January 5, 2013

Jeffrey Simpson on the First Nations’ “Dream Palace”

Filed under: Cancon, Government, History — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 13:19

I didn’t expect to read this in the Globe and Mail which is usually an institution that discusses First Nations issues very carefully indeed:

Large elements of aboriginal Canada live intellectually in a dream palace, a more comfortable place than where they actually reside.

Inside the dream palace, there are self-reliant, self-sustaining communities — “nations,” indeed — with the full panoply of sovereign capacities and the “rights” that go with sovereignty. These “nations” are the descendants of proud ancestors who, centuries ago, spread across certain territories before and, for some period, after the “settlers” arrived.

Today’s reality, however, is so far removed in actual day-to-day terms from the memories inside the dream palace as to be almost unbearable. The obvious conflict between reality and dream pulls some aboriginals to warrior societies; others to a rejection of dealing with the “Crown” at all; others to fights for the restoration of “rights” that, even if defined, would make little tangible difference in the lives of aboriginal people; and still others, such as Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, to go on a hunger strike.

Chief Spence, leading a group or “nation” of about 1,500 people on the shores of James Bay, demanded at the beginning of her strike a series of meetings with the Governor-General and the Prime Minister. This demand reflected a very old and very wrong idea (part of dream-palace thinking) that the “Crown” is somehow an independent agency with which aboriginal “nations” have a direct relationship, whereas the “Crown” is nothing of the sort.

The “Crown” is the Government of Canada, a matter of clearly established constitutional law, which is why Chief Spence made her demand to meet the Prime Minister, too. Stephen Harper was correct in refusing a face-to-face meeting, since a prime minister should not be blackmailed into doing what any group or individual wants.

Bryan Caplan’s “Libertarian Purity Test”

Filed under: Government, Liberty, Politics — Tags: — Nicholas @ 12:56

I’m nowhere near as doctrinaire a libertarian as I used to be: I scored only 79 (out of a possible 160) on this test. It’s clearly my minarchist tendencies that kept me in the bottom half of the scoring (I prefer the “nightwatchman” state with police, courts, and military still being valid activities for the government: to a true anarchist that makes me a splitter if not an actual traitor).

This is the Libertarian Purity Test, which is intended to measure how libertarian you are. It isn’t intended to be any sort of McCarthyite purging device — just a form of entertainment, hopefully thought-provoking. I like it a lot better than the more famous “World’s Shortest Political Quiz” because I haven’t stated the questions with any intent to give an upward bias to a test-taker’s score, and because it gives a clearer breakdown between hard and soft-core libertarians. Enjoy, suggest your friends try it out, and see how you compare to other test-takers…

A note on meaning: The word privatized as used throughout the survey means that a given government service is henceforth supplied by the free market and paid for by consumers. It is distinguished from sub-contracting in which the government uses tax money to hire a private firm to provide a government service.

LA terminates luxury option for electric car owners

Filed under: Environment, Technology, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:43

It’s telling that one of the folks quoted in this article clearly identified the free parking at the airport as a primary reason for buying an electric vehicle:

On a recent morning, Jack Luu parked his plug-in Toyota Prius in one of the most expensive lots at Los Angeles International Airport before flying off to a film shoot in Canada. The lot, where Mr. Luu leaves his car as many as 10 times a month for business trips, normally charges $30 a day.

But when Mr. Luu returned home three weeks later, he drove out, as usual, without paying a dime.

“That was a huge reason why I bought the car in the first place,” says the 35-year-old Santa Monica, Calif., postproduction company executive, whose car qualifies for free parking for up to a month at a time in two of LAX’s most convenient—and costly—short-term lots.

Other than that, he says his ride is “expensive, underpowered and not really all that green,” because it can run just 12 miles on electricity before switching to gas.

For years, LAX has offered electric-vehicle owners one of the most generous incentives of its kind in the country: free parking for 30 days in two of its terminal lots, which contain, altogether, 38 charging stations. The rule was meant to encourage people to buy greener cars, but lately it has turned the lots into a mob scene, with some electric-vehicle drivers circling the stations desperately for electricity or running extension cords while others hog the charging spaces for weeks at a time.

