Friday, December 19, 2008

White Dyed Crimson

In all the talk of the crisis, the cost of the war in Iraq rarely garners much attention; rather, terms such as "recession" get bandied about. Obama and others have linked the state of the U.S. economy to the war, yet these days much greater costs have been attributed to the war. Last January the NY Times revealed that 121 veterans had been charged with homicide in the U.S., and more have been/will be charged. Furthermore, the number of homeless veterans has been steadily increasing. As if all this weren't enough, Veterans Affairs makes it very difficult to get compensated for PTSD and has even employed some underhanded means to deny. This is far from the worst of it.

In Iraq, estimates of civilian casualties range from 100,000 to upwards of a million. No matter what the actual number is, any estimate in this magnitude is horrific. Fortunately, people have begun to realize this, and even politicians condemn the high number. Blackwater may even be held accountable and lose its contract as a result of allegations of 17 civilian deaths committed by its contractors. A very sinister cost, however, remains hidden: Anna Badkhen has written an article on the vast toll of rape in Iraq. As if the act of rape itself wasn't bad enough, its stigmatization in this region creates dire consequences for a number of victims. Somehow I don't think $300m in whitewashing on Iraq stations will help.

These horrors, however, somehow get diminished, even justified, under the wide umbrella of terrorism, at least the fear of it. Events such as the killings in Mumbai seem to re-enforce the terror of terrorism. Nevertheless, there is so much more to be afraid of: the crisis, our food supply, and climate change; in fact, fear is uncontrollable and omnipresent. North Americans appear to have attempted to encapsulate all causes of fear with terrorism; in other words, we have tried to fight all our fears with the War on Terror. Recently, the economic crisis has ripped apart any success this strategy had, and could even pre-empt other crises, such as climate change. The illusion of security has been shaken in a way that no Listeria outbreak could. Will we wake up this time and not flock toward whatever means of security we hear on TV? Nevertheless, we need to do more than resurrect the line of No Fear T-shirts and watch re-runs of Mountain Dew commercials to combat our herd mentality.

Helena Smith, in her excellent reporting, has shown that the riots in Greece, like those in L.A., were an eruption of an underlying simmering sentiment. A similar sentiment buoyed by high unemployment exists in many of the countries which "foster" terrorism. Aid distribution is changing this; however, the solution seems to lie with much less effusive ways of letting off steam, e.g., shoe throwing. This harmless gesture spoke volumes, especially with the possibility that Bush may pardon himself from any future criminal charges; don't forget the spy bill he introduced and the 35 articles of impeachment that he recently sidestepped. Our path toward peace/reality lies with human ingenuity and our need for expression and self-improvement, the only driving forces that have really gotten us anywhere.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Interfaces

Although I have shuffled through web browsers over the years, from Nexus to Opera, I never really favoured Internet Explorer. At first I just found it inferior to Navigator, then I got annoyed when Microsoft bundled it with 98, and then I grew really annoyed when the anti-trust suit case became mired in its own complexity. (At least the EU's decision had some bite). Finally, the large number of security vulnerabilities alarmed me, the latest of which has necessitated drastic action. Although a patch was eventually released, users were actually encouraged to switch to Firefox and Opera; furthermore, this internal flaw spanned versions from 5 to 8, which is still in beta. (Perhaps, instead of updating 6 with features taken wholesale from Firefox, Microsoft should have fixed some of its legacy code.)

Fortunately, the Web constantly evolves and presents users with a plethora of options. Check out the Guardian's Top 100 Sites for the Year Ahead to discover some of them. My favorite from this list, apart from the regular standouts like Clusty, is Cooliris. This browser add-on is an image based search engine, in which you scroll through a "wall" of images to find your match, news item, or product. This approach is truly innovative and really worth trying. Other innovations, more of which should be coming, refine searches by minority or interest groups.

To escape all this check out the working model of the Antikythera Mechanism:

Monday, December 08, 2008

Anticipatory Jitters

Harper attracts the kind of attention normally accorded to the predators of the animal kingdom: onlookers remain fascinated by his efficiency even though they eschew his methods and hold sympathy for the victims. Harper, once again appears to be getting away with it. The Liberals had better employ some drastic evasive action.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that there is nothing underhanded or undemocratic about a coalition. They occur frequently around the world in minority governments; just not in our regular context of majority governments and the two party system across the border. Please ignore all discussion of "coups" (I still can't believe someone used this term) and "backroom dealings."

Speaking of across the border, I have been reading a stream articles concerned about Obama's emerging cabinet, specifically the Clinton/Bush Sr. blend of Gates, Albright, Holbrooke, et cetera. In addition to the Neocons/hawks, concern grows about "Zionists" such as Clinton and Emanuel. I am concerned about Obama's concessions regarding the economy, especially hisstimuli and auto industry bailout. Although I have already commented that Wall Street and the auto industry should face the consequences of squandered profits and poor decisions, the stimulus package of investing in highways really misses the mark. Yes, perform repairs; however, the real investment should be in LRT and other transit solutions, if he wants to meet his goals of independence from foreign oil.

I do understand that Obama cannot appear too liberal in this political climate saturated with fear. Nevertheless, many want assurances that radical change will still take place, especially in the midst of the Bush fallout (economic crisis and all). Obama has already indicated that his cabinet will serve him, but the Bush team has unnerved many. Obama responded by appointing Shinseki, Rumsfeld's nemesis, to Veterans Affairs. More positions need to be filled and he may even turn to the Republicans to get the right man for the job, e.g., Schwarzenegger for energy secretary.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Storm Front

Just when Canadians thought that federal politics were destined to become pedestrian again, Dion springs talk of a coalition. In fact, this co-operation has been growing in the house since Harper first came to power. This news blind-sided Harper who seemed to have gotten caught up in all the boasting of his party's strong financial position. Ironically too late, Canadians now complain about the Conservative party's negative ads and their idleness regarding the economy. Nevertheless, they seem more ready to accept Dion's move, though how much so remains unclear. Meanwhile Harper, who is backed in a corner, contemplates severe actions, such as dissolving Parliament. I think the coalition would be beneficial for Canada: first, climate change and the economy will be taken seriously and second, although the Conservatives appear united, once a coalition comes to power they will be much less inclined to tow the party-line (many have already expressed their discontent at the PMO for causing the crisis) so new legislation on the environment and economy will hopefully be passed quickly. Furthermore, Dion will gain redemption and respect, (some reckon he already has).

