Sunday 21 December 2008

Winter in Victoria?

Not just winter, but a massive winter. It started on December 14th with this snowfall - more snow than we got all last winter in this part of town, and winter was still a week away. It meant a first cancelled pre-Christmas event because there are almost no snow ploughs in Victoria. This quiet street, my street, became a skating rink for a week by the end of this day.

The next big snowfall came today, cancelling a Christmas tree trimming party. Another major snowfall is forecast for Christmas Eve, not a good omen for that evening or for Christmas Day.

I moved to Victoria to get away from snow, and I was promised eternal sunshine. Just goes to show you, you can't trust anyone! :-)

Merry Christmas to you, and a Happy New Year!

Sunday 7 December 2008

Time For Change

It's clear, for Canada to remain a parliamentary democracy, the megalomaniac from Calgary has to go, but the Liberals, too, have to make some serious changes. The most important one, and one that needs to be made sooner rather than later, is to choose a new leader.

There's no doubt that Stéphane Dion is a highly intelligent and honourable man, and a true Canadian, but we've all seen that's not enough in today's politics. Even in the seventies, to be intelligent and honourable was not enough, otherwise Robert Stanfield, then leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, would not now be called "the Greatest Prime Minister Canada Never Had". He was no match for Pierre Trudeau. Sadly, neither is Dion a match for Harper, Layton, or Duceppe.

The Liberals need a strong leader, an excellent communicator, a man with not enough baggage to be a target for Harper's constant attempts at character assassination and lies. It's sad that so many Canadians are so uneducated, unintelligent, not to say stupid or prejudiced, that they can't see the true character of a quiet man. The only way to fight that is to give them what they want, but someone also with intelligence and integrity and vision - something the Conservative Party has not been able to do. It's important that the new leader be chosen during the next few weeks, before Parliament is recalled, so that the Progressive Coalition can do its work, hold Harper's feet to the fire and if necessary to replace him.

My choice is Michael Ignatieff, not because I prefer him to Bob Rae (who is equally intelligent and qualified), but because he'll be able to cut Harper down to size more easily. He presents a smaller target to the forces of reaction who've demonstrated already they're willing to risk national unity and at the same time to attack even Canada's Head of State (as represented by the Governor General) in their desperate attempt to foist their neo-conservative social and economic agenda on Canadians.

Thursday 4 December 2008


Given the increasingly divisive campaign by Stephen Harper to save his job rather than do it, the Governor-General today made the only decision she could. Each option she had came with positive and negative aspects. Prorogation was her only option, if she wanted to avoid a nasty constitutional crisis which would not only have threatened the office of Governor-General but our federation itself. Not only had ministers already begun to attack the office of our Head of State (fully knowing that the average Canadian has no idea how the parliamentary system of government works), but were also beginning to call anyone who disagreed with their position "traitors" to Canada.

This attack on our Canadian democratic institutions had become very clear from the lies and distortions of the Neo-Conservative Party's playbook followed faithfully by the usual pit bulls of the party from Alberta and from the survivors of Mike Harris' failed Ontario extreme right-wing government of the nineties. What saddened me is the fact that even Conservative MPs who had until now demonstrated that, despite political partisanship, they were intelligent enough to put the unity of Canada ahead of narrow political gain, allowed themselves to be co-opted by the perversion of democracy which is Harper's aim.

Unfortunately, if you look at Canadian political history, whenever Canadian unity has been threatened, a Conservative prime minister is at the bottom of it going right back to John A. Macdonald. If you don't believe me, you can look it up - Macdonald, Borden, Mulroney and now Harper.

What today we can forgive historical figures, we cannot forgive Stephen Harper. His only goal is political power. His strategy is continual lying, not only last night during his 4 minute 50 second lie, but even this morning when he left Rideau Hall. He does not appear capable of ever telling the truth about anything. I suppose that's part of his fundamentalist religious upbringing.

It's time we were rid of him. It's time the Conservative Party were rid of him. Canada needs the Conservative Party. What it doesn't need is someone at its head who always puts personal gain and power ahead of the welfare of us all

Wednesday 3 December 2008


My next planned entry was supposed to be about Proportional Representation as a way to increase the interest of Canadians in voting. If many Canadians feel they have no voice because their votes don't result in parliamentary representation, PR could be a way to motivate them to exercise their political responsibility. But, that's been overtaken by the current goings-on in Ottawa.

