31 May 2007

On Pro's and Anti's in the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Today I received an email from the Canada-Israel Committee informing me of the latest anti-Israel action undertaken by the academic community, a boycott of all Israeli academic institutions by the Union of College and Universities in the UK. There have been a number of such condemnations of Israel by academics, and no such recriminations against the Palestinians. If there were balanced, fair, and proper denunciations of particular policies or actions by both sides, the claim of anti-Israel or anti-Semitic bias would lose considerable legitimacy. But that balance does not truly exist. It is overwhelmingly Israel that is denounced, in blanket terms, such as these boycotts, and the Palestinian extremists such as Hamas, often see their deliberate crimes against Israeli citizens receive no condemnation or criticism at all from the academic community. I don't know whether it is because these academics hold Israel to a higher standard because they believe Israel should be held to a higher standard--which amounts to racism against Palestinians--or because they are simply repulsed by everything that Israel does vis-a-vis the Palestinians, which is simply anti-Semitism.

I've often found that there is almost a de facto position of being pro-Palestine built in to being pro-Israel, unless one is on the extreme fringe and believes in the "Greater Israel" concept that outright excludes conceding any territory to the Palestinians. Maybe it's just me, but my pro-Israel stance includes the two-state solution, the continued stringent application of the rule of law by Israel's judiciary to prevent and punish excessive military actions against Palestinians where civilians are put at risk, and looking forward to the day when the security fence is no longer necessary and divisive of two neighbours who live side-by-side in peace and prosperity.

It is unfortunate that, for some people, being pro-Palestine includes a default position of being anti-Israel. Whether referring insidiously to the "occupation," the "apartheid wall," or "Zionist oppression," these people are blinded by their desire to see peace without accountability and responsibility being established by the Palestinian leadership. They want Israel to immediately unilaterally concede all territories that Israel occupied, not merely "territories" in the wake of comprehensive negotiations with a Palestinian leadership that has gained internal and external legitimacy, reined in terrorists and rejectionists, and is ready to move forward towards a lasting and just settlement. For those people, humiliating Israel appears to trump all other rational considerations, including even the truth, as this quote from a letter written in yesterday's Chronicle-Herald, exemplifies:
The Israeli practices in the Occupied Palestinian Ter­ritories stand in violation of vir­tually every article of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and include extra-judicial assassination, torture, daily humiliation, de­nial of health care, demolition of thousands of homes and expro­priation of property for the cre­ation of illegal Jewish settle­ments.

Reality is far different from what this letter-writer states. The claims are so absurd that one could very easily go out and provide any number of links that utterly rebuke this pack of filthy lies. However, it is this type of deliberate misinformation that is relied upon by the pro-Palestine/anti-Israel crowd, and it is deeply insidious and harmful to any peace process. How can one expect to be part of the solution when they make such statements that serve only to incite hatred of Israel and falsely-based sympathy for the Palestinians? They simply cannot. Both sides have to make concessions that will be painful, yet to this point, only Israel has demonstrated that it is willing to do that in the name of peace.

30 May 2007

But Are There Wookiees?

Stuff like the discovery of 28 new planets is always really neat news. Blame it on the Star Wars (and yes, believe me, I've heard about the new Clone Wars!), but I've been fascinated by space since I was a little boy. I remember reading all about the solar system when I was 4, learning about the sun and what will happen when it dies in a few billion years--there was a picture of the effects it would have on Earth, and it looked as though the global warming people were right: it's going to be really freakin' hot in a few million centuries!

The exploration of space has become all the more prominent in recent years, thanks to the amazing increases in technology. Our ability to scan the universe has increased multi-fold in recent decades, and we've been able to discover well over 200 planets that exist beyond our own solar system, something which always raises the question: is there other life out there? Look at a picture such as this, a slightly-larger-than-Earth-sized planet revolving around a star some 20 light-years away, and tell me that the idea doesn't intrigue you just a little bit.