Monday, December 01, 2008

Rarely Learning

I am surprised by the number of failed initiatives by governments around the world in presenting digital information. Europeana, the latest to crash within minutes of launch, was perhaps the most ambitious: a comprehensive catalogue from over a 1,000 museums, libraries, and archives. Ironically, these sites fail due to the influx of traffic, except there's no denial-of-service attack. One of the first sites to fail (and never be resurrected) was evidenceincamera, which was slated to host an archive aerial reconnaissance photos from World War II. The promise of photos of D-Day landings and the Bismarck's sinking created a fever prior to launch. Although I applaud their design and conception, these projects need to be subcontracted to companies like YouTube that provide quick and reliable access to large volumes of information.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Muse : ik

Earlier today I headed into one of my favourite cafés, The Black Stilt, and found it packed. I enquired about a few free seats but they were all reserved, so I stood at a bar Rumsfeld-style. After a bit, a young woman kindly offered me one of the seats I had enquired about, at least until her friend got back. I noticed she was working on some artwork and we got to talking. It turns out Cleo was making covers, pictured here, for her newly released CD, Muse : ll Ik. She had recently lost her job and needed some rent money, so she had a release party and made half her rent. I listened to it and bought one right away. Given the flurry of production she is still developing a MySpace page, but if you would like to purchase a copy for between $7 and $20 (I encourage you to do so) email me or post a comment and I'll get you a copy.

Cleo described her music as a combination of jazz, dance hall, drum&bass, and hip hop, which I think is pretty accurate. If I had to choose one genre it would be hip hop – she raps in a quick paced rhythm reminiscent of Matisyahu. The intricate compositions, however, make it difficult to stray far from the jazz designation. Her voice is an ethereal mixture of Shawn Colvin, Azure Ray, and Ani DiFranco; she also incorporates some Blige funk and Björk vocal effects. Although the production quality of all the songs is not equal, something a few tweaks on the mixing board will rectify on a second release, their ingenuity is. I really enjoyed Simple; the catchy guitar lick loops nicely with her fast flowing rap and the lyrics are filled with reflexivity and contemplation, e.g., "You sit there cynically pretending not to care about my lyrics" and "The West was better before my ancestors settled here." On Manifest she collaborates nicely with a male vocalist and adds strings to the funk beat. (It would work great if the short clip of throat-singing at the end was worked into the song.) Stairwell Sounds and Great Goddess profile the great range of her voice, from haunting to whimsical.


Ode regularly tops my list for providing a disparate, yet comprehensive collection of views and opinions. In the current issue Paolo Coehlo relates an enlightened tale, Our Lady the Juggler and the editors compile the Top Bestselling Books Around the World by collating the top-ten lists of ten independent bookstores from around the globe. It contains a series of articles on the global economic crisis in which Noreena Hertz's Death of a Paradigm stands out. Noreena, a siren of reason, justifies her numerous credentials in her lucid and humbling analysis of the economy. She points out that the present affords a opportunity to set a number of schemata right; however, she notes, "That means the smartest politicians will be those who aren’t only willing to differentiate themselves from the laissez-faire past, but who are willing to engage in a transparent exchange of ideas about what kind of world, what kind of society, we want."

A good example, which even the most forward-thinking of politicians may have to rescue, is the American auto industry. Currently, it teeters like the statues of overthrown revolutionaries. These companies have not learnt, even the hard way. Ford, of the three, has perhaps learnt the most since it adopted green production techniques and buildings earliest, but it never has crawled out of the financial hole that these changes were intended to rectify. Chrysler, for a while at least, was insulated by the weight of Daimler; thus, GMC, independent and prospering remained brazen in its devotion to SUVs and trucks (and suffers for it). Nevertheless, remember that these companies reaped the rewards of these strategies for a number of years. Unfortunately, like most current economic paradigms they were unsustainable; thus, like all the sub-prime signing bonuses, profits have vanished.

First let us get some perspective. One point that I heard on a recent radio interview needs to be repeatedly stated: bankruptcy does not mean that car production will disappear and all related jobs will disappear in North America. Furthermore, it does not mean that the brands will disappear (think of Nestle, Interbrew, and the unsavoury Altria). What it means is that these companies will be purchased at a stock price for which they are deemed profitable and will be trimmed to make this a reality. Thus, the real issue revolves around pride, and American pride should not be tied to unprofitable behemoths from another era of economic evolution. They have had their day in the sun. They convinced North American governments to build roads for their cars, opposite to train companies, and instilled a mindset of the unconquerable horizon. What could be better than letting them fall to their self-appointed fate and carefully blowing on their ashes so a flaming phoenix arises?

Friday, November 28, 2008


Today on my way through town, I was stopped dead in my tracks by a display of blown glass. I went inside the artevo gallery and discovered more than a few treasures. On my way toward the glass I fell in love, not some glib affair, but the enduring kind, with Aguiar's Trio XXXIV:

He applied oils and resin over a copper-leafed canvas to present a landscape both stark and vivacious, one captured on a photographic plate and in amber. After meditating on the piece for some time, I met Carolyn, the Gallery's manager, who demonstrated the light's play on a similar piece using the dimmer switch. Immediately, I wished to take Trio home and experience the range of emotion and hue for myself. She also spoke about some other works, not currently on display, in which he applied oils on a silver leafed canvas:

Aguiar's years studying art and working as a restorer have held him in good stead; his innovative works embody styles ranging from engraving to spray paint art. Each piece, a sublime creation, beckons for affection and adoration.

I learnt that the remarkable glass gracing the window was the work Robert Pierini and his son, Antoine.

That they achieve such astounding effects with glass leaves viewers with little recourse: to abandon their preconceptions and embrace they mystery. You must marvel your way through their websites and see some pieces in person to really discern this. My favourites are the flacons of Robert.

