Friday, March 31, 2006

Quote of the (Fri)day

The Junos are in town. Attended part of the free concert last night, but couldn't turn down a free $40 ticket to "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" at the Neptune I happened to walk into on the way home for supper... A marvelous play, if not a wholly convincing performance throughout. (Too much time last year in London's West End has made me something of a critic, I guess). I particularly loved George's scathing lines to Nick near the end of Act 2:

"You take the trouble to construct a civilization . . . to . . . to build a society based on the principles of. . . of principle . . . you endeavour to make communicable sense out of natural order, morality out of the unnatural disorder of man's mind . . . you make government and art, and realize that they are, must be the same . . . you bring things to the saddest of all points . . . to the point where there is something to lose . . . then all at once, through all the music, through all the sensible sounds of men building, attempting, comes the Dies Irae. And what is it? What does the trumpet sound? Up yours.

I suppose there’s justice to it, after all the years . . . Up yours."

Is that, as the blogger asks, all there is, my friend?

Arrived at work today to discover an extra Juno ticket to a welcome reception honoring Bruce Cockburn with a humanitarian award, with Sloan and Ron Sexsmith also playing. Sure to mix well with the rum and coke. And then there's the NCAAs tomorrow night... I do wonder what will happen with those 11th seeded George Mason upstarts.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

It Gives You Wings...

...AND a false sense of sobriety?? Red Bull is just that good. Oh, for those Tiger Tiger pitchers.

Seriously though, do researchers really need to perform experiments to confirm this type of hypothesis:

Souza-Formigoni and her colleagues found that volunteers in both groups felt they had better motor coordination when drinking alcohol mixed with the energy drink than when they consumed alcohol alone.

Straw Men

In light of Warren Kinsella's apparent misinterpretation of Michael Ignatieff's poor and indecisive but otherwise harmless essay on torture, I thought I'd demonstrate what taking things a little out of context can do. For example, Kinsella's recent comments on Iraq (March 23) offer a sunny outlook on Americans' thoughts on the war, that is if you read them the right way. Take a good look, you'll be reading them enough during the next election campaign.

'puny crowds gathered in cities around the globe to protest it'

'...Wartime boosterism is conspicuous'

'the victim of brutality at Abu Ghraib prison - the one seen in the infamous photograph, standing on a box, hooded and electrical wires dangling from his arms - merits front-page coverage'

'Further north, on Sunday morning in Atlanta, the Journal-Constitution fills page after page with exemplary stories about Iraq'
And, finally, the epitaph:

'There will be more stories to be written, up and down the Interstate'
That much, it seems, is true.

If you're too lazy to read the Ignatieff and Kinsella pieces, which really would be the only reason to take things this far out of context, let me give you a taste.

Leaving my feelings about Ignatieff out of this (put it to you this way, I won't be voting in any Liberal leadership race anytime soon, and I most CERTAINLY did not go to Harvard), allow me to define 'out of context': copying and pasting sentences and leaving out key words, which is what Kinsella has recklessly done. Is it a waffle? Almost certainly, but hey, we're talking about a Liberal leadership candidate here. Is it a death knell for Ignatieff's candidacy? Only if taken ridiculously out of context. To wit:
Kinsella quoting Ignatieff: "�torture is not served by collapsing the distinction between coercive interrogation and torture. Both may be repugnant, but repugnance does not make them into the same thing."

Ignatieff's essay: "Clear thinking about torture is not served by collapsing the distinction between coercive interrogation and torture. Both may be repugnant, but repugnance does not make them into the same thing. If coercion and torture are on a moral continuum, at what point on the continuum, to use Posner's words, does queasiness turn to revulsion?"
The difference: The big debate, as Ignatieff points out, is, can torture actually be defined, and if it can't, how do we deal with this as a society? I'd like to see Kinsella's indisputable definition of torture.

Another gem:
Kinsella quoting Ignatieff: "�necessity may require the commission of bad acts�"

Ignatieff: 'necessity may require the commission of bad acts, which necessity, nevertheless, cannot absolve of their morally problematic character'
Pretty clearly couched.

"An outright ban on torture and coercive interrogation leave a conscientious security officer with little choice but to disobey the ban."

Quote taken directly, but this is at the heart of the problem: if millions of lives can be saved through the torture of one man, would applying torture be wrong? And if such an action were punishable by law, should it be as punishable as torture in the absence of such a benefit to society? Ignatieff seems to think there should be at least some judicial punishment, and fair enough, but it should be up to the courts to decide.

