Monday, May 31, 2010
This is supposedly used in second grade computer classes in China. Maybe you have to be Chinese to solve it because Walt hasn't figured it out...yet!
Agent 46 says I must keep at it because it is possible. Some figure it out right away. Others report having to work on it for a week...or more.
Have fun and don't forget to forward to your kids and/or grandchildren.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
They pay lip service to freedom, but in practice have taken away or seriously circumscribed the rights and freedoms for which so many have died. An example is the right to free speech. Anyone who thinks they can tell the truth, as they see it, without fear has never had to face the wrath of a "human rights commission".
Another example, as any landlord can tell you, is the right to choose who's going to live under your roof. Say that you'd prefer a male tenant for your basement apartment, and expect a charge of "gender discrimination". [Good thing you didn't say "sex"! ed.]
Want more? What kind of person do you want to fill that vacancy in your little company or organization? Looking for a leader for the local boy scout troop? Can you specify a "straight male"? That's two offences in one phrase, you sexist homophobe!
And while we're at it...how come the Boy Scouts felt obliged to change their name to just "Scouts" but the Girl Guides are still the "Girl Guides"? That's not in the USA but in Canada, which has a "Charter of Rights and Freedoms" enshrined in its constitution. It is to laugh. But I digress...
My point is that since the hippy-dippy 60s, we have seen an exponential growth of the all-seeing, all-powerful "nanny state" and the concomitant decline of individual rights. Our governments have weakened or altogether ignored constitutional limits. And woe betide any libertarian who dares question their authority.
Why is this? Because God and His Church have been removed from any meaningful role in our post-secular Western society. It's a wonder that "In God we trust" still appears on US coins!
Instead of God, our society puts its faith in humanism, in the inherent goodness of man. That man is basically evil is one of the chief tenets of Christianity. It's called "original sin". So to trust men [you mean "humans", surely. ed] to do the right thing is rubbish.
Our governors must understand this because their restrictions on our freedom say to us, "You can't be trusted to do the right thing, so WE, your [sic] government, will tell you, and you'd better do what WE say...or else!"
The subordination of the rights of the individual to the rights of the state was foreseen by Father Denis Fahey (1883-1954), an Irish priest whose name will always be associated with the doctrine of the Social Kingship of Christ. Here's a quote from his book, The Mystical Body of Christ and the Reorganization of Society:
As the revolt against the Divine Plan for order in the world and the denial of God's Rights have spread, respect for man's personal rights has diminished. These rights are being denied and the world is threatened with the return of a slavery worse than that of ancient Rome, in proportion as rulers of states no longer see in their subjects members of Christ.
As the social organization of the world has been increasingly withdrawn from the rule of Christ the King, human beings are being treated more and more as mere individuals completely subject to the State, just as in the days before Christ.
In this magnificent book, Fr. Fahey outlines and explains God's plan for order in the world and how we are to strive for its realization. You can order it online from the Fatima Shoppe. His autobiography A Brief Sketch of My Life Work is available from Catholic Books Online.
Friday, May 28, 2010
Three things got me thinking about this. The first was the noticeable presence of CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) cameras virtually everywhere one goes in Once-Great Britain. I'm not talking only about airports and train stations, but about malls, streets, even laneways and alleys in small towns in the beautiful English countryside. Believe it, Big Brother really is watching you!
Of course we have CCTV in the USA and Canada too. As I write, the Toronto police are busy installing still more "temporary" cameras in that city's downtown core. This is in advance of the G20 summit that will be held in "Toronto the Good" in a month's time.
The cost of "security" for the 36-hour meeting of world "leaders" (including the presidents of Ethiopia and Malawi!) looks like being more than a billion Canadian dollars. That's almost the same as a billion real dollars. All so Prime Minister Harpoon won't get pied during his photo-op with Bollocks Obama.
Then there's the mystery of the sticky stamps. Agent 3 is a stamp collector. He writes Walt to ask why US stamps, unlike those of other countries, can't be steamed or soaked off envelopes. What kind of adhesive does the USPS use...and why?
Walt is stuck for an answer. [Geddit? ed.] But my theory is they use some kind of super-glue so that Osama Bin Laden can't put some kind of germs -- anthrax spores, maybe -- under the stamps so the poison will be unleashed when Agent 3 or some other crazed collector tries to get the stamp off the paper and into his album. If anyone can give a less silly explanation, please e-mail email@example.com.