28 May 2007

They Still Just Don't Get It

This is largely picking up something off Kinsella's, but deserves to be repeated and rebuked, time and time again:

"It's a hard sell, this terrorism stuff. When more people are dying on our side of the world from bathtub mishaps than terror outbreaks, you wonder how long the paranoia can linger."

The comment comes from the G&M's Lawrence Martin, a contemptible piece written on May 24th. Like most of the latent anti-Americans running around the Globe's offices, Martin would love to bury his head in the sand and act as though the world hasn't dramatically changed since 9/11. Look at the framing of the greatest issue in global politics and international relations of the 21st century: "this terrorism stuff." It's just a simple thing, a collection of things, and not one that's easy to convince people is actually really an issue at all. Sort of like trying to tell people that dust bunnies will cause massive amounts of lethal allergic reactions and thus we must all hunker down and start cleaning. Take that, grand strategists of the world!

I know, I know, freedom of speech, different political perceptions, to each their own pair of rose-coloured glass, and all that stuff. But it really makes you wonder how some people can look at the reality of the world around them and arrive at the conclusion that falling down in the bathtub constitutes a greater threat to Canadian, American, and global security than a movement whose stated agenda is to kill four million Americans and any other infidels that obstruct their path to reconstituting the Islamic caliphate of centuries long gone.

It is exactly this type of laissez-faire attitude, the sentiment that we can let our guards down simply because it's been more than five years and Canada still hasn't been on the wrong end of a terrorist attack led by al Qaeda or some other network, that will embolden the terrorists to actually attack us. So soon Martin forgets that only a year ago a plot to storm Parliament, capture and behead the Prime Minister of Canada was uncovered. We owe it to our law enforcement and intelligence agencies for preventing that attack, and the countless others that have not happened.

In Lawrence Martin's world, Canada would unilaterally declare that it's getting out of "the terrorism stuff," post haste. But as surely as someone falling in a bathtub, an attack against this country for its participation in Afghanistan would follow. Complacency and cowardice are the allies of the terrorists. They know that Canada is soft, its underbelly (the Canadian public and especially the media) ripe for a solid body blow. They think that we would mimic Spain's decision after the Madrid bombing to get out of Iraq, by getting out of Afghanistan and cowering from coast-to-coast-to-coast. Lawrence Martin would likely be the first to run an article in the G&M proclaiming our surrender, unless Jack Layton were able to nudge him out with a guest editorial comment.

This is what makes the Left so dangerous: by portraying those of us on the Right as hysterical and full of paranoia, and the Right refusing to engage in that type of childlike debate, they appear to hold more rational thought and thus by default capture public sentiment. It happened with Ballistic Missile Defence, it happened with Iraq, it happens from time to time on matters pertaining to Afghanistan. The Left cries out, the Right says nothing, and thus the people--largely apathetic and disengaged on foreign affairs--hear only the Left and take on those positions.

This is deeply troubling for Canadian national interests and our security. I sincerely hope that somebody out there with a large pulpit starts tearing down the facade of credibility that people like Lawrence Martin and Jeff Simpson have in the minds of Canadians. Those type of writers simply don't "get it" when it comes to the nature of 21st century conflict. You can't teach an old dog new tricks, so expecting people who grew up in the airy-fairy world of Trudeau to understand the intricacies of fourth-generation warfare, terrorism, and counterinsurgencies is a little rich. But somebody out there needs to start countering these dimwits, or else the body count from terrorism will quickly outgrow the fatalities incurred from slipping in the shower.

26 May 2007

In the past couple of days I've had a handful of discussions about the future relationship between China and the United States. There is a growing concern about China's emergence on the world scene and the perceived threat to Washington's global hegemony, with some folks getting the sense that, in true realist fashion, the two will inevitably become rivals in a new Cold War-like scenario.

If China becomes a rival or enemy of Washington, it will mark the greatest strategic failure of the West in centuries. Both sides have far too much invested in one another, with China owning a significant portion of the U.S. overseas debt. Any significant provocation would thus spell disaster for the global economy. Militarily, China's build-up is actually more of a blessing for the United States because it will also somebody else to become responsible for handling crises that may/can/will arise in Asia. Washington may serve now as the global policeman, but it is a role that many are not comfortable with, either in the United States or around the world. China is merely assuming its natural role as a regional hegemon, and Washington would do well to be accomodating of that and work with China to strengthen bilateral relations so that they may work together on regional and global issues.

