Monday, March 30, 2009

Free Dominion appeals order to disclose anonymous posters in Warman suit

Willie The Lyon is calling for bloggers to link to his call to raise money for Connie and Mark Fournier's/Free Dominion's appeal of a recent judicial decision in their lawsuit: Dust my Broom - Help Fight For Internet Privacy and Free Speech. Richard Warman is suing Free Dominion and some of its anonymous posters for defamation.

The decision in question concerns whether the Fourniers should be obliged to release information that would allow Warman to identify those anonymous posters he wants to hold liable. Now, as I understand the law, it is normal for Canadian courts to allow plaintiffs to access the records of internet service providers and web sites in order to identify those on whom they wish to serve suit. Furthermore, I tend to think that individuals should be able to protect themselves from serious libel posted anonymously. So, while I have a strong inclination to take the side of those Warman targets as part of his falsely-called "human rights" crusade, I was not sure whether this particular appeal of the Fourniers' order to disclose information was worthy of support.

However, looking into it a little I see there are some serious legal arguments that the judge has gone too far in assuming an automatic right for a plaintiff to demand disclosure of anonymous posters. For example, Michael Geist notes the judge required Warman make no prima facie case that a libel has in fact occurred:
Protection for anonymous postings is certainly not an absolute, but a high threshold that requires prima facie evidence supporting the plaintiff's claim is critical to ensuring that a proper balance is struck between the rights of a plaintiff (whether in a defamation or copyright case) and the privacy and free speech rights of the poster. I cannot comment on the postings themselves (and I recognize that Warman has been a frequent target online) but I fear that the high threshold seems to have been abandoned here, with the court all-too-eager to dismiss the privacy considerations associated with mandated disclosure by not engaging in an analysis as to whether the evidentiary standard was met.
A more developed argument, citing US case law, comes from Garry Wise. Speaking, apparently, to an often censorious, left-leaning group-think, Wise argues:
While I understand the freedominion authors to be an extremely tempting target to many in the blogosphere, little solace should be taken from this ruling.

An order for disclosure may have been justifiable if the statements made by the anonymous posters were, on their face, apparently actionable.

The Court's disinclination, however, to engage in any factual analysis of the alleged defamation or the necessary balancing of competing interests has created a dangerous precedent that should not be allowed to stand.

Based on Warman ruling, the mere commencement of a court proceeding may now give rise to an automatic entitlement to this form of disclosure.

This is an unacceptably broad entitlement to disclosure that unnecessarily threatens the reasonable expectation of online anonymity that many have come to take for granted.

The freedominion owners, however, indicate that they are unlikely to appeal the ruling.
This last however is not the case. Connie and Mark report that they spent today hurrying to file an appeal.

Readers with money to spare should give some thought to supporting the Fourniers in their defense of internet freedom. Here is their donation button.

Conservatism is a creative renewing of previous covenants and centres of attention

Saturday's National Post profiled Jason Kenney: This man wants to reinvent Canadian multiculturalism:
The higher profile matters - the Galloway issue, the scuffle with Arab groups, the language abilities of immigrants - form the early marks of a pattern of what is to come. Rejecting the [Canadian Arab Federation]'s support for Islamic terrorists and arguably anti-Semitic messages, Mr. Galloway for financially supporting Hamas, calling for newcomers to better integrate: These are of a piece with efforts to fortify what the Conservatives would call The Canadian Identity. It is, Mr. Kenney makes clear, a vision for a country that stands up for its pluralism, but also for its core liberal traditions of tolerance, democracy and secularism. "We can't afford to be complacent about the challenge of integration," he says. "We want to avoid the kind of ethnic enclaves or parallel communities that exist in some European countries. So far, we've been pretty successful at that, but I think it's going to require greater effort in the future to make sure that we have an approach to pluralism and immigration that leads to social cohesion rather than fracturing."
[...]
Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis this week called Mr. Kenney "intolerant" for raising the issue of enhanced language requirements. The Arab Federation has painted him a Zionist lackey.

But there are those, many of them within Canada's ethnic pockets, who support such a muscular approach.

"What is different with him is, with previous [Conservative] immigration ministers, both have been pussycats; this guy is a tiger," says Tarek Fatah, an author, prominent Liberal supporter and founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress. "He's standing up for Canadian values. I would like every politician to stand up for this country the way Jason Kenney has."

Before being elevated to Cabinet last fall, Mr. Kenney spent two years shuttling between community halls, temples and church basements, building support networks in Sikh, Hindu, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Jewish and Arab communities, as Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity. His mission: to break a near lock his Liberal opponents have had on ethnic support since Trudeaumania.

Come last October's election, the payoff arrived: The Tories upset numerous Liberal strongholds surrounding Vancouver and Toronto by converting Asian, East Asian and Middle Eastern voters from red to blue. Mr. Kenney's predecessors, including Diane Finley and Monte Solberg, were ministers of immigration. When Mr. Kenney got the job in October, the Prime Minister added the "and multiculturalism."
[...]
Multicultural maven is a curious role for a pale, Reform party pioneer raised in Saskatchewan, educated by Jesuits, deeply socially conservative, who came to politics primarily with an agenda for fiscal restraint (Before becoming a Reform MP in 1997, he headed the Canadian Taxpayers Federation). But political opponents looking to brand him as too redneck for the sensitive immigration file find it hard to land a punch. In his diverse Calgary Southeast riding, families speak fondly of Mr. Kenney's efforts, long before he became the minister in charge, in helping them sort out immigration issues; his key staffers, including a Tibetan, a Muslim and an Armenian, resemble the dessert lineup at the UN cafeteria. He spearheaded the government's efforts to recognize the Ukrainian Holdomor, its apology to the East Indian community for the Komagata Maru incident, he has defended Chinese Uyghur Muslims and paid his respects at the Mumbai Jewish centre attacked by terrorists. On his office wall hang portraits of abolitionist heroes William Wilberforce and Abraham Lincoln.
[...]
"The irony is that as a white, Catholic kid, he's very cosmopolitan. Maybe the most cosmopolitan minister we've had," says Mr. Solberg, now an advisor for government relations firm Fleishman-Hillard in Calgary.
That line gave me a chuckle, a reminder that maybe the real provincialism in Canada is that old Protestant sensibility that once openly painted the Papists as unworldly backwoods Irish and French Canadians, even if in the control of some ultramontanist clergy and the big bishop in Rome. Or maybe the implied joke is that curry- and kimchi-chomping Kenney is not even Jewish! In any case, my sources tell me that Canadian Catholicism today, at least in many urban churches, is very cosmopolitan, at least full of immigrants from the global church, giving face to Catholicism's aspiration to a universal anthropology.

But, jokes and innuendo aside, the point is we all still have trouble articulating the basis for the unity that makes whatever pluralism we have in Canada sustainable. And this is what makes Kenney's initiative interesting as it is becomes a direct challenge to the left-Islamist alliance that would represent the likes of Hamas-friendly George Galloway or the Canadian Arab Federation, not as the backwoods bubbas I think they are, but as avatars of some ostensibly global popular movement opposed to some supposed American/Jewish hegemony in the global marketplace. Kenney is challenging Canadians to ask, who do you want to represent your "multiculturalism".

One of the interesting things about representation, no less representations that attempt to appeal to wide swathes of people, is that they depend not simply on abstractions that anyone can learn, but on the potentially iconic integrity of the individual (who is rooted in a particular time and place) producing, sharing, or transforming them. And since the basis of any successful representation is some implied unity that allows the representation to be shared (and transformed), what are representations of Canadian values really? Are they abstract concepts or individually incarnated and exemplified ways of being? Or how are they both? As we become better at answering such anthropological questions we will better realize the conditions of a true "multiculturalism", i.e. one that provides us new ways of understanding what unifies us in a shared national covenant.

To this end, another politician worth watching may be someone I only learned about today, a member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament, Randy Hillier, now running for leadership of the Ontario Conservatives. Here are some excerpts from his leadership candidacy announcement (HT: Catfur):
Every society known to mankind is comprised of individuals.

It’s evident that if individuals are responsible, self-reliant and independent, their society will also be responsible and self-reliant.

