Canada has joined team crazy

   18 July 2006, mid-morning

So you may be well aware that I think our prime minister, Harper, is a bit a jack-ass. My opinions of the man haven’t changed in recent days. His response to what is going on Lebanon is ridiculous. Before he was aware that 7 Canadians were killed by Israel in a bombing, he had declared that Israel’s response to the kidnappings thus far had been measured. (As far as I can tell, it hasn’t been. Israel was right to respond, but blowing up a country seems a bit much.) Since learning of the deaths, his opinion hasn’t changed. Really, he doesn’t seem all to concerned with the deaths whatsoever.

Mr. Harper said neither he nor his officials have contacted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for an explanation of the air strike on Sunday that killed a Montreal pharmacist, his wife, their four young children and others. He offered his condolences to the victims’ families at the start of his news conference.

Well, be sure to let us know when you get off your ass and figure out what actually happened. I suspect the little girls weren’t working for Hezbollah, but one can never be sure. I am sure as with Air India, and Zahara Kazemi, Canada will do nothing about this.

It annoys me to no end that Harper is our representative in the world. Canada has joined team crazy.

Comment [2] |  

Tamil Eelam - A De Facto State

   17 March 2006, early morning

Sometimes when I have felt a little depressed I would go to Parliament to sit in the public gallery and look down at all those ‘terrorists’ now occupying the government benches. It is something to lift the heaviest heart to behold those who were regarded by the previous apartheid government as the most dangerous terrorists, and who now, in the new democratic dispensation, are the Hon. Minister of this or that. I would recall that some of them were fellow marchers in rallies against the awfulness of apartheid, and with some we were targets for tear gassing, and now here they are, members of a democratically elected National Assembly.
—South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter.

I found this quote in the opening executive summary on a report from the University of Oslo on the LTTE and how it manages the areas it controls. When Haran got back from Sri Lanka last, he was quite impressed with how well managed the LTTE controlled areas of the island were. The one problem is that these institutions aren’t democratic, but I suspect for most people, the fact that they are functional is more than good enough. My concern with LTTE getting power in the North and East is that they would continue to be autocratic—they haven’t really done much to suggest otherwise. We’ll have to see what happens in the future.

Comment [1] |  

On the Hamas Win

   30 January 2006, early morning

I linked to a story on Hamas winning the Palestinian election a few days ago, and didn’t really say much more on the topic. Sunny had the following to say:

The peace process has just taken an u-turn and the Palestinians have made it crystal that they donít give a damn about the peace process. You canít negotiate with these folks in good faith.

Sunny’s opinion is inline with what I have heard on the news, either from political analysts or from world leaders. Now, I assume that if Fatah won the election then the peace process would be on course to come to an amicable solution. (If not, then there is really no point lamenting a Hamas win.) Now, I don’t live in Palestine. Neither does Sunny. Neither does George Bush, or any of the leaders of the EU. The people who do live there seem to be of the opinion that Fatah is not getting much done. Hamas won the election because Fatah has been ineffectual so far, at least in the eyes of the only people whose opinions matter on this subject, the Palestinian people. That Fatah could be removed from power without a civil war is a good thing. In the past Canadian election we saw that Canadians were sick of the Liberals and voted someone else into office to replace them; no one complained that this was a failure of democracy. If you can’t live with the results of an election, why bother supporting democractic institutions in the first place?

Of course, everything I just said hinges on Hamas shutting up about wanting to destroy Israel. That country isn’t going anywhere. Both sides need to learn how to get along.

Comment [1] |  

Canada Votes -- Again

   24 January 2006, the wee hours

As I head to bed, the NDP are looking like they will end up with 29 seats, which is really great. The downside, of course, is that the Conservative party have won 125 seats, the most seats this election. This means we have a minority government—again. Derek Lee won in my riding—again. I’m not surprised with the results, though I am impressed the Liberals still ended up with so many seats, despite running what must be one of the worst campaigns ever.

