banner photo:

"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope


Banner photo
Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Embarrassed on Pride Weekend

Another Gay Pride weekend has come and gone, and once more I cringe with embarrassment when I see the images of the various pride parades on TV and in print. In the National Post today, the only coverage of Toronto's event was a photo of a semi-naked man wearing a studded leather jock strap (and not much else) entertaining a crowd with his package. Unfortunately, the parades with their flamboyant nudity and in-your-face sexual licentiousness have become the public image of homosexuals for a lot of straight people, and that can't be good for gays. Hedonistic gay pride excess does not represent the reality of life for most homosexuals. Acceptance has come a long way - maybe it's time to retire the Gay Pride parade.

Bruce Bawer, an American gay conservative writer, wrote an influential book in 1993 called A Place at the Table - The Gay Individual in American Society. It had a big influence on me when I came out fairly late in life, and helped me to reconcile my basic conservative nature with the left-wing anti-establishment activism of many gay advocacy groups. Bawer thinks the Pride Parade has outlived its usefulness:
"The only time I ever feel ashamed of being gay," says a friend of mine, "is on Gay Pride Day." I know what he means, though my own emotions on that day are, at worst, closer to dismay than to shame.

[...]

My feelings are always mixed. There's a certain comfort in being among so many people who have all experienced self-discoveries similar to one's own, and who have all had to deal with the same slights and cruelties that homosexuals have to put up with from people who want to inflict pain or who don't care or who just don't know any better.... I know that I'm looking at thousands of untold stories of extraordinary courage.

Yet on that appointed Sunday in June there is always for me, as well, certain disquiet. Year by year, I find myself increasingly vexed by certain aspects of the march. Part of me doesn't want to attend it. If at its best the event hints at the diversity of the gay population in America, altogether too much of it is silly, sleazy, and sex-centered, a reflection of the narrow, contorted definition of homosexuality that marks some sectors of the gay subculture.
Paul Varnell, another gay conservative writer in the US, has noticed a recent trend. As society becomes more tolerant of homosexuality, affluent gays are abandoning the "gay ghettos" of the big cities, buying houses in the suburbs or the country and "becoming bourgeois":
Consider how bourgeois we really are. Much of the early "gay liberation" polemics seemed heavily focused on sexual liberation--the liberating of the libido (a la Herbert Marcuse). Certainly the legitimacy of gay sex needed to be vigorously asserted in the face of harsh state sodomy laws and discomfort among many gays about their sexual desires. But sexual liberation is now much less an issue and more of a background assumption. It is an availability rather than a mandate. The task for most gays has become not so much one of obtaining more sex with more partners, but that of finding a way to integrate their sexual desires with their emotional longings. In this gays are no different from most heterosexual Americans.
...
The gay neighborhoods of many of our largest cities seem to be slowly losing their gay density as more gay men move to other areas of large cities or to the suburbs. San Francisco and Chicago are good examples. Often this follows finding a partner and their desire to have a house of their own. Sometimes they move to find lower living costs but equally often they move to find peace and quiet. I have not seen sociological research on this, and we probably won't have a clear idea until a new edition of Gary Gates' valuable "Gay and Lesbian Atlas" based on the 2010 census data. But that population drift could also have an impact on gay business. And finally, let's point out that "queer" is pretty dead. It never really caught on. Longtime gay writer and activist Gabriel Rotello called it "the word that failed." It was floated as a generic term for gays (etc.) on the assumption that adopting a term of opprobrium would somehow reduce the hostility of homophobes among whom it originally arose. To paraphrase Orwell, that is a belief so absurd that only an intellectual could believe it.
As for the Pride parades, Stephen H. Miller, yet another conservative gay writer in the US, comments this week in his blog on the effect this bourgeois "assimilation" is having on some Gay Pride festivities:
New York’s affluent gays and lesbians stayed away from Sunday’s Gay Pride Parade "in droves, taking with them the money that has kept a 37-year-old tradition alive," reports the New York Observer in "Goodbye, Mr. Chaps.". "Queer" journalist Richard Goldstein opines:
"White people say they experience the parade as being tired and corny.... They'll say it's unattractive to them. The reason it's unattractive to them is because there are all these faces of people of color from all over the world."
Yes, I'm sure that's it, since all successful gay white people simply must be racists. But it also just might be that the parade has to a large extent, and for a long time, become too much of a mix of knee-jerk leftism and arrested-development sexual exhibitionism. That's the dominant image, unfortunately overwhelming the contingents of civic, religious and professional groups who do participate. And you can't blame the media for focusing on the most outrageous elements while demanding "full and inclusive representations" of the LGBT community. That's why I'd submit that a growing number of gays ... simply find pride parades at best useful as part of a coming out rite of passage, at worst an embarrassment, and in any event not representative of our lives.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Human rights outrage in Iran

I'm doing my part to spread the word on the Iranian government's recent crackdown on human rights. Michelle Malkin has a great summary, including a disturbing story of young Iranian men being punished for wearing Western clothing or hair-styles by being forced to suck on toilet cans that Iranians use to wash their asses.











