Friday, December 29, 2006

Ding, dong, Saddam is dead . . . almost

Apparently, Saddam will shortly shuffle off this mortal coil. Although I am not filled with glee at this prospect, I must say I disagree with Cardinal Martino and other Catholics who believe this situation does not merit the death penalty. Saddam Hussein's crimes were an outrage against the whole people of Iraq and his staying alive does imperil civil society in that country. Even if it is unlikely he would return to power in the way he was before, he is still a rallying point for Baathists and Sunni insurgents. Although his death would create a certain amount of "martyrdom", it would also end his "cult of Saddam", which is still strong and exists as long as he lives. All in all, Saddam is one of those few cases that really does cry out for capital punishment. Justice must be tempered with mercy - but it is hardly merciful to the people of Iraq to allow Saddam to go on living.

Although the commenter at small dead animals who suggests "I'm for letting him live. In a cell. With one television. Tuned to the View. Until eternity", may have a point . . .

Thursday, December 21, 2006

What's important and what's coming in Mac computing

In the January Macworld, the staff focusses on "the technologies, products, and services that are going to have the biggest real-world impact on Mac buyers in 2007". They're releasing the articles online day by day, and they're quite interesting, so if you're interested, check it out. Even if you're not "into" Macs: Topics so far include multi-core computing, flash-based memory, and browser-based applications, all things that will affect users of other OSes as well.

What's next: 10 tech trends that will shape what you buy this year

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Jonah Goldberg on Time's Person of the Year

In grade school, whenever a student was caught eating candy, the teacher would ask, “Did you bring enough for everybody?” Time carried this logic through to its absurd conclusion: If everybody can’t be Person of the Year, then no one can. “In the future,” Andy Warhol once predicted, “everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” Well, start your clocks, people.

But, you may ask, what is so cowardly about Time’s decision? And since you are a Person of the Year, how can I refuse to answer a question from such an august personage as yourself?

More here (including why Time punted - by rights, Mahmoud Ahmadinejahd should really be Man of the Year): Jellyfish of the Year

Sunday, December 17, 2006

France to U.S.: Hey, those Champs-Elysee-shade jokes aren't funny!

France to withdraw 200 special forces, all ground troops, from Afghanistan

PARIS — France is to withdraw its 200-strong special forces from Afghanistan, all of its ground troops engaged in the U.S anti-terror operation there, authorities announced Sunday.

The decision to pull the elite troops, based in the southeastern city of Jalalabad, comes as the Taliban militia are gaining strength despite the strong engagement — some 32,800 troops — in NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, which includes Canadian troops. France has balked at sending its 1,100-strong NATO contingent outside the relatively safe Afghan capital, Kabul.

. . . Despite the pullout, Alliot-Marie said that France intends to maintain its air power “which has backed up coalition forces numerous times” and is adding two helicopters in the advanced zone between Jalalabad, in the southeast, and Kabul.

She said that France also plans to train Afghan special forces “because it appears important to us that the Afghans see that it is their own forces which are retaking the theatre” of war.

But, Mme Alliot-Marie, how can you train special forces when you have removed your special forces? Or will you be sending the Afghani special forces to France for training? Really, I'd like to know . . .

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Peter Boyle, rest in peace

'Raymond' Dad Peter Boyle Dies in NYC

Peter Boyle, the actor who played the hilariously grouchy father on "Everybody Loves Raymond" as the final note of a distinguished career that also included a memorable role in Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein," has died. He was 71.

. . . While a generation of TV viewers knows him as Frank Barone - with his trademark "Holy crap!" line - Boyle had a respectable career long before "Everybody Loves Raymond" debuted in 1996, including a part in Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver." He also was close friends with John Lennon, who was best man at Boyle's wedding.

A member of the Christian Brothers religious order who turned to acting, the tall, prematurely balding Boyle gained notice in the title role of the 1970 sleeper hit "Joe," playing an angry, murderous bigot at odds with the emerging hippie youth culture.

I love that bit at the end of Young Frankenstein where he's in bed, reading the financial pages . . . good times.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Jeane Kirkpatrick - what did I just say the other day?

That John Bolton's "been the best since Jeane Kirkpatrick - and she was my role model in junior high school!" Well, news has come that Ambassador Kirkpatrick died in her sleep at home yesterday. The AP's obit (as I'd expect) is rather lame, though, so I'm sure better ones will be coming, especially at and May she rest in peace. I feel particularly bereft: One of the great women of our times leaves us, just as we all have the Iraq Surrender Study Group report in our hands, fresh from the printers.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Jonah Goldberg: "Here's the matchup we're all looking for in '08: Gore-Clinton vs. Bush-Dole . . ."

