A painting of me

"I'm going to lie to lots of people."

   20 March 2012, early morning

As you may or may not have heard, Mike Daisey took several liberties in telling his story about the Foxconn factories in China that Apple uses to build their junk. A lot has already been written on this topic, and I’d have ignored the story if I hadn’t written about it myself.

Daisey’s take on things is that what he does is theatre, and the liberties he took with the truth improve the story. There I agree: his radio piece was really quite engaging. I wouldn’t have written so much about the story had it not be so good. His piece wouldn’t have been the same if the story wasn’t told in the first person the way it was. He presents his stage show as non-fiction. His definition of what that means in the context of theatre is clearly different than what most people think a piece of non-fiction is. That said, I don’t think i’d be that put-off had his work remained in the theatre.

The thing is, he represented his work to NPR as if it was completely true. His interaction with NPR suggests he knew he was deceiving them and that they wouldn’t (and couldn’t) be cool with his piece if they knew so much of the story was fabricated and half-truths. It’s one thing to say a bunch of things happened in a stage show and other to repeat that fiction when interviewed by reporters. That latter is just good old fashioned lying. He lied repeatedly to Ira Glass and other NPR producers. He lied repeatedly to other reporters who interviewed him subsequently. He’s really just a liar.

To NPR’s credit they dedicated a whole show to a retraction of their previous story. It’s well worth listening to. It’s as engaging as the original podcast. NPR clearly feels horrible they aired the piece.

The Mac blogosphere’s response to this story is as boring and obnoxious as their initial reaction. The best reaction i’ve read about all of this comes from Defective Yeti: Putting the I in Story.

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Framing the Debate

   2 July 2009, late morning

I’ve been following Indrajit Samarajiva on Twitter recently, since I enjoy reading his blog. He lives in Sri Lanka, so he gets to do interesting things like visiting internment camps:

disease is down dramatically in all Menik Farm zones except three

got back from Menik Farm, inside. Not so bad, but peeps want out. Dusty. Kids need a good scrub. And Permite. Feel humbled

the government has honestly handled this very well. Especially the soldiers and doctors.


Disease is down in an internment camp the government set up. How is that an accomplishment? These internment camps are an entirely man made humanitarian disaster. That the government is slowly managing to overcome this disaster is certainly a good thing, but is that something to be impressed about? I’m not so sure.

Indi seems to be operating under the assumption that these internment camps need to exist. The question then is how to make them more humane, more safe, more sanitary, etc. Obviously this is the just thing to do. No reasonable person is going to argue that the displaced people should be left to die, or to suffer more than they already have. The debate then centres around how much to spend, or whether the military should be in charge of the camps, or what sorts of tents to buy, of family reunification, etc. Arguing the camps shouldn’t exist in the first place is outside the boundaries of reasonably debate. The only people who oppose these camps are the LTTE loving Tamil diaspora, or former colonial powers who want to poke their noses into Sri Lanka’s business. This is how you construct an easy to win argument.

I singled out Indi because I just read his twitter messages today, but I see this sort of thing in other moderate news sources I read, like Ground Views for example. One would think it’d be hard to sell people on mass imprisonment. The Sri Lankan government should be commended in how it has managed to shape this story.

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A Marred Victory and a Defeat Pregnant with Foreboding

   26 June 2009, early morning

I’ve been slowly reading through the UTHRJ account of the final days of the recent war in Sri Lanka. If you want a good read on why Sri Lanka is a horrible place, A Marred Victory and a Defeat Pregnant with Foreboding is well worth a read. It is written in the same matter of fact bleak as hell style as their other reports, and covers the final days of the war. So far it’s all indiscriminate killing, extrajudicial murder, mass graves, and human rights abuses. I’m about half war through the special report now, and it’s almost painful to keep reading.