But we have strayed from this concept.

We have passed countless laws that diminish the individual’s responsibility, removes their good judgment and places it into the hands of a regulatory body.

We have become a “nanny-state” of dependence.

We are no longer responsible for our actions when we allow ourselves to blame others for our actions.

We now have over half a million provincial regulations.

Many of them diminish individual responsibility.

Many others blur the line between private and public property, and allow government to intrude where it has no business.
[...]
We were a province that was home to the most equal and blind system of justice on Earth, namely, “Common Law”.

It is now just another costly legal system where we let special interest groups hijack our courts and paralyze our legal system.

It has become a legal system that preys on the financial weakness and ignorance or common people.

It’s now a never-ending system of little justice where a guilty plea is less costly than a strong defence of innocence.

We have built a regime of countless review boards and commissions through which faceless bureaucrats dressed in quasi-legal robes hand down “kangaroo” verdicts that suffocate our natural rights as individuals, and extend false privileges to collective bodies.
[...]
Where the Liberals are blind to the future and ignorant of our past, we must show people a defining vision – one seen through the clear lens of hindsight and history.

We must show them that we are not here to manage their affairs, but that they are here to manage the affairs of government.

That the people are the true guardians of democracy and those of us lucky enough to have been elected to Parliament are their subjects.
[...]
My campaign will be driven by ideas and ideals, while being anchored by the three central principles of Freedom, Justice, and Democracy.

Freedom strengthens commerce, creativity, industry, education, and the most important element of our society – the family.

When the rights of government overtake the rights of the farmer, the worker, the doctor, or the parent, all of society suffers.

As Premier I will immediately introduce the Freedom of Association & Conscience Act, an act to protect the rights of the individual to not be compelled or coerced into actions or associations that that they find objectionable.

We’ve created private monopolized and special interest governments such as the Ontario Medical Association and Law Society of Upper Canada.

We compel people to join business and industry associations that collect dues but do not represent them, and we provide no protection for freedom of conscience.

Justice is only just when it is truly blind.

When the law is applied unequally – and absent of due process – the law can become an instrument of harm rather than justice.

One of the worst examples of this has been the Ontario Human Rights Commission and other quasi-tribunals.

As Premier, I’ll make sure those violating human rights appear before real judges in real courts, where civil rights and due process are not distorted by the balance of probabilities.

The Human Rights Commission and other quasi-tribunals will be rendered redundant under my government.
Such ideas appeal to universal truths that anyone can take up and incarnate. They are the real basis of a pluralistic society, not the claims from the left that "multiculturalism" has to understand itself in opposition to some supposedly invidious hegemony or established centre/covenant (some conspiracy of power) that necessarily excludes the rest of us. It's true that every centre or attention, every institution, every national covenant relies on at least some degree of violent closure: even a maximally free society has to begin by defining what it is not, by giving formal closure to its representations, so that the individual can be a particular someone (e.g. distinctively a Canadian) in relationship to universal values.

The left often implies that all one needs is the abstract universal value, and that we don't need to be someones defined, in our shared freedom, by some "arbitrary" act of closure, or judgment of right and wrong (e.g. that there is no room for friends of Hamas in Canada). But the universal can only really be incarnated from a particular historical position that is potentially exchangeable with other covenanters, and that necessarily excludes some other part of humanity ("brotherhood", or "sisterhood", becomes a meaningless Utopian concept when we try to articulate a universal sibship): a shared contract must set terms, and the personal integrity needed for successful renewal or representation of any contract/covenant means that one can't be all things to all people; one can't be a cipher. And similarly, neither can be the political and secular institutions of a free society: they too must incarnate a distinctive history in their search for universal truths.

This doesn't mean we should choose unnecessarily violent forms of exclusion; indeed, the course of history is one where we tend to move from more to less violent forms of closure, as we Westerners today seek forms of closure in which sundry others can readily share. And if the historically- and culturally-rooted Catholic eucharist, the sharing in the Christian idea of a divine/personal sacrifice to end all human sacrifice, is a meaningful way of learning something of this paradox of a particular/universal personhood, so be it. However, it seems to be teaching Jason Kenney a way of doing politics that is not the same as calling all Canadians to recognize the Christ Jesus.

The unity on which Kenney's secular "Canadian values" are based would seemingly be found at both some more primitive or common level of human cultural history and in the historically modern (and readily exchangeable) incarnations of Canadian secularism. A proper multiculturalism will be an accepting recognition of all that helps individual people bridge the gap between the primitive and modern (e.g., many forms of Christianity), while closing the door on that which does not.

But this means that national renewal will have to entail a new discipline that can truly mediate leftist fears of unfair or violently arbitrary exclusion, while recognizing the conservative truth that there are some things that have to be excluded in order to maintain freedom and order. It seems to me, as an observer of Canadian politics, that despite some pragmatic successes of Canadian society, there remains room for improvement in the forms of "politically correct" closure we impose on ourselves. There are still some unnecessary or ill-conceived intellectual limits/government regulations/kangaroo courts in the way of a freer society, amidst fears that people with power or influence generalize about certain groups or identities too much, or too little, as we measure reality and discuss the paradoxical basis of the closure that allows us to be open and free. Successful politicians and thinkers will be those who learn to stow unruly passions and resentments in measuring and illuminating present realities while showing us a yet better way to mediate the paradox of closure/openness, unity/diversity, Canadian values/multiculturalism, so as to increase our shared freedom and marginalize those who hate it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Laughing and Stitches

I have a Singer sewing machine, series C, dating from circa 1908. It's not that I spend any time sewing. I don't. Instead, my sewing machine sets atop a wooden dresser collecting dust. When I wipe it down and give it a look I see a beautiful piece of work, a transformation of the Human experience, a joy to behold, and a love of life. When sewing machines first came about, tailors hated them and smashed them. It's a case of misoneism, a hatred of the new. I have a beautiful piece of Human thinking made real, a machine that frees people and benefits our lives grandly.

During WWII some Singer manufacturing records were lost.
These records include the following starting with letter prefix A, C, E, T, W and X series in front of the serial numbers.
The information that is available see below:
Series C. Whittenberge, (Prussia) Germany.

http://sewingmachine221sale.bizland.com/store/page7.html

My sewing machine is manual, not having any electricity involved at the time of its making. That was too advanced for a nation of people who didn't have electricity at home. Who'd think of it? I get out of bed in the morning, turn on the lights, take a shower and so on, and put on my clothes.... My clothes, all made by machines.

High-level aristos and the filthy rich used to love silk. That was so because bugs found it hard to get through, wool far too easy. Cotton, king, was almost as good as silk. Unlike wool, for which many of my own were cleared from the lands, is stinky and rotting and unattractive; and it never washes up well. Cotton is beautiful. One can sew it like a dream. It's clean and pretty, even if it's not silk. It is democracy. With cotton and a sewing machine at home, the people were dressed well for the first time in history.

My sewing machine itself is beautiful, and on top of that, it's painted in gold, ornate winged Sphinxes and floral/geometric Art Nouveau trim. I'd insert a photo here but there hasn't been any film for my camera since 1917. Here's a bit about sewing machines. Mostly it's about how we live.

[In] 1755 in London ... a German immigrant, Charles Weisenthal, took out a patent for a needle to be used for mechanical sewing. There was no mention of a machine to go with it, and another 34 years were to pass before Englishman Thomas Saint invented what is generally considered to be the first real sewing machine.

In 1790 the cabinet maker patented a machine with which an awl made a hole in leather and then allowed a needle to pass through. Critics of Saint's claim to fame point out that quite possibly Saint only patented an idea and that most likely the machine was never built. It is known that when an attempt was made in the 1880s to produce a machine from Saint's drawings it would not work without considerable modification.

The story then moves to Germany where, in around 1810, inventor Balthasar Krems developed a machine for sewing caps. No exact dates can be given for the Krems models as no patents were taken out.

