Saturday, February 01, 2003

There are no words.
There are no words to express what we feel for these 7 magnificent people who died today on board Columbia. We are left wondering what their last moments were, their last thoughts, their last feelings. And we grieve just thinking about their spouses, children and friends who were all gathered in Florida waiting happily for their return. And then, fifteen minutes before they were due to land, emptiness, nothingness struck. The astronauts were no more. They would never be coming home. And all realized that the last hug they gave to these heroes before the launch would be the last hug forever.
Please take a few minutes to pray for these exceptional people who volunteer and take risks so that all of humanity can move forward. They embody our quest for better things, greater frontier. They are a testimony to the human spirit and to the unlimited power of free will.
We already miss them all.

Friday, January 31, 2003

...somehow I thought that maybe, maybe the NDP would get better with Layton as the new leader...Waahahahah!!!
Libby Davies (NDP MP for Vancouver West) is of on a mission to find weapons of mass destruction. So far, so good. Only wrinkle is that she is a little afraid of going to unsafe places like Iraq, Syria, Iran or Libya and instead has decided to search...take a guess...The USA. Yes, that's right. She is going to SEARCH for WMDs in the US. And I am willing to bet that she will find that this eminently rogue state has nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons. I also bet that we will soon find out that the thousands of new drugs that the American pharmaceutical industry produces every year actually are a front to hide their real raison d'etre, chemical weapons research. A diversion in fact. So Libby is off to the US, along with her tree-hugging, birkenstock wearing, I-don't-shave-my-body-hair, Kyoto signing, terrorism-appeasers collegues from Rooting All Evil to look for WMDs. What a blast!

Thursday, January 30, 2003

I'm off!
I'm leaving for Florida in a few hours, so I thought I'd get one last post in before I go. My father says he'll take care of the site while I'm gone, so you know who to blame if there's nothing new! ;)

Talk to everyone soon!
Bye
Christmas in January?
I have never received a parcel while living in Montreal, and yet today I received two! As if I had any extra time to read for pleasure, the parcels both contained awesome books for me to read when I find the time.
The first parcel was from my good friend Alysa, who ordered the book last month for my birthday. She bought me this awesome book:



The second parcel contained a book that I ordered for myself on the good advice of another blogger:


Despicable

A Florida radio station has apologized for letting one of its hosts air a racist song parody about National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

The song "Condoleezza," aired repeatedly by WQAM-AM Miami radio host Neil Rogers, a harsh critic of President Bush, was a vicious racial assault on Rice that described her as a "black-haired answer-mammy" who "cleans all the White House bathrooms."


Here's the first verse of the shameful song:

"Condoleezza, Condoleezza, what you be doin'?
That neo-facist black-haired token schwarze dog.

"Is you there 'cause you a high-toned public Negro?
Is you their black-haired answer-mammy who be smart?
Does they like how you shine their shoes, Condoleezza?
Or the way you wash and park the whiteys cars.


How can anyone take that kind of thing back? No apology could ever make me believe that this radio station recognizes their mistake. The more I hear about horrific attacks like this on the Bush, the more I feel that I'm right in supporting them. After all, if the only criticisms that Democrats and anti-'Bushnics' can make against the current administration are personal attacks and racial slurs, then I feel like Bush and company on are the right track.

There is absolutely no room for this kind of disgusting behavior in our society anymore. The radio station should be put out of business immediately. Anything less would be a slap in the face to Condoleezza and all other blacks in the US.


Winners
My team came first out of about ten teams in the trivia contest tonight. Yay. Our prize was a 25$ gift certificate to one of Montreal's favorite Irish Pubs. We (Mr. Katz, Daniel V. and myself) will be treating the losers (Yes Stern, that'd be you!) to a drink at the Pub. I'd be even cockier about the win if Mr. Katz hadn't been almost entirely responsible for our team's exceptional score. I just thought I'd mention that before Dan Stern brought that point to everyone's attention in the 'comments' section. Good game guys! See you at McGibbins!