Update Jan 24th 9:52 AM: The breakdown of votes and seats this year was favourable to the Conservatives and the NDP, with the Liberals and the Bloc losing seats. I was surprised when the Bloc backed the Conservatives in bringing down the past government. The Bloc posted great numbers in the last election, and I couldn’t see why they would want to rock the boat. I suppose they had assumed they could steal more votes away from the Liberals this time around. This would have been a reasonable train of thought; I don’t think anyone would have predicted the Conservatives would do so well in Quebec.

In the end, the results were as follows:

Party Seats % of Votes
Con 124 36.25%%
Lib 103 30.22%
BQ 51 10.48%
NDP 29 17.49%
IND 1 0.52%
OTH 0 5.05%

The Conservatives won a Minority government, but no other party has the balance of power. The Conservatives are going to have to work very hard to keep the House of Commons working if they want to be voted back in the next time elections are held. I don’t think Canadians are interested in another election so soon.

In my riding, things were as they always are:

Candidate Party Votes % of Votes
Derek Lee LIB 30281 65.62%
Jerry Bance CON 9426 20.43%
Andrew Brett NDP 4973 10.78%
Serge Abbat GRN 756 1.64%
Alan Mercer LTN 243 0.53%

Derek Lee actually got more votes this time around! Last year Raymond Cho did reasonably well in this riding, and I suspect many people who have voted for him last time, voted for Derek Lee this time. Last year there were 38,578 votes cast in my riding. This year, there were 46,146. The numbers for the other parties are very similar to their numbers last year.

If you are interested in how this election compares to the last, you can check out Election Canada’s website, which has last years results and other information online. I wrote about last year’s election as well..

We have a Conservative leading the country. God damn it.

Comment [14] |  

Layton is Getting Asked the Hard Question

   18 January 2006, late evening

I love Canadian news. Jack Layton is on Newsworld now, and people aren’t pulling their punches when asking him questions. Mansbridge in particular is on his ass after each question has been asked. Layton is doing a really good job answering questions so far, though he does need Mansbridge to prod him at times. He just answered a question on the NDPs stance on public and private healthcare quite well. His answer on strategic voting was also particularly good. My opinion on this is the same as Layton’s: you should vote with your heart. If you can’t do that, then your democratic system of government is broken. First-past the post is what we are stuck with for now, but at the very least your vote is used when determining funding for the federal parties. More than that, your vote adds legitimacy to the parties, whether that translates to seats or not. The NDP doubled their popular support in the last election. You need to help them double it again. Yes, I am telling you how to vote.

Comment |  

Roshomon in Jaffna

   16 January 2006, late at night

Here are three reports of the same incident: Murder in Pungudutivu, Tharsini raped before murder, and Untold Story Of Punguduthivu Rape Case. A girl was presumably raped and killed. The problem is of course determining who did the raping and killing. TamilNet has one opinion, the Independent has another. The University Teachers for Human Rights presents the case very matter of factly.

Here is another pair of stories on a similar subject: Two women shot dead in Manipay and Jaffna Women Banned From Interacting With Army By LTTE. The difference in reporting is interesting. TamilNet commonly reports on stories of “Unknown Gunmen”. I ask you, besides the army, who could possibly be shooting up Jaffna? It is a shame TamilNet’s crack team of reporters hasn’t cracked that nut. The Independent is a bit more forthright on who it thinks is doing the shooting. I suspect they are probably on the money.

In my opinion, the best reporting on Sri Lanka comes from the University Teachers for Human Rights briefings, but they are very infrequent. Everything else is so biased it might as well be propaganda; the Independent and TamilNet are so biased it’s embarrassing reading their “news” coverage.

Update: I have it on good authority that the Independent is run by crack-pots.

Comment [6]  

Mahinda Rajapakse Won. Damn It.

   18 November 2005, early morning

So, Ananthan was totally right in the way he saw the election playing out. There are apparently 700,000 eligible voters in Jaffna, where my family is from. They basically all stayed home this election. This was the case all over the Tamil parts of Sri Lanka. More interesting, is that this was also apparently the case in places like Colombo; TamilNet has more on the votes cast. Anyway, as a result of the unofficial official Tamil boycott, the hardliner, Mahinda Rajapakse, won the election 2005 Sri Lankan presidential election by a paltry 180,000 votes. Reaction to the election is being recorded over at the BBC, and will probably make for some interesting reading.