Since 2001, we live in constant fear of "terrorism", of Osama Bin Laden, of "them". Especially in the Excited States of America, paranoia trumps reason and freedom. This is hardly a news flash. For a good rant on the subject, read Michael Moore's Dude, Where's My Country?
Moore has been accused of being anti-American and -- horrors! -- anti-war. But the main point of his book is that the Bush administration used 9/11 as a pretext to strip Americans of many of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.
Moore cites the USAPATRIOT Act as the most egregious attack ever on the freedom of the individual. Has this act, which set up an authoritarian system rivalling those of Russia and China, been weakened or repealed by the liberal-minded Mr. Obama? No.
The all-seeing, all-powerful government and social order -- make that ORDER -- described by George Orwell in 1984 is the norm in America and its cowering cousins today. We live in a police state. Do your work, pay your taxes...and keep your mouth shut! Or else!
Thursday, May 27, 2010
"We have more information than we actually want... Whenever there is yet another world crisis the nervous establishment networks dispatch their anchormen immediately to the hotspot. Peter Jennings in a safari suit...
"Constant exposure to the tragedy of others does not make us more stricken, more grieving, more dumbstruck. Thanks to live television, it makes us accept the worst, knowing that next week there will be more...
"Information overload, it is called. A survey taken 20 years back  asked North American television viewers how many TV channels they felt comfortable with, how many they required. The answer came out to seven. [Now] we are in 1994...and a recent survey divined that most viewers feel -- world scoop! -- that about seven channels is all they can, or want to absorb.
"Those of us in the industry of information are killing our consumers with overload. Saturation. Brain dead. What is wanted is quality, not quantity."
Walt adds... My impetus for writing these two posts was an item in the news earlier this week that the human disaster story for next month will be -- wait for it -- Chad. It's another one that most North Americans couldn't find on a map. Hint: try Africa. Apparently millions in that poor country are faced with starvation unless we help. Heard it all before, right?
Then I read Dr. Foth and, just for fun, counted the number of TV channels I watch, out of the hundreds available through the little dish on the roof. The number is -- wait for it -- seven!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Some members of the Haitian diaspora have suggested that it would be a Good Thing if the lovely and fragrant Ms Jean went home when her term as G-G ends in a few weeks. She could be the new president, they said! It'll never happen, Walt says. It would mean the regal [vice-regal? ed.] First Lady would have to mingle with poor black folks. Yeah, right.
Meanwhile, the world's attention has turned elsewhere. The fundraisers and telethons and famous-people-to-the-rescue efforts have pretty much stopped. The flavour of the month has become the flavour of last month, and it seems we (meaning rich whites) are prepared to let Haiti slip back into the backwardness and poverty in which it has been mired for nearly two centuries.
"Most Canadians, not to mention Americans, could not locate Haiti on a map if given a pointer and a large crayon. It contains fewer people than New York City and yet rates huge headlines in all the best newsmagazines and your favorite morning paper.
"In reality, it is a piffle, no threat to world security, of no consequence to the average inhabitant of Omaha or Moose Jaw, and yet it makes it into every morning's 8 a.m. newscast. Why? Because modern technology...makes it possible. Because technology can make it possible, trivial news masquerades as importance.
"Haiti has no relevance to the world order. It is about as important as Yellowknife. But the New York Times -- and therefore the Globe and Mail -- puts Haiti on the front page. It is a joke."
What's that?! A racist rant from Rush Limbaugh? More of Walt's politically incorrect musings? No, dear reader. Those three paragraphs were written by one of Canada's leading journalists of the last century, Allan Fotheringham. The date of the piece? Not this past winter, but August 1, 1994. You could look it up.
Tomorrow... "Dr. Foth" elucidates the fuzzification.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Only one paramedic responded to the 911 call from a woman who was about to give birth and had no-one to help her. Because of a power outage, the house was very dark, so the paramedic asked Kathleen, aged only 3, to hold a flashlight high over her mommy so he could see while he helped deliver the baby.
Very diligently, Kathleen did as she was asked. Colleen pushed and pushed and after a little while, wee Connor was born. The paramedic lifted him by his little feet and spanked him on his bottom and Connor began to cry.
The paramedic then thanked Kathleen for her help and asked the wide-eyed 3-year-old what she thought about what she had just witnessed.
Kathleen quickly responded, "Spank his ass again! He shouldn't have crawled in there in the first place!"
I am making a good deal of strong coffee and hope to have him back at his keyboard today or tomorrow. ed.]
