Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Talking tough

The cupboardly man is talking tough regarding two regions of the world with the potential to blow-up. Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Palestine are flirting with major war and insurrection.

Our PM may think it is low risk to mouth-off to Putin or declare some kind of weird love for right-wing Israeli governments, but sometime in the next year or three he could find himself facing requests to back-up his words with actions.

He ought to shut-up and tread carefully.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Soft targets and red herrings

The mentally questionable individual who posed as a decorated jumper from the RCR is a soft target and irrelevant. The scorn presently being heaped on him from military circles is unsurprising, but Mr. Gervais is a red herring. Stephen Harper has worn unearned RCAF wings and members of his government has appeared in uniforms complete with rank and unit insignia, not to mention received unentitled salutes.

The military members and police, serving and former, crying blasphemy at some random civilian might ask themselves if they are also willing to heap the same vitriol on the politicians who do likewise and cause real harm for veterans, not their simulcrum.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Interstellar is an interesting revision of the same themes apparent in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Time features large and the idea of literally warping time is now theoretically possible. The vastness and complexity of the universe, or multiverses are increasingly known to us. We have devices in space now that can look at the some of the oldest light in the universe. We have caused a particle to exist in two places at once.

And yet, despite all of this knowledge about our position in spacetime, that is our position in existence, we cling to old fears and identities. We still scream at each across lines on maps, or colours of skin, or whatever confabulations tell us we are somehow divisible from each other like fire and water, not beings made of the same matter as the stars around us.

What we are so much more than we claim to be.

Canada and Australia, alone in the world

G20 Summit lead-up, 2020

The world was not shocked today when the remaining G20 countries declined to extend meeting invitations to Canada and Australia over their stance on climate change. The intransigent position on fossil fuels taken by the national governments of these two countries distrupted last year's summit as the other G20 nations all but finalised a new energy agenda. An unidentified official from Japan suggested that Canada and Australia were excluded for both their roles as fossil fuel producers and that the main goal of this year's meeting was the finalise binding commitments on clean energy production across the G20.

The French foreign minister went even further, saying bluntly that the two countries were harmful to the G20 and a danger to the future of the Earth and said that if their over-leveraged economies were not already in steep decline due to the loss of major international markets for coal and oil and the maquiladorisation of the Canadian labour market, sanctions would be an option. "In five years or less, their economy will collapse anyway because nobody buys dirty fuel," the minister said to reporters.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Putin and Ensign Teal

Apparently, they've had a bit of chat.
Putin approached Harper and stuck out his hand. Harper responded: “Well, I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I only have one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine.”
“Mr. Putin did not respond positively,” said MacDonald but declined to offer further details or whether there were similar comments by other leaders there.
I wonder if the Russian leader said something like, "Or you'll do what? Tweet?"  Canada has zero capacity to leverage or pressure Russia on its own and our contribution to any NATO or international response in military strategic terms is negligible. We are insignificant in this regard.

In pre-Conservative days, there might well have been a role for Canada as a quiet mediator and broker of deals aimed at avoid disastrous confrontation. Macho talk is childish and absurdly counterproductive. This country has no independent means of backing up tough words and effectively must hide behind NATO and NORAD collective security agreements should something more serious that rhetoric transpire.

High noon in Ch√Ęteauguay

Good lord.

The police officers in the municipality — located on Montreal’s south shore — donned their new uniforms today, complete with cowboy boots, dark cowboy hats pinned with a sheriff’s badge, and lapel badges shaped like stars. They are protesting against Bill 3, a bill tabled by the Quebec government in June that would see municipal workers’ pension plans reformed.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Abbot and Harper: expended energy

The uncomfortable and awkward weirdness that are the combination of the dudebromate Australian PM and the spiteful vacuum of anti-humanity that is the Canadian PM when they're together results in some profound stupidity. 

In Canada, the falling price of oil and the approaching cost parity of renewable and green energy, in addition the really big energy consumers making climate deals, is making the prospect of Canada tarsand energy superpower status ever dimmer. In Australia, where the PM is all about the coal, things are also looking a little less lucrative.

Still, these two clowns insist on leveraging their national economies on increasingly unviable energy sources because they hate hippies or something. Good luck with that.

Especially, because approaching just over the horizon is the destroyer of fossil and conventional nuclear energy world.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

BNP tries to do Remembrance Day. Fails.

