Welcome to the second, less frequently-posted decade of RevMod.

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Friday, February 28, 2003

Two events

Calgary, are you ready to ROCK OUT? These two acts are ready to raise the roof, so get your screaming voices limbered and your zippos fueled up!

Gwynne Dyer will be playing to the insane moshers of Wyckham House at Mount Royal College, Wednesday at noon. And Henry Rollins will bring his tour to Mac Hall at the U of C on Sunday, March 9 at eight.

Okay, so there's likely to be a dearth of music at these events. The first is free, but Henry wants twenty five and a half of your hard-earned dollars. Hey, talk can rock.
The bastards respond

Americans have been linking to the CBC after Matt Drudge led them to the Carolyn Parrish story, and they've been leaving their angry comments. Here's my favourite:

"I smile every time I read another Canadian in 'authority' make yet another snide comment about America or Americans. I smile because without America and Americans your mouths would be absolutely shut. To quote a famous American movie: 'You sleep under the very blanket of freedom we provide,'" wrote Matthew B. Simpson.

Simpson refers to A Few Good Men. The quotation reads: "I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it."

The CBC generously doesn't recount the context of the A Few Good Men quote: Jack Nicholson's Col. Jessop arrogantly declares that his ends justify whatever means he elects to employ, and he should not be tried or even questioned about those means. And then the evil Col. Bush Jessop is successfully prosecuted by attractive JAG officers, and the audience is happy, because Col. Jessop is the villian of this piece.
Now, that's helpful.

Canada, embarrassed to be on the sidelines of the war discussion, comes up with a sorry little "plan" which does little but to set a deadline for Iraq to comply with inspections. Iraq would tell you they are already complying with inspections. The Americans tell you they aren't. Neither trusts the UN as an objective observer. Do we expect either country to change their tune by March 27?
Now, that's spin.

Hussien Kamel was Saddam Hussien's son-in-law, and head of Iraqi biological, nuclear, chemical, and missile weapons programs before he defected in 1995. Revelations he made to investigators at the time have become the main piece of evidence in most American "proofs" of Iraqi WMD. Kamel's interview was mentioned as evidence by Colin Powell during his speech to the UN.

But what did Hussien Kamel tell investigators? The transcripts have recently come public, and he said that all of those weapons had been destroyed to hide them from inspection teams, but that Iraq kept the recipes.

Let me say again: ALL of those weapons were destroyed. So, when Iraq says "we can't reveal what we don't have", they might be telling the truth. And even if Iraq has rebuilt some of those weapons since this interview, it proves a different point: Iraq will destroy its WMD under threat of inspection. Under. Threat. Of. Inspection! (I find myself italicising here, because I can't find the words. This is a document that the American government has had the entire time. The State Department knew what it said. And the American government has lied to the faces of their citizens, in order to argue for war. This government is lying about the reasons to kill thousands of Iraqi people, and no one will talk about it. Meanwhile, Clinton will go down in history as the guy who lied about a blowjob.)

On to the spin portion of this discussion: a quick scan of Daypop finds almost no mention of this on the weblogs. And the few who mention Kamel tend to go along these lines. We may not have a smoking gun, but we have a smoking defector.

And the original Newsweek story is similar. Before his death, a high-ranking defector said Iraq had not abandoned its WMD ambitions I don't, sincerely don't, understand why that's the spin of this story, and why the anti-war media outlets and bloggers have left this story sit. Most of the American claims of Iraqi non-compliance do not claim that Iraq has built new weapons since the removal of inspectors in 1998. They claim that those inspectors were unable to find weapons that Iraq held throughout. Tony Blair said today: "He has to say what has happened, for example, to the 8,500 litres of anthrax, the 360 tonnes of chemical warfare agent, the 3,000 tonnes of precursor chemicals, the 30,000 special munitions, all of which the inspectors found were unaccounted for in Iraq when they were forced to leave a few years ago." Except, Kamel seems to have confirmed that none of that was left when the inspectors left (and were not, I cannot reiterate enough, "forced to leave" by Iraq).

What about this line: "The stocks had been destroyed to hide the programs from the U.N. inspectors." So, now we're going to nitpick about the why of the destruction of the WMD? I don't think it's a good idea to bomb Iraq for thoughtcrime.

This exhausts me. Arguments are never countered, questions are never addressed, and the war machine rolls on.