Obviously, I'm talking about Al Gore as the Democratic presidential nominee with Hillary Clinton as his running mate, battling it out with Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and vice presidential candidate Liddy Dole.

Of course, I'm kidding. If I heard such news, I'd probably shoot my television. Indeed, the whole country might respond to another round of Bush, Gore, etc., like those characters in Airplane! who commit suicide whenever Ted Striker (Robert Hays) starts droning on about his life. I myself would upend a jerrican of gasoline over my head rather than listen to Gore drone on about lockboxes again. And if Hillary were at the top of the Democratic ticket, all it would take for me to light the match would be a giddy Today segment on Bill Clinton as the "First Gentleman" — a first indeed. [Though at least - the very least - we'll now be spared having that segment done by Katie Couric, thank God. - Meg]

Going by my own shamelessly unscientific survey, I think it's fair to say that people want a clean break from the politics of the last two decades. Liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, cats and dogs, Klingons and Ferengi: Nobody wants to argue about names like Bush, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Cheney. Been there, got the snowglobe.

The Republicans have the higher hurdle because Bush fatigue is more acute than Clinton fatigue these days — owing to the simple fact that Bush is in office right now (though remember: there's been a Bush or a Dole on every Republican presidential ticket since 1976).

Exhaustion with the GOP in general is also running high, but the recent elections may have lanced that boil in time for 2008. If the same flock of gormless popinjays had stayed in power until the next election, voters would not only have voted the Republicans out of office, they might well have voted them into Guantanamo Bay.

I especially agree with that last. Besides, personally I'm kind of a fan of gridlock - anything that reduces the amount of legislation getting passed is a good thing, in my opinion, especially when the legislators are no great shakes.

For the rest, see: Take Your Rerun and Shove It

Laugh out loud . . .

James Taranto had a couple of things today that made me laugh out loud . . . under "Today in History" he notes (from the Starr Report) that on this day in 1997 Monica Lewinsky took her "parting" gifts to the White House.

While Ms. Lewinsky was waiting [in the guard booth at the Northwest Gate], one officer mentioned that Eleanor Mondale was in the White House. Ms. Lewinsky correctly surmised that the President was meeting with Ms. Mondale, rather than his lawyers, and she was "livid."

As Taranto says, "Takes you back, doesn't it?"

The other thing that tickled me was this, under "It's the Eponomy, Stupid": "Police said they were looking for Adidas Fila Rowson and an unnamed suspect in the shooting. . . . An officer spotted Rowson on Sunday, but he took off on foot."

Kathy's on a roll today . . .

Kathy over at Relapsed Catholic has some good stuff up today. ("PowerPoint is hard, says Barbie". Heh.) The best is the link to her last year's post on the Montreal Massacre, I've been saying this for 16 years..., which is perfect and perfectly tart and includes a link to a '99 column she wrote for the Toronto Star about the actual day back in '89.

Sparing a thought for Bolton

As a proud American, I'm a bit depressed to see John Bolton leaving Turtle Bay (my fave pick for a replacement: Rudy Giuliani. Let's see the Senate bat him down). He's been the best since Jeane Kirkpatrick - and she was my role model in junior high school! Mark Steyn has one of his "Topical Takes" up, a reprint of a Sun-Times column he did during the confirmation proceedings last year. I especially loved this bit - it made me laugh while sadly contemplating life without our tough-talking, mustachioed ambassador:

If he doesn't get the nomination, he's got the makings of this summer's novelty hit, "Neoconga No. 5":

A little bit of fingering of my hips
A little bit of sneeriness on my lips
A little bit of rolling of both my eyes
A little bit of petulance in my sighs
A little bit of starting to almost mock
A little 'You so totally do not rock'
A little bit of memo on your desk
A little bit of you makes me Hulk-esque!

See here for the column:

Time to once again celebrate "Man Hate Day in Canada"

To those outside Canada, December 6 is Saint Nicholas Day, perhaps, at any rate just another day in December. But once inside the borders of the deranged Dominion, you learn it is in fact l'anniversaire of the Montreal Massacre (or, as Mark Steyn's correspondent puts it on the linked page, "Man Hate Day in Canada . . . The day feminists celebrate the murder of women at Ecole Polytecnique"). If you're Canadian, read one of Mark's greatest Greatest Hits to relieve your irritation at all the insanity. If you're outside Canada, read it to find out about one of the craziest memorials in the modern West.

The unmanned Dominion

Monday, December 04, 2006

Mucha lucha

calderon lucha

Sunday, December 03, 2006

It's officially Mark Steyn's funniest AND most depressing column ever . . .

