, greeting Lance Armstrong and Tom Boonen on the Champs, Berlin with Carter and Schadendorf, a month in Munchen with the Suckling Pig at Hofbrau, UN tour in Geneva, Don Giovanni in Vienna, 2 days and 2 nights of Oktoberfest, then the opening Michaelmas semester at Oxford. Cannot forget about a quick jaunt to Dublin to see my mother and 10,000 others run the marathon, or participating in another TFI marathon with DJ Phil in Glasgow, and renewing a November tradition with Gartner on Arthur's Seat and later at the World's End in Edinburgh. Also fortunate enough to skip through Toronto and Halifax on the way back to Moncton, bumping into old friends all along the way for some final classic extravaganzas. A magnificent year, but as the song goes: "regretfully they tell us, but firmly they compel us, to say goodnight to you." But fear not, for the sun will rise on a new year. 2005 has a tough act to follow. So the question is: where will it begin? How about over on Prince Edward's fair Island? Jimmy Swift and Grand Theft Bus are playing Myron's in Charlottetown, and the Connolly sisters promise a riotous evening without any pesky secret service agents that would hover in the background in Crawford. It seems worthy enough. Anyway, rest assured that we'll be back on Jan One with some eclectic New Year resolutions just waiting to be broken (x # of posts per week, etc...) All the best of the season to one and all.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
What are you going to do with that Degree?
So once you have photocopied your various diplomas for petty Masters applications, your parents inevitably end up framing them and the question becomes where to put the beasts... clutter up a future office with your undergrad BA? Hardly. Last night back in Halifax at Pogue Fado, listening to the incomparable Rob Cook, I noticed for the first time that one of the bar's proprieters has hung his Physics degree in the Men's toilet. Outstanding. And hope for us all, that we might get to use our degrees to such a purpose.
Monday, December 13, 2004
Of Referenda and Free Votes
The big Canadian news that accompanied my return to Canada, along with the latest offer by the NHLPA, was the Supreme Court's deft judgment on the issue of Same-Sex marriage. An unsurprising decision, but also one that shows the Court's acute awareness of the political implications of its actions. It still seems as though the deal is sealed, and yet you have Opposition Leader Stephen Harper claiming a tremendous victory for those who wanted Parliament to be at the center of the decision. So now as we wait for the legislation and the vote, I would like to register one complaint. It is hearthening to see the Prime Minister rule out the possibility of a divisive and unproductive/time-consuming national referendum, and I am also pleased that it will be a free vote for Backbench Liberals and Parliamentary Secretaries. Under such circumstances, proponents of same-sex marriage have nothing to fear from a vote, as it is likely to pass comfortably by a margin of 20-25. So why must Paul "Democratic Deficit" Martin insist that the 38 members of Cabinet toe the line? There is hardly a danger of the Bill losing - with only 1 or 2 Ministers prone to vote against the measure. The issue itself is one that has long been regarded as one of "conscience" that arises most rarely. Why give the opposition something so easy to latch on to, I wonder? My Canadian political history is not what it should be, so perhaps Martin has his reasons for whipping the Cabinet. But I remain unconvinced. Let the free vote be truly free on the day of this historic victory for minority rights in Canada.
Back 2 Politics
Blogging on the road can be difficult for new converts to the trade, especially when deprived of a regular routine and adequate sleep... and so at such times the chaotic events of the ongoing revels overshadow daily political developments. Who knows whether people find my political musings more interesting than the madness of late-night adventures (what makes you think people are interested in either? -ed.) but in any case, it is time to return to politics and two commentaries on some ongoing developments from the past week. 1. Kerik, Lieberman, and Pataki - check out kos' thoughts on Lieberman returning to frontrunner status for Homeland Security. I agree that, according to these reasons, it seems a no-brainer. The only explanation for hesitancy on Bush's part? It must be loyalty speaking again - and the opportunity to reward a friend/colleague into the post that never spoke out against the administration. The appointment would certainly hurt the Democrats, so the news from Drudge that Pataki is working behind the scenes is welcome. As for Kerik, Kausfiles has a classic piece on the rise of the "magic nanny excuse" for withdrawn appointees (scroll down, although not before reading his pithy commentary on social security at the top of the post). You really have to love blogs for the ability to crib essentially what you wish to say without having to take the time to write it yourself... 2. Beinhart, Drum, and Goldberg - and of course I mean Jonah Goldberg of the National Review, and not Greg Goldberg, the famed goaltender of the Mighty Duck movies and #94 on someone's random yet hilarious list of the 100 Greatest Characters of Film. (visiters to the last link will take especial delight in the fact that Stanley Spadowski is listed at #82, Marty McFly at #59, Inigo Montoya at #20... you get the idea) Sullivan linked to this article by Jonah on the supposed "softness" of the Democrats on Terror, calling it a home-run for pointing out that major Democratic thinkers such as Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum still aren't pursuaded that the Jihadist threat is real and continuing. Now the article speaks for itself, as does the piece by Beinhart that has provoked the much-needed debate on the Left on the ability of Democrats to engage in this fight. If Tim is not just busy repairing broken windows or sending his resumes off to the Ukraine but instead simply awaiting some subject matter on which to blog, I would love to hear a separate review from his perspective. I would just like to deal with a narrower point. What Goldberg seems to be arguing (and Sullivan applauding) is that the time for debate on the very deadly seriousness of the "War on Terror" is itself the sign and symbol of liberal weakness. It harkens back to the "either with us or against us" rhetoric that simplifies the utter complexity of both the challenge and the enemy. Where the tragic death of one Dutch artist can only properly be regarded as a seismic earthquake of World War IV. Surely we can be tough on terror without favouring the complete overthrow of governments in the Middle East, the lawless detentions, the prisoner abuses... surely there are answers and responses that lie between the chasm of Michael Moore and George Bush. Absolutely the threat is "real and continuing" - does Drum ever really dispute it - but in comparison to what? There has to be a difference between real threats and overwhelming ones that is more than semantic. Maybe Team America is Sullivan's "best" movie of the year because he likes the absolutist terms that Spottswood's army uses to deal with terrorists? I think we can and should be able to discuss whether this threat is truly "overwhelming". Is it something that we need to wake up worrying about everyday? Does it mean our attention and resources must be marginalized when it comes to India-Pakistan and China-Taiwan disputes, or unrest in Africa and Central America? I think my frustration lies mainly in the following. Goldberg concludes:
"This is more than an academic point: "Sure, 9/11 was a wakeup call," Drum writes, but since we haven't been attacked as badly at home since, there's no reason to conclude that 9/11 was our generation's Pearl Harbor. In other words, if Bush hadn't done as good a job fighting the war on terrorism, Drum might be more convinced that the war on terrorism is worth fighting. Forgive me for ever thinking liberals couldn't be tough on the war on terror."It cannot be as simple as that, can it? Goldberg's logic implies that no terrorist attacks are solely attributed to the success of Bush's superb job in fighting the war on terror, and that any attack is merely confirmation of the overwhelming threat we will continue to face. Sounds a lot like perpetual war to me, since how would we ever know when the threat has subsided? Forgive me for ever thinking that the extent of the Jihadist threat fluctuates over time, relative to other threats facing the security of the West. Not that I am calling on them to be colour-coded or anything. Just a simple recognition that it ebbs and flows and is not all-consuming would be nice.
Saturday, December 11, 2004
So inevitably I end up at the poker tables of the Halifax Casino after the firm party - about 4AM, breaking all the rules about being too drunk to play correctly. The luck from the MacDuff bowtie proved fleeting, though I had such great opening hands I couldn't fold before the flop. Anyway, playing along as conservatively as I can, won only one hand all night with an Ace-Ten suited - early raise pays off into a straight ten-high, thanks to a fortuitous turn. But I couldn't hold it, losing my most sizable chunk on the infamous Doyle Brunson hand: Ace-Queen offsuit. Limped into the pot, flopped Queen-junk-junk, raise, get re-raised, turn is junk so I raise again only to get re-raised... at this point the others drop out and only then do I start thinking about the hands that have me beat. But my problem is the classic probability problem. The only guy remaining in the pot has won the last 3 hands on superior opening hands (If heads comes up 3 times in a row, it must be time to bet tails?) The hand before he made a miraculous pull with a pair of Jacks in the hole and a Jack on the river. Could he really be sitting there with Aces? No way, I think. The only hand he could have that kills me are the pocket Kings, and even then I still have the river for the Ace to top out. It is one of the things about games that are not no-limit. Tough to get guys out of the pot, but in this case also tough to fold the last $20 when by all rights you have a played a decent hand and may not see good cards for awhile. And so the inevitable followed... The river is junk, he bets and I call. "You've got pocket Kings, I assume" say I to the guy hiding behind a humongous stack of chips. "Well, if you already knew my hand, why did you pay to see it?" he responds. Should have listened to Doyle, but the inherent beauty and mystery of the game live on, and maybe it was worth 40 pounds - play 10-2 but not Ace-Queen? Well here is just some more anecdotal evidence to justify the hilarity. Especially since staring down at the 5 cards on the board after I have lost most of my stack, and cursing the old Texas Dolly, I cannot help but notice that the river was a deuce, and the turn was a 10. Too damn funny.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
And no, that title does not refer to myself - but to Amedeo Modigliani. For anyone interested and in Toronto, rush down to this exhibit, pay the exorbitant $15 and the extra $2 for the audio guide, and check out the paintings. Magical. Hilariously, I have a picture of the guy hanging on my room door at Oxford and didn't even make the connection until arriving at the AGO this morning with tea from Chinatown in hand. Some truly magical quotes all around, but my favorite has to be the following: "I do not seek the real or the unreal, but only the subconscious - the mystery of instinct inherent in human beings." He also wrote some poems that have been lost, but a few fragments remain. One refers to a man in tears because he couldn't reach the stars. A truly magical (and fellow) Kerouacian, checking out his art is certainly worth your time. I especially loved the references to his relationship with a "confident, strident" Picasso. Apparently Pablo had 2 Modigliani pieces in his possession - and thought so much of his friend that he painted over one of them himself. Quickly redeeming himself for posterity, he commented: "It was the only crime I ever committed.
