The Culture Struggle

   14 August 2007, terribly early in the morning

I finished reading The Culture Struggle last week. As the title suggests, the book is about the conflicts that arise from, or are rooted in, culture. The book is comprised of 4 sections, each section contains a few short essays. Despite the subject mater, it’s a fairly easy read.

The book begins, more or less, with a discussion on how the dominant class within a nation use culture to reinforce its interests. The book ends with a section on hyper-individualism, which is probably the most America-centric section of the book. The end ties into the start of the book in that the culture of individualism that is so prevalent in the United States is what helps perpetuate much of the inequity that exists in the country. Individualism is the cultural base that helps the dominant moneyed class maintain there position in society. The middle two sections of the book are on imperialism, the subjection of people, and racism. (There are two chapters on violence against women which are insane; I need to look up the source he cites because the facts he spits out sound so unbelievable.) The chapters on racism are quite good, examining how slavery, amongst other things, was made palatable. Parenti also touches on how the dominant class will sometimes try and instigate racial strife so as to redirect anger that would rightly be directed at them. So, for example, you have poor White workers complaining about immigrants stealing their jobs, not about those who control all the money. The middle two chapters of the book were what I found the most interesting.

The topics may sound a bit heavy, but I found it to be a fairly easy read. The essays in the book are all quite short: Parenti makes a few points, and then moves on. The book as a whole is really a series of observations, and interesting topics for further discussion. Any essay in this book could probably be turned into something far more substantial. On the whole it’s a great read; it leaves you with a lot of things to think about.

Comment [4] |  

The Alienation of the Worker

   13 August 2007, early morning

[Siracusa’s list of enterprise desires for the iPhone] is, to be blunt, horseshit. It’s apologist blathering to cover up a failure of imagination and ambition. And it’s saying that people cease to become people when they’re at work, and are instead Enterprise Employees.

The emphasis here is mine. This is a tiny point from a much longer article by Anil Dash on developing products for the enterprise market. I thought it was interesting he didn’t feel a need to argue this point: obviously you are the same person at work that you are at home; to think otherwise is ridiculous. To many this idea is axiomatic. In reality, its a reflection of the cultural norms within a capitalist society. For the vast majority of people in the world, work does strip you of your humanity. Our relationships to our coworkers, our bosses, and our customers, can’t be called “human” in any sense of the word. People do become enterprise employees when they arrive at work. Those of us living in the West live in a world built by people who were interested in preserving their wealth, and the modes of production that allow them to continue generating wealth. Think about how important property rights are in any country that operates with a capitalist economy. Property rights are of paramount importance. Think about the cultural norms put in place to explain away poverty and inequity in these countries. Poor people are poor because they are lazy. Rich people are rich because they work hard. These are 18th century puritan Christian ideas that are no longer questioned. Finally think about how we can reach a point where working in a cubicle farm can be called being human.

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Tony Ruprecht

   30 July 2007, late morning

I haven’t been living at Bloor and Lansdowne too long now, but I have been here long enough to realize that Tony Ruprecht is a thoroughly useless MPP. Ruprecht is the most senior Liberal MPP not to make cabinet. And this is the only fellow in Toronto that endorsed McGuinty’s leadership bid, so to be passed over seems like quite the disrespect. You may recall he gained some notoriety for spending way too much time in Cuba. He claims he was trying to learn Portuguese — I shit you not. (So maybe not having a cabinet position suits him fine.) He is also somewhat infamous for taking donations from all sorts of people you probably would not want to be associated with. As election season approaches I’ve seen him out and about more frequently. When I saw him last he was asking the cops what needs to be done to help reduce crime in the area — this was after they discussed at length what they needed the provincial government to do. To say he comes off as a bit clueless is an understatement. Apparently it was more of the same this weekend at a community march he attended. The worse part is that more likely than not he will win again. He always wins as far as I can tell. What is wrong with people? Please, think before you vote.