It is enlightening to discover such collections in Victoria. artevo also has locations in Calgary, their flagship store, and Toronto, just opening. I have already wandered into the gallery a few times to admire the Aguiars and Pierinis; however, their collection is much more extensive. The sculptures of Ottaviani and Frost demand particular attention. I also enjoyed the Buddhas of William Edward Rees.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sovereignty Trumps Identity

In the wake of a study that shows Tim Hortons should be included in the list of Canadian cultural identifiers, alongside toques, canoes, hockey (and lacrosse) sticks, and beavers, Canadians struggle to be removed from no-fly lists. This situation has been compounded by the decision of the U.S. to extend their jurisdiction to U.S. airspace; thus, a person on a list cannot fly through U.S. airspace. Apart from privacy issues, personal information of passengers is sent to the States, flying will be even more of a hassle, since few airlines will fly around U.S. airspace. Unfortunately, like Palin's pardon of the turkey, these decisions have been painted on backdrop of cultural irony. Fortunately, humour has flourished as well; I thoroughly enjoyed a piece on the bafflement of complete sentences.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Humanity's Power on Film

In a matter of weeks, it will have been sixty years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was passed. National Geographic has produced an excellent illustration to commemorate the act:
Since 1961 Amnesty International has drawn attention to countless atrocities that contravene the declaration and this weekend they commemorated the charter with their annual Film Festival. I could only attend on Saturday, but was glad I chose this day since the Pearson College choir skilfully performed a number of carols and traditional songs before the first movie. USA VS AL-ARIAN, a story which subsequently has had a happy ending (he was released), details the incarceration of Sami Al-Arian, an SFU professor and outspoken Palestinian activist. I couldn't help feeling uncomfortable with the similarity between the strong-arm tactics of Florida's judicial branch and those found in less esteemed countries. The film does a good job of presenting the facts, as much as a film can, and like any good documentary does not neglect character development. The focus of much of the film is Sami's wife, Nahla, an inspiring and authoritative figure whose story is compelling and well filmed: on one occasion, on the verge of a breakdown, she turns to the camera and states that she's a poor actress and not acting for the camera. In stark contrast his wife and family, Sami is filmed in his prison cell; however, this background does not diminish the poignancy of his sentiments. At one point he states that the government is wearing down his family to get to him; tragically no one truly realizes what he meant until a malicious judge hands him more prison time for the plea bargain he'd had signed at the urging of all his family.

After the film Andrew Wender, who gave a detailed introduction on the Patriot Act and Bush's executive orders, fostered much discussion on the film and future of the U.S. justice system: How much can change under Obama? This film was followed by Justice Without Borders, an Amnesty production, which provided a good history of the International Criminal Court and some of its successes. The film also covers fairly America's initial encouragement for the ICC and its recent reticence. The last film, My Daughter the Terrorist, was a film I was fairly sceptical of: I wasn't really in the mood for an indoctrination film like Jesus Camp, though it's excellent in its own right, or its unintended (ironically so) counterpart Obsession. Unexpectedly this film was much less about two daughters who become brainwashed suicide bombers; these women are professional soldiers who train very hard. It is very touching how the mother deals with the separation from her daughter, especially at the end where she tearfully watches the same documentary you have just watched, the closest connection to her daughter she's had in years.

Ana de Lara's latest film First Winter Last is a semi-finalist in the Migr@tions contest. (You can view and rate a number of good films from around the world that address immigration.) First Winter Last documents the experience de Lara had in coming to Canada, in which she was called a "chink." De Lara notes that coming from the Philippines she did not know what one was, but sensed it was derogatory. I felt that this part of the film which takes place at the end was overplayed and detracted from the film. Nevertheless, the beginning, especially the animation sequence, was excellent, so the film warrants its average rating of 3.5.

Ari Folman's latest, Waltz with Bashir, masterfully deals with the impact of war, here the Lebanon War. As he notes in an interview, he will have done his job if he deters youth from going to war. He purposely presents this simple message and avoids glorifying war with the spectacular animation.

On the other hand, if you require some entertaining distraction turn to A Colbert Christmas. As expected this film is witty, satirical, and full of excellent performances by Elvis Costello, Feist, Willie Nelson, Toby Keith, John Stewart and John Legend.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


The news that Bruno Senna was testing with Honda, stirred up many emotions: loss, grief, and the inspiration of greatness. I watched once again the tragic footage of his uncle's death and various tribute videos, the best being this one:

Don't be put off by the opening text; this is a great tribute. The film opens with coverage of Ayrton in his car just before his last race, then spends some time on the crash itself, before flashing through highlights of his career. It's obvious from his demeanour and accomplishments that he was a great man, but the moment that encapsulates him best, I think, is when he pulls his car over in the middle of the race, gets out, runs to Eric Comas' car and presses the kill switch to put out the fire. The film ends with Senna's victory shouts at the 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix in which he overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles and won with only two gears, a task that left him so exhausted he had to be lifted out of the car.

Commenting on his last qualifying session for the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix Ayrton said,

I was already on pole, then by half a second and then one second and I just kept going. Suddenly I was nearly two seconds faster than anybody else, including my team mate with the same car. And suddenly I realised that I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension. It was like I was in a tunnel. Not only the tunnel under the hotel but the whole circuit was a tunnel. I was just going and going, more and more and more and more. I was way over the limit but still able to find even more.

Then suddenly something just kicked me. I kind of woke up and realised that I was in a different atmosphere than you normally are. My immediate reaction was to back off, slow down. I drove slowly back to the pits and I didn't want to go out any more that day. It frightened me because I was well beyond my conscious understanding. It happens rarely but I keep these experiences very much alive inside me because it is something that is important for self-preservation.”

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New faces and approaches

As Obama breaks new ground by broadcasting his first address on YouTube and indicating that he will support an Israel peace plan that honours the pre-1967 borders, good news was to be had north of the border. British Columbians just voted in their civic elections, every three years, and made some pretty good choices. In these elections the small percent of the populace that actually votes (19 percent in the last election) usually favours incumbents. Whether it was the three elections in as many months (federal, U.S., and municipal), voter turnout was up and a few surprise candidates got into office. In Saanich, the fresh faces are Dean Murdock and Paul Gerrard, two candidates I had voted for last election; both are progressive and support initiatives, such as light rail. Unfortunately, Rob Wickson, the candidate I was campaigning for, didn't make the cut, but like Murdock and Gerrard, a second try in three years may result in success especially when its based on 7,000 votes he received this time around.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Getting it Right?

Since my days as young lad in Scotland where I regularly ate venison, rabbit, and duck, as well as pheasant or grouse on special occasions, I've always eaten game whenever I can; thus, when I heard that some friends had brought back moose from the Yukon, I jumped at the chance to have some. The rich and intricate flavour of the slow cooked meat had a texture similar to pulled pork. Paired with Premices Côtes Du Luberon 2006, a crisp full bodied red, we had a veritable feast.