Positively Niagra Street And so many poker analogies come to mind... chasing flushes and straights and Russian and Italian Oxford girls down the river; wired pairs of Vodka-Red Bull inspiring misplaced senses of destiny that morph into color-coded, felt-tipped marker induced lines, written as it is in a beat-poetry style flat of Bourbon St. signs and multiple Marilyn posters. Complete with deja vu all over again sentiments, of course... Yet these are but wild and whirling words, my lord... therefore as a stranger on the couch of the ancient and complex Niagra pad we must give them welcome, Horatio. It is a fair distance from the misty mountain tops to such an apartment and the incomprehensibility of emotional attachments. If the descent Eliot was attempting to describe belonged to the cynic, even despite his lyricism I cannot buy it, as rhetorically grand as the questions might be. For even in the depths of ridiculousness, how to explain finding yourself here at 10:19AM - of all places - without waxing quickly into some type of majestic ode to the power of randomness, spontaneity, and friendship. Fill the verse with those incomprehensible human elements of envy without enviousness (?) over grand ideas who personify themselves as people, and ramble on inexplicably over mysterious longing for appreciation and love and art and hilarity all at once, with romantic compulsions brought out through multiplicitous, addictive beverages... Oh there are more things in heaven and earth then are dreamt of in such philosophy! And to quote Eliot at his true finest - It is impossible to say just what I mean - As if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen... And so leave it at that, with hopes for Sweet Child of Mine kareoke this evening, and a final resolution to the secret broken window. As the madness continues...
Positively Niagra Street
|And so many poker analogies come to mind... chasing flushes and straights and Russian and Italian Oxford girls down the river; wired pairs of Vodka-Red Bull inspiring misplaced senses of destiny that morph into color-coded, felt-tipped marker induced lines, written as it is in a beat-poetry style flat of Bourbon St. signs and multiple Marilyn posters. Complete with deja vu all over again sentiments, of course... Yet these are but wild and whirling words, my lord... therefore as a stranger on the couch of the ancient and complex Niagra pad we must give them welcome, Horatio. It is a fair distance from the misty mountain tops to such an apartment and the incomprehensibility of emotional attachments. If the descent Eliot was attempting to describe belonged to the cynic, even despite his lyricism I cannot buy it, as rhetorically grand as the questions might be. For even in the depths of ridiculousness, how to explain finding yourself here at 10:19AM - of all places - without waxing quickly into some type of majestic ode to the power of randomness, spontaneity, and friendship. Fill the verse with those incomprehensible human elements of envy without enviousness (?) over grand ideas who personify themselves as people, and ramble on inexplicably over mysterious longing for appreciation and love and art and hilarity all at once, with romantic compulsions brought out through multiplicitous, addictive beverages... Oh there are more things in heaven and earth then are dreamt of in such philosophy! And to quote Eliot at his true finest - It is impossible to say just what I mean - As if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen... And so leave it at that, with hopes for Sweet Child of Mine kareoke this evening, and a final resolution to the secret broken window. As the madness continues...|
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Out of Time
Okay, only a few minutes remaining and Gatorade beckons. Suffice it to say that I have much to say about page A18 of the Comment section, 3 articles from David Frum (on Martin renewing the ties to the US); David Asper (on Harper's recent complaint to the National Post editorial board); and Anne Kingston (on a supposed double-standard favoring the "insanity" of women in homicide cases). They are articles more worthy of dialogue and debate than an actual blogging commentary, I think, especially given the declining minutes available on the bottom right of the screen. They are great fodder for debate though - how Conservative is the National Post? Aspers comments are surprisingly revealing, even in his attempt to show no bias. How does Martin view relations with the US? Frum refers to the Chretien government's "supreme vice" as the unwillingness to think seriously about military power, which I and Paul Kennedy would likely agree upon - though the rest of his analysis is tainted with a desire to see Martin align with the tendencies of the superbly rightish Bush. As for Kingston, it is an article that would rightly be called "rubbish" in England. But as I am out of time... let's just say it isn't worth much discussion, though it does raise a point worth considering (and rebutting). Off to grab the Gatorade. I would love to see one of the Sports drinks run an advertisement starring a hungover student - who is helped through a rough morning by its lovely liquid...
The Big M
And old Maple Leaf fans will know I am not talking about McDonald's. You can say a lot about the Senate, mostly negative stuff that I will agree with... but I am fond of any institution that is home to one of hockey's magicians. On the back page of today's Post sports section runs a column entitled "A Taste of Greatness" by Wayne Scanlan. I ask forgiveness from the author from quoting verbatim the opening to his column, that resonates with any sportsfan and almost brought a tear to my hungover eye over coke and fish & chips at lunch today. Back when athletes were heroes:
Frank Mahovlich is a child of 19. So young, that he sitll has water from Timmins behind his ears. Howie Meeker is coaching the 1956-57 Toronto Maple Leafs, and he fills those eager Mahovlich ears with this single instruction before the Big M skates onto the ice for his first NHL game. "Don't let Rocket loose," Howie says. The Rocket, of course, was Richard. Number 9 of the Montreal Canadians. Tough. Mean. Black eyes of coal that could bore a hole through wood or cast iron, let alone the fluttering heart of this child from Northern Ontario. His first shift agains Richard, playing right wing to Frank's left, Mahovlich sees the great Habs defencemen, Doug Harvey, rush from his blue line and deliver a slick pass to the Rocket. Uh-oh. He has the puck already. Mahovlich still has the coach's instructions ringing in his mind. "Don't let him loose." So the big lad from Timmins wraps one arm around Richard and then the other, practically has him in a bear hug when the Rocket glares at him with those burning eyes and barks: "Let go, kid." "Now I'm thinking," Mahovlich says, "who do I listen to: Howie Meeker or Rocket Richard?" The answer will seem as simple to you as it did to the then 19-year-old rook. "Yes, Mr. Richard," Mahovlich said, realeasing his clutch of the Rocket. "At least," Senator Frank W. Mahovlich says today, "I distracted him and he lost his focus for a moment."
"Bonds, Rose Riddle Looms"
Tim mentioned the steriods scandal a few days back, which always immediately conjures up images of Kevin Nealon reporting for SNL's weekend update on the "All-Drug Olympics" and weightlifter (the late great Phil Hartman) who pulls his arms completely off in an attempt to break the record. Who can forget Nealon reporting back in after the affair: "Well, that's got to be disappointing for the Big Russian..." In any case, with the baseball hall of fame voting set to begin for the new year - and such greats as Sandberg, Mattingly, Dawson, Goose Gossage, Wade Boggs and even Jim Abbott on the ballot (we are getting old) - Berine Lincicome has a great article on the fallout from the doping epidemic. Some great quotes:
"The charm and bait of baseball is that we forgive everything (the Black Sox, the DH, the drug-plagued 70's, the labour disputes, the skipped World Series of '94, the overripe celebrations of the Red Sox), but this will take awhile to excuse." "While we are at it, how seedy seems the summer of '98, when we all fell in love with baseball again." "If we throw out Bonds, we throw out the last 10 years. And maybe we should."The article focuses most explicitly on what to do about the ancient records exceeded by McGuire, Bonds, Sosa, etc... But my instinct tells me that the ancient numbers of 61 and 755 will never be forgotten, no matter how the ball gets juiced, the pitching mediocre, the stadiums smaller. Runs that are earned - sacrificed bunts, stolen bases, hitting to the opposite field - these are the charms of baseball, and sadly one of the reasons that I have fallen out of love with the game that, in the playoffs, I used to tape at night and then wake up early in the morning before Junior High to watch the heroics of guys like Francisco Cabrera in the bottom of the 9th against Pittsburgh. It also begins with a tantalizing parallel, that might best summarize the argument (which I agree with whole-heartedly) that Pete Rose belongs in Cooperstown:
"Debate gurgles already about Barry Bonds and the Hall of Fame, as if the future honour would certify Bonds' deceit, as such a thing would endorse Pete Rose's gambling... What I say about these parallel conundrums is that Rose never got a base hit because he was betting he would."Charlie Hustle played the game as hard (mostly harder) as anyone. He belongs in the Hall, and the ongoing saga of the game proves it with each passing day.