An Austrian tailor Josef Madersperger produced a series of machines during the early years of the 19th century and received a patent in 1814. He was still working on the invention in 1839, aided by grants from the Austrian government, but he failed to get all the elements together successfully in one machine and eventually died a pauper. Two more inventions were patented in 1804, one in France to a Thomas Stone and a James Henderson -- a machine which attempted to emulate hand sewing -- and another to a Scott John Duncan for an embroidery machine using a number of needles. Nothing is known of the fate of either invention.

America's first real claim to fame came in 1818 when a Vermont churchman John Adams Doge and his partner John Knowles produced a device which, although making a reasonable stitch, could only sew a very short length of material before laborious re-setting up was necessary.

One of the more reasonable claimants for inventor of the sewing machine must be Barthelemy Thimonnier who, in 1830, was granted a patent by the French government. He used a barbed needle for his machine which was built almost entirely of wood. It is said that he originally designed the machine to do embroidery, but then saw its potential as a sewing machine.

Unlike any others who went before him, he was able to convince the authorities of the usefulness of his invention and he was eventually given a contract to build a batch of machines and use them to sew uniforms for the French army. In less than 10 years after the granting of his patent Thimonnier had a factory running with 80 machines, but then ran into trouble from Parisian tailors. They feared that, were his machines successful, they would soon take over from hand sewing, putting the craftsmen tailors out of work.

Late one night a group of tailors stormed the factory, destroying every machine, and causing Thimonnier to flee for his life. With a new partner he started again, produced a vastly- improved machine and looked set to go into full-scale production; but the tailors attacked again. With France in the grip of revolution, Thimonnier could expect little help from the police or army and fled to England with the one machine he was able to salvage.

He certainly produced the first practical sewing machine, was the first man to offer machines for sale on a commercial basis and ran the first garment factory. For all that, he died in the poor house in 1857.

In America a Quaker, Walter Hunt invented, in 1833, the first machine which did not try to emulate hand sewing. It made a lock stitch using two spools of thread and incorporated an eye-pointed needle as used today. But again it was unsuccessful for it could only produce short, straight, seams.

Nine years later Hunt's countryman, John Greenough, produced a working machine in which the needle passed completely through the cloth. Although a model was made and exhibited in the hope of raising capital for its manufacture, there were no takers.

Perhaps all the essentials of a modern machine came together in early 1844 when Englishman, John Fisher, invented a machine which although designed for the production of lace, was essentially a working sewing machine. Probably because of miss-filing at the patent office, this invention was overlooked during the long legal arguments between Singer and Howe as to the origins of the sewing machine.

Despite a further flurry of minor inventions in the 1840s, most Americans will claim that the sewing machine was invented by Massachusetts farmer Elias Howe who completed his first prototype in 1844 just a short time after Fisher.

A year later it was patented and Howe set about trying to interest the tailoring trade in his invention. He even arranged a competition with his machine set against the finest hand sewers in America. The machine won hands down but the world wasn't ready for mechanised sewing and, despite months of demonstrations, he had still not made a single sale.

Desperately in debt Howe sent his brother Amasa to England with the machine in the hope that it would receive more interest on the other side of the Atlantic. Amasa could find only one backer, a corset maker William Thomas, who eventually bought the rights to the invention and arranged for Elias to come to London to further develop the machine.

The two did not work well together, each accusing the other of failing to honour agreements and eventually Elias, now almost penniless, returned to America. When he arrived home he found that the sewing machine had finally caught on and that dozens of manufacturers, including Singer, were busy manufacturing machines -- all of which contravened the Howe patents.

A long series of law suits followed and were only settled when the big companies, including Wheeler & Wilson and Grover & Baker, joined together, pooled their patents, and fought as a unit to protect their monopoly.

Singer did not invent any notable sewing-machine advances, but he did pioneer the hire-purchase system and aggressive sales tactics.

Both Singer and Howe ended their days as multi-millionaires.

So the argument can go on about just who invented the sewing machine and it is unlikely that there will ever be agreement. What is clear, however, is that without the work of those long-dead pioneers, the dream of mechanised sewing would never have been realised.

http://www.ismacs.net/smhistory.html

I look at my sewing machine and I could burst out laughing from joy.

Keeping Faith In Great Britain: Thank You Dan Hannan

"The internet has changed politics - changed it utterly and forever", observes Dan Hannan, British backbench member of the European Parliament, as a result of his remarkable experiences over the past few days.

A 3-minute speech that he gave last week succinctly criticizing Prime Minister Gordon Brown to his face has accumulated over a million and a half views, despite receiving almost no coverage in the British media. UK and US blogs discovered the YouTube video of the speech, promoting it so successfully throughout the online world that MEP Hannan's rocketing popularity eventually attracted the attention of the US media. And only then, did the UK press start to pay attention, re-presenting his work and his career disparagingly ("does anyone care what he says?", sneers the BBC).

Maybe there'll always be an England, after all... from the sound of things, at least there's still a modern-day Churchill:



[Thanks to Stuart Sharpe for taking the time to create a transcript of The Speech Heard Around The World]
Prime Minister, I see you’ve already mastered the essential craft of this Parliament – that being to say one thing in this chamber, and a very different thing to your home electorate. You’ve spoken here about free trade, and amen to that; who would have guessed, listening to you just now, that you were the author of the phrase ‘British Jobs for British Workers’, and that you have subsidised - where you have not nationalised outright - swathes of our economy, including the car industry and many of the banks.

Perhaps you would have more moral authority in this house if your actions matched your words. Perhaps you would have more legitimacy in the councils of the world if the United Kingdom were not going into this recession in the worst condition of any G20 country.

The truth, Prime Minister, is that you have run out of our money. The country as a whole is now in negative equity. Every British child is born owing around £20,000. Servicing the interest on that debt is going to cost more than educating the child.

Now once again today you tried to spread the blame around, you spoke about an international recession; an international crisis. Well, it is true that we are all sailing together into the squall – but not every vessel in the convoy is in the same dilapidated condition. Other ships used the good years to caulk their hulls and clear up their rigging – in other words, to pay off debt – but you used the good years to raise borrowing yet further. As a consequence, under your captaincy, our hull is pressed deep into the water line, under the accumulated weight of your debt. We are now running a deficit that touches almost 10% of GDP – an unbelievable figure. More than Pakistan, more than Hungary – countries where the IMF has already been called in.

Now, it’s not that you’re not apologising - like everyone else, I’ve long accepted that you’re pathologically incapable of accepting responsibility for these things these things - it’s that you’re carrying on, wilfully worsening the situation, wantonly spending what little we have left. Last year, in the last twelve months, 125,000 private sector jobs have been lost – and yet you’ve created 30,000 public sector jobs. Prime Minister you cannot go on forever squeezing the productive bit of the economy in order to fund an unprecedented engorging of the unproductive bit.

You cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt. And when you repeat, in that wooden and perfunctory way, that our situation is better than others, that we’re well place to weather the storm, I have to tell you, you sound like a Brezhnev-era Apparatchik giving the party line. You know, and we know, and you know that we know that it’s nonsense.

Everyone knows that Britain is the worst placed to go into these hard times. The IMF has said so. The European Commission has said so. The markets have said so, which is why our currency has devalued by 30% – and soon the voters, too, will get their chance to say so.

They can see what the markets have already seen: that you are a devalued Prime Minister, of a devalued Government.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

CPSIA Update: Video Of Malcolm Smith "Illegal" Bike Sale

A follow-up to our post last week on the CPSIA protest held at motorcycle maverick Malcom Smith's motorbike shop.

As we've been reporting, carelessly worded legislation in reaction to revelations of high contents of lead in various children's toys resulted in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, signed into law by President Bush. This well-intentioned Act of Congress became effective in February of this year, and has unintentionally plunged many industries into economic turmoil due to the blanket restrictions placed upon selling **anything** to children under the age of 12. Incredibly, children's motorbikes are subject to the ban, although hopefully not for long.

Get the Lead Out

It's a serious health hazard. Get the lead out.

