The parties are advised to chill.
Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894, 908 (9th Cir. 2002)

Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Let's Hear It For Unanimity

Now, these days, people wonder if the Supreme Court ever agrees on anything. The answer is "yes." At least when it comes to flawed jury instructions.

A unanimous opinion on a case with politically charged overtones - how often does that happen?

Posted 9:05 PM by Tony

Whoa. Canada!

If you're like me, I'm sure you're thinking that there's been only bad news out of Canada, what with the bribery, attempted bribery, suppression of free speech, and general airing of dirty laundry, and a billion other things. It get's a little depressing.

So, to counteract that, here's a few pics of the new Miss Universe, Natalie Glebova, from Canada:

I sure feel better.

Posted 8:52 PM by Tony

Thursday, May 26, 2005
Aesthetic Barriers

The SF Chronicle has an article about student designs for a suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Here's hoping that it also prevents oblivious UBC students from causing economic damages as a result of blocking vehicle and ship traffic.

Posted 5:04 PM by Tony

Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Uncomfortable Facts?

Is it just me, or does the New York Times take a positive glee in puncturing Canadian self-image, in an article entitled, no less, "Was Canada Just Too Good to Be True?":

A government program sponsoring sporting and cultural events in Quebec has been tainted by allegations of millions of dollars in kickbacks and money laundering. Witnesses before a federal inquiry into the scandal have described envelopes full of cash left on restaurant tables to advance the cause of the governing Liberal Party.

But even as the "sponsorship scandal" has unfolded, one unseemly chapter after another, Prime Minister Paul Martin has held fast, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, to a cherished Liberal Party script: Canada as a singularly virtuous country that adheres more than most to values like honesty, decency, fairness and multiethnic equality, not to mention publicly financed universal health care.

"We will set the standard by which other nations judge themselves," Mr. Martin boasted to his party caucus only minutes after his government was saved on May 19 by a single vote in the House of Commons - the vote of a lawmaker who had turned her back not only on the Conservative Party, which she helped found only a year ago, but on her boyfriend, a Conservative leader, in return for a Liberal cabinet seat.

[ . . . ]

Canadian officials constantly lecture Europe and the United States on the need to level the playing field in agriculture for third world producers. But at the same time Canada runs monopolistic dairy product marketing boards that raise tariffs of 200 percent and more to protect its own producers of milk, eggs and butter.
[ . . . ] At a recent Liberal party convention, Mr. Martin pledged that "our most important commitment to the Canadian people was our pledge to protect and defend the values that define us: Liberal values, Canadian values." To which Stephen Harper, the Conservative leader, shot back at a rally of his own: "Corruption is not a Canadian value."

I'm a bit surprised at the Times's stance, as I thought that the Times would be relatively sympathetic to the Liberals. Who knew?

As a bit of a segue, thank goodness for the First Amendment as applied to libel, as in the seminal case of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan. Tim Murphy, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin's chief of staff, further demonstrates "Canadian values" (via Globe and Mail, found via robot guy by way of Being American in T.O):

Mr. Murphy did not return a telephone call yesterday, but the Prime Minister's press secretary, Melanie Gruer, gave this prepared reply:

"Mr. Murphy will be doing no media interviews on the topic of Mr. Grewal. He issued a statement earlier this week making clear that he made no offer of any kind to Mr. Grewal.

"Mr. Murphy has retained legal counsel and will be pursuing a libel action against Andrew Coyne of the National Post, and is also considering a potential claim against Gilles Duceppe [leader of the Bloc Quebecois party]."

Now, the story does not disclose the basis for Murphy's claim, but I daresay Coyne's column on the tape incident fits the bill:

What’s clear, moreover, is that this was hardly an isolated event: Mr. Murphy speaks of similar discussions with several other Conservative MPs. And we know of one, in particular, with whom the discussions proved notably fruitful. Offering a cabinet post to Belinda Stronach to induce her to vote with the government would not ordinarily be illegal, though it is certainly unethical -- and arguably unconstitutional, given the government’s tenuous position in the House. But offering positions outside the House -- a Senate seat [mentioned by Murphy on the tape], a diplomatic posting -- as an inducement to someone to vote a certain way, or not vote a certain way, would plainly be against the law. At the least, it would be conduct unbecoming a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada.