The predominant reason that China's military rise is seen as a threat is because of the US military guarantee to Taiwan. Washington fears (and justly so) that any increase of China's power will cause the leadership on Taiwan to get extremely antsy and provoke some sort of conflict between the island and the mainland, which would trigger a traditional great-power war between China and the US. That should be avoided at all costs. Both parties possess nuclear weapons, huge conventional standing armies, and a war between them would cost millions in lives. The fate of Taiwan is not worth that loss. I profess that I am not totally up-to-date on the status of relations between Taiwan and the mainland regarding unification, but these discussions should move along so that the natural reunification of China can occur without sparking a global incident.

We may not like some characteristics of the Chinese leadership and their political system, but we have far too much at stake to go down the traditional path of the realists and assume that any rising power is doing so automatically to challenge the United States for global supremacy. We need to integrate China into the functioning Core of world powers, give them the respect they deserve, and work alongside them to defuse some very testy issues in the region. We can and should still chide them (privately) for their record on human rights and urge them towards a more democratic system, but we should not allow such matters to cloud overall judgment on the best course. Statecraft has taken a major hit in recent years, but forging a partnership and working with China is a much greater objective in scale, scope, and ambition than merely acquiescing to traditional thinking that it is inevitable that rising powers will automatically challenge a hegemon for supremacy.

25 May 2007

Star Wars Turns 30

As if anybody needed a reminder, today marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars movie. I've lost count of how many times I've seen it, and all the other films in the series, but I've got a feeling that I'll be marking the occasion later today with yet another viewing.

Who can ever forget the first time they saw Darth Vader's imposing figure? Who as a kid didn't wish they were a Jedi and could use the Force? Who will ever forget the amazing heroism that destroyed the Death Star?

With many movies so utterly disposable and forgettable today, it is tremendous that Star Wars retains its relevance and popularity after so many years. It will forever stand the test of time, and likely always remain my favourite movie series (for the record, Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back is my favourite of the bunch).

Apparently George Lucas will be making a major announcement today about the future of Star Wars. Hopefully it will involve the much-rumoured television series. In the meantime, as the greatest of all the Jedi once said, "Remember, the Force will be with you, always."

23 May 2007

PMSH in Afghanistan

“This is Canada at its best, and Canadian people are proud to stand with Afghanistan,” said the Prime Minister. “As Canadians, we know that Afghanistan’s future will not be secured through military means alone.”

That's right, it'll take some good negotiating with the Taliban, eh CTV?

All kidding aside, folks, the Prime Minister's latest visit to Afghanistan is needed so that Canadians get an important reminder of why Canada is participating in this mission. It is about building schools so that young girls can get an education and take part in shaping the future of their society. It is about giving youngsters the tools needed to realize that they have a stake in their country's future, so that they can lean on their parents and get them to make the right decisions.

The military aspect of the mission is crucial because development cannot take place without it, but without a strong commitment to development the military/security mission will end up being a never-ending commitment because we haven't given the Afghans the tools, education, and skills needed to take the reins and secure their own development. The Prime Minister gets that, and it is imperative that he continues to shine that spotlight on the non-military features of our mission.

21 May 2007

Open Mouth Saturday, Insert Foot* Monday

Jimmy Carter, best known as History's Greatest Monster according to the Simpsons, had some biting criticism for the Bush Administration on Saturday. CTV eagerly scrolled the impetus of Carter's remarks all day long on the NewsNet tracker, with the line that Bush was the worst foreign policy president in history.

Having realized that he was wrong and grossly out of line, Carter sort-of apologized today, with this gem:

Carter said, "They were maybe careless or misinterpreted." He said he “certainly was not talking personally about any president.” When pressed by NBC’s Meredith Vieira as to whether he was saying his remarks were careless or reckless, the former president said, “I think they were, yes, because they were interpreted as comparing this whole administration to all other administrations."