Update: my daypop search was more successful with correct spelling, and there are a few anti-war bloggers and news sources who are talking about this after all. Alternet is on it, for instance, and they sound a damn bit more coherent than my ranting self. Do the daypop search yourself if you're looking for more... the results lean pro-war, but there's a few dissenters in there as well.
Freedom to Read

To celebrate Freedom to Read week, I've restarted reading a series of books about a leader of a planet of desert-dwellers who battle against a more technically advanced and numerically overwhelming military force. The desert-dwellers have only their religious convictions as they begin their jihad against those who only want control of the planet for its major natural resource, required for the operation of spaceships.

It's Dune. But it seems as fresh right now as it possibly could, and if you buy it online, you'll probably go on some sort of list.
You know who's hot?

As longtime friends of mine know, I happen to believe that Janeane Garofalo's got it goin' on! Little did I know that she's also a brave woman. Check her out here, trying to convince the Faux News audience that peace is the way. Or here, arguing with warmonging freak Bill O 'Reilly. That's guts!

(For those of you fortunate not to have seen Mr. O'Reilly, here's a sample of his over the top diatribes (with commentary and links to audio here). He blows his stack at the son of a September 11 victim! Help me, Jebus!)

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Fresh as today's news!

The Canadian warship Iroquois has turned around and is returning to Halifax, rather than the Persian Gulf, after a Sea King helicopter crashed into the deck. Injuries are minor, so I can actually say "good". We don't belong there anyway, working for Bush's imperial ambitions.

Meanwhile, Carolyn Parrish has apologised for saying "Damn Americans � I hate those bastards." Again, good... Americans aren't all bastards. The correct usage should have been: "Damn American government. I hate those bastards." I suspect that's what she was thinking when she said it.
One of those articles

Everyone with a blog is going to be linking this article from the Guardian, but I don't want to be left out. "Hey, the regular press noticed us! We're, like, legitimate!" It's actually a good article, and I fully expect the six sites Taylor lists at the end to experience quite a surge of hits this week, despite the lack of hyperlinks. But that just kills me... how could you list websites on a website and not hyperlink them? Is the Guardian really that backward? Or maybe that afraid of the potentially letigious?

"The 95%-of-everything-is-crap rule applies as much online as it does in so-called traditional media," says Dean Allen, who runs one of the exceptions to the rule, a sharp, beautifully designed blog called textism.com [hyperlink mine, because, well, see above]. "There are oceans of banal diary entries and me-too punditry to be crossed before the gems are found. Luckily, everyone is looking for something good to read, and people tend to share what they've found." I fear I may lean into the latter camp... "me-too punditry". Fortunately, I have the cricket talk to keep me unique.

The more I think about this, the more I think I've found my domain name, finally: "me2pundit.ca". I'll keep you posted.... I should probably be working before I spend money on that. Soon, I hear.
Good news, and bad news

The American terror alert is about to be reduced to Yellow. As of this writing, Wacky Neighbour hadn't updated John Ashcroft's head, but expect the link to the left to change soon. Perhaps Achcroft there is set up directly to change when the Department of Homeland Security drops theirs, but they are also still showing Orange. So is the White House. I wonder if there's one guy on one website who will change it, and then every warning system drops like a series of dominoes? Huh... this internet thing is kinda cool. On the other hand, if it's all manual, I'm glad they've warned us ahead of time, so we can all be ready to change it and not look out-of-date and foolish.

Canada lost another cricket match at the World Cup, but for the first time, made it through 50 overs without dropping ten wickets. Canada is pulling off a lot of firsts at the World Cup, both good and bad. Feel encouraged to tell the CBC how nice it would have been to see some of them.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

And just in case you aren't convinced, or can't convince others:

Here is a nice, strightforward, itemized argument against war. I like it a lot, and I'll be using it. It cannot be said enough times, given the main argument I've heard from average citizens in favour: There is no evidence of any Iraqi connection to al-Qaeda. Please convince me otherwise, but I haven't seen the evidence, and I've been looking.
Calling all American readers:

Today is the virtual march on Washington. Register to make a few phone calls, and then call your representitives. I have yet to find an equivalent Canadian version of the march, so I have no idea if there will be a coordinated effort to call Ottawa today, but given the fence-sitting Canada's government continues to do, perhaps we should make the same effort here so as to push the government toward the correct side of the fence.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Well, everything's all better, then.

The four Canadian soldiers killed by an American bomb in Afghanistan may receive the Bronze Star. Hey, that helps a lot. Thanks. How about reparations to the families, and to those injured? How about a sincere and heartfelt apology from your Commander-in-Chief? How about getting your pilots into Betty Ford?