Monday, May 24, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Now we have two kinds of people talking about race: the deniers and the realists. The deniers insist that we are all the same under the skin, and that there's no reason why we can't all be one big happy family -- the family of man. [Hey! "family of man" is not p.c.! ed.] They deny an interent trait of human nature -- the preference to associate with people who are like ourselves. That is, people who look the same, sound the same and have the same cultural habits and practices. Anyone who denies this is just closing his eyes to reality.
The other group is the race realists, and the race deniers. The race realists get no government (i.e. taxpayer) funding and little time or space in the lame liberal media, because they speak "race heresies" in a world gone stupid with political correctness.
Instead, we hear only the bile and vitriol of the race-denying ideologues who use stock phrases like "we still haven't overcome lingering racism". Denying race differences is like denying age, health, or gender differences. You're being asked to "overcome" what the eyes and senses behold. The very word "racism" is too vague to even be of use in educated conversation, because nobody can attach a definition that doesn't have many exceptions.
I regret having no solution to offer. Racism is like the weather. Everyone -- or at least the liberal media -- never stop talking about it, but no-one does anything about it. Why? Because it's a part of human nature.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
In case you missed it, here's a clip, courtesy of Agent 6.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
You've heard of politicians so keen to be in the public eye that they'd cut the ribbon of a one-hole shithouse? Well, Toronto's lame duck mayor, David Miller, did just that, but declined to be the first to, erm, avail himself of the facililty. Perhaps he didn't have a quarter.
So far Toronto has just one (1) of these magnificent structures. At a cost of $400,000 per, Walt guesses there won't be too many more. I predict that users of Toronto's alleys, lanes and parking lots will continue having to step around numerous "illegal puddles", as always.
Footnote 1: Walt forgot his camera. The toilet pictured is actually in Vancouver. But when you've seen one, you've seen `em all
Footnote 2: Although the new facility is only a few blocks from the Air Canada Centre, the Toronto Maple Leafs are not expected to go into the crapper until November or December.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
At least Avatar made some money. Many others didn't or won't. Here, from inMovies.ca is a list of the ten biggest box office losers of all time. How many of these turkeys did you see? How many did you even hear of? My score: seen 0; heard of 1.
Footnote: For the record, the last two films I paid my sawbuck to see were Slum Dog Millionaire and District 9 -- both excellent, and both foreign. Perhaps that says something about the state of Hollywood today.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Colonel Geoff Parker today became the highest-ranking Canadian to die in Afghanistan. He was killed, along with five Americans and a number of civilians, when a Taliban suicide bomber did the deed in the middle of a busy street in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital.
As you know, I've been keeping track of the Canadians killed in Afghanistan, having been sent there on what many would call a fool's errand by their government. I salute their obedience and their courage.
I wouldn't want to be told that I was being sent to a hellhole on the other side of the world, with a good chance of coming home in a box. But these brave men and women did what they were told without cavil or question.
And they were not alone. I have been counting the Canadian casualties because I think the Canadians are doing more than their share of the heavy lifting in Afghanistan. But they have been joined in death by hundreds of Americans, Britons, Dutch and others. May they all rest in peace.
Both Mr. Gondwe-Prosper and Mr. Thomas were "known to police", as they say, and the cops helpfully supplied their photos to the media. I say "helpfully" because Thomas is still at large, and the police hope the public will help find him. (In the west end of Toronto it's not exactly like looking for a blackberry in a saucer of milk, you know.) Hence the photo.
Readers of the Toronto Star who might be inclined to keep an eye out for Mr. Thomas will have to use their imaginations, though, since the Star, for some reason, declined to print the picture distributed by the police.Walt's readers are invited to explain, in 25 words or less, the reasoning behind the Star's decision. Sorry, no prize for figuring this one out.
Pretty soon they "had their collars" felt, as the Brits say -- it means they were arrested -- and were hauled in front of magistrate Austin Molloy. Sentencing the pair for vandalism, Mr. Molloy commented, "Normal people would consider you absolute scum."
Sounds like a pretty apt description to me, and Mr. Molloy's fellow magistrates agreed. (English magistrates sit in benches of three.) However, Christine Dean, a court clerk, objected to the language, claiming it was "inappropriate", which is the word bleeding heart liberals use when normal people tell it like it is.
The mother of one of the youths then lodged a complaint and an inquiry into the incident was launched. One can imagine her huffing, "They're good boys. They ain't done nuffink wrong. Who's `e to talk like that to `em?"
In a TV interview, Mr Molloy said, "We are trained and told to communicate with young offenders -- any offenders for that matter -- in language they understand. You have got to use language appropriate to those people so they understand exactly what you are doing."
