Entries from April 2008

» Paul Watson: Hero or terrorist?
» One cool bookstore, the Chinese intelligentsia, best comedy ever
» Bidini: China's concrete welcome mat
» Nepal: shining future or end of the path?
» Instant cities, France fights to save the semi-colon, Obama big in Gaza

Entries from March 2008

» Poor Mexican emos, news on a shirt, one angry author, what's the Eiffel Tower wearing?
» High heat on Iran
» The world's most powerful blogs, Starbucks gets caught stealing from the tip jar, Look out! Cyclists!
» Shopping cart races, that's a lot of home-grown terror, turning urine into fertilizer
» The Dalai Lama on Tibet protests
» From the frying pan into the fire
» Torture and hypocrisy
» International Women's Day: Afghanistan
» The TED conference, can a billionaire be 'exploited,' Cambodian oldies

Entries from February 2008

» Algonquin leader faces six months in Ontario jail
» North America's pollution problems, Ottawa's copyright slip-up, Don't mess with Texas students
» New China's catch-22
» Moving environmentalism forward
» Oceans in rough shape, schools for social justice, the copyright battle over Harry Potter, looking back at Wired
» 12 Years of Revolution in Nepal
» Segregation or inclusion?
» Guerilla tree planting, mocking Ahmadinejad, inadvertantly funny headline and Goo goo ga joob
» Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten
» 4th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week
» From pages of a magazine to the jailhouse: Gay men in Senegal
» Weekend links: Bikes can do anything, chopstick accessories, Mom, where do blog posts go?

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Previous Entries

» the whine of globalization
» sports, fighting and the trials of testosterone
» meanwhile, over in right field...
» and more
» Kinsella hates them, so they must be good
» Standing up for Canada...
» sweet fancy jesus
» the politics of running away
» Helping save lives through right-wing media?
» Snakes on a -- whaaaaa?
» heroic
» Found In the K-Hole
» fun with syllogisms
» Alert, but not quite aware
» Hot Doc: No Past To Speak Of
» battle for hearts and minds update
» What if they're innocent?
» bootPod
» Stunning 9/11 photos you've never seen
» the banality of gone-wildness

August 31, 2006

the "I'm just saying" UPDATE

Posted by john_d at 10:02 AM ET | Comments (1)

So, the Toronto Star editorial board heard it wrong. This from Michael Ignatieff in the Globe & Mail this morning:

"Let's be clear: I am planning to run in the next election in Etobicoke-Lakeshore. I love being an MP and I've enjoyed it enormously and I'm looking forward to doing it again," Mr. Ignatieff said.

He added that, whoever wins the leadership race, he will do whatever he can to help him or her defeat Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the next election.

Asked why he didn't say that when the Star first asked, Mr. Ignatieff said he considered hypothetical questions about his political future should he lose the leadership contest to be moot.

"I feel I have good reason to believe I'm ahead in the race and I plan to win. So the hypothetical is not going to arise."

Okay then, THAT sounds much more reasonable. I will continue to write letters to my dedicaterd MP, secure in the knowledge that our public shorelines and air quality are foremost on his mind.

More entries on: Harper Index

August 30, 2006

Google Oracle part 1

Posted by calvin at 06:01 PM ET | Comments (3)

Search "failure" on google. That's right. Do it now. Who's number 1? Googlebomb!

More entries on: Interweb

I'm just saying

Posted by john_d at 12:16 PM ET | Comments (3)

secondarythumb.jpg -- photo courtesy the Ignatieff campaign site

Michael Ignatieff can't say whether or not he'll continue being my MP if the Liberals don't give him the steering wheel.

I saw his support up close when I worked the NDP campaign against him in Etobicoke-Lakeshore. These are committed longterm Liberals, good neighbourhood folks who worked very, very hard to get him elected despite the safe seat he chose, and despite their party's game-playing around the nomination process. Do comments like these not bother them?

"Depends who's leader," Ignatieff said yesterday when asked at a meeting with the Toronto Star editorial board if he would run for the party in the next election if he loses the leadership vote in early December.

...Ignatieff argued he wouldn't be "doing this occasionally difficult job" without serious commitment. "It's been brutal," he said. "Etobicoke-Lakeshore was very, very tough."

"But you won't commit to run for Etobicoke-Lakeshore again?" he was asked.

Replied Ignatieff: "I'd like to serve my constituents well, but you're asking me an anticipatory hypothetical about the situation that prevails on the 3rd or 4th of December."

Hypothetical? If the answer is "I am committed to running in Etobicoke-Lakeshore again whether I am leader or not," there is very little hypothetical about it.

Thanks to Torontoist for the tip on this. Ron why didn't you write this posting?

More entries on: Harper Index

August 29, 2006

still waiting

Posted by john_d at 09:45 AM ET | Comments (0)

hurr.jpg

By definition, a government has no conscience. Sometimes it has a policy, but nothing more.
-- Albert Camus

... and sometimes it doesn't even have a policy.

Reports on the one year anniversary of Katrina consistently indicate that if they can do it themselves, or they're lucky enough to receive charitable help (like that provided by the Canadian Auto Workers), rebuilding is possible for some New Orleans residents.

If they're waiting for their tax dollars to do something about it, well...

More entries on: Bushfraud

How are your ears?

Posted by mason at 01:07 AM ET | Comments (5)

Some of you may have seen this item about smart-ass teenagers using an aural repellent with a pitch so high adults can't hear it as a ringtone.