While I was over there Harvey showed me some books on the Saanich Tribes, e.g., Sencoten Legends and Stories. As I flipped through them I noticed some characters and diacritical marks that I didn't recognize, so I enquired about them. Harvey pronounced some guttural sounds and a long "sh" sound. Later I reflected on these sounds. These were the sounds that I'd heard attributed to a propensity for drink when I'd first arrived in Canada. This irony stung, particularly when I'd read that seized aboriginal lands had been returned. The seizure of these lands was described as a "difficult chapter" in B.C. history. I put Last Great American Whale on repeat and wondered how much we'd really learned in the last 100 years.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Switching Gears

In the vacuum left by the U.S. election, I have been handing out fliers for some municipal politicians. My motivation is twofold: I support these politicians and am eager to increase voter turnout. Although civic elections seem dwarfed by wider global issues, their results determine the condition of our communities and the environment that our children learn in. There are two components, in Canada: a vote for mayor and council and one for school trustees. The Saanich Civil League also wants to increase turnout; they note that only 19 percent of residents voted in the last election. They have released a publication of the voting record of the past council on key issues, have a profile for each candidate, and candidates' responses to eight issues. Although there have been some staunch accusations of misrepresentation in the first publication, their result matches my impression from reading the local newspaper and my overall preference in candidates. Other resources are Saanich News's Introducing Candidates (similar coverage is available from the Black Press for other municipalities) and online minutes and newsletters from local community associations. In addition to these relatively unbiased resources, others, such as the Victoria Labour Council, endorses a number of candidates. This wealth of information that is easy to access and read leaves little excuse for voting by name recognition.

There is much less information readily available on school trustees. In addition, to some coverage in local newspapers, much of it encouraging people to vote for trustees, there are a couple of sites: VLC and StrongVoices (basically a website for two candidates that have teamed up). Other information is available, but not widely disseminated, such as the Victoria Strings Program list of trustees who support music programs. Essentially there are two things to consider in evaluating a trustee: how well they can manage scarce funds and what programs they favour. Shirley Bond's cuts make it even more necessary that trustees be particularly astute. The legality of school fees is an issue that John Young has spearheaded. This labyrinthine debate is better suited to lawyers, but after some examination of the evidence, he appears to be correct.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


The Obama fever that sprouted in all corners of the world thrives today: inauguration tickets go for thousands of dollars on eBay, for the first time and Disney invites Malia and Sasha to appear on Hannah Montana. Nevertheless, the fever's root, change or the hope for it, thrives as well; that is, these entertaining tidbits in no way replace substance. Obama has indicated that he will "Curb the role of lobbyists." (Bad news for AIPAC's stranglehold, I hope). He also wrestles with the illegality of Guantanamo (he may actually close it) and provides hope for Iran. Thus, Obama has exceeded expectations and justified the mania which remains much more than a hollow Hollywood production.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It Happened. What Now?

Obama's victory has taken some time to sink in, a week exactly. I guess that in my subconscious I was expecting some Republican court decision or other tactic to overturn the result. This irrational fear stems from the last election result, the media's coverage during this campaign (recently, e.g., Khalidi), and the fact that the stakes were so high. Now that reality has dawned on me and I have assuaged my fears, I celebrate. Celebration is definitely called for: the only thing Obama did not accomplish was a supermajority in the Senate. Furthermore, even with Missouri undecided he has a stellar mandate: 53 percent of the popular vote and a victory very near Clinton's first term win (a win in Missouri would push him close to Clinton's stellar second term victory).

The day after the election I watched this photo essay of Obama's life, which leads to the next point: What now? This essay reinforces why Obama is such a good choice: I have repeatedly said that the Cuban Missile Crisis in the hands of most other men would have ended in annihilation. Obama is a similar case: his intellect, character, wisdom, and decisiveness are particularly suited to these difficult times. Bush has now been rendered even more irrelevant, at least now I can watch W. knowing that it is a chronicle of the past not a telling of the future.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Calzaghe's Conquest

Calzaghe not only conquered Roy Jones, Jr. but he also conquered doubt. He has put the matter to rest: he is great and among the greatest (since the fight his name has been bantered around with Mayweather's). His combination of resilience and controlled fury silenced the early chants of U!S!A! and the ridiculous speculation of the commentators, e.g., their observation that Calzaghe's girlfriend put her hands in the praying position. Beginning in the third round Calzaghe repeatedly taunted Jones by jutting out is forehead, daring him to take a shot and leave an opening. Although Jones did make some incredible punches, like the uppercut in the sixth, he never rattled Calzaghe again. Even with Jones' constant banter Calzaghe still had time to wiggle his hips, run on the spot, and deliver 75 punches a round compared to Jones' 35 to 40. Finally in the eighth round the crowd, perhaps seized by the animal instinct of a potential kill, started to cheer for Calzaghe. I prefer to think that they had realized he was the kind of champion whose greatness transcends nationhood.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Day the World (America) Changed

I can hope again, and put away all the anxiety I've had since America didn't deliver in 2004. I am relieved: the chapter that began in Florida in 2000 has not only closed, but hope, honour, and integrity have surged back into America's veins. Talk about an emotional roller coaster ride! Naysayers kept me from being too bold in my hope and predictions, and I had prepared a scathing criticism, which has now been deleted, in the event that McCain/Palin won. Instead, America has accomplished a great feat; McCain said it best, "... his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving." The honour and grace that McCain delivered his speech with shows that America did it, not just Obama, "... and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth. This is your victory."

Obama also showed how capable he will be, "There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years ... ." The deep concentration in his face as he spoke about the challenges facing America, made me hope that he takes some time to truly celebrate, though I'm not sure his sense of responsibility will allow that.

He also really struck a chord with me, when he acknowledged the citizens of the world: "And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand."

Barack definitely is a Cicero and I expect that many will read and imagine his oratorical and political skills in a few millennia. Welcome to the new dawn.

Looking Good

The American election with its Electoral College system can be difficult to comprehend, but, unlike the Canadian election, results are released as they are tallied, so it's more exciting to watch. With battleground states, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire won by Obama, various sources are predicting a convincing victory for Obama. This link is worth checking out, especially the Changing Political Map: move the slider and see how Americans have voted since 1948. (In 1972 and 1984 nearly all states voted Republican. After viewing footage of the long lines and early results, I am getting hyped, though not counting any chickens before they hatch.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Big Day

With the world focused on tomorrow's election, and having such a stake in it, it seems somewhat unfair that citizens of the world cannot vote; after all election fever has gripped Nairobi and other places just as hard as the States. Nevertheless, this has not prevented refugees in the Gaza Strip from calling random households in swing States and urging them to vote for Obama. Tomorrow is expected to have the highest voter turnout in one hundred years, let's just hope voters are informed. For those voters who need some help making up their mind check out Mike's Election Guide '08. Here's to the adrenaline and anticipation of tomorrow. Vote wisely!

