Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Dick-pic Revolution

Reposting my comment at Creekside.

2015 turned out to be a bizarre year for the surveillence state. In April, John Oliver interviewed Edward Snowden about the spy agencies' spying and used a "dick pic" to make his point. Later, the Canadian government passed Bill C-51 giving its spy agency free reign.

The "Dick Pic Revolution" began shortly thereafter and by December googling "dick pic" brought up over 500 trillion hits. It was estimated that 25-35% of all the penises in the world were now digitised and that fewer than 1% of searches would be free of dick-pics within the first 25 hits.

Rebel hacker group Anonymous joined the fray by hacking into government and corporate email programs and installing a virus, later made available freely for any disgruntled government or corporate employee to install at their workplace, that would attach a random dick pic to every email sent from those addresses.

Monday, April 06, 2015

"Third force"

This morning I was listening to this exchange, where notable commentator Gwynne Dyer was contrasted to an Alden Pyle-type named Kyle Matthews from the R2P crowd over whether it was "moral" (and therefore justifiable and necessary) to bomb ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Ugh. This shouldn't even be a conversation. The R2P folks I meet tend have a strange mix of naivety about the practicalities of conflict, an aversion to unpleasant facts, and some kind of strange faith in the ability of the Rest of the World (by which it is usually meant the West) to protect people by military force. Theirs is an absurdly linear, postivist, bloody positive way of thinking about complex problems, especially very dangerous ones where costs are measured in lives and gold.  The narrative is fantastical LotR or Harry Potter for these yes-men, not the moral ambiguity and no-guarantees reality of Game of Thrones.

The ISIS war is a civil war in nature, driven by local fanatics trying to gain maintain power, champion a religious affiliation, and so. Because it's a war driven by fanaticism, it will not adhere  to rules and conventions that aim to preserve life and protect non-combatants. So there are massacres and gruesome brutalities. This is the nature of civil wars driven by fanaticism. Like mad dogs fighting with claw and tooth, interfering in these kinds of fights is highly risky. As uncomfortable as it is morally, it is probably best to let them fight to exhaustion and then pick up the pieces afterwards.

But no, the political leadership in Canada, captivated by ego and maybe some End Times prophesy from their own churches, in addition to the various R2P Aldens will agonise and advocate for more intervention.

My guess? It's likely in the coming weeks or months Harper or Kenney will announce an expansion of the Canadian Army's role with more troops and a combat mission.

Friday, April 03, 2015

F-16 vs. F-35

So, when you say about the F-35 following a dogfight with an F-16,
“The door is open to provide a little more maneuverability.”
You really mean the F-16 driver danced around your F-35 until you got dizzy and had to land, right?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lies and Syria

So the House has voted and the Con majority wins. RCAF pilots will now cross the Syrian frontier under questionable legal cover. Canada joins the US and a handful of Arab countries in a de facto alliance with brutal Syrian dictator in a civil war fighting an equally brutal and complicated collection of resistance forces. That the Conservatives brazenly lied to get us there is also telling.

Moreover, this most recent lie fits a consistent pattern of lying about Canadian military operations from Afghanistan, Russian aircraft and ships, and now Iraq and Syria.

Most of the recent lies appear designed to glorify and embellish the dangers faced by CF units. Now that the cupboardly man has ordered the RCAF over Syria, its pilots face a truly horrific fate if they have to eject for any reason (e.g. mechanical failure or SAM). What will the government say then?

What hell is wrong with these people?

You know, I'm half starting to think they've given up on government and are doing what a bunch of adolescent lads do when they sense they've pissed off the landlord and an eviction notice is coming -  trash the place: "Let's dig ourselves as deep as we can into the Syrian mess, just not table a budget, because that'll really fuck Trudeau and Mulcair and the rest of the public who has to clean up after us."

Friday, March 27, 2015

Flippantly digging

So, it seems the joke is on the Harper government, which is now writing a letter to the UN SecGen on the legal case for moving into Syria. Haha.

But seriously, the outstandingly flippant fratboy disregard for adhering to the bare minimum of legal requirements until someone drew their attention to it? 

People who operate that level that any decision involving military action is taken very seriously, no matter how preordained it might be given the various ideologies and rationales at play. I've seen them talk about it.

Our "government"? Yeehaw seems to be the only rationale for a bunch of men in suits, Harper chief among them, who will never let themselves be put at risk of being burnt alive in an ISIL cage, or hauled before the ICC.

Fate tends to have an unpleasant way of dealing with arrogant people who mock it. This will not end well. 

