Monday, January 31, 2011

Democracy in dark countries - sudden correction!

Walt is checking his calendar to make sure this is the last day of January, not the first day of April. About 12 hours ago, I posted a report that Zimbabwe's erstwhile president, Comrade Bob Mugabe, had been selected to chair the panel of mediators whose task it is to sort out the electoral stalemate in the Ivory Coast.

Now a Zimbabwean reporter covering the "African Union" meetings in Addis Abeba says that President Robert Mugabe will not -- repeat, NOT -- be heading the mission. In fact, he won't even be on the panel of intermediaries.

The AU must have realized that putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop was a bit over the top, even for Africa, so named heads of state Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Idriss Deby of Chad, Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso (the Land of Upright Men -- that's what it means) and Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania.

A "top Zimbabwe delegate" to the AU meeting told NewsDay's Faith Zaba that Zimbabwe could not be part of that panel because it had its own elections to organize. Actually no election has been called yet, but that's what he said. “We could not be part of that panel because we have our own elections this year and there is still a lot that needs to be done to organise our election.”

Indeed. Wouldn't do to have another misfire as in 2008. Once a chef, always a chef ... at least in Zimbabwe.

Footnote: According to Ms Zaba, Kenya's Raila Odinga was also "relieved of his duties".

Crisis of faith - "God" executed under Sharia law

Iran's semi-official Fars new agency reported today that an Iranian man was hanged for apostasy, after attracting several disciples who apparently believed his claim to be God.

About 1980 years ago, a Jew was crucified in Jerusalem for the same thing, except that the Jews who condemned him called his sin "blasphemy".

The Iranian government is therefore waiting rather nervously to see what will happen the day after tomorrow!

Yesterday's hanging was decreed by Sharia law, the code which is strictly and severely enforced in Iran, Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries of the Middle East. Apostasy, murder, adultery, rape, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Sharia, which has been Iran’s law since the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the Shah.

The western-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran published a report earlier this month which calculated that Iran had executed an average of one person every eight hours since the start of the year. Let's see. That would be...ummm...about 90 so far, and the year has just begun.

Rights groups say Iran is second only to China in the number of executions it carries out, and puts more people per 1000 population to death than any other country. Iran routinely dismisses Western criticism of its justice system, saying it is implementing Islamic law.

Now militant Muslims in the USA and Canada would like to see Sharia law imported into our countries. Of course, they tell us, it would apply only to their religious community. In other words, they would hang only apostates from Islam, and stone to death only Muslim adulterers. So that's all right then.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Democracy in dark countries - update

On December 9th, Walt commented on the refusal of Laurent Gbagbo, president of Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) to concede defeat in a presidential election held the previous November, even though he had clearly been beaten by Alassane Ouattara.

This is in keeping with African culture, particularly the cult of the "Big Man", the chief of chiefs in the tribal -- "feudal" would be a better word -- system which is still a hallmark of African politics. Once you become a Big Man -- a "chef", as they say in English-speaking Africa -- you remain so for life. Example: the late but not lamented Hastings Kamuzu Banda, who ruled the tiny state of Malawi (formerly Nyasaland) from independence until his death at the age of 100 (or more -- no-one knew for sure).

By comparison, Gbagbo is only 65, so reckons he should have at least three decades left. He clings to power in Abidjan, while Ouattara is setting up shop in Yamoussoukro. Yes, Ivory Coast has not only two presidents, but two capitals.

The former colonial power, France, and the United Nations want to recognize Ouattara, but they're not sure how to dislodge the limpet-like Gbagbo. So rather than impose a white, western concept like "the man with the most votes wins", they've asked on the so-called African Union to find an African solution.

The African Union has responded by appointing a mediating team which is supposed to have a little chat with Messrs Gbagbo and Ouattara -- in separate palaces, one hopes -- to make the peace.

And what a team it is! It includes Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, elected a couple of years ago in an election widely viewed as a fraud and a travesty. Also on the panel is Goodluck Jonathan [Are you sure that's right? Ed.], who was the president of Nigeria but isn't president yet because the election which he plans on winning has yet to be held. Good luck to him!

It gets better...or worse, depending on your point of view. The chairman of the panel is to be none other than Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe -- once, present and future President of Zimbabwe. Comrade Bob knows a thing or two about disputed elections and clinging to power, having done just that following an unexpected defeat at the polls in 2008.

The story bears repeating. Having been Zimbabwe's chief of chiefs since independence in 1980, Mugabe was compelled, by a need for a semblance of respectability, to seek a renewed mandate. The idea of declaring him "President for Life" had been mooted, but rejected because the givers of foreign aid find it politically difficult to keep throwing money at dictators.

In 2008, for the first time since independence, Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party faced a serious challenge from Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democractic Change. Tsvangirai was predicted to be the easy winner of a straight two-man fight, so a dupe named Arthur Mutambara was found to head a breakaway faction of the MDC and become the third man in the fight.

After a run-up marked by brutal intimidation of the opposition, the vote was duly held. As the first returns trickled in, Mr. T. was leading Bob by a comfortable margin, with Mutambara a distant third. Then, all of a sudden, the Electoral Commission -- Zanu-PF appointees to a man -- stopped counting the ballots!

Weeks went by. The people of Zimbabwe were understandably keen to know who had won. Finally it was announced that Tsvangirai had received something like 49% of the votes, against 47% for the incumbent. Mr. T. was on his way to State House to measure the windows for new drapes, when constitutional experts reminded everyone that under Zimbabwe's amended constitution, one had to obtain 50% +1 of the votes cast to be elected!

So there would have to be a runoff. Tsvangirai did not want to risk having any more of his supporters lose their lives, so he withdrew. Mugabe ran unopposed and, not surprisingly, won.

That is how Robert Mugabe hung onto power against the wishes of the majority of his countrymen. The experience will no doubt stand him in good stead as he fixes the flawed Ivorian election. "Set a chief to catch a chief." Africa wins again.

French fed up with Muslim occupation

Some readers will remember a picture of Muslims praying in the street appearing here some months ago. There are several videos of such scenes on the Net. Here's one of them.

And here's where Walt found this.