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Nukes

Den Beste tackles the timely issue of nuclear weapons. He has a lot to say about it, and it's worth a read. I, however, wanted to add something about nukes that was brought up in my International Security/Military Strategies class yesterday. The prof. (whom I think is absolutely top notch) explained the concept of Nuclear Taboo, which is generally explained to be a universal norm against the use of such deadly weapons by a nuclear state against a non-nuclear state, and I realized that the whole thing is a complete farce! It doesn't really exist. I raised the point (slightly incoherently) in class, but I don't think my point really got across. I'll try to explain a little more clearly here:

In reality, there is no "universal norm against the use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state" that has kept them from being used. What has existed, however, is a set of beliefs, held by all nuclear capabilities up until today, about the value of human life and the unacceptability of human suffering that would arise from the use of nukes. Think about it, who has nuclear weapons? America, France, Israel, Britain, etc. These are democratic countries that regard human life as sacred. Imagine if the situation between Israel and Egypt had been reversed during the '73 war, and Egypt (or any other Arab country) had possessed nuclear weapons while Israel had not. Do you think Arabs would have worried about the taboo associated with nuking a bunch of Jews? Do you think the notion of "nuclear taboo" would have survived passed 1973? Neither do I.

Maybe I'm harping on semantics here, but I really think that the distinction is an important one to be made. The professor's definition of "nuclear taboo" is based on a belief in the inherent rationality and morality of all world leaders. This would have been valid up until Iraq and North Korea came along and got a few nukes of their own. In today's world, assuming the existence of nuclear taboo is stupid at best, deadly at worst, which is why disarming Saddam et. al. is so crucial.
Wednesdays are brutal!
Sorry for lack of posts today, but Wednesdays are brutal for me because I usually have six straight hours of lectures and tutorials. Also, I'm in the middle of preparing for the conference I'll be attending next week, so I'm doing some last minute packing and stuff. Tonight I'm going to see The Pianist with some friends, so I'll probably have some thoughts on that tomorrow. Before the movie, I'll be attending some nerdy trivia night hosted by McGill's new Trivia Club. I'll let you know how well (or poorly) my team does. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Resemblance?

'Harry Potter' elf may spark lawsuit over resemblance to Russian president Putin...

Putin? Please! No no no....it's Arafat. Uncanny....really.

Well, this is going to go over well: FAA Wants Airlines to Weigh Certain Passengers
Talk about profiling!!! Imagine the embarrassment of being weighed and denied boarding based on your weight! This is never going to fly! Pun intended.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced the temporary weigh-in policy Monday for planes with 10 to 19 seats as part of a month long survey to determine whether current weight estimates are accurate.
It's a question of safety for the smaller planes, and passengers who refuse to go along with the request could be barred from a flight.
OH MY GOD!

The NDP sold "Kiss Me, I'm A Terrorist" buttons at their convention.

Other buttons to note included "War is menstruation envy" and "National Post Sucks".

I'm speechless.

[via DamianPenny]
There ain't enough room in this town for the both of us...

Andrea Harris screams about Liberal bloggers.
Israeli elections

For those interested, Joh Podhoretz has a good analysis of the upcoming Israeli elections and how the Dems could learn a thing or two from them.

Here's the gist of it:

In Israel, a party that tilts left on matters of national security during a time of war is about to be humiliated. If the Democrats want to avoid a similar fate in 2004, they should study the Mitzna campaign.
Now, the UK clearly states that Iraq is in "material breach".
And on Tuesday, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Iraq is in "material breach" of the U.N. Security Council resolution requiring it to disclose all weapons of mass destruction.
What is the significance of the fact that the only 3 countries which have clearly come out and stated that Iraq was in material breach (US, UK, Australia) are all Anglo-Saxon? The only exception would be Canada I guess, but that is not surprising as Canada's Prime Minister seems to always come out against the US as his only way of showing any backbone whatsoever with little or no consequence. But enough about this basket case. Again, why only Anglo-Saxon countries? Why not Spanish, Italian, German, etc...? Even though some of these countries are thought to support the US approach (notably Spain), none have ever clearly come out and said so. Are all these countries/culture in such a state of accelerated decline that they basically have lost any testicular fortitude? Are they so worried about the reaction of the "street" (read Arab/Muslim population) domestically that they simply cannot afford to kick this hornets' nest? Or, as many have ventured, is this the prelude of a clash of cultures with Anglo-Saxon countries at the forefront of Western societies against Arab dictatorships/Muslim fundamentalism?

Monday, January 27, 2003

HAHAHA

J. Bottum's latest Weekly Standard article dissects the newest British anti-war poetry. A must read.

The latest piece of Brit anti-war poetry hits the streets with an incoherence that must be seen to be believed. Sample line: "Your eyes have gone out and your nose".
The best spin yet!

Nikolas K. Gvosdev has a very interesting take on the war with Iraq. He claims that Saddam wants to go to war against America.....and he's pretty convincing in doing so.