So, to get on with the point, I grabbed the National Post for 75 cents on the way to lunch today. First time reading it since my mother imported a copy to Dublin, and I have to say it does serve to provoke debate. But it also has some classic sportswriters. Sad that both it and the Globe and Mail have failed to allow cheap foreign students access to its articles without purchasing a subscription. If the kos readers can find the script to cheat the internet vote, perhaps they have the code-words I need to crack into their perishable news product. Or as soon as we start hauling in the blogads, we should consider an Ahabs debit account to be used for such nonsense. But, of course, I digress. So I will get on with some sports articles and quotes first, then some fisking of a few articles from their editorial page. Some articles will be hyperlinked where available. Others, sadly, can only be viewed through my jaded prism, unless you happily have procured a copy of the Tuesday, December 7, 2004 version of the Post. Snowing Yesterday. Raining Today. Not in the Maritimes yet, but the weather makes it seem so. And it makes me smile...
What's Past is Prologue
An slight introduction (and explanation?) to the many (national) posts to follow. This should probably lead them off at the top, but the timeline chronology dictates that it fall below. So while Tim contemplates a nap, I sit here near the beginning of the longest street in Canada, for 3 bucks an hour, resting the hangover and dreaming of the declaration, shattered glass, the one random glove found in the Eaton's Center, and why I have just returned from England only to find myself drinking in Toronto's (1) duke of devon, (2) the irish embassy, (3) duke of richmond, and later, (4) duke of argyle. Only two days in to the Canadian return, at that. I take inspiration and experience from Odysseus who shouted to his temptress amidst the long return home:
"My lady goddess, I beg you not to resent my feeling. I too know well enough that my wise Penelope's looks and stature are insignificant compared with yours. For she is mortal, while you have immortality and unfading youth. Nevertheless I long to reach my home and see the happy day of my return. It is my never-failing wish. And what if the powers above doe wreck me out on the wine-dark sea? I have a heart that is inured to suffering and I shall steel it to endure that too. For in my day I have had many bitter and shattering experiences in war and on the stormy seas. So let this new disaster come. It only makes one more."And a guy at the desk beside just asked if he could both send and receive emails in this computer lab... I thought explaining the concept of blogging was difficult. Nice to be ahead of the curve.
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Read my lips
In his noble (if quixotic) quest to reform the U.S. tax code, President Bush has run across problem number one: at a point, cutting some taxes requires increasing others. The LA Times reports that one tax reform proposal would eliminate the federal deduction for state and local taxes. This would be a tax increase, plain and simple.
Although the proposal would hurt some taxpayers in nearly every state, it would hit hardest in states with higher-than-average income levels and bigger-than-average state and local tax burdens. High on the list are a number of blue states — those that were carried by Democrat Sen. John F. Kerry in last month's presidential election. Taxpayers in California and New York, for example, which have top state income tax rates of 9.3% and 6.5% respectively, would be highly affected; residents of Florida and Texas, which have no state income taxes, much less so.
With that in mind, is this proposal political? This quote is not encouraging:
Supporters of the change insist the disproportionate effect on blue states is a coincidence, but they acknowledge that the proposal could hurt most in states that voted against Bush. "Let me put it like this: It certainly isn't something that's a discouragement," said one prominent conservative. "Yes, we talked about this. The fact that it hits blue states is not something that's been missed among Republicans."
If this proposal is being seriously floated, there is going to have to be some quid pro quo for taxpayers in the states most affected, perhaps by abolishing the Alternative Minimum Tax. Even so, it will be difficult to justify this measure to the states most affected; the article notes that "California taxpayers...already pay $58 billion a year more to the federal government than they get back in services." Tax reform is a worthwhile endeavor, but I can't imagine this lead turkey of a proposal will fly. If it does, there are going to be a lot of pissed off blue staters. Justly so.
Slow news day
Saturday, December 04, 2004
Finally, David Brooks and I are in complete agreement: a Guinness in a Dublin pub is a beautiful thing. And he's even successfully self-deprecating: "This was the first time in my life I heard a person in a pub talking about benefit index formulas, so it was an important milestone on my descent into pathetic wonkery." (He obviously has not hung out at LSE's premier drinking establishment, the Three Tuns.) In addition to making me thirsty, Brooks gives me a convenient excuse to let the uninitiated know why this blog is so named. No more blogging for the day. I'm headed to the pub for the perfect pint.
The Time Has Come
1991. Game 6. Twins-Braves:
"Facing elimination, Kirby Puckett addressed his teammates in the clubhouse before the game. He told everyone to jump on his back and he would carry them to victory. Then Puckett made good on his promise. He went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBIs while making two of the series' signature plays. First, Puckett made a leaping catch on Ron Gant's deep drive at the plexiglass fence in left-center field, robbing an extra-base hit and killing a third-inning rally. Then in the bottom of the 11th inning off Charlie Leibrandt, it was Puckett's home run to left-center field that gave Minnesota a thrilling 4-3 win and forced Game 7... The homer is so revered in Twins folklore that the seat in the Metrodome where the ball landed was painted gold and remains that way to this day."The Twins went on to win the series in a thrilling 10th inning game. But that Kirby Puckett performance in Game 6, in one of the greatest World Series of all time, culminated in that home-run moment. It is the true stuff of legend, ranking as #2 on the ESPN Reader list of Greatest World Series Moments (Kirk Gibson's hobbling Grand Slam in 1988 can never be topped). And in perhaps one of the finest examples of a sporting moment really immortalized by the broadcaster's call, it also gave us the late great Jack Buck's famous goosebump inducing simplicity: "There's a drive into deep left field ... and... WE'LL SEE YOU... TOMORROW NIGHT." So to Pearson, Coop: Terminal 3, 7:35PM, flight 711. Send an email with your address and phone number in case something should happen. Tomorrow Night Indeed.
Friday, December 03, 2004
Say it Taint So
Nobody should be shocked by the revelation that baseball superstars Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds took steroids. Ex-major leaguers Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti, superstars in their day, admitted long ago they used performance-enhancing drugs, and Giambi's teammate on the Yankees, Gary Sheffield, admitted to using a steroid cream two years ago (unknowingly, he claims). On a more subjective level, look at Giambi before and after the period he used steroids, and look at the way Barry's bulked up over the last five or six years. Plain as day. Giambi apparently revealed in his court testimony that he injected steroids and human growth hormone into his stomach and buttocks. Think that's painful? Well, after signing a $120 million contract with the Yanks, he developed tendinitis in his patella, a rare stomach ailment, and a benign tumor in his pituitary gland: all clear symptoms, doctors say, of steroid use. He then lied about it, even after he withered away in the last offseason when he went off the juice. (Bonds claims he was unaware the cream his trainer gave him contained performance enhancers. We may never know.) There will be much fallout from these revelations. One situation to keep your eye on is the Yankees' effort to void the remainder of Giambi's guaranteed contract, worth over $80 million. ESPN's Jayson Stark reports that the Yankees could nullify the rest of the contract for, among other reasons, Giambi's failure to comply with the club's training policy and not keeping himself in "first-class physical condition." There are some clauses in the basic agreement (see Stark's report above) that make it difficult for the Yankees to get out of the contract, and in any case you can be sure the players' union will do everything in its power to make sure Giambi keeps his deal. But the union should allow the Yankees to nullify the contract. The first consideration is public relations: the public is going to be furious if the union protects the ill-gotten contracts of known dopers and liars. Yankees' fans are already pissed. (And how about this opening line in the NY Daily News: "Shrunken slugger Jason Giambi was exposed yesterday as a steroid-using liar who betrayed the Yankees and all baseball fans.") The second is the potential market fallout. In the short term, canceling Giambi's deal would set the precedent for nullifying the contracts of any players who use performance enhancers -- a situation the union can't find desirable. But the medium-to-long consequence could be even farther reaching: free agent sluggers might have to begin accepting discounted contract offers because of the inherent risk teams confront in signing players from a tainted pool. Clubs recently have had difficulty signing free agents with injuries like back problems because no insurance company in its right mind will insure them. I wouldn't be surprised to see insurance companies greatly raise premiums in the wake of BALCO-gate. If the steroid problem is not corraled, in the long run, non-doping super-sluggers' salaries might sag. The third and most important reason is that steroid use is, ultimately, a life and limb proposition. As much as the modern athlete worships money and glory, there are many aspirants in the minors, college and high school who will never attain the heights of Bonds and Giambi. The perceived tradeoff is potential fame, money and success on the one hand, and serious health problems on the other. By maintaining his deal, the message Giambi sends to the next generation of players is: dope up, dominate for a few seasons, hide the 'roid use, sign that big contract, and let the chips fall where they may. Allowing the Yankees to void the contract creates some deterrent to steroid use beyond the shame associated with it. And the union fighting to maintain that contract would implicitly condone the use of steroids. Tarnished home run records are one thing; a human being's health, and perhaps life, are quite another. Ask Ken Caminiti, who after a steroid-filled career killed himself a few months ago. Heck, ask Giambi, who has already had his share of health problems. The players' union should recognize that some things are more valuable than guaranteed multimillion dollar contracts.
Cool to dislike the US? Survey says...