There are quotes from survivors:

“On the road we saw a few bodies. No one buries them anymore. This has resulted in the whole area being permeated by a putrid stench. When someone dies or is killed, people are only looking for food to be taken, but do not bury the victim. From our new location, where we just moved in, the water source is some distance away. When I attempted to fetch water early this morning, I had to race back to our bunker upon hearing the ominous boom of cannon and soon shells began falling around. It doesn’t bother me too much anymore. It has become normal that you could die any moment and anyway the food situation is so bad that some were dying from starvation. In desperation, resulting from shelling, food scarcity and total misery some people felt it was better to walk out of the safe zone although you know the LTTE is shooting people who attempt it, besides, it is extremely dangerous.” — Anonymous, 15 May 2009

And then there is what they’ve pieced together from multiple sources:

These sources said that Prabhakaran was tortured probably at Division 53 HQ in the presence of a Tamil government politician and a general. Several army sources have said Prabhakaran’s 12-year-old son Balachandran was killed after capture. Ours said that he was killed in front of his father. These sources added that this information is correct unless officers at the highest level are fibbing to one another. Our sources in addition to several others have said that all the LTTE persons remaining in the NFZ were massacred. [ed. emphasis is mine. wtf?]

And then there are things they report that the government didn’t even bother trying to hide, though one has to wonder why the fuck not:

As to the fate of the women, the Defence Ministry’s web defence.lk displayed among bodies identified that of a woman named as Colonel Mekala. Her body lies beside that of another woman in what appears to be a night dress, not battle fatigues. Mekala’s picture suggests that she had been stripped and her body was covered with a blue cloth before being photographed. Some flies and some white substance in her hair could also be noticed. Some of the victims had been executed by shooting into the ear. One wonders what made the Defence Ministry take pride in displaying these pictures.

It’s all stuff like this.

The next section, which I have yet to read, is on the prison camps. It’s actually disappointing we live in a world where there is even an argument over the legitimacy of keeping people locked up in internment camps. This quote by Tisaranee Gunasekara sums up my feelings nicely:

What if after the death of Rohana Wijeweera and the top JVP leadership, the government decided to incarcerate all residents of the areas previously under de facto JVP control (such as most of Hambantota and Moneragala districts), in order to catch a few thousand JVP operatives? What if huge ‘welfare camps’ were built and hundreds of thousands of Sinhalese were herded into them, so that the Security Forces could weed out a few thousand JVP cadres hiding amongst them? Would that not have been as illegal as hell and a moral outrage? Counterproductive too, as it would have further polarised the South, rendering impossible any reconciliation, any return to normalcy. Sri Lanka would have remained an unstable land, riven by fear, suspicion, bitterness … The men, women and children in these camps are not de jure prisoners because they have not been found guilty of or even been charged with any crime. They are de facto prisoners, whose sole ‘crime’ was living in ‘enemy territory’. The camps represent nothing less than the extra-judicial internment of almost the entire population of the Northern districts which were under Tiger control during the last phase of the war. If this is not ethnically based collective punishment, what is it?“ – from the Sunday Island 7 Jun 2009 [ed. emphasis is mine.]

Sometimes I get asked about what’s going on in Sri Lanka. I find now I try to change the subject as quickly as I can. At least now there are protests in Iran for people to talk about.


The Green Revolution?

   15 June 2009, mid-morning

Shima’s dad said he couldn’t sleep Saturday, he was up all night following whatever news he could find about the protests in Iran. If you have a lot of time, the Daily Dish has a serious-ass round-up of pretty much anything and everything that has been said about the protests. The best coverage of why the election was probably stolen comes from Juan Cole, Stealing the Iranian Election. When the vast majority of your country is under 30, you probably don’t want to push them too far. Clearly the Iranian regime has. These aren’t small protests. People are angry. What’s perhaps more important is that the protests aren’t isolated to Tehran anymore, they are taking place throughout the country. At some point, if you have enough people out, it’s next to impossible for true suppression to take place. Uneducated teenagers on motorbikes can only do so much. I think the clerics are going to have to backdown, or they’ll lose far more than just this one election.

(As a side note, Twitter once again proves it is by far one of the most interesting pieces of tech to come out in recent years. The coverage of the protests on Twitter is crazy. All the haters need to shut up already.)

Update: God damn this is a big protest.

Update: FiveThirtyEight has some more discussion on irregularities with the Iranian election results. And the Atlantic suggests people follow the news of these events like they were a CIA analyst.