This is hilarious.

The British National Party (BNP) suffered an embarrassing slip-up after tweeting a Remembrance Day reminder a day late. The far-right group posted the message at 6.50am this morning before apologising and deleting the tweet.
I understand how the nationalism they like in the struggle against their Hitler might confound them a little.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Diktats from the cupboard

CBC is reporting that at the last minute the cupboardly-man got that idea that Canada should make a claim on the North Pole. Which specific North Pole, he didn't say.

It is hard enough if you've ever had the misfortune to work for someone who operates like this. Last minute changes happen, and some overactive leaders get panicky near deadlines,  keeping everyone stressed.

However, requesting a last minute paragraph change or something similar is very different from demanding lawyers and civil servants craft an argument for Canada to radically redraw its geographic boundaries to include the most significant geographic feature on the planet. A move, as the article points out, that has massive geopolitical repercussions.

Sectionable, he is.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Pay no attention to the liar in the cupboard

Nothing demonstrates cowardice in a politician as much as attempting to sneak things, which should be completely public, past the citizenry in a clandestine fashion intended to hide the truth.
Boris laid the groundwork here.

Why is the coward bearing the title "prime minister" so hell-bent on sole-sourcing the F-35? BECAUSE HE'S MADE A DEAL HE HASN'T TOLD YOU ABOUT. He's hiding something - he always is!

A little more for you.


Aviation Week is reporting that it has evidence showing Canada has asked for a switcheroo with four formerly US-bound production F-35s so that Canada would receive these airframes next year.

Four isn't anywhere near the total figure of 65 that was in play before the Conservatives were embarrassed into rebooting the fighter procurement process so that it was in line with Canadian legal requirement for a competitive procurement process.

The Aviation Week report, if accurate, suggests the Conservatives are still trying to somehow game the procurement process to favour that annoying little aeroplane from Lockheed Martin. 

I'm sure the lawyers at Dassault, Boeing, Eurofighter, and Saab are watching this very closely indeed.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Oil prices and the future of the middle-east

Part of the cost of US fracking and rise of renewables is the growing irrelevance of the oil producing countries of the middle-east and the appalling scale of violence that may follow in these places.

This would happen anyway as production peaked in Saudi Arabia and the other OPEC states in the region, but the appearance of alternative energy sources means that the rest of the world will carry on instead of run out of energy.

The past decade of violence and the recent rise of ISIS might pale in comparison to what happens should unrest spread to places like Saudi Arabia as oil revenues fall and people retreat into the false security of religion and ideology. This could just be early days.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Straining" Kuwait? Really Canadian Press?

There's a Canadian Press piece on CBC announcing the arrival of RCAF fighter-bombers in Kuwait tonight.
Canadian warplanes have taken up position in Kuwait, a country straining to hold back the tide of Islamic extremism from its borders.
"[S]training"? A few lines later we learn it is actually more of a "debate" in Kuwait about something happening a very long way away on the other side of a mass of heavily armed Shia militias and the Iraqi Army.
With Islamic State fighters on the outskirts of Baghdad, about 600 kilometres away, much of the debate in the tiny country is about how much of a security threat is posed by the extremist movement, and also whether it is a long-term political danger.
 Incidently, the Canadian government travel advisory service notice on Kuwait reads:
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Kuwait. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to crime and the general threat of terrorist attacks.
 Just for fun I looked up the UK travel advisory service notice for Canada.
There is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. You should monitor media reports and remain vigilant.
How 'bout that, eh?

Leading from the cupboard

You and I don't know precisely what went on in the Conservative's caucus room last week. That said, the information we do hvae suggests that when the gunfire was heard, a good number of Tory MPs acted swiftly to barricade the doors and create makeshift weapons to defend against whatever lethal violence might come through them. Gunfire indicates a very real risk to life and those who took action in that room might legitimately be said to to have risked their lives to defend their colleagues. There are few actions we humans hold in higher regard.

However, one prominent MP seems to have found it more convenient to locate himself in a storage cupboard.

Now, it's a perfectly normal and evolutionarily helpful instinct to hide in fear of your life when violence closes in, and I personally cannot fault most people for it. However, most people are not political leaders who have made it their thing to militarise foreign policy and turn an otherwise serviceable peace-creating nation into a "warrior-nation" and deploy military forces on combat missions where they die.  It's this point that sticks in the craw.