Can you hear it? This simple test will determine if you are still young or not. Thank you for your time.

More entries on: Interweb

August 25, 2006

the whine of globalization

Posted by john_d at 11:17 AM ET | Comments (5)

countygrown[1].jpg

In the latest Walrus, Don Gillmor writes about how Canadian winemakers in the Niagara region are betting heavily on the Pinot Noir grape to carry their business a few more rungs up the ladder of global wine success. According to the article, the Canadian wine industry's domestic sales represent only 44 percent of the total wine market in Canada, a figure familiar to anyone working in a domestic "culture" industry. Canadian magazines, for instance, currently represent only about 45 percent of what you will find on the (above) average Canadian magazine rack.

But what exactly is "Canadian" wine? A Canadian magazine, like The Walrus, or THIS, need not concern itself solely with Canada, but it tends to be located here, employs Canadians, sells itself primarily to Canadians and tills Canadian soil for much if not all of its product.

Much has been written in the food and drink press about the years of winter kill to the grape harvest in Niagara, resulting in "Canadian" wines with increasingly large amounts of non-Canadian grape in the bottle. Gillmor writes about "Mexican and Jamaican field workers tend[ing] to the vines" in Niagara, and about how Vincor, Canada's wine giant was recently bought by an American... well, global... supergiant, Constellation brands, "the largest wine conglomerate in the world."

I also recently published an article about Canadian wine. In the July/August issue of Cottage Life magazine I go on a bit of a Quixotic quest through southern Ontario cottage country, tasting all manner of "interesting" alcohol calling itself wine -- pumpkin wine!... I know, I know; it sounds dreadful, but it does the job. I met with many small grape growers and winemakers all over the lower part of the province; tiny operators whose annual output is the smallest fraction of what some monster like Constellation will flood the market with. The difference, of course, is that what my subjects produce is unquestionably 100 percent Canadian wine.

My story was a fun piece for a fun magazine, but my interview notes and quotations (the ones I didn't use) contain a remarkable amount of anger and disgust at the juggernaut process of wine globalization. If I were to sum up what I heard from Ontario's struggling micro-producers, it is this: small craftspeople dedicated to creating a unique product with unique character are mere prey to giant global corporations interested primarily in creating as homogenized and uniform a product as possible.

The large corporate goal is to sell more "very good" wine at prices more people can afford. This globalizing democratic impulse is not bad in itself (as a friend of mine says, "I don't care about my wine's heritage, or what it will be like after years in my cellar -- who has a cellar? I care that it tastes good today."), but it seems to only be possible by destroying the marketability of potentially "great" interesting local wines being produced through different economic models.

Gillmor's article references the 2004 wine documentary Mondovino, which charts this same tension, only between France and California. While I have always been mildly and amusedly suspicious of wine-expert claims that one can taste the region in the glass, I can't help feeling something uniquely Canadian, a real domestic cultural industry, is being crushed out in its infancy.

The wine producers of Prince Edward County, a small almost-island in Lake Ontario (just south of Belleville) are for the most part all under a decade old, yet they are producing wines of distinction. By Chadsey's Cairns, a county winery is run by a couple of benevolent crazy people who sincerely want to express their locale in their product. Try finding their product at your LCBO. You won't. Between their fields, and the shelves at the local outlet closest to them, global forces are at work ensuring it is far easier to find an Australian and a Californian wine (that taste almost identical), than it is to find the unique wine made down the road.

Does it matter? I mean, I know where to go to get By Chadsey Cairns wine, and their business survives. If the bulk of Canadian wine consumers just want something deliciously alcoholic with which to wash down their Alberta steak and their PEI potatoes, why not provide a cheap, tasty product, marketed to make them feel they've travelled the world and seen kangaroos?

More entries on: Cultural industries

August 22, 2006

sports, fighting and the trials of testosterone

Posted by john_d at 04:09 PM ET | Comments (3)

lebowski6-thumb.jpg
image courtesy a French blog

It's the season of the shove, apparently, among professional male athletes, and whether they do it with their hands, their heads or a weasely bit of graffiti on the clubhouse chalkboard, the boys of summer are all trying to make up for hockey's diminished physicality by stirring it up themselves. And what's weirder than the increased scrapping, are some of the reactions to it in the sports press.

First, there was the Zidane head butt. I wrote about that one earlier. Oh the shame, oh the black mark on a brilliant career. A gentlesportsman must always keep his head, even when the racist and personal remarks start flying. It's all part of the game. Etc.

Is Zidane any less a national hero in France a month and a half after his moment of insanity? One of the beautiful things about all beautiful games is that as time passes, the winners and losers fade a bit into history, while the great stories stay fresh. There was a narrative written on that day in July about a great man who sacrifices immense glory for personal honour. My guess is more will remember that story longer than they will the final score of the game.

Anybody? The final score of the World Cup final?

Then there's Paul Tracy, the Canadian race car driver who spent most of the last month auditioning for the Ricky Bobby sequel. Tracy has developed a habit of crashing out of races, often taking someone with him. He's kind of a human road hazard to his fellow drivers, and lately they've been holding it against him. Twice now Tracy has been involved in post-race, or at least post-crash confrontations/fist fights. The big issue there on sports call in shows -- why don't his opponents take off their helmets when they offer to fight, like real men? I wonder why Tracy doesn't finish a race behind the wheel of his car, like a real driver.

