Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Anglosphere Century

In this week’s Maclean’s Magazine Mark Steyn reviews Andrew Roberts’ new book,‘The History of the English Speaking People Since 1900'.

I haven’t read the book yet but Mark’s review brings it to the top of my list. Steyn at his best:
...that's one of the pleasures of Roberts' book: muscular polemical prose
that cheerfully invites an argument about something or other on almost every page.
The British jacket bears four flags - the Union Jack, the Stars and Stripes, the Southern Cross and the Maple Leaf (surely it should have been the Red Ensign).
Of the three great global conflicts of the 20th century - the First, Second and Cold Wars - who called it right every time? Germany: one out of three. Italy: two out of three. France: well, let's not even go there.
...for all our fetishization of multiculturalism, you can't help noticing that when it comes to the notion of a political west - a sustained commitment to individual liberty - the historical record looks a lot more unicultural and indeed.... uniregal.

And in classic Steyn style, Canada gets a realistic assessment:'s kinda hard to remember when the principal political party of our own demented Dominion peddles non-stop Canada Day smiley-face banalities about how "we are such a young country" (Paul Martin) - which, aside from being obvious tripe, gives us the faintly creepy air of a professional virgin.
...Canada is an instructive example: we are a solid presence in the first half of his story, yet all but entirely absent from the second. .....We are a wealthy G7 nation of 30 million people but chose under the cover of Trudeaupian narcissism to embrace global irrelevance.
[...] their present political sensibilities, Canada is semi-French, Britain is
semi-European, and New Zealand is semi-bananas.
Great review!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Gullible Canucks?

Two polls regarding recent archeological ‘findings’:

CNN: Do you believe archeologists have found the remains of Jesus, Mary
Magdalene and their son?
24% Yes, 76% No

Globe and Mail: A new documentary suggests that Jesus may have been buried with a wife and son, do you believe this could be true? 61% Yes, 39% No

These kinds of polls are pretty crude but they suggest that twice as many Canadians as CNN respondents are sucked in by schemes to cash in on loopy theories about Jesus - as in ‘The Da Vinci Code’.

This also seems consistent with people’s willingness to sign on to global warming theory and Kyoto-type scams.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Virgin Airways’ green challenge - What’s in it for Branson?

Recently Virgin Airways tycoon, Sir Richard Branson, offered a $25 million prize for an invention which could efficiently remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

Dutch climate skeptic Prof. Hendrick Tennekes wonders why and does some calculations:

"I am an old-fashioned aeronautical engineer, so I did a few sums. First I had to find some data on the size of Virgin’s fleet. I looked that up with Google, and found these approximate numbers: 15 Boeings 747, 25 Airbus 340, 50 Boeings 737, 50 Boeings 737 New Generation."
"In my estimate the Virgin Airways fleet pollutes our world with close to 8 million tons of CO2 each year. At current CO2 market prices, that would cost Branson $200 million annually. No wonder he turns green. Can he afford it?"
Bottom line:
"He surely needs the technological fix he is angling for with his Virgin Airways
Mitigation Prize.

Here’s the whole article.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

ATM fees - political micro-meddling

About a buck-and-a-half is the fee for using another bank’s autoteller machine (ATM). If the machine belongs to your own bank there’s no charge. Sounds reasonable to me.

But again this week, NDP leader Jack Layton was in the news demanding banks be legislated into reducing or eliminating ATM user fees. Can’t have those big, successful, profitable banks charging their customers for services! It’s not the commie-Canuck way. And, depressingly, finance minister Jim Flaherty had already felt compelled, by Jack’s previous press coverage, to send the banks a letter requesting they explain their fees.

Advocating this kind of micro-meddling in banks’ affairs borders on the lunatic. A short-list of reasons springs to mind:

- bank machines cost money to own and operate
- using an ATM is strictly voluntary - no one is forced to use them
- using another bank’s ATM is rarely necessary, almost always a convenience
- government micro-management of ‘free’ enterprise is folly, and a very slippery slope

I know Layton and his dopey Dippers just love to play Robin Hood heros to the ‘little-people’. But if he really wanted to help he would campaign to get government’s greasy fingers out of our pockets. Every time I spend $100 of hard-earned, already income-taxed money I get hit with mandatory additional taxes of $6 to $13 (and much more for beer and gas). A fee of, at most, $1.50 (plus tax?) for voluntary use of an ATM is a comparative bargain.