The kicker:
Kinsella quoting Ignatieff: "I am willing to get my hands dirty."

Ignatieff: "I am willing to get my hands dirty, but unlike her, I have practical difficulty enumerating a list of coercive techniques that I would be willing to have a democratic society inflict in my name. I accept, for example, that a slap is not the same thing as a beating, but I still don't want interrogators to slap detainees because I cannot see how to prevent the occasional slap deteriorating into a regular practice of beating."
In other words, in a perfect world, the definition and practice of torture is easily delineated. In the real world, however, this is clearly not the case. Hence the (rather valid) debate over the limits of torture.

Sorry to see the usually excellent Kinsella fall down on this one. I would have thought Ignatieff was enough of a straw man that a replica would not have to be constructed out of his rubbish essay and summarily destroyed.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Kinsella on Ignatieff

Kinsella links to an essay by Michael Ignatieff in the latest edition of Prospect Magazine, claiming that it contains the "corpse" of his "vaulting ambition".

In a word, I don't think so. Given the hyperbole behind Kinsella's claims ("not very often that one gets to witness a "leadership frontrunner" immolate his own candidacy so blithely, so recklessly"), I expected at least to find something controversial on the moral acceptability of torture. Hardly. In fact, the inneundo of Kinsella's post (March 27th) completly mischaracterizes Ignatieff's clearly set out position.

But don't take my word for it - go read 'em for yourself. I responded to Warren directly because - hey - he called for responses arguing where he went wrong. He got back to me immediately and will probably post it. Also, just because the blogosphere is so crazily immediate (who caught Atrios on the West Wing last night?), I forwarded the link to Andrew Sullivan who has been on the torture debate from the beginning. Even money says Sullivan posts his own thoughts within a few days.

None of this is to say that Ignatieff doesn't have plenty of hurdles to overcome in this race, of course. It just strikes me that the issue of torture is as important as it is complicated these days. We are much better served by a sophisticated discussion that engages the nuance beyond the "Torture is Bad" v. "Torture is Necessary" absolutionist positions.

UPDATE - Kinsella posted a few reactions... Here's the gist of what I sent, for what it's worth:

"You certainly have every right to say whatever you want about anyone and everything. But today's comments regarding Ignatieff on torture are simply bizarre.

I fully anticipated, from your post-mortem on his ambitions, to read an essay justifying some forms of torture. Yet the epitaph of the article isconclusively not "I am willing to get my hands dirty", but rather that "We cannot torture, in other words, because of who we are."

His argument is simply that as citizens we should notremain blind to the consequences of banning torture, or the unpopularity of such a stance.

It is hard to miss this point. Three quarters of the way through, he says the following: "So I end up supporting an absolute and unconditional ban on both torture and those forms of coercive interrogation that involve stress and duress, and I believe that enforcement of such a ban should be up to the military justice system plus the federal courts."

How much clearer do you want him to get?

You claim that you should not be criticized for takinghis words out of context, because they are - and I loved this - "his words". That's a simpleton's answer, not a lawyer's. You have completely mischaracterized his position, and done so with an almost gleeful intent. Surely as a political commentator you have a responsibility to do better."

"Defeat Concentrates the Mind"

OH - How damn refreshing it is to hear this from a senior member of the Liberal party:

The man the Liberals have assigned to assemble their blueprint for party renewal says the defeated government's national daycare program was "a deathbed repentance," the gun registry was "an administrative disaster" and the response to the sponsorship scandal was "bizarre."

The blunt-talking Tom Axworthy, a former aide to Pierre Trudeau who teaches at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., also says the former government's Kyoto policy was not only difficult to understand, "it wasn't real anyway."

"On file after file, we haven't had bad ideas, but the implementation process has been abysmal," he [Tom Axworhty] said in an interview with CanWest News Service. "A press release is not a policy."

Absolutely right. That's been the complaints and concerns here pretty much since Ahab began. Regardless of how Harper's tenure as Prime Minister turns out, the turfing of the Liberals from the PMO in 2006 will prove exceedingly beneficial not only for the Liberal party, but for Canadian democracy as a whole.