"We felt we had to discipline the young boys and that's the language we used to make them understand the gravity of the crime they had committed," he continued. "It was a disgraceful crime. We considered it at length in the retiring room and it was the appropriate statement that we agreed on."
A flak-catcher for the Judicial Communications Office said, "Mr Molloy has not been suspended. The Chairman of the Bench and the Justices' Clerk are working together to find out exactly what happened in court with a view to determining whether any further action is required. In the meantime, Mr Molloy has agreed not to act as a Bench Chairman though he will continue to sit as a magistrate."
In other words, Mr. Molloy has been told to keep a civil tongue in his head when talking to poor disadvantaged young people like these scum, or else shut up.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Mr. Lamm was talking about Mexifornia, a book by Victor Davis Hanson, explaining how immigration - both legal and illegal - was destroying the entire state of California. He said it would march across the country until it destroyed all vestiges of The American Dream. Here's what Governor Lamm had to say:
"First, to destroy America, turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country. History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. The historical scholar, Seymour Lipset, put it this way: 'The histories of bilingual and bi-cultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy.' Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, and Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with Basques, Bretons, and Corsicans.
"Second, invent 'multiculturalism' and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal. That there are no cultural differences. I would make it an article of faith that the Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due solely to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds.
"Third, we could make the United States an 'Hispanic Québec' without much effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Benjamin Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently: 'The apparent success of our own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved not by tolerance but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentricity and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.'
"I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with the salad bowl metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have various cultural subgroups living in America enforcing their differences rather than as Americans, emphasizing their similarities.
"Fourth, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50% dropout rate from high. school.
"My fifth point for destroying America would be to get big foundations and business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of 'Victimology.' I would get all minorities to think that their lack of success was the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population.
"My sixth plan for America's downfall would include dual citizenship and divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity over unity. I would stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other - that is, when they are not killing each other. A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precedent. People undervalue the unity it takes to keep a nation together.
"Look at the ancient Greeks. The Greeks believed that they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and literature; and they worshipped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic games. A common enemy, Persia, threatened their liberty. Yet all these bonds were not strong enough to overcome two factors: local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions. Greece fell. E Pluribus Unum -- From many, one. In that historical reality, if we put the emphasis on the 'pluribus' instead of the 'unum,' we will balkanize America as surely as Kosovo.
"Next to last, I would place all subjects off limits; make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of 'diversity.' I would find a word similar to 'heretic' in the 16th century - that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking in the 16th century. Words like 'racist' or 'xenophobe' halt discussion and debate.
"Having made America a bilingual/bicultural country, having established multi-culturism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of 'Victimology,' I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra: Because immigration has been good for America, it must always be good. I would make every individual immigrant symmetric and ignore the cumulative impact of millions of them.
"Lastly, I would censor Victor Davis Hanson's book, Mexifornia. His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to destroy America. If you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don't read that book."
I disagree with Mr. Lamm's (and Mr. Hanson's) thoughts on bilingualism. In western (meaning white) countries, it can be made to work. Canada, Belgium and Switzerland come to mind. Yet it cannot be denied that Canada and Belgium are periodically wracked be fierce debates and divisions about "distinct societies" and special rights for minority language and cultural groups.
I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Lamm's comment on free speech. In the culture of political correctness that infects the USA, Canada and Britain today, we can no longer call a spade a spade. Anyone who tells the truth about the problems caused in our society by certain ethnic groups is immediately labelled a "xenophobe" or "racist" or "fascist". There is nothing more intolerant than a self-righteous liberal!
The West is in huge trouble, drowning in a tsunami of multiculturalism and political correctness. Future historians will surely write that our tolerance was our downfall.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Seems Mrs. Harshbarger "accidentally" shot her husband during a hunting trip in the wilds of Buchans Junction, way back in 2006. She claimed she thought he was a bear.
We don't know if the late Mr. Harshbarger was particularly hirsute, or perhaps costumed as a mascot of the Boston Bruins. But we are told that this happened at 7:55 of a September evening, so we can assume it was pretty dark. Why someone would be out hunting in the dark is another matter. Perhaps they were jacklighting deer?
Mrs. Harshbarger has been fighting extradition to Canada for the nearly four years since the "accident". "They speak kinda funny up there," she said. "I can't understand a word they say. Besides, I'm an American!"
The deceased's sister, Sharon Chorba, said she always thought Mrs. Harshbarger was odd and acted even odder after the shooting. "She never said she was sorry. She never accepted any responsibility or remorse for what she did."