This is, of course, about sewing needles in your food, not about paint on your book covers or nuts and bolts on your motorcycle. No, forget about all the dangers inherent in eating your household stuff and things in the garage. I suggest you consider looking in the fridge for the real dangerous stuff. But that's 'cause I'm a Rightwing religious bigot and an islamophobe, right? I'm concerned about sewing needles in the lunch meat, and important people are concerned about young teenagers eating their motorcycles. Shows what I know. Sewing needles in your food? It's a "common nuisance." The fact that a Shi'a Muslima put needles into nine varieties of food products doesn't mean anything because aside from the bagels, one of the nine is turkey and not pork. So there. She was caught, put in jail for the night, and faces a charge of being a common nuisance. Nosh on.

HEALTH HAZARD ALERT:
TAMPERING ASSOCIATED WITH VARIOUS LUNCHEON MEAT KITS AND WIENERS

Related Alerts: 2009-3-19 | 2009-3-19b

OTTAWA, March 19, 2009 - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Loblaw Companies Limited are warning the public not to consume certain luncheon meat kits and wieners described below.

The CFIA is working with Loblaw Companies Limited and the Guelph Police Service to investigate tampering of meat products at the No Frills Store located on Silvercreek Parkway in Guelph. A number of products have been found to contain 50 mm sewing needles.

The following products sold from the No Frills Store located at 191 Silvercreek Parkway, Guelph, Ontario are affected by this alert:

Brand Common Name Format UPC Best Before / Lot Code
Schneiders Lunch Mate Stackers Ham 111 g 62000 31917 2009 AL 29 9049
Schneiders Lunch Mate Stackers Turkey 111 g 62000 31933 2009 MA 08 9058
Schneiders Lunch Mate Stackers Summer Sausage 111 g 62000 11452 2009 AL 29 9029
Schneiders Smart Lunch Traditional Style Crust Pepperoni Pizza 351 g 62000 18466 2009 MR 22 9021
Schneiders Smart Lunch Bagel Combo with cream cheese 326 g 62000 18469 2009 MR 20 9019
Schneiders Original Wieners 450 g 0 620180 3 2009 MA 04 03391
Schneiders Light 55% Less Fat Wieners 450 g 62000 63681 2009 AL 16 03692
Schneiders Original Juicy Jumbos 450 g 62000 15806 2009 MR 27
Schneiders Hot 'n' Spicy Juicy Jumbos 450 g 62000 15822 2009 AL 10

In addition, the CFIA is encouraging the public to carefully inspect any similar type products purchased at this store. Should there be any signs of tampering consumers are advised not to consume the product and to contact the police immediately.

Loblaw Companies Limited, Brampton, Ontario has voluntarily recalled the affected products from the No Frills Store located at 191 Silvercreek Parkway, Guelph, Ontario, and is actively participating in this investigation.

The Guelph Police Service have published a community alert which may be viewed at http://www.police.guelph.on.ca/communityalert/communityalert.aspx#458

For more information, consumers and industry can call the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342 / TTY 1-800-465-7735 (8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday to Friday).

For information on receiving recalls by e-mail, or for other food safety facts, visit our web site at www.inspection.gc.ca.

-30-

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/corpaffr/recarapp/2009/20090319e.shtml

Yes, there are cases of Muslims poisoning our food, but hey, everybody does it. Like the local church cake sale. Would you eat a cake from a local church?

Woman charged in meat needles case in court Friday

Canwest News Service Published: Friday, March 27, 2009

GUELPH, Ont. -- An Ontario woman charged in connection with a case of tampered food at a store in Guelph, Ont., is a former employee of a Maple Leaf Foods plant in the city, the company said in a statement Friday.

Mastoora Qezil, 41, was arrested by Guelph police Thursday and is facing a common nuisance charge. She was held in custody overnight and was expected to be released Friday after an appearance in bail court, Guelph police said.

[More: http://www.nationalpost.com/story.html?id=1435504]

One of the comments at the piece above:

Nsangoma: Brief History of Qezil Bash The Qezil Bash (or Qizilbash) are of Mediterranean sub-stock - and speak Dari. They are Imami Shi'a, and are scattered throughout Afghanistan, primarily in urban centers. There are thousands and thousands Qizilbash living in Afghanistan.

And what does that mean to infidels?
Qizilbash or Kizilbash (Nastaliq: قزلباش - Qizilbāš; Ottoman Turkish for "Red Heads") is a name given to a wide variety of Shī‘ī militant groups (ghulāt) that flourished in Anatolia and Kurdistan from the late 13th century onwards, and later helped to found the Safavid dynasty of Iran.[1] The expression "Red Heads" is derived from their distinctive crimson headwear (tāj) with twelve gores (tark), known in Persian as "Haydar's Crown" (تاج حیدر - Tāj-e Ḥaydar),[2] indicating their adherence to the twelve Ithnā‘asharī Imāms and to Ḥaydar Ṣafawī, the spiritual leader (sheikh) of the Ṣafawiyyah movement.

[T]heir spiritual grandmaster Haydar, the head of the Ṣafawiyyah Sufi order, organized his followers into a body of militant troops.

Theories have been put forward by scholars to connect the Kizilbash to certain religious groups and secret societies throughout history, like the Mazdaki movement in the Sassanid Empire, or its more radical offspring, the Persian Khurrami sect. Like the Kizilbash, the latter were an early Shī‘ī ghulat group[1] and dressed in red, for which they were termed "the red-haired ones" (Arabic: محمرهmuḥammirah) in medieval sources.[4] In this context, Turkish scholar Abdülbaki Gölpinarli sees the Kizilbash as "spiritual descendants of the Khurramites".[1]

It has also been speculated that the group had its origins among the mystical Ismaili Assassin sect.[5] However, most historians dispute this as no influence of Ismaili beliefs is obvious in Kizilbash practices.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qizilbash

So I'm feeling much better that a Muslima who put sewing needles into our food is not, according to most historians, directly linked to Ismaili assassins. She's a common nuisance.

Besides, Schneiders meat company is known for bad food. A dozen died from poisoned food recently packed outside of Toronto, North York. "How it (listeria) got there or where exactly it is in that equipment, we may never know," admits Maple Leaf foods Linda Smith.

Me neither. Not a clue. What I do know is not to eat my motorcycle.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Aqsa Parvez memorial to be built in both Canada and Israel

Pamela Geller reports that since the Aqsa Parvez memorial in the Town of Pelham, Ontario, is being erected largely through donated work and materials, the fund Pamela has raised for an Aqsa memorial will be used to plant a grove of trees at the American Independence Park in Jerusalem.

In the second post linked above, Pamela includes a comment from Pelham Fire Chief, Scott McLeod who took the initiative in getting his town to build an Aqsa Parvez memorial, in face of the predictable PC onslaught about "Islamophobia". I think it's worth reproducing McLeod's comment as it shows us what it means for someone to take the initiative and personal risk in renewing our shared public culture, renewing our necessary sense of courage and honour, through a process of measuring, judging, recognizing, and giving names to, our shared reality in ways that illuminate the imperatives we might all need to recognize:
NOT HONOR KILLINGS

I have been giving a lot of thought to the events leading up to and the final resolution of the Aqsa Parvez memorial. I truly believe we need to rethink our comments regarding this and many other similar events.

In my opinion the term honor killing is not appropriate for these tragedies. The reality is they are narcissistic/shame killings and should be referred to as such.

More importantly the conduct of many organizations and individuals after the event certainly does not meet the term honor in any respect. The members of the family, academic organizations, and many others should also hang their head in shame over their conduct.

I have been fortunate that for most of my adult life I have worked with people who understand what honor really is. During my time in the military and my career as a firefighter I have seen on a daily basis, citizens and people in uniform performing honorably.

Honor, is the Soldier who gives up his life for a higher purpose, in defense of citizens of Afghanistan or Iraq. They are there, knowing that when they leave, some small bit of freedom which we hold dear is being left behind.

Honor is the Police Officer who goes to work every day knowing that he may not return to his family, when daily dealing with some of the worst elements of our society. While giving respect and in fact life to the most downtrodden.

Honor is the Paramedic who lay in a pool of gasoline trying to keep a survivor of a car accident alive, long enough to get to a hospital.

Honor is the firefighter who crawls through hell to bring a victim of a fire out of a building.