Just read the results of a nifty survey (PDF) conducted last week in advance of Bush's visit. The results are not shocking to me, but they do bolster my confidence that on a person-to-person level, Canada and the US remain close -- no matter how much this White House is hated. (Thanks to Blair Stransky at GPC for pointing out his firm's study.) The highlights, from the press release: · 71% identify the United States as Canada’s closest friend ; · 67% agree that anti-American statements hurt our ability to resolve disputes with the Americans; · 73% believe opposing the policies of President Bush is not the same as being anti- American; · Notwithstanding recent trade disputes and media attention, a full 60% of Canadians say they have positive feelings about the U.S., with another 25% citing “somewhat positive” feelings · Only 15% - or roughly 1/10 Canadians cite negative attitudes towards the U.S. · 37% of Canadians aged 18-35 believe “it’s cool these days to dislike Americans.” Check out the full study here.* A few more interesting findings. "Which one of the following do you believe is the most important reason that Canadians and Americans are not close: trade and economic relations, culture and language, shared values, and defence and foreign policy?" Surprise: "Defence and Foreign Policy" -- read, Iraq -- with 39 percent; followed by "Trade and Economic Relations" at 28 percent and Shared Values" at 22 percent. (There's that "values" word again.) A full 2/3 of Canadians disagreed with the statement, "It's cool these days to dislike Americans." Less than 1/3 agreed with the statement (28%). And finally, the classic Canadian insecurity complex, put statistically. I think it assumes Americans have actually given some thought to Canada in the last three years outside of the realm of prescription drugs and flu shots:
Notwithstanding almost 2/3 of Canadians feeling positively about the U.S., opinion is equally divided on how they believe Americans view Canada. In response to the question, Overall, thinking about American views of Canada, how positive would you say their feelings are?, only one in three (33%) Canadians believes that American feelings toward Canada are positive (that is, 6 to 10 on a scale from 0 to 10) while another third (33%) believes that they are not positive (0 to 4 on a scale from 0 to 10)* For the pleasure of the stat wonks: "The survey, conducted among a representative sample of 1,000 adults across Canada on November 23 and 24, 2004 has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
NHL Lockout 101
In time for my return, it seems that the NHLPA has a new proposal to present to the owners next week. I had an opportunity to do some work involving the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement during my final year of law school, and it proved to be fascinating. The document itself is complex, and it was fascinating to examine the explicit rules on the rights of draft picks and free agents. A very legal business indeed. So aside from the obvious interest in having the players return to the rinks and avoid a year in which the Stanley Cup remains on the shelf, I am also quite excited to examine any new deal for the differences. Hopefully I will be able to post thoughts on this evolving situation in the near future. Though I have a strong reason to think that the 2004-2005 season is in serious jeopardy. In the meantime, for those looking for concise information should begin with CBS Sportsline's excellent Lockout 101 for further details.
"Perspective is Everything"
Quote of the (Fri)day
In what hopefully will become a new permanent feature, I plan to post a new humorous/insightful weekly quote each Friday... We'll start with this beauty:
"A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention in human history, with the possible exception of handguns and tequila."
- Mitch Radcliffe
Thursday, December 02, 2004
America: F$*& Yeah!
I find myself embarassed to say I haven't seen the Parker/Stone duo's latest, Team America: World Police. Andrew Sullivan, among others, has declared it an opus, the best film of the year. Apparently, there's something for everybody, with unabashed mockeries of Kim Jong Il, Michael Moore, and the entire neoconservative ideology. The South Park guys are truly some of America's best satirists; South Park The Movie, for example, was pure genius. What's gotten me excited lately is this video clip, with the rockin' tribute to the "new Jacksonianism" (in Sullivan's words) from the film's soundtrack playing in the background. Hilariously, Matt Stone has said it's his dream that if "I'm So Ronery" is nominated for an Oscar, Kim Jong Il will come and perform it himself. If you haven't yet seen it, MacDuff, let's go.
Lest it be necessary to state, I am a Reform Democrat too.
"..our team is using people who couldn't find a victory to save their lives, and multiple Bob Shrums, with their 0-7 records, run around getting the big dollars and big candidates.
And then they lose again.
It's clear that the status quo is untenable. It's time to try something else. Anything else. But those implicated in the current regime should be ridden out of town in disgrace, not rewarded with yet another turn at the wheel. "
< / bush >
I can understand the lack of protests - Bush chickened out on anything except showing up, and it is December in Canada. And Tim's comments below are from a further rightish perspective than mine, but still adequately capture the frustrations. I did want to try my hand at throwing out a draft speech for Bush that might help capture this historic moment - in the "let's look beyond the past and toward the future" kind of vein... But why bother, when this President's idea of diplomacy is to insist only that he was/is/will be right. Read Frum for the echo: Triumph. I am not in Canada these days, but I find it hard to believe that Bush won my country over with a few joking lines that glossed over every damn disagreement we have had with his country since his first election in 2000. And that's the crux of the entire problem. Regardless of the evidence (any evidence, for that matter), all his arguments just degenerate to the issue of "security" or at their worst, the desirability to rid the world of Saddam. Because Canadians really wanted him to stay in power, of course... Fuck, that is an argument I particularly love, because it is such a magnificent example of ducking the actual debate that it might just encapsulate 43's whole Presidency - the reasons for its simplified sucess and yet abject failure. For at this rate, why don't we man the barricades for Kim Jong Il, the Shah of Iran, etc... The reason that Bush is so infuriating (and may I even say, why he inspires such pure hatred) is not necessarily the policies themselves, but his administration's absolute insistence that they are PERFECT. Let me repeat that - not that his policies may not be appropriate to the situation, but the fact that they consider them ABSOLUTELY GENIUS. The idea that his team (mostly from Texas, as they are) have not grasped every nuance and might actually - GASP - be incorrect, is more than the worst blasphemy. Bush is so shocking to those on the Left precisely because of the ideological nature of his certainty. And the rightwing media continues to glory in their triumph, even as the so-called "liberal" media refuses to play ads by a Church who only wants to advertise that all are welcome into their congregation. And so back to the title of this post... inspired by an actual sign viewed from the Canadian protests. A brilliant one indeed. Even not a code-man myself, "the end of Bush" is a day I look forward to with great relish. The end of closemindedness in the White House, we can only hope. And maybe then (only then?) the esteemed Tom Friedman will recover from his newfound rants that so resembles the path trod so recently by Mr. Albert Gore... You can only do what you can.
The networks banned THIS ad for being "too controversial"? Watch the ad, read the networks' case (below), and judge for yourself whether this ad should run. (Then read Josh Marshall's blog, which has covered this nicely. Having "worked" in journalism before, I understand that it's the media outlet's prerogative to pick and choose which ads it will run, and that it is under no obligation to run any advertisement. But how controversial is this ad, really? And are they so worried that enough nit-picking bigots will boycott their stations? (If they are, then America truly is in a sad place right now.) Here's the reasoning, according to a written explanation the United Church of Christ got from CBS and NBC:
The CBS and NBC television networks are refusing to run a 30-second television ad from the United Church of Christ because its all-inclusive welcome has been deemed "too controversial." The ad, part of the denomination's new, broad identity campaign set to begin airing nationwide on Dec. 1, states that -- like Jesus -- the United Church of Christ seeks to welcome all people, regardless of ability, age, race, economic circumstance or sexual orientation. According to a written explanation from CBS, the United Church of Christ is being denied network access because its ad implies acceptance of gay and lesbian couples -- among other minority constituencies -- and is, therefore, too "controversial." "Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations," reads an explanation from CBS, "and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks."
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Bush visit miscellany
Notes from President Bush's first visit to Canada (and the first such visit by a US president since Clinton in 1995!): Ouch (CBC): A small number of pro-Bush demonstrators also showed up to offer a welcome to the conservative, family-values politician. One of them held a sign reading: "The only mad cow is Carolyn Parrish," referring to the Liberal MP recently thrown out of caucus after repeated verbal attacks against the Americans and Bush. Alberta cheers, #1(NYT): "I proudly ate some Alberta beef last night, and - I'm still standing," Mr. Bush said, to laughter and applause. Alberta cheers, #2(Globe and Mail): George W. Bush broke away from his entourage of Secret Service agents and other aides on Parliament Hill yesterday to glad-hand with a group of newly elected and star-struck Tory MPs, telling them with a smile and twinkle in his eye to "hang in there." Martin's best line: After a reporter's question in French about mad cow disease, PM turns to Bush and says: "The question -- what she said -- I'll translate -- was, don't you think Canada has a great government?" Bush's best line: "Paul and I share a great vision for the future, two prosperous, independent nations joined together by the return of NHL hockey." Dumbest spinoff story (Globe and Mail): Feasting on the mono-unsaturated fat of the land Menu for Ottawa's presidential dinner nutritionally sound, experts say Look presentable, now (NYDN) (Hat tip: Wonkette):
Is this Le Cirque - or Canada? Photographers and other members of the White House press corps used to more casual attire were freaking after a memo from President Bush's people yesterday dictated the "dress code" for his joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin today. "Jeans and T-shirts will not be permitted," it read. "Gentlemen must wear jackets."
Some thoughts on the Bush visit
In some ways, it appears nothing substantive got done during Bush's visit to the Great White North. We got no firm answer on opening the US border to Canadian cattle, and Paul Martin was apparently stunned when Bush asked for Canada's help on his pet project of missile defence. As usual, even the protestors accomplished little save for some memorable bombastic posters (more on that in a later post).