Governments do have a role in regulating banking and ensuring they don’t behave anti-competitively. However, mickey-mouse fiddling with ATM fees is ridiculous. But if the banks do cave in and cut these fees, expect to see fee 'adjutments' elsewhere to compensate.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

People who carry guns

During the CBC’s ‘Politics’ show yesterday the press panel was shown a video clip of General Hillier’s "decade of darkness" speech about the devastating effect of Liberal budget cuts on the military. This was followed by a clip showing Liberal reaction and the ensuing discussion was about whether Hillier’s remarks were too political. The Toronto Star’s James Travers wasn’t happy. Then the Star’s Susan Delacourt blurted this weird little bit of Liberal paranoia:

Susan Delacourt [at 48:15]
"Yeah actually segueways with what we were just talking about before too [it doesn’t ] ...and I don’t want to go too far on this for fear of walking out of here [??] (...nervous chuckle). But I do think we’ve got a disturbing thing going on, or it feels like we do, with the RCMP. Whether it’s... it’s people who carry guns getting political and sidling up to the government. Um..I think it makes everybody a little bit nervous, um, certainly makes me nervous..and"

Later Don Newman tried to bolster Delacourt’s nutty remarks by making reference to Harper’s having visited with RCMP Commisioner Zachardelli shortly after the election ("...they appeared to be new best friends").

Soldiers. With guns. In our cities. In Canada.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

“Hack journalism” at the Globe and Mail

No punches are pulled when Bob Tarantino rips apart a recent Globe and Mail story criticizing Conservative appointments to Judicial Advisory Committees (JAC) :
[my bold]
"Canada's worst newspaper once again evidences why it so richly deserves the sobriquet with this piece of hack journalism ..."
"This is what passes for front-page analysis in reporting on the story..."
"Once you wade through the lousy reporting...."
"And you'll note that not only is even the torqued coverage at the Globe able to identify an unqualified appointment..."
"If you want a brilliant example of the double standards at play..."
"Here's the challenge for Canada's worst newspaper.....Then, and only then, would there actually be a news story here."
Not only does Tarantino do a terrific job of exposing the Globe story’s many deficiencies, he gives us an excellent tutorial on the JAC process while he’s at it.

Great stuff!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Global warming a myth, Al Gore nuts - Czech President

In a recent interview with a Czech economics daily, Czech President Václav Klaus expressed his views on man-made global warming. Some quotes:

Q: IPCC has released its report and you say that the global warming is a false myth. How did you get this idea, Mr President?

A: It's not my idea. Global warming is a false myth and every serious person and scientist says so.......

Q: Don't you believe that we're ruining our planet?

A: I will pretend that I haven't heard you. Perhaps only Mr Al Gore may be saying something along these lines: a sane person can't.

Read the whole interview.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Global chill - on climate science that is

In today’s National Post Lawrence Solomon bemoans the disgraceful treatment of scientists whose work is at odds with the UN IPCC’s preferred theory - manmade global warming.

Referring to his excellent series of columns "The Deniers" in which he profiled the work of 10 scientists, Mr. Solomon writes:
The deniers I have written about are not just credible; they have reached the pinnacle of the scientific establishment, with credentials to rival those of any of scientists representing the IPCC position.
...three -- among the most cited scientists in the world in the field of climate change-- were universally acclaimed IPCC scientists until they disagreed with the positions espoused by the IPCC leadership.
Most of the deniers I have written about have suffered for their scientific findings -- some have been forced from their positions, others lost funding grants or been publicly criticized.
I have inadvertently added to their anguish. None among the 10 welcome the term "denier" -- a hateful word that I used ironically, but perhaps ill-advisedly.
The word "denier," of course, is employed to tar scientists who dissent from IPCC convention. In other disciplines, dissent is part of what's called "the scientific method" and lauded.
[Scientist Richard S. J.] Tol believes that the IPCC bureaucracy is forcing out many of the best who once were part of the IPCC process, and he is also scathingly critical of work he considers bereft of integrity, such as the U.K. government's highly publicized Stern review, which last year painted alarmingly dire scenarios.
These 10 scientists are extraordinarily distinguished, accomplished, and deserving of our respect. But they do not have a monopoly on the truth, just as the IPCC does not.
[...] would behoove us all to drop the term denier from the scientific lexicon. Answers will come more quickly in a climate not chilling to scientific investigation.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Global warming propaganda - “shades of Orwell”

I’ve observed before that the environmentalists have been waging an extremely effective propaganda campaign on the climate-change front. Climate and weather alarmism have been front page news for weeks and months on end. Opinion polls confirm the alarm among the general public. Virtually every political party is now vowing to fight global warming with most pushing socialist solutions like Kyoto.

