"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Friday, December 02, 2005

One more pissed off soldier
A letter to the editor in Stars and Stripes puts it fairly well. We salute Capt. Jeff Pirozzi for this:

War based on a lie
Weapons of mass destruction? I"m still looking for them, and if you find any give me a call so we can justify our presence in Iraq. We started the war based on a lie, and we'lll finish it based on a lie. I say this because I am currently serving with a logistics headquarters in the Anbar province, between the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. I am not fooled by the constant fabrication of "democracy" and "freedom"touted by our leadership at home and overseas.

This deception is furthered by our armed forces?belief that we can just enter ancient Mesopotamia and tell the locals about the benefits of a legislative assembly. While our European ancestors were hanging from trees, these ancient people were writing algebra and solving quadratic equations. Now we feel compelled to strong-arm them into accepting the spoils of capitalism and "laissez-faire"society. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy watching Britney Spears on MTV and driving to McDonalds', but do you honestly believe that Sunnis, Shias and Kurds want our Western ideas of entertainment and freedom imposed on them? Think again.

I'm not being negative, I'm being realistic. The reality in Iraq is that the United States created a nightmare situation where one didn't exist. Yes, Saddam Hussein was an evil man who lied, cheated and pillaged his own nation. But how was he different from dictators in Africa who commit massive crimes again humanity with little repercussion and sometimes support from the West? The bottom line up front (BLUF to use a military acronym) is that Saddam was different because we used him as an excuse to go to war to make Americans ?eel good?about the "War on Terrorism." The BLUF is that our ultimate goal in 2003 was the security of Israel and the lucrative oil fields in northern and southern Iraq.

Weapons of mass destruction? Call me when you find them. In the meantime, "bring 'em on" so we can get our "mission accomplished" and get out of this mess.

Capt. Jeff Pirozzi
Camp Taqaddum, Iraq

The Rules

Rule No. 2: Old people always have exact change

Rule No. 3: Never trust a man who calls the bathroom "the little boys room"

Rule No. 4: When someone says he is "pumped" about something, it usually means he's about to do something stupid.

Rule No. 5: Women who sound sexy on the radio weigh 377 pounds

Rule No. 6: For every Tom Hanks, there's a Peter Scolari

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

As they say in Japan "Conglatulations on your erection"

Election time in Canada again, just a year and a half after the last one with the results likely to be more or less the same unless either Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin or Conservative leader Stephen Harper really screw up on the campaign trail - something Harper may have already done by promising a free vote on gay marriage. Stephen doesn't seem to understand that aside from the redneck fringe and the gay community most Canadians don't really care about gay marriage and are much more inclined to live and let live on the issue than their neighbours in the Excited States.

This election could actually bring about some good by either pushing the Liberals' agenda back to the left of centre or by giving them a majority government with the NDP as the main opposition.

This election is mostly about NDP leader Jack Layton calling Paul Martin's bluff and trying to show that he has the stones to force an election if he doesn't get what he wants. If Canadians are shifting to the left, this will work for Layton and the NDP may make some gains in Manitoba, B.C. and Ontario - hurting the Liberals. If Canadians are moving to the left though, the tories will lose a few seats to the Liberals that they won on protest votes last time.

If the NDP picks up more seats from the Liberals, watch Martin move left on social spending and stay there as he tries to keep Layton happy and ensure NDP support.

Jack Layton was a showboat and loudmouth as a Toronto city coucillor and hasn't really impressed anyone much as NDP leader. If Ed Broadbent were still leader, the NDP would probably win 50 seats

If the country has not moved left, and the Liberals get in as a minority again but with more seats, Layton will be pushed more to the sidelines. Any Liberal minority will have to rely on the NDP, but the fewer seats they are from a majority (currently 20) the less weight the NDP carries in policy considerations.

Voters may also look harder at the Conservatives in this election - which given the ineptitude, ignorance and reactionary neo-con dimwittery on display there, can only be a good thing for the Liberals.

The sponsorship scandal will be a factor in taking support from the Liberals and the tories will hammer on it all they can, but I think people still remember the Mulroney years well enough that those leaving the Liberals will be unlikely to vote for the Conservatives.

