26 February 2006
Walking through Wal-Mart today (I love Sunday shopping!) and we're passing through one of the clothing sections and what do I see but a shirt featuring everybody's favourite Oreo-loving furry friend, the Cookie Monster, with a lecherous look on his face saying, "Let me see your cookies!"
Really? Cookie Monster wants some action too now? First it was broccoli, now it's topless women? Is that the natural progression? Can't anything that "belongs" to children remain with them instead of having to be sexualized to make a quick buck using a lame double-entendre?
In happier news, I've been working on gathering research notes and such for the lit review portion of my graduate thesis. I've found a number of excellent quotes that I can cross-reference with other materials that corroborate my idea of Bush 43 as Truman-for-a-new-century, as well as pushing into a new frontier of establishing Iraq less like Vietnam and more like Korea. I'm a happy camper on that front. I've also gotten hold of my Hogg text on Canadian constitutional law, which will prove invaluable in writing my Canadian Politics paper. I know some stuff, but Ann McLellan I'm not when it comes to being a constitutional scholar. Of course, even being Ann McLellan didn't help Ann McLellan when it came to discussing the notwithstanding clause with Paul Martin and its legitimacy in Canadian public policy, but that's neither here nor there.
Back in Halifax in just a smidge more than 48 hours. Batteries are largely recharged, I'm feeling good about getting back and getting through this last full month of classes. Many ideas floating in my head, and hopefully that can translate into some excellent research paper-writing. The end of the tunnel is almost within view. See y'all soon.
24 February 2006
Greetings from BC!
Home has been very nice thus far. Lots of quality time with the families, seen a few familiar faces, the usual stuff. It's been a good way to get away from everything in Halifax that was starting to have a bad effect on my overall mindset, and when I'm back next week I'm hoping to have my batteries fully re-charged so that I can go into the homestretch for this final semester of grad school with a positive attitude. I've been brainstorming on a few ideas for papers and even the thesis, marking papers, and putting a lot of thought into my projects that will keep me occupied for the next three or four months. The time away has been beneficial for my spirit, and probably Tasha's too, so that's good for both of us. We've only had one chance encounter, which was someone that Tasha definitely did not want to see, and that made for another of our ultimately enjoyable and lengthy discussions. It's amazing how much I've learned from that young woman and continue to learn from and about her.
In addition to the personal stuff, I've also been keeping up with the political events in this country and around the world. There's a very interesting poll that came out today which demonstrates that Canadians are not all that interested in participating in events around the world, too. I'll just do the quick copy-paste here:
Do Canadians think Canada should be participating in the war on terrorism?
Don't know: 9%
To me, this is a little unnerving. It's also indicative of a general theory that the rest of the world had an initially powerful response to 9/11 and then went on with their lives (there's no shortage of Americans who would like to return to the world of September 10th as well; it's a nice idea but hardly one that is a recipe for victory). For Canadians specifically, it's also supporting evidence for a theory that Canadians simply no longer desire to pursue the Pearsonian values of the so-called "Golden Age" of Canadian foreign policy. This argument was brought up against Michael Ignatieff when he suggested that Canada should be involved in the Iraq war, and it appears that the viewpoint has taken a fairly firm hold on our public. It's not a secret that I'm a supporter of Canada taking a larger role in the world and working with our American allies to make the world safer for democracy, but apparently I'm only in a very slim plurality of folks in this country with that attitude. I think in large part the problem, which I perceive this to be, falls with the previous government and its pronounced anti-Americanism. It's had a trickle-down effect on almost anything that Canada does in the international scene; if the Americans are for it, there's a knee-jerk reaction that we should be against it. This is in spite of the fact that we've been named by Osama bin Laden as a target for al Qaeda operations. There is a sad amount of willingness in the Canadian government to allow there to exist a gradation of unacceptability for terrorist activities. As yet, the government has refused to fully sanction and prevent the spread of funds aimed towards Hizbollah and Hamas, funds which are then directed to killing civilians walking the streets in Israel. I'll quote David Frum and Richard Perle: "We won't get very far against the ideology of global jihad as long as we suggest that some terrorist jihads are acceptable forms of 'resistance' while others are not."