Update: The Big Picture on the Iranian election protests. Robert Fisk’s coverage of the protests is also well worth a read. (He points out why Ahmadinejad is so popular in the rural communities of Iran.)

Update: The armed forces are shooting protesters.

Update 3:11PM: There are reports that protesters have burned down a Basij base. If true, that’s pretty amazing. The Basij need to get their asses kicked. Hard.

Reliable news from Iran has arrived that after the death of one person by Basij, the Basij base in Azadi Sq. has been burned down and the commander in that base has been killed.

Update 4:33PM: Looks like the above report was true.


Race Baiting at the Globe and Mail

   19 May 2009, early afternoon

Last week Christie Blatchford wrote an article about the protests against the war in Sri Lanka. The article was all sorts of bad. It was so bad I decided to complain to the Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail published several responses to Margaret Wente’s article, which was far better written, but didn’t post anything in response to Blatchford’s piece. This is disappointing. Thankfully, we live in a world where I don’t need the Globe and Mail to publish anything for me.

Read the rest of this post. (1097 words)

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   17 May 2009, mid-morning

The LTTE are giving up. More shocking, or perhaps not, are reports that Prabhakaran, and several hundred men, have commited suicide. (Of course, there are other reports saying he’s alive and well, so who knows what is going on.) This is an end of an era. It will be interesting to see where things go from here.

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Shutting Down the Gardiner

   11 May 2009, early morning

Protesters managed to shut down the Gardiner last night. There is all sorts of coverage from all of Toronto’s online blogs, with Torontoist having some of the best coverage of the lot. (Remind me not to listen to Energy FM.) My guess is that recent reports of very high causalities over the weekend was the impetus for the action. The UN called Sri Lanka a civilian bloodbath and Doctors Without Borders suspects over a thousand people are likely dead from shelling over the weekend. Toronto should be proud that you can orchestrate a protest like this without having the army or the police showing up and beating everyone till they leave — or worse. We live in a truly functional democracy. Are the majority of Canadians so passive that the very idea of direct action seems abhorrent? Ignatief has said he’ll bring this issue up in caucus today. That’s something.

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Informed Discussion on the Tamil Protests

   28 April 2009, late morning

The Internet gives a lot of people a venue to spout off about stuff they can no longer say in public without getting disapproving looks from those around them. Canada’s old media hasn’t figured out how the Internet works, and so the comments on their news posts are almost always a cesspool of racism, bigotry, and ignorance. Today I thought i’d look at comments in the Toronto Star’s article on the Tamil Protests.

These protesters, whose allegiance is stronger with India than with Canada, who wish to make a real difference, should return back to their native homeland and lobby their own Indian government about this. — Jiga Nina at 9:21 AM Tuesday, April 28 2009

I think Jiga Nina needs a better fact checker. Or he should open up an atlas.

Tamils are a terrorist organization as per the Canadian government. — The_Rocket at 9:19 AM

Damn, I had no idea. Someone needs to write to immigration minister and figure out what went wrong here.

Use mounted police, water cannon, tear gas, pepper spray, whatever. Those not yet Canadian citizens should be deported as soon as possible for reason of supporting a terrorist organization. Those who are already citizens should be tried for supporting a terrorist organization. If found guilty, revoke their citizenships and kick them the Hell out of this country. Clean this trash off our streets please. — Galoca at 9:09 AM

Because you know those old Tamil ladies aren’t going to go down without a fight. (Also, i’d hate to be the person who has to sit Galoca down and explain that some of the protesters were born here, and you’d have to kick them out to… Winnipeg?)

Did I hear CBC Toronto news correctly this morning? 200,000 Tamils have shut down University Ave for a second day to protest events in Sri Lanka. — veeh at 8:12 AM

200,000? No, you heard incorrectly.

Why won’t the police round up these people. check their immigration papers and then deport the illegal ones (90% of them)! — eighty-eight-fingers at 8:07 AM

90 percent? Damn that’s a lot. I can see why this fellow is up in arms. I’m guessing he gets his numbers from “Immigration Watch”: /blog/immigration-watch-saying-nothing-247.