Update Sep 12th: Ruprecht is currently doing a good job of avoiding any and all all-candidates debates. There is one scheduled for the 25th of this month he is refusing to participate in thus far. Apparently various community group leaders have been ringing his office up trying to get him to commit. They’ve had no luck thus far. He recently skipped an all-candidates debate on Gold Hawk Live. Yesterday he was at a DigIn meeting, but apparently left before it actually got underway. I wonder if he is worried about people actually hearing what he has to say. Ah the life of an incumbent.

Update Sep 25th: The all candidates debate was today. Ruprecht opted to show up, which was great; it was an actual all-candidates meeting. Even representatives from both communist parties where there. Tony is amicable enough in real life, but he just doesn’t deserve the job he has. He’s been at his post for years, but doesn’t seem to have effected any real change in the area. My vote is probably going to Paul Ferreira. Not only does he have a lot of experience, he was easily the most well spoken of the candidates at the debate.

Comment [7] |  

Why don't Americans riot?

   19 July 2007, terribly early in the morning

I’m reading through Al Gore’s The Assault on Reason — which I can confirm could be renamed An Assault on the Bush Administration — I just finished reading Nemesis, and I watched V for Vendetta again with Shima last night. I now feel like starting a riot, but then I live in the idyllic wonderland that is Canada: I’m not sure what’d I’d riot about. Why don’t Americans riot? This is what I can’t understand. You have a government that clearly operates in its own interests, not in the interests of its people. There is blatant cronyism in most everything the Bush administration does, from the laws it passes to the people it protects. Democracy is supposed to be by the people for the people. I don’t know what is up in America now, but it certainly can’t be called a Democracy. Now if the poor were getting less poor, they might welcome the slow march towards fascism, but as far as I can tell this isn’t the case. It is amazing what you can convince people they want. I need to read Manufacturing Consent one of these days.

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President Bush has commuted the sentence of Scooter Libby

    3 July 2007, early morning

There are so many things I wanted to write about today, including my brand new transformer, and a visit from my cousins, but instead I’ll mention that unsurprisingly, President Bush has commuted the sentence of Scooter Libby.

I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.

This isn’t all that surprising. I don’t think anyone actually expected him to spend any time in jail. You can almost feel the rage on MetaFilter. I wonder how much press this will get today, or over the course of the week. Any of you in America have a sense of how people are reacting to the news?

This quote from the Times sums things up nicely:

Presidents have the power to grant clemency and pardons. But in this case, Mr. Bush did not sound like a leader making tough decisions about justice. He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell.

Of course, in the grand scheme of crap things the administration has done, this barely ranks. I’ve been reading through Nemesis now, a book Martha bought me for my birthday last year, which is a pretty neat and tidy account of why America is constantly fucking up, and why it is probably totally fucked. I think it’s well worth checking out. There is so much truly evil stuff Bush has got up to since taking office, it’s hard to get worked up about Libby being let off the hook for outing Plame — more so since in all likely hood he was covering for Cheney.

I wonder if anyone in the US will ever get charged as a war criminal. They’ve certainly got enough of them running around living it up.

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Hamas takes Gaza

   15 June 2007, terribly early in the morning

The cover of the Globe and Mail features a Hamas fighter standing on a table in Fatah’s intelligence headquarters, brandishing a Kalashnikov and a Qur’an. It’s a pretty amazing photograph. Gaza is now under control of Hamas. The West Bank remains under the control of Fatah. There are reports of gun battles out there though, so fighting may flare up in the West Bank next. How did we end up with Palestinians shooting at Palestinians? Somehow I doubt this this will lead to Palestinian self-determination.

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Hoder: A Whole Lotta Ego

   15 February 2007, early evening

Hossein is part of a generation of idiot savants who have the audacity to refer to themselves as human rights activists, while sipping on five dollar latte’s and attending bogus conferences in the proverbial West. These quasi-intellectual talking heads have no scholarly understanding of human rights discourse, and an even poorer understanding of their own country’s history. — Samira Mohyeddin (of Banu fame.)