Comment [2] |  

Web 2.0 vs. the Islamofacists

    9 November 2005, mid-morning

I wrote this because I wanted to sum up the France at Night thread while it was still fresh in my mind, and my opinions on the matter hadn’t dulled. I did this because I am easily agitated at times. The thread is entertaining to read.

Read the rest of this post. (1231 words)

Comment [11] |  

Barak Obama has a Podcast.

   22 September 2005, late at night

Perhaps I was too harsh on Podcasting. Whether it is a fad that will last or not remains to be seen. For the time being we can all enjoy listening to the brilliant Barak Obama, the man who should be president, speak on current events and politics. You can listen to Podcasts in iTunes, but I think Odeo is a much better application for finding and listening to Podcasts. (Check out the Odeo page for Barak Obama’s Podcast.) The Odeo widget is the best way to listen to Podcasts, in my humble opinion.

Comment [3] |  

Your Blog Has Too Many Ads, Cracker-ass Crackers

    7 September 2005, mid-morning

When I first started my site, my plan was to never to write like this site was my journal, and to avoid any touchy subjects like politics and religion. Well, at least I more or less stuck to the journal part.

I stopped reading BoingBoing because their site is so littered with ads I just don’t feel like reading it anymore. I’m not missing much — usually if something good turns up on BoingBoing it will show up on every other website I read soon enough. The problem is that I miss the crap that shows up on BoingBoing too. Thankfully, there are other easily irritated brown men out there reading BoingBoing for me.

Dinu noticed this suspect headline on BoingBoing: Katrina: whew, here comes India to save us, at last! And American’s wonder why they are seen as arrogant assholes all around the globe? To be fair, Xeni Jardin, the author of the post, could be linking to the Bruce Sterling post precisely to point out the arrogance of it. Or like Sterling, she could be a jerk.

Now, the bigger question, which Dinu asks, is whether this is racist. I’m not sure at what point arrogance becomes racism. And I’m not sure if the BoingBoing link has crossed that line. If these are the sentiments of Xeni Jardin, then personally, I am glad she posted them.

I’m not a big fan of political correctness. If someone doesn’t like me because I’m brown — or a Paki if you will — that is their prerogative. Political correctness isn’t going to fix anything, it simply hides a serious problem. I don’t want any racist to feel obliged to hide their racism out of common courtesy.

Sometimes you will hear people — politicians — saying we need a more tolerant society. I hate that idea too — bear with me. As a minority, I don’t want to be tolerated. People tolerate headaches and long lines at the supermarket. I would like to be treated with the same respect I treat other people. If someone can’t do that because they are racist, then I’d prefer they wallow in their own ignorance then pretend to be nice to me. I suppose tolerance is a first step to a better society, but it is only a step. The end goal should never simply be a tolerant society. We should expect more from ourselves and the place we call home.

Comment [23] |  

Kanye West -- I love you.

    3 September 2005, mid-morning

The man produced Common’s very excellent album Be. He has actually produced plenty of excellent albums and songs. Kanye’s own album, College Dropout is excellent. That isn’t why I love Kanye West. No, I love Kanye West because Kanye West went on national television and said: George Bush doesn’t care about black people. Poor Mike Meyers, he looks so damn confused. [via Turbanhead]

Comment [22]  

Still Separate, Still Unequal

   29 August 2005, early morning

“Dear Mr. Kozol,” wrote the eight-year-old, “we do not have the things you have. You have Clean things. We do not have. You have a clean bathroom. We do not have that. You have Parks and we do not have Parks. You have all the thing and we do not have all the thing. Can you help us?”

Jonothan Kozol writes about the absolutely appalling conditions of inner city schools in a great article in the September issue of Harper’s. It sounds like the education of inner-city black and Hispanic children in the United States is in a sorry state. Kozol describes schools run almost like factories or prisons in grim detail. According to Kozol, US Schools are quite quickly becoming functionally segregated. Kozol lists the demographics of a slew of public schools in the states, named after prominent civil rights activists, whose classrooms are upwards of 97% black and Hispanic — in some cases despite being in neighbourhoods that are predominantly white. It has been over 50 years since Brown vs. Board of Education. It is sad to read about the state of things today.

