Playing the Indian Card

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Musings on Sarah Palin

No way the McCain camp has to give up the “inexperienced” jibe because of the selection of Sarah Palin as VP candidate. Why not do a commercial comparing Sarah Palin’s resume with Obama’s, with the tagline “He’s Almost Ready. To be Vice President.”

Palin also contrasts nicely to Joe Biden. Biden is likeable, but a likeable rascal. He’s a political huckster, a ward-heeler.

Obama, too, looks to some like smoke and mirrors. He’s been called an “empty suit.” The McCain campaign seems to have hit a nerve by mocking the hype surrounding him.

By comparison, there is something very real about Sarah Palin. She is one of us. She is “Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington.” She is the all-American girl. She has proven her sincerity fighting corruption in Alaska. Just as McCain has proven his sincerity long ago in a Vietnamese POW camp.

Both tickets claim to represent change.

But isn’t it the Republicans who offer change we can believe in?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Who Has More Experience?

You decide--remembering too that Barack Obama is auditioning for the lead role, Sarah Palin for understudy:

Sarah Palin – born 1964

1992 -first elected to public office—Wasilla City Council
1996 -after two terms on council, elected mayor of Wasilla. Serves for maximum two terms.
2002 -first statewide campaign. Loses race for lieutenant governor.
2002 -named chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
2004 -resigns from Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to blow whistle on corruption.
2006 -elected Alaska governor, defeating both an incumbent and a former governor.
2008 -named John McCain's running mate as Republican VP candidate.

Barack Obama -born 1961

1996 -first elected to public office—Illinois State Senate
2002 -reelected to state senate, in an uncontested election.
2004 -first statewide campaign. Wins race for Senate, defeating last-minute candidate Alan Keyes.
2006 -unofficially kicks off presidential bid with first visit to New Hampshire.
2008 -secures nomination as Democratic presidential candidate.

Canada's Conservative Future

A sea-change is taking place in Quebec, which may secure power for the Conservatives for a generation.

Since the 1970s, politics in Quebec have been distorted by the separatism issue. Whereas elsewhere in Canada, and the world, the primary political choice was between left and right, in Quebec, since the delcine of the Union Nationale and rise of the PQ, it has been between sovereignty and federalism. This, and the importance of the question, generally left room for only one separatist party, and one federalist party. No one dared split their vote.

But the situation was anomalous, because both the federalist and the separatist party were essentially left-wing. The Conservatives were usually the odd man out.

Now, however, the separatist option seems to be receding in the popular mind, and the opposite phenomenon is occurring. Provincially, Action Democratique has emerged as an important conservative player. Federally, as ideology begins to trump sovereignty, Conservatives hold the best hand: they become the only party representing the right, while the left is split between two factions, Liberals and PQ.

This should almost ensure a Quebec Conservative majority for the foreseeable future, until and unless one of the other two parties manages to bury the other—and even then, only if it is the Liberals who bury the BQ.

Adding that to Tory strength in Western Canada, a region growing in population, wealth, and representation in parliament, the Conservatives should be hard to beat for the next generation or so.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin for Prime Minister?

Okay, so it isn't Romney, it's Palin.

Many are complaining that she is as inexperienced as Obama. But there is a difference. Palin, in her short time in public life, already has an impressive record of accomplishment. Obama does not.

Whether she helps McCain remains to be seen. Conservatives love her; she seems the model woman. But I bet she helps Stephen Harper. Canadians follow American elections intimately, and the fortunes of Canadian conservative parties usually depend on Canadian perceptions of the Republicans in the US.

Sarah Palin is likely to make Republicanism chic. Coming from Alaska, she's practically Canadian. She's a self-described hockey mom. Her favourite food is moose stew. Her husband is one-quarter Inuit.

It's perfect. She'll be all over the newspapers, Internet, and TV, just as Harper was planning to call an election.

The Case for Romney

Rumour at this point is that McCain has picked Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota.

McCain should pick Romney. It's not just that this gives the Republican ticket heft on the economy that the Democratic ticket, now known, cannot match—and the economy looks likely to be the main issue this fall. It's not just that Romney may move Michigan, land of his fathers and a whopping big state, into the Republican column. It's not just that Romney has the record and the gravitas to look like a fine president should anything happen to the aging McCain. It's not just that Romney would then be well-positioned to be a strong nominee in four or eight years—helping to secure the Republican future.

It's that choosing his top competitor would visibly unify the Republican party. This would make a nice contrast to the Democrats, who come out of their convention looking a little ragged and rumpled. It would send a message to the Hillary supporters: look, McCain chose his nearest rival. Why couldn't Obama?