Over time, intrusive inspections have the ability to erode Hussein's mystique. Every palace inspected, every scientist rousted from bed to have his papers and personal effects inventoried, is another small erosion in Hussein's imperial aura, another intolerable act of lèse-majesté.

This is why Hussein appears to be courting war with the United States, for that is a noble task for a glorious leader — not submitting to the dictates of international civil servants...

...it reflects his understanding that a military clash with the United States enables him to reclaim his personal dignity. Victory or defeat is irrelevant. Hussein would prefer to be remembered in history as the great warrior who fought against "impossible" odds, akin to a Cuauhtemoc, the last Aztec emperor, still remembered for his valiant defense of Tenochtitlan. He does not want to end up as a Noriega or Milosevic, a beaten leader escorted in handcuffs to face a victor's tribunal.


Gvosdev also makes a case for keeping the dreaded UN inspections going for as long as possible.

The longer inspections continue, however, the more desperate Hussein becomes. Obviously, he runs the risk that even more compelling proof of his wrongdoing will emerge. But the spectacle of enduring intrusive inspections sends an even more chilling message: The autocrat is not truly the master of his own domain.

It is in our interests to keep the inspections process going, and, if possible, to tighten it and make it even more intrusive. Not only will this give Washington additional time to deploy its forces and strengthen fragile alliances, it will accelerate the disintegration of Hussein's public image. It will allow the unrest among his senior generals and officials (if news reports about this are accurate) to grow. If war is inevitable, let us ensure it occurs on our timetable, not Hussein's.


Whatcha doing with your money?

EU & the PA Money Trail
What happens to aid money.

Time is running out for the European members of parliament to launch a probe into the longstanding claim that the Palestinian Authority has misused European taxpayers' money to finance terrorist attacks.

[...]British Conservative party leader Iain Duncan Smith said: "It is very disturbing to contemplate the possibility that our taxpayers' money could be financing the bombs and explosives used to attack Israeli civilians."

[...]So far, only 140 MEPs have signed Tannock's petition calling for an investigation — 17 names short of the number required to schedule a debate in the European parliament in Strasbourg. If the remaining MEPs do not sign on by January 31, the investigation will be abandoned.

Christopher Patten, the EU commissioner for external affairs, has successfully persuaded 12 of the MEPs who had wanted to sign on to the petition to withdraw their support on the basis that he has seen no evidence of misuse of EU money, and has accused the MEPs supporting the investigation of "flogging a dead horse."

[...]A recent report published by Human Rights Watch, a group not known for its pro-Israel bias, concluded that:

The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades appear to have benefited from the routine misuse of PA funds. Arafat and other senior PA officials, as well as many rank-and-file Fatah members, have overlapping identities as employees or officials of the PA, on the one hand, and as members of Fatah on the other. This dual identity appears to have facilitated the use of PA resources to fund Fatah activities directly and indirectly, including payments to individual al-Aqsa Brigades activists.

Why can't the Canadian government have this kind of clarity?
Australia: Iraq in 'material breach' according to Australia's Prime Minister.
Prime Minister John Howard, a key US ally, said Tuesday Iraq had failed to fully cooperate with United Nations weapons inspectors and was in "material breach" of U.N. resolutions.

"Although Iraq may have cooperated in a process sense, in substance Iraq has not cooperated," Howard told Sydney radio station 2GB.

Commenting after chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix presented his report on Iraq to UN Security Council in New York Monday, Howard said that Baghdad was "in further material breach" of Security Council resolutions.


Instead of that, in Canada, we get this:

Ms. Beaumier [a Liberal MP] has expressed sympathy toward the Iraqi regime in the past. During a Commons debate last October, she praised the Iraqi dictator for running "a progressive country with health care for all and education and human rights for women, which is far more advanced than other friendly Middle Eastern countries."

She also said Saddam's Iraq, which used poison gas to suppress its Kurdish population during the Anfal campaign in 1988, was a "secular state offering a relative degree of equality for all its citizens."
SOOO....not cool

Check out what I found on Asparagirl's site.

She wrote:
I found this comment over at Dawn Olsen's blog, in a discussion about the Bloggies:

"I have discovered the secret to the weblogs - to be "popular" and "famous" I must suck a dick. Not all the time. Not even on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Just once. Like Asparagirl.

Think I'm wrong, let's take a look:
Andrew Sullivan - sucks dick.