Sunday, November 02, 2008


I have admired Paul Gross for quite some time, mostly due to my wife's appreciation of Due South, and looked forward to watching Passchendaele as soon as I viewed the trailer. Gross faithfully depicts the ordinary by distancing himself from it, an ability which may stem from his multiple talents as a writer, director, actor, musician, and comedian. Thus, the impossible makes the ordinary seem more real. In this film I felt he went too far. He frequently gets launched ten feet in the air by artillery bombardment and survives; furthermore, the film is a little long, a little too detailed, a weakness that may stem from his familiarity with theatre and TV. Nevertheless, this film is worth viewing. He painstakingly depicts the multi-facets of war: racism and small-mindedness at home, as well as the usual love story in brutal conditions, although his is tainted with heroin addiction, filial love, and multi-ethnicity. He has produced a "documentary" that the audience can relate to; this result not only shocks the audience at the horrors of war, but makes them more palpable with its fiction. Thus, the experience haunts more than the average production. The film can perhaps be summed up by the final scene, in which the camera pans out from the front, a site of such horror and sacrifice: from one crater filled with corpses the scene progresses to multiple craters and to such a place that few details can be made out. I was left with the impression that these events were both very significant and somewhat insignificant. Our habit for war and the goodness such sacrifice has brought, at times, remains something I will remember, ponder, and dwell on this November 11th. We are complicated, something Gross portrayed masterfully.

Prank Call Levels Field

The Master Avengers pulled off a master coupe in duping Palin:

This was perfectly timed as some people will likely become entranced with the immigration status of Obama's aunt, given the past fascination the media had with Wright. (Where was the coverage on Parsley?) I hope voters see the slight for what it is: another notch in McCain's negative campaign. I am sure there is some similar dirt in McCain's family that could have been released.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

What's Next?

Although my Halloween, pumpkins carved by my kids (pretty damn good job too), a bonfire, fireworks, and tequila, was nothing like that featured in the Martha Stewart Living that found its way into my house, the cover's title Everything you need for a bewitching Halloween got me thinking: Do I need a magazine telling me what I need? More to the point: Do I need anyone telling me what I need? However, this is so much the case. Consumers have gotten used to seeing Christmas ornaments in stores, fliers, and magazines before Halloween has passed. Stores used to at least wait until it was over. Now there is a consumer treadmill: Aug. 15 = Halloween, Oct. 15 = Christmas, Jan. 15 = Valentine's, Feb. 15 = Easter, Mar. 15 = Spring, May 15 = Summer, July 15 = Back to School. This is no joke, fliers for school supplies do appear in July. So it seems that North Americans can no longer live in the present and now pass through seasons of discontent, e.g., I can't enjoy a summer day at the beach I need to get my child ready for school. This constant motion in life seems to be more conducive to panic, although it may be an illusion since people would probably clock similar evacuation times to those of yesteryear. Hysteria (it rhymes so nice with Listeria) does seem to spread faster. Phrases, such as "live in the moment," "quality time," and "dial down" linger in these panic infused days and three would be terrorists can change what liquids can be carried on an airplane.

Since extemporaneous living, e.g., Gary Busey on Entourage, seems unfeasible, it's probably best just to think for oneself; that is, think about where stuff comes from and why? In Noam Chomsky vein, question everything. If you ever ask, "Do marketers really think I'll fall for this?", know they do. I should note that I am not (entirely) down on Martha Stewart Living, I enjoy and use their recipes; the features on dried bone marrow and cocktails in chemistry flasks were also redeeming. Hopefully we'll have had an Obamaween this time next year.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Is Obamageddon the end of life as we know it? If it is, couldn't that be a good thing: no more war in Iraq or no more extraordinary rendition? I guess for the group that stated, "Saddam was like a boil that needed to be lanced," it wouldn't; instead Focus on the Family has released a Letter from 2012 in Obama's America. Although this is a serious attempt to stir up the Right, any validity is betrayed by their paranoia of homosexuality and abortion. A saner letter would focus on the benefits of universal healthcare, equality, not living in fear, peace treaties, and sustainable economic prosperity. Perhaps it is better to ask why the chicken crossed the road? and listen to Falwell's fabricated responses: "To get to a gay convention" or "That's why they call it the other side. Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken you will become gay, too."

I hope those who vote on Tuesday will realize that "This feast of beauty can intoxicate ..., just like the finest wine. Come on all you stumblers who believe love rules. Stand up and let it shine" (Cockburn, Mystery. 2006).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rethinking the 3 Rs

While watching the Bill Nye episode, Garbage, with my kids, I was struck by their inclusion of re-think with reduce, re-use, and recycle. 4 Rs are better than 3: even good products, such as the BigBelly Solar need to be rethought. This product holds the garbage of five cans, is clean and self contained, but offers no choice for recycling. Instead a similar product with multiple compartments for recyclables, biodegradables, and garbage could be used to divert waste from landfills. Only balanced thinking will balance equation of our consumption. Perspective can be gained by touring landfills with tomorrow's generation to see how they divert waste (paper bans) and capture leachate and methane. There's no easy path, but integrating disposal into a product's design makes sense. I again praise the efforts of RoHS and hope to see such standards spread through all industries.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Reckoner and Golden Fragments

From the minute I bought the album, Reckoner has been of my favourites; Radiohead has now released each track of the song (guitar, bass, drum, etc ... ) separately, so you can mix your own track and upload it to their site. Some of the remixes are awesome, others hardly recognizable.

I seldom can pass up the release of "lost" recordings, whether they be basement tapes or others, and the Golden Unplugged Album was no exception. On the whole the recording quality is poor and better recordings could probably be found on fan sites; however, the album does have a few treasures. Satellite of Love not only shows off Bono's impressive falsetto range (I wonder if he can still hit them) and features the unyielding Lou Reed. Lucille and Lost Highway are fun country renditions, though Bono cannot traverse the genre of folk nearly so well; Stan Rogers would have done much better with the Springhill Mining Disaster. The crowd's refrain Sunday Bloody Sunday is heart-warming and Dancing Queen (with Bjorn and Benny of ABBA) is lots of fun. The fun continues with the trio of songs lead by a Larry Mullen Jr. who sounds like Joe Strummer. Overall this album is for the diehard fan and not one I will listen to often given its poor, and varied, sound quality.

