Sunday, July 22, 2007
It seems that the former deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Julie MacDonald, who resigned two months ago after a devastating report on her professional conduct, had been getting just a tad too involved in scientific research. MacDonald, a Bush appointee with a civil engineering background, was caught altering the findings of scientists about endangered species, and leaking information about the scientists to industry honchos. She was apparently the boss from hell on top of that, which led to the complaint that sank her. (As one blogger noted, if she had been nicer to work with, she might still have her job.)
Her superior, H. Dale Hall, Director of the USFWS, has now announced that decisions affecting the animals mentioned will be reviewed. "We want to make sure that the science is true," he said. The review, however, covers only a third of the cases in which MacDonald has been accused of improper conduct. Such exotic species as the Mexican garter snake, the bull trout and the marbled murrelet are on their own for now.
Meanwhile, Stephen Harper has appointed Tim Ball as the new Deputy Minister of Environment. Just kidding.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
"We’ve been gettin' a bad name," Capone went on. "All dis shootin' an' musclin' an' what-all. And baseball bats—maybe I went a little overboard on dat Valentine's Day t'ing, even if dey was bastids. Dat's America’s favourite game. We got us a black mark." He paused again.
"I been talkin' to the consigliere," he said, "an' Carlo t'inks dis makes sense. So, here's what I’m gonna do. I'm gonna make a statement to de press, one a dem press conferences, only I'm gonna call it, not some gavone like Ricardo. Nice guy, but he shoots his friends inna face, know what I mean?" The capi nodded. "And here's what I'm gonna say. I'm gonna announce dat we ain't gonna pop nobody again unless dey're askin' for it. And our enforcers ain't gonna hurt nobody no more, unless dey're askin’ for it too. And we ain't gonna hu-mil-iate nobody when we talk to 'em. We're gonna treat 'em with respect. Capisc'?"
The capi laughed appreciatively. "You got questions?" Al asked. "No? OK, let's get back to business. And if any bad stuff's goin' on, it's against my orders, so just be careful what youse doin'."
"See dem smiles?" Al said to a nearby associate as his capi headed out. "Dat's what I like--a happy workplace."
Check this out. No editorial comments on my part--some things speak loudly and convincingly for themselves.
Indeed. Just think of how much Jamaican immigrants contribute to our culture and economy: monotonous, illiterate music that all sounds the same, filthy hairstyles, those little tricoloured Rasta doohickies. --Kathy Shaidle
Toronto folk love their Islander, Negro Criminals, They make the place look colorful and multicultural. I can hear those oil pan drums pinging in the background as I write this ... Ya mon ... everting bees cooool doncha know! Dis Canada, free everting no jail ... judges stupid, can't make me go home neither mon hahahaha. --John
It is RACIST to NOT criticize a rotten culture. I believe they call it the racism of lower expectations. Accordingly, all hard-lefties are deeply racist. Bill Cosby and Spike Whathisname were not racist for excoriating the rotten nigger-gangsta-rap culture. --Me No Dhimmi
Deporation [sic], shooting or locking them up is the only option to deal with these criminals. I think its about time for a prison colony on Hans' Island. --DDT
Average Canadian IQ - 97 Average Jamaican IQ - 72 Someone with an IQ of 72 is not going to get far in a modern society. Combine a low IQ with high self confidence (black males have been found to be much more self-confident than white males) and you end up with situations like you see in Toronto now. A simple IQ test for all prospective immigrants would be a great way to prevent the importation of third world lifestyles. --Loki
First, let 'em drown and let 'em starve
And let 'em fry in the sun
We'll get there late and close the gate
And say "Good job, well done."
And if some lucky few survive
We'll put 'em up in shacks
We'll choke 'em all with fumes and mold
And watch each other's backs
And when at last the last one's dead
We'll just pick up and go
Some place our skills are in demand
Sunday, July 15, 2007
It looks, in fact, as though I was wrong--at least in the short term--about the "gnathonic media." The chorus has continued unabated, producing a sound, not of anvils, but akin instead to the one allegedly caused by the wholesale flight of jobs to Mexico. I here reproduce a sample of kneepad commentary from the press and some of the same from the blogosphere. (Readers are invited to add to the list.)
The sad part is that Conrad is unlikely to have a Presidential commutation available to correct yet another of Fitz’s travesties of justice.
I'm not familiar enough with the trial or evidence, but I suspect Chretien's gang behind it.The US Attorney's office might usefully adopt as its motto the IRA's message to Mrs Thatcher after the Brighton bombing, "You have to be lucky every time. We only have to be lucky once."
Hollinger International revealed that Conrad had stiffed the company for some $60,000 for a birthday party for Barbara, a figure that caught my eye because I'd recently paid for my six-year-old's birthday party in Montreal. Given the difference in size of guest list, status of those in attendance and glamorousness of venue, I reckon, dollar for dollar, Lady Black's party was a rather better deal than my kid's. It certainly sounds something of a bargain by the standards of Park Avenue hedonism. But by now the image of Conrad as a socially ambitious fraud egged on by a sinister out-of-control Zionist trophy clotheshorse and enjoying the lifestyle of a Gulf emir on the shareholder's dime was set in stone.