Am I still bitter about this? Perhaps a tad. Mostly I'm bitter that the US has a president who so obviously hates Canada, and leaves the empty gestures to underlings. We'll see what he has to say for himself when he comes for a visit to Ottawa, after we've decided against participating in his sordid little Iraq attack.
Did you know...

... that Sir John A. McDonald declared the national sport of Canada to be cricket? Not to worry... Canada has two more games in the World Cup, and then I'll shut up about the sport again for four years --- cross my heart.

Monday, February 24, 2003

Courageous Protest: Toni Smith

This is going a damn bit further than a guitar strap. And she's slowly but surely paying for it.

You know, when people are faced with a choice of "with us or against us", some are going to choose that other side, perhaps more forcefully than you might have wanted. Polarization tends to polarize.

And the winner is:

Sheryl Crow, who proved me right that CBS wouldn't be able to silence non-verbal war critiques. Not that they did, as it turns out. The big loser? Me, for trying to stay awake through the ceremony. Cricket is more compelling, I'm telling you.

Update: A more cynical analysis of the Grammy kerfuffle (or is that kurfuffle?) is available at Stand Down. It's as good an excuse for you to go visit it as any.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Grammys tonight!

"Who cares?", you think, and you are so terribly terribly right. However, there may be a little excitement for a change, since the Drudge Report is reporting that CBS will have a kill switch on the mic of any performer or speaker who dares utter an anti-war sentiment. Seeing as these are performers we're talking about, you have to believe they've considered this possibility and other ways to get out the message.

Don't get me wrong. Despite the preponderance of performers to fall toward the left on most issues, I'm not a huge fan of celebrity endorsements, political or commercial. I don't know why we should care that Charlton Heston is packing heat, or that Tim Robbins wants us to buy organic food. Their opinions are likely reasonably well-informed (goodness knows I wouldn't want to be talking in public about things I know nothing about. Wait a minute... what's this whole blogging thing about, again?), but so are many other and equally valid and thoughtful opinions that aren't backed by the coin of fame.

I'm not suggesting you watch the Grammys because you want to find out more about the war, or worse, because you could give a damn who wins "best liner notes" and what-not. I'm suggesting you watch the show because it will be good sport.

As an aside, I think the Drudge Report is trashy and unreliable, but CBS doesn't actually have to have the kill switch. The fact is, every person with an outside chance of hefting one of those paperweights on stage tonight has heard this same report, and any singer that had even considered mentioning war or peace will be hyper-aware of the situation. As I say, I'm hoping this will be leading to good sport.
Sunday Funnies

First up, my friend Mike has determined that the poster below makes more sense with a little photoshop work:

But what about the children?

Second, a little internet toy. You can't stop looking.

Friday, February 21, 2003

One more

Here's the question we really need to answer:

But what about the children?
More sports!

Well, not so much a "sport" as a game: the 11th Newsmaker Pool is on the air. Predict who will be the Globe & Mail's favourite Saturday topic! Win crappy prizes! Compete with government employees and political wonks from across Canada and around the world!

This'll be my sixth try. And I've sucked every single time. This year, for sure!
More cricket

Okay, I know this shouldn't be the other interest besides war that a good Albertan should be talking about. After all, we have separatists in our midst (or so the CBC is beginning to tell me). We have a Canadian government who is trying to tell "us" what to do (er, yeah... they're our government, too). And, you know, hockey.

The fact is, during my trip, I learned a little bit about cricket, and I want more. Now, here's a sport in which a team of Canadian amatuers have qualified among the top fourteen teams in the world for a World Cup tournament. And I can't find the games anywhere on Canadian broadcast television. Does this seem odd? I mean, I understand that it's not going to get prime time Saturday night, with Don Cherry talking his way through each "drinks break" about the toughness of the Canadian bowlers vs. the wimpy Finnish ones. But is it too much to wonder why TSN would rather broadcast Celebrity Weightlifting? Is it too much to ask why the CBC and TSN together broadcast so many hours of Soccer's World Cup, which Canada didn't even qualify for, and now can't scrape up a few hours to broadcast Canadian games overnight, a time of day the CBC tends toward broadcasting reruns of stock car races?