As Robot Guy points out, it's a little curious that Murphy is going after Coyne, and not CTV, which put the audio on its web site, nor the Globe and Mail, which published a transcript. I don't know if this link is dispositive, but it certainly seems relevant, if at least to show that Murphy may bite off more than he can chew in going after the latter two:

CTV Inc. is owned by Bell Globemedia, Canada's premier multi-media company, which also owns The Globe and Mail, Canada's National Newspaper.

Or maybe Murphy is leery of annoying Ivan Fecan, head of Bell Globemedia. Who knows? But it makes for some interesting speculation.

Now, as an American, I have been looking at this incident "against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials."

I have no experience in Canadian jurisprudence, but it would seem to me that the rules in Canada are a bit different. These April 5, 2004 remarks by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada are instructive:

This said, the explicit recognition that, in a democratic society, limits may be imposed on fundamental freedoms means that free speech is more narrowly conceived in Canada than in the United States, as is evidenced by our respective positions on pornography, hate speech and defamation. While the American right of free speech admits of some limits in the name of reason or practical necessity, the fact remains that what would be counted as a reasonable limit on speech in Canada would often amount to an unreasonable limit in the United States.

[ . . . ]

To take another example, it is easier to sue for libel in Canada than it is in the United States. Application of the First Amendment's guarantee of press freedom led in this country to New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (376 US 254 (1964)) which permits newspapers to publish false rumours and make false statements about people with impunity so long as they do not do so intentionally or recklessly. A few years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada in Hill v. Church of Scientology expressly declined to adopt the Sullivan approach. As a result, in Canada, newspapers print unverified material at peril of being sued for libel. The Supreme Court considered the argument that a Sullivan approach was required to prevent "chilling" the free dissemination of information essential for the working of democracy. It concluded that any chilling effect flowing from strong libel laws is outweighed by the importance of protecting people's reputations against false and slanderous statements. Canadian law accepts that the goal of getting at the truth may be served by free exchange in the marketplace of ideas. But it also accepts that false words can do great damage to individuals and groups, damage that cannot always be repaired by debate and discussion.

I have spoken of some of the differences in the Canadian and American approaches to the fundamental guarantee of free speech. To put it in a nutshell, we in Canada are more tolerant of state limitation on free expression than are Americans. Similar points can be made about other constitutional rights.

Whatever the merits of Murphy's claim, at the end of the day, what we have here is a journalist conveying an opinion that Murphy's words, caught on tape, constitute an illegal act. Perhaps it's because I come from a different cultural background from Murphy, but it's almost embarrassing for me to read about a public figure trying to suppress political speech with a libel action.

Posted 6:03 PM by Tony

Picture Day

I was flipping through this month's Import Tuner, and was struck by the cover model, CJ Gibson:

(found here)

See also here for more.

Posted 5:13 PM by Tony

Leaving The Left

LT Smash points to an interesting piece by Keith Thompson in last Sunday's SF Chronicle:

Eight-million Iraqi voters have finished risking their lives to endorse freedom and defy fascism. Three things happen in rapid succession. The right cheers. The left demurs. I walk away from a long-term intimate relationship. I'm separating not from a person but a cause: the political philosophy that for more than three decades has shaped my character and consciousness, my sense of self and community, even my sense of cosmos.

I'm leaving the left -- more precisely, the American cultural left and what it has become during our time together.

[ . . . ]

A turning point came at a dinner party on the day Ronald Reagan famously described the Soviet Union as the pre-eminent source of evil in the modern world. The general tenor of the evening was that Reagan's use of the word "evil" had moved the world closer to annihilation. There was a palpable sense that we might not make it to dessert.

When I casually offered that the surviving relatives of the more than 20 million people murdered on orders of Joseph Stalin might not find "evil'" too strong a word, the room took on a collective bemused smile of the sort you might expect if someone had casually mentioned taking up child molestation for sport.

My progressive companions had a point. It was rude to bring a word like "gulag" to the dinner table.