The Regressive Conservatives are led by an inept doofus who would make a fine head of the Canmore, Alberta Chamber of Commerce and could even go as high as President of the Rotary Club of Calgary, but just isn't smart or charismatic enough to be elected Prime Minister. Not that Paul Martin is exactly Pierre Trudeau in the charisma and vision departments either, but he has a well-earned image as a smart, competent, fiscally careful leader. Today's tories are essentially Reform party western separatists, old line right-wing extremists, fundementalist Christian activists and and neo-con protoAmericans who think David Frum is a genius and should be our president.

Not only is Harper not Prime Ministerial, his party is not capable of governing as anyone they have left with any experience in government is tainted by association with Mulroney. For the most part, they are a gang of braying, paranoid reactionaries who are very unlikely to form a government. I think most people realize that if Harper had been elected in the last election, the Vandoos would be dying by inches in Falujah and Mosul, the nation would be blowing billions to join up with the U.S.'s unworkable missile shield and we would still be getting bitch-slapped by the Americans over softwoods.

If people are a lot more pissed off by the Sponsorship scandal than I think they are, or if Harper saves Avril Lavinge, Wayne Gretzky and a crippled puppy from a burning building (or the CIA spends a lot of money on advertising for the Tories) and the Conservatives somehow eke out a minority government with the support of the Bloc Quebecois, the country is pretty much doomed. The Bloc will demand total decentralization and devolution of federal powers to the provinces, something the old western separtists of the Reform Party still lurking among the Conservatives would welcome.

Now, keeping in mind that I haven't lived in Canada for eight years now and get all my information from the Canadian media via the internet and from chatrooms and blogs, obviously these predictions will have to be taken with a grain of salt. But as long as reason prevails and Martin manages to credibly dismiss the strawman issues that Harper raises -- just watch the shrill, bowl-cut sporting ninny try to jump on the anti-multiculturalism "Stop the PC war on Christmas" bandwagon originating at FOX news as well as continuing to pound the anti-gay marriage drum--the Liberals will continue as the nation's natural governing party.

See Bloomburg for the raw data and this posting at the blogging of the president for a similar anaysis

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

You can always tell an engineer - you can't tell'em much, but you can always tell one
I went to school at a university famed or perhaps that should be notorius for its engineering school. That meant it was very tough to get in for engineering. Which meant that the people entering the engineering program all graduated high school with an average in the high 90's, especially in maths and sciences. Now don't get me wrong, I admire engineers. Some of my best friends are engineers, in fact my brother is an engineer. But stop and think for a minute about the people in your high school who graduated with the top marks in maths and sciences. You are not picturing the cool kids or the athletes or party types are you? There are a lot of uh...Star Trek fans in your mental picture aren't there? Not that there is anything wrong with that, but we're not talking about the kids with the best social skills, are we? So maybe, this billboard should be put up outside the University of Waterloo campus so that the engineers can at least claim that their celibacy is a matter of choice, not a matter of good taste on the part of the rest of the student body.
-Yours truly,
a proud "Artsie"

I'll take nefarious bastard for $600 Alex

Colin Powell's former chief of staff speaks:

"Wilkerson blamed Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and like-minded aides. He said Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults, because "otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard.""

Monday, November 28, 2005

And I want the the f---king murderous bigot in jail

Interesting news out of Ontari-ari-ari-o. Seems Mike Harris, one of several reasons I left the country in the first place, is just as big a dick as I always said he was. From the Toronto Star

Harris wanted 'Indians out'
Former attorney general recalls premier's order
Nov. 28, 2005. 02:23 PM

FOREST, Ont. ? Only hours before native activist Anthony (Dudley) George was shot dead, a government meeting was stunned silent when former premier Mike Harris angrily told senior Cabinet Ministers and two police officers, "I want the f------ Indians out of the park," a public inquiry heard today.

Bush's other victims
Those who oppose, speak out or even question the decisions of the fourth reich are regularly shafted. Over at Tom's Dispatch they have put together a handy list of the people screwed over, used and abused by the president and his henchmen

Harry Potter and the onset of puberty

Kevin Wood / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Three and a half stars out of five
Dir: Mike Newell
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson

The fourth installment in the Harry Potter series may be the most action-packed yet, with J.K. Rowling's eponymous boy wizard attending the quidditch world cup, participating in a dangerous magic competition, going toe-to-toe with his archenemy and, most frightening of all, making his first foray into the dating world.

