Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Nature of Neocons

On my way to the gym Tuesday afternoon, I was thinking...

What do the G20 anarchists and protesters have in common with far right fanatics such as Ezra Levant and David Frum (as well as their American counterparts)? [I know, it's a very odd thing to think about, but then, that's how my genetically-engineered intellect works.]

Then it hit me like a soaking-wet burlap sack full of cow and horse manure: The only way for them to get their "message" across is through outrageous actions and/or diatribes (esp. vitriolic, insulting diatribes). They need to draw attention, any kind of attention. They need to display their outrage, their contempt, their most base self for all the world to see.

They're bullies, and they believe if the world doesn't listen to them, well, they'll foist their agenda into your face, whether you like it or not. The far right fanatics, in particular, have their own unique style: in print or on television/radio, they'll foam at the mouth, or turn red and go shrill while their blood pressure shoots through the roof. In effect, they're throwing a tantrum.

What astonishes me to no end is that well-respected intellectuals like my dear friends James and Norman would actually read their garbage in the National Post or other similar publications. I suppose the reason must be that their constituency lacks any sort of a respectable paragon or role model (such as the late great William F. Buckley Jr.). It's quite sad, really.

I yearn for the old days when political debates had class and decorum, when well-reasoned arguments were as devastatingly powerful as insults and snarky remarks and childish hysterics. But I guess I'll just have to grin and bear it, as frustrating as it may be. These are the times we live in, unfortunately...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Nibbled by Ducks

I found this terrific comment, which nicely summarizes my feelings on the matter:

Rick Hiebert said, “I’d suggest that if you are not careful about your facts, can we assume that you are not careful about your thesis? Also, the thesis rests on your facts and is based on them.”

Yes, but I think there is a difference between an intentional error made to underpin an important point and an unintentional slip. So far, all the ranting I’ve heard are slips. If she had just left these bits of error out completely, it wouldn’t have diminished her case at all.

Those outrightly opposed to the premise of the book will find any and every error to discredit both it and its author. As metaphorically eluded to by Tim in Matthew chapter 23, they will ignore the weightier matters while garnering attention about incidentals.

I agree facts are paramount. Everything written as non-fiction literature must be evaluated by the basis of evidence to support it. But so far all I’ve heard from yonder “heavy weights” are comments akin to the whining of a two year old. So what I’d like to know is, if these learned and scholarly individuals seem to be so thorough in their dissection of McDonald’s reporting, what, if anything, DO they agree with as true, factual and more importantly, relevant, evidence? They travel land and sea, so to speak, to find one error, but the question is, will they also go the distance to find and admit the greater evidence McDonald gives to support her thesis? We all know there is in fact an ocean of truth to her thesis. But, I won’t hold my breath to hear it from the likes of Stackhouse, Wells or Levant.

Funny how important facts are when it comes to refuting something they don’t like, but when it’s something they do like, facts become irrelevant. Take the bible. A disquisition of the bible, the word of a perfect god (not infallible mankind), reveals a book rife with mistakes, contradictions, errors and inconsistencies. Even so, otherwise intelligent people, Christians, ignore them, do not demerit the book, because somehow they see the greater “truth” of the book outweighing the errors pointed out by critics.

If we are going to play by the “throw the baby out with the bath water” rules, then lets start with your sacred text – the bible.

Hear! Hear!

Like I said earlier, every non-fiction book has some factual errors. For Levant and others to focus on this is childish. While the book is being nibbled by ducks, they overlook the greater substance in McDonald's work, which sounds pretty solid to me.

Do "factual errors" spoil the book?

At Ezra Levant's own website, he lists "a comedy of errors"...

Levant says:
For example, on page 39, she says that Jason Kenney "served as Stockwell Day's chief of staff." I presume she makes that point to show just how dominant the Christian influence in Day's office is. But as anyone on Parliament Hill knows, Kenney has never been Day's chief of staff.
This is definitely a factual error. However, Kenney *was* national co-chairman for Stockwell Day's campaign for the leadership of the Canadian Alliance. Does this error alter the substance of McDonald's book?

Levant says:
So, too, is the claim on page 65 that Ontario politician Frank Klees was a Baptist minister. He wasn't -- not that McDonald bothered to check with him before writing it.
Elsewhere on his own website, he says:
Did you know that Frank Klees was a Baptist minister?

No? Neither did Klees!
According to The Interim, a conservative newspaper, "He received his early religious education in a very conservative Baptist seminary in Toronto, but said he never became a Baptist minister and instead adopted the values he learned there."

Although...if you visit The Interim, apparently an older version of the website, the same writer says, "Frank Klees has highly principled positions, is a former Baptist minister and recently moved a motion to honour Pope John Paul II in the Ontario legislature."

Okay, my point is, it doesn't frakking matter! Obviously, Klees is very religious. If McDonald goofed here, it's virtually immaterial.

Levant's focus on "factual errors" is intended to suggest that McDonald's book is not a reliable source of information, that *ultimately* it is a work of pure fiction. You see, this is how the conservative mind works -- you can almost see the gears turning.