I follow the news on Iran much more closely than I ever did before, mostly because of Shima. I used to read hoder.com to get some insight on Iran because I foolishly thought — like many bloggers I suspect — that Hossein Derakhshan actually had something insightful to say. To be brief: he really doesn’t. Hoder is pro-Reformist and Tehran-centric in his outlook. He is very critical of anyone that doesn’t share his political ideology. Reading his site during the last election, you would think it was guaranteed that the Reformists would win, when I suppose if you had been actually paying attention it would be clear this wasn’t going to happen at all. People who can fly back and forth between Iran and Canada are not the sort of people that you should look to for reliable criticism of Iran.

So why bring this all up today? I checked out his site again after he posted on MetaFilter today, and he describes Reading Lolita in Tehran as anti-Iranian propaganda-literature. And you know he’s saying that with a straight-face. This is the go-to guy for news on Iran?

Update Feb 22nd 2007: He posted his thoughts on Reading Lolita in Tehran on MetaFilter today.

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I've Been to the Mountaintop

   23 January 2007, terribly early in the morning

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!

This was the last speech Martin Luther King, Jr, gave before he was assassinated. He was killed the very next day. It’s an excellent speech — like all his speeches — and well worth taking the time to read.

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Capitalism Will Eat Itself?

   22 December 2006, early morning

Cheap Polish labour is pushing British workers out of the construction industry. I’m curious what the British workers bring to the table that the Polish ones don’t? If the answer is nothing, then I don’t see why they should expect to be payed 20% more just for being British.

These laborers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.

In a capitalist society, if you are a worker, you need to remain competitive. That’s cold, but it’s basically how the system works. It’s the big reason why big box stores like Walmart can move into a town and destroy all the mom and pop shops that used to operate there. It’s why companies choose to outsource to places like India rather than operate locally. It’s why capitalism will eat itself.

The lower strata of the middle class — the small tradespeople, shopkeepers, and retired tradesmen generally, the handicraftsmen and peasants — all these sink gradually into the proletariat, partly because their diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale on which Modern Industry is carried on, and is swamped in the competition with the large capitalists, partly because their specialized skill is rendered worthless by new methods of production. Thus, the proletariat is recruited from all classes of the population.

Actually, I lied, I don’t really think capitalism will eat itself anymore. Most governments put in place just enough socialist policy to keep the system working. Most developed countries have some form of unemployment insurance, health care, welfare, etc. Even if you are living in squalor, its hard to rage against the machine that is paying your way. So who do you get mad at? Who do you demonize? I think that answer should be clear.

(All quotes are from the Manifesto of the Communist Party by Karl Marx and Frederich Engels.)

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We have clear and compelling evidence that government forces are helping Karuna forces abduct boys and young men

   28 November 2006, early morning

The LTTE are particularly infamous for their recruitment of child soldiers. It is the most common criticism hurled against them. For quite sometime now the LTTE has contended they don’t have child conscripts in their army — whether you believe them or not is a choice you need to make. Recently, a representative of the United Nations accused the government of being complicit in the recruitment of children into the Karuna Group today, Human Rights Watch has also made this accusation.

We have clear and compelling evidence that government forces are helping Karuna forces abduct boys and young men.
— Jo Becker, children’s rights advocate at HRW.

That’s one hell of an accusation. Whether it gets any play whatsoever in the press remains to be seen. The government of Sri Lanka has gotten off fairly easy despite the fact it has an equally poor record when it comes to protecting children. Unrelated to the war you have a very bad child pornography problem. With respect to the war, you have the way the army handles itself in the pursuit of Tigers. The government has no qualms when it comes to shelling civilian areas in the hopes of hitting some LTTE cadres. For example, they blew up on orphanage not too long ago. It’s easy for people to argue away criticism like this; you can call it the cost of war or something equally stupid. (A little known fact: It’s even easier to argue this sort of thing away if it isn’t your children being blown up.) It’s hard to defend recruiting child soldiers: it’s premeditated and malicious; you’re preying on the truly helpless. I’m curious to see how the government will respond to the charge. [Update: Parthi lets me know the government has called the charge village gossip.] I’m curious to see how the world will respond to the charge.