And yet the most important task of all was accomplished: beginning the task of mending Canada's relationship with its closest ally. Jean Chretien unnecessarily antagonized the United States, and George Bush especially, in his last years as PM. The antics of Carolyn Parrish didn't help either. And it's no secret that the majority of Canadians disagreed with the decision to invade Iraq. CBC News has been running a series the diverging lifestyles and values of Americans and Canadians. With Bush polling at 15 percent approval up here (not far higher than Osama bin Laden, I'd wager) prior to the US election last month, it appeared our differences could not be starker. But as Bush and Martin took great pains to remind us, we share too much history to be apart for long. We share a border, a democratic heritage, and a world-beating trade relationship. Bush's invocation of Mackenzie King struck just the right chord with me. The analogy was hardly apt; with Iraq as backdrop, it is something of a historical irony that Canada went to two World Wars overseas as the US dragged its heels -- not to mention the very different circumstances in 1939. But the message was clear: we've been through far worse, and we've been there together. From what I saw, the body language between the heads of state was good. I hope Bush and Martin genuinely like each other, or at least respect each other, because otherwise cross-border relations are going to suck unnecessarily. (See Chretien, Jean, above). If I have one gripe about the visit, it was Bush's gratuitious defence of the Iraq invasion during the press conference in Ottawa. Gratuitous because this was the question a reporter asked of him:
In the days after September 11th, thousands of Canadians went to Parliament Hill to demonstrate solidarity with the U.S. -- and, in fact, in cities across the country. Yet, public opinion polls and other evidence suggest that now, today, our peoples are, in fact, diverging; that, in fact, our peoples are drifting apart. Why do you think that is? And do you have any responsibility for it?
And his response (edited slightly for conciseness):
You know, I haven't seen the polls you look at, and we just had a poll in our country where people decided that the foreign policy of the Bush administration ought to be -- stay in place for four more years. And it's a foreign policy that works with our neighbors. Trade between our countries has never been stronger. But it's a foreign policy that also understands that we've got an obligation to defend our security. I made some decisions obviously, that some in Canada didn't agree with, like, for example, when we removed Saddam Hussein and enforcing the demands of the United Nations Security Council. ... No, look, I fully understand there are some in my country -- probably in your country and around the world -- that do not believe that Iraq has the capacity of self-government, that they're willing to sign those people up for tyranny. That's not what I think. And that's not what a lot of Americans think. And they believe that democracy is possible in Iraq. That's a legitimate point to debate. But I'm the kind of fellow who does what I think is right, and will continue to do what I think is right. I'll consult with our friends and neighbors, but if I think it's right to remove Saddam Hussein for the security of the United States, that's the course of action I'll take. And some people don't like that; I understand that. But that's a good thing about a democracy, people can express themselves freely.
So he takes a slam-dunk question, the answer to which is something along the lines of "our peoples and our histories actually are closer than any poll might have you believe", and turns it into, well, what he said. Though Iraq was not even mentioned by the questioner, Bush makes a point of implying that Canadians, among others, believe that Iraqis do not have the capacity for self-government. He tells us, as though we didn't get the memo, that he just won an election. If he wanted to stay on message with the "agree to disagree" tack on Iraq, the message should have been: What's done in Iraq is done, but we hope to maintain our historic friendship with Canada through cooperation on the elections in Iraq and beyond. Instead, seemingly putting on full late-October campaign mode, Bush decided to rake himself over the coals once more in front of the Canadian press (and it was the Canadian press, because the American press corps apparently couldn't have cared less about this visit) by flogging his Iraq policy horse. Still, I got a positive vibe from the visit. I hope I'm not the only one.
The Barbarian Invasions (and a Challenge)
Just watched a rather stunning double-feature of movies tonight. The Canadian instant classic "Les Invasions Barbares" and Eastwood's "Mystic River". I may be the last person to see either of these beauties, but if by some chance you have missed either, rush to the videostore. One blogging postscript, and challenge of sorts. In a dinner near the end of "Invasions", one of the characters claims that "intelligence is not an individual trait, but is a collective phenomenon, national and intermittant." Three separate examples are then raised: 1. Athens, 416BC - Euripides premieres his Electra. Two rivals attend, Sophocles and Aristophanes, and two friends, Socrates and Plato. 2. Firenze, 1504 - Palazzo Vecchio, on facing walls, two painters: on the right, Leonardo da Vinci. On the left, Michaelangelo. An apprentice, Raffaello. A manager, Machiavelli. 3. Philadelphia, 1776-1787 - Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton, and Madison. The challenge? More examples. It is late so I am going to reflect and see what we can come up with in the comments. Creativity shall be awarded bonus points.
A brush with Stott
The fact that there is now a John Stott controversy in the blogosphere is interesting, because as David Brooks rightly notes, he is not exactly a prominent media figure. But it is also personally interesting to me because last year I attended a service at Stott's church, All Souls, just north of Oxford Circus in London. I went with one of my classmates, a devout Christian friend who was a regular at the church's services. If I sound like an out-of-touch anthropologist here, I apologize. They're just my impressions. And no, there is no thesis here. Having attended several sober, stolid services at St. Paul's Cathedral through the year, I was a bit surprised by the service. This was a different kind of service: a bit more effusive, reverent, and powerful; the kind one might expect at an evangelical church in rural America. I admit I don't remember whether the minister was in fact Stott. (I believe the sermon was on Thessalonians.) I do remember that unlike the minister at St. Paul's, he made some thinly veiled criticisms of the gay lifestyle and the Anglican Church's leniance thereto. The crowd was a mix of locals, expatriates and tourists. There was much excitement about the imminent arrival of Franklin Graham, the Rev. Billy Graham's son, who was giving a speech at a Christian convention in the near future. There were none of the usual hymnals. Instead, they had a 10-piece rock orchestra play pop-esque songs that must have been written within the last two decades, all of which had lyrics unabashed about the worship of Christ. A friend later told me that such a service, what with the music and all, is known as "modern worship." I don't know enough about Stott or evangelism in general to argue his importance in American Christianity or in the present debate over "values." And I certainly didn't get enough information from one service at his church. But I'm glad I went, because Stott definitely is a major figure of modern British Christianity. UPDATE: I did hear Stott, and the date was 16 May 2004. And the sermon was on Colossians, not Thessalonians. Remarkably, you can actuallyhear Stott deliver the sermon at Allsouls.org (registration required).
Evidence of a good time had
Word of the Year
No surprise to us. Hopefully someday soon I will have to stop explaining to people what it means. And it is also pleasing to see "peloton" popping up at #7 on the list.
Not that he ever left, but I have been thinking recently that Sullivan's blog seems to have lost a little lustre now that the election and its aftermath have come and gone. A little too self-congratulatory, maybe? I guess you could say I haven't been enjoying it as much. But the last two days have been an excellent flurry: Abu Ghraib, just what I would have said about Brooks' terrible "John Stott" column, rightful damning of the British academia on the Atlee-Churchill bias, Mullah jailings over free speech in Iran, the South African high court on marriage rights, and - perhaps most exciting - the news that Richard Posner, famed law and economics judge, will blog. When that one gets running it will be worth a permalink. We read plenty of him in my Torts, Judicial Remedies, and Jurisprudence classes at Dalhousie. I don't always agree with his positions (to every rule are there not exceptions?), but they certainly help you get a root understanding of the issues involved in the case, sometimes with surprising results.
The Ball was indeed a wonderful time, nothing like the feeling of wearing your "own" tux. In actuality a rather tame event, though you have to marvel that however prestigious the school, you can count on seeing the same intelligent, good looking students dancing around stupidly and drinking cheap vodka. Looking forward to Tom Wolfe's deconstruction of it all in his new book (once it hits softcover, of course). I don't think anyone will be complaining, least of all any Turks: the food was fine (though isn't everything after copious champagne and stella?), a full 15 person choir lit up the stage for the opening hour, backgammon boards on the dinner tables, and we witnessed some pretty impressive belly dancing. It was rather dark so sadly many of the pictures just could not capture the moment - though I will forward to Tim what I have. If only the one of me surrounded by the harem of belly dancers turned out... I did have a hilarious moment in climbing onto a chair to get a better vantage point on the dancing, off on the side wall where an elder group of guests were sitting. Why are these guys so old, I wondered at the time. Only later did the line from Oxblog sink in: "The official host of the OUEAS Ball is the Turkish Ambassador to the United Kingdom." So Tim, note in the belly dancing picture, the guys head in the foreground is likely an esteemed guest of His Excellency Akin Alptuna. As was the guy (not pictured) who swore loudly when he attempted to sit back down and noticed I was standing on his chair. And so the encounters with history continue. The quote of the ball? Made quite early on by a Latvian friend in the BCL/Mjur program. After a psuedo-intellectual discussion on the Ukrainian elections and the consequences for Eastern Europe as a whole, I start chiding him for not showing up with any ladies. We have a saying in Latvia, he rebuts. "Why bring wood to a forest? And so why bring women to a Ball?" Point taken, my friend. And let such moments of laughter continue.
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
A few notes as MacDuff prepares for the controversial ball. 1. I assume the page layout and information will do, at least for now. I'm adding links to The Onion and Jon Stewart, as well as a few of my favorite libertarian and conservative blogs. Fair and balanced. 2. I can post photos if you email them to me. Something tells me the Ottoman pics will be worth posting. Oxblog's David Adesnik posted a couple of days ago on the same email you received: "The official host of the OUEAS Ball is the Turkish Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Please note that interested parties can sign the petition online. If you follow the link in the upper left hand corner of the signature page, you can purchase a lovely ottoman for only $129.99 (shipping included)." 3. Yes, the Mark Warner profile -- and others -- are coming. I'm trying to do some neat things with it, but Blogger has limitations. In other news, if you believe Maria Shriver, the 28th Amendment won't be passed in time for Arnie to make a run at the presidency. Scratch off one profile to come up with.
