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)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Blues for a Saturday Night

Tonight's selection: Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee sing The Way I Feel :

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The end of international environmentalism

Ronald Bailey of Reason comments on the spectacular failure of the UN's Rio+20 Earth Summit:
Twenty years ago the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro marked the ascension of environmentalism as a political force in international affairs. That conference in 1992 produced the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity. At the time, Chris Flavin of the Worldwatch Institute crowed, “You cannot go to any corner of the globe and not find some degree of environmental awareness and some amount of environmental politics.” Flavin added that with socialism in disrepute, environmentalism is now the “most powerful political ideal today.” At the conclusion of the Rio +20 Earth Summit, it is clear that that is no longer so.
The largest United Nations conference ever—featuring more than 50,000 participants from 188 nations —was a flop. For most of the environmentalist ideologues at the Rio +20 conference the only question was whether it was a “hoax” or a “failure.” Oxfam chief executive Barbara Stocking preferred "hoax" while "failure" was Greenpeace spokesperson Kumi Naidoo’s dismissive term.
Looking back the failure of environmentalism as an ideology looks inevitable since has misconstrued the causes of many of the problems to which it claims to have a solution. At the close of the Rio +20 Earth Summit last Friday, environmentalism reached its highwater mark and is now ebbing as a political force internationally. It will be interesting to see in which direction those cherishing a permanent animus against democratic capitalism will go.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Blues for a Saturday Night

Tonight's selection: Boz Scaggs singing Loan Me A Dime, featuring Duane Allman :

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Gay anarchists will "Occupy" SF Pride Parade

Is Occupy Wall Street still a thing? I thought all the Occupiers had long ago returned to their parents' basements, but apparently there are still some Bitter Enders out in California keeping the Bong of Freedom lit. In this case the movement has splintered into subgroups so that one now needs a program to keep them, ahem, straight . A gaggle of gay anarchists which goes by the name OccuPride is planning to target Oakland mayor Jean Quan when she marches in San Francisco's Pride Parade this weekend:
During the Pride Parade Sunday, June 24 Quan is expected to come face-to-face with Occupy members along the route up Market Street. A coalition of radical and progressive queer groups has come together to plan a number of demonstrations throughout San Francisco's Pride weekend.
Under the umbrella moniker of Bay Area OccuPride, the group is planning a series of direct actions targeted at corporate sponsors of the Pride Parade and a number of elected officials who have parade contingents.
In a phone interview this week, organizer Craig Rouskey would not confirm that Quan was among its targeted Pride participants. The gay San Francisco resident would only say, "We have a list of targets." Rouskey, 34, added that a stoppage of the parade is also likely, but would last no longer than 10 minutes. "We are not doing sit-ins or die-ins. We are planning cool, direct actions aimed at community building and fun," said Rouskey. "I hope everyone enjoys it and thinks it is really cool. We are doing this for our folks. We love our community."
During the interview, and also on the website he launched Saturday, June 16 to promote the Occupy Pride events, Rouskey stressed that the group's actions are not an attack on the Pride Committee or the parade itself. Nor do the organizers want to shut down the parade. The aim is to highlight how companies use sponsorship of Pride to "pink wash" their corporate policies that line the pockets of their investors, said Rouskey.
"This is actually a queer community network of groups that have come together to work on this collectively to confront economic oppression evident through the Pride parade and pink washing," he said. "We want to do it in a way that is supportive of our community. We don't want to piss off people doing good things in our community."
Economic oppression of the gay community? In San Francisco, the gayest city on Earth? Give me a break. This group is protesting AGAINST corporations that support gays and lesbians because they oppress gays and lesbians by virtue of being corporations? That's twisted even by Occupy Wall Street standards.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Things are going swimmingly at the Rio+20 Earth Summit

Greenpeace is apoplectic and has already declared the summit an "epic failure" even before the world leaders have shown up:
The future we want has gotten a little further away today. Rio+20 has turned into an epic failure. It has failed on equity, failed on ecology and failed on economy.
It has also presumably failed on delivering massive anti-capitalist world government policies to stifle growth in developed countries. If Greenpeace is unhappy, then I'm delighted. Cheers!

There's still time to check out the beach at Copacabana.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Imam Habib explains it all for you

London-based Kuwaiti Shiite cleric Yasser Habib explains the causes of homosexuality: worms in the rectum and the devil sticking his index finger in the anus of newborn boys. By the way, Shiite Muslims are  immune.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Blues for a Saturday Night

Tonight's selection: Happy Birthday Blues by B.B. King. This one's for Onefineguy on the occasion of his own birthday.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The liberal dilemma: does homophobia trump racism?

Liberals in the US are going to have a tough time explaining this one: Iowa NAACP leader quits over same-sex marriage flap :
DES MOINES — A prominent leader in the Iowa/Nebraska branch of the NAACP — the country’s oldest civil rights group — announced today that he is resigning as branch president and a national board member in the wake of the national organization’s decision to endorse marriage between people of the same gender.
The Rev. Keith Ratliff Sr. of the Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines issued a statement saying he was stepping down from the NAACP national board and as Iowa/Nebraska state conference president “due to the NAACP’s position and support of same-sex marriage.
Hmmm - so let's see:

Option A: Support the President of the Iowa branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People who opposes gay marriage? Why you must be a homophobe.

Option B: Support gay marriage and oppose the Rev. Ratliff Sr.? Why you must be racist.

By the way, the Reverend Ratliff is a registered Democrat.

