Friday, June 29, 2007

Malfunctionning Eddie

I decided while I was at work, earlier, that I should put down a short list of authors who must be read, for a variety of reasons. So here it is:

1. Hunter S. Thompson: The last true outlaw of our time, Hunter S. Thompson lived what he wrote and he wrote well. He was an intelligent, stubborn man with a political, philosophical and moral conscience which can be described as pragmatic, though the word hardly does him justice. There are many authors of political books who offer solutions and suggestions, but Hunter acted on his convictions.

2. Kurt Vonnegut: One of the authors who redefined american literature, he approached every detail of his prose with a unique vision; his characters were equals, his ideas bound up with questions of morality and his style of writing was absolutely singular.

3. Ken MacLeod: His ideas and take on science-fiction are fresh and, sometimes, terrifying. His novels paint rich portraits of the world to come and give us a heads-up about the things we're doing wrong. His understanding of geopolitics is second to none and, as has been said by others before me, he's a brilliant writer of place. Vivid landscapes populate his books and have given me the desire to see Scotland for myself.

4. Friedrich Nietzsche: While his work is usually difficult to read (go with a recent translation, you'll thank yourself for it) almost everything he'd written which was not about how great he was (he had a bit of an ego) was philosophically important.

5. Plato: The man who many refer to as "the greatest philosopher who ever lived" is worth reading both for the many things he was right about and for the much more massive body of things he was wrong about.

That there is a start, there are many more, and some will appear before the end of july, but I believe that I could call that a start.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Deo Vindice

I'm pretty certain that there's a statute of limitations on the number of times one man can be the target of an entire faith's collective ire. At least, I believe there should be.

Allow me to clarify, if I may.

Salman Rushdie, a prodigious author, well respected by his peers and by most of those who've bothered to read his work, is being honoured by the British Monarchy for his impressive accomplishments in the field of literature. In essence, they're giving him the right to sign his cheques under the name of Sir Salman Rushdie which, in and of itself is meaningless but does, in my experience, make people stop and go 'hmm...'

Now Mr. Rushdie is known for his impressive literary talent, certainly, however, he is most well known for the Fatwa that Khomeini issued for his death after his 1988 Novel, the Satanic Verses, sparked a massive outrage in those muslim countries which grace our television sets ever so often these days (and they are such lovely places, aren't they?). Millions of muslims, outraged because their Imams & Mullahs told them to be (a Novel loosely based around one of the books of the Qu'ran is an affront to Islam, don'tchaknow) seethed and shouted and basically made asses out of themselves because of one man's critically acclaimed work of fiction (in one of the lovely paradoxes which holds that there is no such thing as bad advertising, the Fatwa sent sales of Mr. Rushdie's novel through the fucking roof).

Eventually the outrage & uproar & the danger to Mr. Rushdie's life abated and the fundamentalist Muslims of the middle east got uppity about something else for a while. Until now.

Because their former target is being honoured for his "insult to Islam," he and Great Britain have been threatened with suicide bombings. The entire fundamentalist muslim world is in an uproar over a book they haven't read (it is banned in some of these countries) because their Imams told them to be and it all has to do with a three letter word that conveys no power or money but is simply intended as an acknowledgement of accomplishment, which even the most fervent opponent to the Satanic Verses must surely, albeit grudgingly admit is represented within Mr. Rushdie's body of work.

The world we live in is thoroughly fucked.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


You are walking down a busy street. Tall, new buildings made of concrete and glass rise high above your head; squat, old buildings made of stone rise only a fraction of that height. Trees sprout from even, square cuts in the sidewalk every dozen metres.

You enter a public square; it is a delta where two important, commercial streets intersect. In the center of the delta is a statue, barely fifty years old and its subject already forgotten. Between the buildings, two black pigeons swoop in above the crowd; another pigeon nervously hops out of the way as your stride brings your foot dangerously close to its hindquarters.

Hundreds of people move about freely around you, disregarding signalization and crossing the streets where they please, checking onle briefly for oncoming traffic before doing so. There are dozens of cars darting about on the street, avoiding a lone skateboarder who gestures defiantly at anyone who dares honk at his obtrusive activity. No one in this city drives if they can avoid it; public transit is an oasis of order in the chaotic anarchy of the city's aging road network.

The sun warms your skin and a cool breeze whips your summer shirt to one side, stretching it accross your flank. You smile; there isn't a cloud up in the sky, the people who surround you are beautiful, happy, and moving with purpose but without haste.

This is a beautiful, if eccentric city and you cannot help but smile at the though of just being here. It doesn't matter that this is just another summer day, for some reason it feels like your presence here is somehow important.

It may sound like a stange thing to post on a blog, but I wanted people to get just a small idea of how I felt, today, on my brief forray into Montreal.

There's a reason I love this city.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Torment & Torture

The Anaheim Ducks have won the Stanley Cup.

Let me run that by you kind folks the right way, to put it in the proper perspective.

The Anaheim Mighty Ducks have won the Stanley Cup. The team that Disney built has won Lord Stanley's Championship Cup, holiest and most storied chalice in all of professional sports and - in history - second only to the Sangraal.

As a Canadian, as a hockey fan and as a Montrealer, I cannot help but be disgusted by that fact and the only possible consolation is the fact that the majority of players on the Anaheim team were Canadians.

Another point of comfort is that the men who are accused of torturing four Afghan insurgents, captured by Canadian forces are not Canadians. It is a sad state of affairs when every other month another one of these allegations arises and it says at least two things.

Firstly, our men in the field need to be taught the Geneva Conventions - they need to learn them by heart and they need to live and work by them. This is the only way to ensure that our men act ethically and appropriately in the field and the best way to provide oversight without having to hire special overseers for the operational theatre and its prisons. If enough of them feel they are ethically bound to certain behaviours, then maybe, just maybe we'll see more people blowing the whistle on these offenders and be able to better intervene to stop their offenses.

Secondly, as mentionned in some publications, the fact that the Taliban, Al-Quaeda and other insurgent groups are instructing their people to claim torture when captured speaks to our sensitivity to the subject of torture. We mustn't forget that this is indeed a war. These activities cannot be condoned, not only because we've agreed, via the Geneva Conventions that they are unacceptable, but because they've been proven to yeild only the answers the victims believe the interrogators want and any information extracted through torture is therefore useless, however, we must be conscious that in some cases this will happen and establish a process to try, prosecute and punish the offenders, that justice may be served. The enemy knows we are democracies and they know that to damage our opinion of the war at home that they can damage the effectiveness of our fighting forces overseas; in the world of computers this is called a bug exploit, and we would do well to patch this one.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Ineffectual Bureaucracy

What will it take to keep Disney's abominable legacy off of Lord Stanley's Silver? Seems like it'll take a miracle, at this point. The Ottawa Senators keep putting up one disappointing performance after another; last night they had a chance to even things out with Pronger out on suspension and Emery in top form. They blew that chance.

They lost 3 to 2 in what was arguably their last chance to get back into this. Now they go back to Anaheim where they must win if they are to come out of this alive. In fact there is no more losing if they are to take this cup home.

So it might aswell be over now.

I'm gonna start talking politics again as soon as a) there's something genuinely interesting in the political scene to talk about and b) the Stanley Cup Final is over.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Any Questions?

It has come to my attention that Spider-Man is absolutely useless outside of a metropolis, where he is confined to walking and spinning webs between trees much shorter than what is standard fare, for him.

That is all.