Consider, for example, the human cuckoos, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA). For the past three years, exploiting resources and an audience they have no legitimate claim to, QuAIA and Dykes Against Israeli Apartheid (DAIA) have been "laying their eggs" -- marching and monotonously messaging their loathing for Israel to throngs of gay-supportive spectators -- in the "nest" of Pride Toronto.
Seeing is believing. Lawyer Martin Gladstone filmed QuAIA 2009 in action to produce a short, damning documentary called Reclaiming our Pride. In it the hatred on the faces of many QuAIA and DAIA marchers is palpable. One sees swastikas on T-shirts characterizing Israel as a Nazi state, and hears menacing chants like "Fist by fist, blow by blow, apartheid state has got to go." The film offers persuasive evidence that QuAIA aren't ordinary political protesters with specific grievances, but Israel exceptionalists, gripped by an irrational obsession with the Jewish state's allegedly fathomless evils, while utterly oblivious to horrific human rights abuses elsewhere.
Over a million people from Canada and abroad took part in Pride Week 2009. Pride creates $100-million in direct economic impact, supports 650 jobs and brings the Ontario government $18-million in tax revenue. In 2014 the World Pride Congress is coming to Toronto. The economic and civic stakes around such a huge event are high.
Pride has traditionally been a boisterous but peaceful event. Yet ominously, in 2009 policing was tripled, in large part a response to crowd volatility provoked by anti-Israel activism. If the parade continues to evolve as a tension-filled, divisive forum where one minority feels singled out for guilt by association, Pride's reputation will suffer, with material losses to the city.
It's no good pretending the vicious anti-Zionism of the apartheid crowd is free of anti-Semitism. Many Jews do feel threatened by it, and rightly so. Some will no longer attend the parade out of discomfort. Typically of others I interviewed, lesbian Denise Alexander told me that the 2009 parade was "the first time I've ever felt unsafe as a Jew in Toronto." It wasn't only the words, "Down with Israel" or "The end of Israel": "It's the tone ... and the veins sticking out in their necks, like in Nazi Germany."
Pride's cultural mandate is to celebrate alternate sexuality, its political mandate to promote the human rights, social acceptance and environmental security of gays and lesbians. Political activism for human rights wherever gays are imprisoned, deported or executed makes sense. So does acknowledging gay-friendly jurisdictions. Kulanu, a Jewish social group, legitimately holds signs saying, "We're proud of Israel because Israel's proud of us." But anti-Israel protest and support for Israel's homophobic enemies belong in demonstrations on Parliament Hill or at the Israeli embassy, not in a forum where Israel's impeccable credentials on gay rights and social integration are second to no other nation.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
In 1914 Sir Edward Grey said to a friend one evening just before the outbreak of the First World War, as he watched the lights being lit on the street below his office: "The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."
In that instance, it was the Great War that loomed. Now the Great Forgetting looms and, from time to time, it washes across the world. "Earth Hour" is such a dark moment as millions either choose to, or thanks to their compliant or complacent local governments suffer through, an hour in the dark.
Once upon a time we knew enough to curse the darkness. In the aeons long climb from the muck, we have only had the ability to hold back the dark for a bit over a century. Now millions yearn to embrace it and, should they yearn long enough and hard enough, the darkness will embrace them and hold them for much longer than a brief hour of preening and self-regard.
Read the whole thing, and then join me tonight in turning on all the lights during Earth Hour to show your defiance against this ridiculous mass mania.
UPDATE: The National Post agrees: Keep your lights on
But Earth Hour is not designed to be scientific, rational, or even constructive. It is designed to inspire fear and assuage guilt.
Feel-good activities such as Earth Hour primarily appeal to three constituencies: the young, the idealistic and those who would prey on their ignorance. The latter category includes politicians, climate change activists and people with other agendas, specifically anti-capitalist, anti-growth and anti-prosperity.
Indeed, the idea that we will progress by regressing is not only at the core of Earth Hour, but of the entire anti-climate-change movement. If we lived simpler, more frugal (translation less comfortable, less productive) lives, the thinking goes, we could take the planet back to a pristine state. Man is the problem, and he should scale back his activities.
