around the world – part 33.2 (free beer)

Jan 30 2009:

img_0016I do like a good beer, and I especially like not having to pay* for it.  

Question: if Air Canada can offer Harp and Sleemans in their Maple Leaf Lounges why are we stuck with sludge like Molson Canadian and Heineken in flight?

 

*yes, I know I am paying for it in my ticket, however I like to delude myself into imagining it is everyone else on the flight who is buying my beer so to speak…

around the world – part 33.1 (luggage lotto)

UPDATE:  I win the luggage lotto!   Turns out that mine were not some of the pieces pulled off – I do hope those whose luggage didn’t make it on our flight did not have to wait too long to receive theirs.

norman-rogers1January 30 2009:

Anyone departing Kingston’s Norman Rogers Airport has played this game – will my luggage make it as far as Toronto (let alone the final destination).  The cause for this is a relatively recent decision by Air Canada to cease servicing Kingston with Air Canada Jazz DH1, and rather to sub-contract air service to Air Alliance which flies tiny and apparently anemic Beechcraft airplanes.  These aircraft are not only weight limited, but depending upon the number and type of passengers, the balance point of the aircraft can mitigate also against a full luggage load.

Today, some luggage was removed – I guess I won’t find out until I arrive in Germany if I was a luggage lottery winner.   More at Kingstonist.

the height of hoperbole..

obama_and_mediaYes, I know politicians are given to burping up sound bites which they think will play well on main street, and believe me, I am no fan of wall street fat cats – especially when they beg for public rescue and then turn around and award themselves bonuses for having conned the politicians.   However, Mr. Obama should, before he lets slip with his everyman words of comfort, at least look in the mirror.  Mr.  hopey changey hardly sounds presidential blasting wall street for their “height of irresponsibility” as he cranks up the thermostat  in the white house- hoping you won’t notice  – whilst lecturing the peons on our responsibility for climate change and how we are all going to have to suffer a little bit for the benefit of mother earth .  Hell even the obamatons at the Huffington Post have noticed – that can’t be good.  One wonders what the Goracle might think of it all.

right to play – something i can get behind

logo_updated_topThere are a lot of charities out there – it is often difficult to differentiate them and / or to determine which are the hustlers and which are concealing an agenda.

However, if you have kids and you love to watch them play – then give a kid a chance to play again. Kids helped by RTP have seen some pretty horrific things and your donation can help them on the path to regaining a childhood.

cognitive dissonance and the useful idiots

I have often wondered how it is that groups espousing opposing views can rationalise common cause* with religious extremists.   It has lately been much on view with the recent gatherings in various Canadian cities in support of the wretched** residents of Gaza, however these aren’t the only occasions

And so, for instance, one sees self identifying socialists, feminists or members of the GBLT community waving placards along side islamist protesters, railing against the latest outrage to be pinned on the US, Israel or the West [ globalisation ] etc.  

How do they square the debt of liberal freedoms owed by them to the [largely secular] social democrats who went before with the crude, dangerous and illiberal desires expressed by their fellow islamist marchers?  Do they not realise that the Islamists despise them and would if given the chance eliminate them altogether?   One need look no further than the Iran of 1979 – 1980 when during the consolidation of the Islamic Republic, among the first rounded up for liquidation [after supporters of the Shah] were the social democrats, secular trade unionists and so on.  Can they really wish to condemn their fellow women, gay or socialist friends in those countries to fates which they themselves would not accept in Canada? 

The communists had a name for these folks – useful idiots.

To top it off, the forces of religious conservatism are working very hard to ensure that on the international stage it will be virtually impossible to cite religious persecution as grounds for a human rights complaint.

Anything which can be deemed “religious” is no longer allowed to be a subject of discussion at the UN – and almost everything is deemed religious. Roy Brown of the International Humanist and Ethical Union has tried to raise topics like the stoning of women accused of adultery or child marriage. The Egyptian delegate stood up to announce discussion of shariah “will not happen” and “Islam will not be crucified in this council” – and Brown was ordered to be silent. Of course, the first victims of locking down free speech about Islam with the imprimatur of the UN are ordinary Muslims.

Here is a random smattering of events that have taken place in the past week in countries that demanded this change. In Nigeria, divorced women are routinely thrown out of their homes and left destitute, unable to see their children, so a large group of them wanted to stage a protest – but the Shariah police declared it was “un-Islamic” and the marchers would be beaten and whipped. In Saudi Arabia, the country’s most senior government-approved cleric said it was perfectly acceptable for old men to marry 10-year-old girls, and those who disagree should be silenced. In Egypt, a 27-year-old Muslim blogger Abdel Rahman was seized, jailed and tortured for arguing for a reformed Islam that does not enforce shariah.