I didn't believe Stephen Harper when he promised during the election campaign that the next parliament would be more civil and would get things done. Why didn't I believe him? Because of his record ever since he first arrived in Ottawa on the tails of Preston Manning in the last century, particularly since he became the leader of the Neo-Conservative Party. As Prime Minister, he has broken most of the promises he's made, and every time he opens his political mouth out come lies and bile and character assassination. How can anyone trust such a person?

The so-called Economic Update was no such thing, of course. It contained nothing of the kind of economic stimulus required and provided by other industrialized countries. Instead, it was a document full of neo-Conservative cant designed to restrict the rights of women and unions, and to cripple opposition parties by removing their financial base (public support was the basis of political funding reform decided on by Parliament only a few years ago). In other words, it looked like a way to maintain himself in autocratic power without the bother of having to deal with dissent. Speak of Canada on the way to becoming a banana republic!

Since the Neo-Conservatives are in a minority position, under our parliamentary system the opposition has a perfect right to form a coalition to defeat the government, and, forced into a corner by Harper, they had no choice but to react or roll over and play dead. So, the current turmoil is no one's fault but Harper's alone.

The real problem Canada is now faced with is that Harper is turning what is a constitutional question into a political campaign designed to destroy not only the other political parties, but also the office of Governor-General. This is being done in the same way that Harper used during the recent election campaign, through a deliberate policy of lies and distortions of what's going on to confuse and influence unsophisticated people who were never educated in the way our constitution works.

In this, he's helped by all the media, who are adding to the confusion in the same way they added to the world financial crisis by bleating 24/7 "THE SKY IS FALLING". If you create hysteria, of course you'll get it!

All I can say to all this is to use a beautiful Shakespearean phrase (and isn't this just like a Shakespeare drama - with bad English). Stephen Harper, GET THEE TO A NUNNERY, and don't wait for spring, DO IT NOW!

Thursday 6 November 2008

America Reaches For Excellence

Tuesday's election results demonstrate that a majority (albeit a slim 51%) of Americans have decided to reach for excellence once again after a long period of darkness. Let's hope that Barack Obama will be given the chance to try to implement his vision for a modern compassionate USA. It'll be touch and go though, not only because of the economic disaster left him by Bush and his Republican cronies, but also because of Bush's two ongoing wars which are a severe drain on U.S. resources. Let's not forget that Bush doubled the American national debt in just eight years, and it was enormous even before he took power. Obama's agenda is very ambitious, especially for a country with a population so many of whom are unwilling or unable to face modern reality.

There haven't been many politicians over the years who've inspired as much hope for change as Barack Obama; Roosevelt, the Kennedy brothers, Pierre Elliott Trudeau. The forces of mediocrity and stagnation are powerful, and media and public loyalty is very short. Let's keep our fingers crossed! We all need renewal, especially here in Canada.

Wednesday 5 November 2008

A Quiet Fall Evening in Victoria

Two days after the Harper Gang's $300,000,000 boondoggle that resulted in their being re-elected with a whopping 37% minority (that's Canadian democracy for you), this happened in my driveway. No other major city in Canada can boast of wild life wandering in safety among its citizens. The sight did a lot to calm my anger at what had just happened. So I'm posting these pictures here to separate my future postings from what I've been feeling since that Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Enjoy...

Monday 20 October 2008

Just in case I haven't made myself clear...

Just in case I haven't made my feelings perfectly clear, this is the most despicable politician in Canada today.

I've been following Canadian politics closely for about 50 years now, ever since I started studying political science at McGill University. Stephen Harper has been the only politician in all that time who makes me want to vomit every time I see him or hear his voice. I've disagreed with quite a few of our so-called leaders, but no one, not even Brian Mulroney, has evoked the same reaction in me. I have to think of American politicians to think of someone similar.

That's not really surprising. Harper gets all his social, economic and political ideas from the Republican Party. It's obvious he has no original ideas of his own. His idea of political discourse is character assassination and policy misrepresentation, something not seen in this country before (at least not on this scale).

It's despicable, there's no other word for it. Anyone whose principal aim is to mislead unsophisticated voters in order to gain power is despicable. It was despicable when Hitler did it; it was despicable when de Gaulle did it; it was despicable when Thatcher did it; it's despicable when McCain does it; and it's despicable when Putin does it (come to think of it he just orders those who disagree with him imprisoned or killed).