This rationale ignores the fact that for every environmental concern humanity has experienced or engendered, it has also found a solution. Scrubbers remove particulate from smokestacks. Laws penalize and discourage water pollution. Private property ownership helps conserve wetlands. More efficient engines replace less efficient ones, saving fuel and reducing emissions.
These advances are not driven by regression; rather, they are driven by technological innovation, consumer demand, and the rule of law. Ironically, it is the countries that lack these things which are unable to celebrate Earth Hour. Their citizens haven't achieved the prosperity necessary to benefit from an innovation that we in the First World take for granted--universal electric light. Most people in the Third World will spend Earth Hour in darkness, as they do every day.
Earth Hour has it backwards; it's the light that saves us, not the dark.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Well, the other half is out watching progressive theatre performances like Birnam Wood (running March 18 to March 27 at Theatre Passe Muraille) which is, I kid you not, the story of the battle of Dunsinane in Shakespeare's Macbeth told from the point of view of the trees in Birnam Wood. Now reviewer Jon Kaplan tells the sorry tale:
Its six characters are trees – wood spirits, actually – who’ve watched Birnam Wood be cut down to provide camouflage for the British army to approach the embattled Macbeth’s castle.
“The idea set me musing about the various prophecies in Shakespeare’s tragedy. What would it take for a forest to march up the hill? What has it seen? What energy does it draw upon?”
Given human form, the six tree spirits in the show recall, with nightmare-like intensity, the tale of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth.
“There are some astonishing parallels between the trees and the couple, beginning with the idea of dethroning: slowly, over time, one tree can take another’s more commanding spot in the forest. That’s also what happens, but more rapidly, in the tale of the Macbeths, with substantially more blood being shed.”
The development process included an exploration of the play’s nightmarish imagery: horses eating each other, for instance.
Not surprisingly, it’s the feminine energy associated with the natural world that helps make things right.
“In terms of visuals and poetic imagery, the production is set in a world turned upside down. We’re working in an imaginative place filled with flights of fancy,” smiles the director. “We’re not stuck up in our heads.”
"Not stuck up in our heads"? That's debateable. I guess it was inevitable that Shakespeare would be rewritten to publicly shame Macbeth for his excessive carbon footprint.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Well, here goes. I really resent the term, but I use it because it’s recognized and accepted.
From some seventy years of personal experience, I can tell you that there’s not much “gay” about being homosexual. For the first twenty years of my life, I had to live in the shadows, in a culture that was — at least outwardly — totally hostile to any hint of that variation of life-style. At no time did I choose to adopt any protective coloration, though; my cultivation of an abundant beard was not at all a deception, but part of my costume as a conjuror.
Gradually, the general attitude that I’d perceived around me began to change, and presently I find that there has emerged a distinctly healthy acceptance of different social styles of living — except, of course, in cultures that live in constant and abject fear of divine retribution for infractions found in the various Holy Books… In another two decades, I’m confident that young people will find themselves in a vastly improved atmosphere of acceptance.
Before publishing this statement, I chose to privately notify a number of my closest friends and colleagues — none of whom, I’m sure, have been at all surprised at this “coming out.” I’m prepared to receive the inevitable barrage of jeers and insults from the “grubbies” out there who will jump to their keyboards in glee to notify others of their kind about this statement, which to them will be yet further proof of the perfidy of the rationalist mode of life that I have chosen. Those titters of joy will be unheard over the murmur of acceptance that I confidently expect from my friends.
Congratulations, James, on finally having the courage to take that big step. I know from personal experience how hard it can be, and I hope you will find (like I did) that anyone who is important to you will be nothing but supportive.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Otterness is one of those sculptors over whom the art world's cognoscenti fawn while the bourgeois citizens shake their heads and mutter "what the hell....?" He became notorious years ago for a work of "performance art" called Shot Dog Piece which just defeats any attempt at mockery:
At a New York gallery showing in 2007 called The Public Unconscious, self-loathing American art patrons were all a-buzz about his sculpture Large Consumer:
Early on in the career of sculptor Tom Otterness, he was just another struggling young artist here in Manhattan trying to make it. In the era of the ever-escalating shock value and competitive one-upsmanship of his time — Christopher Burden’s getting shot on camera certainly comes to mind — one of Otterness‘ early pieces involved the adoption of an innocent little mutt, which he then took home and shot dead with a rifle, filming it as it took its last breaths.