People are so crazy, they'll interpret calling the Bush Administration the "worst" ever as a comparison between it and the 42 administrations that preceded it. Wherever would they get that idea? Carter is right about one thing: his remarks were careless and reckless, and they go against the honour-among-Presidents principle to not openly criticize the other living presidents. You don't hear Bush 41 flapping his gums about how awful and misguided Carter or Clinton were, and you don't hear Bush ripping on his father or Carter. It's a courtesy, an appreciation that these men also bear the ultimate burden of responsibility for guiding the world's greatest--and now only--superpower. Carter routinely flouts that principle, along with a growing list of other courtesies, like implying Israel is pursuing a policy of apartheid vis-a-vis the Palestinians in his latest book.

The only question that arises from this latest faux pas from a prominent American is thus: when does he check into rehab?

*Move along, nothing to see here, certainly not misspelling it with "food." That'll teach me to blog when I'm hungry.

Canadians Want to "Negotiate" with Terrorists to End Mission they Oppose

This morning, CTV confronts me with this:
Nearly two out of three Canadians want us to have a little sit-down chat with people who are trying to kill us and send Afghanistan back into its dark ages. CTV also tells us that only 40% of Canadians support the mission, compared to 55% who oppose it. I don't usually do narratives, but I can almost picture how this one would go:

Taliban - Leave, infidels.

Canadian - Look, the people back home support that position, but we want some guarantees. First, no more roadside bomb or other IED attacks on the civilian population. Second, continue allowing girls to go to school and women be represented in Parliament. Third, no more alliances with al Qaeda or similar organizations.

Taliban - We will attack all infidels who betray the will of Allah. That includes all women who defy the law of sharia, appearing in public with their tempting faces uncovered, humiliating their families by speaking of your "human rights" and seeking work that is best done by men. We will work with all organizations that seek to incorporate all of the ummah under Islam, Allah be willing, and we will seek them out in their efforts to rid the Islamic world of the vile oppression of the West.

Canadian - You just basically said that you wouldn't meet any of the guarantees we are seeking. How can you possibly expect us to meet our mutually desired end-state if you aren't willing to give us some accomodation?

Taliban - *stares coldly into Canadian's eyes*

Canadian - You have to give us something here so that we don't look quite as bad when we return home. Nobody except for Denis Coderre will be happy to see that we've totally capitulated and abandoned the mission in Afghanistan.

Taliban - You have heard our demands. You can take them at full value, or you can take nothing. Speaking of your officials, how is Mr. Layton doing?

Canadian - He's fine, and here's the fruit basket that he sent to you. Look, I know that you're a reasonable man, surely we can reach some compromises here.

Taliban - Muslims do not compromise with infidels, strength be with Allah. You come to our country, you violate our sovereignty, you impose your puppet government, and you want us to compromise? You are fortunate that the white sheikh* does not come here personally and slay you by his own hand! Here is your compromise offer: leave, and we won't kill you on your way out.

Canadian - Listen, we're giving you far more than Bush and his neocons would ever give you just by showing up here and talking to you. Remember (in mocking Bush tone) "we don't negotiate with evil, we defeat it?" You can either deal with us or you can deal with the cowboys from Washington.

Taliban - The Great Satan is weak, brought low and humbled by the will of Allah and the spilling of the blood of our brothers here and in Iraq. We will defeat all infidels and restore the caliphate in all lands you have stolen from Muslims.

Canadian - Just give us something here. Promise not to destroy any schools or blow up any dams. Those things are expensive, and it makes our guys look incompetent at protecting people from your attacks.

Taliban - You are incompetent. Leave now, out of the room. It is time for prayer.

Canadian - But, but we have reached any sort of dea--

Taliban - Out, infidel!

Canadian, turning to other official on his way out - Well, that's a start, I think we've made some real progress there. We Canadians can achieve anything, there's nothing we can't solve by sitting across a table and talking, just like the CTV guy said.