Walt suggests perhaps Mrs. Harshbarger thought life with her husband was unbearable.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Now we must add a "Q", making it "the LGBTQ community". I'm not making this up. I found that in an upcoming event announcement in my local paper yesterday.
What does "Q" stand for? I know what you're thinking! That's what I thought too. But it turns out "Q" is for "Questioning", i.e. those who aren't sure what they are! As the Aussies say, "you wouldn't read about it..."
Private Kevin Thomas McKay, a member of the Princess Pats, was killed in Afghanistan today, the victim of yet another IED. The CBC reports that Canadian troops encounter one of these devilish devices virtually every day. But for Pte. McKay, who was due to come home in just two days, it was the last one.
The Canadian Press reports that the Canadian military would not say whether anyone was injured in Thursday's blast, as it no longer releases information on those wounded on the battlefield.
On September 13th of last year, a woman walked into a convenience store [love that oxymoron! ed.] and shoplifted a $1.49 can of "luncheon meat". Perhaps it was Spam. The owner of the store allegedly chased the woman out of the store. Five days later, the woman died, perhaps from injuries inflicted by a baseball bat.
The woman's name was Geraldine Beardy. She was 29 when she died. She was what Canadians call a "First Nations person". That's the politically correct way to say "Indian", a term which went out of use because people got tired of having to put adjectives like "red" or "East" in front of it.
The convenience store proprietor, aged 62, is a gentleman named Kwang Soo Kim. Mr. Kim is ... wait for it ... Korean. Now, a mere eight months after they were notified of the incident, Winnipeg police have charged Mr. Kim with manslaughter.
Walt's only comment is that the reason we have stereotypes is that behind the stereotypes lie stories that give rise to them. Not all people who comment on the propensities of certain racial and ethnic groups to do (or not do) certain things are racists. Some are just realists.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I think about "The Marching Morons" almost every day, as I read and listen to the news. Airplanes fall out of the sky because of human error. Offshore oil wells spew millions of gallons of crude into the sea because of human error. Billions of dollars are "lost" in stock exchange meltdowns because of human error. And so on.
The world, it seems, has fallen into a deep and abiding stupidity from which there is no hope of recovery. This is the theme of "The Marching Morons".
The story is set hundreds of years in the future. John Barlow, a man from the past accidentally put into suspended animation, is revived in the year 7-B-936. He finds a world gone stupid, where, despite a veneer of progress, things have actually got worse than they were in Barlow's time.
A scientist named Tinny-Peete explains the Problem of Population (PopProb). Because the intelligent people didn't have enough children, and less intelligent people had too many, the world is full of morons, with the exception of an elite few who work slavishly to keep order. I can't imagine a more bang-on description of the world as we know it today!
Barlow, who was a shrewd con man [salesman, surely! ed.] in his day, proposes a "final solution", based on the example of Hitler's Germany. Convince the morons, he suggests, to travel to Venus in spaceships that will kill their passengers once they fly out of view. Propaganda depicts Venus as a tropical paradise, with "blanket trees", "ham bushes", and "soap roots". In a frenzy of nationalism, every country tries to send as many as possible of their people to Venus to stake their claim.
I don't want to spoil the ending for you so won't reveal what happens to Barlow. Read it yourself and enjoy (or shudder at) Kornbluth's amazingly accurate vision of the world of stupidity in which we live. Then sign up all your stupid relatives, neighbours and colleagues for the expedition to Mars...coming soon courtesy of NASA.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
- The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than we do.
- The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than we do.
- The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than we do.
- The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than we do.
- The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than we do.
CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.
Isn't it a relief, after all those conflicting studies, to know the truth?
According to today's Reuters report, the Holy Father said that the greatest threat to Catholicism came from sin within the Church. "Today we see in a truly terrifying way that the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from outside enemies but is born of sin within the Church," the Pope told reporters on the plane to Portugal.
What is amazing is not the statement itself -- devotees of Our Lady of Fatima have been saying as much for decades -- but that His Holiness has at last conceded that this is indeed a vital part of the Message of Fatima, the burden of the Third Secret of Fatima.
Benedict told reporters he believed that interpretation of the Third Secret, revealed in 2000, "could include the suffering the papacy and the Church would have to endure as a result of today’s sexual abuse crisis."
His predecessor, Pope Paul VI, put it another way. "The smoke of Satan," he said, "has entered the Church".
So what is to be done? Benedict says the Church has a very deep need to recognize that She must do penance for Her sins and "accept purification". Indeed. And it is up to Him to bring that about.