Update: I was reminded of this article again when reading an article by Steve Sailer.

Comment [1] |  

The World is Flat

   16 August 2005, mid-morning

Will you join in the battle to build the Great Society, to prove that our material progress is only the foundation on which we will build a richer life of mind and spirit?

There are those timid souls that say this battle cannot be won; that we are condemned to a soulless wealth. I do not agree. We have the power to shape the civilization that we want. But we need your will and your labor and your hearts, if we are to build that kind of society.

Those who came to this land sought to build more than just a new country. They sought a new world. So I have come here today to your campus to say that you can make their vision our reality. So let us from this moment begin our work so that in the future men will look back and say: It was then, after a long and weary way, that man turned the exploits of his genius to the full enrichment of his life.

—Lyndon B. Johnson, Great Society Speech

I wonder if America can recapture the ideals it once had, or if it has become so arrogant and confident in itself and its stature that it can’t see any of its flaws. (Actually, I don’t wonder these things at all, I have an opinion I’m sure those who read this site are well aware of.)

I’ve been reading The World is Flat, which I am enjoying immensely. The book’s premise is that technology has made the world flat—that is to say people from any part of the globe can collaborate with one another easily and cheaply. We can see this today with the growth of labour markets in the developing world. Anything that can be turned in to a stream of digital data can be worked on from anywhere in the world. And the reality is that this work is going to be sent to those places that can do it the best, and for the best price.

This is good for those of us in countries currently outsourcing work because it should free up our labour pools to do exciting new things. Well, that’s the idea anyway, things are never that simple. A society must provide a way for its citizens to improve their training and education. More than that though, citizens have to be willing to adapt and improve themselves. It isn’t enough to be average anymore, because there is a world full of above average people ready and willing to do your job. There was a time when we in the west were insulated from the East, but that time is coming to an end.

So, back to my original point. I think the end of the American empire is near. Friedman, author of The World is Flat, is fearful of the fate of America and tries to suggest ways in which America can turn itself around. His ideas are all interesting and valid, but I don’t see them being implemented. America doesn’t have a Lyndon B. Johnson or a John F. Kennedy who is willing to marshal the collective energy of the country and put that energy towards improving the society as a whole. And, as far as I can tell, many American’s themselves do not want to do such work.

Of course, America has all the guns, so we’ll have to see what happens.

Comment [7] |  

Canadians want strict security, poll finds.

   11 August 2005, early morning

The Globe and Mail published an article today on Canadians’ desires for a more ‘secure’ society: Canadians want strict security, poll finds. I need to look in to this more, since the poll results seem so contrary to what I would expect.

Even after this Arar mess, “62 per cent of respondents believe Canada should give the U.S. ‘any information they request about Canadian citizens whom they suspect of being terrorists.’” What? Who were they polling?

81% of the respondents support “Deporting or jailing anyone who publicly supports terrorists or suicide bombers.” Well, that probably describes the vast majority of the Tamil community in Canada — assuming the LTTE are still on Canada’s terrorism list. From what I can tell, many Iranian immigrants in Canada support the MEK. Canadians polled seem to think is is reasonable to ship these people back home? Also, with respect to the wording of the question, when would a suicide bomber not be considered a terrorist?

72% of people want video cameras filming public spaces? What demographic wants to live in a police state? Apparently some demographic I didn’t know existed in Canada.

I don’t know why I’m getting worked up over a poll. Can you feel my righteous indignation? I need a coke.

ed. I made this a proper post, not just a quick link.

Comment [3]  

Zahra Kazemi

   12 July 2005, late at night

A man handing out flyers at a vigil for Zahra Kazemi

I watched briefly as a group of Iranians sang songs and remembered the photographer Zahra Kazemi. Today marked the 2-year anniversary of her death. There is no mention of this, or anything else to do with Kazemi, in any of Toronto’s three major papers. This is probably because in two years basically nothing has changed with respect to this case. Two years is a pretty long time.