*Osama bin Laden

20 May 2007

Because I love and miss Kelowna, I try to do a respectable job of keeping informed regarding what's happening in my hometown and, to be frank, best place in the world. Today, while reading the daily Kelowna news at Castanet, I came across the disturbing story of a sexual assault on Abbott Street--a place not far from where I once lived. While the story itself is yet another example of male violence against women, my nose was further pushed out of joint (which is never fun when you've already had it broken once in your life) by the manner in which Castanet reported the story:

"A 28-year-old man is in police custody after a woman was sexually assaulted on Abbott Street early Sunday morning."

I'm not a fan of the passive voice being used to describe sexual assault. It makes it sound like rape is an invisible crime: *poof* a woman is sexually assaulted. Wrong. Men sexually assault women. Women aren't just sexually assaulted out of thin air. A more appropriate phrasing of the story would be thus:

"A 28-year old man is in police custody after allegedly* sexually assaulting a woman on Abbott Street early Sunday morning."

See the difference there? It's perfectly clear why the man is in custody, and shifts the onus on to him. To many this may seem like a quibble. The reality is far from the level of a quibble. By using the passive voice--the woman "was sexually assaulted"--it implies a disconnect. It is phrasing that is in the same line of thinking as giving advice left, right, and centre to women as to all the things they should do to avoid being sexually assaulted, while giving a free pass to the people that we should really be focusing our attention towards, namely, the men who rape. This will cause long-time readers to harken back to a post I wrote waaaayy back last October that gives men advice on how to not rape women, the type of "free advice" that we should be giving out on a regular basis, given the increasing number of reported rapes (which is still a pithy fraction of the actual number of sexual assaults).

So with that in mind, I would like to suggest to my readers that when they see stories of sexual assault reported in misleading fashion like the Castanet story above, send them a letter and urge them to report the story that squarely places the focus on the male act of sexual assault rather than the consequence of a female being sexually assaulted. Additionally, send me a link and I'll send one in too.

*I'm not a fan of using the word "allegedly," but I understand that news outlets have to use it in order to protect themselves from a libel suit if it turns out that the alleged assailant is found innocent (that's another can of worms, too!). That said, rape is the only crime in which people actually question whether anything really happened. Nobody ever asks if a murder victim is dead, but people sure do like to question whether a woman was violated against her will.

17 May 2007

As promised earlier today, my letter to Peter Mackay. It'll be in the mailbox in a couple hours. Thoughts?

I am writing you regarding Canada’s participation in the Global War on Terror, specifically Canada’s policy to extend the sphere of democratic influence, as defined in the 2005 International Policy Statement. This will no doubt be a multilateral effort, which brings into question existing international institutions and their relevance and necessity in achieving key benchmarks and reaching priority objectives in this generational conflict to integrate disconnected regions into the function core of the globalization movement. We have achieved much to this point, but our efforts are restricted by our reliance upon the institutions of the last major global conflict, that being the Cold War.
To be blunt, I find it incredibly disappointing that there has not been an international government-level effort to spearhead the establishment of new institutions that are capable of mitigating the threat posed by terrorist organizations and the non-democratic regimes that often give them shelter to plan attacks against Canada and its allies. The United Nations has no mandate to promote democracy; indeed, its founding Charter is based on the equal sovereignty of all states, thereby preventing external efforts to promote “regime change” through peaceful and diplomatic means. The cover of sovereignty protects regimes that practice human rights abuses, deny their citizens economic and political freedoms, and prevent the establishment of the rule of law. Yet, over five years after 9/11, and more than four years after the removal of Saddam Hussein by a United States-led multilateral coalition, there has not been any movement on the part of governments to form new multilateral institutions with a mandate to meet one of the defining challenges of the 21st century: to extend the umbrella of democracy to people in territories that have had it denied from them by self-interested and self-serving dictators. There have been a number of calls from the academic community for such an organization, be it Francis Fukuyama’s call for a strengthened Community of Democracies, or the suggestion I posited in my Dalhousie graduate thesis to create a Global Alliance of Liberal Democracies, but this has not translated into action.
This type of organization would assist in developing new rule sets and norms for the emerging global security milieu, and I believe that Canada can play a significant role in its creation and maintenance. Through its participation in the reconstruction and stabilization of Afghanistan, Canada has acquired significant experience in what Thomas Barnett, in his book The Pentagon’s New Map: Blueprint for Action – A Future Worth Creating, refers to as system administration. This emerging concept represents the evolution of the idea of “nation building” and takes it to the next level, which can be called “state building.” The Canadian Forces and Canadian diplomats have done tremendous work developing a state in Afghanistan, building the institutions of civil society, creating a police force that can maintain Afghanistan’s internal security and protect its population, and creating opportunities for women to assist in the development of that country. This new multilateral organization would utilize the collective experience of Canada and its ISAF partners to develop blueprints and strategies for future efforts to integrate other states that will cast off the shackles of tyranny, so that they may develop peacefully and coordinate with other participants in the globalization movement.
I should like to hear your thoughts on this matter, and I ask you whether Canada will take on a leadership role in bringing about such an ambitious—yet deeply necessarily—project to truly meet the need for post-conflict reconstruction efforts. Our work in Afghanistan has been admirable, yet it has also made clear the need for a coherent blueprint that can be followed to a desired end state. We have the experience of Afghanistan to rely upon for a list of “do’s and don’ts,” and formalizing this type of strategy will be of invaluable assistance to Canada and its allies in the future. I eagerly await your response, and would certainly like to discuss the matter further in future correspondence.
I'm in the midst of writing a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs about the need to create some new international institutions. When it's done, I'll put it up here. In the meantime, if anybody has something they'd like to input, I'm all ears.