One of Walt's followers wondered if the videos were perhaps a hoax, images shot in an Arab country pasted onto a background of a Paris street scene. Wrong. These are real, shot in France where Islam is now the second-biggest religion after Catholicism.

This is a common scene not just in Paris but in cities all over France. A call to prayer goes up from a loudspeaker perched on the hood of a car, and phalanxes of muslims touch their heads to the ground and point their bums towards heaven. And the French are sick of it.

Marine Le Pen, leader of France's Front National, said recently that these scenes are proof that Muslims are taking over France and becoming an occupying force.

Reuters reports the head of research for French pollsters IFOP as saying "This has become a key political issue. Street prayers and the perceived growing influence of Islam are seen as impginging on French values of secularism [and] communal living."

Mme Le Pen's comments are evidently resonating with the French public. A TNS Sofres poll showed that support for her ideas has grown by 12 percentage points in the last year.

A presidential election is about 15 months away. Jean-Marie Le Pen, father of Marine, expects the party to to even better than in 2002, when it knocked out the mainstream socialist candidate.

Think of le Front National as France's equivalent of the Tea Party. Except for one thing. Americans do not yet see the threat of Islamic domination. The streets of Atlanta, Bellingham and Cleveland are not yet blocked by praying Muslims. The Islamization of America is not an issue ... yet ...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Arabs are revolting

Madness in the Maghreb! First Tunisia, whence refugees are even now making their way to Canada, slowed down somewhat by the weight of the gold bars in their luggage.

Then disturbances in Yemen and Algeria. And now Egypt. As I write, an excited radio commentator is describing riots in Cairo as Egypt's "Berlin moment". Walt doesn't think so.

Even if regime change does come to Egypt and the other countries of north Africa, don't expect a sudden outbreak of democracy, prosperity and peace. The people of those states are Arabs. Democracy and pluralism (political or religious) are not part of their history and culture. In the Arab societies, absolutism and authoritarianism are accepted as the norm.

Some of the countries may be officially secular but in practice they are dominated by Islam. The Islamic militants, such as Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, aren't going to go away. Attacks on tourists will continue, no matter who's in charge. Likewise the persecution and martyrdom of Christians.

So before we all rush to church to give thanks for the long-overdue civilization of the Arab world, let's take a moment for a large reality check. Tune in again in a year's time and see whether change has been for better or worse.

Footnote: Reports are that the social media are being used to organize demonstrations and get the news out to the rest of the world. It seems the protesters are making maximum use of Fezbook.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cause for beatification of Archbishop Sheen revived

Do you remember Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen? Half a century ago, I was informed, educated and motivated by his then-popular TV show, "Life is Worth Living". I can still remember Bishop Sheen, as he then was, walking over to a chalk-board, writing "JMJ" at the top of it, and proceeding to preach clearly and plainly The Gospel of God's love for us.

Fulton John Sheen was born on May 8,1895 in El Paso, Illinois. He was baptized "Peter John", but soon became known by his mother’s maiden name, "Fulton". The family moved to Peoria where the young Sheen attended school and served as an altar boy at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Turning down a scholarship for graduate school, he followed his desire to become a priest and entered St. Paul’s Seminary in Minnesota.

He was ordained a priest on September 20, 1919 in the Peoria Cathedral. Father Sheen went on to become Archbishop Fulton John Sheen, a universally popular evangelist, radio/TV personality, writer and missionary. He is best known for his television series, which had a viewing audience of over 30 million.

On October 3, 1979 Archbishop Sheen had an audience with Pope John Paul II at which the Pope embraced Sheen and gave a perfect summary of his life and work: “You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus. You have been a loyal son of the Church!” He died on December 9, 1979 in his private chapel in his Manhattan apartment.

In 2002, Bishop Daniel Jenky, CSC, of the Diocese of Peoria, officially opened the cause for Archbishop Sheen’s beatification and canonization. Work on the cause was suspended last November out of frustration with the failure of the Archdiocese of New York to transfer the archbishop's remains to his home town. While that dispute remains unresolved, Bishop Jenky has received encouragement from many other American prelates to continue work on the cause.

The Archbishop Sheen Foundation, established to promote the cause, has announced that Bishop Jenky is again actively pursuing the inquiry and is “hopeful that the cause will advance quickly.” Click here to read the Foundation's news release. Please support their work through your prayers and donations.

Pray too for vocations. The Church -- and the world -- needs many good and holy priests and bishops like Fulton J. Sheen to preach the True Faith.


This is a "Reebok Montreal Canadiens Women's Swirl Girl Long Sleeve Layered T-Shirt". That's what it says on the website. Agent 78 is a Habs fan and she wanted one. So she ordered one from the website, without checking out the online reviews. Here's what happened.

The package was delivered by courier within a week or so. Not bad. Shipping costs added around 8 bucks to the cost, but they told her that when she ordered, so fair enough.

When she opened the package, the shirt enclosed turned out to be red. Red is the Habs colour, but the website didn't say anything about a choice of colours. Even if it did, Agent 78 wanted the dark blue. To make matters worse, the cotton was not quite thick enough to be called flimsy. Says she, "I've seen thicker Kleenex."

What to do? Since Agent 78 had paid by credit card, Walt said just call the bank and tell them you're sending it back and would they please reverse the charge. Whoa!!! said the bank. You have to give the company a chance to make good.

So Agent 78 e-mailed's customer service. Not getting any response after a couple of days, she phoned them. Thank goodness for 800 numbers, she says, because after a considerable wait she got hold of someone who, without too much of a fight, said they would e-mail a shipping label which 78 could print out and use to return the item by the same courier.

A week goes by. No e-mail, no shipping label. So 78 phones them again.
Service Rep (so-called): "You want to return something?"
78: "Yes, I'm not satisfied with the 'Reebok Montreal Canadiens Women's Swirl Girl Long Sleeve Layered T-Shirt' you sent me."
SR: "What's wrong with it?"
78: "It's red."
SR: "Well it only comes in red."
78: "But on the website it's shown in blue and it doesn't say anything about red."
SR: "Are you sure?"
78: "[expletive deleted]! I'm looking right at the [expletive deleted] thing."
SR: "Just a minute... ... ... ... oh ... ... ..."