Tonight's "Ottoman Ball"
So Bush arrives in Canada, and what does MacDuff do on the other side of the Atlantic? Goes out and buys his first tuxedo of course. Coincidence? well, who knows the mysterious ways that the world turns, but these two events will likely be forever linked in my head. The main motivator for today's purchase: the Oxford European Affairs Society's "Ottoman Ball" tonight. Procrastinating as usual, I head to drop off my suit to be drycleaned at the 4 hour place at 11:30AM - 6 hours before they close - but so sorry, exceptional circumstances today. My friend had previously scored a good deal at a place with second-hand selection, and I figure it is Black Tie... So it is down to "the Ballroom" this afternoon, where I stumble across a gem of an outfit - 15 pound jacket, 35 pound pants that fit like they were made for me, and then a 30 pound Pierre Cardin shirt that, like I girl, I fall in love with and cannot leave behind. Combine that with the "MacDuff Dress" Bowtie I picked up last weekend in Edinburgh outside the castle, and you have got yourself a winning outfit. I will send pictures via email tomorrow (another reason to revamp our blogging efforts onto a site of our own) Oh - though I should note that the Ball itself has aroused some controversy. Below is a petition that circulated last week. Check out the link to the poster and decide for yourself. Some of the concerns raised are legitimate, but at the same time any offence was surely unintentional. As I said, a full report tomorrow.
Petition to Protest the advertising of OUEAS's "Ottoman Ball": Questioning the Ethics of Representation The Oxford University European Affairs Society's "Ottoman Ball" is only a few days away, and has been widely advertised through posters and email announcements across the university. The event has been billed as a showcaseof "the once glorious Ottoman Empire," and aims to "reflect the best of this culture, and the role of modern Turkey as a bridge between European thought and Islamic art, music and philosophy" (http://www.oueas.org/ball.html).
However, instead of promoting respectfully and representing fully the breadthof the Ottoman Empire or of the cultures and societies associated with it,theOUEAS's posters depict a debaucherous harem scene, with numerous nude womenlounging around, dancing, and playing music - an image that recapitulates the best of European stereotypes of its created 'Orient.' In fact, the image is not far from the cover painting on Edward Said's renowned book,"Orientalism,"which critiques this very construction of the Near East in the European imagination.
Not only are the image and the advertising of the ball in general offensivetomany of Turkish, Arab, and Persian backgrounds, and to other historically -aware and culturally-sensitive students, but they are arguably just plainly inaccurate. It is very difficult to see how such stereotypical depictions reflect "the best of" the region's multiple and complex histories, philosophies and cultures, and it is reductionistic of the OUEAS to suggest that they do.
An additional and entirely separate concern is the representation of women in the publicity campaign. It is indisputable that the institution of the harem epitomizes the objectification of women and their use as objects of sexual pleasure. The historical accuracy of the harem as it is portrayed here is very much a contested issue, and to use a harem scene to publicize a ball purporting to "reflect the best of" a culture, is problematic at best; it serves to glorify this representation of blatant sexual exploitation. Alternatively, if the organization claims to be against such derogatory depiction of women, the use of these images in their publicity campaign is hypocritical.
We seek to voice our disagreement with the OUEAS's posters and blurbs and ask for an apology for its insensitive and inaccurate advertising. Now inparticular, at a time when many are seeking to forge genuine bridges between societies and cultures that have been long linked, such unquestioned reinforcement of stereotypes does little to further coexistence and cooperation; there needs to be a deeper and more accurate ethic of representation.
Monday, November 29, 2004
Still Seeking the Truth?
I think we need to get a permanent link up to the Onion, my friend, along with Jon Stewart and the Daily Show's freely available videos. These two have served admirably as a constant source of humour in these disappointing political times. The latest from the Onion? Swift Boat Veterans Still Hounding Kerry. Money quote:
Another ad, called "The Cheat," features first-hand testimony from Retired U.S. Navy Cpt. Charles Plumly. "With my own eyes, I witnessed John Kerry cheating at poker," Plumly says in the ad. "If he's willing to cheat at card games in a war zone, what might he do while playing badminton at his next-door neighbor's barbecue?"
Courtesy of Mr. Stransky. A little late, but maybe someday we can incorporate into speeches of our own. And I would like to think that you can admire the Laurier and Woodsworth as being of equal merit. Given the nice 100 year symmetry, Sir Wilfrid's lines probably would have been an admirable choice - if the final draft hasn't yet gone to press: What the West Wing would have liked from us: "Canada shall be the star towards which all men who love progress and freedom shall come." - Wilfrid Laurier, October 14, 1904 "I am speaking to you at a moment of grave crisis, when violent and fanatical men are attempting to destroy the unity and the freedom of Canada." - Pierre Trudeau, October 16, 1970 What I would have liked to give them: "We can hardly join the Americans on our own terms and we never ought to join them on theirs." - Thomas D'Arcy McGee, 1868 "We won't let this country die... this Canada which is, as our national anthem says, our home and native land. We are going to say to those who want us to stop being Canadians, we are going to say a resounding, an overwhelming 'no!'" - Pierre Trudeau, 1980 "While we are urged to fight in freedom and democracy, it should be remembered that war is the very negation of both." - J.S. Woodsworth, Sept 8. 1939
More partisan post-game analysis
Sunday, November 28, 2004
With the upcoming baby boomer retirement, it should come as no surprise to anyone remotely familiar with politics that the so-called "3rd rail" looms ominously, with healthcare, as the major domestic issue of the coming century. Pretty soon it will be time for us policy wonk wannabees to bring ourselves up to speed with the harsh realities and factual difficulties that the coming years present, if successful reform is ever to take place. Who are the prescient ones out there doing D.Phil's on the issue now, I wonder? As an opening salvo into the debate - two articles. The first is a column by George F. Will written a few months ago that provides some (disastrous) statistics, and rightly chides candidates Kerry and Edwards for refusing to discuss or plan for this reality. But since Kerry is now left to rust in the dustbin of failed Presidential candidates (will he begin ranting a la Albert Gore?), the focus lies squarely on the Bush team plans. Back in March, Will offered this comment: "The Bush administration has a plan for coping with the facts, but no discernible plan for economies that will make possible paying the transition costs." Well fast-forward to article #2, the end of November - and the birthdays of both Alison MacDuff and Martha Farrell - and this piece in the New York Times: "Bush's Social Security Plan Is Said to Require Vast Borrowing." Read and learn, I suppose. My expertise in the field is weak at the moment, so I won't pretend to wax poetical on the subject - yet. Two thoughts for further debate on the Bush plan, however. (1) When will the reckless borrowing catch up to the 43rd President, and who will bear the brunt of this pain? (answer: probably not the top 1%) and (2) What happens to those people whose "private accounts" go bankrupt thanks to Enron-style collapses? Will there be protections in place, or will the government simply stand by and say "tough luck, oldtimer"? Truly an issue that is not going to go away, so let's see the parties and thinktanks start proposing solutions across the spectrum. And let the best ideas win.
Saturday, November 27, 2004
Reno on my mind
If the Democrats are going to win the White House in 2008, they're going to need a strategy to win the west. And to do that, they would be well-advised to start by examining a post-election analysis of the vote in Nevada by The Nation's Sasha Abramsky. His analysis of the result is similar to mine: the Dems botched Clark County and lost the rurals heavily while keeping the lid on the Republicans in Washoe. The result: a "morals and terrorism voter" landslide and an overall election edge for Bush. I question his analysis on Washoe: "When the votes were tallied, the Democrats had managed to narrow Bush's margin in Washoe County to 4 percent, down from 9 percent in 2000; but that achievement was diluted by the fact that 67 percent of Washoe County's registered voters came out to vote, a lower percentage than in any other county in the state--thus numerically diminishing the signficance of Kerry's percentage gains there." Huh? Wasn't it better for the Democrats to have a low turnout in a heavily Republican county? And if Bush won the county, why would the Dems want MORE people showing up to the polls and adding to Bush's statewide vote count? He does, however, successfully pick up on the strange political vibe I felt in Reno:
Three days after the election I headed to Reno and parked myself in the gaudy Circus Circus casino-hotel--one of only two fully unionized casinos in the city--for four days, in a twelfth-floor room looking out across the gridlike streets to the snowy slopes beyond. The casinos were in full swing, and the video arcades at Circus Circus--with games-of-the-times like Target Terror--were jammed, as were the bars, st rip clubs and instant-wedding chapels around town. As I listened to conversations, hardly anybody seemed to be talking politics. Reno must be a particularly galling town for obsessive political types to live in; it is, after all, where people come to deliberately block out the "real world," the world of politics and wars (the Falluja offensive was just getting under way) and economic uncertainties, behind a great canopy of blinking, twitching neon pizazz. There was an irony in talking with residents about the electoral victory of moral fundamentalism while garrisoned in a junior version of Sin City, surrounded by casinos and bars and topless cabarets, by porno booths and, in the desert counties outside town, legalized brothels. Quite clearly, these sin palaces were not about to go out of business anytime soon. In fact, the economic elite of northern Nevada that profits from the "sin" business loved the Republican victory--loved the lower taxes it heralded, the deregulation of the workplace, the tilting of the playing field ever more steeply against organized labor.
Just found this article in the Reno Gazette-Journal, and since the electoral votes have just been certified there, I guess this is the final post-game report.