Frankly, I am shocked and pleasantly surprised at the speed with which elements of the natural governing party is admitting the deficiencies and errors of Paul Martin's time at the head of the government. The magnitude of the paradigm shift in conventional wisdom circles - commentators who claimed Stephen Harper could never win now claiming just as certainly that he is sure to be around as PM for a minimum of 6 years, for example - is surely contributing to it.

How many, as recently as December 1, 2005, would have predicted that the subsequent events of a few months would bring us so completely to this point? And, more ridiculous, all because about 6.6% of those who turned out to vote (about 975,000 Canadians) were convinced to change their mind over the course of 18 months!? Amazing how the cumbersome mechanism that is our modern electoral democracy manages to get it about right. Against all the odds.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Dryden as Frontrunner?

The unconventional nature of this Liberal leadership race makes handicapping it exceedingly difficult. Cherniak has recently vented about the media's coverage of the contenders, rightfully pointing out the inexplicable omission of one of his preferred candidates - Ken Dryden. This is all the more glaring because, as Adam Radwanksi points out in his recap of the King Edward event:
The more I look at all these guys, the more I have a sneaking suspicion Ken Dryden could easily emerge as the consensus choice at the convention. I’m not saying that’d be a good thing. Just that, as McGuinty proved a decade (!) ago, inoffensiveness is a huge asset when you get to the third or fourth ballot.
Beyond inoffensiveness, Dryden has a lot going for him from a not-too-hot/not-too-cold. Consider:

National political experience? Not so much as to have an extensive record, but some Cabinet experience and on an issue (Daycare) that will dominate Parliament in the months to come.

Liberal credentials? Not around long enough to be involved in the Chretien v. Martin feuding, but no doubts as to his bona fide credentials as a party member (not to mention being on record with a compelling vision of liberalism)

French language ability? Not fluently bilingual, but able to communicate (and instant credibility as a hero of Montreal hockey fans).

The main knock against him thus far is that he is boring/bland, not one to set the Thames on fire. Yet that is likely an easier hurdle to overcome than the insta-criticism that plagues the other main contenders who have one of those apparent weaknesses.

As everyone's potential second choice, Dryden will likely position himself in later ballots as the safer of the relative option, given that the other wannabe candidates all seem to be asking the party to take some measure of risk. For a party looking to emerge united from the convention, the argument will no doubt prove appealing.

Is it enough to make Dryden the frontrunner, albeit in the counter-intuitive sense that he may never lead until the final ballot? Makes sense to me.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Quote of the (Fri)day

"Come, woo me, woo me; for now I am in holiday humor and like enough to consent."

- As You Like It (Rosalind at IV, i)

Is there a better quote to encapsulate the happy optimism of Rum and Coke Friday? Ah, master Shakespeare. I wish your work was being performed in this fair city - one more thing about England, you never have to look far to sit in on one of his plays. Holiday humor indeed. A wonderful day. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Diamond in the Rough

Richard Diamond, the President of the Young Liberals, endorses Scott Brison with an unintentionally hilarious little argument:
Diamond said Brison's relatively short history with the Liberals should not be a deterrent. Brison was a Progressive Conservative MP until 2003.

"His vision is much more Liberal than many members of our own caucus," Diamond said.

"In the time that he has been a member, he had demonstrated the he is a true liberal. He believes in prosperity and that should be balanced with a social conscience and a progressive social agenda."
Belief in prosperity? Check. Balanced with a social conscience? Check. Progressive Social Agenda? Check. Put so broadly, who wouldn't claim to believe this. Isn't this just what Canada means to... everyone??

The willingness of lifelong Liberal party members to so swiftly jump on board the campaign bandwagons of those who so recently ran for the leadership of their natural opposition party startles and flabbergasts me. Just as with the Emerson defection - are loyalties to the positions espoused in a leadership race or national campaign really just so vapid?

Brison was a loyal member of the Progressive Conservative party for 25 years, so presumably he voted against Trudeau, for Mulroney (twice), and against Chretien (three times). In 2003, he advocated pretty Conservative principles in running for the leadership of that party - presumably because he wanted to defeat it. Well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. And if you really have some spunk, aim to lead them.

But has he undergone some enormous transformation, or was he just a Liberal in sheep's clothing all along? Or is the Liberal party just whatever you make it? There was Brison arguing on Counterspin - against David Orchard and Brian Peckford - in favour of the dire need for a merged Conservative party. On December 3, 2003. He votes for the entity on December 6th. Then - light years later - on December 10th, he crosses the floor and on the 12th joins team Martin as Parliamentary Secretary. Much to the heartbreak, mind you, of the legions of Progressive Conservatives who Scott convinced to vote in favour of the merger because it was necessary.