I'll spare you the rest of the transcript, the part in which SR says they'll e-mail 78 a shipping label because it seems the first one is, err, still being processed. Suffice it to say that, after another couple of days, the e-mail comes. Agent 78 packs up the garment, but El Courier Cheapo won't come and collect it. She has to take it to their drop-off point at Business Deport. It's only a 10-minute drive, so OK, she does it.

A week goes by. The courier website shows the package having been dispatched, but that's all. After another two days, Agent 78 calls the bank. The bank's SR won't take 78's word for it and says she will call herself. Go ahead, says 78.

After the banker calls the secret number only to find it out of service, she coughs up the credit to Agent 78's card. Every penny, including the taxes and shipping charges. This was in December, well before Christmas. All's well that ends well, thought 78.

Imagine her surprise, then, to receive only today an e-mail from! We've got your returned item, it says, and we're going to give you a refund of $28.46, only $8.99 less than you paid. Apparently the difference is the shipping charge.

Now Agent 78 asks Walt what she should do next. Walt passes the question along to you, gentle reader. Answers on the back of a postage stamp, please, to the usual address.

Postscript: Click here to read " sucks!" on And don't buy anything from an online vendor without checking them out. If you pay by credit card or PayPal, they might bail you out, but it'll take time and aggravation.

Monday, January 24, 2011

"We cannot withdraw now!"

What follows are the quoted remarks of the leader of a country which was occupying, by force, another country, a country in Asia. The occupiers were being pressed by foreign and domestic opinion to bring their troops back home without delay.

"The stationing of troops is a matter of life and death..." the minister burst out. "No concession in that direction!"

The country had already agreed in principle to the eventual withdrawal of its armed forces, he continued. Now it was obvious that what was really being demanded was the withdrawal of all its forces at once. This was impossible.

Hundreds of thousands of troops were still locked in battle in the occupied country. The interior was a hotbed of terrorists and bandits, and only the presence of foreign troops in certain areas could guarantee law and order and the successful economic growth of that whole part of Asia.

Total withdrawal before the aims of war had been accomplished "would not be in keeping with the dignity of the Army," and the entire General Staff "as well as the troops abroad" agreed with him.

Did you think that this has something to do with the American occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan? Think again. The speaker was General Hideki Tojo, War Minister and later Prime Minister of Japan. The occupied country was China. The passage quoted is in Volume I of The Rising Sun: the Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945, by John Toland.

It is not history that repeats itself, gentle reader. It is human nature.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Apostrophe catastrophe

Went to town today and stopped at my favourite coffee shop -- hint: no lattes on offer there -- and found they have a new feature. Yessir, Vince has joined the wired world and is now offering a wi-fi section "for the convenience of our customer's". Sic.

Why "sic"? Because "customer's" is the possessive form of the noun "customer". I was left wondering...the (one) customer's what? The customer's cat? The customer's maiden aunt?

It's not Vince's fault. Misuse of apostrophes is everywhere these days, even in the media and the sign-painting community. I'm not talking about the endemic confusion of "its" and "it's"*, but such egregious errors as "It pay's to go Peugeot" and signs indicating that a cottage belongs to "the Smith's".

For those who went to school after "child-centred education" took hold, Walt presents the rules...

1. Use an apostrophe to indicate possession.
a) With nouns (both singular and plural) that do not end with the letter s, add an apostrophe and s. Canada's climate consists of nine months of winter and three months of bad skiing.

b) With plural nouns that end with s, add only an apostrophe. Flight attendants' duties include telling passengers to stay in their seats.

c) With singular nouns that end with s, add either the apostrophe alone or both the apostrophe and s, depending on which authority you choose to follow. William Strunk says you should always add 's, regardless of the final consonant. Thus, the witness's testimony.
An exception might be made for proper names ending in s: Jesus' robe, Dickens' novels, but certainly not Dicken's novels (because the author's name is Dickens, not Dicken)!

d) If possession is common to two or more individuals, only the last name takes the apostrophe: Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.
But if possession is not common, make each noun possessive: men's, women's and children's wear.

2. Use an apostophe in contractions to indicate omission of letters or numbers. Summer of `42 (not Summer of 42), can't, won't, he's, they're (for they are, not their or there!), you're (for you are, not your!!!), isn't, it's.

* Here's an easy way to remember the distinction between it's (the contraction) and its (possessive). It's raining outside so the dog went into its kennel.

3. Use an apostrophe with nouns that are followed by a gerund. Don't bother looking up "gerund". Here's an example: Walt's overeating led to three days of indigestion.

4. English being English, there are a couple of "special cases".
a) to form plurals of abbreviations that have periods: Ph.D.'s
b) with letters, where addition of s alone would be confusing: Mind your p's and q's!

All of which is fine, but begs the question: does anyone care any more? Perhaps not, but if you're writing, there's no harm in appearing to be literate, but great potential harm in the opposite. Think résumés...not résumé's.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Walt will be back

Ed. here. A large Saint Bernard has pushed his way through the drifts bearing around its neck a small keg which, disappointingly, contained only a slightly damp note from Walt.

Apparently the winter weather has cooled Walt down below the white-hot temperature at which he normally writes. His Auntie Biotique arrived yesterday and he expects to be back to normal by the weekend.

Monday, January 17, 2011

"Baskethead" returns!

Incredible news from Haiti! Just when we thought things couldn't get any worse, former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier returned Sunday, nearly 25 years after a popular uprising against his brutal dictatorship forced him into exile in France.

"Baby Doc" -- known previously as "Baskethead" -- succeeded his father, François Duvalier ("Papa Doc") who ruled Haiti from 1957 until 1971. Papa Doc's misrule was a paradigm of the African "big man" style, based on a purged military, a rural militia, a dreaded secret police force known as "les tontons macoutes", and the use of voodoo.

Papa Doc was elected "President for Life" in 1964, according to the same African-style democractic process which we saw on TV late last year -- mounds of marked ballots thrown on garbage heaps, ballot boxes disappearing, would-be voters harassed, etc.