I’m just ashamed our government, that was elected by 12 million Ontario voters to represent all of us…is again doing nothing “see Caledonia”, because they’re afraid to speak out against non whites. Tell you who the minority really are doesn’t it? — JackR at 7:45 AM

Won’t someone think of the White people? If only they had it as good as those Natives in Caledonia.

I understand that everyone has a right to protest, but this is getting ridiculous. Obviously no one cares about what’s going, which is good, because why should we? We don’t live there. — Evert at 7:53 AM

And this is really why protesting in Canada is a waste of time. I’m pretty sure this is a very common sentiment nowadays. Lucky for Europe and many other parts of the world, there was a time when Canadian’s gave a fuck about what was happening in the world around them.

My thoughts on the protests, for those who missed them.

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Once More With Feeling

   27 April 2009, early morning

If you’ve been playing along at home, you should know that the LTTE are pinned down in a small corner of Sri Lanka with a ton of starving shell shocked civilians. The army rejected the LTTE’s unilateral ceasefire (whatever that means) and will probably ‘win’ the war some time very soon. Toronto Tamils are now protesting in front of the US embassy. There was a small (by Tamil protest standards) group of people in front of the US embassy Saturday night. Maybe a few 100 people, tops. Carvill and I drove past them on the way to dinner. Apparently as of this morning, that number has swollen to 4000 or so people. I suspect it will only get larger as the week goes on. The last big protest had well over 25,000 people, and took place when there was a chance civilian casualties could have been minimized and the LTTE could have been saved. We’re well past that point now.

Update: The Star reports the numbers are back down to a few 100 people. My guess is that it will be busy again after work. As with the last protest, there is all sorts of White Whine to read if you search on Twitter. The worse thing in the world is traffic, apparently.

Update: Why I don’t go to these protests.

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And So It Ends?

   21 April 2009, early morning

Today will probably end up being an important day in the history of the war in Sri Lanka: unless the LTTE surrenders, the Sri Lankan government will commence a final push into Tiger territory at noon today. Soldiers who are known to kill themselves with cyanide to avoid capture are unlikely to surrender. An aggressive army on the verge of victory is unlikely to backdown. Chances are there will be much fighting today. This is tragic in and of itself, a pointless loss of life, but to make matters worse there are upwards of 100,000 civilians also trapped in the war zone. The LTTE shoots those trying to flee, and the government shells those who stay. Assuming everything plays out as bleakly as I imagine it will, today will probably live on in infamy in the minds of Sri Lankans. Depending on how bloody things end up, perhaps around the world.

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Tea Party Protests

   16 April 2009, lunch time

Apparently there are ‘tea party protests’ taking place in the US right now. Obama campaigned quite openly about what taxes would be like if he was elected. And, now elected, he’s implemented what he said he would do. So I guess that’s taxation with representation. I’m not sure what Americans are looking for here. America’s Right Wing really needs to step up their game; or, at the very least, organize protests that make sense.


Tamils Protest vs. White Whine

   16 March 2009, early afternoon

The second giant Tamil protest is taking place downtown right now. The protesters hope to form a human chain that goes up Yonge from Front to Bloor, across Bloor to University, and back down to Front. If they pull that off, they would have basically choked off all of downtown. In Sri Lanka there are Sri Lankans trapped inside a small region of the country, trapped in a perimeter controlled by the Sri Lankan army. They are being shelled by their government, and shot by their liberators. To contrast, in Toronto, there are people who are going to have to cross the protesters to drink cocktails at Holt’s for fashion week, who will be late to their appointments because Union Station is packed, who can’t finish their business plan because it’s too noisy, who are stuck in traffic, etc. This might be the very definition of White Whine.

As to whether a protest is actually a good way to bring about change, I have my doubts. The Sri Lankan government isn’t going to slow down now because Canada asks them to. And because of the way these protests are almost always conflated with support for the LTTE, it’s doubtful our current federal government is going to pay the protesters much attention anyway. Still, if they pull things off, it will be a very impressive feat.