Honestly, it is too laugh. Belinda is arguably the funnier case. To hear her tell it, she was the mastermind behind the CPC merger. She runs for the leadership of the new party in 2004 despite zero experience outside her father's company. Not remotely qualified to be Prime Minister, said Coyne in what might have been the column of the year. Mike Harris, of all people, endorses her candidacy. Upon finishing second, she releases the following press release:

"I have said all along that we must win the next election," Stronach said. "The most important contribution we can make toward winning is to unite behind Stephen and to support him 100 per cent."

"This was an exciting leadership race and I applaud both Stephen and Tonyfor running excellent campaigns," said Stronach. "But now the race is over and all competitors must focus on our real opponent, the Liberals.

Again, had matters changed so profoundly within 14 months within the Liberal party of Paul Martin, or the Conservative party of Stephen Harper? Nah, Stronach's "convictions" just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I would love to see someone dig up her leadership campaign platform, or Scott Brison's for that matter - just to watch them professionally bob and weave around their old positions. The fact that neither Belinda nor Brison could hold a candle to Harper in the French debates makes the continued references to their candidacies for Liberal leader almost surreal.

So here we arrive back to Diamond's endorsement. His main reason for supporting Brison:
"He's always demonstrated that he's bright, capable and energetic, and I think he speaks to a generational change that is really need right now if we are to appeal to young voters," Diamond said.
You want to appeal to young voters? How about not consistently proving, time and again, that politicians will say anything that suits their fancy, that they will coast along the breeze of last night's opinion polls. At some point, doesn't the tent just get too big?

You want to appeal to young voters? Give them someone with the courage of their own convictions - who has the temerity to hold long-standing ideas about what the country needs and argue for them. Give them someone who would rather lose than compromise on positions of principle.

The Liberals have an opportunity to put forward a Dion, or an Ignatieff. Here's hoping they seize that chance.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Decline And Fall Of Europe (Labour Laws Edition)

Revolution is nothing new in France, but I have been left gobsmacked by the latest protests over new labour flexibility laws. Essentially, the proposed laws 'would allow businesses to fire young workers in the first two years on a job without giving a reason, removing them from protections that restrict layoffs of regular employees.' By 'young workers', they mean under 26 years of age.

Well, youth unemployment stands at 23% in France. And it stands to reason that one of the biggest reasons for this is that it's impossible to fire anybody once you've hired them. Let me get anecdotal for a second: I previously lived with three French youth for a year, all of whom were in London because they couldn't find work at home. One, with a masters' degree. regaled me with stories about how he tried to work in a paper hat factory, and they demanded three years' experience (!) and references an arms' length long. That's to work in a paper hat factory.

So good luck to these protesters, who seem to have no idea why they can't find work, but want damned well to be mollycoddled once they've gotten it.

I only bring this up in the spirit of St Patrick's Day, because Ireland, and not continental Europe, is showing the way. To wit, here's a classic quote from last year, by former French Minister of Industry Patrick Devedjian:

"The French social model is not a model, since no-one wants to imitate it, it is not social since it leads to record unemployment, and it is not French since it is based on class struggle and a refusal of reformism."

So here's to the Irish model prevailing. If for no other reason than it makes Guinness go down even more smoothly, as if that were possible. Here's hoping you had your fill on Friday, MacDuff, though I have little doubt.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

"Then what day is it?" asked Owl.
"It's Today!" squeaked Piglet.
"My favorite day," said Pooh.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Under 24 Hours...

The Final Countdown is officially on.

All the makings of a classic day here, as the Old Triangle's first musicians are set to take the stage at 8AM. How I look forward to the music, the easy conviviality of the atmosphere, the fleeting acquaintances, the toasts, the odes, the poetry of Kavanaugh and quotes of Behan - and how time seems to linger immaterial on such a day.