Should the policy on this change, I will happily sit in the telecasting pub of your choice and explain to you what is going on for a small fee which likely will be measured in beer.
Score one more for bitter irony

Tom's pointed me toward this site, but since there's no "top" page on it yet, I have instead pointed to my favourite page. The site is a parody of the ready.gov site Tom Ridge introduced earlier this week. The centre picture (along with all of the others) is lifted from the government site, but the caption is the real payoff:

Most nuclear explosions will be less than a city block wide. Consider running in a direction away from the blast.

"Consider". Hee.
Another protest

March 3 will see a production of Lysistrata in Calgary, along with several productions around the world. I will post more details as I find more.

(Update: And here's the "more": a site organizing the full project (or so it would appear). I'll continue to keep my eyes open.)
What to believe?

I referenced back here a report which suggested that Iraq may have some mustard gas, but little else. Now, CBS news is reporting that UN weapons inspectors are becoming increasingly disillusioned with American "tips" which are leading to nothing.

Is it entirely possible that Iraq actually doesn't have any significant WMD? Now, if I was Iraq, and I had a whole bunch of American soldiers building up on the border, I'd probably want WMD to defend myself. This is doubly true when the American government won't rule out the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states. That's the whole proliferation effect in a nutshell, and the reason why treaty commitments are a more effective way to disarm rouge states. But, having said all that, perhaps the real question is why do we continue to threaten when Iraq is already in compliance with UN requirements? Could constructive engagement be the way to bring Iraq back into the community of nations to the point where Iraq actually believes it doesn't need a nuclear weapon, or Anthrax, or whatnot?

I actually think so. Perhaps I'm naive, but this hasn't even been tried since Gulf War One, and now seems to be the time. Perhaps we can come to some sort of arrangement where the US is allowed to keep talking trash and not dealing with Iraq, but the rest of the world just goes on with their lives. Kinda like the US relationship with Cuba. It's gotta be better than this.
Why didn't Powell say so?

Seen on the cover of the Weekly World News in the coffee shoppe in Thunder Bay:


Actually, that's somewhat more believable than "Saddam sups with Osama!" and it seems the Americans would have us believe that one.
That'll show those cheese-eating surrender monkies!

French Fries? Nay, sir... we only serve Freedom Fries.

Okay, first of all, aren't you the same people who want to shoot six to eight hundred cruise missiles at Baghdad in two days because sanctions don't work?

And secondly, are you aware that France doesn't actually receive any money for the sale of French fries?

La sigh.

Thursday, February 20, 2003


I need sleep before I start downloading photographs and writing, you know, stuff. Little fog this morning in the, you know, head-thinking thingie.

But I will get to a big update today, and then more and more ad infinitum, as per usual.

Monday, February 17, 2003

On my way home

The job search was useful, if not immediately productive. I'm going to have a go today at answering the five questions, and then I'm going to get on a Greyhound bus for another lonely (but not lonely enough, at times) two-day ride across the vast expanse of nation we share. The western half of it, at any rate.

I wish I had been somewhere I could have joined the rest of the world in standing up for standing down. However, capital-haven tropical paradises are not known for their political action. If only I had been in Cuba instead.

Thursday will mark my return to normal blogging. In the meantime, cheer for the Canadian team in the World Cup of Cricket against their next opponent, Sri Lanka. The Canuck defense has been standing up so far in the tournament, but our bowlers may not be prepared for Muttiah Muralitharan, the Sri Lankan's premier batsman. Against Bangladesh, the side managed 126/0 in only 21.1 overs. No, I haven't the slightest idea what I'm talking about, either. (Okay, perhaps a little. West Indies visit, and all.)

Friday, February 14, 2003

Now that's Socratic!

I see that blogging is once again reaching toward the enormous potential it has to let citizens think more deeply on issues with debate that's indepth and thoughtful. Television could not possibly produce this, a newspaper couldn't be bothered, but the internet was built for this.

The pro- and anti-war bloggers have been organized to answer five questions posted by the other side. I'm not sure I'll be answering, bercause there are so many more thoughtful bloggers out there, but I'm going to spend some time wandering the net over the next several days and collecting up links to the best of the responses, on both sides. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

They can't be serious

The US claims the recent bin Laden tape proves a link between Iraq and al Qaida. There is so much wrong with this contention, I can't even begin to imagine where to start.

Okay, let's presume for a moment that the tape was as it's been represented by the Americans --- encouragement to the Iraqis on the eve of war. How does that prove anything about Iraq's intentions toward al Qaida? Imagine the Junior High kid, desperately in love with the girl in the next row. All the declarations he makes that she and he are BFF does not establish to her or to anyone else that he is anything other than unwanted attention. The fact that this thin argument is being used to "prove" the Iraq - al Qaida link is disconcerting... it exposes the thinness of so many of the American arguments.