There is some discussion going on in the BlogTO morning brew post today. It’s not particularly illuminating, though I am now arguing there with way too many people about stuff I really don’t care about. I get annoyed too easily. It will be interesting to see if BlogTO or Torontoist have much to say about the protest. Their coverage of news in Toronto tends to be very niche. (Though, BlogTO did cover the last protest.)

Update: I’d change this URL, but it would break incoming links. Apparently the protesters numbered well over the 25,000 people goal.

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   13 March 2009, lunch time

Mez let me know the following was taking place downtown:

Please be advised that it has been reported that on Monday, March 16th between 1:00pm and 6:00pm approximately 25,000 members of Toronto’s Tamil community may form a human chain on sidewalks in the downtown core. The demonstration, to protest events in Sri Lanka, is expected to be peaceful.

Damn that’s a lot of people. If this actually happens, it will be the second protest like this since the fighting picked up again in the North. If there is one thing Tamil people in Toronto do a good job with, it’s putting on protests like this. I have yet to see an event about the war in Sri Lanka that has been poorly attended. Even the protest a few years back during the TTC strike was busy. I think Tamil people should run courses on how to organize protests for other groups — cough Persians cough.

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Quiet Genocide

   11 March 2009, mid-morning

In the MetaFilter thread about the Armenian Genocide someone mentioned The White Genocide, a term I had not heard before. The White Genocide is what Armenians use to describe what happened to those Armenians who were forced to leave Turkey who ended up being absorbed into the countries they moved to. It’s an interesting idea, and a common fear of many ethnic groups I suspect. You can kill off a peoples by literally going out and killing them, or in this more subtle way. In Canada you have Québécois who are very passionate about language laws and the like, I suspect because if these protections did not exist you’d have an English speaking province within a few generations. In Tibet the Chinese government ships Han (ethnic Chinese) people into the region and represses religion in an attempt to erase the Tibetan identity. In Sri Lanka you have blow back from the 1950s language laws that leads to a full scale war 30 years later. The tragedy here is that support for an armed struggle in Sri Lanka has caused far more displacement of Tamils than anything the Sinhalese government could have managed. Obviously Tamil people living in the West can’t disappear into the population, but the identity of Tamils born and raised abroad is certainly complex. I don’t know anyone in my generation who can actually cook Tamil food. (Really, does anyone still make pittu or idiyappam besides Babu?) The number of people I know who speak Tamil is small. I can call myself Tamil, but clearly my identity is far more complicated than if I had been born and raised in Sri Lanka. How many in the Tamil diaspora would leave for a newly liberated Tamil Eelam when they live pleasant middle class lives abroad. I certainly wouldn’t. My home is Canada, the best country in the world.

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Obama Time

   20 January 2009, lunch time

Shima in her Obama T-Shirt

I have high expectations for Obama, so high, i’m not sure he can even meet them. I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way. Today I hope he gives a kick ass speech. I want him to follow that up by jumping off stage, finding Bush, and knocking him out. And then he should say, “it’s Obama time!”

Update: He didn’t do what I wanted, but it was still all kinds of awesome.

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Ignatieff? For Real?

   8 December 2008, early morning

Ignatieff is apparently going to take over as head of the Liberal party some time this week, if not today. I can tell you that picking Ignatieff as leader isn’t going to steal any votes from the Left, though it may pull some old school Progressive Conservatives from the Right. Ignatieff creeps me out, which is why I think the Right may like him — they seem to enjoy creepy-ass leaders. If he does get the leadership nod, I think this highlights a big problem with the Liberal party: it’s run with back room deals by the party old-school. At least, it certainly seems that way, and has since Paul Martin and Chretien started fighting. Dion won the last race fair and square, but it was clear to most everyone that he wasn’t the person the party actually wanted to lead: and they have provided him with little to no support. I dislike the Liberal party for a lot of reasons, and that would be one of them.