Budget mysteries

My guess? The math isn't doing what the Cons tell it to. Tough in an election year.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A major international war has just broken out

Syria, Iraq (with Iranian support), ISIL, Kurds and assorted internal factions and now Yemen with it's own complicated civil war with likely involvement from Iran, both meet a Saudi-dominated pan-Arab military coalition.  Libya has internal problems. Al-Shabaab, Horn of Africa. Boko Haram, Nigeria and other places, links with ISIL. Al-Qaeda is still in there somewheres. There is now effectively a war-zone that extends from northern Africa to Iran. The main fracture lines are Sunni-Shia Islam, Kurd-Arab-Persian, and state-to-state. Add to this that Israel just re-elected a leader who promises no peace with the Palestinians and another dimension could soon be added to this conflict.

Bets are off.

The West does not and cannot control how events unfold from here.

Canada's contribution will have no effect.

Incidently, consideration of international law now has no influence in how the Harper government employs the Canadian Forces. That part is actually a very serious problem for us and for the Canadian Forces. I'm no expert (Dave?) but I don't think this puts a Canadian commander (or their charges) ordering combat missions into Syria on firm legal ground. "Everybody else is doing it" has never been a legal defence.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

RCMP spying on climate change researchers?

This, via Creekside.
Tim Takaro, a health sciences professor at SFU, says he was having lunch in Tofino with his family on Wednesday when his daughter's cellphone rang.
When she answered it, she was told it was the Burnaby RCMP calling and they were looking for her father.
"I was very upset that he had called my daughter and that he was basically threatening, intimidating on the phone," says Takaro.
He says the officer asked him if he had recently had been taking photos near a Trans Mountain pipeline work site on Burnaby Mountain. They also told him they knew he had been to protest rallies that had taken place there a few months earlier.
A few days before, Takaro says he had been taking photographs along the Burnaby Mountain conservation trails when a guard at the nearby work site approached him and told him he couldn't take any photos.
From this we might deduce that the RCMP or CSIS  or some other agency, photographs people at rallies or protests, identifies them and compiles a database, and they (or perhaps private security from Kinder Morgan) puts them under surveillance and then intimidates them by calling his daughter's unlisted number. It's also probably fair to say than any scientist involved in climate change or environmental research is likely now under some kind of surveillance.

If you or I did this to someone, we'd have the RCMP on our doorstep. It's fucking creepy and no doubt highly traumatising for both Professor Takaro and his family.

No crime has been committed. No charges. Just a phone call that tells a much bigger story.  Such is the apparent extent of collusion between the fossil fuel industry, the Conservatives, and the security services.

Bill C-51 will permit the security forces much greater reach in disrupting people's lives than a phone call. We haven't seen anything yet.

They go after the intellectuals first, you know.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Outright Liars

Jason Kenney is a liar. So is his puppy, James Bezan. So says the commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2.

Kenney and Bezan are claiming a close encounter between HMCS Fredericton and Russian surface combatants and aircraft. Supposedly, they got that information from the commanding officer of Fredericton.

Not bloody likely.

There is a near zero chance that the captain of Fredericton sent anything but a factual report of a distant visual sighting of Russian ships and aircraft. To do otherwise would prompt Rear Admiral Brad Williamson, commander SNMG2, to boot HMCS Fredericton to a safe area, well away from any activity. Excitable frigate captains who embellish contact reports are not an asset in such situations - they are an extreme liability.

The fact that HMCS Fredericton remains on station with SNMG2 is solid evidence that the ship is performing and reporting in accordance with the well-practiced doctrine established by the officer in tactical command.

That makes Kenney, Bezan and anybody who repeats their words, liars.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

At the going down of the sun...

With respect and condolences to the family and friends of Sergeant Andrew Joseph Doiron, Canadian Special Operations Regiment, Petawawa, Ontario.



There was a sign on an office door at one of my universities that stated "Nothing destroys a beautiful hypothesis like an ugly fact." This is where we are in Canada right now.

The crude hypothesis the current government saw was that great mass of oil and gas sitting under Alberta (and a few other places) was going to make everyone rich. They looked at the numbers, talked to their corporate buddies, and everyone went into paroxysms of excitement because Canada was going to be an energy superpower and the future would be sunshine and lollipops for the people the Conservatives think matter. The reasoning was very simple: 1. Canada  has a lot of oil. 2. Oil is worth a lot of money. 3. [Insert Tony Montana quote here]

The ugly fact or facts are: Canadian oil is locked up in sand underneath the boreal forest, or at the bottom of the Arctic or North Atlantic. It is difficult and absurdly costly to extract and only makes money if the street price of oil is steep. Think of it this way. In Saudi Arabia, you can have a nice time getting a suntan whilst you stick a spigot into the ground to get the oil. In Canada, you have to deal with blackflies, mosquitos, ice and snow and use giant machines to strip away hectares and hectares of trees and soil, all of which impose costs. The other ugly fact, is that we're just getting serious about the oil business when the rest of the world is moving on because science shows oil to be  extremely hazardous to the planetary health. Naturally, the trepanated contrarian geniuses in the Conservative Party are doing the equivalent of investing in big tobacco after the cancer link was demonstrated.