Since their earliest collaborations Bela Fleck and Chick Corea have belonged together. Their musical intellects match, though for some listeners the experience can be like watching an Einstein at the chalkboard. The bright, cheery, staccato music they produce engenders the humour in their performance: they frequently dare each other to play first or outshine the other. This album also features one of my favourite Fleck songs, Sunset Road, a good listen for the sophisticate.

Algerian reflections

Perhaps McCain is "doing fine" despite a drop in the polls because he is counting on the Bradley, or Wilder, Effect; that is, he is hoping that the polls are out of sink with convictions, beliefs, and opinions. Although these effects have been broadly mentioned throughout the media, some counteract their conventional wisdom and Obama, himself, clearly understands that polls are fickle. McCain may also be confident because he knows that many voters are paralyzed by fear and that reason alone rarely prevails against it. McCain has done a good job of sidelining the major issues in a world that enjoys divesting risk through derivatives and hiding in ACDC's music. Palin made a gutsy and brilliant move by going on SNL and softening her image. However, some voters remain confused.

This would all be fine if we could hide from the $2.8T loss banks have suffered, the price of the Iraq War, and the moral degradation of sites, such as Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. We cannot. Consider this quote I gleaned from Dahr Jamail:

... for seven years, France has been a mad dog dragging a saucepan tied to its tail, everyday unaware that we have ruined, starved and massacred a nation of poor people to bring them to their knees. They remained standing. But at what a price! While the delegations were putting an end to the business, 2,400,000 Algerians remained in the slow death camps; we have killed more than a million of them ...
--Jean-Paul Sartre, "The Sleepwalkers," Les Temps Modernes, April 1962

Jamail, of course, freely amends this quote for Iraq: America for France, 4.7m for 2.4m and 1.2m for 1m. Although it will likely take a few more decades for the average voter to comprehend how we got here and how bad it was ( is), we do need change. It is not hype and cannot be for the worse.

Dialling Dylan

Over the years Dylan's music has entwined itself in my life, so much so that I sometimes think of him as a distant relative; you know, the type of uncle or aunt that you see seldom, but that always seems to direct your life in some way or another. Dylan helped me process religious conversion and Blood on the Tracks brought me back from the despair of failed romances. He puts our pain, suffering and humiliation into a digestible form, yet, as a fan, he requires that you take him on his own terms. This is what so many missed when he turned electric. Thus, as soon RSS feed came on my screen that he was coming to Victoria, I went to and got some tickets, five days before they went on sale at the local box office. The seats were good and so was the company, my brother-in-law, Jer; I was looking forward to this night.

Although I didn't enjoy all of his interpretations of the "classics" and the fact they were interpreted at all, I had to respect his choice: the master bard had a right to know better. All of this came to head when he finally moved away from the keyboard and picked up his guitar (actually when the roadie that so longed for stage-time gave it to him); the fans were munching on the few scraps they had been thrown, barely able to distinguish his playing on Just Like a Woman, when the song ended and they cheered for more. None came, not even one song during an encore; Dylan was once more difficult to pin down, an-iconic. Nevertheless, I didn't know any of the men in their late fifties that comprised his band and I wished for some frame of reference, so I yelled above the crowd to the die-hard fan in front of me who had been writing down a set list, "Wouldn't it be great if Robbie Robertson appeared on stage." The fan responded with some empathy, "You never know." You never do know, but the band had a solid vibe; if Dylan wasn't as well versed in the keyboard, that was o.k. It was good to commune with him once more.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gold Nuggets

I often wonder at Chance's machinations, how quick the beautiful can take up residence in one's being. Unfortunately, they often exit quicker than they entered, a quick gasp rather than a full breath. Fortunately, some stay and afford a modicum of stability. Recently, Chance struck while I researching my thesis chapter on groves; I found the book, Sacred Groves and Ravaged Gardens. The title held me at once, but the book is even more fascinating. It is Louise Westling's research on a handful of Southern writers. Look at how she begins the book, "When I was a young woman fresh out of college and sure my generation was going to correct the world's ills, my Kentucky grandmother, a model of the old-fashioned Southern lady, asked me if my friends and I believed in free love. That old term was far from our ideal of sexual equality and frankness ... That quaint idea made little sense to me for many years, though I puzzled about it as I tried to understand why the relations between men and women violated so many of my notions of cooperation" (ix).

The insights continue, "Yet nowhere else in American literature is there a group of accomplished women writers so closely bound together by regional qualities of setting, character, and time" (1). "If Welty celebrates womankind, Carson McCullers and Flannery O'Connor struggle against it" (5). "... he has performed the part of St. George by defeating a 'dragon' which threatened to kill Denis's heir--and, by implication, to violate some sacred family spirit. That dragon is also the intruding urban machine in the pastoral garden ..." (82-3).

She also includes some spectacular quotes and the breadth of her research is impressive:
A fair young body trampled to death--
This beautiful, glorious Lady of ours!
Bring spices and wine and all the spring's breath.
And bathe her with kisses and shroud her with flowers.

O breasts whose twin lilies are purpled with blood!
O face, whose twin roses with ashes are white!
O dead golden hair, at whose far splendor stood
Millions of true souls entranced with delight!
(Simms, Trampled to Death)

In a similar vein, the newly released, American and British Writers - The Spoken Word, appears to be an impressive collections that has received favourable reviews. These CD's contain audio clips from famous authors, including the only recordings of Virginia Woolf and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Grim Reaper and Other Innovations

Apple's recent letter, sent to threaten a local Victoria school over a trademark dispute, shows just how big corporate nets can be. Fortunately, for bloggers, they can now purchase libel insurance. The only downside, as with all insurance, is the cost of the premiums, which start at $500; however, this product not only legitimizes the blogging world, but also offers protection in it. (At what cost is the only question you must answer). Another similar move toward wider Internet distribution is CBS's decision to show archived content on YouTube. If you wish to watch a number of news broadcasts you can check out LiveStation, which regularly adds networks to its service. (Not all stations are available in every country, but it's a free service).