Maybe it's a truism that politicians who send soldiers to die in optional wars end up being found hiding in small spaces when the shooting gets closer to them.

Indeed. It's not hard to read his life as one spent in hiding. Hiding from the Opposition when scandals and coalitions were proposed. Hiding behind the certainty of ideology. Hiding from the press. Hiding from questions in Question Period with his scripted answers. Hiding in the loo at international meetings. Hiding behind a trained voice and rhetoric. Hiding behind an emotionless face. Hiding behind specs that hide the eyes.  Hiding behind the boys in short-pants. Hiding behind the protections of his Office. Hiding behind power.

You know, I don't think we've ever had such an emotionally troubled Prime Minister hiding in plain sight.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Stephen Harper's Ottawa speech.

“We are also reminded that attacks on our security personnel and our institutions of governance are by their very nature attacks on our country, on our values, on our society, on us Canadians as a free and democratic people who embrace human dignity for all. But let there be no misunderstanding. We will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated.” (Stephen Harper, 22 October 2014)
Our security personnel, eh? Try this. Or this. And this. This too. Note especially that on 1 March 2009 Stephen Harper publically declared the Afghan war unwinnable.  The FIFTY-ONE Canadian Forces members killed in Afghanistan since that date are effectively wasted lives according to his own logic. By that logic too, the only group that benefitted from these dead Canadian troops is the Taleban.

Our institutions of governance, eh? This. Or this. And this. Oh hell, basically all of this.

Trudeau, Mulcair, either of you want to call him out and actually own the narrative on this? Didn't think so. Instead, you're going to let him have it because unity in crisis and he gave you a hug or something. Oh, good luck with that there next 'election' eh, war PM and all.

The Ottawa attacks and ISIS: A strategy?

The following assumes ISIS is the motivator.

It is interesting that the attacks in St. Jean and Ottawa focussed exclusively on military and political targets, not specifically civilians (although two were apparently wounded yesterday).  Three times (pray not a third), and it's a strategy. I don't know what ISIS propaganda says about strategy, but if they're calling themselves the Islamic State and are the ones inspiring these attacks, then perhaps this is a sign they intend to fight like a state.  These attacks targeted the political leadership and the military of a state (Canada) presently at war with ISIS.

This is an interesting point to consider.

An attack on civilians like 9/11 or the train and tube bombings in Europe mobilises politicians and publics to send large numbers of soldiers to Afghanistan, or Iraq or anywhere Muslim and disfavourable because innocents are reprehensibly killed and the public is legitimately fearful. The response that sends large numbers of Western troops to works as an Islamist recruiting tactic. However, it is useful only to a point as so much military attention of a long period just inhibits the project of setting up a Caliphate or whatever the big actual goal is called. People don't exactly thrive under military occupation and attacking civilians in the West tends to encourage lots of military occupation.

However, attacking the political and military targets in the West doesn't provide a lot of public outrage that would fuel more war because it wasn't the public that was hit. I imagine that right now ISIS is looking at the growing number of forces arrayed against it and starting to wonder about its short or long-term survival. Perhaps it thinks that it is much harder for leaders to justify to Western publics military intervention in Iraq and Syria if ISIS can be seen to attack 'legitimate' wartime targets. Unlike terrorising the public, it is very difficult to logically justify risking more soldiers lives as some kind of vengeance for killing soldiers.  Maybe ISIS has two goals.

1. If ISIS can convince the West that it isn't interested in killing large numbers of Western civilians, maybe it thinks the US and other countries will fail to sustain interest in hammering ISIS.

2. It has also demonstrated that it can hit back in the Western countries that are now attacking it. In Ottawa, it got perilously close to the leadership in one of them.

In a few days, ISIS has also forced the entire Canadian military to adopt a defensive posture in Canada. It has forced them to conceal themselves in public against an enemy they can't see, right around the corner from Remembrance Day when they'd all be on display.  When that happens on a battlefield, it's described as denying freedom of movement and is a major tactical gain if it can be done.

That makes these attacks a helluva move. It's also how states fight wars with each other.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

At the going down of the sun...

With condolences and respect to the family and friends of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's), Hamilton.

Albainn Gu Braith

At the going down of the sun...