Have I made my feelings clear?

Sunday 19 October 2008

More About Harper's $300,000,000 Boondoggle OR The Lying Continues...

Just last week, a day before the election, Harper said he would never run a deficit. What a difference an election and five days make: on Saturday, in Quebec City, he said that deficits are no longer inevitable. Who could have guessed? What promise will you break next, Steve?

Since the American-induced banking crisis erupted a couple of weeks ago during the election campaign, Harper and Flaherty have been saying that they saw this coming last fall, when they went on their unprecedented spending spree. That, of course, is just another flat-out lie. No one anywhere in the world saw anything like this coming - the most anyone was talking about a year ago was that the housing market in the U.S. was in trouble because of the largely unregulated and unprincipled American banking system.

Harper went on his spending spree as conservatives usually do when they smell an election coming and they need to buy votes. And last fall, Harper thought he could win a majority in an election that was about to be triggered by the opposition. It's only when that didn't happen that he arranged for the House of Commons to become dysfunctional so that he could break his own fixed election date law.

It's obvious that he didn't see the economic crisis coming or he wouldn't have gone on his spending spree and left himself no financial manoeuvering room. He had nothing to say about the economy during the election campaign other than that everything was just hunky dory. CTV, the network shilling for the Tories during the campaign, all the while kept insisting everything was going to be fine because, after all, Harper was an outstanding economist. Well, the truth is, he studied economics at the University of Calgary. That doesn't make him an economist! I have an Honours Degree in Political Science and Economics from McGill University (a real university, by the way), and I wouldn't call myself either a politician or an economist. And I'm far more honest and intelligent than Stephen Harper any day of the week!

Friday 17 October 2008


$300,000,000 is what this useless election has cost Canadians! Why? Because a power hungry Alberta neo-conservative wanted to become all powerful! Thankfully he didn't get the result he wanted.

Do you know how many hospitals or schools could have been built with that wasted money? How much desperately needed medical equipment could have been bought? How many nurses and teachers could have been trained? How many day care spaces could have been created to help families remain financially strong, to educate our children so that they can compete in an increasingly technological world when they grow up? But no, Harper had to have a majority, for no other reason than that he wanted one.

Well, there's a silver lining to Harper's "victory". But it's going to hurt the very people who gave it to him. In the recession that's staring us in the face, the neo-conservatives who have no plan and very little brain power, will screw up, as conservatives have always done in Canada since confederation - think Bennett, Diefenbaker, Mulroney, and now Harper - and cause Canada great economic harm. At the end of it, the Liberals will be called upon to set things right - think Mackenzie King, Pearson and Chrétien. Thank god for small, very small, mercies!

Thursday 16 October 2008

An Election Follow-up

A driver is stuck in a traffic jam on the highway. Nothing is moving. Suddenly a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down his window and asks, "What's going on?"

"Terrorists down the road have kidnapped Stephen Harper, Stephane Dion & Jack Layton. They're asking for a $10 million ransom otherwise they're going to douse them with gasoline and set them on fire. We're going from car to car, taking up a collection."

The driver asks, "How much is everyone giving, on average?"

"Most people are giving about 4 liters."

Tuesday 14 October 2008

Well, we still have a country, barely!

So what does it all mean?

We have a prime minister who broke the law (his own) because he thought he could get a majority government to implement his hidden neo-conservative agenda. It cost us all $300,000,000 and we're no farther ahead. The first thing Elections Canada should do, is to send the Conservative party a bill for that amount.
Harper wanted to be Darth Vader, instead he's the same clown who broke most of the promises he made in the last election and who lied every time he opened his mouth during this election campaign (something he learned not only from the Bush Republicans, but also from Josef Goebbels, who said "the bigger the lies, the easier it is to get people to believe them").

So, what we've learned from this election is just how stupid and ignorant millions of Canadians really are. I'm not so much speaking of the people who voted Tory ("don't bother me with the facts, my mind's made up"), but more so of the people who voted NDP and Green. It's always been self-evident that to defeat Harper, progressive Canadians would have to vote Liberal. It's sad to see that Canada has elected a government whose basic principle is "the big lie", but it's even sadder that so many Canadians are so ignorant that they can't tell the difference between lies and the truth.