A good start would be to obey the commands of Our Lady of Fatima. If he would just consecrate Russia to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart, in the way She asks, Russia and the world will be converted, and we will have a time of peace and prosperity, as She promised. Amen...so let it be.
UPDATE: 14/5/10 - Noted "Vaticanista" Sandro Magister has written a good analysis of the meaning of the Pope's statements, including the full text of what the Holy Father said. Click here to read his article in Chiesa.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Now that I've got that off my chest, let me get to a movie review. Knowing that I don't get out much, Agent 78 occasionally sends me a DVD from her country on the other side of the world. The latest to arrive is Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (巴尔扎克与小裁缝)
Released in 2005, it won a Golden Globe as Best Foreign Picture, but never made much of a splash otherwise. Being in the Sichuan dialect of Chinese probably didn't help, despite the accurate and grammatical English subtitles.
The movie was directed by Dai Sijie, who wrote the semi-autobiographical novel on which it's based. It stars Zhou Xun, Chen Kun and Liu Ye. These aren't household names, even in China, just three young actors who turn in totally credible performances as two young Chinese boys of bourgeois backgrounds and a peasant girl, at the height of the Cultural Revolution.
Sent to a remote Sichuan village for "re-education", the boys fall in love (each in his own way) with the granddaughter of an old tailor. The three find comfort and enlightenment in a stolen collection of classic Western novels, banned by the communists, which they read to each other in a hidden "book grotto".
Among their favourite authors were Dumas, Flaubert and especially Balzac. The girl, thirsting for knowledge of the world outside, learns first to read, and then to think about what her grandfather calls dangerous ideas that have no place in China in these dark times.
Eventually, one of the boys, Luo, and the seamstress become lovers, but their romance comes to an abrupt end when he is recalled to his home in the big city and she finds herself pregnant. Changed by her "sentimental education," the Little Seamstress ultimately finds the courage to leave her village for wider horizons.
It's a poignant tale, and the movie is a small and unpretentious gem, well worth hunting up in your library or on the Internet.
Footnote: The movie's conclusion makes a powerful visual statement about the Three Gorges dam, which flooded and obliterated some of China's most beautiful scenery along with hundreds of villages like that of the Little Seamstress.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
You'll be glad to know that Toronto police have a suspect. A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for Chael Mills, 19, of Toronto, a.k.a. "Ginga". Mr. Mills is described as having a light-black complexion, 6-foot tall, 180 pounds, with brown eyes.
It took a little doing to find a picture of "Ginga" (pronounced "Jinja"). Even though a mug shot was shown on TV, neither of the two Toronto newspapers Walt reads online ran this police-supplied photo.
Both the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail, it seems, don't like running photos of black criminals. It paints a bad picture of the "African-Canadian community", dontcha know.
Yet Toronto Police Detective Constable Mary Vruna mentioned that the victim and the suspect knew of each other prior to the incident, and the suspect, who is "known to police", is also known to have gang affiliations associated with the neighbourhood.
The Globe opened its comments section for a few minutes, but closed it after six posts. Apparently they didn't like posters talking about the race factor. The Star didn't allow any comments at all.
It's amazing to me that the bias for political correctness is so strong in the Toronto media -- or the Globe and the Star, at least -- that they steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the existence of the elephant in the room. Perhaps they think that the problem will just go back to Kingston. Don't count on it.
Courtesy of Canada's TSN, Walt presents, for your weekend amusement, a compilation of the 10 worst NHL playoff goals of all time. You'll note that even the greats, like Martin Brodeur and St. Patrick Roy, can have an off night.
Note to Leafs fans [both of you -- ed.]: The clips featuring the boys in blue are obviously quite old. Perhaps next year we'll have some new ones...but don't bet on it.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Here are some amazing but true stories of motherhood.
The youngest mother whose history is authenticated is Lina Medina, who delivered a 6½-pound boy by caesarean section in Lima, Peru in 1939. Her age was only 5 years and 7 months. The child was raised as her brother and only discovered that Lina was his mother when he was 10.
Jayne Bleackley is the mother who holds the record for the shortest interval between two children born in separate confinements. She gave birth to Joseph Robert on September 3, 1999, and Annie Jessica Joyce on March 30, 2000. The babies were born 208 days apart.
Elizabeth Ann Buttle is the mother who holds the record for the longest interval between the birth of two children. She gave birth to Belinda on May 19,1956 and Joseph on November 20, 1997. The babies were born 41 years 185 days apart. Elizabeth was 60 years old when her son Joseph was born.