And there's some interesting responses to this piece today. My favorite is this:

Many liberals simply believe it is folly to think a constitution can be forced by invaders at gunpoint, and without it, democracy is doomed to tyranny.

To me, this seems rather inaccurate. First, the proposition that "it is folly to think a constitute can be forced by invaders" seems rather ahistorical, given the experience of the former Axis powers. Second, it doesn't seem to accurately reflect the situation in Iraq, in which Iraqis turned out to the polls in great numbers, despite the threat of violence. It's also worth considering that the 55 member of the committee charged with drafting a constitution is headed by a Shiite cleric, with a Kurd and a Sunni as his deputies. And that the day after 100 Iraqi police recruits were killed, 300 more were lined up to join.

Folly, indeed.

Posted 8:28 AM by Tony

Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Quote Of The Day

Via Instapundit, there's this gem from the Guardian:

Polls show voters who reject the constitution have the edge over those likely to vote "yes," and the gap is growing. But they also show a majority either won't vote or are confused by the paperback-sized document and haven't made up their minds.

"Holland is in a very inward mood. It's hiding behind the dykes," said historian Han van der Horst.

I swear I'm not making it up.

Update: Then there's James Lileks, on Attack of the Clones:

The dialogue in AOTC isn’t completely unlistenable – better Lucas should write exposition dialogue than anything emotional, or you get love scenes in which characters say “I hate sand. It’s dry and gritty. I much prefer your vagina.” Or whatever “Anny” said.

Posted 9:31 AM by Tony

Say A Little Prayer

From the SF Chronicle:

Al-Qaida's branch in Iraq, blamed for numerous terror attacks on U.S. and Iraqi targets, said Tuesday in an Internet posting that its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had been wounded and called on supporters to pray for his recovery.

I'm sure they won't mind if I add my own little prayer:

Dear Lord, please ensure that al-Zarqawi heals from his wounds, but only after he is captured by the Iraqis or the Americans. May he regain perfect health, so that nothing gets in the way of expeditiously hanging him by the neck until dead for what he has done. May your will be done. Amen.

I figure that's close enough.

Posted 9:21 AM by Tony

Empirical Evidence

As I found out this past Sunday, drinking 4.5 pints of beer is insufficient to actually drown sorrows. On the flip side, it's not enough to generate a hangover either.

Posted 9:06 AM by Tony

Monday, May 23, 2005
A Few Star Wars Observations

So I finally saw Episode 3 of Star Wars. Not quite "that's two and a half hours of my life I'll never get back," but close enough.

A few observations:

1) Lucas explains in Episode 1 that Force ability is a function of midichlorians, some sort of symbiotic organism. The higher the midichlorian count, the greater the Force ability. Now, all that's left of Anakin after he gets set on fire by the lava is a head, a torso, and four stumps. Wouldn't the loss of so much body mass result in a lower midichlorian count, resulting in a much-diminished Force ability?

2) Speaking of the lava, it struck me that for someone allegedly adhering to the Light Side, Obi-Wan was pretty stone-cold, watching as a dismembered Anakin slides into the lava and catches on fire.

3) Robotic General Grievous being blown out of his spaceship, and walking on the surface. I like how his cape flutters. In vacuum.

4) And how is it that General Grievous has such a hacking cough, what with being a robot? Feel free to insert a "computer virus" joke here. :)

5) Lucas cannot write a relationship scene to save his life. Science fiction author Orson Scott Card, via Vodkapundit - "To be handed a script with dialogue like the lines Mr. Lucas wrote for them is one of the worst nightmares actors have."

6) Obi-Wan tells us that "only a Sith deals in absolutes." Yet, in the beginning text scroll, we're told, "Evil is everywhere."

7) "Younglings"?

8) Why is it that a technologically advanced culture still relies on massed infantry? Let's hear it for Time on Target.

9) While we're discussing battles, how is it that no one, and I mean no one, seems to have bothered with establishing local aerospace superiority?

10) On the plus side, lightsaber fights and Samuel L. Jackson kick ass.

11) Also on the plus side - Natalie Portman.

12) Oh yeah, thanks for keeping to a minimum the CGI cinematic war crime that is Jar Jar Binks.