[T]he state naturally hates individuals such as Lord Black. For the little prosecutors in Chicago, their careers and political interests are strongly biased toward bringing down a famous man such as Lord Black. The new Inquisitors know that, however hard they work for injustice, they are likely never to be hanged from lampposts in a revolution...[M]y invitation to Conrad for dinner is still valid, for another time and another place.
But last word to Conrad Lord Black, who presciently managed to get it right in one:
I spent the month of June in Chicago with Conrad. No person could have shown more grace under pressure. In the evenings we talked about the case, the witnesses, the lawyers. We talked about history. Now and then Conrad would take a sip of white wine, or feed cheese to Daisy, my wife’s working dog, who was gradually eviscerating a toy hedgehog. As the jury started deliberating, I had to return to Toronto. “You are all missed here,” read Conrad’s parting e-mail. “I have the hedgehog as a reminder of the cheese-eating Labrador.”
George Jonas, National Post, July 13, 2007.
It is a shame to think that Lord Black could end up confined in one of the United States’ countless lockups. There are any number of wealthy entrepreneurs, but very few with the intellectual luminosity and personality of Lord Black. He is far more than a Tory with an impressive vocabulary. He is an exceptional man, a public intellectual whose political asseverations have rarely failed to stimulate. He is also a serious scholar whose acclaimed 2003 study Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom was hailed by Publishers Weekly as ‘not only the best one-volume life of the 32nd president, but the best at any length.’ And for a non-Canadian, he is also a distinguished Canadian. His Order of Canada citation sums it up well: ‘a man of diverse achievements within the realms of Canadian commerce, education, literature and the arts.’
Globe and Mail, editorial, July 14, 2007. H/t James Laxer.
Is it just? That is, did Conrad Black and his co-defendants get what was due to them?
Justice is a matter of proportion. The Black trial, in its entirety, utterly lacked any sense of proportion. The jurors curbed some of the worst excesses, but it remained in its conclusion what it was at the beginning. I wrote four months ago that I hoped for an acquittal "as a rebuke to the misuse of state power in the criminal justice system." Nothing that happened since convinces me that what transpired is anything other than that.Father Raymond J. DeSouza, National Post, July 14, 2007.
I had far rather live in a country with a Conrad Black than without him, and now that he has been found guilty -- pending appeal -- I confess I will be one of those hoping for a light sentence.
Andrew Coyne, National Post, July 14, 2007.
(July 18) Here's a further bit of kneepaddery, from the Ottawa Citizen's egregious David Warren:
The spectacle of greedy, vindictive shareholders who had their reward, but wanted more, and found a way through the law to seize it, is starkly in contrast with the dignity Black has shown throughout his ordeal.
He has been flamboyant and entertaining; yet he has also written books and articles that show him to be a serious thinker on historical and political themes. He has consistently shown courage and audacity, and to this day, grace under terrible pressure. It should go without saying that he never consciously broke any law, and indeed, he invited in the corporate auditors who ultimately made a meal of him, because he was confident he had broken no laws.And here's a sex-tour of the blogosphere, h/t Stageleft:
Lord Black has been found guilty on 4 0f 13 charges of fraud. I think he has just been convicted of being wealth and privileged. His lawyers should appeal. I don't think the prosecution met their burden. Needless to say I am very unhappy with this verdict.
[W]hatever the man's current travails, it is important that Canadians put his lasting legacy in context. Lord Black delivered to this country a stronger, more vibrant and diverse media market - the National Post being a case a point. With his conviction, the man's critics will have their day. But they should not be permitted to define his place in this country's history.
Fear not. Black can no longer return to Canada and the Liberals will soon be back in power. Then we’ll all be able to wallow happily in our country’s mediocrity once again.
[A]s the jurors begin to speak out it becomes clear, while they may have conscientious, they hardly qualified as a jury of Lord Black’s “peers,” capable of processing the material, discerning what was actually proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and rendering a fair verdict.
And the tour continues:
Conrad Black wasn’t brought to trial for anything he did wrong. He was tried precisely for what he does right. In a time of mediocrity he strives for excellence. In a time of conformity he acts audaciously. In a time of intellectual sloth he demonstrates intellectual rigour. In a time peopled by the feckless and the fey he lives with the bold and brave. In a time of a race to the bottom of the lowest common denominator he reaches for the top. In a time of gray, Black stands out.
In view of the verdict, which is essentially an endorsement of the legality of the Hollinger non-compete agreements coupled with instinctive disapproval of some of Black’s peripheral behaviour, civilized sentiment cannot hope for anything but leniency from the judge.