The highest officially recorded number of children born to one mother is 69, to the first wife of Feodor Vassilyev (1707-1782) of Shuya, Russia. Between 1725 and 1765, in a total of 27 confinements, she gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets, and four sets of quadruplets. 67 of them survived infancy.
The modern world record for giving birth is held by Leontina Albina from San Antonio, Chile. Leontina claims to be the mother of 64 children, but only 55 of them are documented. She is listed in the 1999 Guinness World Records but was dropped from later editions.
Click here for more trivia on mothers and motherhood.
Friday, May 7, 2010
I'm not making this up. We have an economic crisis in Greece, wars in the Middle East and an environmental catastrophe unfolding [bubbling up? ed.] in the Gulf of Mexico, and the leaders of the world's most self-important countries are going to talk about how to help third world women use condoms and kill unwanted babies.
Seems to me it's about time that we Westerners start looking in the mirror at our own problems. We have more than our share. Let's stop making the world's problems our political agenda. The poverty and backwardness of the third world -- Africa and particular -- are saddening, but how can we solve other peoples' problems when we don't even want to deal with our own?
We have troops dying on the other side of the world who shouldn't even be there. We don't have enough jobs for our youth. Crime rates are becoming obscene, not in the Congo, but on our streets.
It's time for the silent majority to stand up and holler STOP! Stop making a political issue of matters that are really none of our business. Before we agonize over the weeds in the neighbour's back yard, let's cut our own.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Coincidentally, yesterday morning about a thousand Toronto cops, assisted by members of other forces and the Canadian Border Service Agency, raided scores of homes across southern Ontario rounding up the usual suspects, i.e. young black men who spoke with Jamaican accents.
This was part of Project Corral, targetting (successfully) black gangs which are terrorizing Toronto's west end. The Toronto police "guns and gangs" squad led the operation. Guns and gangs...and Jamaicans. At least in Toronto, the three words go together. If you doubt me, if you think I'm being racist for saying this, read Rosie DiManno's account in today's Toronto Star.
Everybody knows that the majority of murders in the so-called Greater Toronto area, especially the west end, are "black on black". Everybody knows many of those involved are from the sunny isle of Jamaica. And everybody knows many of them are in Canada illegally. But nobody talks about this "elephant in the room" because it's not politically correct.
It's not politically correct because everybody knows these poor sweet black boys are "disadvantaged" and it's all our fault because of centuries of white oppression, slavery, colonialism, discrimination, yadda yadda yadda. We honkies just love to wallow in our liberal guilt.
Even as I write, the "progressive" and "modern" Forces for Good in our society, especially in the media, are raising the cry that Operation Corral is yet another example of the "over-policing" of the disadvantaged "at-risk neighbourhoods". What do they think should be done? Just leave them alone to kill each other? [Hmmm... ed.]
Do that, and the streets won't be safe for anyone, as witness the tragic killing of Jane Creba, an innocent bystander who was caught in the crossfire while out doing some Boxing Day shopping on Toronto's main street. Who wants to live in that kind of city? One might as well move to Detroit!
So what is to be done? It has been suggested that Canada...or at least its big cities...could benefit from laws requiring police to stop and challenge peope as to their immigration status. Like the law recently passed in Arizona. But nooooooo. Tolerant Canadians wouldn't do that because, well, that's like Nazi Germany, eh. And it's so American to say, or even think that there's any connection between drugs, guns, crime and illegal aliens!
Walt suggests that perhaps Canadians...and New Yorkers...could learn something from the citizens of Arizona. At least measures to combat illegal immigration could be discussed without using the epithet of racism.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Monday, May 3, 2010
Note: This video has been posted on YouTube, and viewed nearly 900,000 times...and counting! I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. Thanks to Agent 4 for the lead!
Mr. Chan says that Kim Jong-il, the "reclusive leader" of the "hermit state" (North Korea) has just started a state visit to Dalian, a major city in the northeast of China. It is unusual for Mr. Kim to leave his country and one can only guess at his reasons for doing so.
Seems to me it's not unlike a resident of Richmond B.C. going down to Bellingham for a little shopping. Mr. Chan opines that Kim is "in search of economic support and diplomatic protection from his only major ally, after bungled policies at home and military grandstanding that has exasperated the region."
Kim will doubtless get some help from the Chinese, even it comes with strings attached. The Chinese communists are deathly afraid that a revolt by the famished people of North Korea could give their own people "wrong ideas". They also worry about being swamped by millions of refugees in the event of an uprising or a worsening of the already shocking economic situation of the Korean masses.