So, that's it - no more Star Wars. Thank goodness. Even on the video game side, my favorite LucasArts titles have been non-Star Wars: Gladius and Sam and Max Hit the Road. I'm done.

I suppose I'm being a bit harsh, but perhaps not.

Posted 7:01 PM by Tony

Quote Of The Day

In a New York Times article on a study of the political impact of blogs:

"The blogosphere is half forensic lab and half tavern," said Michael Cornfield, an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University and the chief author of the study.

"The magic of the Internet is you can be looking at evidence, at direct documentation, while you're talking," Mr. Cornfield said, referring to the fake memos that turned blogs into influential buzzmakers. "It would be as if the Nixon tapes were available in MP3 format during Watergate."

[emphasis added]

I just like it because of what's happening over the border. Tim Murphy, chief of staff to Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, is on tape offering an "abstract" in the runup to a no-confidence vote that was ultimately defeated 153-152 (via Globe and Mail; see also Andrew Coyne; Being American in T.O.):

Murphy: So one of the proposals I have is this, that, tomorrow's vote is, let me phrase it in the abstract.

If two members of the Conservative Party abstain from that vote... don't vote against their own party, right? Don't have to.

Posted 6:30 PM by Tony

Thursday, May 19, 2005
Remedial Civics And Some Blasts From The Past

So, the judicial nomination showdown is underway, and Representative Nancy Pelosi has shown that she's in need of a remedial civics lesson (via SF Chronicle):

Republicans "are using any means to justify their extreme agenda," Pelosi said. "We will not let them undermine one of the tenets of democracy: the right of the minority. ... That is what the Republicans are attempting to do - - silence the voice of the minority and thereby deny millions of Americans a voice in the Congress."

Perhaps I'm mistaken on this, but the basic thrust of democracy was majority rule. That still holds true, despite some anti-majoritarian structural provisions, such as Article V of the Constitution. The supermajority to overcome a filibuster, it should be pointed out, is not a constitutional provision, but a Senate rule. If the above quotes are accurate, Pelosi apparently believes in minority rule, presumably if that minority is Democrat.

And let's set aside the irony of Nancy Pelosi her opponents as having an "extreme agenda."

Later in the article:

When California's Democrat Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer spoke in support of the filibuster against Brown and other nominees, Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn's office instantly e-mailed quotes from both bemoaning Republican blocks on Clinton's nominees.

"It is not the role of the Senate to obstruct the process and prevent numbers of highly qualified nominees from even being given the opportunity for a vote on the Senate floor," Boxer said in 1997.

In 2000, Boxer said, "I think some of my friends on the other side of the aisle think you are an activist if you have a heartbeat or a pulse, if you are alive. Nominees have to have some opinions; that is what a judge does."

In 1999, Feinstein said, "A nominee is entitled to a vote. Vote them up; vote them down."

Sort of ranks right up there with comparing the NY Times in 1995, found at NRO

The U.S. Senate likes to call itself the world's greatest deliberative body. The greatest obstructive body is more like it. In the last session of Congress, the Republican minority invoked an endless string of filibusters to frustrate the will of the majority. This relentless abuse of a time-honored Senate tradition so disgusted Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa, that he is now willing to forgo easy retribution and drastically limit the filibuster. Hooray for him.

[ . . . ]

The Harkin plan, along with some of Mr. Mitchell's proposals, would go a long way toward making the Senate a more productive place to conduct the nation's business. Republicans surely dread the kind of obstructionism they themselves practiced during the last Congress. Now is the perfect moment for them to unite with like-minded Democrats to get rid of an archaic rule that frustrates democracy and serves no useful purpose.

[emphasis added]

with yesterday's editorial:

Democrats have hardly been obstructionists in their constitutional role of giving advice and consent; they have confirmed more than 200 Bush nominees, while balking at a mere seven who should be blocked on the merits, not for partisan reasons. This is a worthy fight, and the filibuster is a necessary weapon, considering that these are lifetime appointments to the powerful appellate judiciary, just below the Supreme Court. In more than two centuries, only 11 federal judges have been impeached for abusive court behavior. Clearly, uninhibited Senate debate in the deliberative stage, with the minority's voice preserved, is a crucial requirement.