The first trip to Dublin in 2000 - up to which point I had barely sipped a Guinness - will always stand out as the most wondrous. Yet, as each subsequent year is a tribute to it, those memories never lose their lustre. Last year's classic return (a major motivator for the studies abroad, to be sure) was magical in its own right. 5 years had passed, as the poet wrote, and once again we heard and did behold... New faces, new stories... but felt that same satisfaction of not wanting to be anywhere else, of sensing (if only momentarily) that indeed you are living your own life right. The picture below, with the Palace's Beckett portrait watching over us, a solid 12 hours in, captures the sentiment of (let's face it) the smugness rather well:

Back after the weekend with stories and songs of the escapades. As I counselled last year at this time, "Sink back the Guinness, sing along to the chorus of Black Velvet Band, and buy the stranger beside you a pint." Amen to that. Happy Saint Patrick's.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

And, so quickly, only Two...

First seen on the wall of the Norseman over #41, 8:30PM on Sunday the 19th, 2000, with some folk just encountered on the banks of the Liffy after the fireworks:

“Who are fighting?” asked Alice.

“Why, the Lion and the Unicorn, of course,” said the White King.

“But what are they fighting for?”

“Well, they both want a Guinness,” said the King, “and there’s only one left. The worst of the joke is, that even that one belongs to me! Let’s run and see them.” And they trotted off, Alice repeating to herself, as she ran, the words of the song:
“ ‘The Lion and the Unicorn was full of thirsty men
From ten o’clock till two o’clock and six o’clock till ten.
Some had a sandwich, some had two:
But they all had a Guinness, which is Good for You.”
“Does – the one – that wins – get the Guinness?” she asked, as well as she could while they were running.

“Dear me, no!” said the King. “The one that’s had the Guinness wins.”

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

'The Show Must Go On'

Clearly, the jackassery surrounding the Moussaoui trial in the US has reached fever pitch. For those who aren't following the case: Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called '20th hijacker' in the 9-11 attacks, is in the penalty phase of his trial, following his confession that he planned to fly an airplane into the White House on behalf of Al Qaeda. Confession in hand, the Justice Department, on behalf of the Bush administration, is seeking the death penalty. Despite what I would consider a tenuous case (I'm no lawyer myself, mind you), there had still been some anticipation that Moussaoui might yet see the firing squad. That was, until Monday, when the judge presiding over the trial rightly flipped her lid after discovering that a lawyer working for the prosecution had violated her orders not to prepare witnesses before making their testimony. This idiotic action came close to derailing the government's entire case for the death penalty, and although a mistrial has been avoided, the witnesses in question are not going to be able to testify. Basically, the prosecution is screwed.

Before we delve into the bizarreness of this latest twist, let's consider the importance of this trial. Moussaoui is the only person associated with the 9-11 attacks to have been charged in the United States. The government has thus far been foiled at nearly every turn trying to fight terrorism in the US legal system. Consider this: "Of the 120 terrorism cases recorded on Findlaw, the major information source for legal cases of note, the initial major charges leveled have resulted in only two actual terrorism convictions -- both in a single case, that of Richard Reid, the notorious shoe bomber. Of 18 actual charges of "terrorism" brought between September 2001 and October 2004, 15 are still pending and one was dismissed." That's right, one other 'terrorist' convicted as of last year. That's it. Yes, Moussaoui will go to jail for life, and fair enough, but the Bush administration's only shot at executing a real live, honest-to-goodness-pleaded-guilty al Qaeda cell member is going down the pooper, because of a moronic move by the prosecutorial team. This has to go down as a massive embarrassment. Recall that Moussaoui had represented himself for a good chunk of this trial, with no professional counsel, leading some to call him insane; the Feds still can't pin him down. Allah be praised, indeed. In fact, it occurs to me that bin Laden himself might have been spared the chair under these circumstances.

And now, behold the bizarreness (all quotes from the WaPo).

Brinkema, clearly exasperated by the new problems in the oft-delayed case, yesterday called Martin's conduct "the most egregious violation of the court's rules on witnesses" she had seen "in all the years I've been on the bench."...Even prosecutors were stunned by Martin's actions, calling them "reprehensible" in court papers and adding, "We frankly cannot fathom why she engaged in such conduct."

So who is this Carla Martin? Well, she apparently has worked her entire legal career at the Federal Aviation Administration, save for the last four years, where she has worked at the Transportation Security Administration. Since her actions defy explanation, and could land her in jail for contempt, I've been scratching my head as to why she would pull a stunt like this. One possibility is, she is an incompetent lawyer. Consider the following tidbits:

...Manno said he and Osmus asked to be assigned another lawyer about a week and a half before Martin sent them the e-mails at issue, because they felt Martin had a tendency to go off on tangents and was taking up a lot of their time.