"'There's no way a blue collar jury in Chicago can let a man who looks like Conrad off every charge,' said one of his friends to me, before the trial began" [Quotation from The Guardian]. Given that the central charges failed, it does make me wonder if he was not in truth convicted of being unapologetic about being rich and being called Lord Black. Perhaps the verdict had as much to do with the jury selection process and where the prosecution chose to hold the trial than whatever Lord Black actually did or did not do.
But read this refreshing counterpoint from Tom Bower, Con Black's biographer.
Black has never dared to expose himself to cross-examination, and too many among Canada’s sychophantic media tolerated that outrage.
As I found when writing his biography, his career as a fraudster goes back to his days at school, where he stole and sold exam papers. Inheriting substantial funds, he originally built his fortune by tricking two widows to sign over control of a $4 billion conglomerate and in 1982 was condemned by a judge in Ohio for lying during a covert takeover bid.
Repeatedly he squandered millions on his lifestyle, resorting to thefts from shareholders to pay his bills.
Black, a Catholic convert, never seems to have been troubled by his conscience. Like many confidence tricksters he appealed to God to confirm his entitlement to shareholders’ money.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Was it simply because the American justice system is not only bigger and tougher, but faster than its Canadian counterpart in laying charges?
James Stribopoulos, a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, thinks that could well explain it.That happens all the time in drug cases, where it's not uncommon for Crown counsel to cede jurisdiction to U.S. authorities – and do so gladly, fully appreciating they are "delivering a bad guy" to face sentences far more severe than a Canadian court would hand down, he said.
It's for that reason Stribopoulos believes prosecuting Black in Chicago not only made little sense, but resulted in "a real injustice."Con Black: the Maher Arar of millionaires. Too bad he gave up his Canadian citizenship--we could have sent down Franco Pillarella.
Friday, July 13, 2007
The anvil chorus of the gnathonic media and their coprophagic gossip columnists (soi-disant "journalists" whose conservative exudates have imbrued the age with their mephitic poison, one that might yet prove fatal to us all)—may just this once be muted, there being little further to be gained from their unguinous ministrations. But I divagate.
The dénouement of this hideous tragicomedy must have come as a manifest shock to the hitherto impregnable twosome. But I can only observe, as Lord Black's risible orotundity finally promises to dissipate into the realm of the crepuscular, that what ventures forth will inevitably make its return. For what seems like an aeon—seems? nay, it is—his abominable peregrinations on the frangible stage that fame and wealth erect have perdured. And now he is brought low, though by no means humbled, I suspect.
Such lives as his are of necessity ignes fatui, playing lambently upon the mere surface of things but leaving no lasting mark. The "lives of the rich and famous" have become the lives of the gaudy and the tawdry: the Lord and his consort are but the Rick Salomon and Paris Hilton of the aristocratic world in which they tried so assiduously to carve their rebarbative niche.
Money, it is said, cannot buy everything. And, in this case, it bought no quality, authenticity or judgment, because such are endowments, not commodities. Instead, a veritable mountain of pelf, now substantially eroded and possibly in danger of disappearing altogether, permitted two of the second or the third rank of humanity to pursue their nugatory ends to an exponentially further extent than is vouchsafed to their mediocre peers. Their lifestyle was an inglorious one, marked by selfish ostentation and splendour coupled with overweening arrogance, or, in a word—vulgarity.
Alas, I cannot find it in my eleemosynary nature to weep a solitary tear for this haut bourgeois pretender and his gewgaw-bearing mate. Indeed, in the full bloom of an unconscionable, if momentary, Schadenfreude, I have caught myself hoping that he becomes some lifer's bitch. Society—and by that I do not mean the empty and pathetic glittering assemblage of costumed cotqueans and princelings whose very existence, we are assured by the barons of the media, must bring joy to the quotidian lives of the hoi polloi—is truly a better place without him. Farewell, then, at least for a time, to this odious and contemptible moral homunculus, who once declared, "I am not prepared to re-enact the French Revolutionary renunciation of the rights of nobility." Skedaddle, Citoyen Black.
Time wasted and time spent
Daytime with used up wit
Time to stand, time to sit
Or wait and see if it
Happens, happy event
For war is eating now.
Waking, shaking off death
Leaving the white sheets
And dull-head who repeats
The dream of his defeats
And drawing colder breath
For war is eating now.
Growing older, going
Where the water runs
Black as death, and guns
Explode the sinking suns,
Blowing like hell, snowing
For war is eating now.
War is a monster: and, in Iraq, the monster--indeed, several of them--prowl the streets of Basra, in both metaphorical and literal form.
Multiple truths. On the one hand, the townsfolk: "I have not seen such an animal before. My husband hurried to shoot it, but it was as swift as a deer. It is the size of a dog, but his head is like a monkey. It runs so quickly." "I saw it three days ago at night attacking animals. It even ate a cow. It tore the cow up piece by piece."
The local residents are convinced that the man-eating monster--a fierce, giant badger--was introduced by British occupation forces. "As we are close to the airport, they probably released this animal into the area." Nor are the waters safe: they have been stocked with snakes. The British Army has had to issue a formal denial on both counts.