Honor is the residents of Pelham who have little tolerance for people who are afraid to act as they should, with respect for children like Aqsa.

I have been lucky enough to work with people like this and the truth is, we are surrounded by these heroes every day. If you look around yourself you will see honor and honorable acts.

What happened to Aqsa, was not and never should be considered in any way related to honor. It is shame and narcissism which caused this incident, the narcissism of her father who would not allow a child to become an ordinary teen of her country.

My friend Neo has a posting on his blog in which he describes the event as “Dying to become Canadian”, I can’t really state it any better than that.

The real heroes and the persons of honor in this incident are the Aqsa, who died for her beliefs, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer who created the fund in her memory.

In addition my friend Norman, a fellow firefighter, who worked so hard to make this happen and was confronted with PC madness. I have to thank my personal heroes, Councilor Sharon Cook and John Durley who ensured that the memorial would be created.

I am not articulate enough to tell the story of the honor and shame of this horrible event, but I know what honor looks like, I truly believe it’s easy to see who carries the shame, and who acts with honor

Scott McLeod
Fire Chief, Town of Pelham
Of course, whether we call them shame or honour killings, we can recognize the paradoxical state of being in which a man does something horribly shameful in what he thinks is an act of protecting his and his family's honour, as his mind oscillates back and forth between attention to some pre-figured understanding of honour - perhaps some ritualized orthopraxy, perhaps less formal habits of mind - and a present and conflicting reality towards which he feels shame.

Can ritual- or habit-bound men learn how shameful will be their acting out violently on behalf of pre-figured notions of honour from the tribal past that Canadians who recognize individual freedom cannot respect? Maybe it depends on the rest of us. While recognizing the fundamental paradoxes of being human, while recognizing that there is always more than one imperative in play as our minds race between pre-figured notions and present realities, we need all act in the here and now by modeling and, at least for a time, choosing a truth (e.g. in respect to Aqsa Parvez's story), and acting on the imperatives this truth will ask us to honour, that we may govern ourselves in respect for the inescapable and unrenounceable freedom that comes with being Canadian. When we put memory of Aqsa Parvez at the front of our minds, we should reflect not only on who or what is implicated in the guilt of the murder, but also rework our own understanding of what it means to choose honourable actions.



And that is why the memorials are such a powerful idea, and why it is a shame that the guilt-ridden multicultural relativism of Toronto's (not Pelham's) public life has not allowed itself to embrace more roundly the idea of building an Aqsa Parvez memorial. Arguing whether Islam, properly understood, does or does not give license to kill your rebellious, possibly apostate, daughter, or whether the problem is that Islam simply inculcates some less specific honour/shame mentality that does not adequately prepare its members for living in the complex modern world of free persons, is not going to get us to the point where we can renew or build up our shared reality as we move beyond guilt: the question is how well are we prepared for acting honourably in the here and now as we argue over the need to transcend a certain multiculturalism's attempt to re-ritualize some fixed honour/shame code for governing interactions, and muting criticisms, among duly-sanctioned opinions and identity groups.

In answering that question, we cannot talk seriously of honour and shame unless we make reference not simply to abstract philosophical or religious formulae but to specific events and persons of our times, the confounding events and free people that all ideologies fear. In this contest, let's salute those individuals and nations who ask, how do we recognize the imperative to honour and remember the freedom of every Aqsa Parvez? Aqsa could not avoid a reality that forced on her a choice to remain, or not, open to untold future possibilities. Neither can we.

Aqsa chose an open life and received death. Let us contest honour and shame accordingly, resurrecting her truth and honour when and where we can: we can resurrect something of our fallen victims because we all share in and carry with us a piece of our nation's real victims. That's what a truly liberal nation that strives to interpret its own particular history in relation to universal truths about free human will, and the sacrificial violence that grows out of that contested freedom, comes to understand and redeem. And if someone tells you, non-Muslim, apostate, etc., that you don't have a right to share in a victim like Aqsa Parvez, or if you don't feel any connection to some ideologue's counter-claims about who are the "real" victims in the contests over some "phobic" memory, you know someone somewhere is not being real. Honour, shame and narcissism are about knowing, or not, who is being real.

Senator Tom Self Revs Up Motorbike Fans To Hit The Kill Switch On CPSIA

Kentucky frontiersman Daniel Boone once joked, "I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks."

As part of his ongoing efforts to kickstart more public awareness about the unintended economic consequences of the congressional confusion that led to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), Missouri State Senator Tom Self gave a talk to the race enthusiasts at the Daniel Boone Motocross track last Sunday afternoon in London, Kentucky. Senator Self urged the crowd to get the US Congress to become at least as honest as Daniel Boone in recognizing the disastrous effects the well-intentioned CPSIA law has been having on the motorcycle industry, where conditions are reaching the friction point:

“Amateur racing right now, folks, is in the balance,” Rep. Tom Self said to a crowd of motocross riders.

“When people hear about this, they either think of one of two things. Either that it’s not true because it’s ridiculous, or it is true and there must be some simple fix. ... The problem is it is true ... and it could literally take an act of congress to change it.”
Self is talking about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act that was passed by the U.S. Congress in August and went into effect in February. The act limits the lead content in children’s toys — everything from infant’s toys, to books, and for Self, and most alarmingly for motocross enthusiasts, motorcycles. The act banned the sale of small 50cc and 65cc motorbikes that are only big enough for use by children because they contain lead. This leaves somewhere between one to two million bikes on inventory across the country that can’t be sold, according to Self. It’s not that the congressional act is completely a bad thing in Self’s mind — it does protect small children, particularly infants, from ingesting lead from toys — it’s that the act oversteps its effectiveness.

“What the government needs to concentrate on more is, if they’ve got that kind of situation(lead in toys), deal with that situation and don’t go broading out just for the sake of trying to overprotect,” Self said. “So many times government, again well intentioned, tries to work on something, but how it works on paper and practically are two completely different things.”

The act bans toys, clothes, books — any product used by children — that might contain lead in them for fear that the children could ingest the lead by putting the product in their mouths, or by handling the product and then putting their hands in their mouths. Self says it is ridiculous to assume that small children would somehow ingest lead from playing with a motorcycle.
...
Banning the children’s bikes also means replacement parts will stop being made, which Self says, leads to bikes that are dangerously under-kept or simply inoperable. “The concerning part of that is you’ve got kids that have been riding for a while, and their bike is not available,” Self said. “And, Lord willing, this won’t happen, but they are going to be awfully tempted to climb on a bike that is too big for them. And then you’ve got a real problem.”

Self’s appearance near London was his last of a 10-day tour that took him to Illinois, Indiana and to St. Louis in his home state [of Missouri], where he spoke to a crowd of 50,000 people at the Supercross ride. The tour was about getting the word out, Self said. Although the act has already been passed, and there is an uphill battle getting the law changed, Self told the crowd of motocross riders and their families that if they got active and vocal, things could change. But, Self said, that’s going to take everyone in the motocross community. “If we don’t buck up and get serious about this thing, we are all going to be playing Mumbly Peg and chess in a year,” Self said to the motocross riders.

“It’s that simple. It’s your choice. In motocross there’s a saying, ‘You’ve got two choices. You can go big or go home.’ Kids you want to go big, or do you want to go home?” The littlest motocross riders in the crowd all let out a, “Go big.”

A sign of immaturity in children is when they fail to see the consequences of their actions; without a belief in the value of seeing the big picture, they would constantly snack on chocolate bars and coca-cola instead of fruits, vegetables and juice, they would stay up "past their bedtime" at the expense of a good night's sleep and being refreshed for the next day, they would simply jump on a motorbike and ride instead of summoning the discipline to first learn about safety and maintenance, as well as the honesty required in understanding how to ride within one's limits.

Sometimes I get the impression that the average kid who spends time in the great outdoors has more maturity, common sense and appreciation for the broad horizon of life's Big Picture than does the average members of Congress, who don't even read the bills they sign into law.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

CPSIA Update: Gaming The System Instead Of Helping Toy Manufacturers

Rick Woldenberg is part of the team organizing the Amend The CPSIA rally scheduled for April 1st in Washington, DC. So far several members of Congress have agreed to participate in the attempt to raise national awareness of the unintended collateral damage that the new consumer protection legislation known as CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) has brought to small businesses already suffering from the current shaky economy.