Duvalier fostered a personality cult around himself, and claimed to be the physical embodiment of the island nation. He also started to revive the traditions of voodoo, which he used to consolidate his power. He claimed to be a houngan, or voodoo priest himself. In an effort to make himself even more imposing, Duvalier deliberately modeled his image on that of Baron Samedi, the voodoo loa of the dead (pictured right).

He often donned sunglasses to hide his eyes and talked with the strong nasal tone associated with the loa. The Duvalier regime propaganda even stated that "Papa Doc was one with the loas, Jesus Christ, and God himself". The most celebrated image from the time shows a standing Jesus Christ with hand on a seated Papa Doc's shoulder with the caption "I have chosen him. There was even a Duvalierist variant of the Our Father. Duvalier also held in his closet the head of his former opponent Blucher Philogenes who tried to overthrow him in 1963.

Turned out the "life term" lasted only eight years, as Papa Doc died in 1971, possibly of natural causes. He was succeeded by his son and heir, "Baskethead", seen here receiving his father's blessing.

Baby Doc was widely reviled for being a spoiled playboy and... errr... a "baskethead" (stupid, empty-headed person), and fled into exile in France shortly after his ascension. And now he has returned.

Those who understand Haitian/African culture and politics will not be surprised to learn that Baby Doc has been welcomed by cheering crowds, in spite of being part of a dynasty that presided over one of the blackest periods of Haitian history.

According to Associated Press, Duvalier's stunning arrival at the airport Sunday was as mysterious as it was unexpected. He did not say why he chose this tumultuous period to suddenly reappear from his exile in France, or what he intended to do while back in Haiti. “I'm not here for politics,” Duvalier told Radio Caraibes. “I'm here for the reconstruction of Haiti.”

It is rumoured that former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide will be the next to return to reclaim the throne [president's chair, surely. Ed.]. M. Aristide, a former priest who embraced "liberation theology", was deposed in a US-approved coup in 1994.

If Duvalier and Aristide see an opportunity in Haiti, how can it escape the notice of Michaëlle Jean, the former Governor-General of Canada? Her Jeanness made herself mighty comfortable sitting on the vice-regal throne and is said to be ready to get on the next plane from her Park Avenue suite just as soon as the presidential palace is suitably refurbished.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Don't put that nuculer stuff in your mouth!

File this one under "truth is stranger than fiction".

Pictured left is a candy called Toxic Waste Nuclear Sludge Chew Bars. Not being a patron of inconvenience stores or the sugary shit section of Walmart, Walt had never heard of it...until today.

Today Canadian Press reports that the importer -- the stuff is made in Pakistan --has issued a voluntary recall for all the "nuculer" candy bars. (Some bingo-caller [newscaster, surely! Ed.] is bound to pronounce it that way, as does Homer Simpson.)

The recall follows testing by the California Department of Public Health which indicated some black cherry-flavoured bars might contain elevated levels of lead.

No bar-related illnesses have been reported to date. Walt publishes this notice as a public service.

Canada to train Taliban, says Smilin' Jack

Following up yesterday's item about Iraqi soldiers accidentally (???) shooting their American trainers, Walt now poses the question: Who's training the Taliban? Answer: The Canadians will be taking care of that.

So says "Smilin' Jack" Layton, leader of Canada's leftish New* Democractic Party (NDP). Speaking at the University of Ottawa
(U of 0) on Saturday, the Smiling Face of Socialism said switching Canada’s military mission from fighting to training will only mean that Canada will train and equip many who will later join the insurgency.

He was quoted in the Globe and Mail as saying, "Every year, one in five soldiers walks out of the Afghan National Army for good. How many of these become Taliban fighters, taking their training and weapons with them? You think you’re training government officers, but then you’re really training insurgents as well."

At best, Layton added, Canada will be helping to create a military machine for a corrupt and distrusted Afghan President who is "very closely tied to rigged elections and rampant corruption", and discredited with his own people. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, he added, is "reluctant to send another dime of aid money directly to Mr. Karzai’s government, but he’ll give him an army."

* Footnote: The NDP will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year. When the huzzahs have died away, it will change its name to "the Old Democractic Party".

The wild southeast

Florida agents please take note. Yesterday's St. Petersburg Times reports that, in the aftermath of Tucson's shooting rampage, lawmakers in Florida are ready to make their stand on guns clearer.

The solons of the Sunshine State want more people to have the right to carry firearms in the open and fewer government restrictions on gun ownership. Lawmakers have filed three separate bills that seek to restrict local governments from regulating firearms, stop doctors from even asking patients about them and grant licensed gun owners the right to wear firearms outside their clothing - including on college campuses.

Now get this. The bills were all drafted before last week's shooting in Arizona, and before a drunken Florida State University student in Tallahassee accidentally killed his girlfriend's twin sister with an AK-47 on campus.

Both tragedies loom over the legislation, but if history is a guide, that won't impede any of the bills. Almost every year, a gun rights measure passes Florida's Legislature.

Walt has visions of "raisins" -- little old people with permatans and wrinkles so deep that seeds are sprouting down there -- strolling along Worth Avenue sporting the latest in Gucci pearl-handled revolvers. In Miami Beach they'll have Uzis, of course. Better watch your mouth...and your Florida, boychik.

Thanks to Agent 6 for sending this along.

See also: "Five reasons why gun control has been disarmed", by Sonia Verma, from the Globe and Mail.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Iraqi army trainees kill US trainers -- FAIL!

With all the controversy over Afghanistan, many have forgotten that the USA still has troops in Iraq. Just as the Canadians are going to do in Afghanistan, the Americans are teaching the Iraqis how to be soldiers.

In a scene straight out of The Man Who Would Be King (starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine -- one of Walt's All-time Top Ten) two American soldiers were killed and a third injured when two Iraqi soldiers opened fire on... errr... US troops, during training in the northern city of Mosul today.

"According to available information, two American soldiers were killed today during a shooting at a training session inside al-Ghazlani military camp. Two Iraqi soldiers suddenly opened fire at the American soldiers," said an Iraqi colonel who, for some reason, declined to be named.

A senior police official confirmed, "Until now, we don't have any information on why the two Iraqi soldiers opened fire." Presumably more information will be forthcoming after an exercise in waterboarding. The Iraqi soldiers have been arrested, although by whom remains unclear.