And finally, my beloved Blue Jays. A month or so back, first basewhiner Shea Hillenbrand was sent to San Francisco after what was widely reported as a verbal confrontation with manager John Gibbons. The verbs, apparently, involved an invitation to dance, with fists. This after Hillenbrand reportedly wrote disparaging graffiti in the clubhouse.

Gibbons, an ex-player himself, just oozes that strange laid-back intensity you get from some baseballers. He lounges on the bench, spitting tobacco juice and watching every detail of the game through half-closed eyes. He was a catcher, the physically toughest of all the positions, and so far he's exhibited a better than average baseball mind, pushing the play with aggressive base-running, and toughing it out in pro ball's most competitive division despite a disastrous pitching staff.

Everyone's heard about last night's altercation between Gibbons and starting pitcher Ted Lilly. Lilly was going to lose the game. Gibbons, an all-star manager, thought he'd try to prevent that. Lilly yelled at him on the mound. Later, there was... something... in the tunnel to the clubhouse. Was it a fistfight, a shoving match or just more angry words? No one's sharing details.

Watching televised reports, the official sports media consensus seemed to be that Lilly should be traded and Gibbons fired. They'd both disrespected the team with childish behaviour, and poisoned the clubhouse with their animosity. This opinion is echoed in much of the newspaper coverage today. So not only are the athletes shoving each other around, but the journalists are getting in on the act as well.

Talk radio had a radically different take, maybe because they took the radical step of talking to both men as though they were real people -- people who get angry and lose their self-control sometimes. John Gibbons appeared on local Toronto sports radio this morning and spoke of embarrassment, responsibility and a wish to move on. Lilly did the same in a postgame chat.

What's most interesting to me are the replayed images of the Blue Jay dugout and management box during and after the confrontations. Look at the other players. I swear, to a man they are all suppressing the giggles. Blue Jay General Manager, J.P. Ricciardi was caught on camera with a huge smile on his face. These guys are right in the middle of all this rage, and their reactions speak volumes about how we should view it. Nasty words were thrown around, people vented their pent-up frustration (the Jays have recently pretty much blown the season), and while it looked bad for a minute there, two men wound up controlling their physical natures and did not brawl. This morning, true professionals, they'd both like to move on. By comparison, Shea Hillenbrand took the opportunity of the altercation to send a few more nasty jabs all the way from SanFran.

It's embarrassing -- it really is -- but men fight. It's a chemical thing, and the best men are the ones who can wrestle control over the raging elements in their souls and either stop the madness before it happens (Gibbons, Lilly), or own up to it when they fail to do so (Zidane). Then there are the jerks, and those include the guys who start fights and then pretend to be victims. I'd rather my kids watched men than jerks, so let's not fire anybody after last night.

Oh -- and sitting above the jerks and the flawed men on that spectrum are the zen masters. If you can catch a replay, check out Blue Jay ace pitcher Roy Halladay during last night's tunnel fight. The bench clears as everyone runs into the tunnel to see what's going on, but Halladay stays seated, his face a slightly bemused mask of The Dude, Jeff Bridges' character in The Big Lebowski.

The Dude abides, man. The Dude abides.

More entries on: Sport

August 21, 2006

meanwhile, over in right field...

Posted by john_d at 03:00 PM ET | Comments (1)

...George Will hands his glove to a fan and goes for a beer.

Thanks to Paul Wells for calling my attention to this slapfight on the right.

Respected rightwing commentator George Will zings the Bush administration using the word "realism;" a word they, apparently, despise.

The Bush administration releases the hounds, er, hound, Peter Wehner, to zing back using quotations from old George Will columns.

This, surely, will solve the problems in the Middle East.

My favorite quotation from Wehner:

The status quo in the Middle East was a downward spiral of oppression, officially-sanctioned conspiracy theories, economic stagnation, growing radicalism, and an ideology of violence.

Was?

More entries on: War and peace

August 18, 2006

and more

Posted by john_d at 05:04 PM ET | Comments (6)

A very, very funny web page showing how the right wing read the New York Times.

Cory Doctorow over at Boing Boing is the tipster of record.

My favorite headline:

Slack-jawed NASCAR rubes drive around in circle

More entries on: Interweb

Kinsella hates them, so they must be good

Posted by mason at 12:28 PM ET | Comments (1)

A little light reading for your Friday... that is, unless you feel especially passionate about whether guitar solos have had their day.

More entries on: Ear candy

Standing up for Canada...

Posted by john_d at 10:12 AM ET | Comments (2)

...against the views of his own supporters. Today I salute Stephen Harper.

from one of the mob at Blogging Tories:

It would be surprising and out of character if Sheila Copps took seriously the evolving crisis between our western culture and Islam. Surprising, because if she did she might have to shoulder some of her party's responsibility for its headlong rush to embrace multiculturalism and the subsequent development of isolated ideological ghettoes. Out of character, because she might have to admit that a poorly assessed policy of wholesale acceptance of all cultures, might eventually lead to social indigestion.

And from Prime Minister Harper's recent speech celebrating the 59th anniversary of Indian independence:

As Canadians, we are fortunate to live in a country which embraces the many cultures of the world. Our ability to be proud Canadians while respecting our differences is what makes us unique, and has earned us the admiration of other nations.

Well said, Mr. Harper. Hope it doesn't lose you any votes.

More entries on: Harper Index

August 17, 2006

sweet fancy jesus

Posted by john_d at 05:14 PM ET | Comments (6)

Just off the wire from Talking Points Memo:

You remember Katherine Harris? Gave Florida to George Bush largely by allowing the systematic denial of basic democracy to large portions of the African American electorate in her state -- anyway, that's one theory. That Katherine Harris, that's right.