Bush defeated Democrat John Kerry 50 percent to 47.4 percent in Nevada to win a second term. That’s the fourth-narrowest margin in 36 Nevada presidential elections dating back to 1864. Bush’s win keeps Nevada’s streak alive as a presidential bellwether. Since 1912, only one candidate has won the presidency without taking Nevada, the exception being Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976. And Nevada has never defeated a wartime president. Nevada voters have backed candidates across the political spectrum — liberals, moderates and conservatives. ... In the past 17 presidential elections, Democrats have carried Washoe County only twice: Franklin Roosevelt in 1940 and Lyndon Johnson in 1964. “People worked hard to try to swing Washoe County” in 2004, said Nevada state archivist Guy Rocha. “That’s like trying to turn around a battleship, but they made a little bit of inroad. Northern Nevada, Washoe County, this is Republican country. Overall, that’s a fact.”
Note Nevada's status as a bellwether, and the trends going the Democrats' way in Washoe. If the Democrats are going to win again, they are going to have to figure out how to turn the Silver State blue.
2008 Presidential Candidates
Starting tomorrow, a new regular feature: profiling early picks for the 2008 presidential election. My early choices for the Democratic candidate for 2004 were hit or miss: Gray Davis was my pick in 2000; as his stock dropped precipitously, my man to watch in 2002 was Howard Dean. One long shot out of two ain't bad. (Kerry was such a boring and obvious choice.) With new candidates on the horizon for both parties, and with Cheney retiring, the field is as unclear as it's been for decades. I'll try to mix in the conventional prospects (Hillary, Rudy) with the lesser-known fringe prospects (Mike Easley, Phil Bredesen, Kathleen Sebelius). Pros and cons on each. Should be fun. We'll start tomorrow with Virginia Governor Mark Warner (D).
Meanwhile, in Baghdad...
If you think the crisis in Ukraine looks bad, take a closer look at what's going on in Iraq.
Some of Iraq's most powerful political groups, including the party led by the interim prime minister, called Friday for a six-month delay in elections, now scheduled for Jan. 30, citing concerns over security. The list of groups seeking the delay includes some that have been among the strongest backers of the U.S. policy in Iraq, and their call indicates sudden momentum for those arguing for a delay. The two main Kurdish parties supported the delay request, marking the first time the Kurds, closely allied with the Americans, have taken a clear stand on the issue... The Iraqi government itself did not join in a petition to the electoral commission seeking a delay, and the party of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi gave oral assent rather than a signature to the document, which was signed by at least 15 groups and dozens of individual political and religious figures after an impassioned two-hour meeting at the Baghdad home of Adnan Pachachi, a prominent Sunni politician.
So even though the Kurds are asking for a delay in the midst of continued violence around the country, Allawi's people have privately agreed the election must be postponed, and violence flares in Ramadi and Mosul, the Bush administration continues to insist that the election will go forward. The real issue here is that either way, the terrorists win. If the elections go forward in January, the Sunnis, who dominate the areas plagued by violence, will rightfully claim disenfranchisement and denounce the results of the election. If the elections are postponed, the insurgents will claim their victory over a long-held American promise, and may even accuse Allawi of postponing the election in order to illegitimately preserve his own American-backed regime. Moreover, a messy election could split the Sunnis and Shiites and effectively tear the country apart. I realize the crisis in the Ukraine is far from over, but this is shaping up to be an even greater disaster.
If I haven't posted anything about the Ukranian crisis, it's because I've been riveted by reporting on it elsewhere. Daniel Drezner's superb blog has the best coverage I've encountered. It is now the conventional wisdom that the voting was rigged (though exit polls weren't exactly reliable in another recent election), so with the central controversy resolved, I'm in sit-back-and-watch-what-unfolds mode. It's starting to look like a Cold War proxy fight, with the US, Canada and EU refusing to accept the election results and with Russia firmly behind Yanukovich. Whether or not there's a new election, Drezner worries that one part of the country will be so upset with the eventual result that it might attempt to secede. That can't thrill the Kremlin. And it shouldn't thrill the West either. PS Who knew the Ukraine had a population of 48 million?
One More for the Road
And finally on this lazy afternoon, just before heading out to collect a costume for the Balliol "Emergency Services" BOP - think I'll go as a victim who has lost his arm, so as to cuddle up with the inevitable galore of nurses - a wonderful update on the DNC chair situation courtesy of mydd.com - the so-called "Blogfather". We both seem to favour Dean, but as with many other Kossacks I would also be pleased with Simon Rosenberg... some type of alliance between the two (with Dean at head) would be my ideal. (FYI: for those uninitiated with Oxford, BOP just stands for drunken college party, normally with some dumb theme and definitely resulting in some type of chaotic end)
Democracy comes to Ukraine
As a supposed political blog, it is probably scandalous that neither of us has posted on the ongoing electoral situtation in the Ukraine. But now that Drudge is fronting an article on the real possibility of a re-vote, all you can say is "wow", and stay tuned. Nice to see the effectiveness of the street-level protests. This IS what democracy looks like. And might represent a Supreme Court making a truly independent and historic stand. Conspiracy theorists should check out McNair's Nov. 26th post on challenger Yushchenko's illness as well. As they say in Alice in Wonderland, curiouser and curiouser...
Spectacular Own Goals
Back to politics... even as the Paris Hilton stuff is outstandingly hilarious (though when I first saw the photo, it crossed my mind that you failed to post any mention of the Bush twins Thanksgiving birthday). It is a hungover Saturday, so don't expect any "enterprises of great pith and moment" here. I just want to post this observation that I discussed at length with a great BCL [bachelor of civil law at oxford, which every other university in the world calls an LLM - don't get me started] buddy of mine from Australia. Watching Tony Blair's government these days, it seems to be on conservative overdrive. Blunkett, the Home Secretary - who is responsible for the horrid VISA laws that saw me detained at Stanstead - seems to be the man of the hour with the focus on fear, fear, fear now culminating in ID cards and ever stricter security measures. The former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook (who resigned over Iraq) appears every now and then in the Guardian, bemoaning the fact that Labour seems unwilling to sell its positives of the last 7 years and instead insists on grabbing ever more of the Tory platform. This article is especially worth reading, as it encapsulates a lot of what I have been thinking recently in eloquent language. Here are some of the many money quotes:
The ultimate way to frustrate terrorism is not to be terrified by it. Yet we appear to be keen to do the terrorists' job for them by keeping the nation thoroughly frightened by proclaiming that al-Qaida are "on our doorstep". If we are going to claim that Labour makes Britain safer, we need to offer policies to convincingly prove it. Promising an effective system of ID cards by 2012 does not suggest the threat is that urgent. Nor has the government ever explained why ID cards would be any more successful in preventing terrorism in London than in Madrid, where ID cards had long been compulsory. Whatever case can be conjured up for the war, there is no avoiding the conclusion that, assessed by its contribution to curbing terrorism, the invasion - and even more the conduct of the occupation - has been a spectacular own goal The most frequently articulated complaint is that "you are all the same". Yet, perversely, the objective of triangulation is to minimise the difference between a party and its rival, and to deny the electorate a real choice between competing value systems. The immediate problem is that a strategy of doing good by stealth prevents us from convincing many of our own supporters why they should make the effort to keep Labour in power. The more profound problem is that, when we leave office, we will have failed to build a progressive consensus to defend our legacy.The original observation I mentioned above? Simply that for those on the left these days (at least in Britain and Canada) ardent political types face a difficult, often maddening choice. Do we side with the unabashedly pro-left forces (NDP, Lib-Dem) who have no chance of winning power and often veer too far toward the extremities? Or do we "take arms against a sea of troubles" from within, holding our noses at the eagerness of leadership to score electoral victories by selling out the very historic principles that the party was founded upon? [And on this score, note that I excuse Clinton - he needed triangulation in the much more conservative America.] The policies of Blair and the Chretien-Martin liberals seems founded on such a resolute hunger for control and power. What good is a "left-wing" party victory, if "the chief good and market of its time" is but to deliver the fiscal and social policies of its opponent in order to marginalize him? I say it is no great victory to simply be the ones to institute the other side's ideas. I understand the need to incorporate good ideas from all sides of the spectrum. It is the seemingly unilateral nature of the focus of Blair now, and most pronounced in the early and mid-term years of Chretien, that so frustrates. Which is probably an early indication on why I will continue to be an on-again, off-again Liberal for the forseeable future. And as a final aside, also note how, even in this minute discussion, Cook's public arguments reinforce the pure sophistication of British politics over their Canadian counterpart. Do I need draw the comparison of Cook's reasoning to the abhorrent Carolyn Parrish and her idiotic name-calling? Where in the Liberal ranks do we have (or could hope to see) such a high profile, intellectual backbench dissent? And did you notice the Hamlet references in this post? I saw the RSC in London on Monday. And keep your eye on the name Andrew Higgins for Attorney-General of a future (Aussie) Labour Government. Believe - You heard it here first.
Time for a new role model
I couldn't resist posting this.
National Lampoon's Van Wilder actress Tara Reid is fed-up with her reputation for being a "retard" and cites friend Paris Hilton as her role model for overcoming her party girl image. The American Pie star, 28, is keen to outgrow her controversial persona and be taken more seriously in Hollywood. Reid says, "I am known as this retard. I want to grow up. I don't want to be the drunk girl. It hurts my feelings when stuff is written about me. Paris seems to move on from situations all the time, why can't I?"
Paris Hilton as a role model for overcoming the party girl image?