Just how stupid many voters are is clearly demonstrated in my riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands on Vancouver Island, where nearly 4,000 people voted for an NDP candidate who had withdrawn from the election for ethical reasons. This gave the victory to Gary Lunn, one of the weakest Tory MPs, who managed to win a 2,600 seat plurality as a result.

We end up with Stephen Harper again, the leader of the neo-conservative party, whose one objective is power, personal power, which he's pursued relentlessly for years. To get it he will say whatever he thinks will get him votes in some part of the country. And people fall for that. What he says has nothing to do with what he believes in. His aim is to win so that he can force his neo-conservative policies on the country no matter what the cost. Of course, thankfully he can't do that for now, because he didn't get his majority!

The New Democrats demonstrate with every word they utter that they're not ready for prime time. One hears clichés about family, middle class and jobs, but they have no workable policies that can be implemented in real life without causing economic chaos.

The Liberals have the right policies; the switch to an environmentally progressive economy has worked well in all European countries that have implemented it, foremost of all Germany. Germany is a leader in green technology development and implementation and has created hundreds of thousands of jobs in new emerging industries, all while facing the same problems with conventional jobs fleeing to developing countries as we do. But the Liberal policies were misrepresented not only by Harper, but also by the conservative media, like CTV which has been shilling for the Tories for months. Sadly, the party seemed unable to convince enough Canadians of the validity of their policies. And among English Canadians, I also sensed some residual anti-French, anti-Catholic and anti-intellectual sentiment that still lingers just below the surface and worked against the Liberal leader.

The fact that only 59% of eligible voters actually bothered to vote shows how disgusted many of us are with the behaviour of many politicians, particularly on the far right. And the fact that vote percentages among the parties changed only very slightly but that so many seats changed parties shows how urgent it is that we change to a more representative system of elections, i.e. a version of proportional representation, to give people the sense that their votes, and which party they vote for, will actually count.

Well, Stéphane Dion will soon be gone as Liberal leader. His fate demonstrates that honesty, integrity, and vision alone are not enough to win an election in Canada. Any empty-headed showman can persuade those unwilling or unable to think for themselves to give him their votes. Oh, Canada!

Sunday 28 September 2008

Will it be Darth Vader, or ... ?

Fundamentalist christians think the earth is 6,000 years old.
Is someone who is ignorant enough to think that, qualified to govern a country? I don't think so.
Stephen Harper is a fundamentalist christian!

Something I've noticed during the past two years: Some people, especially some politicians - particularly those of the political right - love to use phrases like "Frankly", or "Frankly speaking", or "To be quite frank" before making a point. And, what I've also noticed is that when that happens, it's usually a lead-in to a lie or a distortion of the truth (which may sound better, but is really the same thing).

If you don't believe me, listen for it whenever Stephen Harper or John Baird or Jason Kenney open their mouths. Also, listen for it when you hear Republicans mouth off in the U.S.

The current polls have Darth Vader on the edge of winning a majority because progressive Canadians seem to be saying they'll split their votes among the Liberals, NDP, the BQ, and the Greens. If that really happens, Canada, as we know it, will soon cease to exist. Stay tuned!

Monday 15 September 2008

Something to make you forget about Harper (for 30 seconds)!

This is extremely important if your principal language is English!

After an exhaustive review of the research literature, here's the final word on nutrition and health:

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than we do.
2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than we do.
3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than we do.
4. The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than we do.
5. The Germans drink beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than we do.

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

Saturday 13 September 2008

The Choice is clear - it's either Progressives or Conservatives

Like George Bush, Stephen Harper (and his pal Stockwell Day) is a fundamentalist christian. The question then becomes clear: can Canada afford a prime minister who takes his orders directly from Jesus? Of course, Harper knows that only 20% of Canadians (compared with 60% of Americans) take religion seriously; so you won't ever hear him admit that (unlike Bush).

Until Harper's right wing Conservative Party was cobbled together (largely as a result of the treachery of Peter Mackay, then leader of the Progressive Conservative Party), the Canadian political right was divided and left government by default to the Liberals.

This is something all progressive Canadians should remember and ignore at their extreme peril. The Canadian political centre and left wing is now occupied by three national and one provincial party. In any election, progressive votes will float among these parties. If enough of them do that, the Conservatives will win by default.

The choice for progressive Canadians is clear then: If they want to stop Harper from imposing his extreme right wing agenda on Canada and make it a Republican clone, they must vote strategically. If you want a stable government, you need to vote Liberal, because the NDP and the Green Party will always remain secondary parties, no matter how tempting some of their policies may be. Neither party is quite ready for prime time.