The director of Basra's veterinary hospital says the badgers are native to the area, and that to blame their arrival on the British is "incorrect and unscientific." Speculation among "experts" (as they are called in the press) is that the badgers arrived after flooding of former marshland drained by Saddam Hussein to punish the Marsh Arabs in the south. A British Army spokesman, Major David Gell, said that the animals "don't stalk humans and carry them back to their lair."
Meanwhile, in the American zone, we learn that indiscriminate attacks on Iraqi civilians are the order of the day. The horror stories are summed up in this reported comment by one officer: "A lot of guys really supported that whole concept that if they don't speak English and they have darker skin, they're not as human as us, so we can do what we want." And there's more (Warning: for strong stomachs only. H/t Stageleft). The population, needless to say, is--terrorized.
Multiple truths: when the British are blamed for releasing monsters, what is really being alleged? For war itself is monstrous: and it's eating now.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Ottawa City Council has just legally condemned between six and twelve people to death in the next twelve months. Those are the ones who avoid getting AIDS or Hep-C each year because of a free distribution of crack pipes to the addicted--a program now terminated by a vote of 15-7.
The savings? $7,500 a year.
The surprise motion was brought to the Council by Councillor Rick Chiarelli, who claimed that there is "absolutely no evidence" that the program has any effect on the transmittal of these diseases. I have to be blunt here: the man is either lying or pig-ignorant. The evidence, in fact, and there is plenty of it, shows that such programs indeed have the potential to improve public health. On the basis of such evidence, similar initiatives have been implemented in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montréal, Guelph and Halifax.
The Council heard from Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Salisbury, who pointed out that Ottawa is facing "an epidemic" of AIDS and Hep-C. This, he says, will only be furthered by abolishing the program. They didn't listen. They preferred Councillor Chiarelli's knee-jerk expertise. "We spend thousands to arrest [crack users]," he said, "and then spend thousands to supply them with the paraphernalia."
The cost? The hospital bill for even one AIDS patient is $600,000.
Misleadingly, the media have reported that the University of Ottawa study indicated an "increase in crack use," implying that the free pipes were encouraging more people to smoke the drug. I urge readers to peruse the study, linked to above. There was, in fact, an increase in crack use among addicts, who scaled down their use of syringes when free crack pipes became available.
Unlike his predecessor, who made the same ignorant claim as Chiarelli, the new Ottawa police chief, Vern White, is clearly a thoughtful man. He wants the program reviewed, he said, because he didn't want to go with his "gut feelings" on the issue. He must be feeling a little lonely at present, because gut feelings seem to be preferred, at least by a majority of Ottawa City councillors, over the evidence already available.
I do have some sympathy for Sandy Hill residents who are forced to sweep up used crack pipes, not to mention condoms, from their front stoops. Problem is, this isn't going to change much by abolishing public health measures. They'll simply be sweeping up more syringes and fewer pipes.
The truth is that the Council decision isn't about public health, and it isn't about money. It's about punishment. Addicts are scum, they frighten off tourists, and we should just let 'em die. It's a position quite in keeping with Mayor Larry's recent infamous "don't feed the pigeons" remark. Welcome to the wonderful world of municipal sado-politics.
UPDATE (July 15): Kudos to the Ottawa Citizen's Kelly Egan for this broadside on the governance style of Mayor Larry.
In the letters columns and on the radio, partisans are heard on each side: "People need to sit! Standers are rude!" and "People like to stand and get into the music! These lawnchair folks are inconsiderate!"
Today the Bluesfest organizers announced that they were abandoning their solution, which had been to set aside a specific area for the lawnchairists. It appears that radical factions of lawnchairists were setting up their emplacements elsewhere in the crowd. Some brought space-occupying lawnchairs and then stood anyway. Meanwhile, militant standists were invading the designated territory of the lawnchairists. The organizers said that they simply didn't have the resources to send in a peacekeeping force. They would prefer that people just enjoy the music and behave with courtesy and respect--the "can't we all get along" approach.
In the meantime, we bloggers continue to offer our wisdom and analyses anent the Middle East, Afghanistan and so on, timorously avoiding more complex conflicts right here in our own backyard.
The RCMP and the Sûreté du Québec have joined with the US military to prevent a threatened outbreak of free speech [and assembly --ed.] that, according to the organizers, "would have included writers, academics and parliamentarians."
The event, a conference on the so-called "Security and Prosperity Partnership," was to take place on August 19, a day before leaders from Mexico, the US and Canada meet in closed session in Montebello, six kilometres away, to plan further economic and regulatory integration of the North American continent. Papineauville's town manager informed the organizers, however, that the Quebec police had warned him that "[The Council of Canadians] is an activist organization opposed to the summit and that it would not be wise to have us set up in the community centre."
The spin now being placed on this move is that there was never any plan to shut down the activists--the armed forces simply needed their meeting location. The US Army and the police will be using the community centre as a security base of operations. Just one of those unfortunate coincidences.