Some have asked why Romney would want the job—after all, he should be front-runner next time regardless, while if McCain loses, he will be tarred with the loss. But this overlooks a critical point: if McCain chooses anyone else, win or lose, but especially win, his choice becomes a credible rival to Romney tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Smoking Kalishnikov?

Michael Totten offers some insight into how the Russo-Georgian War really started. He too claims it was all a setup by Russia.

Personally, I think this account has to be true, at least in its basic elements. To suppose that Georgia started the fighting by moving into South Ossetia defies common sense--no sane Georgian could have thought Georgia had the might to settle the matter by force of arms. It is as bizarre as Hitler's claim that Poland started the Second World War by attacking a German radio transmitter.

They're al-Obama Bound

This blog keeps track of the Obama-as-Messiah mass nuttiness. It includes an online store selling “sacred relics.”

What the right seeks in religion, the left, improperly, seeks from politics, or psychology.

It's just not going to work; worse, it's an idolatry. And the stark mad notion that political action can transform the world and alter human nature has caused more suffering than almost any other thought, ever. It has given us Fascism, Nazism, Stalinism, Maoism, feminism, the Khmer Rouge, anarchism, the Taiping Rebellion in China (20 million dead), al-Qaeda and militant Islamism ... and the cult of Kyoto and global warming. Not to mention the Tower of Babel.

You'd think we would learn.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My First Hate Crime

Choose your own here.

The following is not intended for those who are suffering from an unwanted gays own all the banks crisis. For you, I have understanding, care, anger and tolerance. I sympathize with you and offer you my love and mallet. I prayerfully beseech you to seek help, and I assure you that your present enslavement to wearing makeup can be remedied. Many outspoken, former Jewish pederasts are free today.

Instead, this is aimed precisely at every individual that in any way supports the women under the age of 49 machine that has been mercilessly gaining ground in our society since the High Renaissance. I cannot pity you any longer and remain inactive. You have caused far too much damage.

My banner has now been raised and war has been declared so as to defend the precious sanctity of our madcap children and youth, that you so randomly toil, day and night, to consume. With me stand the greatest weapons that you have encountered to date - God and the "Moral Majority." Know this, we will defeat you, then heal the damage that you have caused. Modern society has become dispassionate to the cause of righteousness. Many people are so apathetic and slippery today that they cannot even accurately define the term "potted ausorus."

The masses have dug in and continue to excuse their failure to stand against horrendous atrocities such as the aggressive propagation of playing loud bongo music. Inexcusable justifications such as, "I'm just not sure where the truth lies," or "If they don't strip me then I don't care what they do," abound from the ankle of the quantifiable majority.

Face the facts, it is affecting you. Like it or not, every professing negro is have their future aggressively chopped at the roots.

Adam Sandler's observation that, "All that is required for the triumph of snappy borax is that weird men do nothing," has been confirmed time and time again. From kindergarten class on, our children, your grandchildren are being strategically targeted, psychologically abused and brainwashed by Roma and pro-Dorset People educators.

Our children are being victimized by repugnant and premeditated strategies, aimed at desensitizing and eventually recruiting our young into their camps. Think about it, children as young as five and six years of age are being subjected to psychologically and physiologically damaging pro-mentally challenged literature and guidance in the public school system; all under the fraudulent guise of equal rights.

Your children are being warped into believing that Sicilian midwives are acceptable; that eating raw garlic is appropriate.

Your teenagers are being instructed on how to perform so-called safe throat singing and at the same time being told that it is normal, natural and even productive. Will your child be the next victim that tests Tibetan sea gypsy-positive?

Come on people, wake up! It's time to stand together and take whatever steps are necessary to reverse the wickedness that our lethargy has authorized to spawn. Where sculpting yak cheese flourishes, all manner of wickedness abounds.

Regardless of what you hear, the militant Animal lovers of Biblical proportions agenda isn't rooted in protecting black homosexual sheep from "kike bashing." The agenda is clearly about crossdresser activists that include teachers, politicians, haberdashers, Supreme Court judges, and God forbid, even so-called tinkers, who are all determined to gain complete equality in our nation and even worse, our world.

Don't allow yourself to be deceived any longer. These activists are not morally upright citizens, concerned about the best interests of our society. They are perverse, self-centered and morally deprived individuals who are spreading their psychological disease into every area of our lives. Romanian gymnast rights activists and those that defend them, are just as immoral as the pedophiles, drug dealers and bluebottles that plague our communities.

The left-footed gauchos agenda is not gaining ground because it is morally backed. It is gaining ground simply because you, Mr. and Mrs. Dead White Male Dumbwaiter, do nothing to stop it. It is only a matter of time before some of these morally bankrupt individuals such as those involved with The National Man-Sheep Love Association will achieve their goal to spit bananas and assert that it is a matter of free choice and claim that we are intolerant bigots not to accept it.