She's not doing well at all in her latest bid for public office. The man who stands to beat her is Tramm Hudson, another Republican. Here's what he said on the campaign trail:

"I grew up In Alabama, and I understand, and I know this from my own experience, that blacks are not the greatest swimmers or may not even know how to swim."

Video here.

Apology here:

"I said something stupid. I apologize for it and would apologize in person to anyone hurt by my comments. To those who are understandably offended, you have my deepest apologies and I want you to know that it was out of character for me and those who know me know that to be a fact. This was a thoughtless remark that does not reflect my lifetime commitment to treating everyone fairly and without bias. I apologize to everyone who is offended by this comment."

More entries on: Bushfraud

the politics of running away

Posted by john_d at 02:31 PM ET | Comments (1)

aut98p12blivre.gif
image courtesy Le jour, éditeur.

Say what you want about how a Prime Minister should or should not act, but I'm guessing there is nothing in this book about not showing up somewhere because you're afraid of being publicly booed.

This is the most pathetic thing yet in 192 days. A little leadership please.

More entries on: Harper Index

Helping save lives through right-wing media?

Posted by mason at 11:36 AM ET | Comments (3)

The Toronto edition of today’s National Post carries a commentary by yours truly on the importance of harm reduction strategies in fighting drug addiction and the spread of diseases involved in unhealthy drug use. In it, I mention why Insite should stay open beyond the end of its trial run next month.

Say what you will about the Post (please, I encourage it), but I’m betting my article will reach more readers than a similar story in the alternative press would. Hopefully, some of them will even be motivated to support Insite….

More entries on: Media navel-gazing

Snakes on a -- whaaaaa?

Posted by mason at 09:47 AM ET | Comments (6)

9:40 a.m. The phone rings. Not being an early riser, I’m lying in bed listening to CBC Radio. I pick up and say, “Hello.” Naturally, it’s Samuel L. Jackson. He’s calling to tell me I might remember him from a few films, but that he really, really wants me to go see his new movie (which might be the “best movie ever made! It’s that good,” he growls). That movie? Snakes on a Plane, of course. But wait, it gets weirder. Much weirder. Sam implores me to stop doing certain things, like listening to my crazy music and playing with that ratty beard(!), call up my girlfriend (he calls her Michael, but he’s close), hop on my greasy bike (hey, it’s not greasy!) and go see his movie. “Do as I say, and you live,” he warns. I can’t get a word in edgewise.

More entries on: Signs of the Apocalypse

August 16, 2006

heroic

Posted by john_d at 08:50 PM ET | Comments (0)

capt.5c4a7cc966af48e3800b5c6e3918a530.canada_rogers_cup_tennis_pch119.jpg
(AP PHOTO/CP, Paul Chiasson) courtesy Yahoo images

The other day, national sports radio host Bob McCown did his controversialist thing when he insisted the only reason to watch womens' sports was for "the eye candy." His point, though I'm not convinced he actually believes it, was layered. Woman athletes have bought into a marketing around their sports that increasingly demands shorter, tighter outfits and an overt sexuality. Check out any recent ad featuring tennis great Maria Sharipova as an example.

As well, women sports enthusiasts have not supported professional womens' sports to anywhere near the degree they support mens' sports -- an accurate assertion, I think (compare crowds for the NBA and WNBA), though the economic reasons for this are more complex than McCown suggests. Not mentioned, though equally accurate I think, is the fact that any appreciation of sports has a semi-sexual element to it. Certainly anyone attracted to men enjoys the eye candy of mens' sports, while also appreciating the other elements that make sport attractive... competition, physical grace and skill, overcoming adversity, heroism, etc.

Well, I'm not sure even the crusty McCown could fault tonight's tennis match in Montreal between defending Rogers Cup champion Kim Clijsters and Canadian upstart and Laval native Stephanie Dubois. In terms of skill and experience, Clijsters was a goliath in this match, and she showed it with an easy first set win. But Dubois is a battler, and she held her own through pure skill and determination in the early games of the second set. And then something gave out in Clijsters' left wrist. She had it attended to, and continued on, but the injury eventually proved too much. Dubois broke back to lead the set, Clijsters withdrew and to everyone's surprise the Canadian Dubois is now in the round of 16, having made her way past one of the world's best.

Stunned by the result, Dubois managed enough poise to give a graceful interview in English during which she did little else but praise her opponent. Easily the first big test as a professional athlete for this 19 year old, and she did exactly nothing wrong, showing flashes of brilliance on the court that bode well for Canadian tennis into the future.

And, oh yeah, she's good-looking.

More entries on: Sport

August 15, 2006

Found In the K-Hole

Posted by calvin at 06:33 PM ET | Comments (0)

Ketamine: cat tranquilizer, hallucinagenic rave drug, and now, possible remedy for depression. A recent US study reports that initial trials of the drug on treatment resistant depression sufferers show promising results. Lead researcher Dr Carlos Zarate Junior, head of the mood and anxiety disorders programme at NIMH, said: "Within 110 minutes, half of the patients given ketamine showed a 50% decrease in symptoms." Although the dug would need to be modified to block the perceptual effects, the benefit of "having a fast-working drug would mean people could return to work quickly, and it could reduce risk of self-harm or suicide that could happen during the time-lag that occurs with other drugs."