16 May 2007

Fun Facts and Reflections

Now that the Great BC Adventure of 2007 is something that exists only in our memories, it's time for a few little tidbits. This would have been up this morning, but the power was out in the building from 9am to just after 3pm. Welcome back eh!

The pace of development in Kelowna is amazing to behold. Buildings proliferate there like graffiti does here. Seriously, you can close your eyes, spin around, open them again and you'll find at least two new projects going up so that people in Kelowna have a place to live. Meanwhile, do the same action here, and you'll see at least two new "tags" that make me feel embarrased that this is where I live. The lowest sight of all is the apparently popular "Shoot Cops, Not Crack" with a semi-automatic drawn beside it.

Gas prices are always a fun topic. During the two weeks in the Okanagan, prices there rose from 112.9 to 117.9 and then to 123.9, a rise of 11% in only 14 days. We were lucky to catch a Petro-Can on the way out of Penticton that hadn't yet jacked up the price. I'm sure that folks everywhere wouldn't mind if they got an 11% raise every two weeks. Meanwhile, here in Haligonia, prices only inched up from 113.1 to 114.4. Those lefties who are convinced that consumers are being gouged (and they're correct) will find a very sympathetic audience in BC. I'm also interested in seeing how Stephane Dion will square his newfound mission to lower gas prices with his long-running crusade to protect the environment.

I set foot in Okanagan Falls for the first time since 2005. Tickleberry's has grown, but the ice cream is still awesome beyond words. The rest of the town looks very similar to how it did when I moved to Kelowna in 2000, but it probably hasn't changed a whole lot since 1921. It is a cute little place, though. I still avoid Oliver like the bubonic plague, however.

We took around 200 pictures on the trip. Around 150 of them involved cats--be it Frosty or Oliver, or the Pachos, or the little Pacho riding Frosty or Oliver. I want a cat. Tasha *might* share that sentiment.

Finding a BC flag in Kelowna is an impossible task. We spent 3 hours doing that on Saturday with no luck. Apparently nobody carries much in terms of flags until closer to Canada Day. That's really typically Canadian, though: don't celebrate unless it's a state-sponsored event.

I didn't set foot in IGA even one time, and for that I'm glad.

My youngest sister is exceptionally cool, and I want her to come visit us...unless we find a way out of here in the near term so that she can save some money to visit us in a better place.

The weather yesterday in Kelowna was beautiful, with a high in the mid-20s. Here in Halifax, it was 9 and raining. Today isn't much different. Summer is both a memory and something I won't experience until July.