In Ottawa, a spokesthingy for Canadian Prime Minister "Call Me Steve" Harpoon said, "Nothing like that will happen to the Canadian trainers in Afghanistan. First of all... errr... it's Iraq, not Afghanistan which everyone knows is more peaceful. And they shot Americans. They only shoot Americans, not Canadians. They know the difference, eh."

Friday, January 14, 2011

How quickly we forget

Still perusing the scrapbook, Walt came across a piece called "Last Episodes". It's a list of TV shows which apparently on the air when it was written, with suggestions about how each series might end.

What strikes me, more than a quarter-century later, is how many of these shows I don't really remember. What about you?

IRONSIDE: Special guest star Oral Roberts heals Ironside.

MAGNUM, PI.: Robin Masters comes home and kicks Magnum the heck out.

BEWITCHED: To Darrin's surprise, Samantha is burned at the stake.

GILLIGAN'S ISLAND: The Castaways discover, too late, that they've been marooned on Krakatoa.

HAPPY DAYS: The Fonz goes bald. Meanwhile, Tom Bosley is replaced by David Doyle and nobody notices.

FATHER KNOWS BEST: Bud, Princess and Kitten have a problem that only Jane Wyatt can solve.

HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL: To a convicted murderer, Palladin mistakenly gives a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card.

FAMILY FEUD: Richard Dawson gets caught in the middle when the Hatfields and the McCoys compete.

9 to 5: The whole company goes on "Graveyard Shift".

THE BEACHCOMBERS: Nick and Relic do another stupid, dangerous stunt, but this time they really do get killed.

LOVE BOAT: Captain Stubing misses the boat and it sets sail for Bermuda with Gopher at the wheel.

FANTASY ISLAND: Gavin MacLeod guest stars as a captain in search of his ship. O'Rourke and Tattoo accompany him to the Bermuda Triangle.

THE FLYING NUN: Sister Bertrille is caught in an updraft while flying over the Bermuda Triangle and is shot down over Cuba by a ground-to-air missile.

FAME: While dancing through Central Park, the cast is mugged by the crew from "Westside Story".

RHODA: Despondant over her divorce, Rhoda goes on an eating binge and explodes.

TAXI: Jim has a lucid moment and buys the taxi company and fires everyone.

State of the Arts in Wardsville, Ontario

Rummaging through his dusty and tattered scrapbook of clippings, Walt came across the following report -- undated but believed to be c. 1983 -- from Ottawa, Canada.

A pair of letters from the Ontario government are being photocopied in offices all over Ottawa and brightening up the dull days around here.

One letter was written last August by J. Douglas McCullough, Assistant Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Culture at Queen's Park, and asks all municipal clerks across Ontario for input on a newly-formed Special Committee for the Arts.

McCullough asked for "a short brief or letter concerning the arts in their municipality - how they are regarded, how they are funded, what effect they have on the life or the economy of the municipality and so on."

Back came the now-famous reply of Harold V. Turton, tongue-firmly-in-cheek Clerk of the town of Wardsville, pop. 400, a tiny blip on the map between London and Windsor [Ontario].

Reference your letter requesting information on the Arts in our municipality.

We are pleased to advise that we have four: Art Harold, Art Morgan, Art Marks, Art Sweet.

They are all extremely well regarded in the community. They are mostly funded by Old Age Security pensions and Canada Pension, and all contribute to the economy of the municipality in their day-to-day living.

We are pleased that you are interested in the Arts. However, we have many other names that also deserve recognition, such as William, Charles, Henry, etc., particularly many of the female gender: Mary, Helen, Ellen, etc.

We would be pleased to forward a full list if you so wish.

Yours truly,
Harold V. Turton

Word received from Toronto is that a Harold V. Turton award is being set up to recognize the bureaucrat who sends out the most inane letter of the month.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Former director reveals how Planned Parenthood does ultrasound-guided abortions

This week saw the publication of Unplanned, a new book by Abby Johnson, former director of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Bryan TX. You certainly won't enjoy reading it, but you should, if you have any illusions that Planned Parenthood is devoted to women's maternal health care.

The fact is that Planned Parenthood promotes abortion and pressures its affiliates to increase the abortion rate. If you don't want to read all the gory details -- and I mean that quite literally -- click here for a transcript of a webcast in which Ms Johnson speaks of the horrific experience that caused her to reject abortion and drove her into the pro-life movement. Here's a sample.

I had never seen an ultrasound-guided abortion before. They’re not standard procedure because they take a few extra minutes.... I was called in to help. My job was to hold the ultrasound probe on the woman’s abdomen so that the physician could get a view inside the uterus....

When I looked at the screen and heard them say that she was 13 weeks pregnant, on the screen I saw the profile of a 13-week-old baby in the womb.... In that instant, I had a flashback to my own ultrasound of my daughter when I was 12 weeks pregnant. In that instant, I realized what was about to happen and what I was about to witness.... I recalled all of the things I had said for so many years to justify abortion – all the things that I thought I believed deep down in my core.

When the abortion procedure started, I saw the child begin to move away from the abortion instrument and recoil. The child knew that its life was in danger. Before that moment, I had never even considered that the child in the womb felt pain or felt anything for that matter. Planned Parenthood had always told us that the fetus had no sensory development until 28 weeks.

I was surprised, shocked, appalled and disgusted at what I was watching. I felt betrayed because I couldn’t believe that this company that I had believed and trusted in had lied. I didn’t want to believe it, but was looking at it so clearly. The evidence was in front of my face.

The abortion started and in just a few moments, the screen was black, and the abortion was complete. In that moment, I knew that my life was going to have to change. I knew that I couldn’t walk out of there the same way that I had walked in.

Unplanned is published by Ignatius Press. You can buy it -- in print, Kindle or audio CD -- on Amazon.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cough up that mucus!

In "Hocus Pocus Mucus Pucus", Walt accused marketers for Benylin and Buckley's of not knowing the difference between "mucous" (adjective) and "mucus" (noun). Just part of Walt's ongoing rant about proper English usage.
Well, it turns out that the folks at Benylin -- or their advertising agency, perhaps -- either do know the difference or are trying to have it both ways. Only yesterday, Walt saw a Benylin commercial, for "Mucus and Phlegm Relief". If I were going to buy an expectorant -- that's what it is -- I'd buy Benylin if only to support correct spelling.