[emphasis added]


Posted 8:28 AM by Tony

Is It That Time Of Year Again?

I was looking through the excellent busblog (which is quite well done, even though I don't agree with him politically), when I noticed the pictures of the Miss Universe contestants.

I can't believe it's already that time of year again.

So, for your Thursday eye candy, here's pictures of a few Miss Universe contestants, unexepectedly found at, of all places, the Hindustan Times.

Carina Beduschi, Brazil:

Monica Spear, Venezuela:

Adele Basson, Namibia:

Now, go over to Dan's for the Thursday Diversion.

Posted 5:08 AM by Tony

Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Craft Time

Here's my very own Team Martin sign (Librano Generator at Kate of Small Dead Animals; found via Being American in T.O.; see gallery):

Now, I'm not Canadian, and haven't visited in years - why do I care? There's a couple answers - I've liked every single Canadian I've met; Canada's our closest ally in this hemisphere. But I guess the strongest reason is that I that I often think Canada's experience is a cautionary example and a counterpoint to thinking I've often encountered here in the Bay Area.

Posted 6:45 PM by Tony

Great Moments In Journalism

This Reuters story about the Cannes film festival shows why, if one is going to make a conclusion, then the stated facts should support that conclusion (via Best of the Web):

At Cannes there are other films probing America's underbelly: "A History of Violence" is a portrayal of redneck American bloodletting, "Sin City" with Bruce Willis needs no further explanation, and "Don't Come Knocking" is about an over-the-hill Western hero's steep fall with alcohol and drugs.

Canadian David Cronenberg, who directed "A History of Violence," said he could have set his film anywhere but chose a small Midwestern town because it fitted the story best.

"As any artist will tell you, to be universal you have to be specific," Cronenberg said. "It's very deliberately put in an American setting to show a universal problem."

[emphasis added]

It's a bit of a nonsequitur to say that a firm is "probing America's underbelly" when the director says that is "very deliberately put in an American setting to show a universal problem."


Posted 8:13 AM by Tony

So Call Me Nitpicky

John Podhoretz points to a post by Diane Keaton, who writes about voter apathy in the LA mayoral election. This part made me pause:

And the fact is, Los Angeles is a city. We benefit from the collective power that only cities have: freeways, cultural institutions, schools, police, etc.

[emphasis added]

Only cities have freeways? I imagine that'd come as a surprise to Caltrans. Not to mention the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, whose web site says nothing about freeway maintenance.

I guess I'm just amused about Keaton's examples of what "only cities have," which suggests that places outside cities lack "cultural institutions, schools, police, etc." Who knew?

Posted 8:03 AM by Tony

Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Pieces Of Silver

Let's start out with a basic structural observation - Canada operates under a parliamentary system. Which means, the majority in Parliament also controls the executive. It's still rather hard for me to grasp, given the American system of separation of powers.

The current Adscam scandal in Canada, to me, illustrates the problems with such a system in stark relief. The ruling Liberal party is under attack for allegations that monies for a sponsorship program were used, essentially, as kickbacks for Liberal Party supporters. See this Wikipedia summary, and my own comments from last February, and last month. The transcripts of the Gomery Commission hearings makes for some interesting reading (though it still astonishes me that they still published only part of the most interesting testimony, reflecting an adherence to a demonstrably ineffective publication ban). Despite losing what was effectively a no-confidence vote, the Martin government called it "procedural" and refused to resign.

Of course, it's not like this came as a surprise to the Liberals (via BBC):

Canadian governments have to resign if they are defeated in the House of Commons in a formal vote of no confidence, or over important legislative matters, such as the federal budget.

The government has postponed a number of so-called Opposition Days in parliament, when the Tories may have been able to present no-confidence motions, but has promised to allow an Opposition Day before the end of May.

Canadian Colby Cosh notes that the Martin government put off by nine days the immediate formal vote required by their tradition, and we now know why (via SF Chronicle:

A Conservative lawmaker defected to the ruling Liberal Party on Tuesday, all but assuring that Prime Minister Paul Martin's scandal-rocked minority government will win a confidence vote later this week.