Rick Woldenberg notes this morning, however, that to date the five Congressional Representatives (Joe Barton, Marsha Blackburn, Phil Gingrey, Cliff Stearns, Ed Whitfield), the single Senator (Jim DeMint) and one ex-Governor (Jim Engler) who have agreed to attend the rally in some capacity... are all Republicans. No Democrats have agreed to participate.

In fact, a Democrat member of Congress who wanted to attend, confided to Rick Woldenberg that they were "told in no uncertain terms by "leadership" that an appearance would not be permitted."
Unfortunately, what's going on is that there is a major turf war underway, and we are caught in the middle. The CPSIA is being claimed as a hard-fought and emblematic achievement of the Democratic Party leadership and it thus appears that opposition to the defective law is seen as opposition to these leaders. Hence, Democrats aren't allowed to speak publicly with common sense on the CPSIA - they have to tow the Party line of infallibility, regardless of how strained it is. Any Democratic member of Congress daring to defy Party leadership by acknowledging the flaws in the law and calling for fixes, risks isolation or other punishments.

The CPSIA received overwhelming bi-partisan support last year when it was brought to a vote in both Congress and the Senate; 89 Senators voted in favor, the forementioned Jim DeMint being one of the three "no" votes. In the House of Representatives, only Ron Paul voted against the bill, with a grand total of 424 members voting in favor, including all five Representatives scheduled to make an appearance at the upcoming rally. They are presumably willing to admit they made a terrible mistake, no matter how civic-minded they were at the time of their vote. The goodness of the original intentions is no guarantee against obtaining bad results from the consequences those actions may bring.

Taking the effort to perceive, and to measure, the results of our good intentions is a sign of our good faith, of just how good the initial intentions were. If the attitude of the Democratic Party leadership is that it refuses to even acknowledge that good intentions can actually lead to bad results, what does that say about the sincerity of the motivation behind the initial intentions?

UPDATE: To my embarassment, I was in such a rush to post this earlier that I forgot to give proper credit to Overlawyered.com for the update on the rally.

Buying liberal media is an act of genocidal hatred



The Associated Press: Jewish group denounces political cartoon
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Jewish human rights group is denouncing a Pat Oliphant political cartoon as anti-Semitic, comparing it to the cartoons in the 1930s that led up to the Holocaust.

The syndicated cartoon published Wednesday in newspapers across the country depicts a goose-stepping uniformed figure wheeling a fanged Star of David that menaces a small female figure labeled "Gaza."

The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish rights group with more than 400,000 members in the United States, says the cartoon denigrates and demonizes Israel and mimics the Nazi propaganda.

It called on The New York Times and other media groups to remove the cartoon from their Web sites.

A message was left Wednesday night with Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes Oliphant's cartoons. Oliphant won a Pulitzer Prize in 1967.
New York Times, Washington Post Cut Jobs as Ads Fall (Update1) - Bloomberg.com

How to promote "homophobia"...

During the dark days of Soviet oppression, there was a joke that did the rounds in Russia. ‘ Homosexuality is a crime and the punishment is seven years in prison locked up with other men. There is a three-year waiting list.’

Don’t laugh too loudly. It could soon be illegal to repeat a joke like that.
Fighting fire with fire, the UK passes [planning to pass] more hate speech laws :: International Free Press Society

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Does the freedom of the internet limit or realize the Islamic terrorist cause?

In the long run, if the Caliphate and Sharia are to rule the world, the internet will presumably have to be destroyed. In the short term, the Jihad can't live without it.

How messed up or empowered can the Jihad become by using the internet, with all the freedom it provides for fostering our desires, including the many desires we didn't know we had until we do? No doubt it depends on how those who fight to destroy the Jihad use this same freedom. Kathy Shaidle reviews some of the possibilities in her latest: Islam in America Series: Internet Jihad | / | Homeland Security
During the Islamic terror attack in Mumbai, India last year, tech-savvy terrorists used BlackBerries and Google Earth satellite-imaging to plan and carry out their atrocities.

Once again, the West's enemies were employing 21st century technology to spread its dangerous 8th century ideology.
[...]
The web's international reach means that online jihad has no boundaries, making it even harder to police. A recent study by the UK's Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC), called "Virtual Caliphate," revealed that British Muslim radicals are using Internet tools for recruitment, training and propaganda.

Particularly revealing was the revelation that well-known spokesman Asghar Bukhari of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, a regular media guest and "moderate" Muslim, was using Facebook to "openly glorify terrorism" and post anti-semitic screeds.

Other experts warn of Hezbollah's use of Israeli soldiers' Facebook account information as a source of intelligence, and a possible way to trick soldier's into meeting a Facebook "friend" in person who turns out to be a Hezbollah terrorist.

Meanwhile, a pro-Israel Facebook group page called "I Wonder How Quickly I Can Find 1,000,000 People Who Support Israel," was hacked and defaced by a pro-Hizballah group calling itself "Lebanese Shee'a Hackers."

Because Facebook is so ubiquitous, it has actually been used by investigators to track down jihadists. Earlier this month, the FBI looking for a group of Somali immigrants to who left Minneapolis to join an overseas terrorist group were tracked down through their Facebook pages.

As one expert told FoxNews.com, sites like Facebook can help spread radicalism, but that shouldn't "overshadow all the ways it has helped to stop radicalism. The benefits far outweigh the risks, and we are doing all we can to [mitigate] the risks."
[...]
Lynch also points out that debates between radical Muslim members on online forums and chat rooms can actually "undermine moral or turn into open dissent, to the dismay of movement leaders." ("Plus," Lynch adds, video download sites "often feature ads for pornography (...) while you're waiting... I'll leave it to you to decide whether that's a glitch or a feature for the jihadists downloading their bin Laden videos.")

Perhaps to get around these and other drawbacks, Hamas actually tried to start their own version of YouTube.com last fall.

The site, called AqsaTube, came complete with a ripped off version of the American site's famous red logo. But instead of the cute cat clips and stealth campaign videos you'll find on YouTube, however, AqsaTube was "devoted entirely to propaganda and incitement," according to the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (IITIC).
[...]
Israeli journalist Amir Mizroch noticed the troubling fact that AqsaTube was generating revenue by selling ad space through Google's ubiquitous AdSense program - including ads for Israeli companies. He confronted Google via email and a few days later, Google removed its ads from the Hamas site.

Then, after Mizroch's story eventually appeared in the Jerusalem Post and was picked up by other news outlets, AqsaTube website, then reappeared online looking very different indeed, its violent videos (and its stolen YouTube logo) nowhere to be seen.

Yet for every site that is pulled down by its service provider, many other Muslim terrorist websites remain online. In fact, those same websites and chatrooms were rife with speculation that the FBI had been behind the AqsaWeb takedown, when the real culprit was one curious Israeli blogger and his subsequent newspaper story.

Terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere "don't exist without the Web and the Net," explained Naval Postgraduate School professor John Arquilla in Technology Review. "A networked insurgency doesn't have anything like a traditional leadership. Most of the leadership they get is by going on websites, where they share information very quickly" - especially, it should be emphasized, among populations in which illiteracy is rampant.
[...]
John Arquilla has a particularly interesting suggestion. He told Technology Today that since the United States is,

"...spending so much on military affairs, maybe some of that should be directed towards technologies that will break our opponents' communications. In World War II, there was an investment in creating the first high-performance computers, for that very purpose. Today, it may be an investment in creating the most effective quantum computing or figuring out how to structure the vast ocean of data that masks the movements of al-Qaeda on the Net and the Web. We need a new Bletchley Park [the country house where the German WWII codes were broken], if we're going to win this war."