Meanwhile there is persistent talk of a 25 kilometre security perimeter around Montebello, likely with automatic weapons, air patrols and all mod cons. Our complaisant media managed to track down Barry Cooper, a member of the so-called "Calgary School" of right-wing academics, to get a supportive comment. They have been silent so far on the squelching of the conference, but will no doubt soon offer their editorial assistance to the people with the guns. The War Against Terror continues.
Friday, July 06, 2007
To the people who reject this article: have you considered joining the Liberal Party of Canada? Because you are not conservative, nor libertarian. You are a left wing socialist, probably a careerist too. So embrace your true socialist politically correct careerist nature, stop trying to fool yourself and others and proudly display your Trudeaupian colours. In the long run, everyone will be better off.
In fairness, a couple of rock-ribbed conservatives over there are unimpressed by the article in question, entitled "Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature," but show no signs of embracing their inner Trudeau.
Anyway, folks, to the article itself. It's all about sex--and an immutable "human nature" that can be deduced from just about anything. And we're not talking, here, about falsifiable hypotheses--that's for the timid. What we have here are Truths. Note, bye the bye, that there are ten of them.
Let me declare my own position first. I don't like sociobiology, the genre in which the authors have chosen to write. It's reductionist, it makes enormous leaps to fit observed data to the theory, and it lends itself to fascism and racism. But I will deal as best I might with the Truths on their own merits, which I believe to be slight. Discussion is welcome.
Truth One: Men like blond bombshells (and women want to look like them).
One can only imagine the futile hunt for the woman of one's dreams in Africa or Asia. The vast majority of the human race is--out of the race. (This reminds me of Louis MacNeice on astrology: he asserted that Scorpios are blond. Imagine: no births between October 24 and November 22 in most of the world. Why has this never been reported?)
The authors segue--no, they don't, they veer wildly--from blondness to general concern about body image in Iran, and then back. Men like younger women because the latter can procreate. Blond hair is equated to youthfulness and long blond hair to health. And the firm big breasts that all men supposedly adore are an indicator of youth and fertility: they sag more as women age than do small breasts, so men know to steer clear. Gray hair and wrinkles, it seems, won't do the trick.
As for blue eyes, the authors allege that "preference for [them] seems both universal and undeniable—in males as well as females." They suggest that this is because of pupil dilation, which happens when people see something they like. Allegedly this is more easily seen in blue-eyed folks: we like blue eyes because it's easier to tell when someone is sexually interested in us. Once again, the poor Africans and Asians must settle for guesswork.
Truth Two: Humans are naturally polygamous. (Read "males" here, the unmarked gender.) We know men like to fool around, and it's because they're bigger than women. And we know this because that's the way things work in the animal kingdom. Women put up with it because they'd rather have a piece of a powerful and successful man than the whole of a second-rate one. Powerful and successful women, we are told, do not organize male harems for themselves: but no doubt this is due to their hard-wired inferiority. "Hoggamus, higgamus, men are polygamous, Higgamus hoggamus, women monogamous."
And yet, almost in the same breath, the authors assert that monogamy is a result of men being generally equal in their resources [!] in an industrialized society. Accepting, for a moment, this specious claim, we must now find that somehow "human nature" managed to give rise to a social formation that is antithetical to it. The authors fail to draw the obvious conclusion about the validity of their sociobiology. (Puritanical Frederick Engels thought that monogamy was the highest stage of man-woman conduct, although in bourgeois society it is invariably "supplemented by adultery and prostitution." In his view, when capitalism is abolished both men and women will be happier with monogamy, because "sexual love is by its nature exclusive." Ah, a reference to a different but equally immutable nature, where one might least expect to find it.)
Truth Three: Most women benefit from polygyny [one man, several women], while most men benefit from monogamy. At this point, the authors' boat is coming unmoored. Their assumption all along has been that some men, and men alone, have wealth and power (never mind the contradictory "equal resources" claim that the authors introduce briefly to explain away the rise of monogamy): women, therefore, have a shot at getting a chunk of a wealthy and powerful man, and passing his superior genes onto the children, because the man isn't monogamous. But for men in general, this won't work, because the less-well-endowed will end up with no wives. Monogamy ensures that most men will get themselves a woman. So much for an evolutionary reproductive strategy that supposedly favours the fittest.
In any case, all this ignores the possibility that a desirable woman, with independence, wealth and power of her own, might indeed choose to keep stables of young men, each of whom is pleased enough to get his share of her attentions (or, conversely, she might opt for mutual monogamy, and have the clout to enforce it). Polyandry, the authors state, is "rare," but it is by no means unheard of. Obviously in such cases, Truth Three must be reversed.
Truth Four: Most suicide bombers are Muslim. Right you are. And, during the Second World War, most suicide bombers were Japanese. The authors claim that most of the Muslim suicide bombers are single, competing in a marriage sweepstakes made far more difficult by the prevalence of polygyny in Muslim societies. The authors concede that blowing themselves up renders them unmarriageable, and that other more polygynous societies don't have suicide bombers, but they get around this difficulty by referencing the "72 virgins" (who may turn out to be, in fact, white or chilled raisins--or worse) that martyrs are allegedly promised upon their ascent into Paradise.