Belinda Stronach, who lost a bid as leader of the Conservative Party last year, was appointed to Martin's Cabinet as the new minister of human resources, a huge promotion for a relatively inexperienced member of Parliament.

Her surprise announcement means Martin's minority government will have a much better chance of winning a confidence vote scheduled for Thursday.

Her statement makes for some hilarity (via Globe and Mail):

Thank you, Prime Minister.

After difficult reflection, I reached a conclusion. I cannot exaggerate how hard this was for me. The political crisis affecting Canada is too risky and dangerous for blind partisanship. I watch and listen and feel that the interests of individuals or parties are often placed above the national interests. The country must come first.

How that country is best served by maintaining the Liberal party's grip on power remains unexplained.

I entered politics in the first place both to be a strong voice for the citizens of New Market and Aurora, and to try to make my country stronger and better. To have healthy politics in Canada, we need the checks and balances of more than one strong and vibrant party.

"New Market and Aurora"? What happened to "[t]he country must come first"? Also, I fail to see how she is helping to maintain the checks and balances of the system by helping to maintain the Liberal Party's monopoly on legislative and executive power.

Over time, the Conservative Party will mature and grow to provide that option. There are many good and talented folks that I have a great deal of respect for in the Conservative Party. But I find myself at a crossroads forced on me by the decision of the leader of the Conservative Party to try to force the defeat of this government this Thursday.

It is now the moment to stand and be counted because the consequences are serious. I've been uncomfortable for some time with the direction the leader of the Conservative Party has been taking.

And again, how her defection to the Martin camp best serves to advance the "checks and balances of more than one strong and vibrant party" remain a mystery.

I tried to the very best of my ability to play a constructive role within the Conservative Party to advance issues that really mattered to Canadians in cities, to women, to young people, to many Ontarians.

But regret to say that I do not believe the party leader's truly sensitive to the needs of each part of the country and how big and complicated Canada really is.

The "country" and "Canada" being defined as "Canadians in cities, to women, to young people, [and] many Ontarians." Canadians in the suburbs and the country, men, the old, some people in Ontario, and the rest of the country apparently don't count.

Also, by forcing an election before the Conservative party has grown and established itself in Quebec, the hold over Quebec of the Bloc Québécois can only grow into the vacuum. The result will be to stack the deck in favour of separatism and the possibility of a Conservative government beholden to the separatists.

So much for being aware of the dangers of "blind partisanship." I'm a little unsure how the possibility of a Liberal government beholden to Stronach and the opportunistic Jack Layton (note, ironically, that the link is to a Liberal Party site) constitutes an improvement.

After agonizing, soul searching, i just cannot support such a large risk with my country. I'm as offended as any Canadian by the arrogance of entitlement at the core of the sponsorship scandal.

Good thing that she's seeing justice served by helping to perpetuate the arrogance of entitlement perpetuated by the Liberal Party, then.

Today, the Prime Minister has given me the chance to serve my constituents and my country by making a difference at a critical time.

How remarkably noble. So much for her offense at "the arrogance of entitlement at the core of the sponsorship scandal." Appropo of nothing whatsoever, Paul Martin, "thank[s] Martha Hall-Findlay, who has agreed to stand down as the Liberal candidate in Newmarket-Aurora." Newmarket-Aurora, coincidentally, is Stronach's district. Good thing Ms. Stronach is above petty partisanship and puts her country first.

Among several things, he's asked me to take aggressive action on the lessons that will come from the Gomery inquiry, and to put priority on renewing the Canadian democracy.

Our political structures and institutions need renewal. Canadians are crying for political stability. Only in this way can we direct the focus of government once again to growing a competitive economy that safeguards our quality of life.

I feel pretty happy for our neighbors to the north, knowing that they have someone who's going to renew democracy by maintaining the status quo and helping the Liberals keep their iron grip on power.

Only when the people of Canada have renewed confidence and faith in the systems of government can we return to ethics and civility.

Thank you.

It's a relief that Canadians can have "renewed confidence and faith in the systems of government," after watching the Liberals play a delaying game to acquire Ms. Stronach.

Canadian journalist Andrew Coyne has no words. I've plenty, but a lot of them are simply unprintable.

