Saturday, May 31, 2008

Quote of the Day

Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.
Nikita Khrushchev

The curious thing about this quote is that the politics of which K. speaks was really quite absent when K. reigned.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruíz de Santayana y Borrás Revisited

There's an old saying about those who forget history. I don't remember it, but it's good.

Stephen Colbert

Thursday, May 29, 2008

From Russia (I think) With Love

You Have to Love The Star

You Have to Love The Star, or not as the case may be.

Today, The Star, on the front page no less, runs a borderline anti-semitic, anti-zionist (and I know the two are different, but explain that to the anti-semites) story about a play based on the tragic tale of Rachel Corrie who died underneath a bulldozer in Gaza. You can find the story here. The article is terrible in so far as it recounts the mostly true tale of Ms. Corrie's unnecessary death, anti-semitic in so far as it suggests that the play has found difficulty in staging because of 'Jewish' elements in theatrical authority that find it distasteful, self-congratulatory as it has found a venue in Toronto which of course is above such things, but ultimately wonderful in this terrific sidebar (the last paragraph of which I draw your attention--the rest speaks for itself.)


Timeline: The Corrie story

After Sept. 11, 2001: American activist Rachel Corrie (above) becomes involved with peace groups in her hometown of Olympia, Wash.

Early 2003: Travels to Gaza with International Solidarity Movement.

March 16, 2003: Corrie, 23, is killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza while trying to block the destruction of a Palestinian physician’s home.

April 2005: My Name is Rachel Corrie premieres at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in London to enthusiastic reviews. Actor Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner, features editor of The Guardian newspaper in London, put together the one-woman play from the diaries, letters and emails of Corrie.

February 2006: New York Theatre Workshop chooses to “indefinitely postpone” its planned U.S. premiere. The theatre’s artistic director, James C. Nicola, cites concerns expressed about the play by leaders in the local Jewish community. Rickman accuses the Theatre Workshop of “censorship born out of fear.”

April 2006: A private reading of the play is held behind closed doors at the University of Toronto for fear of outside agitation. None occurs.

October 2006: An independent commercial production of the play opens off-Broadway with minimal protest. It runs through December.

November 2006: Martin Bragg, artistic producer of CanStage, announces he will be mounting the play in his next season, calling it “the kind of story we need to be telling in our theatres.”

December 2006: Faced with opposition from Jewish members of his board, Bragg cancels plans to produce the play, claiming he found it “dull” when he finally saw it onstage in Manhattan.

August 2007: Theatre Panik announces plans to stage the play at Tarragon Extra Space beginning May 2008, directed by Kate Lushington.

March 16, 2008: An Arabic-language version of Rachel is performed for the first time in Haifa, Israel, on the fifth anniversary of her death. Corrie’s parents are in the audience.


If you were to turn the tables -- it was for example an anti-Islamic play and you wanted to stage it in an Islamic state -- in no way would it stand a chance of passing the official censors and not raising the ire of the local clerics. In Israel, and in Arabic the play can be staged because Israel, in Karl Popper's terminology, is an 'open society,' while its neighbors, also in Popper's language, are the enemies of 'the open society.' This is not to say that Israel is not without its faults or does not have blood on its hands, but Israel is the only state in the Middle East where such agit-prop against the state in which it is staged (and, arguably, is a result of) can be shown.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Can this Country Have No Colour At All?

STATEMENT BY PRIME MINISTER STEPHEN HARPER

May 26, 2008
Ottawa, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement:

“Earlier this evening, I accepted the resignation of Maxime Bernier as
Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Last night, Maxime Bernier became aware that he had left classified
government documents at a private residence earlier this spring. I
became aware of this security breach late this afternoon.

The documents in question have been returned to the Government of Canada
and Mr. Bernier deeply regrets this error.

I have asked Minister David Emerson to take on additional duties as
Minister of Foreign Affairs on an interim basis. I have also asked
Minister Josée Verner to take on additional duties for La Francophonie.”

A copy of Mr. Bernier’s letter of resignation is attached.




* * * *


The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister
Room 313-S, Centre Block
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6


Prime Minister,

This is to inform you that I am resigning my post as Minister of Foreign
Affairs, effective immediately.

I informed you late this afternoon that last night I became aware that I
had left behind classified government documents at a private residence.

Prime Minister, the security breach that occurred was my fault and my
fault alone and I take full responsibility for my actions.
I have asked the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
to conduct a thorough review of the situation.

Thank you for the trust you have shown in me. I will do everything I can
to serve the government well in my capacity as Member of Parliament.

Yours truly,


Maxime Bernier

Monday, May 26, 2008

Russell's Why I am not a Christian



Bertie's essay can be found here. It's worth a read just to realize how quaint old defenses of atheism are, as compared to the new defenses by Hitchens, Dennett, Dawkins, et al.

