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Monday, October 27, 2014

Follow-up 

Just to follow up on my previous post, Annie Laurie provides links to discuss the Terrorist or Head Case? question.
She notes this article from The New Yorker The Line Between Terrorism and Mental Illness
In a world where “clash of civilizations” rhetoric is pervasive, it is possible that radical Islam offers the same appeal to some unstable individuals that anarchism had for Leon Czolgosz, who killed President William McKinley in 1901, and that Marxism had for Lee Harvey Oswald. If you are alienated from the existing social order, the possibility of joining, even as a “lone wolf” killer, any larger social movement that promises to overturn that society may be attractive. For a person radicalized in this manner, the fantasy of political violence is a chance to gain agency, make history, and be part of something larger.
She also posts some off-the-wall opinions from, who else, The War Nerd.
These guys are surplus, after all, surplus males in an era doing some fairly frantic tinkering with that whole concept. The best way to deal with them is let them take one for the team they’ve talked themselves into joining. ...
Islamic State is such a perfect organ for draining the surplus reactionary-male rage from a certain demographic of the secular West ... a sort of global kidney, drawing in and filtering out a pool of potentially troublesome young males. And all done far away, in the bowels of Syria. But only if places like Canada have enough cold-blooded sense to let this piece of luck keep doing its job. And that means only one thing: business class upgrades for every male under 25 with a record of jihadist rants and a one-way ticket to Istanbul.
And by the way, we're going on holidays this week, so I won't be able to post anything or even check on the blog until next weekend. Happy Halloween!

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Friday, October 24, 2014

It isn't "terrorism", its mental illness 

What Canada should always remember about Wednesday was the courage of our politicians -- hearing a fusillade of gunfire right outside their meeting room, they armed themselves with flagpoles and prepared to defend Parliament and their colleagues against what they must have believed at the time to be an invading force.
But to me, it inflates the importance and significance of Wednesday's attack in Ottawa to continue to call it "terrorism" or even "micro-terrorism".
It actually appears to be an almost-random outburst by a mentally ill man.
While Michael Zehaf-Bibeau may well have thought of himself as an "ISIS terrorist", the attack he made was apparently not planned out in any particular fashion nor was it pointed towards any real goal -- according to the Globe and Mail, he first shot an unarmed soldier who was out in the open, standing still, then he ran crazily down the street, hijacked a car, drove to the Centre Block, and ran inside the Parliament Building. If he was thinking to shoot up the caucus meetings or kill politicians, he didn't even seem to know exactly where they were, apparently running right past the caucus meeting rooms before he was shot down.
Even if he was wearing a ghutra, this doesn't make it terrorism; its mental illness.
Rather than worrying too much about terrorism in Canada, we would do better to make sure a person this delusional doesn't have access to a rifle.
Oh, wait...
As Montreal Simon says about both this attack and the running down of two soldiers in Quebec:
For the day we allow some deranged gunman, or some ISIS wannabe from small town Quebec, or just two pathetic losers like these...To scare us, and change our Canadian way of life, is the day we lose our last shred of self respect.
It's the day the crazies WIN.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saskatoon snatches defeat from the jaws of victory UPDATE: lockout is over! 

So you might think that the reluctant LRB ruling both the transit lockout and the pension bylaw illegal would have provided the Saskatoon civic administration with a great opportunity to rethink their whole strategy with this labour dispute, and come up with something that would work better.
But you would be wrong!
The city strategy of trying to starve the bus drivers into an agreement was never going to work, and now it is in tatters -- the drivers know they will eventually get their back pay for the 27 days the strike has lasted so far.  But the union was so happy about the LRB ruling, that the drivers would have cheerfully gone back to work without an agreement, and they would not have dared to go on strike.
So the city could have jumped at the opportunity to get everyone on board with the obvious way to end this dispute -- the same pension changes as everyone else, a slightly higher percentage increase than the rest of the city unions got, but with a longer contract to justify the difference. There, done!
But no.
Clearly, the city was in the wrong with this lockout, and that what the LRB ruled, but the powers that be in the city administration just couldn't accept "losing".
They doubled down by immediately issuing a new lockout notice to the transit union.
“My first thought is ‘Oh my goodness, they’re going to do this to the citizens of Saskatoon again,’ ” ATU local 615 president Jim Yakubowski told reporters outside City Hall Saturday morning. “They don’t deserve that, nor do our members deserve this.”
And the people are furious:







I don't know how this will end now, but it isn't going to be pretty.
UPDATE: Wiser, or cooler, heads have prevailed.
City Council held an emergency meeting this afternoon and voted unanimously to tell the city administration to lift the lockout.  So the buses are back as of 6 am on Monday morning.  Hooray!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oh, the humanity 

Happy thanksgiving everyone, though somewhat belated.




The greatest line in television history: As god is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Playing with the big boys  

I haven't written anything about the Harper Cons enthusiastic support for Canada's participation in Son Of Iraqi Freedom Part Deux because I haven't really known where I stand on this.
I can't say I have thought it through still, but two things struck me today.
First, Michael Den Tandt explains why Harper wants Canadian fighter jets to participate
The PM told the House of Commons Friday – and there is no reason to disbelieve him – that he made the decision to deploy warplanes knowing that doing so is politically difficult, particularly in an election year. He also acknowledged, laudably in terms of simple frankness, what appears to be his main rationale. “If Canada wants to keep its voice in the world – and we should, since so many of our challenges are global – being a free rider means you are not taken seriously.”
In other words, we're not throwing our marbles into the ring because the Harper Cons think our participation will actually make a difference in a fight against an awful enemy, but rather just so the rest of the guys on our side will still be our pals.
At least this time the goal of the whole exercise is clear -- to degrade and destroy ISIS.  If Obama has his way, western armies won't be an occupying force, handing out money and Viagra to warlords, sending soldiers out on meaningless and dangerous patrols, running prisons.
But if we're participating in a potential quagmire without any actual sense of mission ourselves, except to show everybody that we have jets too, then I wonder how Canadians will feel when we have more hearses to salute on the Highway of Heroes.
And that brings me to my second observation, about Trudeau's supposedly juvenile and much-criticized comparison of our CF-18s to big swinging dicks.
If Canada is flying combat missions only because we are trying to impress the big boys, then maybe we actually are just participating in a dick-measuring contest.

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Yes, it is astonishing 

The US Supreme Court basically ruled today that all those lower court decisions authorizing gay marriage in a number of states are constitutional.
In celebration, Andrew Sullivan has written The Astonishing Actual History Of The Gay Rights Movement, from the despair of AIDS to today's victory:

Using the institutions and self-knowledge and smarts that had somehow defeated the plague, gay men charted a future when nothing like this would happen again, when gay men would never be parted from their spouses on their death beds, when gay men’s physical and psychological health would never be treated as insignificant, when gay men would never suffer the indignity that so many endured in front of our eyes. And so we built the case for marriage equality and for open military service as a recognition of the self-worth our survival had given some of us, and to pay some kind of tribute to those who had fallen.

We went, in other words, from about the deepest hole you can imagine to a determination not just to get out of it, but to see the mountaintop in our lifetimes.

...We are on this mountaintop together, even as so many dead lie round.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Field of dreams 


Loved watching tonight's ball game.
There is no game but baseball where the team that wants it more can come back to win, even against a better opponent.

KC may not get very far against the LA Angels, but you never know.



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