That's all for now. With the holiday over, I'll be resuming posting about the usual subjects that everybody has come to expect from a political scientist. I'm hoping to get back on that tomorrow but I may do one later today if I feel so inclined.

15 May 2007

All Good Things...

Today is the last day of the Great BC Adventure of 2007. In fact, I'll no longer be in BC two hours from right now. It was a great adventure, one that happened in 2007, but it has now come to the point where Tasha and I return to Halifax. Goodie.

13 May 2007

Now That Canada's Won Gold . . .

. . . will Denis Coderre and the other Liberals who tried to smear Shane Doan welcome him and the rest of Team Canada and offer their congratulations and apologies?

Reznor Socks It to "The Biz"

In various corners of teh Interwebz and elsewhere, I've been pretty vocal about my disgust about the state of the music industry and today's popular music. The sheer volume of mass-produced, instantly-disposable attempts at music has made buying the CD all but irrelevant and actually gives people an excuse to go out and steal music. While I am strongly in favour of protecting intellectual property rights, it is asking an awful lot of folks these days to spend their hard-earned dollars for a CD that has one or two songs that are remotely "good." That's likely the reason that I've only bought 5 or 6 CDs since moving to Halifax; iTunes has helped me to get the "hits" while avoiding the many, many misses, but the sheer volume of piracy out there is costing the business billions of dollars and thus they're flooding the market in the hopes that enough quantity exists to offset the losses and hide the otherwise-obvious drop in quality.

It is in that vein that I am very glad to see someone like Trent Reznor speaking unabashedly on his website about his own disdain for the business that distributes his art. The Nine Inch Nails mastermind is down in Australia touring right now, and had this to say on his most recent blog post:

As the climate grows more and more desperate for record labels, their answer to their mostly self-inflicted wounds seems to be to screw the consumer over even more. A couple of examples that quickly come to mind:
* The ABSURD retail pricing of Year Zero in Australia. Shame on you, UMG. Year Zero is selling for $34.99 Australian dollars ($29.10 US). No wonder people steal music. Avril Lavigne's record in the same store was $21.99 ($18.21 US).
By the way, when I asked a label rep about this his response was: "It's because we know you have a real core audience that will pay whatever it costs when you put something out - you know, true fans. It's the pop stuff we have to discount to get people to buy." So... I guess as a reward for being a "true fan" you get ripped off.
* The dreaded EURO Maxi-single. Nothing but a consumer rip-off that I've been talked into my whole career. No more. The point is, I am trying my best to make sure the music and items NIN puts in the marketplace have value, substance and are worth you considering purchasing. I am not allowing Capital G to be repackaged into several configurations that result in you getting ripped off. We are planning a full-length remix collection of substance that will be announced soon.

It was announced this morning that Capital G (an awesome song that goes after my favourite living POTUS) is going to be released as a vinyl single in Europe, but it will NOT contain the Halo designation found on all other NIN releases because Reznor wants nothing to do with it. It's purely a record company-driven release, and not representative of what TR wants to have done with the single. Between the song leaks, flash drives, and unique marketing campaign behind the Year Zero concept album, he's already taken a lot of heat from the industry execs, and no doubt this will further fan the flames. I'm looking forward to the real Halo 25 much more than the announced details for the record company's version of Capital G--no doubt their intentions were much the same as what they did with Survivalism: a two-track, a four-track that includes the same B-side, and a vinyl. The record company's cognizance and manipulation of NIN fans' demand was a major piss-off for a lot of fans, myself included, and I am glad that Reznor is aware of this and won't allow his fans to be put through that again.

12 May 2007

Contortions of a Wannabe "Leader"

This is a special little statement out of the leader of a rump separatist party in Ottawa:

"From the moment I decided to enter the Parti Quebecois leadership race, I was and I still am, eminently convinced that I could make an important contribution as Parti Quebecois leader,'' Duceppe said in a statement released Saturday.

