Some Weekender Bullety Points For Yulesight

Yulesight. You can see the holidays coming but you are not quite connected emotionally yet. It was an interesting week. I was slagged in the British media. Beer magazine columnist with a chip on his tiny shoulders. Wrote a complaint to the publisher whose response was that they did not feel, that I in fact had been called a Nazi sympathizer. They did remove the article from the web but you can see it in Google cache all the same. Other than that, it snowed for the first time this winter.

Love the Starbucks coffee cup. We may not be the 1% but we do like 1% partly skimmed milk foam.

♦ The caribou were right where they were told they would be.

EU officials apparently had declared that you could not claim water helped with dehydration: “The euro is burning, the EU is falling apart and yet here they are: highly-paid, highly-pensioned officials worrying about the obvious qualities of water…”

♦ Sadly, more than enough bad to go around.

♦ Hey – there’s another bit of Canada’s national administration being dumped by the Feds – immigration policy: “While other provinces have fully embraced their provincial constitutional responsibility of selecting immigrants … Ontario has effectively abdicated its ability to engage in the immigration dossier in a serious way.”

There. Weekend. Scooby-Doo on the TV. Bailey’s in the coffee.


Day 17: Thank Heavens The Word “Illegal” Was Removed

Yesterday watching Twitter election 2011 flow by was one of the most bizarre things I have ever witnessed in politics.

Idle yapping about Iggy’s wife citizenship suddenly breaks for the announcement that a confidential draft of the Auditor General’s report on the G8 has been leaked and is out there and, apparently, Sheila Fraser says the Government “misled” Parliament and did “illegal” stuff. Journalists freak. After lunch, Tory pointy-shouty man John Baird comes out and says he has a later draft and misled and illegal aren’t in there so it’s all OK…. and the Liberals are evil [… even though the Grits have nothing to do with anything… OK, he never said the Liberals were evil.] Then, astoundingly, the super secret report draft is handed over by Baird to the press… and the Toronto Sun publishes it including this:

2.20 – For example, we looked for selection documentation for the Huntsville G8 Centre (Community Recreation Complex $16.7 million) and expansion (Facility for Waterloo University $9.75 million), which were constructed for the Summit but, ultimately, not used as announcedc The Centre was intended to be a facility to coordinate overall logistics for the event and serve as an’ accreditation hub to vet thousands of people attending the event. We found that when the announcement for this project was made in February 2009, DFAIT had determined the centre would not be suitable because it was not expected to be completed in time. …

2.22 – In our view, the manner in which the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund was presented did not make clear to Parliament the full nature of the request. By including the request under the item “Funding for the Border Infrastructure Fund relating to investments in infrastructure to reduce border congestion” government did not clearly or transparently identify the nature of the request for funding, that is, G8 infrastructure project spending.

So, the riding of a member of Cabinet gets a multi-million dollar G8 facility known at the time to not be needed for the purpose of the G8, Parliament is told its a project which is part of the reduction of border congestion and the fact that Fraser comes out and tells people not to draw conclusions based on a draft makes all the journalists shake their heads at each other and tell themselves they rushed to judgment? Then it turns out the Tories twisted her words in another report and the news flow moves on…

That has got to be the weirdest thing I have ever seen in Canadian politics. Tories still 8.5% up on Grits and the debates start tonight. Oh, and I got offered to blog for the rest of the election for a major national news outlet just like back in 2005/06. But I was supposed to do it without pay. I trust you are proud of me turning it down.


News About Meat (AKA Meat In The News)

Is there any better word than “meat”? Sure “pie” has a claim but you can’t eat meat every day. But you can eat meat. So, happy I was to read an interview / review of the author of Steak: One Man’s Search for the World’s Tastiest Piece of Beef in the Globe this morning:

His search for a sublime piece of meat starts in Texas (disappointment and despair, and a lungful of fecal dust from the state’s endless feedlots). He makes his way to France (where he visits the cave drawings at Lascaux – “pictures of steak” – and feasts on ersatz aurochs, a Nazi-inspired reintroduction of cattle first domesticated 10,000 years ago); to Scotland (terrifying details about scrotums and artificial insemination, and inspiring grass-fed Highland cattle steaks); to Italy (yum), Japan (double yum) and Argentina (an education in open-fire grilling); and then back, by way of Fleurance (whom he raises with the help of chef Michael Stadtlander, on grass north of Toronto, finishing her with lots of apples, acorns, Persian walnuts, and carrots, to name just a few of Fleurance’s excellent taste notes). Finally, he lands in Idaho, at the Alderspring Ranch of Glenn Elzinga, with whom he ate the steak that finally transported him to heaven.