If Ignatieff does end up leader, I suspect the coalition between the NDP and the Liberals isn’t going to last. The Liberals, with a leader firmly in place, will be in a much better position to handle an election. They may feel confident they can reclaim leadership of the House of Commons. The Conservatives have burnt plenty of bridges these past couple weeks and have also probably pissed off some chunk of their core supporters. I think they will be hard pressed to keep any seats they have won in Quebec; you can’t win an election in Canada without winning a good chunk of Quebec. The Conservatives are still the best funded party right now, but for all their money, they just don’t appeal to enough people. Canada isn’t America: trying to copy the Republicans is a doomed strategy. This country is very much a Liberal country. For the past few years the Liberals have been on a timeout while people wait to see if they can get it together.

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3 years of Mahinda Rajapaksa

   10 November 2008, early morning

During the last election the LTTE asked — is that the right word? — the residents of Jaffna to boycott the election. And, in doing so cemented a win for Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was quite clear about his intentions when it came to dealing with the LTTE within Sri Lanka. The day before the election I had agreed with the LTTE boycott, because the political system in Sri Lanka has clearly failed its Tamil people. My thinking here was one of abstract politics: people shouldn’t take part in a broken system. For the LTTE, I suspect it had more to do with their belief that a solution for the Tamil people’s problems lay solely with them. And now 3 years later, the Sri Lankan government rejected a ceasefire with the LTTE. On any given day TamilNet reports on various murders and kidnappings in Jaffna and the East, on bombings, disappearances, etc. Sri Lanka sounds like it is the worse it has been in years.

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GOBAMA and Dundas Square

   5 November 2008, mid-morning

Last night was amazing. I haven’t been so emotionally invested in an election my entire life. And this was an election I played no part in.

I met Tyler at his office, and along with my brother, the three of us made our way to the Gladstone. We were joined by a big posse of people, all interested in the election. The Gladstone was a great place to be last night. People were genuinely excited about what was going on — and you could get beer. The Gladstone was electric, and I’m glad I stayed their long enough to see Obama be declared the winner, and listen to John McCain give his concession speech. You’d have think the leafs had won.

If history is unfolding around you, don’t go to Dundas Square. Dundas Square is a great place to be if you want to look at ads, but that is about it. What a failure of a public space. My cousin sums things up great:

What a self hating city this is. Last night really made me hate Dundas square even more. It truly exists only to sell you things. You cant be a citizen there, you can’t be a person. You can only be a consumer. It is a totally inflexible space and those omnipresent screens can only be used for evil.

So essentially, Toronto has no city centre or town hall that exists as a genuinely civic space. It has a big mall and it has a place to go if you want to be bombarded by ads.

… A black man was elected president of the United States and they couldnt stop selling us useless fucking shit for like an hour?

If you build a city or community on the creation and accumulation of wealth, that is all you are going to have in the end. It is cheap and crass and meaningless and often totally innapropriate. It is antithetical to everything that residents of the city actually need.

But, at the end of the day, who cares about Dundas Square. I listened to Obama give his victory speech at the Elephant and Castle with my cousin, brother, and Haran. The room was quite somber — except for myself, who was pretty loud and drunk at this point. There is a Black Dude heading to the White House, and he is awesome. This is awesome.

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Yes You Can!

   4 November 2008, early morning

Americans will start voting today. I will sit and watch. I’m hoping there is going to be record turn out, that young people and minorities actually get off their asses and vote, and that at the end of the day a black dude who grew up in Kenya is the new President of the United States of America. I won’t lie: I’ll probably still think America is a piece of shit evil-ass country. That won’t change the fact that Americans electing a black dude to run their country is anything short of amazing.

Then they all gathered around Sonny and Sonny played. Every now and again one of them seemed to say, amen. Sonny’s fingers filled the air with life, his life. But that life contained so many others. And Sonny went all the way back, he really began with the spare, flat statement of the opening phrase of the song. Then he began to make it his. It was very beautiful because it wasn’t hurried and it was no longer a lament. I seemed to hear with what burning he had made it his, and what burning we had yet to make it ours, how we could cease lamenting. Freedom lurked around us and I understood, at last, that he could help us to be free if we would listen, that he would never be free until we did. Yet, there was no battle in his face now, I heard what he had gone through, and would continue to go through until he came to rest in earth. He had made it his: that long line, of which we knew only Mama and Daddy. And he was giving it back, as everything must be given back, so that, passing through death, it can live forever. I saw my mother’s face again, and felt, for the first time, how the stones of the road she had walked on must have bruised her feet. I saw the moonlit road where my father’s brother died. And it brought something else back to me, and carried me past it, I saw my little girl again and felt Isabel’s tears again, and I felt my own tears begin to rise. And I was yet aware that this was only a moment, that the world waited outside, as hungry as a tiger, and that trouble stretched above us, longer than the sky. — James Baldwin, Sonny’s Blues.