A very clever new book, worthy of occupying a spot next to the Geist Atlas, is The Grim Reaper's Road Map: An atlas of mortality in Britain. This tome maps how people died; that is, for each cause of death, the number of deaths is represented by a shade of colour. Thus, at a glance, you can determine in which neighbourhood (1,282 total) people are more likely to die of a heart attack or under the blade of a knife.

Grasping change

This weekend has been packed with evidence that change is sweeping America: first, the release of September's donation figures, $150m (the previous record month was August with $65m; furthermore, 3.1m people donated in September and $50m has been raised so far in October); second, Colin Powell, breaking from his former master, Bush, and close friend, McCain, has endorsed Obama; and third, Obama not only went to Roanoke, the first Democratic Nominee since JFK in 1960, but also had thousands greeting him there. Nevertheless, Obama is no dummy and despite a strong campaign presence in other Republican strongholds, he has warned his supporters against getting cocky, "For those of you ... who support me and start reading the polls, I've just got two words for you, New Hampshire."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Final Debate

Tonight was the last in a series of successful debates; I have really enjoyed the variety of format (standing, town hall, sitting) and the adaptive questioning, e.g., the negative campaign question, in these debates. Again in this debate McCain seemed to get mired in the mundane, while Obama rose above it. McCain's $300 billion plan sounds even weaker than when he introduced it in the last debate, which is apparent when he makes his rebuttal, "It doesn't help that person in their home if the next door neighbor's house is abandoned." Besides repeating his mantras, such as "Greed and excess" and "hurting and angry," McCain seemed out of touch. He repeatedly spoke of the American Dream, something which Obama realizes is now a pie-in-the-sky dream (and something that must be rebuilt), since the Bush years, rather than a dream to be realized by any immigrant. The result was that his mentions of Joe the plumber seemed irrelevant especially when Obama quipped, "He has been watching ads of Sen. McCain's." McCain constantly dealt out the low blows: Class warfare, Ayers, and ACORN. Obama was brilliant in his responses, e.g., "Even FOX News disputes it" and "I don't mind being attacked for the next three weeks." I have to take issue with McCain assertion that Biden was wrong regarding the Gulf War, for it is quite clear that Bush Sr. had given Saddam assurances that invading Kuwait was o.k.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Election 2008: What now?

Although some, mostly die-hard Harper supporters, argue that the extra 20 or so seats were worth the $350 million (a significant increase over the $277 million of 2006), it is difficult to determine if that is so. If you track the "progress" of the Reform Party>Canadian Alliance>Conservative party, a broader support base has surely been achieved; however, to think in such terms you have to be a proud supporter, a parent to the cause. In real terms, Western Canada, which used to be drowned out by the voices of Quebec and Ontario, has a greater voice since the 2006 election, but it is hard to make out what else the party is singing. This can clearly seen by the Conservative's campaign messages: they said that Dion had not changed his platform since the economic crisis, but had Harper? They said, "Don't take the risk" with Dion, but never stated what the status quo was; is it really about sweaters and kittens? So we ask, "What now?"

Will Harper be able to pass more legislation? No, he did just fine prior to the election. Instead, we will have to watch Baird embarrass us in places like Bali. We'll also watch Harper do whatever the U.S. president says; the only consolation is the huge leap in the polls by Obama, so there's less chance of a militant Harper. In Victoria, we'll have to hear about Lunn trying to place the blame on experts. As a side issue, I hope Lewis sees the folly of his decision not to back Penn, for Lunn got in for the fifth time without a majority. (Of course, some blame may be placed on Penn for abandoning the Greens in the first place, for many were hesitant to back a Liberal despite her track record). The biggest question is whether Harper will make a definable accomplishment. (After all, it's hard much the past surpluses have padded his economic performance). Will he really pass stiffer environmental regulations or just duck-and-run with Baird?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Technological encounters

Technology progresses so fast that many cannot catch up. For instance, the other day I was trying to explain the reasoning behind having 7000 songs on my iPod to a Luddite. In the end she said she was happy with her Walkman, or was it a Discman; however, she did dig my passion for music. She also liked the fact that you could play any song that came to mind instantly, match your mood to music, and be a DJ. For her, it was the task of organising them and the responsibility of listening to so much music frightened her. You got to respect that; I do spend quite a bit of time getting and organizing music. Although Pandora Radio, Last FM, and playlist makers help, iTunes on the computer (rather than the iPod) remains much more functional and intuitive, especially with Genius.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Second Presidential Debate

McCain's opening statement that he would solve the economic crisis by buying up "the bad home-loan mortgages" sounded preposterous. What about prudent home-owners? or the already bankrupt? Where would the money come from? I think this was a tactical mistake, one which will probably negate the brilliance and poll gains of choosing Palin as a running-mate. I think the town-hall format actually worked against McCain, he seemed to forget that he had to impress many more people than were in the room. Furthermore, despite his familiarity with the setting, he couldn't refrain from high-browing and drumming "greed and excess," "bipartisanship," and "cronyism and special interest"(anyway, doesn't he mean Cheneyism?) into the audience. Also how can American workers be the "best importers"? McCain also failed because he provided no details on health care, rather he referred it to a commission because "we're talking about very complex and difficult issues." He did redeem himself at times with statements, such as, "one of them [programs with overspending] is defense spending."

Barack on the other hand rose above the fray, he did not shy away from prioritizing energy, Medicare, and entitlements and he rose above comments, such as, "You know, nailing down Senator Obama's various tax proposals is like nailing Jell-O to the wall." Obama stuck to the issues. Now the question is whether Americans will do the same. Timothy Garton Ash notes that Democrats score better on the economy (he cites Kinsley's post), but that "Americans are gripped by the politics of fear." McCain spoke of the need for the government to "give some trust and confidence back to America," but doesn't America need a dose of reality, out of which they can begin to hope rather than fear?

Monday, October 06, 2008

VP Victor

The VP debate with its record ratings, viewers, and searches has sparked much analysis on who won: a few say Palin, based on the fact that she exceeded expectations while Biden just met them, and more, based on exit polls and speech content, say Biden. Nevertheless, the winner is Fey and SNL for their clever sketch:

With the gloves off, Tuesday's debate should be great.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Child Soldiers No More

From the day the tickets went on sale, I have been looking forward to the concert Child Soldiers No More. The benefit began in the usual UVic fashion: a lesser faculty member introducing Turpin, who in turn introduced the guests of honour, Dallaire and Cockburn. As Turpin speeches go this one was pretty good and Mary Ellen Purkis, the dean of HSD, got much better as the night wore on. The show proper began with a short PowerPoint presentation, which provided some background on and heart wrenching photographs of child soldiers. When Dallaire made his entrance he received an exuberant standing ovation; his obvious discomfort with this display of recognition and appreciation made him all the more worthy of it.