The article is written by Ian Brown whose contributions to culture include an article a few years ago about fried clams – good Lord, it was 2004 – and also wobbily leaning to his right a lot when he talks on the TV. He is very clever and describes food well. Consider this line: “the Wagyu smells darker and richer, like a sexy girl at a dangerous party.” Food TV has almost destroyed the description of food through its use of cheap pornographic techniques, slow music and low cut shirts. Go read Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River” and the breakfast of coffee and tinned apricots – that’s food writing.

Anyway, now I want meat. The statement I can make 24 hours a day. Now I want meat.


“Preacher”? Maybe More Like “Parson”

What an odd choice of a word by the Globe and Mail for its headline: “preacher“. Images of 1890s church picnics dance in my head, plates of food covering checked table cloths as children run three legged races. Or visits to the hospital to hand out caramels here as a kind thoughtful word is placed there. The man in the dog collar unexpectedly rolling up his sleeves pitch in as the rectory’s spring gardening is done. That’s a “preacher” to me.


Head Scratching About ICCPR Comment 11

Great flibberty jibberty. I sure am grateful that there are smarter people out there than me. I sure would hate to be left to my own devices to make my way in the world and understand, you know, stuff. So it is with appreciation and relief that I read the news today that the media might soon be under the guiding hand of a national content watchdog according to a submission from the Ontario Human Rights Commission to the Canadian Human Rights Commission:

The media’s freedom of expression comes with a duty to “address issues of hate expression, and [media] should do so either voluntarily through provincial press councils, or through statutory creation of a national press council with compulsory membership,” the report reads. “At the same time, the OHRC recognizes the media have full freedom and control over what they publish. Ensuring mechanisms are in place to provide opportunity for public scrutiny and the receipt of complaints, particularly from vulnerable groups, is important, but it must not cross the line into censorship.”

Hmmm. That’s not what I expected. I thought this would be, you know, based on law. But what is that? Where is that “duty” from. Duties are not just made up you know. The footnote to the OHRC submission right at that spot reads:

UN treaty bodies such as the Committee on Civil and Political Rights have stated through their interpretive “Comments” that human rights treaties such as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights convey positive obligations on signatory States to take immediate and progressive measures including refraining themselves from making any hate propaganda (see for example ICCPR Committee Comment #11).

So a committee of an international bureaucracy has commented on the text of a treaty and come up with an idea that should be adopted in Canada as the equivalent of a duty which limits to some degree or another the freedom of speech. How wacky. Not what I had imagined at all. What can this mean? Let’s see. The “ICCPR” is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. But I can’t seem to find the comments, let alone Comment 11. This page, however, seems to have it if you scroll down a bit where we learn that Comment 11 relates to Article 20 which states:

1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.

That’s interesting and sensible. There ought to be a law! And that is what Comment 11 says at section 2:

In the opinion of the Committee, these required prohibitions are fully compatible with the right of freedom of expression as contained in article 19, the exercise of which carries with it special duties and responsibilities. The prohibition under paragraph 1 extends to all forms of propaganda threatening or resulting in an act of aggression or breach of the peace contrary to the Charter of the United Nations, while paragraph 2 is directed against any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether such propaganda or advocacy has aims which are internal or external to the State concerned… For article 20 to become fully effective there ought to be a law making it clear that propaganda and advocacy as described therein are contrary to public policy and providing for an appropriate sanction in case of violation.

See, it actually does say “there ought to be a law.” And you though that I was making it up. And, fortunately, Canada has a law. It’s called the criminal code. It is a law that provides for an appropriate sanctions in cases of violations. And the Criminal Code of Canada has a specific one on the question of hate law. It’s right there at section 319. Perfect. Duty fulfilled. The treaty says we need a law to deal with this stuff and we have it. Hooray for Canada!

But I don’t see where it says we need a national press oversight body. That isn’t in the authority cited for the principle. It actually says in the submission of the OHRC that:

Striking this balance between different forms of rights is important and necessarily has some legal parameters. Hate expression against identifiable groups is undeniably a human rights matter and should be confronted through human rights law, not just criminal law. But a perfect balance cannot be legislated. It’s also an active process that all individuals, organizations and institutions in society are obliged to go through; a process that must include being open to public debate.

Where is the authority for that? Where is the authority for the idea that hate expression against identifiable groups is undeniably a human rights matter? And where is the authority for the implicit accusation that the Criminal Code is not open for public debate? It may be out there but it is not provided. It also is couched in the sort of insecure language – “undeniably” and “should be” – that makes one wonder if it is actually out there just waiting to be cited. This is pretty unsatisfactory stuff. A constitutional right is balanced off against a comment in a treaty obligation discussion which does not even support the principle to which it is stated to relate. Then it is extrapolated from to state that the obligation isn’t good enough. And an underlying tone that the legislative branch is not about public debate. Weird.