More entries on: Healthcare

fun with syllogisms

Posted by john_d at 03:36 PM ET | Comments (2)

Today in the Toronto Sun, columnist Peter Worthington wrote:

"Like most Canadians who don't have AIDS and aren't HIV carriers, Harper probably isn't much interested in the topic.

Sure, he thinks it is a terrible affliction, but not one he's likely to get."

I've been mulling ever since, trying to see how this logic translates cross-platform (as the geeks say) for the average neo-conservative.

The "logical" construct Worthington uses goes like this:

We don't need to be interested in diseases we probably won't get.

Stephen Harper probably won't get AIDS.

Therefore, Stephen Harper doesn't need to be interested in AIDS.

Nothing I agree with there, but that's not all that surprising for a neo-conservative argument. But start shifting the variables a bit, and the same trouble starts for neo-conservatives.

We don't need to be interested in oppression we probably won't suffer under.

George Bush probably won't suffer under Saddam Hussein's oppression of his citizens.

Therefore, George Bush doesn't need to be interested in Saddam Hussein's oppression of his citizens.

You see the hitch?

More entries on: Resistance

August 14, 2006

Alert, but not quite aware

Posted by john_d at 03:01 PM ET | Comments (18)

Everyone who is anyone involved in the worldwide fight against AIDS is in Toronto right now -- Bill and Melinda Gates, Bill Clinton, Alicia Keys, Richard Gere, Jack Layton and Stephen Lewis among thousands more. Which can only mean that since Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not in Toronto right now he is actively choosing NOT to be someone involved in the worldwide fight against AIDS.

One could argue that as a sitting Prime Minister, he has other duties just as pressing as the AIDS crisis. So, what is Stephen Harper up to? Well, when the AIDS conference opened yesterday with Bill Gates' speech, Harper was in Alert, Nunavut addressing the pressing issue of Canada's sovereignty over our melting northern ice fields. Could he have gotten farther way from Toronto and still be in Canada? Here's the conclusion of his address:

"Together, and over time, we are going to make sure that Canada truly remains the True North Strong and Free."

You can almost taste the inertia.

Wait a second, why is Arctic sovereignty an issue again, Prime Minister Harper?

But let's not get off-topic. Here's Dr. Mark Wainberg, director of the McGill University AIDS Centre and co-chair of the XVI International Conference on AIDS last week in The Globe and Mail:

"HIV/AIDS continues to kill more than 5,000 people each day -- a body count far higher than the number of individuals who have died in recent military conflicts anywhere in the world and also higher than the number of deaths attributable to any natural disaster in recent memory. "

You'd think that would make any politician's priority list. On the other hand, it might be smarter to take the heat for skipping this conference than risk an embarrassing reception if he did show up. Rabble.ca has a piece on what happened when the Prime Minister sent one of his precious Quebec lieutenants to the OutGames in Montreal:

"Enter Mr. Fortier, Minister of Public Works. Seconds into his speech, the boo-ing started. Within a few short moments, it seemed the entire stadium was loudly jeering the representative of a federal Cabinet which has pledged to re-open the issue of equal marriage for same-sex couples and attempt to roll back equality rights.

It was quite something to behold. I almost felt sorry for the guy. Almost."

More entries on: Harper Index

Hot Doc: No Past To Speak Of

Posted by joyceb at 12:08 PM ET | Comments (0)

Set your VCRs/DVRs for this Wednesday, August 16 at 10:00 pm ET. CBC Newsworld will air the documentary "No Past To Speak Of" as part of its coverage of the International AIDS Conference now taking place in Toronto.

Directed by This Magazine alumni Jeremy Gans, the film explores the subject of infant rape in South Africa through the story of a five-month-old baby girl who was brutally assaulted in Johannesburg.

Jeremy promises a brand new edit of the doc for those who have already had a chance to see it at the Hot Docs festival.

More entries on:

August 11, 2006

battle for hearts and minds update

Posted by john_d at 12:14 PM ET | Comments (1)

In a story today on the very terrifying liquid explosive terror plot, The New York Times talks to Simon Reeve, author of a 1999 book on Osama bin Laden.

Mr. Reeve said that while traveling recently in Indonesia he heard of many baby boys being named Osama in honor of Mr. bin Laden.

In part because of the Iraq war, he said, "We're seeing a radicalization of the ummah, the larger Muslim community around the world."

Now, before someone on either the left or right accuses me of excusing terrorism with a root-cause ideology, I just want to point out that winning the hearts and minds of the Muslim street was for awhile there the hyped justification for specific US foreign policy adventures in recent years.

I'm just wondering if the US government has an update for us on how all that is going. I think the past five years have educated the west on Islam and given the wider, non-radicalized Muslim community greater prominence in geo-political discussion, and that's all good. But if experts can point to US policy decisions and say they are partly responsible for increasing radicalization of Muslim populations, isn't it time to re-examine?

More entries on: Terrorism (not the state-sponsored kind)

What if they're innocent?

Posted by mason at 11:53 AM ET | Comments (0)

Yesterday’s arrests of terrorists—whoops, alleged terrorists—in a foiled bomb plot is the latest piece of evidence that police and intelligence officials are totally infallable in the eyes of the commercial media. I’m not saying there was no plan to blow up several planes over the Atlantic, but what happened to innocent until proven guilty? Doesn’t the news media have a responsibility to question what the authorities present as facts? If (because of investigator error or some other reason) any of the arrested suspects turn out to be innocent, their lives will be totally ruined. But I guess we’re in a war, and every war needs an enemy.