Premier Danny Williams is right: "A majority government for Stephen Harper would be one of the most negative political events in Canadian history".

Tuesday 9 September 2008


October 14th, 2008 - a day which may go down in history.

The choices are clear: Will Canada continue its slide deeper into mediocrity, or will we make a positive, if not necessarily easy, choice to return Canada to a vibrant community seeking excellence in international diplomacy, education, health care, research, environment, and implementing the new alternative industries which will replace the old industries fleeing offshore?


Do we really want to continue with Stephen Harper? Here are some of Harper's characteristics:
  • fundamentalist christian
  • neo-conservative
  • control freak
  • bully
  • inveterate liar (not sure? take a look at his political utterances)
  • disloyal (surprised? take a look at his political career)
  • totally humourless
  • no taste in clothes (have you seen anyone else who wears mustard-cloloured suits - it sort of explains his other character traits)
Does Canada really need more than one Queen?

Thursday 28 August 2008

Coming Soon - Canada's Destiny

In case of a federal election this October (a year before Stephen Harper's fixed election date), remember:




and also


and finally


Saturday 26 July 2008

Mount Baker, WA, seen from Victoria, BC

A somewhat rare view of Mount Baker in Washington State taken on July 12th, 2008 from the heights above Matticks Farm in Saanich, British Columbia (slightly north of downtown Victoria).

This clean, clear atmosphere on a perfect summer day is one of the things we need to preserve and improve. That's why these pictures should be viewed in conjunction with the previous post. :)

Don't you agree?

Serious about Climate Change, but a bit confused? Take a Look at DeSmogBlog.

If you're serious about climate change but are sometimes confused by the many contradictory claims coming from the climate change denial gurus of the neo-conservative movement, you might want to take a look at the award-winning DeSmogBlog from Vancouver.

This is what this blog is all about (excerpted from the blog):
"DeSmogBlog exists to clear the PR pollution that is clouding the science on climate change.

An overwhelming majority of the world’s climate scientists agree that the globe is warming - the world's climate is changing - and that the indiscriminate burning of fossil fuels is to blame. We know that the risks are incalculable and, increasingly, we understand that the solutions are affordable.

Unfortunately, a well-funded and highly organized public relations campaign is poisoning the climate change debate. Using tricks and stunts that unsavory PR firms invented for the tobacco lobby, energy-industry contrarians are trying to confuse the public, to forestall individual and political actions that might cut into exorbitant coal, oil and gas industry profits. DeSmogBlog is here to cry foul - to shine the light on techniques and tactics that reflect badly on the PR industry and are, ultimately, bad for the planet."

Day after day, DeSmogBlog publishes articles debunking the lies and nonsense printed in all sorts of publications (e.g. The National Post) written by people who really should know better (since they claim to be journalists) or broadcast by media outlets (like the U.S. right-wing propaganda broadcaster Fox News). Find out who really funds climate change denial "scientists" and which lobbby groups they work for or have worked for in the past.

Whom should you believe about climate change, NASA, The Royal Society (U.K.), and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which recently concluded that there's a 90% probability that human activity is causing climate change), or your ignorant next door neighbour who wants cheap gasoline for his polluting SUV and a manicured green lawn in front of his house? Do you really think that Stephen Harper's neo-conservative party and their oil industry friends have your well-being and that of your children and grand children at heart?

Think about it! Seriously!

Monday 23 June 2008

Thank Heavens for Stephen Harper

Canadians should be thankful that Stephen Harper is our prime minister. At a time of economic uncertainty, of increasing anxiety over climate change, of worries over the diminishing amount of available fossil fuels and the concomitant rapid increase in fuel prices, of political tensions among the provinces and the federal government, it's re-assuring that we have an intelligent, consensus-seeking, visionary as our head of government.

It would have been so easy and harmful for our country in a minority government situation to have as prime minister an ignorant, foul-mouthed lout, whose idea of public policy debate is to call other people's economic proposals "crazy", to accuse people with ideas for problem-solving of trying to "screw" Albertans in particular and all Canadians in general.