That is a whole lot of sliding and sledging and slipping for me. It may well be that there is a case for some of all of this. I am not one of those Chicken Littles who obsess about hate speech and human rights. But it would be nice if the underlying factors supporting the cause were put in a way that could be read without scratching one’s head.


Group Project: The Chretien Book And Its Timing

I am now seriously considering taking down the Paul Martin posters in the rec room:

On the eve of Parliament’s re-opening, former prime minister Jean Chrétien has driven a new wedge into the federal Liberal Party with his indictment of Paul Martin as having blood on his hands over the deployment of Canadian troops in Afghanistan. Mr. Chrétien makes the charge in the just-published second volume of his memoirs, stating that because his successor “took too long to make up his mind” about what should be done with Canadian troops stationed in and around the Afghan capital of Kabul, “our soldiers were … sent south again to battle the Taliban in the killing fields around Kandahar.”

That is really odd but, given the recent Mulroney book, the sort of thing we have come to expect. On a more fun yet devious level, this is clearly another ploy by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to drive a wedge in Liberal ranks. While it is unclear exactly how a wedge can be driven in something [Ed.: insert your analogy here – I recommend something scattered like or soft a gooey like a lump of butter] the effect on tomorrow’s speech from the throne is going to be dramatic/non-existent. I really enjoy these acts of maneuvering for control…much more fun than actually governing and being governed. The more the merrier.

Your job: compare and contrast.

One Effect Of The Self-Determined Meritocracy

The 50th anniversary of a sorry excuse for a belief system is being noted today – yet even in light of such sad news one can still find a favorite stat:

Every year, 400,000 copies of Rand’s novels are offered free to Advanced Placement high school programs. They are paid for by the Ayn Rand Institute, whose director, Yaron Brook, said the mission was “to keep Rand alive.” Last year, bookstores sold 150,000 copies of the book.

It is was really that good, would you not have readers actually pay for all that excellence? And, anyway, how can you trust libertarians that organize themselves into an lobbying group that rejects market rules so flagrantly?

Lawyers Gone Bad

There is a new book in Canada called Lawyers Gone Bad which is causing a controversy within the law talking trade:

Lawyers Gone Bad features the story of about 20 disgraced lawyers who faced disciplinary action for offences ranging from overbilling to sexual offences against children, to hiring thugs to beat up clients. In the past week, the Canadian Bar Association’s head office received upwards of 200 fuming emails and phone calls and the regional offices have also been inundated with irate solicitors baying for both Maclean’s and Slayton’s blood. He’s been the subject of choice at law firm water coolers across the country, and the featured hot topic on the city’s legal blogs. Since Monday, the Canadian Bar Association, the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association have each issued scathing statements condemning Slayton’s book and the magazine article – particularly the cover, which boasted five would-be lawyers labelled “I sleep with my clients,” “I take bribes” and “Justice? Ha!”

Lawyers get particularly prickly about these kinds of things but this author is a former dean of law school and former a senior practitioner on Bay Street in Toronto. Here is my take:

  • Law is very funny (not ha-ha) stuff. Unless you are rich and seeking preventative guidance, for most people being involved with law and lawyers means you have to spend masses of money to get you out of the greatest crises of your life. Of course you will be unhappy.
  • Practicing law is often no fun. Most lawyers earn a middle class living and deal with unhappy people going through the greatest crises of their lives. Many times you will not fix the problem so much as guide to a best resolution. People want you to fix the problem – get the charges dropped, make the deadbeat like he was when you met him, make it like it was before the accident. Can’t do it. Lawyers often think they can do more than they can actually do.
  • I have been exposed to an inordinate number of lawyers under discipline caused by things from recourse to alcohol to congenital thievery to simple ignorance. The system does not weed these people out as aggressively as people might wish. They hurt peoples lives.

The combination of crisis, over expectation and human weakness is a bad one. It does exist in other professions but, if my opinion is worth anything almost 20 years after entering law school, it is accentuated in law. Yet law and lawyers are vital in a free and democratic society. Maybe this book will do some good, have a result other than a circling of the CBA’s wagons. After all, people once scoffed at Jose Canseco.