The Benylin ad, by the way, is not as emetic as the Buckley's ad. Here we see only a woman coughing up a loogie into ... errr ... the inside of her elbow. Apparently that's the way you're supposed to do it now. Enjoy your lunch.

How China's one child policy works

This is further to "Abortion on decree -- the reality", to answer a reader who wanted to take the suggestion that Communist China forces women to have abortions with a large grain of salt. Here's a brief account of how the one child policy is enforced, not in the backward rural areas of China but in her most modern city.

Agent 78 is a teacher in a middle school in a very large city on China's south coast. But Agent 78 is not a classroom teacher. Rather, as a good Communist, she is a teacher administrator, whose responsibilities include keeping tabs on the other teachers to make sure they are obeying government (therefore Party) policies.

Every month, Agent 78 checks with all the female staff to find out who's pregnant, what kind of birth control they're using and so on. She keeps records of who has children, who doesn't, and who's planning to. The object is not to exceed the limit set by the state for the school district.

So what happens if somebody's pregnancy is going to push that school or that district over the limit? The unfortunate woman is reminded that there is a cash bonus for everybody if no more than a certain number of babies are born during the year. The miscreant is told that if she gives birth, not only will she suffer (by having to pay a large fine), but the whole work unit will suffer too.

Then the mother-to-be is told that it's up to her to "do the right thing"...meaning do the wrong thing and kill the baby. Don't quibble with me about whether a fetus is a baby. "Kill the baby" are Agent 78's words, not mine.

No, the poor woman is not dragged kicking and screaming into the abortuary, as described in my previous post. But the result is the same. The offending baby disappears. That's how the one child policy is enforced.

Footnote: Agent 78's brief extends to the parents of all the children who attend her school. She is not able to threaten those who want to have a second child with loss of a year-end bonus. But she reminds would-be parents that a second child goes at the bottom of the list for admission to the prestigious school. "We educate one child per family. Period." That's the policy, too.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Canuck hopes American stupidity isn't catching

Walt chuckled as he read media reports on the emasculation of Owen Honors and Mark Twain by the puritanical American thought police. Michael Den Tandt, a columnist for Canada's Sun newspapers, got angry.

"[The pillorying of Honors and "revision" of Twain] all suggests moral rot," he writes. "That doesn't augur well for America, or for us [Canadians]."

Writing yesterday in the Toronto Sun and its sister newspapers, Mr. Den Tandt opines that a "virus of pathetic and hypocritical stupidity...seems to have overtaken the chattering classes down south. Common sense? Intelligence? Forget it. Both gone."

He goes on to dissect the punishment of Capt. Owen Honors for making some mildly raunchy and not very funny home videos. "To fire him now, four years after the patently gutless and wrong-headed." Indeed.

As for the removal of the word "nigger" -- Walt isn't afraid to say it -- from Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, Den Tandt says "to change it because some delicate moderns can no longer stand the sight of the ugly word is an abomination". Just so.

Walt confesses to failing, in previous posts, to take seriously enough the implicit threat of censorship of not just writing and speech, but of all thought. But I don't think "moral rot" is the right way to describe the syndrome.

It is, rather, an excess of puritanical and hypocritical moralizing -- not "morality" but "moralizing" -- not seen since the Salem witch trials. Start building the stocks, Rev. Mather. You're going to need them to lock up the millions who want to speak their minds without regard to the tender sensibilities of vizmins, Muslims, gays, feminists and all the other so-called persecuted minorities.

As one anonymous reader wrote to Walt yesterday, this is all about limiting -- or eliminating -- the freedom of speech. Books are rewritten or burned. Videos are "cleaned up" or not shown at all. Letters to the editor and comments on stories in the press are censored. Even access to the Internet is restricted, now, if those in power don't like what is being said. Case in point: Wikileaks.

In his 1941 State of the Union address -- now known as "the Four Freedoms Speech" -- Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed four fundamental freedoms that people everywhere in the world ought to enjoy. Number one on his list was the freedom of speech and expression.

FDR concluded, "That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create...."

Sadly, it seems that President Roosevelt got it wrong. The new millennium has brought us the very order of tyranny -- including tyranny over thought and belief -- of which he spoke.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Abortion on decree -- the reality

We don't hear much about Zero Population Growth these days. That's because Malthus' gloomy predictions of mass starvation due to overpopulation were wrong. And birth rates have fallen dramatically in the "civilized" first world because of the widespread availability of cheap and reliable birth control. People in Europe and North America are choosing not to have as many children.

But what about the rest of the world? Besides promoting "planned parenthood", some countries have taken more drastic measures to reduce the number of births. India has used forced sterilization. And China persists in its notorious and widely reviled "one child policy". Forced sterilization is part of that. So is forced abortion -- "retroactive birth control" by order of the godless communist state.

What follows is a dialogue* between Tim Ward, an American traveller and writer, and a Shanghai medical student whose name is only given as "Zhou".

"At least the one-child-per-family policy is one thing that really works," [I said].

"You say so?" Zhou shot me a hard glance. "You know the main method of Chinese birth control?... Abortion is the number-one method in China. As a student-doctor, I am required to perform ten abortions every day. We have no choice."

He looked down at his stubby fingers. "The first time I was frightened. When they brought in the woman, I jumped back."

"Jumped back? Why?"

"Because of the screaming. They had to drag her in, kicking and twisting, and tie her down. Now it's not so bad. You get used to it, when you do it ten times every day."

"My God, Zhou -- you mean some women are foced to have abortions? That's inhuman!"

"Some? About ninety-five percent! They are treated like animals. It is our policy. Many women hide their pregnancies. But eventually they are discovered. They have broken the law, not reporting it, and so they are treated like criminals.

"But it's worse for unmarried women. These women are especially afraid of being caught because they have already broken the law by having sex. For them, the government has a special torture. We are forbidden to waste anesthetic on them. 'Teach them a lesson,' the state orders us. 'Then next time they will learn to push the man away.' Tell me, do you think this is an admirable policy?"