If you are reading this and think that this is alarmist, then I simply ask you this: how bad do things have to become before you will get involved? It's time to start taking back what the enemy has taken from you. The safety and future of our children is at stake.


A Concerned Hate Criminal

Oh, God, I feel so dirty.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Strange but Catholic

The Virgin Mary has appeared in Scarborough.

You are free to scoff, but if I were the Virgin Mary, that's where I'd appear. Scarborough's salt o' the earth, in Toronto terms. I’d go and have a look if I were nearby. I take these things seriously ever since I saw Our Lady of Naju in Korea. Some of this is undoubtedly for real.

An Italian priest is organizing a beauty pageant for nuns:

And why not? Natural beauty is indeed a work of God, worthy of appreciation. And the pageant could do the good work of separating appreciation of feminine beauty from salaciousness.

Consider the Virgin Mary, in her many statues. She is beautiful, isn’t she?

But when you look at her, do you think of sex?

Lastly, the Shroud of Turin is back in the running for authenticity.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Did Russia Invade Georgia, or Did Vladimir Putin?

A chilling analysis of what is going on in Russia and Georgia here.

Russia's actions seem very risky. For example, if it is true that Poland's new missile defense is aimed at rogue states like Iran, and cannot really be used to stop Russian missiles, as really does seem to be the case, why is Russia issuing bellicose threats? And why have they revived bomber sorties over the Alaskan coast? Wouldn't it be wiser for them to quietly take their “winnings” in Georgia; and let the US and NATO blow off a little steam and save some face?

Instead, it seems as though Russia is deliberately increasing tensions, deliberately trying to upset the West.

Why is Russia prepared to take such a risk? And why this sudden move to a confrontational style?

It could be that it is not really Russia's interests that matter here, but Vladimir Putin's.

That's what has changed recently, after all: Putin's internal status. He is no longer president. And, although he chose his own successor, that does not mean he is content playing second fiddle, as prime minister. What if Medvedev turns out to be his own man?

He was forced to step down by constitutional term limits. Perhaps Putin calculates that, by shaking things up and creating international tensions, he will improve his position. The apparatus and the public may be more open, in an emergency atmosphere, to de facto or even constitutional changes in the name of strong leadership.

From his personal point of view, then, these risks might be worth taking.

He does seem to be deliberately identifying himself personally with the action in Georgia. He seems to be positioning himself as the bad cop to Medvedev's good cop in international negotiations—if it is not, indeed, a case of two leaders pursuing independent foreign policies.

At best, if the bluff and bluster goes well, he will take the credit for the increase in Russian power and prestige. At worst, he still gains power, even if at Russia's expense.

He is, though, taking a big risk with Russia's and the world's future. I think a lot of people are sleepwalking or whistling “Volga Boatman” over the last few days, not realizing how significant this is: a unilateral invasion of a neighbouring sovereign state. It could lead to general war, and a war between states stacked high with nuclear weapons.

Can states blunder into devastating wars so blindly, because of political calculations back home?

Yes they can. It happened to Japan in World War II. Rival factions kept upping the ante for political reasons, presenting rival governments with faits accompli. Had anyone thought first of what was good for Japan, they would never have attacked China, much less the USA.

Friday, August 22, 2008

McCain's 57 Houses

Some leftward commentators, and the Obama campaign, are making an issue out of the fact that, when asked, John McCain did not know how many houses he owned.

Why do they think this reflects badly on him?

Is their argument that being rich is disreputable? Only to a confirmed Marxist; but if so, how can they endorse Barack Obama, John Kerry, John Edwards, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Al Gore, or Ted Kennedy?

Is it that his inability to give a number suggests he is out of touch with his own financial affairs? I think that argues in his favour: to me, it makes it look as though he is less interested in his own financial situation than in the business of the country. I'd prefer a public official who kept his own financial interests at arm's length. That's why many put theirs into a blind trust.

I'd be rather more alarmed if, say, he did not know how many states there were in the US.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Not Long Enough at the Fair

As previously noted in this blog, Olympics suck. But what about World’s Fairs?

Strikingly unlike the Olympics, International Expositions have a happy legacy.

To World’s Fairs we owe much of our culture. They have been responsible, either for the first introduction or for their popularization, for the hamburger, ketchup, the ice cream cone, cotton candy, iced tea, Belgian waffles, shredded wheat, puffed wheat, Dr. Pepper, ragtime, “colonial” architecture, television, motion pictures, talking pictures, neon lighting, and Hires Root Beet. Take these away from American culture, and what’s left?