Chitchattery Fridayesque

Another week is gone. It was a good one except for the Red Sox starting their August collapse a little early. In other sporting news, apparently there was a move to press gang the Chilean U20 soccer team for the Hudson Bay fleet last evening. And I play vintage base ball this weekend in another country. Who knew? Sunday sees me and the other member of the Kingston St. Lawrence Base Ball team taking on Sackets Harbor, NY in a game that will use rules somewhere between 1860 and 1875. Gary may even be seen tomorrow but we are still uncertain as to what the day will bring. I may, too, be in a canoe. What a wonderful week. Here is the linkfest:

  • Constitutional Update: Where is the balance of powers when one branch asserts autonomy?
  • Update: The Flea guides us to the new enemy – New Victorians.

  • I caught a good story from Reuters about a journalist embedded with Canadian Forces in Afghanistan.
  • I haven’t read any Harry Potter and boycott the movies due to the lack of claymation so I see not reason to give a hoot about spoilers and the release of a page or two early. Doesn’t there seems to be an over-enlistment of the authorities in the propping up of a franchise?
  • Are we entirely over 9/11? It appears that travel has hit a high but are we forgetful or confident. Americans are staying home we assume due to the dollar…but is that it? Why does no one come to Canada?

    Americans are coming to Canada much less than they used to…”Canada needs to add more fun and adventure to its image,” the report, released by Deloitte and the tourism association, said. “We need the right product — the right active tours and adventure experiences. And most importantly, we need to promote them.”

    Soon lighters will return.

  • It has been announced that a father and son team of metal detecting nerds hit the motherload with a Viking treasure trove being announced in England this week. Did you know that metal detection is really cool? That you can get a Bill Wyman model metal detector? I wish I metal detected.
  • Acquitted conduct. I was listening to CBC Ottawa last evening on the drive home and there was a “sentencing consultant” from the US being interviewed who said that Conrad Black faces the prospect of facts relating to the charges he was acquitted upon being still included in the sentencing on the charges he was found guilty. That makes no sense and I am sure, ten years past any criminal work, that it is entirely unknown in Canada. Wow. I actually feel a little bad for Connie this morning.

That is all for now. I wish I were in England where I could spend some time watching for ocean-going rubber floaty toys. I bet I’d meet up with Bill Wyman if I only spent more time doing things like that.

Chat. Friday. Bullets. Go!

An interesting week. The Red Sox have gotten back in gear and gotten back into the groove as the Yankees again falter. Summer is now here which means it will be a bit colder this weekend compared to last. Gary reports a tornado yesterday from the cold front that gave us hail up here. That was the sports and weather. Here is the news:

  • Neato Update: Excellent. Excellent. Excellent:

    Your order #202-6921784-XXXXXX (received 18-February-2007) items (Sold by Amazon EU S.a.r.L.):

    1 Pub Games of England (Olea…) £11.94 1 £11.94

    Shipped via International Mail (estimated arrival date: 29-June-2007)…

    Excellent. Did I mention this is excellent?

  • Update: Good thing they gave him a ticket.
  • Update: I have officially coined “Royal Sombrero” and, implicitly, the intense version “Sombrero Royale”. Alert the media.
  • Chris, Darcey, and the Flea all note the most offensive and apparently acceptable thing I have ever seen in a Canadian newspaper.
  • NCPR’s Brian Mann won an Edward R. Murrow award this week for his report on a rugby tournament in the Adirondacks.
  • My good pal the Pope announced his rules of the road earlier this week. I think this is a good thing. If the Conservative party is going to co-opt NASCAR, the Vatican was wise to grab the branding of the drive home. But I am sure he ripped this one off from me, something of a personal motto: “courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.”
  • Remember when cable TV was in its teens and the new channels got notice? One, the History channel, quickly was dubbed “the war channel” as it was odd to see old battle footage documentaries all the time. The other night, I was watching one about WWI and followed up with some surfing and came across this extraordinary contemporary report on the fall of Brussels in 1914.
  • I find these addiction to email stats interesting. I can’t say I am addicted to email because it’s died back a bit compared to a few years ago as a tool for me. A bit over the top to write: “[h]alf of Britons could not exist without e-mail…” Also noteworthy is the observation that Facebook is establishing itself as MySpace for adults.
  • The forces of anti-Canadian flag waving in Los Angeles have backed down. I suppose there being so few Canadians in the area, the Dodgers didn’t know what they were looking at when they saw the Maple Lead flapping up there in the bleachers.
  • Having only lived in Canadian military towns for most of my life – without being a military kid (except for that Berlin airlift bit in the RAF) – it was odd to see the brief flap in Toronto over the yellow ribbon thingies on the Big Smoke’s emergency vehicles. In the end the right thing was done which is good as I support supporting. Russon’s a bit surprised that the Star supports supporting those supporting us.

Well, that is it for now. Not an earth shattering week but we are again the house of many mouths and that sort of keeps things local. Wizards tonight as well as maybe Steve and Barry’s.