"Do many women come back?" I asked numbly. My stomach had gone cold.

"Yes, I see many unmarried women back a second or third time, screaming and howling.... This is what it is to be a doctor in China."

Some readers may recall a rather large fuss being made about seven months ago, at a "women's health summit" held in Washington, by the progressive and correct-thinking Hellery Clinton. She was upset with Canada's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, for suggesting cutting funding for aid groups that include abortion in their "services" to women.

Here's the reality. If a government or a state-sponsored organization or an NGO (like Planned Parenthood) is made aware that the amount of money it will get from well-meaning donors (including western governments) depends on reducing the number of births, they would be more than stupid to not "encourage" women to have their tubes tied or undergo abortions. For the good of society, of course. Just like China.

* Quoted in "Buddha's Sex Change?" by Tim Ward, in Travelers' Tales China, San Francisco, 2004, p. 267.

N-bomb explodes, kills Twain

In a display of political correctness rare even for American "educators", the N-word -- NIGGER -- will be replaced by "slave" in new editions of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, to be published later this year.

The Bowdlerization of the books is supposed to boost their "acceptance". Since only millions of copies of Twain's classics have been sold in the century-plus since he wrote them, this move is clearly needed.

The new editions are to be published by an outfit calling itself "NewSouth Books". The argument is that Huck and Tom don't represent the "new south", in which all folks are equal, anyone can ride in the front of the bus if they want to, and there are no more niggers.

While they're at it, NewSouth Books should update the settings -- how about downtown Atlanta -- and make the lead characters 21st-century dudes, southern-fried Beavis and Butthead types.

In case it's not clear, my point is that Twain was writing about the south as it was in his time. Are we really trying to pretend, now, that the Old South never existed? Not only is America (as a whole) not racist now, it never was so! Not even in the 19th century. Next thing you know, the PC police will be doing a remake of Gone With The Wind, and rewriting the history books to assure us that the Civil War was only a dream.

Footnote: Mark Twain always chose his words very carefully. "The difference between the right word and the almost right word," he wrote, "is the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Saudis catch spy in the sky

Strange story today from the Middle East. The Israeli news agency Haaretz reports that Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested a vulture, which they claim was trained to be a spy for Mossad, the notorious Israeli equivalent of the CIA.

The vulture had been tagged at Tel Aviv University for a science study. For some reason it flew into Saudi territory, where it was nabbed. Agent 17 wonders what will become of the alleged spy (pictured). Perhaps it will be stoned to death according to Sharia law?

Footnote: Speaking of flying predators and the war against terrorism, does anyone out there remember "Blackhawk" comics? Where is Blackhawk and his gang of birdmen now that the west really needs them?!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Paki pol takes a hit for religious freedom

Just under a month ago, in "Catholics in Pakistan -- follow-up", Walt told you how terrorist organizations associated with the Taliban issued a fatwa against Shabhaz Bhatti, a Catholic who is Pakistan's minister for religious minorities. Mr. Bhatti is -- or was -- leading a commission that would have considered changes to the blasphemy law.

Well, they didn't get Mr. Bhatti ... yet ... but yesterday one of his own "security protectors" assassinated Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province and a senior member of Pakistan's ruling party.

Mr. Taseer had been vocal on a range of subjects, and apparently made the mistake of speaking out against the country's blasphemy law. Fundamentalist Muslims in Pakistan have defended the controversial law and slammed those who oppose it. And now there's one less dissenting voice.

Bring-down brigade vanquishes naval Honors

It used to be said that rum and buggery kept the navy afloat. That was the Royal Navy of course. Such things would never happen in the US Navy. Right? Wouldn't be tolerated. Not politically correct.

Seems Captain Owen Honors (great name!) learned that lesson the hard way, having lost his position as top dog on the bridge of the USS Enterprise over... what... some stupid videos?

I saw the vids, or at least parts of them. They're not funny! And I don't mean that in the feminist, politically correct way. They're just not funny! Really, haven't you seen funnier stuff than that on Family Guy? Sure! Or even America's Funniest Videos.

Message from Walt to America: Lighten up! Cut poor Capt. Honors a bit of slack! This is no worse than what people do at parties, picnics or other social gatherings -- letting their hair down and having a bit of fun. Guys -- or girls for that matter -- can be equally lewd, crude and obnoxious on a night out.

Let's not forget too that people in close proximity for months on end need lighter activities to relieve work-related tensions and stresses and boost morale. I believe doing so was Capt. Honors' intention, nothing more.

What really bothers me about all this is how seriously everyone is taking it. America is in danger of being the land that fun forgot.

Christianophobia strikes again

It's getting so massacres of Christians in Muslim countries (Iraq, Pakistan, and now Egypt) or Hindu countries (India) barely make the front page.

If you didn't see it in your local birdcage-liner, 21 Coptic Orthodox Christians were killed in Egypt a couple of days ago as they left mass. Meanwhile, in Iraq, where hundreds of Catholics were murdered by Islamic fundamentalists, celebrations of the Christmas season feasts were held in private homes, rather than risk having another church desecrated and more martyrs sent to Heaven.

Pope Benedict XVI has spoken out against this obviously rising "Christianophobia", but the reaction of the lamestream media has been a big ho-hum. "Well," you can hear them saying, "he would say that, wouldn't he?"

So let's give credit to USA Today -- not usually known for incisive or in-depth coverage of hard news -- for an item in its "Faith & Reason" blog entitled "Does Egypt bomb blast signal rising 'Christianophobia?'"

Hello, blogger! The answer is YES! Isn't it obvious? While you're at it, why not ask if the Pope is Catholic?

But at least USA Today is asking the question. Other lamestream media outlets still haven't noticed!

Footnote: Walt followed a link in the blog to the map below. Here you can see for yourself where the state forbids or restricts the practice of Christianity (red) and those where violence against Christians is endemic (orange). Includes a lot of the world, doesn't it?

Fear and loathing at the airport

It has been years since Walt boarded an airplane. There are multiple reasons for this, and fear of flying itself is not one of them. What I fear and detest and avoid like the plague is the experience of going on an airplane voyage in the 21st century.