...Duke University law professor Robert P. Mosteller said ethical restrictions against speaking with witnesses are drilled into every attorney. "Lawyers don't do things like this," he said. "The federal rule on witnesses is elegant in its simplicity, and it's usually not something people get wrong."

...Martin, the first to take the stand today, asked permission to address the court and was immediately cut off by an irritated Brinkema, who told her, "No, you're a witness."

Ridiculous stuff, indeed. But if you're looking for a more conspiratorial angle, consider this: astonishingly, she apparently also tried to coach the defense witnesses. So, what if she was not working on behalf of the prosecutors at all (remember, they were stunned by her actions), and instead 'was trying to prevent the Moussaoui witnesses from saying something that could result in a judgment against the Government and the airlines in the civil litigation'? That's TalkLeft's pet theory, and frankly, it's the only thing that makes any sense to me, aside from the incompetence angle. I mean, she clearly wasn't on the Justice Department's side...

...Further embarrassing the government, Martin's e-mails sharply criticized prosecutors' case, saying, among other things, that their opening statement "has created a credibility gap that the defense can drive a truck through."

...not that it matters to the judge:

Prosecutors sought to demonstrate that Ms. Martin was not part of the Justice Department team handling the Moussaoui case. But Judge Brinkema said that she was "an attorney for the United States and you all represent the United States. It's not the Justice Department against Mr. Moussaoui, it's the United States" that is trying to have him executed.

Nuts. But, as Moussaoui said himself yesterday, 'the show must go on.'

Three More Days...

Monday, March 13, 2006

"My Goodness, Your Guinness"

Just four more short practice days until the year's one Saint Patrick's Day. The clock ticks on.

Click on the image above for a (hopefully) readable version of the ancient postcard's text (once you get the picture, click on the bottom right arrow graphic to expand it further). The closing lines are worth retyping in full:

"Will you have the goodness to return my Guinness," he cried to Hatta.

"I can't have the Goodness if I return the Guinness," said Hatta. "My Goodness, your Guinness," he added politely.

Ah, politeness indeed.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Quote of the (Fri)day

Friday already? What a quick seven days gone. Must be sure to savour the next few as we slowly tick-tock our way toward the grandest of Friday of 2006 next week. The last time St. Pat's was on a Friday was 2000, Gongshow and I eager youngters in Dublin. Where our mutual admiration for the black stuff first began. Can that really have been a full seven years ago?

Off to the first draw in awhile now, so wish us well. Will be wishing a hearty welcome back to Rum-and-Coke guru, Bill in Portland Maine, from afar. Already looking forward to next week's surely glorious posting.

Anyhow, waited most of the day for a quote to ring true, but none serendipidous appeared. Not enough sagacity. But it is Chuck Norris' 66th birthday today, so let's run one of those classics:
Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.
Ah, yes. For good things come to those who do. 7 more sleeps to go. Happy weekend to all.

UPDATE - Since the above barely qualifies as a quote, here's one further that just dropped into my lap. Marvelous Hemingway:
The age demanded that we sing
And cut away our tongue.

The age demanded that we flow
And hammered in the bung.

The age demanded that we dance
And jammed us into iron pants.

And in the end the age was handed
The sort of shit that it demanded.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

More Mid-Week Miscellany

Bad (relative) Ahab news: Interest in posting continues to wane.
Good (relative) Ahab news: Plenty of thoughts/experiences worth noting.

To the words/numbers (in the linkless/laziness tradition, find/remember the stories yourselves) -

1. Random appearances made at the NS Lib Con over the weekend. Apologies to any I might have met, shocked, embarrassed (including myself - obviously and sadly).

Two firm decisions reached: (a) Ahab now firmly in Ignatieff's camp - and he was so damn impressive I really owe this a greater explanation, but (b) any support proffered will be far removed from attempting to convince the general membership of his obvious worth. Because the tribalism of the upcoming battle is just not my bag.

Just let us say this - the smarter the state of the party, the more it trends toward the good Professor. The worse, the more Stronach captures. Surveying the scene, though, this commentator would probably peg Dryden as the current frontrunner. He falls a bit in the middle of the overall state of things, after all.

And on that note (not to belabour this) for once I agree wholeheartedly with Cherniak's latest. I am personally no fan of Brison, but the ridiculous uproar over the "income trust email" should be dispelled at its root. I doubt not that the guy had no idea of the substance of the announcement. This will fade - Brison will continue to draw the backing of Martin folks across the nation, and will be around (unfortunately in my mind, but there you go) until the end.