Malkin asks the following rhetorical questions:

Question: Will these photos be blared across the front pages of the international media with as much disgust and condemnation as the photos of Abu Ghraib or the manufactured Gitmo Koran-flushing riots?

Answer: Fat chance.

Question: What do leftist apologists for the Iranian regime have to say about the brutal, appalling, and escalating crackdown on human rights? Yeah, you, Rosie.

Answer: Nothing.

Question: Will the same moral cowards who sat silently while Mohammad Khatami, former President of Iran, advocated executing gays during a Harvard lecture stand up now against this barbarism?

Answer: Of course not


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Canada's lame superheroes

A review by Jeet Heer in the Literary Review of Canada of a new book on Canadian comic-book heroes has some trenchant comments on our national character:

The link between superheroes and nationalism is one lesson that can be gleaned from John Bell’s Invaders from the North: How Canada Conquered the Comic Book Universe. Despite its bombastic title, Bell’s book is, at least in the chapters dealing with the superhero genre, a chronicle of failure. Bell speaks of “the somewhat quixotic search for distinctly Canadian superheroes.”


“Quixotic” is le mot juste. No Canadian superhero has ever been successful for a sustained period or left a mark on the popular imagination, although there have been many rolls of the dice.


Time after time, Canadian publishers conjured up superheroes that supposedly embodied the national spirit. Aside from Johnny Canuck, there is Nelvana of the Northern Lights (a white goddess in a mini-dress who protected the Arctic from “Kablunets, Nazi allies armed with Thormite Rays”), Captain Jack (an all-round athlete who battled Nazi saboteurs), Northern Light (a science fiction hero whose enemies were space aliens), Captain Canuck (who also fought space monsters as well as complex international banking conspiracies) and the similarly monikered Captain Canada (originally known as Captain Newfoundland, he defended the royal family from giant Japanese robots).


All these characters have their goofy charm, but let's face reality: none of them is a superhero of the first rank. They are not fit to hold the cape of Superman or Batman. They don’t even have what it takes to be a sidekick to Wonder Woman or Captain America. Creating a Canadian superhero is rather like growing bananas in Nunavut. With enough ingenuity and willpower you can do it, but is it worth doing?


There is something about Canada that resists superheroes.


(ht: Reason Online )

"Relax - world won't end until 2060" - Isaac Newton


Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) - the father of modern physics and arguably the smartest man who ever lived, predicted that the world would end sometime after 2060, but certainly not before. According to Newton's papers, some of which have recently gone on display at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, Newton based his 2060 prediction on an exhaustive study of the Bible's Book of Daniel. He wrote:


"It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner. This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail. "


Newton also wrote that the end of days would see "the ruin of the wicked nations, the end of weeping and of all troubles, the return of the Jews (from) captivity and their setting up a flourishing and everlasting Kingdom".

So relax - we've got at least 53 years.
(more here)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

An academic guide to Goth culture


Mikita Brottman, a professor of language and literature at the Maryland Institute College of Art, has an interesting analysis of Goth culture in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The main thrust of the article is that, for all its apparent nihilism and anti-social posing, it's a pretty benign subculture:

"In general, youth culture tends to be tied closely to the mood of the time (hippies, punk), to a certain kind of music (hip-hop, mod, reggae), to a sport or activity (skate punk, surf rock), or to a social or ethnic group (rastas, skinheads). Goth, on the other hand, is completely flexible. There are goth clubs and pubs, goth movies (anything by David Lynch, Tim Burton, or Ed Wood seems to fit the bill), goth jewelry and fashion, goth-friendly home décor, even goth lingerie. Within its own confines, too, goth embraces contradictions; it contains multitudes. Hair can be long or short, flat or spiky; shoes can be heavy boots or light slippers with pointy toes. And while individual goths can be totally asexual or polymorphously perverse, goth itself breeds peacefully with other subcultures, producing such independent offspring as gothabilly, doom metal, gothic Lolita, cybergoth, and goth 'n' roll."