So instead of looking at the facts and thinking about other ways the capitalising on Canada's capacities, the current government has doubled down on the oil sector. However, to do this, they have to criminalise reality and corrupt national institutions. The Cons, oil-bidness, the RCMP and CSIS all appear to be in bed together desperately trying make a go of the Tar Sands. "Anti-petroleum activists" are now potential terrorists lumped-in with fanatical mass-murderers. It's insane of course, as these guys are hell-bent on wrecking the country in pursuit of what is basically a very bad investment decision. It also suggests the POTUS is now on a Canadian watch-list, given that he's openly calling Canadian oil filthy and disgusting? Good-luck with that.

As I said before, they do not get that there is simply no win for them here. Renewable energy is at or near cost parity with oil, almost every other country in the world is working towards massive reductions in fossil fuel use because climate change. Canada will be reduced to selling dime-barrels of shitty product in global back-alleys, while our furious leader is holed-up in a cupboard at 24 Sussex and his remaining loyalists are outside making a last ditch stand against reality.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Who wrote the RCMP report and why?

First off, it is a clear fail based on sources alone. If this was a paper from one of my students, I'd fail it for failing to use rigorous sources.

This leaves us with a problem.  Either the RCMP is blindingly stupid, and hires D students to its research, or something much worse is happening.

If the RCMP used rigorous and reliable sources for their report, they'd likely have drawn a very different set of conclusions about what constitutes a threat to Canadian infrastructure and the economy. Climate change, undeniably causally linked to the petroleum sector, is an overwhelming threat.   How would the report have read if that were clearly recognised?

On the other hand, and assuming the RCMP is staffed with smart people, the poor quality of the report suggests that it was written to provide some kind of justification or support for a preexisting set of ideas or initiatives.


Friday, February 20, 2015


You guys know the Harper Government is not forever, eh? That Bill C-51, with all the whizbang spy-and-dick-with-everyone-and-make-everything-illegal bill looks shiny and fun, but it sets you up for a terrific fall. Here's why.

First, despite what it might think, the Harper government is just a government and PMSH is just a man. Until they actually ban or render illegal the Opposition parties, they're in jeopardy. Remember, only 30 or 40% of us enough vote for his party. Most of us aren't cool with that freakin' guy because, like C-51, we find him rather creepy and weird. This year or some other year, they will lose an election to a party that will make undoing all their bullshit a priority. It could very well be that the next government imposes so many controls on your operations you'll need parliamentary committee approval to order new stationary - if you're lucky. If you're unlucky, they completely restructure your respective organisations.

Second, the Bill and the RCMP report basically put your agencies in opposition to most of Canada. Canadians get out and protest a lot, about a lot of things, and mostly very peacefully. We've been doing it for a very long time and a little law or two ain't gonna change that basic tendancy because we're quite accustomed to being free to do it. Especially when the things people are protesting now appeal to an increasing range of people. The pipeline protests in BC aren't just a bunch of treehuggers, they're also your Timmies crowd who are suddenly waking up the risks of having a bloody tar-hose in their yards or on their coast. You're potentially setting yourselves up to investigate and arrest millions of people. Read that again: millions of Canadians. That's how big the net is that you're casting. Especially when you consider the younger generation who will form your recruiting base and be your bosses in a few years, are aware of the consequences of climate change and the contribution of petroleum to that problem and desperately want it fixed.

You are being set up to attack Canadians in the defence of dying industry on a dying planet. Do your homework on this.

Seriously, there is no long-term win for you here.

Third, my last point, is that if we do not kerb greenhouse gas emissions and radically reduce our use of fossil fuels, there won't be a CSIS or RCMP left in 20 or 50 years. Flooded coastlines, megadroughts, storms, and so on will wreck the global economy upon which the Canadian economy (including the oil industry) depends, and with it, Canada in general.

To hell with a few terrorists in the middle-east: your 'analysts' are too stupid for words if they disregard the threat of climate change in favour of some other pet issue. You might want to replace them.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

The intellectual power of a dead tree stump ... and a wide open net.

Whoa! What's this?!
Watch and listen very closely ...

I n t e r e s t i n g !!!