2. March 8 is not only my mother's birthday, but also International Women's Day. It is also the day in 2006 that Arsenal became the last English club standing in the Champions League. Pretty strangely fair. Here's hoping that Henry draws Benfica or Villareal - and not Juve or Barca. Highbury survives for a few more.

3. Shari has moved successfully down the street. But needs suggestions for a holiday. After casually mentioning Zihuatanejo of Shawshank, later in this evening bar conversation turned to the cheapness of Mexican inclusives due to the recently popularized crime. Could such a meeting be arranged for April? As unlikely as it would be fascinatingly fun.

4. Great on Crash for its Best Picture victory - a better, more entertaining film than Brokeback. Also great on the inimitable Stewart for a performance both underrated and underappreciated. The opening was admittedly weak, though, and only emphasizes the true perfection of Crystal's musical masterpieces... The mock ads were art in their own right, and a lovely indictment of the current state of American politics.

5. Hands up those who know who Ciro Rodriguez is. The model reason why American political blogs prove so extremely information and (hopefully) important. We can only hope that this year holds better fortune for the good volunteers and passionate Dean-democrats of grassroot mydd and dailykos. November remains an opportunity.

6. Sir Slade - I echo the entreaty: Stephen Colbert is the heir thou doth seek. And I loved how obviously enamoured our man Jon Stewart was with Neil Young tonight. He so should have been on my list of top 5 influential musicians...

7. Jack MacDuff flies out tomorrow for the opening ceremonies at the Brier in Regina to hang out with one of his heroes, driver, mentor, speaker, and great friend - the incomparably Canadian and 4-time World Curling champ Sam Richardson. A true legend, the only time I met him, he offered the legendary quote: "James, I'll just say that in a 5-4 game (dramatic pause) you wanna have five." Hopefully he'll stick around until the gold medalists arrive later in the week. Colour me biased, but I'd say that naming a street in St. John's after NFLD's first (and still only) Brier winning skip along with the rest of the Torino heroes wouldn't be completely out of order.

Just saying...

UPDATE - oh, and the Theodore - Aebischer trade is gold for the Canadians. McKenzie's line about him being "four years removed from being an NHL MVP" only typifies the guy's problems. I'm less keen on the Oilers move for Roloson, surely there are better goaltenders out there that Lowe doesn't need to deal only with old Wayne. But I suppose we'll see how the post-season unfolds. Smart money now has to be on Ottawa, and the sports fan sentiment with the Flames.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Quote of the (Fri)day

Things have gone dark around these parts lately for no real reason other than an apathy for writing. Some weeks the news just seems to all blend together and loses its lustre of originality. Happily, one of the luxuries of whimsical commentary is that the breaks can be as long lasting as rejuvenation dictates.

In any event, this could prove an eventful evening. The Nova Scotia Liberals host their AGM at the Westin tonight, so plans to pop into the Hospitality Suites for (free) booze, smoked salmon, and political conversation govern the plans. Shall be the first occasion of mine to meet the likes of Ignatieff, Rae, and Dryden (among others) and size them up in person. Belinda will also be making an appearance - hilarious that I last bumped into her two years ago at the same venue, though then she was then stumping for the Conservative leadership. The more things change...

So - here's wishing us all a most serendipitous weekend. Appropriate, then, that the first written usage and origin of that favored word serve as this week's quote:

This discovery indeed is almost of that kind which I call serendipity, a very expressive word, which as I have nothing better to tell you, I shall endeavour to explain to you: you will understand it better by the derivation than by the definition. I once read a silly fairy tale called The Three Princes of Serendip: as their highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of: for instance, one of them discovered that a mule blind of the right eye had travelled the same road lately, because the grass was eaten only on the left side, where it was worse than on the right – now do you understand serendipity?

- Horace Walpole, in a letter to Horace Mann dated January 28, 1754

Though this initial definition of serendipity has been expanded to describe any fortunate discoveries made by accident, there is something to be said for Walpole's Sherlocksian notion - that proper serendipitious activity requires also the conscious application of intelligence to the scene. Something to keep in mind.

The Three Princes of Serendip. Accidental Sagacity. Ah, what a wonderful language - worty of the infinite possibilities of the imagination.