Any Americans reading this: vote. For the love of god, vote.

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Canada Votes 2008

   15 October 2008, early morning

Some will say yesterday night was a big waste of an election. They are probably right, but it wasn’t all bad. Yes, our government is basically the same as how it was the night before, but there is now a tiny little orange dot in a sea of blue in Alberta: the NDP took a piece of Alberta back from the Tories. That’s got to count for something. The NDP actually made some big gains, and they are probably the only party that can be happy with the election results. (Sadly Peggy Nash lost her seat.) Another plus is that minority government number three for Harper may mean he gets the boot. (The Anyone but Harper Liberal, NDP, and Bloc coalition I was hoping for never materialized.) The Tories can’t be happy with this result at all, regardless of how Harper tries to spin things. They had a huge lead in the polls going into the election, which they managed to lose completely through horrible campaigning. If you can’t beat Dion — whose party barely supports him — who can you beat? In two more years maybe we’ll be doing this again. Go Canada!

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Some Thoughts on Sarah Palin

   5 September 2008, mid-morning

I met Mahi for a drink yesterday, and the conversation turned to Sarah Palin. He’s convinced that if the Republicans win it will be because of her. Having listened to her speech finally, I can see where he is coming from.

Palin appeals to the far-right — your Christian nut jobs, your gun-totting NRA members, etc — with her crazy-ass views on everything. She is nuts. And the far-right is certainly a strong and active voting block. That group probably wouldn’t have voted for Obama, but they may have sat the election out if McCain hadn’t added someone who appeals to them to his ticket.

There is more to Palin than her appeal to the right. Palin clearly is playing up the fact she’s just a regular small town girl. This comes up again and again in her speech. In most countries, I don’t think that would play well. Chrétien always portrayed himself as the little guy from Shawinigan, but it was also clear he was a bright and capable politician. The fact he was from Shawinigan was cute, but ultimately inconsequential. Most people don’t want the dude that teaches their kids hockey on Saturday mornings running their country. They want the lady with policy experience, or the fellow with diplomatic experience, or — well really, someone who isn’t a dumb ass. In America there seem to be a large enough group of people who aren’t interested in that at all. They want the reluctant politician: “I’m just a hockey mom, but these dudes in Washington are messing up, so I’m going to go out there to clean things up.” Never mind that the job of running a country is complicated. Never mind that the last two moron-presidents of note, Regan and Bush, were probably the most corrupt, evil, and crony-loving politicians in American history. People seem to wilfully look past that. Palin is going to sell herself as the Washington-outsider every-woman, and many people will gravitate to that.

If the Republicans do win again, it will be because just enough American’s are morons, and the democrats don’t seem to appeal to that group at all.

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Where are all the Ladies?

   31 July 2008, mid-morning

I was talking to Tyler about Ruby Fringe yesterday: apparently it was a crazy success. I’m still disappointed I didn’t crash their last party. I did have some of their left over beer last night on the roof of their office, so I guess that’s something. People are going on about the conference like it was Woodstock. The fact they aren’t planning on doing another conference may mean it will end up developing the sort of mythos that surrounds Woodstock. At least amongst super-nerds like myself.

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Obama On His Way

   6 June 2008, early morning

I suppose I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that Obama is going to be the Democrat nominee during the upcoming US elections this November. This is good. I have no real issues with Clinton, save for the fact she scares the shit out of me. It’s a bit disappointing that because she’s a women she has to act ten times as crazy as her competitors to be taken seriously. And her ass has been straight up crazy this election season. I’m not convinced it’s anything but an act: she never struck me before as being so far to the right. (Maybe I just don’t pay enough attention.) Enough on her. Obama is awesome. I think many people—myself included—see him as a modern day JFK. He has far more charisma than McCain, and there is really no comparison when we take a look at Bush. I want him to win just so I can hear him give kick ass speeches with some frequency. Of course, it now remains to be seen if Americans will still vote for the scary old White dude. I kind of think they will.