Here's the thing ... I agree with him ... completely. The anti-vaccine movement is a crowd of dangerous, self-absorbed, selfish, dilettantes who, devoid of any scientific training or knowledge, have positioned themselves as "experts". They are no such thing and Murphy is quite correct in pointing that out.

In fact, Murphy is so right on this one that he just shot off his own foot. Murphy regularly spouts off as one of the leaders of the climate-change denial faction. To use the same facetious tone as Murphy himself employed, whenever people seek climate science guidance from the likes of Murphy or his fellow geo-scientists in media punditry, they've confessed to having the intellectual power of a dead tree stump.

Murphy couldn't complete the first line of a climate formula. He has a degree in English. We don't need Murphy's stamp of approval to determine which science to accept and which to ignore. Murphy represents a movement of dangerous, self-absorbed, dilettantes, devoid of any scientific training or knowledge, who have positioned themselves as "experts".

Murphy needs to heed his own words and start taking his own advice.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Bill C-51

Bill C-51 is pretty terrifying for a host of reasons, but partly because it represents just how chickenshit the Liberals are of rocking the boat and challenging the Conservatives.

Some things to think about.

1. The Conservative government's involvement of Canadian combat forces in every conflict in the Muslim world in turn makes Canada a target. This is the logic of fighting. If you pick a fight with someone in the street and strike them, you can expect to be struck back. If you send Canadian warplanes and troops to attack an enemy somewhere, you can expect that enemy to hit back.

This terror bill is in part the Conservative government's response to the ultimately very minor enemy strikes on Canada, but strikes nonetheless. The problem is that no one really asked the Canadian public if we'd accept that kind of risk for Harper's little bit of military adventurism.

2. The conflict against Islamist radicals will not last forever, but a new security law on the books will likely remain in place. An expanded security bureaucracy accustomed to radical new powers will look for other places to apply them in order to continue to justify its existence. Politicians have lumped environmental and social justice advocates in the same rhetorical stew as the monsters presently running around Iraq and Syria.

In the era of climate change and growing wealth inquality, that kind of skulduggery leads nowhere good and could well amount to a constraint on adaptive action because it criminalises advocacy.

3. This security fear is a handy distraction for the Conservatives as their economic showpony falls lame with the collapse in oil prices. It won't be much longer if we see massive job losses and economic hardship.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

New York cops, protesters, and...machine guns?

I don't know what's in the copshop water in New York City, but the police there apparently think they need several companies of infantry to police potential roving shooter terror attacks and, uh, "protests".
"It is designed for dealing with events like our recent protests, or incidents like Mumbai or what just happened in Paris,"
The unit will be equipped with long-rifles and machine guns. While the kind and type are not specified, these kinds of weapons form the basic arms of an infantry section, which makes me think they are developing a capacity somewhat different from the normal SWAT arrangement. I mean how long did we think it would take before the 'warrior-cop' thing just became 'army'?

Couple things.

First, the roving shooter problems they refer to tend to involve large numbers of civilians in the line of fire, and this requires a very controlled response. In Ottawa, despite the awesome array of firepower brought out by the police, the shooter was killed by normal beat cops and the sergeant-at-arms who had to go to his office to get his gun. In other instances, the shooters tend to hide quickly and are found in sheds and backyards, and boats, if not dead by their own hand. Mumbai was an exception and in the case of a highly trained and well armed terror cell, there are military formations and other police to be called upon.

But it's the protests bit that snuck in there that is the scary bit. A bunch of people protesting a suspicious police shooting, or some local political issue aren't terrorists hell-bent on killing people - not even in the same universe. But we live in an age where the powers-that-be insist on lumping them together.


Anyway, I don't know if the police quite realise what they're getting themselves into with this militarisation business. We know what eventually happens when armies are deployed to protests.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Harper goes full on North Korean ...

Jeremy Nuttall describes the Friday noontime fiasco when Harper gathered Ottawa-bureau reporters in one place, had them sign an embargo on information and then cut them off, preventing them filing stories on the Harper anti-terrorist legislation.

Good read!

And, this is just the beginning. We all know Harper finds democracy an inconvenient obstacle to his hold on power. Expect more, a lot more, in the coming months. Harper is a desperate individual. Desperate people do despicable things.

Added:  Highlighting the desperation of this odious psychopath is an article from Heather Mallick underscoring his need to broadcast his penis size without, you know, actually having to show it, by producing warrior-centric propaganda ... with your money.

Chris Turner explains that Harper's behaviour is nothing short of that fake US patriotism we're all familiar with. He, along with thousands of others describes Harper's 3 minute propaganda piece as nothing but a cartoon and completely out of place in a country where duty, obligation and sacrifice do not involve beating your own chest and having band play martial music 24/7.

H/T Alison for the Chris Turner link.