With condolences and respect to the family and friends of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 438 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force.

Going Down

Sic Itur ad Astra

Friday, October 17, 2014

Where "decolonization" goes off the rails [updated]

In another venue, fellow inkypixelcreature Alison kindly drew my attention to some aspects of this case that escaped my initial vexatious outburst below. The case is clearly not settled, and the discussion is partly one of collective versus individual rights. The quotes are also from a neighbour, not the child's mother as I missed in my hasty misread.  As with most things, context is critical and this is an extremely complicated case involving the potential for the state to remove an Indigenous child from her parents. The residential school experience and intergenerational impact it left adds a hypersensitivity to this case that would otherwise be absent.

Should this hypersensitivity guide decisions that affect well-being of children or adults to the effect that a failure to act on the part of the state may also risk harm?  Should the state even be involved in Aboriginal issues when it comes to decisionmaking inside those communities that embrace autonomy and self-determination, including child welfare? 

I stand by my comments about the presently popular decolonization discourse and problems it poses.

This case is appalling. The judge, misguided. The parent, equally so. A child's life likely hangs in the balance because of a deeply flawed application of cultural relativism and the reluctance to challenge popular postcolonial and anti-oppression discourses.

The rationale goes a bit like this. European society created modern science and colonialism. Colonialism was bad because it suppressed and oppressed Indigenous peoples and purported a Eurocentric worldview. Modern science, which is also medical science, is bad because is the product of an epistemology that grew from Europe more or less at the same time as colonialism (although in reality the geneology of science goes back to antiquity). In order to "decolonize", or undo the influence of colonialism, Indigenous people must eschew historically Eurogenic ideas and practices, and "reclaim" or "rediscover" traditional practices and knowledge in order to "resurge" and become sovereign. Ok, nothing wrong with that on the surface if you're somone who holds your ethnic or cultural identity and community to be the defining feature of who and what you are. It's completely understandable if your ethnicity has been oppressed and marginalised for generations. But I'm insulting your intelligence if I assume you can't see the flaws in the reasoning that says traditional knowledge and 'science' are either held as equal and interchangeable epistemologies, or the latter is totally dismissed in favour of the former. However, to do this so uncritically is lethally dangerous. The quote by the child's mother neighbour is shockingly telling:
“There’s a fear of [aboriginal remedies] or denial of it. If things can’t be quantified or qualified, to them it’s irrelevant,” said Ms. Hill, as she shopped at Ancestral Voices Healing Centre Thursday. “Who are they [doctors] to say she will make it with their treatments. Just because they have a degree, that makes them more knowledgeable?
Yes, actually, it fucking does. That's why there is an emphasis on providing access to and improving education for Aboriginal people. I'm humourlessly reminded of Tim Minchin.

I suppose I could argue that the blinkered worldview that leads someone to possibly kill their child because she mistrusts doctors and white people is a result of colonialism's centuries abuse of Indigenous people, and so its not really her or the judge's fault. But then I'd be denying her and the judge's agency and intelligence - doubtful as they may be. I'd also be subverting the many Indigenous communities across Canada in perpetual and desperate need for healthcare workers and resources. Sadly the door is now may be opened to deny resources to these communities because they 'can just use their "traditional' medicine'.

Maybe now we will see a restraining or recalibration of the decolonization discourse as the bloody excesses of its internal logic are plain to see. Or not.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Canadian carbon bubble

Mark Carney, present Bank of England governor, former Bank of Canada governor thinks we're in a fossil energy price bubble. If the world reaches a global climate deal, fossil fuel reserves are "unburnable" and therefore pretty much valueless. Indeed, divestment is already fast catching on.

If this happens, the Tar Sands, Canada's single economic bet, becomes nothing more than icky oily sand of use to no one.

Tell me, if you're Canadian and Albertan governing party, do you think it's smart to gamble on the sustained value of your giant pile of toxic sludge? Kinda gives new meaning to the term "toxic asset".

We smugly thought we were awesome in Canada because we didn't have the over-leveraged banks due to stricter regulations when the US and much of the world shat themselves when they realised they'd invested in a US housing-debt bubble. It's how Mark Carney got his current job.  I don't know what the economists would say would happen to Canada if the price of Alberta oil fell through the floor, but I doubt it would be fun...

You know, the opposition parties could make this an election issue.