"Goth isn't only for the young, either; if it suits you, you can be a goth all your life (which is certainly not true of punk — there's surely no more depressing coiffure than the receding Mohawk). In fact, if you're trying to look like a corpse, a gaunt face and figure can be an advantage rather than a drawback — although, after a lifetime spent avoiding the sun, some eldergoths (as they're respectfully known) remain surprisingly wrinkle-free; just look at Nick Cave, Robert Smith of the Cure, or Marilyn Manson. For women, the Morticia Addams look is age-appropriate for stylish goth matriarchs like Vivienne Westwood and Anne Rice."

"Although they may look scary, goths tend to be unusually tolerant and peace loving. It's a truism that, despite their fringe status, rejection of social norms, and interest in death, most of those who dress in goth styles tend to be shy and withdrawn, though not necessarily depressed. Anyone can be a goth; you don't need to run in a pack (goths are traditionally loners). And, as teenage subcultures go, it's unusually quiet and friendly. Goths are generally hygienic; their piercings are clean and discreet; they don't stick dirty safety pins through their noses or ride around on motorbikes spitting and swearing."

"Goth's consistent popularity does not mean, as some curmudgeons assume, that young people today are becoming increasingly nihilistic and alienated. Anyone who feels that way doesn't understand the essence of goth, which is really all about self-acceptance, self-expression, and creativity. Taking for granted the misery of the human condition, goth turns depression into an aesthetic, a semi-ironic pose — a perfect style for the awkward and self-conscious. Pale makeup, for both sexes, perfectly conceals bad complexions; goth clothing tends to cover, rather than display. And although its dark style was originally taken up as a backlash to the colorful disco music of the 70s, it may, in the end, be goth's most successful feature. After all, who doesn't look good in black? "

(ht: Reason Online )

Monday, June 18, 2007

John Edwards - silver-spoon socialist

I can't stand John Edwards - he is the epitome of silver-spoon socialism or Lear jet liberalism, as he jets around the US giving his "Two Americas" stump speech, fighting his "war on poverty" while getting $400 haircuts and living in his 28 000 square foot (28 000 !!!!) North Carolina mansion. That's why I loved this article from The Tennessean: "Is Edwards running for king? He already has a castle". Here are some choice bits:

If Edwards wants to continue being in the top tier of Democratic presidential hopefuls, he may well have to put a "For Sale" sign on his behemoth of a house and move into ordinary rich man's digs, like, say, a 12,000 square foot mansion.

The house, for the mill worker's son, has become a millstone around his neck. People are talking about it even more than his $400 haircuts. I confess, I'm distracted, too. I see him on TV talking about the war and health care, and a part of me is thinking: 28,000 square feet? How do he and wife Elizabeth get around their house — a golf cart? And what is their cleaning bill like? At least, they can take a walk without setting foot outside.

Meanwhile, the details of his house have emerged: The main house is 10,400 square feet and is connected to a 15,600 square foot "recreation building" by a 2,200 square foot roofed structure. The recreation building includes, among other things, a basketball court, a squash court, two stages, bedrooms, a kitchen, a swimming pool, a four-story tower.

All of this wouldn't matter if he weren't running for president. He would then be just another rich man practicing wretched excess. To covet money, to earn it legally, then conspicuously spend it are, of course, the cornerstones of our society.

But he is running for president. And talking incessantly of poverty. And the environment. And most of us would find it reasonable to wonder: How can you open your mouth on the environment when you — carbon offset or not — have a 28,000 square foot carbon footprint?


Canadians shouldn't tut-tut and feel superior - just ask David Suzuki about his big house on BC's Quadra Island.

Iranian dress code pisses off university students

Thousands of male university students in Iran have protested against a crack-down on "un-Islamic dress", which among other things prevents them from wearing sleeveless T-shirts even inside male-only residences:

Two thousand young men in Iran have protested against new clothing curbs, reports say, amid growing discontent about a crackdown on un-Islamic dress. Shiraz university students were angry about new rules banning sleeveless T-shirts, even inside all-male dorms.
...
Local news agency reports say the protesting Shiraz students on Sunday night were calling for the resignation of the university chancellor.
Women are coming under increased scrutiny by the clothing police:

Police say they stopped more than 1,300 women for dressing immodestly on the first day of the campaign in Tehran. Foreign journalists have been prevented from filming women being arrested for un-Islamic clothing.