Now, it is true that suicide can be an option for young people with bleak prospects on the marriage front. Jared Diamond, in his recent book Collapse, raises the case of Tikopia, a small and successful South Pacific society, in which suicide appears to be a de facto means of population control, practised by young women as well as young men. It is not surprising, but commonsensical, that suicide is more likely to be performed in any case by single rather than married individuals. But it simply strains credulity that young Muslim men are blowing themselves up to get laid--particularly when the 72 virgins, as it turns out, are promised to every Muslim man anyway:
"The Prophet Muhammad was heard saying: 'The smallest reward for the people of paradise is an abode where there are 80,000 servants and 72 wives, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine, and ruby, as wide as the distance from Al-Jabiyyah [a Damascus suburb] to Sana'a [Yemen]'." --Hadith 2562, Sunan al-Tirmidhi.
Truth Five: Having sons reduces the likelihood of divorce. This one is a gimme--sort of. I don't necessarily quarrel with the observation (although I would like to see a little cross-cultural data), only with the construction placed upon it. The authors make the essentially trivial point that in a patriarchal society, sons are more valued, and that fathers are more likely to stay in a marriage to ensure that the son(s) will inherit their wealth. But the implication is that only fathers divorce, that only fathers have the wealth to bestow (these days matrimonial property legislation in numerous jurisdictions confer an equal right to that wealth upon the wife), and that only mothers retain custody of the sons. Moreover, once the son leaves the ménage and the wills are drawn up, what prevents an unhappy couple from splitting up? Some further investigation of the finding, it seems to me, is necessary.*
Truth Six: Beautiful people have more daughters. The authors begin with the Trivers-Willard hypothesis, somewhat misstated. Trivers and Willard (Science, v.179  90-92) argued that the physical condition a mammalian mother is in affects the sex ratio of her young. If she is in good condition, she'll produce more male offspring, because a healthy male can sire more offspring than a female can birth them. If she's in poor condition, she'll produce offspring in poor condition: and she'll have more daughters, because a female offspring in poor condition will out-reproduce a male offspring in poor condition.
One can quarrel with the explanation for these observations, and the biological mystery persists as to how sex-selection of this kind is achieved. Trivers and Willard go on to claim that their model, developed through the study of animal populations, applies to humans, differentiated on a socioeconomic scale. Presumably, women higher on that scale are in better physical shape than those beneath.
But the hypothesis has become generalized in the hands of others. Any parental trait good for the reproductive success of sons, the Truth authors claim, will lead to more male offspring, while a trait good for the reproductive success of daughters will lead to more female offspring. Physical attractiveness contributes to women's reproductive success more than men's: hence, physically attractive parents will tend to have daughters. "Americans who are rated 'very attractive' have a 56 percent chance of having a daughter for their first child," the authors state, "compared with 48 percent for everyone else."
Once again, leaving aside the matter of who rates couples as "very attractive," and the relation between the sex of the first-born and the total numbers of daughters vs. sons born to these couples, there remains a fundamental problem. Why would physical attractiveness win out over, say, intelligence, aggression, creativity or other traits that might, in the patriarchal universe of the authors, be more of an advantage for boys? Are the "beautiful people" devoid of any of these other positive traits whatsoever? If not, how are they weighed in the scales of reproductive success?
Truth Seven: What Bill Gates and Paul McCartney have in common with criminals. Both crime and genius, the authors assert, are aspects of youthful competition (male, of course), as the ancestral struggle for reproductive success is played out. Once children are born, the emphasis shifts to protection, stability and so on. The costs of competition at that stage outweigh the advantages.
Again, however, there is a serious problem. Some brilliant creative achievements--in physics, for example, or mathematics--are certainly the province of the young. But, contrary to what the authors claim (citing J.D. Salinger as their only example), this is not necessarily the case for writers, or visual artists. Michelangelo is a solid counter-example in the arts; and I would challenge the authors to find a single long-lived major poet (other than William Wordsworth) whose work declined in quality over time.
The sheer complexity of genius and its variable trajectory is set out by D.K. Simonton in his article "Emergence and Realization of Genius: The Lives and Works of 120 Classical Composers" (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, v.61, no.5 [November, 1991] pp.829-840. Here is what he says at the outset:
Anyone familiar with the lives of the notable contributors to a given discipline probably has been impressed with the tremendous variation that can be observed in the course of their respective careers. Some are child prodigies, and others late bloomers; some peak early and others late; some seem over the hill at a disreputably youthful age, whereas others seem to save their magnum opus for the swan song of their life and career…
The authors' claim is simply preposterous, not remotely borne out by the facts, and indicates the lengths to which they are prepared to go to select data to defend a theory.