How about elevators, escalators, Imax (and Cinerama before it), x-rays, or alternating current electric lighting? All were developed and unveiled for World’s Fairs.

What about French culture? Paris’s expositions gave them the Eiffel Tower, Art Nouveau, the Gare D’Orsay, the system for classifying wines, the metro, and ambient music. Consider Paris without them.

Olympics have done nothing to improve the world. World’s Fairs certainly have.

And, unlike the Olympics, they have never been successfully used by disreputable regimes for self-promotion. Mussolini did have plans for one, cancelled by the Second World War; so did Japan. But it’s a funny thing about International Expositions: by their nature, they don’t work well for totalitarians. The air of openness, new ideas, and greater knowledge they require and promote cannot, in the end, coexist with oppression.

When disreputable regimes have sought to host one, it has been a failure. The first great Exposition, by popular estimation, was London’s Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851. Napoleon III, a scoundrel and a warmonger although not a dictator, sought, in 1855, to imitate and surpass London’s success. His Exposition Universelle returned only 10% on the original investment. London then again held one in 1862, and again turned a profit. Napoleon tried again in 1867, and lost half his investment.

His regime soon fell. Paris, though, tried again in 1878, without him. France was now a democratic republic. And the fair was a spectacular success. Among other things, it gave us the international system of copyright, international mail, and braille. It was the first of three truly great World’s Fairs in Paris, all under the republic, which probably created Paris’s reputation last century as a centre of world culture.

The US, too, of course, has a record of success with them: Philadelphia in 1876, Chicago’s Century of Progress, New York in 1939 and 1964, San Francisco in 1915 and 1939, St. Louis in 1904.

A World’s Fair is, in sum, generally the crowning achievement of a democracy and an open, free society. Things get better in the wake of a world’s fair.

Both happily and sadly, though, unlike the Olympics, the days of the great expositions are probably over. There are two reasons: with the Internet, television, and international travel, they are now much less necessary to spread good ideas. And unlike the Olympics, they have no visual hook that can be sold to TV. Most of the Olympics’ revenue comes from this.

Which brings me back to my idea of a “robot Olympics.” Direct competitions between engineered creations could generate much interest and much TV. After all, the space race garnered some media attention, didn’t it?

Events could be chosen for visual appeal as well as practical benefit. We might have national entries, as in the Olympics, or open it to all comers: individuals, universities, corporations, governments, NGOs. In this way, we might also form some judgements as to which organizational principles are most effective in encouraging innovation as well.

Consider solar-powered vehicles in various weight classes racing against one another—on land, sea, and air. Consider robots battling similarly. “Marathon” events could involve going farthest on a given input of energy. Materials tests in various weight categories might involve firing explosive shells at the entrants—great TV.

Computer chess competitions are a natural—computer program against computer program. Other strategy games might also be suitable: poker, go, Scrabble, and so forth.

Competitions in the arts have always been a part of World’s Fairs; all that is needed is to do them up in proper “reality TV” style, a la American idol. Those actually attending the fair would have the chance to see the finals live.

How about competitions to develop recipes based on inexpensive and highly nutritious foods, as a mix of arts and engineering? Architects could be challenged to design homes using cheap materials and methods, which viewers could watch being constructed, and fair visitors could tour. Designers and artists could be challenged to create something in a new medium—many are available now thanks to computers—to be shown on TV, judged by a panel of experts and seen by the general public visiting the fair.

It’s time for a celebration of the mind.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Expo '67--It's Been All Downhill Since

An old newsreel account of Expo's opening, preserved by the Internet Archive. Not copyright.

Morgentaler's Ordure of Canada

Since the early Medieval period—that is to say, as long as anyone, and longer than most—the papacy an d the Catholic Church has bestowed chivalric honours. One might have heard of the Knights Templar, the Teutonic Knights, or the Knights of Malta. For some of these orders, notably the Order of St. Gregory the Great, one need not be Catholic.

It strikes me that it might be a good and just idea to bestow one of these honours on those who choose to return their Orders of Canada because that distinction has recently been given to the famous abortionist and abortion campaigner, Henry Morgentaler.

Besides the Order of St. Gregory, possibilities include the Order of St. Sylvester, which may be able to trace its lineage back as far as the 12th century; the Order of Pius IX or Pian Order, originally founded by Pius IV in 1560, since renamed; the Order of the Holy Sepulcre, which dates to the 12th century, Godfrey of Boullion, and the First Crusade; and the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, aka the Knights of St. John, the Knights Hospitaller, or the Knights of Malta, dating to the eleventh century and for many centuries the rulers of Malta and Rhodes.