I tend to doubt that we can hope to shut up the Jihadis by keeping on top of all their communications. I would put more faith in tactics that seek constantly to engage those conversations, to expose, measure, and challenge their primitive ideology with the pornographic and other realities of our modern world that the orthodox, violent Jihad wishes to destroy because it has no real hope of understanding or integrating in orthodox Islamic terms. When we try to measure or test what people really believe or desire about our shared modern reality, we will find out how many ostensibly orthodox Muslims really believe in Jihad now and how many will find excuses to take from or side with the un-believer. And then we will have real information to further justify and focus our tactics of engagement, to expose and turn and fight. Winners force choices on opponents so as to remake reality. War is seemingly chaos that winners find ways to inflect and channel and shape; they don't simply try to control reality or insist it conforms to pre-established models and justifications.

Saving those left behind by not saving them from the norm that tests and fails


Life is tragic, and doubly so when the humanities professors forget why... Society can't progress without defending norms but norms cannot be upheld without failing some. And we, still living in the fading light of the Christian ethic, fear casting anyone out. And sometimes that is right, and sometimes it is a denial or defense of evil that must be cast out. We must struggle to know which is which. But if there were a possibility of reliable rules we could set in stone, life would not be so tragic.

In any case, it is only when a crisis eventually comes from denying our norms that we see their renewal is actually essential for any and all to enjoy a world of expanding freedom. In other words, we need constantly be engaged in measuring reality with an eye to testing and upholding and rejigging our norms, as a process of encouraging and pressuring our others to join in a shared covenant. We need a therapy of the normal, a continual re-focusing on the good, and not a therapy focused on accepting all and sundry in the spirit of "it's all good". We need to reject much about our decadent therapeutic culture, without forgetting that some forms of therapy, say of mothering or nursing, might be realistic and useful disciplines.

Trying to make sense of our times, Victor Davis Hanson proposes a little catalog: Works and Days » The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly—Part One. Starting today with the bad, VDH excoriates the therapeutic fashions of the academy:
The Therapeutic impulse or “Don’t fault but empathize.” We now contextualize, situationalize, explain away almost every possible human pathology. Take the worst: The Oakland police murder was scarcely reported out here before we heard that the miscreant murderer “was looking for a job”, “was wary about returning to prison” and “was not a monster”, as the carnage was a “tragedy” for all involved. (I confess I like the more honest 1930s headline that would have said, “Deadbeat thug conned his way out of the joint and killed good cops.”)

So the tragic voice screams back, “No, he was evil, an enemy of civilization, and, yes, surely monstrous in all that he did and the creed that he embraced.” By global standards of poverty and deprivation (think the slums of Nigeria or Mumbai, or rural Peru or Bolivia), the killer was hardly impoverished...

Somewhere in the Berkeley hills reside the retired grandees who thought up all this utopian mindset, while below in the Oakland flatlands the cops died who had to suffer its consequences.

Lost in the therapeutic view is any notion that we should never lower standards, or disguise reality with euphemism, but rather insist and get involved in preparing the traditionally unprepared for the rather high standards of society. Instead, in matters of education, the law, and public discourse, we too often immediately issue race/class/gender inspired qualifiers when rules, norms, protocols prove too difficult for the non-traditional.

A liberal professor seems to prefer to get on his soapbox about diversity at the faculty senate before driving his Camry back home to the tree-lined faculty ghetto, than drive downtown to tutor the ghetto youngster in Latin to ensure he has the tools to succeed in the university. And he gets to justify not spending that difficult hour with the cheap qualifier, “I would not dare try to impose my cultural norms onto the ‘other.’”

Somewhere some lazy selfish academic dreamed up multiculturalism and is still smiling, “Now I can do whatever I want—drop the hurt in giving F’s, skip out on tutoring the rather difficult to tutor, stop insisting on acrimonious standards at tenure hearings—as long as I mouth these platitudes.” The faculty has become bloated Soviet-era apparatchiks on the May-Day grandstands, saluting the passing missiles, mouthing “comrade” and the “revolution” before lumbering off to the dachas on the Black Sea. Trace the evolution of our therapeutic notions of criminology, of government, of child-raising even, and it inevitably leads you back to the university.

The result in the modern Western world is the end of the old standards: no one any longer thinks that admission to the Ivy League or Stanford is based entirely on merit, or, its corollary, that completion of a blue-chip degree means that the recipient is really educated. I don’t necessarily associate excellence in ethics with a Nobel Peace Prize, journalistic excellence with a Pulitzer Prize, or academic excellence with an endowed professorship at Princeton.

How odd that the World Series or the Super bowl is a far more honest arbiter of excellence than the current academic and intellectual industries.

When the NBA begins to demand diversity—one Asian center per team, 30% so-called “white” guys on the team, 20% Latino coaches—or the Tour de France demands 10% African-American participation—shudder (or is all that already happening?). Why then do pure merit-based considerations seem to count in things like (the more trivial) sports or (vital) brain surgery and aircraft piloting, but not in the manner in which we train our youth, write our news, or conduct our intellectual life?

We could be even more reductionist about the therapeutic mind—and think that our penal system would improve should we build prisons next to universities (easier for professors to rehabilitate prisoners, better to have an informed nearby community to nurture parolees.) Think of the possibilities of matching word with deed: the Obamas’ children go to the DC public schools; the Harvard humanities Dean is put in charge of hiring for all the nuclear power plants of New England; Chris Dodd and Barney Frank submit their expense budgets instantly to thumbs up/down, on-line public approval; Nancy Pelosi flies commercial…

Obama gives up teleprompter

Osama Barka has been giving the impression that he's not only punch drunk but that he can't think for himself. So he's given up the teleprompter. I say: "Good for You, President Osama!"

Now I feel that I can trust the man and his formidable intelligence to tells it as he sees it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ezra Levant rages beautifully on Michael Coren show

Ezra Levant may portray himself, as an Alberta conservative, as someone not part of Canada's government-trusting Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor, mid-twentieth century, liberal welfare-state mainstream. Yet his manner of speaking is something distinctively Canadian; you only find quite this kind of impassioned, enraged, civility, this quaint diction, in Canada. So, it's compelling when he assures us that the parasitic federal and provincial "human rights" commissions that have inveigled their ways into policing our freedom of expression are Un-Canadian, the fruit no doubt of some kind of ill-considered heresy. Ezra, a somewhat identifiably-ethnic Canadian, reminds us, through his tv performance, that our much celebrated multiculturalism is actually dependent on some prior basis of unity, that our diversity is only ratified or truly recognizable (as a shared national political reality) to the extent it provides new bases, new ways of teaching us what unites us.

Ezra was just interviewed by Michael Coren, for the launch of Ezra's new book, Shakedown; it's an hour-long interview, an exercise in renewing our nation's covenant, and SDAmatt has posted five youtube videos to cover the whole. You can watch them in succession, here: Shakedown - Ezra Levant

Good News About Bad News: CPSIA Is Officially News

I think this qualifies as good news about the preposterous CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Inspection Act):

It is now officially News! Because it's finally been covered by the Washington Post. Maybe with this extra attention, extra pressure can be brought to bear on getting some necessary changes made to the vaguely worded legal anguage that categorizes old books as poisonous to 12-year old children, especially with the upcoming April 1st "Amend the CPSIA" rally being held in Washington DC... an event unmentioned in the Washington Post article, Book Dealers Told To Get The Lead Out:
...
Legislation passed by Congress last August in response to fears of lead-tainted toys imported from China went into effect last month. Consumer groups and safety advocates have praised it for its far-reaching protections. But libraries and book resellers such as Goodwill are worried about one small part of the law: a ban on distributing children's books printed before 1985.
...
The legislation, which passed with strong bipartisan support, was a reaction to lead's being discovered on and in thousands of imported toys, mostly from China, in 2007. It restricts lead content in products designed for children age 12 and younger to 600 parts per million by weight; the threshold drops to 300 parts per million in August of this year. Items as varied as bikes and jewelry are affected.

So are books such as "Madeleine," "Goodnight Moon" and "Corduroy."