"God, I can't go on. I'd rather watch Mia Farrow making out with Mickey Rooney to a Doobie Brothers LP."

(He also notes that the leaked Baker Commission recommendations sound like "an admirably hard-headed confirmation of James Baker's most celebrated soundbite on the Middle East 'peace process': 'F--k the Jews. They didn't vote for us anyway.'")

Freedom of the press victorious in Venezuelan election

Oh, well, at least all the fired Petroleos de Venezuela workers who're here in Alberta won't be flocking back home now, so I guess there's an upside for somebody.

(Check out the AP's oblivious election wrap-up here: Chavez Wins Re-Election by Wide Margin.)

Telemundo: Venezuela Halts Transmission

Dec 3, 6:03 PM EST

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Officials identifying themselves as members of a state regulatory agency forced the U.S.-based Spanish-language TV network Telemundo to halt transmission Sunday of its presidential election coverage.

"We're surprised by this," said Pablo Iacub, a member of Telemundo's eight-person team, which arrived last week. "We only want to do our work," he said by telephone.

At least six people who identified themselves as members of the National Commission of Telecommunications (CONATEL), which regulates electronic media in Venezuela, arrived Sunday afternoon at the hotel from which Telemundo had been transmitting since Friday, said Iacub.

The officials said the network needed permission to transmit and lacking such could not, he said. Iacub said he was unaware of such a requirement but that the Telemundo journalists were accredited with Venezuela's national elections council.

Iacub said the Telemundo team asked how they could obtain permission and, after an hour, were told that they would not be able to transmit.

Telephone calls to Conatel offices seeking comment on the incident went unanswered.

Telemundo Communications Group is owned by NBC Universal Inc., which is controlled by General Electric Co. It claims to reach about 93 percent of Hispanic households in the U.S. and also has viewers in Mexico.

© 2006 The Associated Press.

I feel better about Ed Stelmach

Well, I'm glad he beat Jim Dinning in the first place, anyway. But we had kind of been Morton partisans, insofar as we were partisans at all (i. e., not very far, but, like all Albertans, wanting a decent premier). He seemed to have decent economic ideas (and unlike Dinning, he had ideas, period), and he was so-con, which is fine by us. So I was reading about Stelmach today in the Edmonton Journal and, reading through my Journal filter, felt that he seemed to be a decent-enough pick, and at least he wasn't Dinning. I was wondering if he was Catholic or Orthodox, or if he was practicing, or what, but the paper didn't seem to have that info . . .

So, we went to the 7 p.m. Mass tonight at St. Basil (Ukrainian Catholic), the parish we've been going to since we moved in August (it's almost literally around the corner - we walk there). At the end of the Mass, Fr. Daniel, the pastor, came out and made a bunch of parish announcements and then started talking about "Ed and Marie" and whatnot and said that after the final blessing he'd have them come up and he'd bless them with the Sacrament. He also enjoined all of us to pray for Ed, reminding us of how we pray for the government in the (Eastern) liturgy, and how we must remember our political leaders and all the things they have to consider and all the pressures that are placed upon them, and also (theocon alert!) all the spiritual warfare that is enjoined around them.

And so, after the blessing, Mr. and Mrs. Stelmach came forward and knelt on the steps leading up to the altar. Fr. Daniel removed the Blessed Sacrament from the Tabernacle and held it right above Mr. Stelmach's head. We, the congregation, kneeling, prayed the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be, and then Fr. Daniel invoked God's blessing, asked the Holy Virgin to pray fervently for the new premier, and sought the intercession of the holy archangels Michael and Gabriel. It was very moving, as it was simply done within the context of the Sunday liturgy, without fanfare or hoo-hah. It made me feel a lot better to know that Ed Stelmach, besides being the "most well-liked guy" in Alberta politics, is no Sunday go-to-Mass photo-op Catholic, but obviously a serious man of faith - a blessing like the one Fr. Daniel gave is not mandatory! And I think these two different sides of Stelmach - the popular politician and the serious Catholic - are not unrelated to each other, in the sense that practicing the virtues of the latter can lead to the former. It can happen.

Of course, it's extremely early days yet. But it was just a really nice surprise, at our own parish Mass!

(Update: Oh, I see now in the Journal's profile where it does mention he sings in the Ukrainian Catholic church choir at home. Check out the profile - he's no Jim Dinning, word. Thank God.)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

I'm dreaming of Mark Steyn . . .

. . . you can see my letter on his current "America Alone" letters page (scroll down to "Dreamy"). Yes, I really did have that dream! BTW, I'm reading the book now, it is excellent (of course).