Update: Angry in the Great White North has info on Martha Findlay, who was to have challenged Stronach for her seat, and stepped down (or was pushed aside, your call), found via Andrew Coyne.

Posted 12:27 PM by Tony

Monday, May 16, 2005
One Darned Good Movie

I finally saw Taegukgi over the weekend. I had been wanting to see this movie for quite some time - I wasn't disappointed. Wow.

(via Taegukgi movie site)

(see also reviews at SF Chronicle)

Posted 5:20 PM by Tony

Good Intentions And All

Remember how the US was excoriated for not, you know, caring enough in the aftermath of the December tsunami? The short-lived Diplomadic illuminated the difference between the US/Aussie-led ad hoc response and that of the UN.

Mark Steyn uses that as an example of why the criticism directed at UN ambassodorial nominee is misplaced:

On the face of it, this shouldn't be a difficult choice, even for as uncurious a squish as Voinovich. Whatever one feels about it, the United States manages to function. The U.N. apparatus doesn't. Indeed, the United States does the U.N.'s job better than the U.N. does. The part of the tsunami aid operation that worked was the first few days, when America, Australia and a handful of other nations improvised instant and effective emergency relief operations that did things like, you know, save lives, rescue people, restore water supply, etc. Then the poseurs of the transnational bureaucracy took over, held press conferences demanding that stingy Westerners needed to give more and more and more, and the usual incompetence and corruption followed.

[ . . . ]

[Comparing Bolton to Paul Martin] Who? Well, he's prime minister of Canada. And in January, after the tsunami hit, he flew into Sri Lanka to pledge millions and millions and millions in aid. Not like that heartless George W. Bush back at the ranch in Texas. Why, Prime Minister Martin walked along the ravaged coast of Kalumnai and was, reported Canada's CTV network, "visibly shaken." President Bush might well have been shaken, but he wasn't visible, and in the international compassion league, that's what counts. So Martin boldly committed Canada to giving $425 million to tsunami relief. "Mr. Paul Martin Has Set A Great Example For The Rest Of The World Leaders!" raved the LankaWeb news service.

You know how much of that $425 million has been spent so far? Fifty thousand dollars -- Canadian. That's about 40 grand in U.S. dollars. The rest isn't tied up in Indonesian bureaucracy, it's back in Ottawa. But, unlike horrible "unilateralist" America, Canada enjoys a reputation as the perfect global citizen, renowned for its commitment to the U.N. and multilateralism. And on the beaches of Sri Lanka, that and a buck'll get you a strawberry daiquiri. Canada's contribution to tsunami relief is objectively useless and rhetorically fraudulent.

This is the way the transnational jet-set works when the entire world is in complete agreement and acting in perfect harmony. Unlike more "controversial" issues like the mass slaughter in Sudan, no Security Council member is pro-tsunami. And yet even when the entire planet is on the same side, the 24/7 lavishly funded U.N. humanitarian infrastructure can't get its act together.

When rent-a-quote senators claim to be pro-U.N. or multilateralist, the tsunami operation is what they have in mind -- that when something bad happens the United States should commit to working through the approved transnational bureaucracies and throw even more "resources" at them, even though nothing will happen (Sri Lanka), millions will be stolen (Oil for Food), children will get raped (U.N. peacekeeping operations) and hundreds of thousands will die (Sudan).

Is it just me, or is "multilateral" sounding like more and more of a dirty word these days?

Posted 5:19 PM by Tony

Unfortunate Acronyms

The European Union Chamber of Commerce in Korea may want to seriously think about changing its acronym. EUCCK is hardly an abbreviation that raises positive connotations, I'm thinking.

Posted 10:20 AM by Tony

Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Pandering To My Audience

I've been reminded lately by Canadian Christopher that I haven't posted any pictures lately.

So here's one, from Performance Auto & Sound, a Canadian auto magazine:

Well, that should tide everyone over for a while. And for those who can't get enough car show girls, here's a link to some pictures to last month's Hot Import Nights at San Mateo. I had meant to go, but couldn't. Darn family obligations...