Large Consumer, the first sculpture to greet viewers as they enter the gallery, is an obscenely fat American that sits atop an overflowing bag of cash; dollar insignia imprinted not unlike what might be found on a designer handbag. It is a striking visualization of materialism at its worst: the dumb American who knows no limits or boundaries and has never had to answer for his actions. For him, “get out of jail free” is not just a Monopoly playing card, but a way of life. Otterness is sly in his reference to the character’s deep-throating an entire loading ramp — swallowing logging trucks, cigarettes, and oil barrels whole. Perhaps he had the legendary tome of over-saturation "Against Nature" by J.K. Huysmanns in mind when he created this piece.
Perhaps. Or perhaps he executed a juvenile Marxist metaphor that is so mind-numbingly literal it could have been done by a high school art class during Earth Hour.
But back to Immigrant Family. Otterness' style reminds me of those weird German Playmobil toys, which of course is his point. His artistic statement is made by juxtaposing a serious political issue with a childish toy-like appearance. So what does one take away from Immigrant Family ? Why, immigration is harmless and nothing to be feared, and if you're worried about the impact of immigration on your community, then you're hopelessly bourgeois, aren't you? Immigrants are all cartoon-like dolls who love babies and look like Laurel & Hardy. You just want to hug them and dress them up, and if you obsess about things like assimilation and ethnic tension, then you're just racist.
Compare and contrast Otterness' treatment of this theme with a sculpture by Louis Sanguino (1973) called The Immigrants, installed in New York City's Battery Park.
This sculpture conveys some of the true immigrant experience - the emotion, sacrifice, fear and hope that must be associated with being uprooted and starting a new life in a foreign land. It certainly doesn't suggest that immigrating to the New World is the equivalent of watching the balloons at the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade (which, incidently, Mr. Otterness once designed).
Thursday, March 18, 2010
headroom for change
meaningful reusable interactivity
predictors of beaconicity
One tries to imagine a world in which the inhabitants speak to each other like this. Maybe there's hope - the LGA after all has also banned some words that are now so common in bureacratic jargon that I hardly even notice them anymore, like:
best practiceand my personal pet peeve
dialogue [presumably used as a verb]
interface [also presumably used as a verb]
low hanging fruit
thinking outside the box
going forwardMaybe this is a sign that the apocalypse has been postponed. George Orwell can spin a little more slowly in his grave.
(HT: Improbable Research)
Why do some cities thrive while others decay? One reason is that some politicians smother their cities with the unintended consequences of their grand visions, while others have the good sense to limit government power.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
According to the Toronto Sun, Chairman Giambrone (when he wasn't entertaining bimbos in his City Hall office) took frequent cab rides while on city business and billed the taxpayers of Toronto:
TTC chairman Adam Giambrone isn't the only one on the embattled transit commission that hopped into a taxi last year and stuck taxpayers with the bill.
A day after the Toronto Sun first reported Giambrone's 2009 office budget included more than $3,000 for operating costs that included thousands in cabs and hundreds on TTC tokens and passes, city records show all but two of the commissioners - who are all given Metropasses - also billed taxpayers for cab rides. And like Giambrone, many of the councillor cab rides including short jaunts and rides that ran directly along transit routes.
I took my camera with me while riding the subway downtown. Many of the stations are dirty and strewn with garbage, while some are literally falling apart:
I could go on, but you get the idea. In 2008, the TTC announced plans to "diversify" the design and decoration of its perfectly serviceable stations along the Bloor-Danforth line. Good grief - how about just picking up the garbage and fixing the crumbling walls of the stations that really need it? Maybe then Chairman Giambrone will be more comfortable joining the strap-hangers.