I'm hopeful that the new government will go a lot further than the previous one in explaining the terms of the environment in which we find ourselves. The same poll quoted above indicated that there was a large lack of ignorance as to exactly what Canada is doing in Afghanistan. The government needs to get the message out. I'm suggesting that Harper has to do the same thing that Bush has done occasionally: go on a tour to sell the message. You can't expect a wide amount of support from Canadians if our soldiers are dying and we don't know why. Talk about the successes: young women going to school to receive an education; the end of arbitrary imprisonment, torture, and murder for expressing dissent; steps taken towards eliminating Afghanistan's dependency on opium production and exports. This is not an easy conflict, building democracies never is. History is on our side; we've done this before. We can do it in places like Afghanistan. But it's going to be much more difficult to win the war at home if people don't know what we're doing abroad.
15 February 2006
In less than 12 hours I'm going to be on a plane home to visit family & friends back in BC for 12 days. Couldn't be happier about it. But as always, politics is always on my mind. According to a headline story in the Washington Post, Secretary of State Condi Rice has requested from Congress a whole lotta money to support pro-democracy activists in Iran and create internal dissent to overthrow the mullahs. This would put us in 1997, according to the old Iraqi timeline, though with all the other stuff that's ongoing between Washington and Tehran, there's room for fluctuation all the way up to September 18, 2001. We're a long way from the brink, but one of the best attributes of realism is the werewithal that future uncertainty must come into play when discussing any long-term policy. Keep your eyes peeled for this one to continue developing in a negative way. Every move and counter-move so far points to conflict being inevitable.
14 February 2006
I'm sitting here watching The National right now, and I simply cannot believe what I'm seeing. They're running a story on infidelity, entitled "A Passion for More." The main star is an anonymous woman who is having an extramarital affair. She's been married six years, has children, describes herself as "happy" with her marriage, yet she's screwing someone who is not her husband. She describes herself as "comfortable" with what she's doing, yet doesn't have the guts and is obviously ashamed of herself sufficiently to request that CBC not reveal her identity and give her the blackened-figure treatment. As is the case with so many violations of marriage and fidelity, she is cheating "only for the sex;" she's not otherwise attached to the person with whom she is cheating, who by the way also has kids and a wife of his own. She has three cell-phones, one of which is dedicated exclusively to her lover so that they don't get caught. She listed a series of concerns about what she is doing; the last one mentioned, and thus the least important one on the priority food chain, is getting caught. The idea of her children doesn't enter the picture, the feelings it would cause her husband don't enter the picture, it is all about her. A completely selfish and hypocritical individual, whose actions threaten to ruin the lives of the very people that she is supposed to love the most, yet she is not portrayed in a negative light. No, this woman doesn't apparently deserve our opprobrium, nor our pity; she is 21st century woman, bold and empowered. She's portrayed as being part of an emerging cultural norm; somehow, thanks to the idea propagated by shows such as Desperate Housewives and yes, magazines such as Playboy, this is now an acceptable practice. Rhetorical question posed by Tasha to the television: "how do you sleep at night?" Indeed. When a person takes their wedding vows, "to the exclusion of all others" is a pretty central phrase. She has no respect for her marriage, the man she married, her children, her family, and, assuming she was married in a church, her faith. I will state, as I often find myself compelled to do, that I am not a particularly religious man, but I'm thinking that if a person makes a vow before God, it's probably not a good idea to break it.
The sub-story is the rise of the Internet dating service. There's a scumbag who promotes his site as something "extra" for people who are just looking for a little more than what their relationship can provide. He describes monogamy as a failed institution, and portrays infidelity, both male and female, to be something which is empowering and beneficial for our society. He has turned his little escort service into a segment of a $10M a year industry. That is despicable. Profiting from ruining relationships and promoting sexual promiscuity is not only irresponsible, but it is immoral. What this man is doing is not beneficial for society, it is beneficial only for his pocket book and for the selfish individuals who blatantly fail to realize the hypocrisy of their claims to love someone.