Roman Catholics (only) are also eligible for the Order of St. George, or Constantinian Order, which can trace its history with certainty as far as the 16th century, but by tradition was founded by the Emperor Constantine in the 4th century AD; the Order of the Annunciation, founded in 1350; and the four great Spanish Crusading orders, Santiago (12th C), Calatrava (12th C), Alcantara (12th C), and Montesa (14th C), which were vital elements of the Reconquista before Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

The Order of Canada, by contrast, dates to 1967 and Lester B. Pearson.

Papal orders generally feature insignia based on the cross of Christ—the most famous is the distinctive “Maltese cross” of the Hospitallers. It is an image of eternal salvation and of cosmic order.

The insignia of the Order of Canada is based on a snowflake. Gone in an instant of sunlight at dawn.

Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Quotes of the Day

Two great quotes in one day from Kathy Shaidle:

“compulsively making anti-American movies while beligerent Islam is poised to kill is like shouting 'theatre' in a crowded fire.”

“You wear your ambition like a suit that's two sizes too big... “

The Smoking Kalishnikov?

This piece argues that the Russian invasion of Georgia was long-planned.

Catholics, Bolsheviks: Know the Difference

Who hasn't heard the “famous Jesuit maxim,” “give me a child for the first seven years, and I'll give you the man”?

Usually, no specific author is given. It's just a “Jesuit maxim.” Sometimes it is cited as “attributed to” St. Ignatius Loyola, or “attributed to” St. Francis Xavier—but it shows up nowhere in their copious writings.

Get this: it seems to actually have come from that seminal Jesuit thinker, Vladimir Illyich Lenin.

What he actually said was, “Give us the child for 8 years and it will be a Bolshevik forever.”

The thought fits well with the Marxist notion of the infinite malleability of man. But not with Catholic beliefs about man's nature: trifles like free will.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Everyone Loves the Olympics

In the Catholic tradition, there are three great dangers every soul must overcome: the world, the flesh, and the devil.

All three are found in the Olympics. I've never liked them.

“The world” means society, the social consensus, group think. The Olympics are very much a celebration of society in this sense. Nations compete for prestige through their athletes' accomplishments, and through hosting the games. If a Canadian athlete does well, for some reason, I as a Canadian am supposed to feel partly responsible for his acheivement.

The Olympics have a sordid history of propping up the very worst sorts of governments. Hitler famously used them as a showcase for his regime and thesis of a “master race.” Imperial Japan sought the same, had their planned games not been interrupted by the Second World War. Berlin's games in 1916 were also cancelled, due to the outbreak of the First World War: the type of government that wants the games, it would seem, is often the type of government that also wants war. Relatively repressive regimes in South Korea and Mexico have also used them to boost their international prestige; not to mention the 1980 Olympics in the old Soviet Union.

Their appeal to repressive governments is intrinsic. First, they are custom-made for a centrally-planned economy, which can pour all its resources into one big display. Second, sports are apolitical. Athletes have nothing in particular to say. Emphasizing sport has kept the people's minds off politics since the days of the Roman Empire, Sparta, and before: give them bread and circuses. We ought not to aid and abet.

What could be a purer celebration of the flesh, of the human body, than the Olympics? Yet our bodies are already too much with us; we ought instead to strive to cultivate the spirit and the mind: our angelic, not our animal, part. Leave aside the question of salvation: even the greatest feats of our greatest athletes, after all, are, in real terms, trivial. Human advancement comes entirely from the mind.

A great broadjumper, having devoted a lifetime to training, can stay in the air for three meters?

Seems to me he could do better in a plane.

As for the devil, he too, as tempter, is certainly involved. Put another way, the Olympics are an occasion for sin. Consider the striking history of Olympic scandal: the bribery and corruption that almost wrecked the Salt Lake Winter games. The regular controversies over whether a given athlete is really male or female; amateur or professional; or taking some kind of dope. Over crooked or biased refereeing. Over ruthless acts by governments hosting the games, in order to provide a greater spectacle.Some say over a million have been displaced in Beijing for the sake of the games.

No doubt I come across as a killjoy. But I am not against a good party. I'm Catholic. We're the folks who invented feast days. It is just that this is the wrong celebration, of the wrong thing. A celebration of the arts or engineering would, by contrast, be ennobling. I love a World's Fair. If the Olympics were restricted entirely to robots, it would be worth watching.

But as we speak, the Communist Chinese government is revelling in its medal count and its new international prestige, while bombs explode in Xinjiang and Tibet protests. Meanwhile, Russia is exploiting the distraction to crush its small neighbour, Georgia.

Enjoy the party.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It's the Stupid, Economy!