You do wonder, though, what kind of mindset you’d need to choose The Fountainhead as your all-time favourite book. For a start, there’s Rand’s prose style — poetic and quite Hemingway-like in small doses; prolix, monumental, portentous in larger ones. Then there’s her political philosophy Objectivism, to which all else is subordinate. Instead of dialogue, her characters talk to one another like Gladstone to Queen Victoria — as if addressing a public meeting. They have no inner life and, like the strained plots, serve little purpose other than to reveal what Rand seems to think is the great division in the world — between uncompromising individualists like Roark and parasitical, mediocrity-fostering ‘second-handers’ such as the vile Ellsworth Toohey.
But that doesn’t mean she’s not worth reading. Hell no. Not if you’re conservative, at any rate. As I’ve grumbled before, one of the unfortunate facts of life is that most works of art are created by pinkos. So when you come upon a book where all the baddies are liberal-lefties and, better still, shown to be bad precisely because they are liberal-lefties, it feels as deliciously naughty and verboten and exciting as some pervy new sex act you’ve only just discovered your girlfriend is prepared to let you do.
This, I’m sure, is the real reason why Ayn Rand strikes such a chord with conservatives. It’s not so much that we love her heroes — not when, as Daniels points out, they have ‘all the human warmth of a praying mantis’ — as that we get so much pleasure loathing characters like her scheming collectivist Ellsworth Toohey.
Toohey, whose philosophy is ‘Don’t set out to raze all shrines — you’ll frighten men. Enshrine mediocrity, and the shrines are razed’, is by far the book’s most successful creation because he’s drawn with such intensely loving hatred and such ice-clear understanding of how the liberal-left operates. He’s a monster not because he’s so nasty but because he’s so seemingly nice. He has that slippery plausibility and benign reasonableness you find in, say, Ken Livingstone. It’s that quality conservatives find most terrifying about liberals: the affable shamelessness with which they are capable of advocating a creed whose core aim is to force everyone to act in such a way that they will end up poorer, less free, less fulfilled and less happy.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
St. James' Cathedral on King Street (built in 1853) is a beautiful example of Gothic Revival architecture, and its various arched entrances are embellished with carved heads of kings, queens and apostles. Unfortunately they were worked in soft sandstone and 150 years of Canadian weather has taken its toll on some of them:
Not too far away on King Street is the magnificent St Lawrence Hall (1850) which, although not built in the Gothic style, has some great grotesques over its entrance arches:
The Simpson's Department Store (1895)at Yonge & Queen - now the Hudson's Bay Company's downtown store - has some great carved faces peering down at shoppers:
The mother lode of Romanesque Revival architecture in Toronto is of course the magnificent Old City Hall at Queen and Bay. Designed by architect E.J. Lennox and completed in 1899, it is covered in fantastic carved grotesques peering out from various nooks & crannies:
As a final treat, here are few grotesques from the Hockey Hall of Fame at Yonge and Front, a former branch of the Bank of Montreal built in 1885. Again, although it isn't built in the Gothic or Romanesque style, it is liberally embellished with carved stonework, including these great grotesques:
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Mr. McGuinty acknowledged the cost of some promises.This is on top of his January promise to offer full-day kindergarten in Ontario, a plan likely to cost $1.5 billion:
"We're going to have to find a way to fund those 20,000 [new post-secondary] spaces," he said. "That's not going to be an easy thing.
"But the last thing I want to do is say 'well, there's a recession, so all those young people and people who have lost their jobs or who want to go to college ... sorry, there's no money for you.' I just think that would be a terrible mistake."
But the $1.5-billion plan is already being met with skepticism from critics who say it is being implemented too quickly and at a cost to other "basic" education needs at a time when the province should be focusing on reducing its $24.7-billion deficit.This is insanity. Tim Hudak had better have a plan to clean up the mess when this financially and ideologically bankrupt government finally expires and the corpse eventually stops twitching.
"This is one of the most ill-conceived and badly thought-through programs the province has ever announced," said Irene Atkinson, trustee for Parkdale-High Park in the Toronto District School Board. "When I hear the province has $1.5-billion to introduce this new vote-getting program, I'm appalled. You should pay your basic fundamental bills before introducing something like this."