But it's worse than that. Check this paragraph: In the tape, the speaker said Iraq was governed by socialist "infidels," including Saddam. But he said that it was acceptable for Muslims to fight on behalf of Iraqi "socialists" because "in these circumstances" their interests "intersect in fighting against the Crusaders," or Christians. Does that sound like BFF to you?

(I love how AP has decided the term "Crusaders" here means "Christians", as opposed to say "The Christians who are coming to the Holy Land to kill Muslims." But never mind.)

It gets even odder. Tom Tomorrow has featured a translation of bin Laden's text suggesting that in fact, he is calling on Iraqis to overthrow Saddam Hussien.

I can't remember... is there any particular reason why we're going to war that isn't made up?

Monday, February 10, 2003

Iraq Iraq Iraq

Bored yet? Is there a single reader out there still disagreeing with me, or one who is still undecided about military action? Tough luck... I like to let the arguments pile up.

In this particular case, August continues his hypocracy watch. This time, the British government blatantly plagerizes (with particularly provacative edits) a doctoral thesis about Iraq. You may recall that Iraq did some cutting-and-pasting for its original weapons report to the UN, a fact the Americans claimed showed Iraq's dismissiveness toward the process.
I did say "posting light", didn't I?

Your blog will return to its regular schedule by the end of next week, but in the meantime, let's have a quick overview of the fun I've missed:

I came across this evaluation of Iraq's likely weapons of mass destruction. As near as I can tell, this page is well-researched, well-documented, and thorough. But long? Well, politics is complicated... I don't think anyone should be more willing to bomb a country than they are to read several pages of technical information. But, the executive summary is (if I might be so bold as to give it a try) that Iraq is likely to have some mustard gas. And that's about it. Lots of conventional weapons, I might add, but I don't think Iraq has ever claimed otherwise. My favourite line so far (and I admittedly still have about half of it to read)? On the state of Iraq's nuclear weapon preparation: The claim that Iraq could rapidly develop a nuclear bomb if it managed to acquire fissile material seems to be accurate. It is also verging on being a tautology. Hee.

So, a whole bunch of money gets added to health, as the Canadian public has been asking for (it isn't as much as required to meet the Romanow recommendations, but that's another post), and what does the federal government get for it? Mr. Eves said Mr. Chr�tien was "stubborn," Alberta Premier Ralph Klein said Thursday he saw Mr. Chr�tien's "dark side" during the negotiations, and Quebec Premier Bernard Landry said the Prime Minister had acted like a dictator. Myself, I don't much care if the Prime Minister has acted like Mr. Teeny, so long as he got some badly-needed money into the system. After Mulroney's "headwaiter of Confederation" stuff, it's nice to see a Prime Minister not really give a damn about the Premiers' empire-building.

George Bush will be coming to Canada for one day in May. Let's be sure to give him a hard time at the border. Maybe plant a Cuban cigar in his baggage.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

It's funny 'cause it's true!

The Onion has extended this joke skillfully, proving once again that the best weapon against American overseas aggression is bitter irony.

North Dakota harbours weapons of mass destruction.

My favourite part of the article? The man at the center of the controversy is North Dakota's leader, Gov. John Hoeven. Having risen to power in 2000 after amassing tremendous wealth in the private sector, Hoeven lives a life of comfort and excess inside the heavily patrolled North Dakota governor's mansion, a lavish dwelling paid for entirely by the state, while many of his people engage in subsistence farming. And so on.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Warming up to Jack

How could I possibly have any complaints about a leader who has every episode of the Simpsons on tape? Or who supports a "sustainable seal hunt"? (The quotes are because as I understand it, "sustainable seal hunt" is not dissimilar to "sustainable dandelion picking" or "sustainable mosquito swatting". I suppose it would be possible to kill too many, but I can't imagine how.)

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Shuttle post-mortem

There is always a person like this, ready to say "I told you so, and here's the paperwork to prove it" when something in the world goes disasterously wrong. So I can only take this so seriously as a suggestion of a careless administration in NASA or the US government.

It is instead this sentence in the story which clearly scares me:

But when I tried to raise my concerns with NASA's new administrator, I received two reprimands for not going through the proper channels, which discouraged other people from coming forward with their concerns.

A more eloquent argument for whistle-blower legislation I have not heard.