Asparagirl - Sort of had a lesbian thing in college. Still is sort of bi with a boyfriend. (Read: Takes it where she can get it, either team.) Probably sucks dick, too, but it was the illusion of queerness that got her linked by Sullivan.

Little. Yellow. Faggot. (err, Different.) - This guy has been all over the bloggies for the last three years."


Gee....and I got mad when someone told me that I was too "flippant" in my writing style! Go to her site to see her response.
Could I be so lucky?

Some people seem to think that Colin Powell, the "Bush administration's biggest dove" may be changing his ways. Let's hope for the best.

Powell has long been a reluctant warrior. The former four-star general and decorated Vietnam veteran once questioned the need to go to war to liberate Kuwait. Later he counseled against military interventions in the Balkans. Now he is telling America’s war-wary allies that there is no peaceful way to disarm Saddam Hussein. While the French argued that U.N. inspectors had “frozen” Iraq’s weapons programs, Powell was blunt and dismissive. “Inspections,” he told reporters categorically last week, “will not work.”

One senior State Department official explains Powell’s change of heart as a gradual awakening: “People ask why Powell is becoming increasingly hard-line. It’s because every day, when we wake up in the morning, the facts are clear that Iraq has gone back to its old ways and is refusing to disarm, and trying to prevent the inspectors from disarming them. It’s a big decision, especially for a former general who knows what this is all about.”
Superbowl bets

The American Gaming Association, a casino lobbying group, estimates that Americans will wager more than $5 billion on the Super Bowl this year. That figure almost matches the gross domestic product of Honduras or Nepal in 2001, according to the World Bank.

More than five billion dollars....ouf!

Co-ed Army

The Washington Times printed an article about recent debates on co-ed military training in the US. It said:

The Army's top brass has concluded that mixed-sex recruit training is "not efficient" but nevertheless is a policy worth keeping, according to an internal study. The study, concedes that mixed-sex boot camp leads to a "disproportionate" number of injuries to women, and that the system also is "not efficient" in producing new soldiers.

[...]Supporters of the separation said it would rid the service of embarrassing boot-camp sex scandals, improve discipline and rigor, and produce better soldiers.
But the TRADOC study says mixed-sex training "improved female performance ... increases acceptance of women in the Army" and "provides shared training experience."


Personally, I don't like the arguments that either side makes. On the one hand, I think that, just like firefighters shouldn't soften up the physical to allow a "more diverse" squad, the army should always run on a system that produces the strongest, most efficient soldiers. If that means keeping men and women apart, then so be it. On the other hand, the idea that mixed-sex training would get rid of boot-camp sex scandals is ludicrous because of the humiliations the army has incurred by separating men and women in other branches of the army, like on submarines. The army knows perfectly well that sex-segregated units are rife with homosexual activities, so I'm not sure why they're so quick to push for yet another sex-segregated branch of the army.

I do, however, agree that mixed-sex training "increases acceptance of women in the Army", because, from my incredibly limited experience in an army setting, it seems that the men respected the women a lot more once they saw them "giving it their all" in training. All of my opinions, of course, are based on a two-week army simulation I did while traveling in Israel, but I'll bet that male/female interactions and stereotypes are the same in real American boot camps.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Superbowl

Tonight marked the first time I have ever watched a a football game, although from what I understand it wasn't much of a game at all. But anyhow, I think the experience was fantastic - good company, lots of laughs, pizza, etc. And with a bunch of friends crammed into a tiny living room in a "McGill Ghetto" apartment, it just seemed like a totally memorable university experience. I am, however, sorry that I didn't make any bets on the game because as a result of my incredibly limited knowledge of pro-sports, I usually root for the team with the prettier uniform, and, in my opinion, the Buccaneers had 'em.
Priorities

As thousands of Marines are preparing to ship out to the Persian Gulf within the week, one leatherneck is making his mark on "American Idol" instead.
Lance Cpl. Josh Gracin, 21, was slated to be deployed with his unit in Kuwait in the coming days. But his mother said that when he got his big break to appear on the popular Fox show, Marine brass made an exception for him.

Well well well...this is new

So this is what they were talking about when they discussed NetTerror. It will be interesting to see who was behind this "worm" that was navigating the bank system.
Condolences

I haven't been on the net much lately, which is why I had no idea that Damian Penny's grandfather passed away. Please go and visit his site and leave your best wishes in his comment box. Our deepest sympathies go out to him and his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.