UPDATE: Tim Hudak piles on:
“Our economy may have fallen apart — but our lawns are perfectly pesticide free,” said Hudak. “Our factories may be closing — but Ontario is protected from the menace of the plastic grocery bag.”
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Thursday, March 04, 2010
So my job is to try to give the conservative political class of tomorrow the backbone the conservative political class of today is so sorely lacking. Key to this is helping them to understand that “Progressive Conservatism” is an oxymoron, and that the “Compassionate” in “Compassionate Conservatism” is a redundancy.
Conservatism does not need to prettify itself by adopting all-women shortlists or forcing its MPs to spend a Saturday afternoon painting the walls in the new drug rehabilitation centre or claim that a creaking, top-heavy, grotesquely inefficient state healthcare system introduced in the era of rationing and be-grateful-for-what-you-get represents the three most important letters in your ideologically bankrupt salesman’s fantasy world or cosying up to charlatans like the Red Tory or adopting “green” policies guaranteed to wipe out your economy and destroy the British countryside or talk about “equality” and “fairness” as if they were anything other than the dangerous buzzwords of subversive Marxist dialectic. When you do things like this you are not improving the Tory brand or making it more ‘relevant’ for the modern age. You are diluting it; enfeebling it; allowing its policies to be dictated according to the terms of the cultural left.
Progressive Conservatism was a disaster for George W Bush. It will be a disaster for David Cameron too.
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
As a Libertarian seeking public office, I seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.Although he probably doesn't stand a chance of being elected, it's nice to see a gay political candidate who isn't a default Democrat. Plus he looks pretty good in a suit.
I believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.
Consequently, I defend each person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world I seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.
In the following pages I have set forth those basic principles that I and many Libertarians have determined subscribe to. In conjunction with the US Constitution, I will vote only for bills that are in alignment with these principles.
I hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.
Governments throughout history have regularly operated on the opposite principle, that the State has the right to dispose of the lives of individuals and the fruits of their labor. Even within the United States, the two major parties have granted to government the right to regulate the lives of individuals and seize the fruits of their labor without their consent.
I, on the contrary, deny the right of any government to do these things, and hold that where governments exist, they must not violate the rights of any individual: namely, (1) the right to life — accordingly I support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others; (2) the right to liberty of speech and action — accordingly I oppose all attempts by government to abridge the freedom of speech and press, as well as government censorship in any form; and (3) the right to property — accordingly I oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation, nationalization, and eminent domain, and support the prohibition of robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation. *I am, however, pro-choice on abortion. While I oppose public funding for an abortion, I am supportive of a woman’s right to choose an abortion.
Since governments, when instituted, must not violate individual rights, I oppose all interference by government in the areas of voluntary and contractual relations among individuals (gay-marriage is an example of this). People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others. They should be left free by government to deal with one another as free traders; and the resultant economic system, the only one compatible with the protection of individual rights, is the free market.
Bush's rhetoric about democracy came to sound as bitterly ironic as his pumped-up appearance on an aircraft carrier a few months earlier, in front of an enormous banner that declared MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. And yet it has to be said and it should be understood—now, almost seven hellish years later—that something that looks mighty like democracy is emerging in Iraq. And while it may not be a beacon of inspiration to the region, it most certainly is a watershed event that could come to represent a whole new era in the history of the massively undemocratic Middle East.
The elections to be held in Iraq on March 7 feature 6,100 parliamentary candidates from all of the country's major sects and many different parties. They have wildly conflicting interests and ambitions. Yet in the past couple of years, these politicians have come to see themselves as part of the same club, where hardball political debate has supplanted civil war and legislation is hammered out, however slowly and painfully, through compromises—not dictatorial decrees or, for that matter, the executive fiats of U.S. occupiers. Although protected, encouraged, and sometimes tutored by Washington, Iraq's political class is now shaping its own system—what Gen. David Petraeus calls "Iraqracy." With luck, the politics will bolster the institutions through which true democracy thrives.
Monday, March 01, 2010
Listen to it here.