I cannot fully express how outraged I am the CBC would run a story like this on Valentine's Day. I have just enjoyed a truly wonderful day in my monogamous relationship, which leaves me completely fulfilled and with considerable inner peace, and this garbage is what my state-run broadcast network deems to see fit to air as newsworthy and deserving of our attention? I find it truly upsetting that promoting infidelity has moved beyond even the stage of tolerance and is now at a level of acceptance in our society. If we look at the recent Supreme Court decision on "swinging clubs," it can be argued that Canada is at a point of approving of such despicable practices. Let me be perfectly clear: I do not approve of promoting infidelity, I do not accept that is a practice that should be acceptable as a social norm, and I certainly would not tolerate infidelity being practiced within my relationship or by anybody in my family or circle of friends. On this, of all days, the day that is designed by Hallmark to make millions of dollars off of people who want to demonstrate their love and commitment to one another, why does the CBC see fit to run a featurette designed solely to tear down the best thing in our society?
11 February 2006
Good for these kids. I wish that here in North America young women would emulate statements such as these:
"It's very, very bad for Indonesia," student protester Lina Mufliha said of pornography, which she said leads to rape and crime. "It can destroy our generation, so we have to give some attention to this cause."
"In Asia, there is so much impact of porn, there is so much rape and sexual crime because of porn."
Instead, we've got 14-year old girls running around wearing Playboy Bunny shirts and other Hefner-sponsored paraphernalia, acting like adults and "impressing" the boys while being blissfully ignorant of indirectly promoting the enormous number of negative associations that the porno industry has: drugs, organized crime, etc. They are, in effect, participating in their own exploitation. A real woman doesn't need to exploit her sensuality/sexuality via the porn shirt, and indeed the porn culture, in order to win a man's heart; yes, it might get them a one-night stand and a venereal disease from the 30-year old meatheaded creep with the "Player" shirt at the local nightclub, but who wants that? No self-respecting woman, that's for sure.
It's high time that our society took a good look at itself and the porn culture and realized the harm that we're hoisting upon ourselves. By supporting Playboy and its far more-vulgar competitors, we're supporting an industry that:
a. uses, degrades, and abuses women;
b. feeds normal women the incredibly negative message that they have to "look" or "act" like the airbrushed women in the videos & magazines in order to get a date;
c. encourages men that it's okay to use women for five minutes and then discard them because they've served the purpose of fulfilling the fantasy;
d. ruins relationships;
e. encourages the solicitation of prostitutes, "workers" in an "industry" that is supported by organized crime, drug trafficking -- thus taking one step further the situation I described in (c);
f. when porn doesn't do it anymore, and there's no prostitutes to be found, incites the idea of rape;
g. encourages certain liberal movements to pursue legalizing prostitution in order to remove the "stigma" of all things associated with pursuing a transaction to acquire the sexual services of a degraded human being and compelling that party to fulfill whatever sexual fantasies or desire the purchaser has, feeding more money into the illegal and immoral organizations mentioned in (e);
h. promotes "sexual revolution" at the expense of public decency, personal integrity, personal dignity, and thus encourages people to have as much sex as possible without taking into consideration the potential consequences or their own self-respect and self-worth.
That's a good short list of eight. I'm sure there are dozens upon dozens more. Bottom line: don't buy porn, don't use porn, don't support porn. It's not healthy for you, for your view on women, or society. Throw out the Playboy bunny shirt. It's not hot; it's a symbol that you don't respect yourself.
10 February 2006
Cartoon controversies aside, it seems as though the Tories are having a hellacious first week in office. Between the Emerson kerfuffle, the Fortier flap, other conservatives jumping on Peter Mackay for taking a neutral stance on the cartoons, more Emerson kerfuffle, the liberal media are having a field day. Hopefully these are just a few early bumps in the transition, otherwise it's going to be an awful couple of years.
Oh yeah, 5th row floor for Bryan Adams!
09 February 2006
I kinda agree with this:
"In order to express their displeasure with the idea that Muslims are violent, thousands of Muslims around the world engaged in rioting, arson, mob savagery, flag-burning, murder and mayhem, among other peaceful acts of nonviolence."
Now, Ann Coulter isn't someone that many people take exceedingly seriously, but she's got a point here. This is one of those things in which the cycle of violence really does perpetuate itself.
1. Cartoon insinuates that the terrorists, who pervert Islam's teachings, have been so active that Heaven has run out of virgins. For those who are unaware, those who sacrifice themselves in the name of jihad are promised 72 virgins in Heaven.
Click the image to see in full-size. This is one of the actual cartoons; I've deliberately made this very small so that it's practically impossible to see it unless you click the link. If you haven't seen it yet and don't want to be offended, don't click it. It's that simple.