Anyway… just had to get that off my chest.

More entries on: Terrorism (not the state-sponsored kind)

bootPod

Posted by john_d at 09:57 AM ET | Comments (5)

This is for the folks at Boing Boing.

bootPod

It's my iPod!... a nostalgic...um... mash-up of a vintage 1990's boot box and a bunch of vintage 80's and 90's era cassette tapes for playing on my car cassette tape playing device. I hacked the box by removing the boots and wearing them for a number of years. Also, I am screwing the corporate musicstapo because some of these are mixed tapes from pre-blank media surcharge days. Damn I love the taste of freedom!

Most times I just listen to my bootPod on random, because I don't want to take my eyes off the road to see which tape I'm choosing.

Andrew Potter take note -- both Mellencamp and Springsteen on the "most frequently played" list.

More entries on: Resistance

August 10, 2006

Stunning 9/11 photos you've never seen

Posted by mason at 02:13 PM ET | Comments (0)

Before Bill Biggart was killed by the collapse of the second World Trade Center tower, he was able to take some amazing photos of the chaos at the disaster site and the destruction caused by the first tower’s collapse. Biggart, a New York photographer working for a picture agency, did not survive, but incredibly the compact flash card in his digital camera was unharmed. Chip East, a friend of Biggart and a fellow photographer, rescued the photos and has made them available on The Digital Journalist.

The most incredible photo is Biggart’s last (shown here). At bottom right are the familiar metal remains of the first tower, while dominating the photo is the carved-out shell of a massive hotel. See the gallery of photos here.

IMAGE: COPYRIGHT BILL BIGGART/SIPA 2001

More entries on: Terrorism (not the state-sponsored kind)

the banality of gone-wildness

Posted by john_d at 11:20 AM ET | Comments (1)

Brave, chilling journalism from Claire Hoffman in the LA Times Magazine last weekend. She spends a day with Joe Francis, founder of the third-wave feminism challenging Girls Gone Wild video porn empire. The eternal fratboy, Francis' ability to talk barely 18 year old girls into lifting their shirts for the camera has made him super-rich and, apparently, tragically unacquainted with any reality I understand.

Here's an understatement. There's a lot going on with sexuality these days. Liberating? Absolutely. Dumb taboo busting? Sure. Certainly that day almost thirty years ago when my buddy and I stole a Playboy seems just beautifully quaint by comparison to some of the stuff in this article:

Francis has aimed his cameras at a generation whose notions of privacy and sexuality are different from any other. Nursed on MySpace profiles and reality television, many young people today are comfortable with being perpetually photographed and having those images posted on the Internet for anyone to see. The boundaries that once contained sexuality have also fallen away. Whether it's 13-year-olds watching a Britney Spears video, 16-year-olds getting their pubic hair waxed to emulate porn stars or 17-year-olds viewing videos of celebrities performing the most intimate acts, youth culture is soaked in sexuality.

Nothing new here. Until:

It seems like Francis spends a lot of money on lawyers. I guess that comes with the territory of filming strangers who take off their clothes. More than a dozen women have sued him, alleging that his company used images of them exposing their bodies on "Girls Gone Wild" videos, box covers and infomercials without their permission. Only a few have convinced the courts that they were unwitting victims. For the most part, judges and juries have sided with Francis' 1st Amendment argument that the plaintiffs' images were captured in public places and that the company was free to use them as it pleased, particularly in light of the fact that the women had signed waivers.

And here's one for all of us who learned our feminism in the 80's:

...teenagers, like the ones in this club, see cameras as validation. "Most guys want to have sex with me and maybe I could meet one new guy, but if I get filmed everyone could see me," Bultema says. "If you do this, you might get noticed by somebody - to be an actress or a model."

I ask her why she wants to get noticed. "You want people to say, 'Hey, I saw you.' Everybody wants to be famous in some way. Getting famous will get me anything I want. If I walk into somebody's house and said, 'Give me this,' I could have it."

It gets worse.

Read the story. Take a shower.

More entries on: Signs of the Apocalypse

August 09, 2006

Please turn off all cellphones -- and don't throw them away

Posted by mason at 02:44 AM ET | Comments (4)

Hands up everyone who has bought a computer, cellphone, iPod or other electronic device in the past year. Pretty cool gadget you’ve got, isn’t it? Now, what happened to the item it replaced? Some of us probably threw the old device out, but others may find a growing pile of old electronics filling junk drawers, basements and garages. If you’re like me, the idea of turfing an ancient pager or CD player doesn’t sit well, what with lead, cadmium and mercury among the pollutants likely to seep into the groundwater.

Yesterday morning on CBC Radio’s The Current, guest host Terry Millewski spoke with Giles Slade, author of “Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America.” The built-in short lifespan of most devices is a massive threat to our environment, Slade said, and it’s only getting worse as consumer demand for technological gimmickry means more devices than ever are bound for the landfill.

Luckily there are recyclers who will take care of your old electronics, and if you live in Alberta there’s even a provincial program that builds the cost of recycling into the item’s price at purchase (as noted in the September/October 2005 issue of This). For these initiatives to successfully keep contaminants at bay, though, more people need to know about them and they need to be more convenient for people to take advantage of. So tell your friends.