Just when the hype over One Night in Paris, Paris Hilton's homemade sex video co-starring ex-boyfriend Rick Salomon, seems to have dissipated, here comes Hustler magazine's announcement that they will publish eight photos of the hotel heiress making out with a woman. Agent David Hans Schmidt, who sold the photos the adult magazine for an undisclosed price, told The Associated Press Monday the photographs, which date back about two years, depict a fully clothed Hilton "with a brunette at a nightclub, cavorting with her, dancing and cuddling with her and fondling her."
First sign you're not a "role model" for would-be reform "retards": it is noteworthy when you are "fully clothed".
Friday, November 26, 2004
Alexander the Terrible
Sounds like Oliver Stone's cooked up a real turkey with "Alexander." Some are saying the film is a thinly-veiled critique of Bush's penchant for "imperialism", but in any event the criticism is coming from both sides of the aisle. Left-leaning Slate's film critic calls the movie "a sprawling mess, a lox, a three-hour non-starter." And from William F. Buckley's National Review:
This is one of the colossal catastrophes of all time. At a screening on Monday night, during the death scene of Alexander's lover Hephaiston, people were screaming with laughter as Alexander made a big speech while, behind him in soft focus, Hephaiston went into a conniption fit and croaked ... [It] isn't just bad. It's Springtime for Hitler bad.
What are the odds? (Redux)
Looks like Kerry's window of opportunity in Ohio is coming to a close, as Bush is increasing his lead as the provisionals are counted.
Summary of provisional ballots count - UPDATED 11/24/04 Note: 64 of 88 counties have reported. Current % of provisionals being counted: 79% Current "additional" vote count: Bush +29,285 Kerry +23,947 Please note, most of the largest counties have still not reported.
Some outposts in the blogosphere continue to argue that JFK has a shot, but I think I hear the fat lady singing. Million-to-one shot, at best.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
What are the odds?
Now for something completely different. My former poli sci TA at Yale, Brett Marston, has raised one of my all-time favourite math/probability problems on his fine blog. Okay, now that you're riveted, here's the "Monty Hall Dilemma." (I'm taking the description from this website.)
Here is the situation. Finalists in a tv game show are invited up onto the stage, where there are three closed doors. The host explains that behind one of the doors is the star prize - a car. Behind each of the other two doors is just a goat. Obviously the contestant wants to win the car, but does not know which door conceals the car. The host invites the contestant to choose one of the three doors. Let us suppose that our contestant chooses door number 3. Now, the host does not initially open the door chosen by the contestant. Instead he opens one of the other doors - let us say it is door number 1. The door that the host opens will always reveal a goat. Remember the host knows what is behind every door! The contestant is now asked if they want to stick with their original choice, or if they want to change their mind, and choose the other remaining door that has not yet been opened. In this case number 2. The studio audience shout suggestions. What is the best strategy for the contestant? Does it make any difference whether they change their mind or stick with the original choice?
The answer (highlight to read): Yes, it does make a difference. In fact, switching improves your chances of getting the car from 1/3 to 2/3. Read the linked page's explanation. And if that doesn't help, read my explanation of it on Brett's site, linked above. The answer is pretty counter-intuitive. If you still don't get it, comment here and I will get back to you. For me, it took a while for it to sink in. And apparently there is still some debate among mathematicians about the answer to this problem. How cool is that? (Answer: Ice cold.)
I rarely agree with Maureen Dowd, but she's dead-on with this:
I get flagged for extra security every time I buy a one-way ticket, which seems particularly lame. Doesn't the T.S.A. realize that a careful terrorist plotter like Mohammed Atta could figure this out and use his Saudi charity money to pop for round trips even if the return portion gets wasted?
I can't tell if the TSA is under- or overestimating the intelligence of the terrorists, but one thing's for sure -- this is bureaucratic idiocy.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Today's NYT deals with something that has long irked me: the double standard on academic plagiarism. If a student commits academic dishonesty and is caught, the penalty is course failure, probation, suspension, or outright expulsion. The transgression exists on the student's academic record until the end of time, limiting their ability to move on from the incident. I'm not saying this punishment is unjustified. But as the article highlights, very different standards exist for quote-unquote "star" professors who commit the same offense. Some names associated with Harvard's plagiarism mill include Lawrence Tribe and Doris Kearns Goodwin; elsewhere it is the (late) pop-academic star Stephen Ambrose. Who knows how many else are out there. The punishments for such academics are unclear at best, but they certainly do not include the loss of tenure. Their excuses are no better than those of student plagiarists: "the error, he said, had occurred in his rush to meet a final deadline, when a pair of research assistants inserted the material into a draft of his manuscript and accidentally dropped the quotation marks and attribution". So we give credit to these "star" professors for brilliant academic work when it is others who do the heavy lifting, yet when it comes time to dole out punishment, it is the grad students who are to blame? Then a scholar offers this preposterous reasoning for the lack of consummate punishment: 'Some scholars argued that Professor Ogletree's statement was a public humiliation more severe than any punishment that could be meted out to a student. "The discovery is the punishment," Professor Gillers said.' But isn't a college student subjected to just as excruciating and experience among peers and family, let alone employers and other institutions that may consider readmitting them to higher education? And at the beginning of their professional lives, academic or otherwise, surely the effect of such ostracism is greater when you do not have a job guaranteed through tenure. As is noted in the article, it is probably unrealistic to expect the professor to be dismissed, since the market for star academics is limitless. But isn't the lack of punishment for such transgressions an admission of lower standards for those who should be held to the highest? And if you are going to toss out a freshman for plagiarism, shouldn't you stiffen the punishment on a professor who, after all those years and advanced degrees, should know better?
It is sad how our countries have drifted apart in the wake of an event that should have bound us closer than ever. Just as things look their bleakest, though, comes a report that Canada is in talks with the US (and UN) to help the Iraqis conduct their elections in January.
Sources said Canada would probably be asked to assist in developing the technical infrastructure for the election, which could include printing ballots, helping with voter registration, designing polling stations and/or training returning officers and other workers for election day. Canada would also offer advice on fraud-proofing the vote.
I understand that a ridiculously low percentage of Canadians would have voted for Bush (the last survey said 15 percent). But like him or not, there are bigger issues out there than our personal like or dislike of the president and his policies. Here we, as Canadians, have the opportunity to do something positive about Iraq, and at least give the Iraqi people a chance at a legitimate election result. We may never be as close as we were in September 2001, but this is a step in the right direction.
"Our Friendship Has No Limit"
On the Bush speech writing front, haven't come up with much on the historic side yet, maybe because i don't think that i would like to see a great canadian's word butchered by the elected Prez (?) But if I were really writing a speech for the man, and he was coming here, I would try and find a way to repeat the substance of this... for Martin it has the advantage of being JC's, and yet about as compassionate and heroic as Canadians might aspire to get - mocking damn Parrish all the while, of course. Just read it and notice how much Iraq has skewered those high ideals. And I am not a big "war on terror" guy, but if ever days required eloquence, it was post 9-11. It is somewhat sad that we - and by that I mean the collective West - lost our way and drifted there. Bush's job might be to remind us of our sense of shock from that day, even as he has so contributed to disillusionment by extending our trust beyond reasonable measure:
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien: National Day of Mourning 9/11 Memorial Address (exert as required) delivered 14 September 2001 Ottawa, Ontario: Mr. Ambassador [U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Paul Cellucci] you have assembled before you, here on Parliament Hill and right across Canada, a people united in outrage, in grief, in compassion, and in resolve; a people of every faith and nationality to be found on earth; a people who, as a result of the atrocity committed against the United States on September 11, 2001, feel not only like neighbours but like family. At a time like this words fail us. We reel before the blunt and terrible reality of the evil we have just witnessed. We cannot stop the tears of grief. We cannot bring back lost wives and husbands. Sons and daughters. American citizens, Canadian citizens, citizens from all over the world. We cannot restore futures that have been cut terribly short. At a time like this, the only saving grace is our common humanity and decency. At a time like this, it is our feelings, our prayers and our actions that count. By their outpouring of concern, sympathy and help, the feelings and actions of Canadians have been clear. And, even as we grieve our own losses, the message they send to the American people is equally clear: Do not despair; you are not alone; we are with you -- the whole world is with you. The great Martin Luther King, in describing times of trial and tribulation, once said that: "In the end, it is not the words of your enemies that you remember, it is the silence of your friends." Mr. Ambassador, as your fellow Americans grieve and rebuild, there will be no silence from Canada. Our friendship has no limit. Generation after generation, we have traveled many difficult miles together. Side by side, we have lived through many dark times; always firm in our shared resolve to vanquish any threat to freedom and justice. And together, with our allies, we will defy and defeat the threat that terrorism poses to all civilized nations. Mr. Ambassador, we will be with the United States every step of the way -- as friends, as neighbours, as family."I do not disagree with those words, and to a large extent wish we were truly more apart of them. but a specific quote? Will look further tomorrow. In the mean time, as an intellectual exercise, compare Carolyn Parrish's words with these. Again, I am not a fan of Bush, far from it. But even I can see the true idiot amidst that flock. AND - my version of "We Built this City" gets cut into with the following magical words - "Looking out over that Golden Gate bridge on another gorgeous sunny Saturday and not seeing that bumper to bumper to traffic... It's your favorite radio station, Your favorite radio city, The city by the bay; The city that rocks; The city that never sleeps." Mike Pal's favorite city...