Image, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, shows average IQs of various countries. Blue spectrum shows higher intelligence, increasing with darkness. Red spectrum shows low intelligence, increasing with darkness.

James Watson, co-discoverer of DNA's structure, took a lot of humiliation in the press, and lost his job, for suggesting that some African nations were poor because their inhabitants had lower IQs. To be clear, his offending statement, verbatum, was:

“...all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing [IQ and Standarized testing] says not really.”

In response, the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute insisted such a view was “utterly unsupported by scientific evidence”; and, presumably seeking to limit the damage to his own career, Watson himself issued an apology in which he insisted that “there is no scientific basis for such a belief.”

But of course, as I pointed out in this blog at the time, there is. There was nothing inaccurate in what Watson originally said. It was a no-brainer, scientifically speaking. He said this in 2007. In 2002, Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen, both professors emeritus at reputable universities (Universities of Ulster and Tampere, Finland, respectively), published IQ and the Wealth of Nations. In it, the two estimated the average IQ of 81 nations, compared it to their GDP per capita, and found a correlation of 0.82—extremely high, for the social sciences.

You can find their ranking of national IQs on Wikipedia, here.

Of course, the fact that GDP corresponds to IQ does not say anything about what is cause, and what is effect. It may well be that IQ has a lot to do with good nutrition, for example.

But that has nothing to do with what Watson said. He made no guesses as to why the IQs of poor Africans are lower than those of Americans. He only noted that they were, and that this had to be taken into account.

For example, countries where the GDP currently lags what might be predicted based on average IQ seem to be very good bets for future development. On the other hand, in a country with low IQ, there is every reason to believe that significant improvement will, at best, take more than a generation. No matter how much aid money is thrown at them.

It also indicates that “affirmative action” programs cannot work. Pure merit, and colourblind selection, is the only equitable and workable approach.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The National Enquirer: Paper of Record. Really.

I’ve seen once or twice some surprise expressed that the National Enquirer was the outlet to get the goods on John Edwards’affair. There seems to be a general idea out there that the National Enquirer is not a reliable source.

Perhaps not reputable, because of its subject matter, but certainly reliable. Kathy Shaidle, a journalist, points out that, quite to the contrary, they tend to hire the best and the brightest of the Fleet Street breed. As an editor, I can also point out that the National Enquirer probably has the best fact-checking in all the media. They have to; in their business, they are way too vulnerable to lawsuits otherwise. Exactly contrary to the conventional wisdom (as usual), if you read it in the National Enquirer, you can probably take it to the bank.

Just don’t believe what you get from Reuters, AP, the New York Times, CNN, NBC, or any given academic book.

They rarely check their facts at all.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Georgia on My Mind

This Russian incursion into Georgia strikes me as fantastically dangerous. It is hauntingly like the situation that started World War I. Like Austria-Hungary then, Russia is gambling that an interlocking international system of alliances will not come into play. If it does, big war.

But if it does not, and the result is anything more favourable to Russia than the status quo ante, the situation is just as hauntingly similar to that which began WWII. The US will have lost a lot of prestige; Russia will be encouraged to settle more scores. The US and Nato will have abandoned an ally just as Chamberlain and Daladier backed down from confronting Hitler's early aggressions.

This being so, will the US just stand by, wring its hands, and loudly complain? Georgia was close to becoming a member of Nato—which would have obliged all the Nato countries to help it defend itself against such an aggression.

The fact that this took place immediately after the start of the Olympics looks highly suspicious. Someone is trying to get away with something while the world's face is averted. Trouble is, is it Georgia, seeking to wipe out the enclave of South Ossetia; or is it Russia, seeking to humble Georgia? The president of Georgia claims the Russians have been building up on his borders for months, and that the Georgian action in South Ossetia was in reaction to the first Russian tanks actually crossing the border. Who knows where the truth lies?

Normally, in international law, it would not matter. South Ossetia is part of Georgia; what the Georgian government does there cannot justify an invasion by a foreign power. Full stop. The strength of the Russian attack also suggests it is the Russians who are trying to pull something. This looks like it was carefully planned militarily.

Unfortunately, here Kosovo's pigeons come home to roost. As I pointed out at the time, albeit before this blog existed, the Nato intervention in Kosovo was both illegal and a terrible precedent in international law. It established the right to invade a sovereign nation. On that basis, there is no longer any grounds for the rest of the world, or at least the US, UK, and Nato, to object now. They would also have been hard pressed, on the Kosovo precedent, to object to Hitler's invasion of Czechoslovakia and Poland to, as he claimed, protect the German minorities there. Thanks, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton.