He then outlined the history of the child soldier weapons system, and its capacity, which encompassed the roles of mine clearers, prostitutes, ambush decoys, front-line soldiers and messengers. 300,000 children are involved, many forcibly, in the world today; not only in Africa where their involvement is widely known, but also in countries like Colombia and the Philippines. He described its origins: how battle lines, rules of engagement, and defined enemies eroded after the Cold War. The horrors of war have become the horrors of humanity. Nevertheless, Dallaire sees the solution in the essence of humanity; only by recognizing the humanness of every human can we make progress. We can no longer categorize human suffering by their assets; we can no longer let the insecurity of one super power dictate the globe's actions. Old models, such as peace keeping, do not work in this world. Rather middle powers, such as Canada, who have no imperial aims can facilitate the Responsibility to Protect (R2P); furthermore, the empowerment of women and education can facilitate change. The most touching story, for me, was his account of the child soldier, who with a shaky trigger finger and the barrel of the gun in Dallaire's nose, released his finger from the trigger when he spied the candy bar in Dallaire's hand.

At first Cockburn's laid back demeanour and the bright opening bars of his first song, seemed incongruent with Dallaire's depiction of the world; his footnote about Flor de Caña being mistaken with Florida Canyons only deepened this misgiving. However, as his performance wore on, I soon realized that his banter was a gift and that this evening had an ebb and flow: the subject was too severe to absorb for three hours straight. I soon found myself immersed in his talent; yes, he still has his chops. Nice touches, such as his falsetto on Lovers in a Dangerous Time, also added to the evening, however, his passion for peace was never far away. Despite my enjoyment, I still had a nagging feeling that Dallaire wouldn't appear on stage with Cockburn, but this sensation was quieted by Cockburn's announcement, "Let us bring Dallaire, after all this is no ordinary evening." What ensued was fabulous; Dallaire recounted two stories while Cockburn provided background music. As Dallaire told his tale of seeing the same look in childless boy's eyes as in his own son's and another of the shame that had cloaked girls who were rape victims, I encountered the power of story. The cadence of his voice, which matched perfectly with Cockburn's lick, only lulled you enough to make the sting of the horror tolerable. Thanks to both these extraordinary people this issue is indelibly etched on the minds of many.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Debate Double Header

I have been saturated by election fever, since Harper called an election. For me, it was a toss-up between watching the Vice Presidential Debate and the Leaders' Debate. After being spooked by Palin's radical leanings, I avoided her for a while; however, her "incident" with Zardari and interview with Couric won me back. Besides a role reversal of experience vs. lack, nothing spectacular happened for the nearly 70 million viewers. I did enjoy her barometer of the economy, soccer parents (I thought she would have plugged "moms" there) and introduction of "Hey, can I call you Joe?"

The Leaders' Debate, on the other hand, was dominated by May; on second thought, she didn't dominate as much as stand out. She wisely used the attention from the controversy of her inclusion in the debate to raise her profile and broaden her platform. I did enjoy Dion's pointed questions and comments to Harper, and to be fair Harper did well in responding to them. In addition, the debate was characterized by the good old fashioned Canadian technique of yelling over each other, which is absent from American debates.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debate at U of M

There was no decisive victor of Friday's debate, especially, in terms of composure, confidence, and craftiness. There was, however, greater differentiation in substance and tactics, ah ... , err, ... strategy. First, both have been pressured to speak in ways they're not comfortable with: Barack spoke twice of assassinating enemies and McCain about weaning America off of Middle Eastern oil. Second, McCain attacked much more than Obama's voting record. Third McCain's responses lacked substance, e.g., his rebuttal to universal healthcare: "I want the families to make decisions between themselves and their doctors. Not the federal government." As a citizen of Canada and intermittent user its health care system, I have never experienced nor heard of the government interfering in decisions between the patient and the doctor. McCain cannot be referring to abortion and euthanasia, since they are separate issues: the government interferes the same way in Canada as in the U.S., e.g., legislation and legal precedent.

Throughout he sounded like a broken record: "a new strategy," "a new strategy," "cut spending," "cut spending," "a maverick," "a maverick," "the surge," and "the surge." Other favourite McCain moments:

"I have a long record and the American people know me very well and that is independent and a maverick of the Senate and I'm happy to say that I've got a partner that's a good maverick along with me now."

"The next president of the United States is not going to have to address the issue as to whether we went into Iraq or not. The next president of the United States is going to have to decide how we leave, when we leave, and what we leave behind."

"There is social, economic progress, and a strategy, a strategy of going into an area, clearing and holding, and the people of the country then become allied with you. They inform on the bad guys. And peace comes to the country, and prosperity. That's what's happening in Iraq ...".

This quote sounds very much like Jack in season 2, episode 7 of 30 Rock, "Tracy, I don't have to understand their world in order to help them. It's like this great country of ours, we can go into any nation impose our values and make things better. It's what Bush is doing all over the globe."

My favourite Obama's response, "And, John, I -- you're absolutely right that presidents have to be prudent in what they say. But, you know, coming from you, who, you know, in the past has threatened extinction for North Korea and, you know, sung songs about bombing Iran, I don't know, you know, how credible that is. I think this is the right strategy."

Hopefully more voters will discern McCain's limited scope over the next two debates. Obama can make this readily apparent by referring to climate change and Bush's order to send special forces into Pakistan: "Now, you don't do that. You don't say that out loud. If you have to do things, you have to do things, and you work with the Pakistani government." Does he mean that as president you give the o.k.? At least Bush restrained himself when it came to Israel bombing Iran. In terms of McCain's numerous trips to Waziristan, Iraq, etc ..., what could he have actually gained from them? His observations were either made from a helicopter or through the shoulders of his body guards from within the Green Zone. McCain states, "... the consequences of defeat would have been increased Iranian influence. It would have been increase in sectarian violence. It would have been a wider war." Isn't this what has happened? Isn't this what numerous analysts warned about? McCain has to concede that victory may not be attainable and realize that admitting to a mistake and making reparations for it makes sense:


Reverb plug-in