Everyone is expecting Green Bay to romp over the Vikings today

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:17

The final gun sounded at the Metrodome last weekend in a Vikings win over Green Bay … and Vegas was already posting odds for Green Bay to win this week’s wild-card matchup by a big margin. Even the San Francisco 49ers are game-planning to face Green Bay next week after they beat the Vikings today. That’s pretty much the definition of “we don’t get no respect”.

The Daily Norseman‘s Christopher Gates explains why this isn’t a problem:

So, once again the Minnesota Vikings find themselves in the playoffs, and they don’t have a lot of people supporting their cause. Oh, there’s no way they can beat the Packers at Lambeau Field … ignoring the fact that there wasn’t supposed to be any way for the Vikings to beat the Packers last week because of how super duper awesome the Packers are in domes and such. The Packers are just too talented … the Packers are just too good … the Packers have Aaron Rodgers … I’m sure you’ve heard all of it since last Sunday night. How bad is it?

The San Francisco 49ers are already game-planning for a match-up against the Green Bay Packers next week.

Yeah. So there’s that.

The Vikings aren’t favored to win on Saturday night in Green Bay, and they shouldn’t be … don’t get me wrong on that. As it stands right now, the Packers are a better team than the Vikings are. How much better is something that we could debate for a while … and the gap is significantly smaller than it was just 12 months ago … but they should be the favorite as it stands now.

For whatever reason, the folks that cover the National Football League just don’t seem to be as impressed with the turnaround of the Minnesota Vikings as they probably should be. To hear these folks talk about the Minnesota Vikings going into this season, the “rebuilding” of this team was supposed to take anywhere between ten and thirty years, and it was going to take a significant amount of time before the Vikings caught up to not only the Packers, but to the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions in the NFC North. (Remember when the Lions were better than the Vikings? That was weird, huh?)

Yet as we sit here, just hours before the start of the 2012 NFL playoffs, the Lions are 4-12 and in the top 5 of the 2013 NFL Draft, and the Bears are looking for a new head coach after missing the post-season following a 7-1 start. But the Minnesota Vikings … a team that, just one year ago, had a franchise player coming off of knee surgery, no stadium, and (allegedly) no hope going forward … sit ready to take on the Packers in the wild card round of the playoffs. Sure, they’ve done it on the legs of Adrian Peterson … but a ton of credit has to go to a lot of younger players on this team. Guys like left tackle Matt Kalil, safety Harrison Smith, and kicker Blair Walsh have played big roles for this team in their first season, and going into this season half of the Vikings’ roster had two years of NFL experience or less. The stars on this team are playing like stars, but the role of the youth and their ability to accelerate the rebuilding process is not to be ignored.

I hope the Vikings can win again — I don’t really expect it, but the team is much better now than they were earlier in the season, so my hope isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Coming into the 2012 season, I expected a 6-10 or 7-9 with a lucky break or two. I really didn’t expect 10-6 and a playoff berth. The team has exceeded pretty much everyone’s expectations. Here’s hoping they can do it again tonight in Green Bay.

BBC forgets about original (BBC) series, asks for pilot of new Yes, Prime Minister

Filed under: Britain, Bureaucracy, Humour, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

As a result, the remake will not be shown on the BBC:

The new series of Yes, Prime Minister was made for a rival channel because the BBC asked its creators to make a pilot episode, it has emerged.

Co-writer Jonathan Lynn said the BBC had been given first refusal on the revival out of “courtesy”, because it aired the award-winning original.

But he called the request for a test episode “extraordinary”, as “there were 38 pilots available on DVD”.

The first new episodes for 25 years will be aired on digital channel Gold.

Lynn told comedy website Chortle that the BBC “said it was policy” to order a pilot episode before commissioning a full series.

“So we said our policy was to not write a pilot.”

The original Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister tell you more about the actual workings of parliamentary democracy than a full semester undergraduate course. I hope the new series can recapture the magic (if you can call showing the awful workings of government bureaucrats and politicians “magic”).

The new series was filmed last summer and is based on a recent stage production, which launched in 2010.

Digital network Gold said the Rt Hon Jim Hacker would return as the leader of a coalition government, with plots focussing on the economic crisis, a leadership crisis with his coalition partners and a Scottish independence referendum.

David Haig will take the lead role, with Henry Goodman as Sir Humphrey. Both have appeared in the stage version of the show.

They will be joined by Dame Maggie Smith’s son, Chris Larkin, as Bernard Woolley, and Robbie Coltrane as a guest star.

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