Posted 8:31 PM by Tony

Now, That's Just Surprising

I'm a bit surprised that Gennie isn't all over this (via SF Chronicle):

Actress Renee Zellweger, who played the lovelorn title character in "Bridget Jones's Diary," was married Monday to country music star Kenny Chesney in a small ceremony on the Caribbean island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

I'm not normally into celebrity gossip stuff, but this just seemed so out of the blue.

Posted 8:28 AM by Tony

Saturday, May 07, 2005
An Interesting Admission

President Bush, in Latvia yesterday (via White House web site; see also SF Chronicle):

As we mark a victory of six days ago -- six decades ago, we are mindful of a paradox. For much of Germany, defeat led to freedom. For much of Eastern and Central Europe, victory brought the iron rule of another empire. V-E Day marked the end of fascism, but it did not end oppression. The agreement at Yalta followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable. Yet this attempt to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability left a continent divided and unstable. The captivity of millions in Central and Eastern Europe will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs of history.

The end of World War II raised unavoidable questions for my country: Had we fought and sacrificed only to achieve the permanent division of Europe into armed camps? Or did the cause of freedom and the rights of nations require more of us? Eventually, America and our strong allies made a decision: We would not be content with the liberation of half of Europe -- and we would not forget our friends behind an Iron Curtain. We defended the freedom of Greece and Turkey, and airlifted supplies to Berlin, and broadcast the message of liberty by radio. We spoke up for dissenters, and challenged an empire to tear down a hated wall. Eventually, communism began to collapse under external pressure, and under the weight of its own contradictions. And we set the vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace -- so dictators could no longer rise up and feed ancient grievances, and conflict would not be repeated again and again.

In these decades of struggle and purpose, the Baltic peoples kept a long vigil of suffering and hope. Though you lived in isolation, you were not alone. The United States refused to recognize your occupation by an empire. The flags of free Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania -- illegal at home -- flew proudly over diplomatic missions in the United States. And when you joined hands in protest and the empire fell away, the legacy of Yalta was finally buried, once and for all. The security and freedom of the Baltic nations is now more than a noble aspiration; it is the binding pledge of the alliance we share. The defense of your freedom -- in defense of your freedom you will never stand alone.

This is most assuredly Wilsonian-type rhetoric, but doesn't come as a surprise when one considers, among other things, the president's inauguration speech. Albeit, Wilsonian ideals with an overlay of Jacksonianism (see this Totten essay for background).

What amuses me is that I imagine this speech, which basically characterizes the Yalta Conference as an abomination, will undoubtedly upset some. Such as FDR's grandson, who wrote:

But George W. Bush is not, and never will be, a president like FDR.

[ . . . ]

Most importantly, Dr. Win the War (as FDR was called) met with the leaders of the Allied nations throughout the war to plan the peace. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, together with Joseph Stalin and sometimes even Charles DeGaulle, knew that military victory leading to an unplanned peace was hollow and potentially disastrous.

Which led to the Yalta Conference. I'm thinking that Roosevelt may be correct, and that may not be a bad thing.

Posted 11:14 AM by Tony

Thursday, May 05, 2005
Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Today is Cinco de Mayo, obviously. Now, I'm sure you may be asking why we should celebrate a Mexican holiday here in the US. Allow me to provide some reasons:

Heavy drinking.


And not least of all, why not celebrate a holiday that involves the French getting their ass kicked? (I reserve judgment on Dien Bien Phu).

Posted 12:51 PM by Tony

Monday, May 02, 2005
One Big Burger

I was going to say something about Michael Moore here, but that seemed like a cheap shot (via SF Chronicle):

The burger war is growing. Literally. Denny's Beer Barrel Pub, which lost its crown as the home of the world's biggest burger earlier this year, is now offering a new burger that weighs a whopping 15 pounds.

Dubbed the Beer Barrel Belly Buster, the burger comes with 10.5 pounds of ground beef, 25 slices of cheese, a head of lettuce, three tomatoes, two onions, a cup-and-a-half each of mayonnaise, relish, ketchup, mustard and banana peppers — and a bun.

It costs $30.

Heart attack, anyone?

Posted 8:58 PM by Tony

An Orange County native trapped in the SF Bay Area. Email at

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