When we're not thinking of our own domestic problems, we tend to focus on the Middle East. Walt says: look farther east... farther... If serious trouble breaks out in the Korean peninsula, what will the American and other western governments do? Do we have any kind of contingency plan? Just asking.
The two great examples that spring to mind are the Soviet Union in the 1930s, particularly the famine in the Ukraine, and China during the so-called Cultural Revolution of the 60s. 100s of millions of people died of starvation and disease during these manmade calamities.
When I say "manmade" I refer in both cases to just one man -- Uncle Joe Stalin who deliberately starved the Ukrainians so the Russians could eat their food, and the "Great Helmsman", Chairman Mao, who reduced his people to scavenging and even cannibalism.
Lesser examples are to be found even today, in Castro's Cuba and Comrade Bob Mugabe's Zimbabwe.
And then there's North Korea. The rest of the world will never know (and perhaps does not much care) how many millions starved to death in the 90s as Kim Jong-il presided over an economic collapse the likes of which has rarely been seen except in pockets of poverty and savage backwardness like Pol Pot's "Kampuchea" (Cambodia), the site of the Killing Fields.
Barbara Demick is the Beijing bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times. She has just written a remarkable book, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, which I read over the weekend. I'm not exaggerating when I say I found it hard to put down, even during the hockey game.
Nothing to Envy is not a newspaper report. It is not a dry, dull recitation of facts and figures, perhaps because statistics and factual reports from North Korea are largely "unavailable". Instead, Ms. Demick tells the true stories of six ordinary people she met in South Korea, and explains how and why they left their homeland.
You'll read about a kindergarten teacher and her mother, a street kid, a graduate student, a doctor, and a factory worker. All of them escaped -- not too strong a word -- from North Korea, leaving behind everything. (One woman ran away from an abusive husband and made her way to the Chinese border clad only in a nightgown.) All of them left behind families, some of whom were able to get out, but some of whom were imprisoned or just died.
Ms. Demick recounts in detail the deprivation and horrors her subjects' lives. We westerners simply cannot imagine living with no electricity, no heat and almost no food. The description of what these poor people ate is enough to make you feel guilty about chowing down on a steak.
The doctor, after wading through an icy river to get into China was delighted to find, just inside the open door of a cottage, a bowl of white rice and meat scraps. She wept when she realized that it had been left out for the family dog. "Here," she thought, "even dogs eat better than doctors in Korea."
The stories end somewhat happily as the refugees eventually get to South Korea, but their psyches will be forever scarred by what they endured and thoughts of those left behind.
I found Nothing to Envy a gripping read. And Mrs. Walt, who has little interest in geopolitics and almost never eads non-fiction, is devouring it now.
I recommend it to you, dear reader, on the theory that we should know our enemies. The North Korean government still talks, in its newspapers and schoolbooks, about "Amerian bastards". The two words are always conjoined. And they are out to get us!
Some laughed at George W. Bush when he talked about "the axis of evil". Well, there is evidence that the communist regime of North Korea is being propped up by money from the Middle East. And they do have the means to make a nuclear bomb. In fact a device was tested just a year ago.
Some think that the dictatorship of Kim Jong-il will collapse. They point to the downfall of the USSR and the changes in China to argue that we don't need to worry about North Korea. But the Soviet dictatorship is not dead. It has merely changed its shape and face. Putin is a latter-day Stalin. As for China, its economic system may have changed, but its political system is stronger and more repressive than ever.
As Ms Demick points out in her epilogue "North Korea survived the breaching of the Berlin Wall, the breakup of the Soviet Union, the market reforms in China, the death of Kim Il-sung, the famine of the 1990s, and two terms of George W. Bush's presidency." They are not going to suddenly admit that they've been wrong for over 60 years and join hands with their brethren across the DMZ.
We must pay attention to North Korea. We must understand how their system operates and how they think. Reading Nothing to Envy (2009, New York, Spiegel & Grau) will give you a small but terrifying idea.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Giuseppe replied to the assembled husbands, "Wella, I'va tried to treata her nice, spenda da money on her, but besta of all is, I tooka her to Italy for the 25th anniversary!"
The priest responded, "Giuseppe, you are truly an inspiration to all the husbands here! Please tell us what are you planning for your wife for your 50th anniversary?"
Giuseppe proudly replied, "I gonna go pick her up."
Thanks to Agent 46 for starting the month off with a smile.