You see, Duceppe announced a couple days ago that he was announcing his candidacy for leadership of the PQ. Today, he announced that he's not running. So ever since Thursday, Duceppe has been convinced that he would make a great leader of a party he has no intention of leading.

Is it any wonder that these nimrods aren't taken seriously by anybody anymore?

The Final Weekend

We are now at Day 12 of the Great BC Adventure of 2007...time is slowly (and sadly) tick-tick-ticking away regarding our time here. What a phenomenal couple of weeks it has been, and hopefully it will be much less than 14 months between now and the next visit.

10 May 2007

End of an Era

As I sit here on Day 10 of the Great BC Adventure of 2007, I am faced with bad news that I knew would reach me no matter how great the holiday is.

First, Tony Blair has announced his resignation, effective June 27th. Blair has been a staple of global politics for the past decade, acting as a key ally of the United States and Canada on a number of issues, from terrorism to strengthening NATO to reeling in Slobodan Milosevic to presenting the case against Saddam Hussein. He has been at the tip of the sword when it comes to re-defining a number of key regimes in international relations, giving credence and legitimacy to concepts such as the responsibility to protect and acting on them. As liberal interventionists go, Blair boasts serious credentials that most neoconservatives can only aspire to. I will best remember this great British Prime Minister for his steadfast calm after 9/11 and standing firm by the United States as it sought to establish new rules for the War on Terror and Tyranny. Bob Woodward has a great quote from George W. Bush in his first book in the Bush at War series, as the President turned out to be awfully prophetic when he stated early on that within a few years, "only the Brits may be with us." So long as Tony Blair was at the helm, the United States had a staunch ally, friend, and supporter to boost the Washington-London special relationship.

The second bit of bad news is that a good friend in the blogosphere has all but packed it in as a result of receiving numerous death threats against herself and her children. Biting Beaver is a very strong feminist voice, the first feminist blog that Tasha and I read regularly and enjoyed for months. The extreme lengths to which the enemies of women went to silence her are despicable and hopefully they will be exposed and held accountable for such domestic terrorism.

On a last note, one far less negative, I've got five bucks each on the Sabres and the Ducks against my dad. Mostly this is here so that I remember it.

06 May 2007

The Journey Continues

It is now Day 6 of the Great BC Adventure of 2007!

We went out and saw Spider-Man 3 last night. It was great except for a couple of things that clashed with the comic book canon, mostly involving Harry Osborn and his persona as the "New Goblin" and his ultimate destiny. That part was lame, as was the manner in which Venom was defeated. I don't like how the movies seemingly must end with the villain (sorry, spoiler warning!) being killed or making some noble sacrifice. When the Harry Green Goblin was killed in Spectacular Spider-Man he was thoroughly inhuman and well beyond redemption. That aside, I can see why it's being seen by more people than you can shake a stick at, and if there's to be a Spidey 4, I will be there.

The sun has been shining all day, and apparently tomorrow and Wednesday we'll be enjoying temperatures in the mid-20s. Take that Halifax!

03 May 2007

Hello From BC!

Today marks Day 3 of the Great BC Adventure of 2007!

CBC announced this morning that the fixed election date bill will receive royal assent today, which means that the next election will take place on October 19, 2009. So much for a spring vote! On the other hand, I know what M. Dion is thinking: can Canada wait that long? Can the world? Since every new day is the worst in Canada's environmental history, you'd think that he'll be making every effort to ensure that Harper loses the confidence of the House before then...unless that whole spiel about the impending environmental calamity is just words.

Canucks fever here in BC took a huge hit on Tuesday night. I was in bed when the great collapse took place. They were up 2-1 early in the 3rd but when I woke up the next morning, they had lost. I made the quip to my sister, who works at a car parts shop, that the Canucks flags they sell should be going on at half price now that they're effectively toast.

Kelowna's pace of development is incredible to see. New huge buildings popping up everywhere. Prices are high. There is a working shortage and businesses are advertising openly what they will pay you to come work for them. This is a marked contrast to life in Halifax.

The sun is out today, which I haven't seen in about 10 days. I am going to play in it. See you later.