More than 100 women were arrested on Saturday; half of them had to sign statements promising to improve their clothing, the other half are being referred to court. The focus of the new campaign is to stop women wearing tight overcoats that reveal the shape of their bodies or showing too much hair from beneath their headscarves.

However, young men have also been arrested for sporting wild hair styles or T-shirts considered immodest.

Foreigners are also being harassed:
It is not just the young and very fashionable who are being harassed this year, middle aged women and even foreign tourists are being cautioned. One foreign journalist was stopped and the police complained the photograph in her press card was indecent, even though it was taken by the Ministry of Islamic Guidance.

Could the protests be a sign of a growing backlash by young Iranians against the regime?
The head of the Iranian judiciary, Ayatollah Shahrudi, has warned that a severe crackdown on un-Islamic dress could have the reverse effect. Meanwhile, an MP has asked why the police should spend so much time arresting young people and filing court cases against them instead of fighting drug addiction and poverty.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The US economy for dummies




This map says it all: "US states renamed for countries with similar GDPs". Note: Canada = Texas. Wow.
(click to enlarge)


Monday, June 11, 2007

The Pentagon's "gay bomb"

A freedom-of-information request by a "military watchdog" organization out of Berkeley, California has produced documents showing that in 1994 the Pentagon was actually considering research on a "gay bomb" - a bomb containing hormones that would turn enemy soldiers gay and "have their units break down because all their soldiers became irresistably attractive to one another". The story is available here. Here's an excerpt:

As part of a military effort to develop non-lethal weapons, the proposal suggested, "One distasteful but completely non-lethal example would be strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused homosexual behavior."The documents show the Air Force lab asked for $7.5 million to develop such a chemical weapon.

"The Ohio Air Force lab proposed that a bomb be developed that contained a chemical that would cause enemy soldiers to become gay, and to have their units break down because all their soldiers became irresistably attractive to one another," [researcher] Hammond said after reviewing the documents.

"The notion was that a chemical that would probably be present in the human body in low quantities could be identified, and by virtue of either breathing or having their skin exposed to this chemical, the notion was that soldiers would become gay," explained Hammond.

Pentagon officials have stated that the project was abandoned and they are not currently working on any such weapons.

I blame the gay lobby and it's hidden agenda - clearly they have infiltrated the Pentagon and have established a military-industrial-homosexual complex.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Global warming dissidents

There's a good article in The Nation this month called Dissidents Against Dogma that neatly sums up the skepticism and distrust in parts of the scientific community over the world's headlong rush into drastic action against global warming. It also criticises the left's reliance on the issue as a weapon in the endless fight against global capitalism. Here's an excerpt:

We should never be more vigilant than at the moment a new dogma is being installed. The claque endorsing what is now dignified as "the mainstream theory" of global warming stretches all the way from radical greens through Al Gore to George W. Bush, who signed on at the end of May. The left has been swept along, entranced by the allure of weather as revolutionary agent, naïvely conceiving of global warming as a crisis that will force radical social changes on capitalism.

Alas for their illusions. Capitalism is ingesting global warming as happily as a python swallowing a piglet. The press, which thrives on fearmongering, promotes the non-existent threat as vigorously as it did the imminence of Soviet attack during the cold war, in concert with the arms industry. There's money to be made, and so, as Talleyrand said, "Enrich yourselves!"

The marquee slogan in the new cold war on global warming is that the scientific consensus is virtually unanimous. This is utterly false. The overwhelming majority of climate computer modelers, the beneficiaries of the $2 billion-a-year global warming grant industry, certainly believe in it but not necessarily most real climate scientists--people qualified in atmospheric physics, climatology and meteorology. Geologists are particularly skeptical.


Read the whole thing, and keep a copy in your wallet for the next time someone gets in your face for leaving your car engine idling for more than 10 seconds.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Gays in socialist paradise

I've been on a bit of a rant about Cuba lately, but that's because I am constantly subjected to rhapsodic elegies by Canadians who drone on and on about the workers' paradise in the Caribbean and the great hero Castro who "stood up to the Americans". A while ago I was at a dinner party with some gay friends, a few of whom had spent some time in Cuba and talked wistfully about the "Cuban model" and what we could learn from it. Huh? How could any gay Canadian admire the Cuban model, let alone give tacit support to it by vacationing there? Although homosexuality was decriminalized in Cuba in the 1970s, largely due to international pressure, it still isn't easy to be gay in socialist paradise. Peter Tatchell, a British gay activist and otherwise an admirer of Castro, summed it up pretty well in a 2001 article in the Guardian:

Castro challenged many backward ideas, but he embraced with enthusiasm the homophobia of Latin machismo and Catholic dogma, elevating it into a fundamental tenet of Cuba's new socialist morality. Idealising rural life, he once claimed approvingly that "in the country, there are no homosexuals". When Cuba adopted Soviet-style communism it also adopted Soviet-style prejudice. "Maricones" (faggots) were routinely denounced as "sexual deviants" and "agents of imperialism". Laughable allegations of homosexuality were used in an attempt to discredit "corrupting" western influences such as pop music, with the communists circulating the rumour that the Beatles were gay.