Mars!



There is really something quite peculiar about Nasa's search for life beyond this planet. I am not a great fan of space exploration. It seems a very costly and dangerous endeavor. However, when it comes to probes -- which are both cheaper and do not endanger people -- is a little different. Nonetheless, why is it that all space exploration has to be justified by the search for life. Are not the odd geometrical areas in the above enough?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Finally, Some New Chicken Jokes

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

___________________________________



BARACK OBAMA :

The chicken crossed the road because it was time for a CHANGE!
The chicken wanted CHANGE!



JOHN MC CAIN:

My friends, that chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage
In cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road.



HILLARY CLINTON :

When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road.
This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure -- right from Day One! --
That every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road.
But then, this really isn't about me.......



DR. PHIL :

The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must

First deal with the problem on 'THIS' side of the road before it goes

After the problem on the 'OTHER SIDE' of the road. What we need to do is

Help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his 'CURRENT'

Problems before adding 'NEW' problems.



OPRAH:

Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he

Wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn

From his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to

Give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and

Not live his life like the rest of the chickens.



GEORGE W. BUSH :

We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to

Know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is

Either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.



COLIN POWELL :

Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image

Of the chicken crossing the road...



ANDERSON COOPER - CNN:

We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been

Allowed to have access to the other side of the road.



JOHN KERRY :

Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it!

It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken ' s

Intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it




Lou Dobbs :

To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.



MARTHA STEWART :

No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a

Standing order at the Farmer ' s Market to sell my eggs when the price

Dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider

Information.



DR SEUSS :

Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the

Chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.



JERRY FALWELL :

Because the chicken was gay! Can ' t you people see the plain truth? '

That ' s why they call it the ' other side. ' Yes, my friends, that chicken

Is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we

Boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal

Media white washes with seemingly harmless phrases like ' the other side.

That chicken should not be crossing the road. It ' s as plain and as

Simple as that.




BARBARA WALTERS :


Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the

Chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it

Experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its

Life long dream of crossing the road.




BILL GATES :

I have just released eChicken2007, which will not only cross roads, but

Will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your check

Book. Internet Explorer is an integral part of the Chicken. This new

Platform is much more stable and will never cra...#@&&^(C% .........

Reboot.



ALBERT EINSTEIN :

Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the

Chicken?



BILL CLINTON :

I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What is your definition of

Chicken?



AL GORE :

I invented the chicken!



COLONEL SANDERS:

Did I miss one?



DICK CHENEY :

Where's my gun?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Unfortunately, this Will not be a Storm in a Tea Cup

Amazing, watch about 1:55 in.
I don't believe for one minute that HC meant that the same fate that met Robert Kennedy will meet Obama and as a result she will win the democratic nomination. But this is certainly not how it will be understood. A monumentally stupid gaffe.





Great Article on the Russian Computer Attack on Estonia


The PDF is here. And it was all over a monument.

Global-Social-Positioning System To Help Lost Drivers Avoid Poor People

Hindenburg Zeppelin Circles Manhattan Island

I never knew how big the Hindenburg was, less than 10 meters shorter than the Titanic and could travel at 80 mph. In the clip above, the Swastikas on the tail fins have been swapped for Iron Crosses. They were circling New York waiting for better weather in New Jersey.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Google Tip of the Day; Tracking Your Dome


Track how long it's been since your last mullet-mod. More info here:

Somehow Whitman Sounds Just as You Imagined He Would



A wax recording from 1860.

America

Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear'd, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love..."

HT: AS

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Widely Played, But I Like It: Bill O'Reilly Flips Out — DANCE REMIX

So God Does Is Dice?

Letter to Eric Gutkind (partial)
Albert Einstein (1954)
Translated from the German by Joan Stambaugh...

... The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text. For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them.

In general I find it painful that you claim a privileged position and try to defend it by two walls of pride, an external one as a man and an internal one as a Jew. As a man you claim, so to speak, a dispensation from causality otherwise accepted, as a Jew the priviliege of monotheism. But a limited causality is no longer a causality at all, as our wonderful Spinoza recognized with all incision, probably as the first one. And the animistic interpretations of the religions of nature are in principle not annulled by monopolisation. With such walls we can only attain a certain self-deception, but our moral efforts are not furthered by them. On the contrary.

Now that I have quite openly stated our differences in intellectual convictions it is still clear to me that we are quite close to each other in essential things, ie in our evalutations of human behaviour. What separates us are only intellectual 'props' and `rationalisation' in Freud's language. Therefore I think that we would understand each other quite well if we talked about concrete things.