More entries on: Planet Earth

August 08, 2006

Indie Label Sub Pop No Eco Slacker

Posted by calvin at 06:28 PM ET | Comments (4)

The sweet irony of Sup Pop records is that the defiantly indie Seattle record label came to prominence during the era of Generation X disaffected slackerdom. Now eighteen years old and still repping some of the finest indie artists, the label has gone 100% green energy. That means that all energy consumed by the company is considered to be 100% from renewable sources (such as wind or solar) as certified by the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.

"I was made aware of the program by one of my co-workers. I was, quite frankly, shocked by how easy it is to support renewable energy. Green Tags are a simple way for anyone to choose wind energy, which, in turn, lowers dependence on burning fossils fuels for energy," said Jonathan Poneman, president of Sub Pop Records. "Green Tags fulfill an important commitment to both the planet and the Pacific Northwest, where Sub Pop is rooted."

Naturally, it takes an small independant business to initiate such a change. With significant entrenchment (re: investment) in fossil fuel infrastructure, Big Business must meet its quarterly shareholder profit commitments. As such, Big Business is unwilling to invest in longer term, environmentally responsible initiatives that do not provide a "tangible" value to their investors. So the question is, how to we incent Big Business to follow Sub Pop's lead? Since voting with our wallets seems to be the loudest form of consumer power, I guess we gotta go out there and buy a shitload of records.

The full press release after the jump.

Sub Pop Records Sets New Industry Standard by “Greening” Label with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation

Best Known for Representing Upcoming Artists, Label Becomes the First to Purchase Green-e Certified Green Tags

Seattle, Wash. (July 31, 2006) – Sub Pop Records, the music label that has given rise to bands ranging from Nirvana to The Shins, announced today that it has purchased enough Green-e certified Green Tags, also known as renewable energy credits, from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to equal 100 percent of the company's energy use. To date, Sub Pop records is the first Green-e certified record label company in the United States.
"I was made aware of the program by one of my co-workers. I was, quite frankly, shocked by how easy it is to support renewable energy. Green Tags are a simple way for anyone to choose wind energy, which, in turn, lowers dependence on burning fossils fuels for energy," said Jonathan Poneman, president of Sub Pop Records. "Green Tags fulfill an important commitment to both the planet and the Pacific Northwest, where Sub Pop is rooted."

Earlier this year, Sub Pop Records' recording artist Kelley Stoltz released Below the Branches as the first album to be green powered and incorporate the Green-e label on its packaging. Like Kelley Stoltz, Sub Pop Records is promoting climate recovery by supporting new renewable energy, such as wind and solar power.

"Sub Pop has been synonymous with helping talented new artists support their passion for creating music," said Patrick Nye, director of sales of Bonneville Environmental Foundation. "Now, Sub Pop Records is directing the same energy toward new, renewable sources of power."

Both Sub Pop Records and Kelley Stoltz hope to influence other artists and music fans to consider what they can do to shift our nation’s energy model to clean renewable technologies.

About Sub Pop Records

Sub Pop Records started eighteen years ago with releases from bands that were relatively unknown at the time, including Mudhoney, Nirvana and Soundgarden. The label continues to champion new artists that have quickly become part of the music lexicon including The Postal Service, The Shins, Iron and Wine, Wolf Parade, and Band of Horses. Sub Pop is based in Seattle, Washington. Visit www.SubPop.com.

About the Bonneville Environmental Foundation

The Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was established in 1998 to restore watershed ecosystems and further the development and use of new renewable energy resources. Through revenues generated from the sales of green power products such a Green Tags, BEF funds projects that restore damaged watersheds and support new renewable energy products from solar, wind and biomass. BEF pioneered the sale of Green Tags in 2000 and has helped establish national standards for certification and trading. Created by regional environmental groups and the Bonneville Power Administration, the Foundation operates collaboratively with but independent of both. www.b-e-f.org or www.GreenTagsUSA.org.

About Green-e and the Center for Resource Solutions

Launched in 1997, the Green-e Renewable Energy Certification Program is the leading independent certification and verification program that sets standards for renewable energy options. The Green-e logo serves as the national symbol for consumer protection and "seal of approval" indicating high quality, verified renewable energy. Green-e provides an easy way for consumers to find environmentally friendly energy options that fit their budget and present much less environmental impact than electricity generated primarily by fossil fuels. To learn more about certified renewable energy available in all 50 states, visit www.green-e.org, or call 888.63.GREEN.

Green-e is a program of the Center for Resource Solutions, a national nonprofit organization that works to make it easier for people and organizations to use renewable energy as a tool for mitigating climate change. CRS designs and operates national and international programs that support the increased supply and use of renewable energy resources such as wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, low-impact hydroelectric power, and other clean energy sources. To learn more about CRS, visit: www.resource-solutions.org.

More entries on: Ear candy | Planet Earth

Point, um, taken

Posted by joyceb at 12:44 PM ET | Comments (2)

capt.sge.brl67.040806083645.photo00.photo.default-384x512.jpg

BabyTalk, a free publication in the U.S. aimed at new mothers hoping to illustrate the controversy surrounding public breastfeeding in the U.S. by publishing what is said to be the first American magazine cover to break the taboo about showing a woman's breast, has done exactly that. According to this AFP report, 25% of some 5,000 letters regarding the cover have expressed outrage (!) and disgust (?!).

Some of the feedback:

"I was offended and it made my husband very uncomfortable when I left the magazine on the coffee table."

"Gross, I am sick of seeing a baby attached to a boob," the mother of a four-month-old said.