Truth Eight: The mid-life crisis is a myth--sort of. The authors state that a man goes through a mid-life crisis only when his wife does, running out to buy a red sports car or whatever because he is trying to attract younger women to further his reproductive destiny. This Truth, of course, flatly contradicts Truth Seven. Or do we see sudden new peaks in creativity and productivity when a scientist or artist's wife goes into menopause?
Truth Nine: It's natural for politicians to risk everything for an affair--but only if they're male. It's natural, in fact, for any high achiever, male or female, to take risks, sexual or otherwise. One counter-example to the "only if they're male" claim? Catherine the Great. Another? Our own Belinda Stronach.
Truth Ten: Men sexually harass women because they're not sexist. Here we enter the realm of the utterly surreal. A psychologist is cited who claims that men in a workplace (which he calls a "competitive situation," although that hardly describes the average workplace) are abusive and intimidating towards each other. Women are just being treated in the same fashion. No discrimination there. As for the boss who demands sexual favours from his subordinates, he's just engaging in a male mating strategy....
Enough, already. Junk science, like junk food, can make you queasy if you eat too much of it. And that's the truth.
*[UPDATE] In fact one of the brighter commenters over at SDA has tracked down two recent studies that challenge this Truth. The first indicates that, at least for whites, having sons actually increases the likelihood of divorce; the other, a large cross-national one published in 2004, finds nothing to bear out the hypothesis that sons provide marital stability.
So the investigation has been done, and some self-criticism on my part becomes necessary. A rash assumption of my own--that the alleged finding could be explained by patriarchy--permitted me to believe that the authors got something right. In other words, I fell, heavily, into the same trap as they did, letting theory determine investigation. Mea maxima culpa, and I hope I have learned something from this.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
A big h/t to Stageleft. Keith Olbermann's masterful speech (not, in my view, a "rant" at all, not that I have anything against a good rant) is something I hope might appear in a movie fifty years hence about the struggle for America's soul--word for word, all ten+ minutes of it. It would be a challenging role. This is pure, genuine, hurt outrage from an obviously patriotic American steeped in the narrative of his country, reacting viscerally and yet in measured fashion to the latest sleazy move by the morally bankrupt Bush administration. The echoes of Emile Zola are a little self-conscious, but amply justified: from Olbermann we hear, once again, a piercing cry for justice.
Ma protestation enflammée n'est que le cri de mon âme, Zola said, concluding his 4,000-word indictment of the corrupt and venal system that convicted and imprisoned the innocent Captain Alfred Dreyfus. And Olbermann's spirit cries out with like passion when another corrupt and venal system permits a guilty man--a disgrace to the public office he held--to walk free because his President has set both himself and his willing stooge above the law.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
During an as-yet-incomplete coroner's inquest, however, it turned out that Constable Koester was (allegedly, once again) face-down on a couch with Mr. Bush on top of him, choking him from behind.
Now, please try to visualize what followed, as Constable Koester on the advice of his lawyers forebore to show how the ensuing feat was supposedly accomplished, and the presiding coroner, Shane DeMeyer, refused to allow a re-enactment by volunteers. Maybe he was just concerned for their safety. The constable testified that he reached his gun, extracted it from its holster, then reached behind Mr. Bush and shot him in the back of the head. Please do not try this at home.
But this tale, a bit of a stretch (pun intended), may reach its elastic limit shortly. As reported in today's Globe and Mail by columnist Gary Mason, who has been closely following the story from the beginning, a world-renowned expert on crime scene reconstruction will take the stand later this week. A 20-year veteran of the Edmonton police service, Constable Joe Slemko is testifying on behalf of the Bush family, and doing so pro bono. In an email to the Bush family lawyer he said that the RCMP review of the case made him "physically ill." He has stated bluntly that the alleged shooting scenario is "physically impossible."
He has his work cut out for him. The coroner will not let him testify about the crime scene reconstruction that he carried out with his students, despite his world-class credentials, ruling that Constable Slemko is not an expert in "kinetics," or human body movement. As Mason rightly points out, this simply makes no sense. One hesitates to attribute motives, particularly in an on-going case, but this ruling, combined with the earlier one, is making it unnecessarily difficult for the truth of the matter to be uncovered.
One hopes that the coroner's jury in the safety of their deliberation room might attempt to perform a re-enactment on their own. If so, I hope they do so with all due caution--and a paramedic team standing by.
Meanwhile, the horsemen return to business as usual. h/t Shmohawk.
UPDATE (July 5):
Video of how the RCMP helps Native kids celebrate a soccer victory here, h/t Erik Abbink.
Monday, July 02, 2007
I love the smell of barbecued racists in the morning. Don't you?
But it's impossible, it seems, to do more than superficial damage. Excoriation is only skin-deep, after all, and appears to heal quickly. So today's lesson, from a certain Relapsed Catholic, is that the holocaust never happened. I hasten to add that we are talking about Australian aborigines here.