In the name of the new socialist morality, homosexuality was declared illegal and typically punishable by four years' imprisonment. Parents were required to prevent their children from engaging in homosexual activities and to report those who did to the authorities. Not informing on a gay child was a crime against the revolution. Official homophobia led, in the mid-1960s, to a mass round-up of gay people without charge or trial. Many were seized in night-time swoops and locked up in forced labour camps for "rehabilitation" and "re-education".

The repression did not begin to ease until the mid-1970s, and even then it was not because Cuba's leaders recognised their error. They halted mass detentions and reduced sentences largely because they were shamed by the international protest campaigns organised by newly formed gay liberation movements. A more significant softening of attitudes took place in the 1980s. With the advent of Aids, the Cuban authorities eventually showed greater tolerance towards homosexuals in order to win their confidence and support for safer sex. At around the same time came the secondment to Cuba of east German doctors and psychologists, who viewed homosexuality as a natural minority condition.

The 1979 penal code formally decriminalised homosexuality, but the legal status of lesbian and gay people in Cuba is still ambiguous. Homosexual behaviour causing a "public scandal" can be punished by up to 12 months in jail. Discreet open-air cruising in public squares and parks is tolerated, although often kept under police surveillance.

Homosexuals are still deemed unfit to join the Communist party, and this can have an adverse impact on a person's career when appointments depend on party membership. Lesbian and gay newspapers and organisations are not permitted. The Cuban Association of Gays and Lesbians, formed in 1994, was suppressed in 1997 and its members arrested. Gay Cuba? Not yet.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Letter from Cuba

For all you Canadians who are planning a vacation in Cuba to soak up the sun in its cheap resorts while gawking at the picturesque poverty from your air-conditioned tour buses - read this before you book your trip. Bella Thomas, who lived in Cuba for three years in the 1990s, recently returned to the island and reports on her visit in Prospect Magazine:

I returned to Havana this April, after an absence of several years. I went to see friends and to see whether, as is often claimed, change really was afoot. I came away with the opposite impression. Those who must see Cuba before it "all gets washed away" by the Americans need not worry. The current impasse will outlast Fidel, and may outlast Raúl for a few years—to the great cost of the Cuban people, and the architecture and resources of this remarkable island.
...
[The exodus of dissidents] does not mean that those still in Cuba are acquiescent or happy. They are far poorer than their eastern European counterparts were in 1989: the average wage, at $20 a month, can barely feed a single person for a couple of weeks. You cannot spend any length of time in Havana without noticing the lack of food for the majority of Cubans.

The mother of a friend, an old lady who lived in one tiny rotting room in a former brothel with her son, gets by selling matchboxes to her neighbours, having stolen them from the factory where she worked. Another acquaintance keeps pigs on her balcony and sells pork to a few locals. The luckier ones sell cigars or taxi rides to foreigners. An elite work in hotels.

When the Soviets pulled out, the government reluctantly turned to tourism to stave off bankruptcy. The business started in enclaves in a few prescribed zones, on the basis that foreign influences might be quarantined. But tourists were always going to be drawn to the city centres. And the presence of tourists has inevitably revealed to Cubans the depths of their poverty and repression. Tourism has enriched some Cubans and given others decent jobs, but it has also undermined the status of those in less lucrative but better qualified professions.

Healthcare and education are supposed to be the redeeming graces of the regime, but this is questionable. There are a large number of doctors, but, according to most Cubans I know, many have left the country and the health system is in a ragged state—apart from those hospitals reserved for foreigners—and people often have to pay a bribe to get treated. Michael Moore, the American film director, who has recently been praising the system should take note of the real life stories beneath the statistics.