Taking the helm of the Potter franchise for the first time, director Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral) does a credible job of chronicling the adolescent crises of the three teenage protagonists at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but has discarded all the novel's other subplots in an effort to turn Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire into a streamlined suspense thriller.

For purists, the excising of Hermione's crusade to free the house elves and the Weasly twins' attempts at entrepreneurship will smack of heresy, as will the drastic reduction of the role of gossip columnist Rita Skeeter (Miranda Richardson). But in adapting a 700-page book for the screen, obviously something had to go.

What remains is a series of well-done set pieces strung together by scenes explaining what we are about to see or have just seen.

Also gone is the usual comic opening sequence with Harry's dreadful (but now totally unseen) relatives, the Dursleys. In its place is a brief trip to the world cup of quidditch--a sort of soccer-basketball hybrid played on flying brooms--that focuses mainly on the camping accommodations, with only enough of the event itself to introduce one of the main supporting characters, quidditch star Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ivanevski). The campground is attacked in the middle of the night by henchmen of Potter's archfoe, Lord Voldemort, and the story is off and running.

The now extensive backstory is explained during the standard train trip to the British magic academy, during which Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) meets his romantic interest, Cho Chang (Katie Leung) and in typical teen fashion is tongue-tied at first sight.

There are three main storylines interwoven in Goblet of Fire. In the foreground is the Triwizard tournament--a dangerous competition between Hogwarts, the fetching Frenchwomen of Beauxbatons Academy and the men of Eastern Europe's Durmstang Institute. Harry is too young to submit his name to the competitor-selecting Triwizards cup, but the flaming chalice spits out his name along with champions for each of the three schools nonetheless.

Between the three challenges of the tournament, Harry, Ron and Hermione have to deal with something equally scary and difficult--the usual teen drama and trauma of young romance. Emma Watson has a great scene playing Hermione at the formal Yule ball, cursing thick-headed boys and nursing feet sore from her first high heels, while Ron (Rupert Grint) and Harry prove to be as utterly feckless as most 14-year-old boys when it comes to figuring out girls.

Arching over all this is the continuing saga of the battle between Lord Voldemort and the forces of good. Goblet of Fire gives the audience the longest look yet at the villain and how he became the scourge of humanity. An almost unrecognizable, noseless Ralph Fiennes slithers through the role with elegance and venom as Voldemort takes on physical form at last.

The first two hours of Goblet of Fire pass quickly, alternating for the most part between Harry's preparation for and participation in the various tournament challenges, with a few scenes of lovelorn teen angst and the classroom antics of the new professor of defense against the dark arts, Mad-Eye Moody (the hilariously gruff Brendan Gleeson) thrown in for good measure. The last 40 minutes are taken up with Harry's thrilling face-to-face fight with Voldemort and plenty of hard-to-follow dialogue explaining what has really been happening and setting up the next film in the series.

With the young stars of the film ageing faster than their screen counterparts, it is occasionally a bit difficult to buy the idea that the characters are only 14 years old. Of the three, Watson turns in the most credible performance. Radcliffe needs to learn to loosen up and do something other than project grim resolve, and while Grint shows some signs of talent for broad comedy, his endless over-the-top mugging can be a bit much at times.

While considerably darker and less bland than the first two entries in the Potter series, Goblet of Fire resembles them more than it does the excellent third film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

The movie opens Nov. 26.
(Nov. 28, 2005)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Not so fast, Tubby
If he had killed his parents, he would beg for clemency on the grounds he was an orphan. If they give this feculent, theiving pompous pimple back his Canadian citizenship, I'll be sorely tempted to renounce my own.

Black plays Canadian card to ease possible jail term
Edward Helmore in New York
Sunday November 27, 2005
The Observer
Four years ago Conrad Black renounced his Canadian citizenship as 'an impediment to his progress in a more amenable jurisdiction' - the United Kingdom. Now the beleaguered former newspaper tycoon is desperate to ditch his British citizenship for rather the same reasons.
Then it was to take up a seat in the House of Lords, which was being blocked by the Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chretien. Now Black, facing trial in the United States on charges of defrauding the Hollinger newspaper group of more than $50 million, wants his old citizenship back. His former countrymen assume it is so that, if he is convicted, he can serve his time more pleasantly in a Canadian jail.

No Caption Necessary

Thanks to the photographer, who shall remain nameless in order to keep him from having an "accident," and to Shakespeare's Sister, A Socialite's Life and Lady Bunny