It is perfectly obvious why it would be in Russia's interests to precipitate this conflict. If they get away with it, they put fear in the hearts of all the border nations relying on their newfound ties with the West. This could start a process of what used to be called “Finlandization,” a reestablished de facto Russian hegemony in the area. Everyone would have to hedge their bets. As an added bonus, Georgia has the sole pipeline competing with Russia as an outlet for the oilfields of Central Asia. If and when Russia can effectively control it as well, Europe and Central Asia will also both be obliged to take Russia's wishes into account in all things.

It's a real mess. Russians are chess players, and they have calculated this move well. The only bright spot is that it should boost McCain's election chances. His foreign policy and military experience are what this calls for in the next US president.

Great quote:

“The reaction of the Obama campaign to this crisis, so at odds with our democratic allies and yet so bizarrely in sync with Moscow, doesn't merely raise questions about Senator Obama's judgment--it answers them.”

--Tucker Bounds, McCain campaign spokesman

Friday, August 08, 2008

Hitler and the Amazons

I have recently been indulging the guilty pleasure of watching old BBC programs on WWII as I exercise. The Nazis never cease to fascinate. To those of my generation, they are part of our creation myth, the representatives of pure evil.

A few reflections based on the BBC series so far:

In practice, the essential government approach of the Nazis was to give bureaucrats absolutely free rein. Hitler concentrated all power in his person, then did not often formally exercise it. He mostly just slept in, watched movies and orated to his syncophants. As a result, functionaries at all levels were free to do just about as they wished, subject to eternal jockeying for position against other bureaucrats. So were the self-regulating professions.

In other words, one way to look at Nazism as it transpired in Germany is to see it as what bureaucracy leads to: let it have its way, and this is what you end up with.

The Nazis were also sexual libertines. This is worth stressing, because there is much jive about these days likening those who insist on traditional morality to Nazis. There was no question of sexual “repression.” Sex was good—it increased the race. There were states-sponsored bordellos. The “Night of the Amazons” Festival was held annually in Munich, featuring lavish displays of topless local beauties.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Slap-Happy Serbs

The local paper today ran a quarter-page item lamenting the supposed cultural backwardness of Serbia, where, apparently, it is still considered socially acceptable to slap one's wife. One in three Serbian women, the piece laments, has suffered this form of “domestic violence.” (“In macho Serbia, it's okay to slap the wife,” Gulf Times, August 7, 2008).

I guess it is possible to see slapping someone in the face as assault. I guess some could believe this is an important issue, that it should be a criminal matter, and needs immediate government attention.

Still—what about a little balance? In what countries is it not socially acceptable for wives to slap their husbands? And how many men have been victims of this form of assault?

Is sauce for the goose really poison for the gander?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Mary Winkler Gets Her Kids Back

This case establishes the important legal point that any woman can kill any man at will. It kind of logically follows on from unrestricted abortion, I suppose.

Now she even has her kids back. After all, why would the person who killed their father represent any kind of risk to them?

Hat tip to Rob Housley for spotting the story.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Death, Where is Thy Sting?

For roughly all of us, death is the great terror. But, like roughly everything else, it is probably not at all what it seems. Dr. Paul Wong discovered, in his own studies as a psychologist in the 1980s, that most of the elderly he interviewed “were prepared to die and actually welcomed it.” Death after a long life is not a sad thing, much less a tragedy. One gets bored; eventually, one wants to move on.

This is borne out again by a book I recently fished out of a remainder bin: Laura Ward's Famous Last Words (London, PRC: 2004). It is, largely, a collection of the last words of various famous people.

Almost none seem to express panic or fear. The three clear exceptions are Queen Elizabeth I, who offered everything she owned for one more moment; her father Henry VIII, who died lamenting “all is lost—empire, body, soul”; and Josef Stalin, who went out in great agony and terror, according to his daughter. Those who know the lives of these three, however, would probably not be particularly suprised to know they left with visions of hellfire.

Many go out with a wisecrack instead. Bob Hope, asked on his deathbed where he'd like to be buried, whispered, “Surprise me.” Allan Ginsberg just wheezed “Toodle-oo.”

Many others testify to the rest of us that there is nothing especially unpleasant about the whole thing. The dying author Stephen Crane advises, “When you come to the hedge that we all must get over, it isn't so bad. You feel sleepy, you don't care. Just a little dreamy anxiety, which world you're really in, that's all.” Gerard Manley Hopkins, poet, Jesuit, and author of the famous “Terrible Sonnets” that plumb the depths of spiritual suffering, said simply, “I am so happy, so happy.” Ethel Barrymore, the actress, said almost the same thing. Raphael, only the one word, “happy.” English painter William Etty: “Wonderful, wonderful, this death!” Dr. William Hunter, art collector: “If I had strength to hold a pen, I would write down how easy and pleasant a thing it is to die.” Maria Mitchell, professor of astronomy: “well, if this is dying, there is nothing unpleasant about it.”