With friendly thanks and best wishes

Yours, A. Einstein.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

China Earthquake 7.8 [2008/05/12]

Watch the gold fish around 5 minutes in. Could be much worse than Burma. What will be interesting to see is if China handles it any better.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Re: Hiroshima Photos (Weird)

Photos of Hiroshima from the Robert L. Capp Collection

NOTE: The Robert L. Capp collection at the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University contains ten photographs purportedly showing the immediate aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing. Mr. Capp was assigned to the occupation forces outside Hiroshima after World War II. According to to Mr. Capp's oral history (available along with the photographs in the Robert L. Capp collection), he found these photos among rolls of undeveloped film in a cave outside of Hiroshima. Since making these photographs publicly available, I have received reliable proof that at least two of these photos are actually of the 1923 Kanto earthquake. While I cannot speak for the entire collection, this evidence raises doubts about all of the photos and raises the strong possibility that the identification provided by the Hoover Archives is incorrect. I take full responsibility for my own failure to take additional steps to verify that the original archival designation was correct. I have removed the photographs until and unless their source can be verified by further research.


HT: M2

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Gotta Love the Junta: Generals Putting Their Names on Foreign Food Aid in Burma (not Myamar)


Ugly, but completely predictable story, here.

Myanmar junta hands out aid boxes with generals' names

Sat May 10, 3:08 PM ET

Myanmar's military regime distributed international aid Saturday but plastered the boxes with the names of top generals in an apparent effort to turn the relief effort for last week's devastating cyclone into a propaganda exercise.

Despite international appeals to postpone a referendum on a controversial proposed constitution, voting began Saturday in all but the hardest hit parts of the country. With voters going to the polls, state-run television continuously ran images of top generals including junta leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, handing out boxes of aid at elaborate ceremonies.

"We have already seen regional commanders putting their names on the side of aid shipments from Asia, saying this was a gift from them and then distributing it in their region," said Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, which campaigns for human rights and democracy in the country.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sometimes I am Embarassed to be a Canadian: Mark Steyn on Trial


Nice oped here.

A miserable quote or three:

We do not envy the Canadians. They have entrusted to their government a power Americans never would, and they follow it into foolishness.In the week of June 2, a body of bureaucrats called the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal will call on the carpet author Mark Steyn. A bellicose champion of the West, Steyn predicts in his new book, "America Alone," that Muslims will swarm over Europe, ban alcohol and put women in veils. Maclean's magazine printed an excerpt that outraged Islamic Canadians, who complained to human-rights tribunals in Ottawa and the provinces.

...

British Columbia now bans all words and images "likely to expose a person ... to hatred or contempt" because of race, religion, age, disability, sex, marital status or sexual orientation." This sounds like a libel law for groups, except that libel is a misstatement of fact that damages an individual reputation. In the United States, for a public figure to be libeled, the false statement has to be made maliciously or recklessly.

...

Racial harmony in Canada would have been safer had the question never become official.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Monday, May 5, 2008

Harrowing Photo Essay of the Aftermath of the US Nuclear Attack on Hiroshima


The photo essay can be found here.

It's a strange thing, but when I think of Hiroshima I think of pictures like the one above, a photograph denuded of the bomb's effect on the citizens of Hiroshima and, if you are like me, a long hard look at the photographs above are a necessary correction to this odd lacunae. The story behind how it is that these harrowing photographs are only available to the public now is also very much worth a read. Israel's bombing of Syria's nascent atomic weapon facilities looks all the more prescient.

HT: AS

Sound Familiar: Hitler's Plans for War on America




HT: AS

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Austria's Greatest Tragedy? I Think Not


From the letters section in today's National Post.
Austria's Greatest Tragedy?
Re: Man Traps Daughter For 24 Years; Kept In Dungeon, Bore His Children, Police Say, April 28.
Much has been said over the past few days about "Austria's greatest tragedy ever." Twelve years ago I stood at the Mauthausen concentration camp with my father, a former inmate of the camp, and I also wondered how among the many farms surrounding the camp not one was able to identify what was going on in their midst for so many years during the war.

Furthermore, Mauthausen was surrounded by other concentration camps, including at least one death camp, from where my father was liberated after spending weeks burying Jewish victims.

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day and I challenge the Austrian people to finally admit that this was in fact the greatest tragedy in the history of their nation.

Marvin Stenge, Montreal.


After all, this is the Country where Hitler was a German and Mozart an Austrian. I did once have the opportunity of visiting Mathausen. It's truly frightening how the horrors of the past can be so sanitized by the weather of 50 years. More info on just how bad Mathausen-Gussen and the smaller satellite camps can be found here. It is true that Nazi Germany did invade Austria, but they were not exactly met with much resistance. Even today, the famous Vienna Synagogue that survived the war -- it was to be made into a museum -- there are no signs leading to it, and both my friend Adam Sandler, who speaks fluent avrit (modern Hebrew), and me with a last name like Rabin, were unable to get past the Israeli security.