Non-fiction books routinely contain factual errors. I defy anyone to show me a non-fiction book that is absolutely flawless. Moreover, given that McDonald's book is over 400 pages in length, is it likely that the handful of factual errors (which, by the way, are pretty minor) overwhelm the rest of her thesis to the point of irrelevancy? Can we believe the conservative critics who say that this book is simply not worth reading and that her thesis deserves no thoughtful consideration at all?


One final thought:

On his own website, Levant says, and I quote: "She's a Christian hater -- that's a given." Funny, since McDonald regularly attends Anglican church with her family. What an asshole...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Marci McDonald vs Ezra Levant

CTV's Question Period had an interview with both of them:


Is it just me, or does Ezra Levant sound like a Major League Asshole? For a moment, I couldn't tell whether I was watching Levant or Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh. They sort of blur into one another.

I thought living in Canada, I could keep my distance from extreme right-wing fruitcakes. If this isn't proof positive that American-style conservative wingnuts are making their way into Canadian politics, I don't know what is...

UPDATE (June 29, 2010): Check out Dr. Dawg's review of Marci McDonald's book. Very entertaining, and the best review I've read so far.

The Armageddon Factor

Ever since Marci McDonald's The Armageddon Factor was published earlier this year, a number of hateful book reviews have come out against it, mostly from the right and the Christian right. (Quel surpris!) The most egregious example was probably this one in The National Post. I wanted to understand what all the fuss was about (but I didn't really want to buy the book and read the whole thing).

Yesterday afternoon, I dropped into Indigo at the Eaton Centre (after Saturday's G20 violence, the World's Biggest Bookstore was closed). I sat down and read the passages that Frum cited...

Therefore:

6) The questioning of judicial nominees is the first step on the slippery slope to stoning adulterers!

That's not what McDonald said. I like the way Frum twists her words to make this inflammatory assertion. McDonald did point out that Harper and his colleagues were outraged by the power of the judiciary to make laws (something that many of us on this rant line acknowledge -- including myself). She outlined how Harper tried to alter this situation (and rightly so, as even I would concede). She then presented facts regarding others close to the centre of power who supported Harper's initiative, including Vellicott and Bloedow. As background, she delved further into the political views of Rushdoony, and pointed out that his views had fallen into disrepute. But she did say that contemporary conservatives had taken to reviving some of his themes. David Frum's hysterical admonition that we might ever support stoning of adulterers is so typical of right-wingers' tactics to discredit and tear down people whose views threaten their own. His wood-duck-burning-witches sarcasm is further absurdity in support of his vile contempt for McDonald.

“So unflinching has Harper’s backing of Israel been that some have questioned ... to what extent is this country’s role in the Middle East being influenced by ... the idea that the end of the world is at hand?” (p. 312)

McDonald was raising some questions that we should all consider. Is Frum suggesting that we should not ask such questions? Why not?

No matter how you read the above quoted paragraph (and I read it three times...carefully), you cannot interpret it as an assertion, which Frum obviously does.

Another fine phrase that is as loaded as dice in an underground gambling parlor: "sinister chain of causation." I didn't see a causal argument here. McDonald presented her observations (which you may or may not choose to accept). She left it up to us to put these observations in context.

Christians are not Marci McDonald’s most detested target.

Very nice! Makes it sound like she's a raging anti-Semite. I did not at all get the sense that McDonald had it out for Israel. "Most detested target"??? I suppose to anyone who is really, really sensitive about Israel, if you criticize that country in any way, you are anti-Semitic.

It especially enrages McDonald that “opponents of [the Harper government’s] pro-Israel policy are routinely branded as anti-Semites”

I love David Frum's use of the word "enrages" -- no, this word isn't loaded at all, is it? "Endorses." "Disdainfully dismisses." He makes it sound like McDonald is a raving lunatic. I read the cited passages and her tone is well-measured and reasonable. "The government pays too much attention to anti-Jewish hate crimes"?? I didn't get the sense that McDonald was terribly critical. She was just laying out observations from her experience.

Is it possible that McDonald has a particular point of view in this book? Yes. You can't really write a political book without injecting something of your own view into it. The political tome has not been written yet that is totally neutral -- and such a book would be quite dull, at any rate ;-)

After all, the point of her book *is* that Christian nationalism is taking root. I would expect her to make a forceful argument.

However, I did not get the sense that Marci McDonald was completely off-base in her attempt to present a thought-provoking dissertation. If her goal was to make us ask the right questions, to make us consider the possible, then I think she succeeded.

Is it possible that the Christian right is making a power play? Yes. In fact, I would be shocked if they weren't. We should consider the possibility that fundamentalist elements of faith are asserting themselves in Canadian politics. Seems to me, until McDonald wrote this book, no one even realized the likelihood. Certainly, I didn't.

It is apparent to me, if to no one else, that book reviews are much like movie reviews. They are subject to personal interpretation. That David Frum has his own particular interpretation is no surprise. What's really surprising is that his interpretation is firmly rooted in conservative ideology ;-)

Truth is always filtered through one's experiences. That's why there is no absolute truth. David Frum's review of the book is ample evidence of this. But why the hell am I surprised?! Since when have right-wing publications been unbiased???

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Microsoft

My old enemy...