HRW is also in effect agreeing with the LTTE’s accusation that the Karuna group is another arm of the government’s military apparatus. The LTTE have accused the government of waging a hidden war against them through the group for some time now, and it would appear these charges have a lot of merit. When the LTTE claim they have no choice but to wage war with the government, it’s hard to argue against them. The government involvement with a paramilitary group like this is beyond reproach. How can you be involved in a cease-fire agreement, while supporting a group whose goal is to goad the LTTE into violating that very agreement.

So I am left wondering why here in Canada, the US, and Europe the LTTE marked as terrorists and not the government of Sri Lanka? Both groups are vicious and undeserving of support.

An aside: Sepia Mutiny felt mocking Prabhakaran’s wardrobe was a better use of their time and resources than covering this topic. That’s their prerogative; they have no real obligation to anyone. I just find it hard to take them seriously when they get all fired up about racism in the US or whatever their issue of the moment is. (In their defense, he does look pretty ridiculous. All of the photographs of various Tamil rebel leaders I’ve seen make them look like they could be my uncles.)

Comment [5] |  

Toronto's Municipal Election 2006

   13 November 2006, evening time

This is one of the few times I wish I had a TV. I feel like heading out to one of the election parties to check out the results live. I’ve been following along with the Torontoist’s live blogging of the election. Pitfield has already conceded defeat to Miller, so that’s good at the very least. I think it was pretty brave for Pitfield to challenge Miller: she gave up her very safe seat to make the attempt. I’m still waiting to hear who wins our ward. It was very hard to decide who to vote for.

Update: With 30 of 31 polls reporting, Adam Giambrone looks to be the clear winner of Ward 18. The crowd at Lula Lounge must be quite happy.

Update: Toronto Star pick Chin Lee has won my families riding, Ward 41.

Update: Proving incumbents have it easy, David Shiner wins another election. Sanaz got a comendable 10% of the vote. Ed Shiller, the other oposition clocked in at around 30%.

Update: Ward 17, just North of me, looks to have gone to the incumbent Cesar Palacio. It was a very ugly campaign, and i’ll be disappointed if Bravo can’t recover. 1 poll to go. She needs to make up 200 votes. I don’t see it hapening.

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Simon Wookey at the DigIn Vigil

   11 November 2006, mid-afternoon

Simon Wookey at the Vigil

I attended a small vigil last night. It was organized by a couple of people in DigIn. A few of the city councilors running in our ward were on hand to talk to people about their platforms. Simon Wookey was there at the start of the event, and I got to speak to him a fair bit before he headed off to get back to canvassing. Simon had prepared a speech for the event, but since it was a fairly small crowd, he opted instead to chat with anyone who wanted to talk to him. One of his volunteers passed on his speech for the event to me, which I’ve included below:

Read the rest of this post. (613 words)

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Ward 18 All Candidates Debates

    9 November 2006, mid-morning

The end of the night at Dewson

Yesterday a small all candidates meeting was held at Dewson Public School. The two candidates that I was most interested in seeing, Simon Wookey and Adam Giambrone, were both in attendance. There are 6 candidates running in our ward, some clearly more capable than others. The turn out at the event was fairly small. I don’t think people are too interested in civic politics, which is stupid since it really effects you the most.