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Oh My God! The Future Belongs to Islam!

   29 November 2007, late morning

If some Muslims have their way, it will soon be illegal to say Muslim immigration is bad for the West. 9-11 be damned.

Michael apparently still holds onto the notion that too much immigration into the US is what caused 9/11. If you are ever so unlucky as to read through an articles on Vdare you will find that a lot of people think immigration policy is the root cause of all the ills in the West. If you suffer with high taxes you can blame immigration. Unemployed? Blame immigration. High blood pressure? You’re worrying about immigration too much. Can’t get all the stars in Super Mario DS? That sounds like an immigration issue to me. No date to the prom? Damn those sexy immigrant boys and girls. And 9/11? Well that is obviously an immigration issue: if the attackers weren’t here how could they fly planes into the Twin Towers? (You know, because planes from abroad never ever enter the US.) You may also recall that for similar reasons immigration was the root cause of the Virginia Tech massacre.

Michael is upset with the Canadian Islamic Congress who are upset with Mark Steyn. Steyn wrote an article MacLeans, The Future Belongs to Islam, they have issues with. A part of me likes reading articles like The Future Belongs to Islam just to sit in awe of the ignorance and arrogance it takes to write something like that. Some people really need to read A Discourse on Colonialism.

Steyn and his ilk look at the Middle East and see a place where people hate the West because they apparently have nothing better to hate on. For people like him there is no history or context to anything. Steyn mentions, “in the same three decades as Ulster’s ‘Troubles,’ the hitherto moderate Muslim populations of south Asia were radicalized by a politicized form of Islam,” but doesn’t stop to consider why that may be. When did the US decide that propping up a regime in Saudi Arabia was a good idea? When did they decide that maybe Eygpt wasn’t so bad after all? (Wait: who was flying those planes again?) And was it really Islam that radicalized them? I imagine if you are young and your life is shit it won’t take an Imam to make you angry. So yeah, I don’t think Steyn’s article is exceptional or interesting or even well thought out. It rehashes arguments bandied about all the time: it’s all demographics and “oh-no what will White people do?”.

Now I can see why Muslims would find the article offensive, as apparently Muslims are the future architects of the destruction of civilization as we know it. At the very least Steyn acknowledges half-assedly that not all Muslims are terrorists. I’m sure the Human Rights commission will give him points for that.

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   14 November 2007, early morning

I took the 26W to Mississauga yesterday. Mississauga is a strange city. Unlike most cities, where the city centre is tight and quite walkable, Mississauga’s is sparse and sprawling. I got off at the Square One bus terminal, and started walking to the mall. The terminal and the mall aren’t connected; I had to trek through some parking lots. I grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then left the mall to go to the Living Arts Centre. It all felt like a real journey. I’m not a big fan of Mississauga. It’s all sub-divisions or office parks separated by 6 lane roads. If you don’t have a car it’s not a very friendly city to be in. I try and avoid the city when I can.

Shima and I were there last night as part of the conversation21 lecture series. Shima wanted to hear Jan Gehl speak. He talked about how modern cities, those that came to life after the 50s, are designed at a 60km/h scale: they are meant to be lived in while zooming around in a car. You have big billboards, big buildings, big everything, scattered through out a sprawling city. The city becomes a series of private venues connected by roads. Real interaction between people gets lost in such a city. He had some great aerial shots of some cities that were totally devoid of people: it was just buildings and cars. Gehl advocates designing at the 5km/h scale, which is a more human scale. Cities should be designed to bring people together. I’m probably not doing his talk justice. He is an excellent speaker.

There is apparently some serious interest in the city of Mississauga to make the city more livable. I’m not sure it’s possible to accomplish such a goal, but the city certainly seems enthusiastic about trying. Toronto really does seem old and busted in comparison. I can’t recall the last time I heard something — anything really — positive coming from city hall.

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