Never forgotten...

Remember OS/2...

He tasks me. He tasks me and I shall have him! I'll chase him 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares Maelstrom and 'round Perdition's flames before I give him up!


Ah, Kirk, my old friend, do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold? ... It is very cold in space!


I've done far worse than kill you, Admiral. I've hurt you. And I wish to go on hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her; marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet...buried alive! Buried alive...!


To the last, I will grapple with thee. ... From Hell's heart, I stab at thee! For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee!


THIS IS CETI ALPHA FIVE! Ceti Alpha Six exploded six months after we were left here. The shock shifted the orbit of this planet and everything was laid waste. 'Admiral' Kirk never bothered to check on our progress. It was only the fact of my genetically-engineered intellect that allowed us to survive. ... On Earth, two hundred years ago, I was a prince with power over millions...

The Decline of Internet Explorer

How the mighty hath fallen! Microsoft's Internet Explorer has rapidly lost browser market share over the past year. Evidence is based on Google Analytics performed on my website, The Good Sex Network.

A year ago, Internet Explorer was king of the hill with a 76% share. Firefox was in second place with 16%. All other browsers hardly registered (less than 3% each).

This month, Microsoft's premiere browser slipped to a pathetic 50%. Firefox has 24%. And we have a new kid on the block with 13% share: Google's Chrome. (Safari and Opera each have about 5%.)

These results are sort of supported by other statistical studies, whose numbers do vary quite a lot. But there's no question that Internet Explorer is in serious decline, and Chrome is rapidly ascending. (Firefox and Safari are relatively stagnant.)

Steve Ballmer and Microsoft can't be happy, which makes me very happy. Can we spell s-c-h-a-d-e-n-f-r-e-u-d-e, boys and girls?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fish oil capsules do work...

...I think. For the past six months, I've been taking three 1000mg capsules per day (as well as multivitamins), and I believe I feel more alert and sharper than I did last year. It's not a HUGE change, but any change is appreciated.

My memory is still pretty spotty, but I think I have better short-term recall.

And this week, I've been shooting remarkably well on the archery range. I've learned to relax and take my time firing off the arrows. Previously, I was always too quick and anxious to release the arrow (not unlike premature ejaculation). But now I can tap into my intuitive centre and find the calm that I need to guide the arrow. Patience, Grasshopper, patience.

It's a bit like tapping into the Force. Or our great mother Eywa (Avatar). Okay, enough Hollywood metaphors. You get the picture.

To paraphrase Porsche: Omega-3...there is no substitute.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Most Fascinating Resource in the World

http://www.onlineschools.org/

Here's what I learned...

The average American watches 151 hours of TV per month -- an all-time high.

Dr. No was a cyborg (I haven't seen the movie in ages, but I don't recall this fact).

1 million people per year commit suicide in the world. That's one death every 40 seconds.

Japan has the highest suicide rate in the industrial world.

It's estimated that 12-15 suicides are attempted for every one that succeeds.

Prostitution is legal and regulated within 22 countries (including Austria, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Switzerland, Mexico, Australia & Colombia).

1 in 10 men in the world have purchased a prostitute. The rate in China is 1 in 4. And 1 in 5 Korean men pay for sex more than 4 times a month.

Men between 35-44 are the most common demographic of customer. 2 out of 5 men paid for services they never received. 1 in 5 were robbed by the prostitute.

Men ejaculate over 14 gallons of sperm in their lifetime.

Sarah Carmen suffers from Permanent Sexual Arousal Syndrome. Because of this, she can have 150-200 uncontrollable orgasms in a day.

The most female orgasms recorded by doctors were 134 within a single hour!

When queen bees mate with a lucky drone, the male's genitals snap off and explode during orgasm.

A pig's orgasm lasts for 30 minutes.

Learning a second language before the age of 5 changes how the brain will develop later in life.

1.35 billion people smoke worldwide. That's 1 out of every 5 people.

Every day, your sinuses produce up to 2 litres of mucus.
1 out of 5 people pick their nose up to 5 times a day.
1 out of 4 "pickers" spend up to 15 minutes a day.

1 out of 2 have eaten their boogers.
1 out of 10 have eaten ear wax.

Women are legally allowed to be topless in Hawaii, Texas, Ohio, New York, and Maine. In Ontario, too.

Top Ten Farters:
  1. Termites
  2. Camels
  3. Zebras
  4. Sheep
  5. Cows
  6. Elephants
  7. Labradors/Retrievers
  8. Humans (vegetarians)
  9. Humans (non-veg)
  10. Gerbils
Of the $97 billion in worldwide pornography revenues, the top spenders are:
  1. China - 28%
  2. S. Korea - 27%
  3. Japan - 21%
  4. U.S. - 14%
I don't mean to be racist, but why are the top 3 Asian??

Companies like Time Warner, GM, and Marriott make millions selling erotica.

The online dating industry is worth $1.049 billion per year.

1 out of 3 women who meet men online have sex on the first encounter. I find this very hard to believe. They must've made a mistake in this study.

Sunday is most popular day for online porn

I got such a hoot from reading this, I just had to share it with all of you! ;-)