February 20, 2010

The editors at the National Post have the reverb setting too high

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 14:19

In two different articles I looked at today, there appears to be a slight problem with repetition. For example, in Rex Murphy’s piece on the on-again, off again boycott of oil from Alberta by BB&B, he appears to be trying to make some sort of point by repeating the company’s abbreviated name:

It cannot be very encouraging if one of the most dynamic industries in our recession-plagued country is operating in a state of mental waywardness. And if Bed Bath & Beyond, with an assist from Whole Foods, have rescued the captains of our oil industry from unknowing mental distress, why then this apparent BBB BBB BBB boycott would be worth its weight in stacked linens and whole sacks of the finest nickel-plated multiple-nozzle shower-heads.

[. . .]

Bed Bath & Beyond “clarified” in a press release: “Characterizations that we [BB BB and B] have ‘rejected’ any particular fuels are not accurate as we are not in a position to do so” (emphasis mine). Which is a little ambiguous since it leaves open the thought that were BBB BBB BBB in “a position to do so,” they would. So Albertans might take home the message that Bed Bath & Beyond have distanced themselves from the idea of “rejecting” oil sands fuel, not to spare Albertan sensibilities, but because there is no way for them not to do so. They’re just stuck with it. A little lacking, wouldn’t you say, in grace and tact?

[. . .]

My guess is the wavelet of backlash from Alberta at the ForestEthics press release was sufficient to haul the monks of BBB BBB BBB out of the eco-choir. BBB BBB BBB may have thought that sending a little incense to the Al Gore contingent of The Science is Settled and The Himalayan Glaciers are Toast Church of Global Warming (pre-Climategate Division) would titillate the balance sheet among the eco-fervent. But they quickly thought better of it. Oh that old Gloria Mundi. How Sic it Transits.

[. . .]

The IP IP CC has less prestige now than the Golden Globes, and bears no little resemblance to that farce’s incestuous relationship with its “industry.” The IP IP CC chairman is a rude, busy man who writes erotic novels — his muse, apparently, Jacqueline Susann.

(Emphasis mine). I decided that I just didn’t get the joke, until I looked at the lengthy criticism of the Liberal Party’s insistence on incorporating abortion rights into the government’s plans for targeting foreign aid to mothers and children, where Conrad Black seems to stutter over the acronyms, too:

Canada should tax provincial transactions and elective energy sales, the sale-of non-essential goods, and reduce income taxes and abolish capital gains taxes on sales by Canadians of Canadian securities. We should reintroduce private medicine alongside the public health system, as most advanced countries have done. Our health-care system should not be a model for the United States of what not to do, as it now is. We should be proposing drastic reforms to the UN UN , NATO NATO NATO NATO and the IMF, and building our defence capacity. An army of 19,000 is a scandal for a country as important as Canada. We should assist the private sector in making Canadians owners of a serious automobile manufacturer, and in the fair and advantageous repatriation of more of our industry. And the stocks, if not the lash, should be restored to deal with Dalton McGuinty and Jean Charest for fouling our nest by criticizing the Alberta oil sands at the most futile international conference, Copenhagen, since the Defenestration of Prague.

QotD: He talked his way in . . . is he now talking his way out again?

Filed under: Government, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 13:51

Barack Obama has done everything possible to destroy the glowing reputation he brought to the White House after his triumphs in the Democratic primaries and the general election of 2008. The most striking fact about the cloud of failure now surrounding him is that it’s entirely self-generated.

No credible Republican has been harassing him, leaping on his every mistake. Journalists of the liberal persuasion remain admirers. His most vocal detractors are loudmouthed commentators, unlikely to influence the independent voters who made Obama President. He has no one to blame.

[. . .]

He didn’t become President for his accomplishments; he did it mainly on oratory. But in office his tone has changed. He doesn’t seem to care whether he makes an impact or not and rarely suggests that something crucial is at stake. You can listen to him for 20 minutes and realize an hour later that you can’t remember anything he said.

He performs a sort of dance with the cameras, turning first to the right, then to the left, then back again. It seemed spontaneous for a while but it’s now pure ritual. He’s developed a manner that’s so cool it can’t be distinguished from indifference.

He demonstrates the titanic gulf between an election, however daunting, and the biggest job in the world. Given all the hurdles in the path of blacks, his original decision to run was a brave and breathtaking leap of the imagination. His campaign was brilliant. But serving as President requires even more audacity. Perhaps his many stumbles, and his misguided attempt to do all the serious work of the presidency more or less on his own, indicate that he hasn’t yet learned to see himself in the role of leader. Perhaps he’s become the star of a drama for which he has no script.

Robert Fulford, “Why is Obama failing?”, National Post, 2010-02-20

Prohibition’s victims of US government poisoning

Filed under: History, Law, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 13:29

Deborah Blum talks about something I’d only heard a little bit about — the US government’s deliberate poisoning of illicit drinkers during Prohibition:

Doctors were accustomed to alcohol poisoning by then, the routine of life in the Prohibition era. The bootlegged whiskies and so-called gins often made people sick. The liquor produced in hidden stills frequently came tainted with metals and other impurities. But this outbreak was bizarrely different. The deaths, as investigators would shortly realize, came courtesy of the U.S. government.

Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people.

Although mostly forgotten today, the “chemist’s war of Prohibition” remains one of the strangest and most deadly decisions in American law-enforcement history. As one of its most outspoken opponents, Charles Norris, the chief medical examiner of New York City during the 1920s, liked to say, it was “our national experiment in extermination.”

The US government hasn’t shown that it learned (any of) the lessons of Prohibition, and there have been documented attempts by government agents to contaminate drugs on their way to American destinations. Perhaps the best known was the use of airborne spraying of the herbicide Paraquat to make Mexican marijuana more dangerous to consume. Rumours abound of other, more recent, attempts to poison other drugs on their way to the States.

“Are you stupid?”

Filed under: Humour, Media, Sports — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 13:10

My new Olympic hero, with a gold medal in press relations, Sven Kramer:

Update, 25 February: If you felt that Kramer was showing Hubris in the clip above, you might also feel that Nemesis showed up right on schedule, too:

After 25 laps around the Richmond Olympic Oval, Sven Kramer of the Netherlands crossed the finish line Tuesday and raised his arms in triumph, having secured — or so he thought — his second Olympic record and gold medal of these Winter Games.

Within seconds, Kramer’s celebration turned icy cold. When his coach, Gerard Kemkers, caught up to him during his cool-down lap, he palmed his head and delivered the bad news: Kramer was disqualified for incorrectly changing lanes with eight laps remaining in the 10,000-meter race.

Kramer, who has dominated the distance since finishing seventh at the 2006 Olympics, spiked his glasses upon learning his fate. He looked as if he wanted to punch Kemkers, who later accepted full blame for what happened. He said he glanced up from recording split times, became momentarily disoriented and barked at Kramer to switch to the inner lane.

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