Gone are the days when I could afford to fly first or business class. How I used to enjoy sipping my vodka 'n' tonic while the hoi polloi filed past to their little seats in the back. But now, if I flew, I would be relegated to the SBS (Screaming Baby Section) with the rest of the cattle.

Here's the problem with "coach". The seats are getting smaller, but the cattle are getting bigger!

Let's talk cabin configuration. Back in the day when the 747 was the biggest thing in the air, many airlines had 2-4-2 or 2-5-2 seating in coach, so you had only a minimal chance of getting stuck in a dreaded middle seat. "Never more than one seat from the aisle" was OK.

Now we have 767's, 777's, and their Airbus equivalents, and the airlines have discovered that with 3-3-3 seating they can squeeze 9 pax into a narrower cabin! Sure, they've bulked up the seat cushions a bit so the seats don't look so skinny, but the seats are narrower.

Or maybe it's just my impression, an optical illusion created by the fact that those who fly are so much wider! Have you seen some of the behemoths waddling through our airports these days?

I took Mrs. Walt to the airport a couple of days ago for her annual jaunt to the mysterious east, and watched in slack-jawed disbelief at the down-filled mammoths in the check-in lines. I felt Mrs. Walt's fear as she attempted to peek at the seat number on the boarding pass of the gargantua ahead of her.

And here's the thing. The blubberbutt who sits beside you and needs a seat-belt extension to satisfy the FAA pays the same fare as you do, even though they really occupy two seats -- their own and half the space on either side as their bulk oozes over and under the armrest.

They get the same weight allowance for their luggage too. Mrs. Walt weighs about 100 pounds soaking wet -- we put a scale in the shower to check -- and can bring with her two suitcases of 50 pounds each, total 200 pounds. The circus exhibit behind her, weighing in at 250 if she's an ounce, adds 350 pounds to the plane's take-off weight, for the same price.

The fare's not fair! Why not just weigh the passenger and the luggage and charge by the pound-mile! [Or kilogram-kilometre, for the metric-minded. Ed.]

And don't get me started on airport "security". The terrorists [if they really exist. Ed.] have made prisoners of us in our own country! I don't need or want to have my junk touched. If I want to hear laughter, I'll try stand-up comedy. And really, what's the point of it? They couldn't even catch one guy with explosives in his shorts. Seriously, can anyone report an instance of a terrorist being caught by airport "security"? Just one?! I thought not.

So, taking all this into account, I'm grounding myself until further notice. In fact, I think I'll be like Nero Wolfe and just stay in my house tending to my orchids.

Not Jewish lightning

A Toronto landmark lies in smouldering ruins this morning following a six-alarm fire early Monday morning. The old Empress Hotel, latterly the Edison, on Yonge Street -- the world's longest main street -- was all but destroyed by the fire, and will have to be razed to the ground.

Oddly enough, the owners had purchased the 1888 building -- one of the few 19th-century buildings left in Toronto's downtown -- with exactly that intention. Their plans were thwarted by the city's heritage committee, which last year declared it a historic site, meaning that the facade, at least, could not be demolished. Oddly enough, part of the facade collapsed at just about that time.

The Ontario Fire Marshall is investigating. Since the building was securely boarded up, with no electricity or gas connections, the cause of the fire is a mystery. Since the owners are based in Mumbai, "Jewish lightning" is not suspected.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hocus pocus, mucus pucus!

Walt will now present the award for most disgusting TV commercial of the winter season. The envelope please...

The winner is Buckley's, proud makers of the cough syrup that tastes so awful you know it works! That's an old marketing ploy -- Listerine still uses it too -- but the trick is to illustrate how well the medicine works. Mouthwash manufacturers have tried simulations of microscopic close-ups of the germs dying in your mouth. Not good, especially around dinner-time.

Buckley's has a new product, "Buckley's Mucous [sic] & Phlegm Relief". The same thing, with the same spelling, can be found in the USA as "Benylin Mucous & Phlegm Relief".

Having spent the New Year's holiday in Canada, I had the opportunity [misfortune? Ed.] to see a commercial for the new product, a commercial which managed to offend even Walt's not-so-delicate sensibilities. This one, like the Moores commercial, has yet to appear on YouTube, but I expect it, or a parody, any time now.

The creators thought a good illustration of the product at work would be to show someone suffering from congestion of the lungs standing behind a fluoroscope, so we can see what happens when the stuff loosens up the goo within and the patient horks up a really good one.

All this is done in cartoon form so it's not quite so gross as it sounds, but here's the thing. The sound is this deep, throaty cough and you can see the lunger coming up the windpipe. But then... nothing except the smile of relief on the character's cartoon face. What happened to the big gob of mucus and phlegm?! It doesn't bear thinking about.

Note to advertising agency: The proper spelling of that whitish slime is "mucus". That's how the noun is spelt. You can look it up: "Mucous" is the adjectival form. says "mucous" and "mucus" can be confused. Even by people in the media who should know better, let alone marketers who really aren't expected to know very much.

Good commercial, but...

Moores Clothing for Men is a Canadian retailer which sells... well... suits and such. It sponsors "Coach's Corner", featuring Don Cherry (the Mouth of the North), during the first intermission of CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada" telecast.

This season Moores is featuring a great new commercial, which Walt is unable to find on YouTube, and unable record for you, being a technophobe whose VCR is still flashing 12:00.

The scene is a hockey team's dressing room. An irate coach is berating his players poor performance, when a young man walks in and says "Is this Moores?" The coach replies that it's across the street, and a couple of players start remarking on Moores' good suits and service.

Here's the last three lines of dialogue.
Coach: Now get out there and score!
Tough but stupid hockey player: A suit?
Coach: NO, ya knucklehead! A goal!

Funny commercial. But just one thing. As the players file out of the dressing room, walking out of the shot, we see the numbers on the backs of their sweaters. Number 1 appears to be wearing goalie shin pads but a skater's helmet. Is he really a goalie? Surely he can't be an actor dressed up as a hockey player!

Footnote: Kudos to the NHL for insisting that players dress like gentlemen -- in suits, collars and ties -- coming to and leaving from the games. Football and basketball players look like thugs or pimps by contrast.