Lead was phased out of printer's ink following the 1978 paint ban; lacking a firm date for when it effectively disappeared, the safety commission has ruled that the toxic metal might be found in any book printed before 1985.
...
Implementation of the new law has libraries and secondhand bookstores reeling. Although they could pay to have each old book tested, the cost ($300 to $600 a book, according to the American Library Association) makes that impractical.
...
The commission says that it is understaffed and overtaxed by the new areas it must police.
"The agency is really stretched to the limit as to what we are doing about this new law," [Joe Martyak, a spokesman for the commission and the chief of staff to its acting chairwoman, Nancy Nord] said. But he said that the agency has been given very little leeway. He cited new restrictions on children's bikes that have also caused a backlash: There was enough lead in the tire valves to push them over the enforcement limit, even though there might not be lead anywhere else in the bike.

"Whether you consider that common sense or not, that's the way the law is written," he said.
...
The several dozen comments to date reflect the usual combination of disbelief and fury that tends to be exhibited when people first discover the existence of this needlessly nonsensical law.

From acesdc at 1:51 pm:

[H]ow is "children's book" defined? Does "The Hobbit" count? "Animal Farm"?
The Bible? I read Jim Bishop's "The Day Kennedy Was Shot" at 10--is that good enough?
alert4jsw at 1:09:54 PM wrote:

This is absolutely ridiculous. What would be wrong with putting a sticker - a simple 1/2 inch dot of a specific color would suffice - on the covers of books published before 1985 to alert parents that they might contain this minuscule amount of lead, and to be extra careful to see that their kids aren't eating them? The idea of requiring a chemical analysis that would cost several hundred dollars and take weeks, if not months, to complete in order to be able to sell a book for 50 cents is simply crazy. The bike rule is even more ridiculous. How many times has anyone, anywhere, ever seen a kid sucking on a tire valve? While lead may be a problem, we should probably fund some studies to see what it is that the people who come up with these nutty ideas were exposed to as a kid to make them this clueless.

The article covers a lot of ground. I think I'm being a little churlish in my opening paragraphs; the Post has covered CPSIA before, concerning the new law's damage to the toy industry. I just don't understand why this isn't being covered every day, since there's damage being done every day. Businesses are being hurt by arrogant congressmen, all in the name of good intentions.

[Thanks to Walter Olson at Overlawyered.com]

Caroline Glick on the desire of Western appeasers to recognize Hamas

If you ever wondered why many Muslims actually believe that Islam will conquer all and rule the world...
...ON TUESDAY, Fatah strongman and the West's favorite son of Palestine Muhammad Dahlan tried to explain the facts of life to Hamas.

In an interview on PA television, Dahlan became the first senior Fatah official to openly admit that Fatah has never accepted Israel's right to exist. Dahlan denied reports that in the negotiations toward a Hamas-Fatah government, Fatah representatives are pressuring Hamas to recognize Israel. In his words, "I want to say in my own name and in the name of all my fellow members of the Fatah movement, we are not asking Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist. Rather, we are asking Hamas not to do so because Fatah never recognized Israel's right to exist."

Dahlan went on to explain how the fiction worked. Arafat was the head of the PLO but also the head of Fatah. While as chairman of the PLO he recognized Israel and pledged to end terrorism and live at peace with the Jewish state, as head of Fatah he continued his war against Israel. Dahlan even bragged that to date, Fatah has killed 10 times more Palestinians suspected of cooperating with Israel's counterterror operations (the same operations the PLO committed to assisting) than Hamas has.

Dahlan explained that all Hamas needs to do is to follow in Fatah's footsteps. It should say that the PA government accepts the West's terms, but in the meantime, those terms will remain inapplicable to Hamas as a "resistance group." In that way, Dahlan explained, Hamas will be able to receive all the West's billions in financial assistance.

As he put it, "Do you imagine that Gaza's reconstruction is possible under the shadow of this bickering between us and the international community? [Gaza reconstruction] can only be dealt with by a government... that is acceptable to the international community so that we can... benefit from the international community."

Not surprisingly, Dahlan's statement went almost completely unnoted. Only The Jerusalem Post and one or two other Jewish publications and a few anti-jihadist blogs made note of it. The US, European and pro-peace process Hebrew media all ignored it. No government spokesman anywhere in the world commented on it.

Unfortunately, though, for the likes of Dahlan and his admirers in the West, Hamas isn't interested in joining Fatah's fiction. It refuses to say those magic words. So now the West looks for ways to lower its bar still further.

THE WEST'S nonresponse to Dahlan's statements, like its growing eagerness to treat with Hamas despite Hamas's unabashed refusal to even lie about its intentions, tells us something important about what the West is actually doing when it says that its paramount interest is to advance the so-called peace process. It tells us the same thing that the West's courtship of Damascus and Teheran tells us about what the West means when it speaks of peace processes.

Syrian President Bashar Assad this week told Italy's La Repubblica newspaper that he and outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were just a stone's throw away from a peace deal last year. Last week Assad participated in what was supposed to be an anti-Iranian conference in Saudi Arabia.

Both of Assad's gestures were meant to make the Americans feel comfortable as they renew their diplomatic relations with Syria, cast aside their backing for the UN tribunal set up to investigate Syria's assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, begin pressuring Israel to surrender the Golan Heights, and recognize Hamas.

And just as Arafat understood that after he said the magic words the West would ignore his bad behavior, so Assad knew that Washington and Paris would pay no attention when upon returning from Riyadh he announced that Syria's relations with Iran will never be weakened. He knew they will never question his false account of his indirect negotiations with Israel. He and Olmert couldn't have been a stone's throw away from a peace accord, because Assad refused to have any direct contact with Israel.

If Damascus is the state equivalent of the PLO, then Teheran is the state equivalent of Hamas. Today, as the mullahs sprint toward the nuclear finish line, the Obama administration is pretending that the jury is still out on whether or not the Islamic republic wants a nuclear arsenal. As with Hamas, so with Teheran, the Americans have dropped even the pretense of requiring a change in Iran's rhetorical positions as a precondition for diplomatic recognition. The US now pursues its diplomatic reconciliation with Teheran with the sure knowledge that this peace process will lead to Iran's emergence as a nuclear power.

So the question is, if the American and European pursuits of peace with Fatah, Hamas, Syria and Iran have not caused them to change their behavior one iota, what are the Western powers talking about when they say that it is imperative to push the peace process or engage the Syrians and the Iranians? After all, Western leaders must know that these processes are complete farces.

Sadly, the answer is clear. Western leaders are not pursuing peace in these processes. They are pursuing appeasement. They call this appeasement process a peace process for two reasons. First, they know their countrymen don't like the sound of appeasement. And second, by claiming to be championing the noble goal of peace in our time, they feel free to attack anyone who points out the folly of their actions as a warmongering member of the Israel Lobby.
Center For Security Policy

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bizarre sign of the times?

You have no doubt heard many bewail the lack of attention, or ability to reflect quietly, in young people today. People go about constantly plugged into their phones, ipods, the internet as if, if one is not constantly in contact with others, one is lost. Bloggers know all about that. On the one hand, this is a sign of the growth in various forms of human reciprocity, which is not necessarily a bad thing; indeed it's often for the good. On the other, one wonders if people are losing the ability to slow down time and reflect on serious works of thinking and arts that might provide models for integrating some significant part of the information flowing through them, so as to become more complete persons themselves, able to deal with the many clashing imperatives, the ethical and cognitive paradoxes, that constitute our humanity, all the more so in an age of massive and instant interpersonal communications.

This is just to preface a short note: Google has added a new feature to Gmail. You can now add a panic button to your Gmail service, so that any mail you send will be held for five seconds before it is really sent; in those five seconds you can cancel the mail (if you are quick with the fingers in a panic).

No doubt we've all sent emails we later regretted. While I'm not hooked into facebook and other social networking sites, I'm not that much older than those immersed in them; anyway, I find it baffling as I try to conceive how I could get into or out of a state of discombobulation (if that's what it is) that I would know or intuit or fear, within five seconds, that I shouldn't have sent a mail. My moments of madness tend to last longer than that!

Is this new service a sign of some quick-thinking, but somehow not reflective (in advance), generation, or of some deeper addiction of message ping-ponging that is somewhat, if not always in advance, controllable?

Maybe I am reading too much into the market that seeks to provide people with endless new features for their electronic products. I guess there will always be people who can be convinced they need a little panic insurance.