Indeed, their very lack of qualifications is trumpeted as a virtue: those who possess them are automatically disqualified. The latter close ranks against the courageous iconoclast; they constitute a "closed orthodoxy." There's the usual leftist plot at work, of course, in this case inventing genocide for political reasons. There simply was no genocide. It was all diseases and bad habits that killed large numbers of the original inhabitants of Australia. There is nothing to apologize for. (Sounds like a classic closed delusional system to me, but I'm no psychologist. On the other hand, maybe that makes me an authority.)
It cannot be a coincidence that the RC article, and the one that it references, come to us immediately after Prime Minister John Howard's decision to place Aborigine communities under siege. And, coming hard on the heels of a disgraceful post a few days ago and flailing, defensive articles since, the Windschuttle piece can only confirm for us what most people should have realized once RC started regularly referencing VDARE regular Steve Sailer: racism is alive and well on at least one high-traffic conservative blogsite, and it isn't going away anytime soon.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
In case people missed it (and I did), here is Rasky's moving exodus from the blogosphere piece. I, for one, hope he's back real soon.
We don’t have a constitutionally-mandated separation of Church and State in Canada. Good thing, too.
I’ve always thought that the neat compartmentalizing of the two in the United States created a monster. Wherever a border is established, you can always find people willing to fight over it. And while they are busy sweating the small stuff—a crèche in a public park, the Ten Commandments in a courthouse—the secular arm is launching yet another crusade against the infidels, or defending Israel until the Third Temple is built, or quoting Christ in one of his infrequent bad moods (“If you aren’t with us, you’re against us”).
Just as the few piercing insights of Christ and other visionaries became encrusted, silted and sedimented with Law, and ultimately fossilized—the letter killeth, indeed—so too did the legal separation of Church and State. There is more jurisprudence swamping this thing than you can shake a rod or a staff at. State puppets of the “Christian Right” vs. the ACLU. Round…well, who’s counting. The Hundred Years War has nothing on these guys. In one form or another, this bare-knuckle epic is nearly two hundred and twenty years old, and still going strong.
I prefer the Canadian way.
We did have a brush with theocracy once upon a time, in the province of Quebec under the heavy, clerical-fascist hand of Maurice Duplessis. In its heyday, his regime padlocked houses thought to contain “Reds,” took away the livelihoods of Jehovah’s Witnesses, censored books and busted unions--and the Church was pulling most if not all of the strings. A deputy in the legislature, reacting defensively to a critic, stated that “Cardinal Villeneuve doesn’t run our government” – at which another deputy rose to demand that this “insult” be retracted forthwith. But Quebec today is (with a few unfortunate backward glances towards the visceral anti-Semitism of the Duplessis period) a highly secular, sophisticated, educated, worldly society. They threw off those chains in the ‘sixties, and everyone is better for it.
Well, not so fast. Wasn’t there that whole Morgentaler thing in the ‘seventies? Henry Morgentaler was a Jewish doctor who performed abortions when they were still illegal. Some of the Church folks must have literally seen horns sprout from his head. The secular arm went after him, with the blessing of a federal Cabinet minister (Otto Lang, a devout Catholic), and he was jailed, abused—and acquitted, again and again and again. Events moved on, a new Quebec government declined to continue the fruitless persecution, the abortion law was overturned, and that was that.
But see the difference? We got all that stuff fixed without constitutional separations and so on. Canadians don’t like being bossed around, and when the Church tries to do it, it gets smitten with a mighty smite. Just look at all the bad press Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary got when he condemned Jean Chrétien (that’s John Christian to our American friends) to eternal hellfire and damnation. He was made to look quaint and foolish. I almost felt sorry for him. Ditto the benighted soul who put together a “Creation Science Museum” in Big Valley. He and Henry ought to be in a museum of their own. Take the kids.
Naw, this sort of thing won't fly. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a doughty group trying to fan the bumblebee’s wings. We’ve got Gwen Landolt, fighting the unwinnable fight, and going down for the count so regularly that a doctor ought to step in. Abortion? BAM! Same-sex marriage? KA-POW! Gay-bashing as a hate crime? CRUNCH! Even our (hopefully temporary) fling with conservative extremism in the person of Stephen Harper hasn’t led to any reverses on the secular front, and, despite well-meaning expressions of concern in progressive ranks, it ain’t gonna. Landolt is now espousing bizarre conspiracy theories that have probably led to a temporary shortage of aluminum foil in nearby supermarkets. Bishop Henry is undoubtedly still hopping up and down on one foot, goaded into near-madness by Revenue Canada’s suggestion a while back that he tone down his partisan politics or risk losing his tax-exempt charitable status. We don't burn our martyrs--we tax 'em.
That’s how things are done up here in the Great White North. Forget legal separation—as everyone who’s been through one of those things knows, it’s just a marriage in disguise. Church and State are two utterly different things in Canada, never had much of a relationship in the first place, and won’t be getting together anytime soon. We simply won’t have it. Vox populi, vox dei, baby.
The preceding was a Blog Against Theocracy.