Read the rest of this post. (752 words)

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At Atchuvely, during the first week of November, some L.T.T.E. members threw grenades at the I.P.K.F. and escaped through a Proctor Balasingam’s house. Two soldiers were killed. Soldiers entered Proctor Balasingam’s house and called out the Proctor, his wife and another person, who were helpless parties in the matter. Subsequently all three were shot dead.
—From A Broken Palmyra (Chapter 2.3 Scenes from the October 1987 War)

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] |  

No More Tears Sister

   30 March 2006, late evening

I watched No More Tears Sister again tonight with my parents; I bought them a copy of the DVD. The film is about the Tamil human rights activist Dr. Rajani Thiranagama, who was murdered by the LTTE in 1989. The movie is a pretty good introduction to the conflict in Sri Lanka, although its focus is always on Rajani and her sister Nirmala, who was also a fairly famous activist. (Nirmala was the first female political prisoner held by Sri Lankan government. My parents remember when she was broken out of jail by the LTTE in the early 80s; It was quite the news in London.) There are some brilliant photos of the LTTE cadres featured in the film. I am curious who took them and where they came from; they really are quite amazing. Much of the story in the movie is told by Rajani’s family: her sisters, husband, and daughters. It is pretty touching at times, and this gives the movie a very human feel. Rajani’s youngest daughter plays her in various flashbacks during the film. I imagine this must have been very hard for her daughter to do—in particular filming the shot where she is laying in the street dead. How does one participate in the reenactment of their mothers death?

My family is from Jaffna. My mom remembers Rajani from there. Apparently she would ride a boys bike around town. Women riding bikes in Jaffna was scandalous back in the day; I’m not entirely sure why. (I might be generalizing here: I suspect it’s just my family that was particularly purantical but I suppose I’ll never know for sure.)

I saw this film at the Hot Docs festival last year. I enjoyed it then, but didn’t feel like writing about it at the time. Even now I don’t know what to say about the film. I think it’s well put together, and is something people interested in Sri Lankan politics should definitely watch. The movie paints the LTTE in a fairly dark light. (The movie is about how the LTTE killed this particular woman, so clearly they aren’t going to come out looking nice.) My (Tamil) friends who watched the film the same night I did were not as impressed with the film as I was. Sometimes I feel like Tamil people feel obligated to hate anything that points out the uglier side of the LTTE.

The official No More Tears Sister web site. The movie is being discussed at Samudaya , Film Gecko, and the BBC. The name of the movie comes from a chapter in the book Rajani co-wrote called The Broken Palmyra.

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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.

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"I'm not a nigger, I'm a man"

    3 February 2006, early morning

My Marxism professor felt that the moment blacks ceased to consider themselves slaves, and saw themselves as men and women proper, that the abolition of slavery was inevitable. If you think about slavery, you can see that it is both a state of being and a state of mind. Only the first state can be overcome by forces external to oneself. The Emancipation Proclamation made salves free in a pragmatic sense. It takes more than a piece of paper to make someone free in the truest sense of the word.

I was thinking about this after my cousin showed me an interview with James Baldwin. It is part of a series of three interviews, the two other interviewees being Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the end of Baldwin’s interview, he is asked what he sees as the future of Blacks in America, to which he responds:

What white people have to do, is try and find out in their own hearts why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place, because I’m not a nigger, I’m a man, but if you think I’m a nigger, it means you need it.

This interview is definitely worth watching.

If you are curious about what the abolition of slavery has to do with Marxism, the same ideas about slavery come up when you discuss the worker overcoming his slavery to the capitalist, to his work, and to the products of his work.

As an aside, I should mention that Steven Harper plans to reopen the gay marriage debate in parliament, presumably with the goal of having the previous law on the subject overturned. I am of the opinion he is wasting his time. Once people have decided they aren’t second class citizens, you can only do so much to hold them down. Does Harper think the gays and lesbians in this country are going to sit down and keep quiet all of a sudden? I think you can only stifle personal freedom for so long.

Comment [3]  

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 dont give a damn about the peace process. You cant 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.

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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.

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I have always loved Cavafy ’s “Ithaca ” how, in the poem, the traveller comes to understand that he will never reach Ithaca and this does not matter. The journey is all. The horror is all. Getting off the boat or plane and saying here are my belongings and thank you for taking me in, this is almost all.
On War by Indran Amirthanayagam

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] |  

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] |  

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