These comments are from new mothers. Clearly it is an understatement on the part of the editors that "There is a real puritanical streak in America." It is apparent that embarassment about breastfeeding begins in the home. Sad.

I am sure This Magazine readers will not be offended, here in fact is our beautiful Jan/Feb 2004 cover (our first with the redesign). It was itself not without controversy, as we debated ourselves just how much to show. (In the end, no nipple.)

jan_feb_2004_cover.jpg

More entries on: Media navel-gazing

August 04, 2006

war porn - from the other middle east conflict

Posted by john_d at 11:56 AM ET | Comments (1)

From The Guardian online:

Don't look now

Images I have seen recently include a close up of a suicide bomber exploding in two, an insurgent being shot through the head by an American sniper, full scale firefights between US patrols and insurgents plus endless images of body parts scattered about in the aftermath of the latest bomb explosion.

This footage is often supported by a running commentary of "awesome" and suchlike from the cameraman who has literally strapped a digital camera onto his helmet or gun barrel and shot the video while he was shooting insurgents.

One filmmaker compared his material with a video game... Another said it was the only way he could feel proud of his work, "like a big game hunter feels proud of his kills".

As someone else has said... you can't simulate this kind of stuff. This is as authentic as it gets.

More entries on: War and peace

Isolationism: lost in translations

Posted by john_d at 10:47 AM ET | Comments (5)

honey2.jpg
image courtesy Slate magazine

There's a good debate going on over at the Euston Manifesto site concerning how the left should think about Israel/Lebanon.

While the good folks of Euston figure out my opinion on that, I've been doing some more thinking about another of my geo-political preoccupations - Americanism, minus the anti. The following discussion would get the EM stamp of approval. I think.

The Times Literary Supplement recently published a fascinating short essay by Lawrence Venuti, Temple University English professor, in which he identifies and discusses the United States' reluctance to learn about the rest of the world through its various literatures and cultural exports. Venuti writes:

"Seventy-five per cent of the films shown worldwide are made in Hollywood, while the number of foreign films available in the US remains negligible. Every year translated books range between 10 and 25 per cent of total output in most European countries, while in American publishing the figure hovers around 2 per cent. In 2004 this meant roughly 4,000 translations out of 195,000 books, including some 800 works of foreign fiction. The numbers may seem high, but don’t be misled. In competing for advertising, reviews and shelf space, foreign books always lose out, ultimately sinking like stones in the immensity of print."

This is no surprise to the average Canadian traveling in the States. Bookshelves at Barnes and Noble look remarkably similar to bookshelves back home at Indigo, just minus the obligatory Canadian content. The Paramount (Toronto) Chapters/Indigo has a Politics section containing every single Ann Coulter book, while the Carbondale, Illinois Barnes and Noble hasn't, as far as I could tell, a single title by Janice Gross Stein. Venuti continues:

"The charge of cultural imperialism does not seem all that exaggerated. Some observers might go further: the patterns established over the past fifty years have apparently created American readers with provincial tastes, unable to appreciate work from foreign cultures and beset by feelings of inadequacy when confronted with it. Hence readers turn suspicious, if not downright xenophobic, and retreat into the comfort of the familiar."

"...Has the will to achieve global dominance been nurtured by the exclusion of foreign cultures at home? Would greater openness to cultural differences have led to a more circumspect policy in dealing with foreign governments?"

The essay goes on to describe how translations of American works abroad - the writings of Tom Clancy, the films of Woody Allen— also contribute to a skewed understanding of American culture throughout the rest of the world. Apparently, translators hold immense geopolitical power. It reminds me of Honey Huan, Gary Trudeau's Chinese translator character in Doonesbury, who makes her immediate translation decisions based on her own peculiar political beliefs.

If anyone wants the full essay, apparently I am allowed to e-mail it to you, though most TLS content is behind a subscriber wall. For some free opinion by Professor Venuti, check here:

Words Without Borders

More entries on: Cultural industries

August 02, 2006

Oh, Dude... what hath The Man wrought?

Posted by john_d at 02:34 PM ET | Comments (0)

I believe somewhere on this blog recently, our own Andrew Potter mocked my uncoolness re: appreciating the music of Bruce Springsteen. I think he doesn't like saxophones, or moody, highway-based extended metaphors.

I can take the mockery. I've always known Potter is cooler than me.

Except now he has a new blog over at Maclean's.

What's it called, you ask?

Um...head shake... Potter Gold

More entries on:

Handy Tips for THIS bloggers

Posted by john_d at 02:04 PM ET | Comments (2)

from the August issue of Wired magazine.

Be an Expert on Anything by Stephen Colbert

Thanks to Boing Boing for the tip.

More entries on: Interweb

Nice work, if you can hear about it

Posted by mason at 10:56 AM ET | Comments (0)

A small raise for civil servants may not seem like a big deal, but when you were elected on a promise of a more open and transparent government, quietly posting news of pay hikes for senior government officials on a departmental website seems a little odd. Such was the case this week in Ottawa, and it rightly raised a few eyebrows. Then there's the little matter of the 1.1 per cent boost to bonus packages also given to the executives, not for doing extra work, but for meeting minimum requirements of the job.

Nothing to see here, people... move along...

More entries on: Harper Index

August 01, 2006

hot enough for ya?

Posted by john_d at 02:50 PM ET | Comments (3)

wocanmap0_e.jpg

Somebody, please mail Toronto a cold glass of water. Maybe send the army with a bucketload of ice.

More entries on: Happenings

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