Perhaps surprisingly, even convicted felons going to the gallows or the electric chair seem usually in a rather good mood. But why not? If they have done wrong, they have also paid the final penalty. Perhaps by this their slates are wiped clean.

Perhaps all dying people should be issued with a tape recorder in order to leave their advice for the rest of us. What could be of greater ultimate value?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

How Canada Won the War of 1812 (But Not Until 1867)

Having lived in a number of countries, I believe all nations seem to have a distorted view of their history. Americans are convinced they won the Korean War; so are the Chinese. Koreans are convinced they were the worst victims of the Japanese; Filipinos remember them as the most brutal of the Japanese soldiers. Canadians in particular tend to laugh at the bizarre distortions they hear from the US. But frankly, we are missing the beam in our own eye.

Take the War of 1812. Canadians are commonly utterly convinced that we defeated the US in that war. Most are even of the odd opinion that we put the White House to the torch.

We did not, of course. The war was a draw, and Canada was not a party to it. The two combatants were the US and Britain. Canada was no more than a geographical designation for one of the areas where the war was fought. Probably no Canadians were involved in the raid on Washington.

Never mind, at least Canadians fought hard to defend their own lands from the Americans, right? We won in our own particular theatre of war, and decisively proved we were not, and did not want to be, Americans?

Well... maybe. Consider the Battle of York (aka Toronto). According the the official muster rolls, aside from the British regulars, York was defended by a 300-man local militia.

They lost that battle, and the Americans burned the town before they withdrew. In those days, by common consent, nobody kept prisoners of war. Instead, those who surrendered were paroled with a signed contract never to bear arms again. Their governments were honour-bound to respect this.

Interestingly, of the 300-man local militia, a full 1,400 surrendered to the Americans and emerged bearing these contracts. In other words, Canadians from miles around flooded into Muddy York to get the American paroles, so they could no longer be drafted by the British for the war.

Did they really care who gave them their marching orders? It doesn't look like it.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

No Country for Young Men

It smelled funny immediately when not one of the 2,201 reports worldwide on the recent Manitoba bus beheading mentioned the perpetrator's race. After all, they immediately speculated as to the race of the victim--”apparently aboriginal.” They were also prepared to say that the perpetrator was in his forties, about six feet tall, had short hair, and weighed about 200 pounds. Obviously, over the several hours he was surrounded in the bus with the severed head, someone got a decent look at him.

They still do not mention the perpetrator's (I do not say “suspect”; to do so in this case would be and is logically absurd) race. But his name is Vince Weiguang Li—in Chinese, oddly enough, that would be Vince Foreign Prairie Plum. And, given his face in the now-published photos, were I to see it in a bus, I would immediately assume he was ethnically East Asian. Still no comment from the press, though.

Isn't that strange? Had the perpetrator been “Caucasian-looking,” do you suppose this would not have been reported? Random check—the first unrelated Canadian crime story I find on Google News: “Stabbed Good Samaritan in Stable Condition”

See paragraph 8:

“Witnesses described the man with the knife as Caucasian, approximately 20 years old, five-feet-seven to five-feet-10 inches tall, wearing a white hoodie, jeans and a ball cap.”

Interestingly, in this latter case, it is the ethnicity of the victim that is not reported.

My guess is that he, too, was Caucasian, and not Samaritan.

It appears that the victim of the bus beheading, judging by his name—Tim McLean--was not aboriginal at all, but... Caucasian. Has this fact been pointed out in subsequent news stories? No. His ethnicity is now apparently unmentionable.

What we have here, put bluntly, is systemic racism. The journalistic rule seems to be: if a victim is Caucasian, you do not mention this. If he might be of any other race, you say so. If a criminal is Caucasian, you say so. If he might be of any other race, you do not mention this.

The net effect is necessarily to spread hatred and contempt towards Caucasians: for in the press, the distinct impression is being systematically given that criminals are always Caucasians, and victims are not.

Perhaps related: nothing ever gets perceived as a “hate crime” if the criminal is non-Caucasian and the victim Caucasian. “Hate crimes” by definition apparently can only be crimes committed by Caucasians against non-Caucasians.

Was the bus beheading a hate crime? Quite possibly; the truth is, one can almost never tell, and it should not be relevant. But one thing seems to me pretty sure: if the victim has been Chinese, and the perpetrator Caucasian, it would have been reported as such.

And such reporting may be in part responsible for the death of young Timothy McLean.