I'm enjoying this.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

"Soda laws appeal to the overclass because fat people are disgusting"

James Lileks eviscerates New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed ban on Big Gulps:
A culture that redefines food choices as moral issues will demonize the people who don’t share the tastes of the priest class. A culture that elevates eating to some holistic act of ethical self-definition - localvore, low-carbon-impact food, fair trade, artisanal cheese - will find the casual carefree choices of the less-enlightened as an affront to their belief system. Leave it to Americans to invent a Puritan strain of Epicurianism.
It’s not about health. If it was, no one would mention the cost of obesity. It’s an issue only because the rest of us have to pay for it? If that’s the case, then there’s no end to the restrictions we can conjure up and impose with equal parts of sadness and resolution. Smoking was easy because it stinks. Trans-fats was easy because no one knew what they were; it’s not like you go down the store to pick up some trans-fats. The soda laws appeal to the overclass because fat people are disgusting.
Protecting individual liberty means that society has to accept the right of some people to make bad decisions. The alternative is state control over all facets of our daily lives. We have to fight petty state tyrannies like the ban on giant sugary sodas because if we don't, we lose the moral authority to protest against bans on more significant infringements on our individual rights.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

God Save the Queen

On the other hand, maybe she doesn't need the help. Here's a picture of Her Majesty firing a rifle during a 1993 visit to the National Shooting Centre in Surrey. Rule Britannia!

UPDATE: I wonder if Her Majesty has the crosshairs sighted on a picture of Pat Martin?

Crusty old Physics teacher goes down fighting

Meet my new hero: Edmonton high school teacher Lynden Dorval. Mr. Dorval, a Physics teacher with 35 years' experience, has been suspended by the Board of Education for giving his students marks of zero for missed or incomplete assignments:
“I knew it was going to be a lot of stress,” he says. “But I just couldn’t talk myself out of it. It was the right thing to do.”What he did, over the past 18 months, was what he had done for over three decades when a student didn’t submit an assignment, skipped a test or missed an exam: he pulled out his red marking pen and gave them a zero. It was a lesson in consequences, one contrary to the school’s no-zero policy, an official dictum Mr. Dorval willfully ignored. After repeated warnings from the principal to toe the line, the renegade was hauled before a school board hearing. Three days later, on May 18, he received a letter informing him he had been suspended indefinitely. He suffered the consequences.
Mr. Dorval refused to accept the school's policy that a student's self-esteem is more important than actual performance. In that case, why give grades at all? Surely a mark of D would be bruising to the tender egos of someone taking a class with a fellow student who got an A? Why hand in ANY assignments if there are no consequences for not doing so? When I was in University back in the early 1980s, I was in a program that declined to give us actual grades - we were all assigned one of two marks for each assignment: Complete or Incomplete. This was after I had already spent four years in a rigorous honours degree program in science. It didn't take any of us long to figure out that there was no reward for excelling in anything that had to be handed in to the professors, so we carefully figured out the minimum amount of work required to achieve a Complete and dutifully handed in assignment after assignment of mediocre but acceptable quality. Why do otherwise? It was embarrassing to be part of this system, but it was necessary for the career path I had chosen, so I put up, shut up and got the hell through it as quickly as possible. This is the system in the schools of Edmonton that Mr. Dorval has decided he can't be part of any longer:
It is Newton’s Law: for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. Unless, of course, you are a student at Ross Sheppard high or some other institution where every missed assignment is met with an excuse. And not from the kids, but from an apologist administration that encourages serial irresponsibility by offering second, third, fourth — and 10th chances — but not zeroes, never a zero. Lynden Dorval knew it was wrong. He had had enough. So he picked up his red marking pen and stayed true to his conscience. It is a choice, he says, he would make again.
Bravo, Mr. Dorval. I salute you.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Blues for a Saturday Night

Tonight's selection: Misery and the Blues performed by Maria Muldaur:

Queers Against NATO? Seriously?

The problem I have with identity politics is that once you've been put into a simplistic identity pigeonhole, some people expect you to hold a set of political beliefs which just don't fit. It's just as true for gays as it is for women and visible minorities. That is perfectly illustrated by the Toronto group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid and now Queers Against NATO, who recently marched in Chicago to protest the NATO summit:
The anti-war movement and the queer movement are allied, according to the queer protestors, because queer people are affected by militarization.
"Last year alone NATO spent $1 trillion on arms expenditures and that's completely ridiculous considering the austerity measures being taken in this country," said Judy Heithmar, one of the people marching with the queer contingent. "Queer people are here demanding equality, education, healthcare and safe and affirming housing. The $1 trillion on war NATO spends could go toward advancing queer causes."
Queer people are affected by militarization? I suppose that's true in the sense that ALL people are affected by militarization. I'm sure the millions who were liberated from Communist tyranny by the collapse of the Soviet Union would agree that they were affected by NATO's militarization, but I'd wager that not many of them would march in protest against it. And yes, the $1 trillion that NATO spends could be used to advance "queer causes", but what special claim do they have on that money? It could also be spent on buying me a private island in the Caribbean staffed with handsome waiters who keep me supplied with mojitos for the rest of my life; am I entitled to it?

I resent organizations like Queers Against NATO presuming to speak on behalf of gays everywhere. I'm gay and I support NATO. I also support Israel and the Conservative Party of Canada, and I never use the word "queer" to describe myself.

Speak for yourself.

The Secret Gay Agenda revealed