There was a handful of people out for the vigil. I didn’t stay long; it struck me as something organized by a small subset of the Iranian community for the Iranian community. It is a shame there seems to be very little interest in keeping this story alive outside the Persian community. People would walk by, take a flyer, and leave. That said, it is also a shame that the one group who organized a vigil did very little to promote it outside their own community. A Canadian national was tortured, raped, and killed in a foreign country—the fact that she was Iranian should really be secondary. This is something that every Canadian should feel effected by.

The sad thing is, as long as the government of Iran remains unchanged, I don’t see this case ever being resovled. I am not sure what Canada really can do in this matter. What sort of political pressure can a country such as ours exert on Iran, which has spent the past 20 years telling super powers to go fuck themselves? Still, on a day like today, some righteous indignation from an elected leader would be nice.

Comment [1] |  

London's Burning

    7 July 2005, early afternoon

Today, a series of bombs were set off in London. I was born in London. My family and I still have a lot of friends in the country, so it was good to hear from my dad that everyone is apparently OK. The last bombing in London happened about 10 years ago and were carried out by the IRA. The bombings today were most likely the work of some fundamentalist Muslim terrorist group. One group has claimed responsibility, calling on Britain to pull troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. As with the IRA attacks in the past, one would expect the British to rally around the government; I don’t see Blair pulling troops from anywhere. Whatever the purpose of this attack may be, I am sure it will accomplish little more then increasing the number of assaults on Muslims in England. Violence is a horrible way to advance ones cause, both morally and pragmatically.

Comment [1]  

Perhaps Hindu leaders should lighten up

    2 July 2005, late morning

Perhaps Hindu leaders should lighten up, says DiManno. Perhaps DiManno should work harder at not sounding like a bigot as she writes about the controversy surrounding the Bollywood Cowboy event held in Toronto.

The thing is, I don’t actually think Bollywood Cowboy was such a big deal, since it seems obvious that ACT were just totally ignorant about most everything. Now, the fact they somehow think Bollywood and Hinduism have anything to do with each other is sad, but hardly something to raise a furor about—especially since it is a good cause they are working to help.

That said, there are people much more religious than me who don’t want to see Hindu gods turned into pop icons. Everything DiManno is ranting about seems to miss the point of the Hindu communities complaints. To pretend Catholics wouldn’t object to a Sexed-Up Space-Pirate Jesus is wishful thinking. More so, even she doesn’t seem to realize that Bollywood and Hinduism having nothing to do with one another—besides the fact that those god damn brown people are involved with both. Worse yet, her generalization of the community at large is disingenuous. She goes so far as to suggest the Hindu community is full of bigoted backwards homophobe zealots. Maybe she gets her memos from the Conservative Party of Canada.

”[Bollywood Cowboy] demonstrated a callous disregard for non-European values and beliefs.” To which DiManno replies, “Oh please.”

Well, that’s certainly a tough argument to rebuke.

Suck it up Pakis!

Comment [8] |  

Police Assault On Pride Weekend

    2 July 2005, the wee hours

Bill Blair, our new police chief, made some history last Sunday by being the first Toronto police chief to participate in the Gay Pride Parade. Although it isn’t such a big deal in the grand scheme of things, I thought that was quite impressive. I can’t even picture the old police chief, Fantino, watching the Pride Parade. Blair seems to be making an effort to change the public perception of the police. I think Blair can do it, but he has his work cut out for him. The day before the Pride Parade, Amir Ebrahimnia, who runs the popular martini bar Babylon on Church St, had his bar shut down for over-crowding. Once the place was cleared out, the cops proceeded to beat the shit out of the man. (Dave found this story, which I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere else. It strikes me as newsworthy.)

Update: Even Dave finds him self doubting the authenticity of this story. As far as I can tell, the only reports of this story all link back to the article I linked to here. There is no new information on the internet about this attack, besides the original article. It seems shady. Nevertheless, it’d be nice if some journalist looked into this.

Update: The article is getting a lot more play. BlogTO is now discussing it, though they link to a thread elsewhere on the net. My doubts about the story are growing. This seems like the sort of scandal that you would like to think is hard to cover up. If this is true—which is very well might be, the police force in Toronto has a pretty bad history when it comes to dealing with the gay community—then it says a lot that this story can go for so long without getting any sort of attention from the press.

Comment [6] |  

→ → →