Of course, it's a hallmark of people devoid of ideas of their own to try to ridicule anyone intelligent and thoughtful. It's something our latter-day Tories have adopted from their mentors, the Republican Party of our neighbours to the south. It remains to be seen if enough Canadian voters are as stupid as the Tories think they are. The next election, probably due this fall, will show the world if Canada is a modern, forward-looking country, or one mired in the mud of Tory mediocrity.

Sunday 9 March 2008

Victoria, Saturday, March 8th, 2008 at 3 pm

Before you look at these photos of mine, please accept my sincere and humble apologies if you've just finished shovelling snow, or are about to go home to shovel snow, or are feeling guilty because you haven't shovelled snow yet.

These pictures are simply here to give you hope that things will improve for you pretty soon. After all, you live in the 98% of Canada that's better known as "The Great White North", and I don't! :)

Oh yes, the sun shone all day, and the temperature reached 12-14 degrees, which does wondrous things for the cherry blossoms - by far the nicest day we've had all year! And after all, if you look at a previous post below, you'll see that it did snow in Victoria this winter - for 15 minutes.

Saturday 8 March 2008

From Altar Boy to Agnostic to Atheist

When I was about 12, I was an altar boy in Germany and I believed everything I was taught in religion class. When I was in high school in Montreal, we had religious instruction every school day, and we used a series of text books, a little more advanced each year. All I remember today of this series is that the early ones taught that if you died in a state of mortal sin, you would go to hell and that hell was everlasting fire. Well, of course, that was enough to keep anyone on the straight and narrow, or, if you strayed, rushing to confession as soon as possible.

Then, in my final year of high school, the text book suddenly said, hell is not everlasting fire, but rather a sense of overwhelming loss at not ever being in the presence of God. That shocked me - how could my religion teach one thing one day, and something altogether different the next? I didn't hear anyone, of any so-called christian religion, say anything other than that hell = fire until a few years ago I read that Pope John Paul II had said the same thing in a speech (i.e. that hell = sense of loss). But by then I had long ago stopped believing in religion, although I had taken the easy way out by declaring myself an agnostic, not wanting to take a definite position. Basically I contented myself by saying, how can there be a God (all-knowing, all-good, all-powerful) and so much horrendous evil in the world?

But no longer, after a couple recent TV documentaries I decided to do some research into the origins of christianity and also into why human beings even think that there needs to be a God at all who created everything. And after all that, I'm now free to say that religion is "bunk" and I'm an atheist.

If you want to do some research into this extremely important subject yourself - after all, almost everything evil in this world can be traced back to the pernicious influence of religion, there are three books you should read to get a well-rounded view.

First, there's Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion", a scientific examination of how the universe and our planet came into existence and why there is no such thing as white-haired old man who created it all (regardless of whether he then withdrew and let things develop by themselves, or whether he's out there directing everything minute-by-minute).

Secondly, read Tom Harpur's "The Pagan Christ", a historical analysis of where almost all christian symbology and all beliefs originated (ancient Egypt around 3,000 BCE). This book clearly shows that there was no such real life person as Jesus Christ and that the early (3rd & 4th century) church fathers manipulated and falsified the early writings and even wrote that that was OK, if it meant people believed what they were writing and preaching. The weakness of this book is that the author (a former Anglican priest and theology professor) goes on to say that, even if there was no such person as Jesus Christ, the son of God, and that everything is derived from Egyptian mythology, we should still believe in a mythical Christ. That, of course, is nonsense. Everything human beings need to live a "good" life is containe in "The Golden Rule" (you know - do unto others, etc.)

Third, to top it all off, there's Sam Harris' "The End of Faith" which outlines all the evil that has been done during the past 2,000 years (and counting) by the followers of judaism and the two religions it spawned - christianity and islam, and by hinduism. All four religions claim to be the only true ones, all encourage their followers to kill "infidels" (if you believe what they want you to believe, you have to follow it all, you can't pick and choose). Even the mythical Christ is quoted as saying it's OK to kill non-believers. Check it out for yourself, I'm not making this up.

Only buddhism appears to be a peaceful religion and hence not really harmful. But in the end, an intelligent and confident person, only needs his/her brain to figure out how to live a good and happy life. Human beings really don't need imaginary crutches. Unfortunately, we've been so brainwashed over the centuries that the end of religion is nowhere in sight. But consider this: ever since the end of the dark ages in Europe (starting in the 17th century), intelligent well-educated people have ignored religious myth (whether they were open about it or not) and have relied on their intellects only. I do, and so should everyone in this 21st century!

