Thursday, April 10, 2008

On the Line

David Myles' new album, On the Line, is to be released in three short weeks. I am sure it's going to be a killer. You can check out a few tracks in advance here.

Bastarache retires

Wayne MacKay is the sensible choice. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Rent-seeking bloodsuckers

As some of my friends and occassional dinner companions have found out, I don't have the world's most positive view of farmers. Generally, it's a bit of a show, but I do think the evidence is more or less clear that consumers -- especially the poor -- are not well-served by supply management and by the readiness of our politicians to give to farmers subsidies which they do not give to other industries. So, the argument is a bit of put-on because I like being contrarian, and a bit true, because I think the facts are with me. All of that aside, you can be sure I will pull out this article the next time the debate comes up.

It takes no foresight to guess that tobacco demand is going to continue to decline. And it takes no small amount of gumption to complain that "high taxation and anti-smoking policies have had the effect of expropriating their livelihood without compensation." No, all it takes is some incredible romantic sense that one is entitled to compensation because they work in a field as opposed to an office. Never has the term rent-seeking bloodsuckers come so easily to mind.

The Prime Minister, Auschwitz, and Allan Woods Absurd Article

This is an absurd article. Woods never comes out and says it, but he somehow thinks it's wrong that the Prime Minister didn't say anything to reporters after visiting Auschwitz. Instead of giving a speech afterwards, Harper signed a rather eloquent message in a guestbook. As Woods, our intrepid scribe puts it:

That statement was the only clue Canadians have as to what was in Harper's mind as he bore witness to the depravity of Auschwitz, where upward of one million Jews were exterminated, along with more than 100,000 Poles, Gypsies and homosexuals.

What, pray tell, do you think he was thinking? I am guessing, like any human being, that he was overwhelmed by what he saw (indeed, other reports capture his emotional struggle) and wasn't too keen on trying to discuss awful feelings in front of other people. Particularly not someone like Woods. Given the amount of space he's wasted writing on what the Prime Minister didn't say, can you imagine the knots he'd tie if he had said anything?

Woods should take a second to think about whether he is professionally obliged to be critical at every possible opportunity. And then he should do us the favour of not writing about it. No one, I can assure him, will write an article about his silence.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

A question/annoyance

Can someone explain to me how the interests of science are served by journals asking all authors to conform to some meaningless and arbitrary document standard for the purposes of review? Why, pray tell, must articles be submitted in 12-point Times New Roman? And why must they be ragged right? And why, for the love of all good and holy, must they be submitted in Word? What about those of us who actually care about offending the eyes of others, have seen the light, and have moved to Latex?

In short, why are authors made to conform to silly and arbitrary standards prior to acceptance and publication, especially when every author already has sufficient incentives to present their work in a clear and professional manner. Sheesh.

UPDATE: As Varnson notes in the comments, it is almost certain that no journal actually uses Word when it comes to setting the journal. Rather, they probably use a typesetting program like latex. You know, the type you're not allowed to submit in in the first place. Sheesh.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Tom Lukiski on Tape

Tom Lukiski is in a world of trouble. The Tory MP was videotaped, seventeen years ago, making extremely disparaging remarks about homosexuals. These comments resurfaced when the NDP opposition in Saskatchewan found the tape in their new opposition offices.

The remarks are vulgar, ignorant, and delivered in a manner which suggests that they did not just come to the top of his head spontaneously and fully-formed. No, he has the swagger of someone who said similar things, several times, probably always to great effect.

Lukiski has issued an apology which includes the claim "They do not reflect the type of person I am. I do not believe in those types of comments."

Whether or not Lukiski is the type of person who still believes this things is precisely the point, I think. Not whether he used to believe those things. I want to phrase this as precisely as possible: the average man, certainly of Lukiski's vintage, viewed homosexuality and homosexuals much differently than most men today do. Much progress has been made towards greater and deserved tolerance in the last 17 years. In fact, I think we can say a near sea-change of opinion has occurred since broad public discussion over same-sex marriage began in earnest in the last four or five years.

I think this is much to the credit of people of a certain age who grew up with views which were ignorant and wrongheaded but widely-held and believed. If we want to make progress towards greater toleration, then we have to be willing to give people the benefit of the doubt and not to play politics with past intolerance.

So, the important question is this: Does Mr Lukiski still hold these views? And, if not, when did he change them? What was the moment at which he cast them aside as useless, incorrect, and uncivil. Maybe he can't define an exact moment, but he could at least try to explain his progression. Provided he does, the matter should be put aside.

I am open to opinions on this, having given my own.