I went into a couple of hospitals for locals on my latest visit. In the first, my friend told me not to say a word in case my accent was noticed, as foreigners are not allowed in these places. I was appalled by the hygiene and amazed at the antiquity of the building and some of the equipment. I was told that the vast majority of Cuban hospitals, apart from two in Havana, were built before the revolution. Which revolution, I wondered; this one seemed to date from the 1900s.


So why do Canadians flock to this hell-hole in the Caribbean by the thousands and return with glowing reports about the happy natives in their socialist paradise? Thomas thinks she has the answer:

There are plenty of visitors to Cuba from rich countries (including a disproportionate number from Britain) who believe they have encountered a true alternative to capitalist democracy. Why? Perhaps it is a way of keeping alive the idea of some ideal society, without having to experience the disadvantages oneself. It may also be a facet of a general dislike of the US, or a way of expressing unease with capitalist excesses. But it is also, in all probability, related to a nostalgia for the political certainties and the handsome design of the 1950s and before: the cars, the bars and the glamour. It is not for nothing that Cuba sells itself with the music of the pre-revolutionary period. If North Korea had charm and salsa and innuendo and beaches, perhaps a lot of politically naive people would be advocating its merits too.

(ht: Reason Online)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Kyoto dilemma: salmon or climate change?

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article which points out the ridiculous corner that radical environmentalists in the U.S. have painted themselves into: do they continue to fight for some of their traditional priorities even if that might put them in conflict with the current mania for fighting climate change?

The issue has come to a head over a group of hydroelectric dams in the Pacific Northwest called the Klamath Dams. Completed in 1962, they provide clean electricity to communities in the west, but environmental activists like Robert Kennedy Jr.'s Riverkeepers have been agitating to have them torn down to return the river to its natural state, partly to restore salmon habitat:

Once regarded as the symbol of national greatness, hydroelectric dams have now fallen into disrepute for many legitimate reasons. They are enormously expensive undertakings that would never have taken off but for hefty government subsidies. Worse, they typically involve changing the natural course of rivers, causing painful disruptions for towns and tribes.

But tearing down the Klamath dams, the last of which was completed in 1962, will do more harm than good at this stage. These dams provide cheap, renewable energy to 70,000 homes in Oregon and California. Replacing this energy with natural gas -- the cleanest fossil-fuel source -- would still pump 473,000 tons of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. This is roughly equal to the annual emissions of 102,000 cars.

Given this alternative, one would think that environmentalists would form a human shield around the dams to protect them. Instead, they have been fighting tooth-and-nail to tear them down because the dams stand in the way of migrating salmon. Environmentalists don't even let many states, including California, count hydro as renewable.

The problem is that replacing the electricity generated by these dams will have to involve burning fossil fuels, which adds CO2 to the atmosphere:

Large hydro dams supply about 20% of California's power (and 10% of America's). If they are destroyed, California won't just have to find some other way to fulfill its energy needs. It will have to do so while reducing its carbon footprint to meet the ambitious CO2 emission-reduction targets that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has set. Mr. Schwarzenegger has committed the Golden State to cutting greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 -- a more stringent requirement than even in the Kyoto Protocol.

Hmm. Seems like a no-brainer to me. Maybe we should heed the call from groups like the Sierra Club that we replace the missing electricity with "green" electricity. Wind generation? Solar? Geothermal? Oops - maybe not:
Two years ago the Center for Biological Diversity sued California's Altamont Pass Wind Farm for obstructing and shredding migrating birds. ("Cuisinarts of the sky" is what many greens call wind farms.) Solar? Worldwatch Institute's Christopher Flavin has been decidedly lukewarm about solar farms because they involve placing acres of mirrors in pristine desert habitat. The Sierra Club and Wilderness Society once testified before Congress to keep California's Mojave Desert -- one of the prime solar sites in the country -- off limits to all development. Geothermal energy? They are unlikely to get enviro blessings, because some of the best sites are located on protected federal lands.
The article's conclusion says it all:
...even in the face of a supposedly calamitous threat like global warming, environmentalists can't bring themselves to embrace any sacrifice -- of salmon or birds or desert or protected wilderness. Its strategy comes down to pure obstructionism.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Unlikely headlines

How's this for a contradiction in terms - Ottawa: Bastion of Freedom. That's the headline in a post over at the libertarian site Reason Online. Folks at Reason are particularly impressed that cooler heads have prevailed at Ottawa's city council , which has refused to pass a bylaw banning the use of trans fats in city restaurants:
Some councillors argued it just isn’t the city’s place to do that and the motion was defeated 12-8.

Ottawa and freedom: two words not usually seen in the same sentence. Take note, Toronto.