2. Extremist jihadists take to the streets to prove the cartoonist wrong by protesting and maybe killing a few infidels . . . including shooting a Roman Catholic priest in the back.
3. The West makes a call for civility, defends cartoons based on freedom of speech.
4. Extremist jihadists make placards reading "Butcher those who mock Islam," "Freedom of expression go to hell," and "Behead the infidels."
5. Western newspapers publish cartoons reprinted from "moderate" Muslim publications, featuring Ariel Sharon butchering Muslim babies with a long staff with a swastika on the end of it, Sharon bathing in Palestinian blood, in addition to the usual filth about the Jews (the hooked noses, animal-like features, etc.)
6. Muslims defend these actions on grounds of freedom of expression, and hey, it's only Sharon and an entire religion we're denigrating, it's not the same as Mohammed. West reacts with indignation but doesn't torch any embassies.
7. Extremist jihadists, now being trucked around on the bill of the regimes in Tehran and Damascus, torch Norwegian and Danish embassies throughout the Middle East. This, in earlier times, would have constituted an act of war. Fortunately, Europe has no military capabilities, and even if it did, probably unlikely to up the ante in retaliation.
Where does it end? When does the violence stop? What will it take for people to grasp the basic concepts of tolerance in this situation? This is ridiculous in almost every way; these cartoons were originally printed back in September, why are they causing the fury now? Because the extremist regimes that rely on this type of propaganda to justify their oppression of their populations and legitimate their corrupt rule have orchestrated all of this. This behaviour exemplifies why I believe regime change should come to places like Syria, Iran, et al., sooner rather than later. I've seen the cartoons, they're readily available on the Internet; interested folks from around the world can view them. A democratic state, based on the principles of the rule of law and allowing liberal ideas such as the freedom of expression, doesn't respond to offensive cartoons by inciting citizens to torch embassies and scream "death to the infidels." You'll notice that there have been some very mild protests in a lot of democracies which have chosen to run the cartoons in one format/venue or another. Response is largely measured. Iran and Syria? Non-democracies. Massively violent outbursts. Coincidence? Maybe. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to head over to Tim Horton's and have a danish.
There is nothing more in the world I love to see than the sight of my girlfriend beaming with happiness and joy. The announcement that Bryan Adams is coming to Halifax, two days before my birthday, has created an environment in which she is doing exactly that. This is a good day. Tomorrow, when we actually get the tickets purchased, she will be even happier, and in turn, so will I.
08 February 2006
04 February 2006
In long overdue news, Iran has been referred by the IAEA to the UN Security Council. Consensus was fairly wide among responsible states that Tehran possessing nuclear weapons was a bad idea. Of course there were some holdouts: the communist dictatorship of Cuba, the terrorist regime in Damascus, and the Left's favourite hero (Cindy Sheehan's too!) Hugo Chavez all voted against the referral motion. Great work in standing up for the wrong thing, thugs!
Iran responded predictably as well, vowing to immediately resume its uranium enrichment program. Apparently the rational minds in Tehran came to the conclusion that the best way to convince the "international community" that you're not building a nuclear weapon is to declare an end to diplomacy and pursue enriching uranium. I guess that makes sense in some way.
Of course, referral to the Security Council is no guarantee that real action will take place. Both China and Russia have considerable economic and military connections with the Iranian regime, and they have kindly requested that the matter not be discussed by the Council until March. Let's also recall that just because sanctions are in place, it doesn't necessarily mean that anybody will follow them. Oil-for-food? France? Russia? Anybody remember these wonderful actions vis-a-vis Saddam Hussein, who was under a dozen Security Council resolutions? Somehow I'm pessimistic that one resolution will be enough to get legitimate results over this grave international security problem.
03 February 2006
01 February 2006
So this is what they were telling me to brace myself for when I moved to Halifax. It's been blowing snow, wind, etc. since last night. The school is closed for at least this morning, and I'm guessing my class this afternoon will be cancelled too. I was scheduled to deliver my thesis proposal this morning too, I guess that's on hold for a couple of days now. It's vicious out there, I haven't seen any buses go by, there's been very little traffic other than the snow trucks, my guess is that most of the city is shut down today. At least I've still got the Internet, my books, and the TV!