To the people who demand respect for Muslim culture, I ask: which Muslim culture? Those women’s, those children’s, this blogger’s – or their oppressors’?

As the secular campaigner Austin Darcy puts it: “The ultimate aim of this effort is not to protect the feelings of Muslims, but to protect illiberal Islamic states from charges of human rights abuse, and to silence the voices of internal dissidents calling for more secular government and freedom.”

Those of us who passionately support the UN should be the most outraged by this.

Underpinning these “reforms” is a notion seeping even into democratic societies – that atheism and doubt are akin to racism. Today, whenever a religious belief is criticised, its adherents immediately claim they are the victims of “prejudice” – and their outrage is increasingly being backed by laws.

All people deserve respect, but not all ideas do. I don’t respect the idea that a man was born of a virgin, walked on water and rose from the dead. I don’t respect the idea that we should follow a “Prophet” who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn’t follow him.

I don’t respect the idea that the West Bank was handed to Jews by God and the Palestinians should be bombed or bullied into surrendering it. I don’t respect the idea that we may have lived before as goats, and could live again as woodlice. This is not because of “prejudice” or “ignorance”, but because there is no evidence for these claims. They belong to the childhood of our species, and will in time look as preposterous as believing in Zeus or Thor or Baal.

*perhaps not so much ‘cause‘ as an inclination amongst some in the left wing to authoritarianism – distinguishing themselves from the dogmatic believers only in the details……

**their wretchedness being imposed upon them by religious mafia – Hamas.   For those who disagree with me – imagine if tomorrow the Palestinians unilaterally disarmed – does any mentally stable person think for a minute that their condition would worsen?  Likely goods would flow across the border and a functioning economy freed from the mafia like embrace of the gunmen in Gaza would emerge.   I am reminded of one of the less remarked upon features of the Northern Ireland troubles wherein both sides had a vested interest in keeping British soldiers in the province as the millions of pounds spent in the local economy were open to graft, extortion – mostly to the betterment of the armed factions and their bank accounts.

7.3 – change you can measure – the global corruption perceptions index

With George W. out of the way, and change you can believe in upon us now perhaps it is time to take a step back and have a peek at transparency international’s corruption rankings – particularly as TI

welcomes the strong and critically important signal sent by American President Barack Obama’s declaration on his first day in office that “transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.

I take it that from his statement Mr Obama intends to distance himself from what is supposed to have been the  venal administration of his predecessor – except that the new president seems to have been the beneficiary of a very consistent rating courtesy of the outgoing administration.   Hardly Zimbabwe then.  So despite the frothings of the weirder side of the political left who would have you believe that the departed Bush presidency operated in near constant abrogation of the law – it turns out not to be true.  In actual fact, in the TI ratings from 2001 to 2008, the USA sat between 20th to 16th place out of 180 countries surveyed with a low of 7.2 (2007) and a high of 7.7 (2002) – by comparison, Canada ranged from 9.0 to as low as 8.4 during the same timeframe.  

In other words, hardly corrupt, no significant change in the ratings and yet…..

In four years where will the Obama administration stand?  With his roots in the Chicago Democratic machine, initial indicators are not looking too good……

topic du jour – media loves those plucky taliban

0126taliban364big2G&M Headline:  “Taliban turning to more ‘complex’ attacks

While it is entirely possible that the Taliban are indeed conducting more ‘complex attacks’ the story leaves something to be desired.   The data points collected by Mr. Kovanen don’t tell the whole story – for nowhere does the article indicate if this increase in attacks has translated into increased effectiveness.   I note that the majority of Canadian soldiers killed in 2008 were as a result of IEDs rather than clashes or firefights – this suggests that despite the increase in so-called complex attacks, the Taliban have scored very few successes, and must resort to IEDs.   Mr. Kovanen sets the bar quite low when characterising complex attacks as those with more than one type of weapon – this is not difficult, the insurgents are typically armed with rocket propelled grenade launchers (RPG-7) and the ubiquitous AK-47 assault rifles.  What matters is whether the insurgents will be able to carry out sustained and co-ordinated attacks requiring detailed planning and command and control mechanisms – if this becomes the case, then there is cause for concern.   

Whether one agrees or not that Canada should be involved in the manner in which it is in Afghanistan, the very least the Globe could do is demand that their fact checkers do some homework rather than printing an article which the cynic in me might believe is intended to negatively affect support at home. 

And from the Comments:

Robert Quinn from Japan writes: The driver in the picture didn’t look to be wearing his seat belt during this mission.  Also, it’s unsafe to be riding in the back of a pickup truck with unregistered RPG launchers.  I hope we can assume ever-considerate Canadian representatives with the UN have alerted Taliban vehicle operators regarding this potentially dangerous oversight.