Monday, March 24, 2003


Still ignoring the war. Never pay attention to the Oscars (though glad to hear Bowling for Columbine won for best Documentary).

Watched Insomnia last night on Mike Hall's recommendation. Excellent, taunt thriller, kept us on the edge of our seats (and distracted from the real world) for a couple of hours.

But main point of today's blog entry is to bring this Kaleidoscope to everyone's attention. Holly Gunn, librarian extraordinarie, sent me this one. It's a hoot!

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Old Glory Insurance

I don't want to talk about the war.

So I will instead reference this streaming video for "Old Glory" insurance [brought to my attention in happier times (last week) by Randy Reichardt] that nicely illustrates how marketers create and encourage an atmosphere of (groundless) fears with which to manipulate consumers. (Parallel with how the American leadership can manipulate the public with irrational fears I leave to the reader to draw.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Liechtenstein prince wins powers

So here's a news item from Sunday that might have escaped your notice (especially with all the war news coverage): "Liechtenstein prince wins powers" The BBC news story describes a national referendum in which Hans-Adam II was voted absolute powers by a 2/3 majority. It makes him an absolute monarch with the power to hire and fire the government.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Canada's Response to the War

I have been frustrated by my home server connection, which has essentially cut me off for the last three weeks, making updates to this blog essentially impossible. (My day job has been full day meetings all day everyday, so no chance for even a quick update at work recently.) Hopefully the problem will be addressed in the next few days.

In the meantime, just a quick comment about the impending war: I, as many other Canadians, am horribly afraid that Canada will be dragged into this conflict and our reputation irrepairably damanged by association with the Bush Administration's irrational and immoral actions. The Bush administration has clearly failed to make the case for war, and is simply bulldozing ahead on the basis of 'might makes right', in spite of the advice and urging not only of the majority of international community, but its own experts as well. Yet the "you're either with us or against us" approach of the Bush administration has terrorized many into compliance. As Canadians, we are terribly aware of our own vulnerabilities to American arm twisting, the sudden and lengthy delays at the border crossings costing us billions a day in trade being but one of the not too subtle hints of what could happen if we don't defer to Bush and his cronies. Certainly, watching the example of the American reaction to the French ("freedom fries"? How sad is that?) must be frightening to any Canadian official considering arguing for Canada maintaining its own foreign policy.

In typical Canadian fashion (one recalls McKenzie King's "Conscription if necessary, but not necessarily conscription" speech in WWII) we have been trying to stall our commitment, saying maybe yes, maybe no...trying desparately not to piss off the Americans too much or antagonize potential terrorists -- trying to make enough of a commitment to satisfy Bush without actually committing to anything this stupid and immoral. Such fence sitting often serves us well, but in this case it is clear bush is about to call our bluff by starting the war without the UN, and we're either going to have to pony up or spend the next five years sitting in our semi-trailers waiting at the border for customs to clear our next batch of exports.

So, I have a modest proposal. There is one other typical Canadian response that we haven't tried yet that seems to me to promise a real out here. We phone in sick.

Hey, we've all done it! I mean, when faced with either crossing the picket line or standing with the workers, we just phone in with a doctor's note, and then tell each side we were totally on with them and deeply disappointed we had to miss out because of the flu thing. Works every time! So, I say what we should do is tell the Americans we're on board, that we back them all the way, and we'll be there as soon as the doctor says it's okay to get out of bed. We even have the disease to hand. It's right there waiting for us: Blame it on the Sea Kings. We say, "look, we'd have our ships there in a minute, but we had to ground all the Sea Kings! There was this crash thing, and we can't figure out why, and we had to recall all the ships. We're really sorry we missed it! " That would so work for us!

And hey, it would be the first time in a long time the Sea Kings REALLY helped keep our nation secure!