Monday 28 January 2008

Snow in Victoria on Sunday, January 27, 2008

The first snow of the winter. It snowed for all of 15 minutes. (Actually, it's snowed before. But it was at night and was gone before I got up, so it's really only hearsay.)

December 31, 2007 in Victoria

Three pictures I took from the ferry to Vancouver on New Year's Eve 2007. Yes, it is winter here. :)

As Others See Us

Salute to a brave and modest nation

Kevin Myers, The Sunday Telegraph, London
Sunday, January 27, 2008

Until the deaths of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, probably almost no one outside their home country had been aware that Canadian troops are deployed in the region. And as always, Canada will bury its dead, just as the rest of the world, as always, will forget its sacrifice, just as it always forgets nearly everything Canada ever does. It seems that Canada's historic mission is to come to the selfless aid both of its friends and of complete strangers, and then, once the crisis is over, to be well and truly ignored.

Canada is the perpetual wallflower that stands on the edge of the hall, waiting for someone to come and ask her for a dance. A fire breaks out; she risks life and limb to rescue her fellow dance-goers, and suffers serious injuries. But when the hall is repaired and the dancing resumes, there is Canada, the wallflower still, while those she once helped glamorously cavort across the floor, blithely neglecting her yet again.

That is the price Canada pays for sharing the North American continent with the United States, and for being a selfless friend of Britain in two global conflicts. For much of the 20th century, Canada was torn in two different directions... it seemed to be a part of the old world, yet had an address in the new and never fully got the gratitude it deserved. Yet its purely voluntary contribution to the cause of freedom in two world wars was perhaps the greatest of any democracy. Almost 10% of Canada's entire population of seven million people served in the armed forces during the First World War, and nearly 60,000 died. The great Allied victories of 1918 were spearheaded by Canadian troops, perhaps the most capable soldiers in the entire British order of battle. Canada was repaid for its enormous sacrifice by downright neglect, its unique contribution to victory being absorbed into the popular memory as somehow or other the work of the 'British'.

The Second World War provided a re-run. The Canadian navy began the war with a half dozen vessels, and ended up policing nearly half of the Atlantic against U-boat attacks. More than 120 Canadian warships participated in the Normandy landings, during which 15,000 Canadian soldiers went ashore on D-Day alone. Canada finished the war with the third largest navy and the fourth largest air force in the world.

The world thanked Canada with the same sublime indifference as it had the previous time. Canadian participation in the war was acknowledged in film only if it was necessary to give an American actor a part in a campaign in which the United States had clearly not participated... a touching scrupulousness which, of course, Hollywood has since abandoned, as it has no notion of a separate Canadian identity. So it is a general rule that actors and filmmakers arriving in Hollywood keep their nationality... unless, that is, they are Canadian. Thus Mary Pickford, Walter Huston, Donald Sutherland, Michael J. Fox, William Shatner, Norman Jewison, David Cronenberg, Alex Trebek, Art Linkletter and Dan Aykroyd have, in the popular perception, become American, and Christopher Plummer, British. It is as if, in the very act of becoming famous a Canadian ceases to be Canadian, unless she is Margaret Atwood, who is as unshakably Canadian as a moose, or Celine Dion, for whom Canada has proved quite unable to find any takers.

Moreover, Canada is every bit as querulously alert to the achievements of its sons and daughters as the rest of the world is completely unaware of them. The Canadians proudly say of themselves, and are unheard by anyone else, that 1% of the world's population has provided 10% of the world's peacekeeping forces. Canadian soldiers in the past half century have been the greatest peacekeepers on 39 missions on UN mandates, and six on non-UN peacekeeping duties, from Vietnam to East Timor, from Sinai to Bosnia. Yet the only foreign engagement that has entered the popular on Canadian imagination was the sorry affair in Somalia, in which out-of-control paratroopers murdered two Somali infiltrators. Their regiment was then disbanded in disgrace, a uniquely Canadian act of self-abasement for which, naturally, the Canadians received no international credit.

So who today in the United States knows about the stoic and selfless friendship its northern neighbour has given it in Afghanistan? Rather like Cyrano de Bergerac, Canada repeatedly does honourable things for honourable motives, but instead of being thanked for it, it remains something of a figure of fun. It is the Canadian way, for which Canadians should be proud, yet such honour comes at a high cost. This past year more grieving Canadian families knew that cost all too tragically well.