The environmentalists have of course been greatly aided by having an entire U.N. bureaucracy working on their behalf. And a gullible, scientifically and economically illiterate, left-biased media keen on sensational headlines doesn’t hurt their cause either. Nor does a phalanx of sympathetic Hollywood stars which, if Oscar nominations mean anything, includes Al Gore and his "An Inconvenient Truth" scary climate catastrophe flick.

Agitprop in the classrooms

A key component of the environmentalists' propaganda strategy is the education system. From K-on-up the system is heavily dominated by unionized ‘educators’ who have, for decades now, been very well indoctrinated in socialist utopianism. There can be little doubt that the system has a strong left-inclined bias. So pushing environmental causes comes quite naturally to them. In his excellent column in today’s National Post, Peter Foster emphasizes this angle. Beginning with an anecdote about his daughter’s Grade 6 class viewing Al Gore’s PG-rated movie, he highlights the role of the school system in promoting junk environmentalism:

...if kids need guidance on anything it is about the bizarre notion that they should be saving the earth before they've come to terms with feeding the hamster.


I pride myself that I have done a reasonable amount of environmental childproofing of my daughter. When she came home from kindergarten telling me about the wisdom of Chief Seattle, I was able to explain that those fine words about looking after the earth had in fact been penned by a television scriptwriter. When her school concert featured a little boy pontificating as David Suzuki, and an evil entity named "Exxon," I explained carefully to her why I was writing a nasty letter to the school authorities.


Tony Blair's government is sending a copy [of Al Gore’s movie] to every secondary school in the country. According to a report on the CBC Web site, the film "illustrates the dramatic change to the environment caused by burning fossil fuels." No other factors apparently need apply.


Whatever Mr. Gore's future political aspirations, one can't help thinking of H.L. Mencken's insight that: "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule it."


Shades of Orwell's young "Spies" in Nineteen Eighty-Four. The environmental movement has long had a clear role for children in its campaign to end industrial civilization. Children are to be indoctrinated, and in turn badger their parents.


It is disgraceful to use children for environmental agitprop, but it starts by filling their heads with stories they are ill-equipped to evaluate...


In the current ‘climate’ of environmental hysteria together with a heavily biased media and education system, opposing scientific and economic views seem hopelessly disadvantaged. In fact anyone expressing views counter to the prevailing politically correct world-view set themselves up for insult, abuse and shunning. This is hardly a healthy ‘climate’. So what possibility is there that this situation can be turned around? Is there any hope at all?

One of a very few sources of ‘alternative’ thinking (the best in Canada) on this subject can be found in the Financial Post ‘Comments’ section, featuring the writing of Peter Foster, Terence Corcoran, William Watson and Lawrence Solomon. The web obviously also has many sites. But I suspect that these are mostly received by the converted and it’s just a small trickle against a deluge of alarmist propaganda to the contrary.

Reality check

Perhaps the best and only real hope is ‘reality’. Flawed climate science and associated socialist ‘solutions’ will be overcome when reality catches up with them. Flawed science is invariably remedied by new discoveries and new data. And socialism is inherently at odds with most economic reality - hence its track record of failure. Unfortunately, the remedies served up by reality may begin only after great damage has been done. And even then corrective action may be a long and uncertain process.

Monday, February 5, 2007

What!? A climate change skeptic on CBC?

This might be a first.

I just now flipped the channel to CBC’s ‘Politics’ with Don Newman. And who is he interviewing? Ross McKitrick of IPCC global warming ‘hockey stick’ debunking fame. The discussion is about the Fraser Institute’s review of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) on climate change. See the whole interview here (starts 17.5 minutes in - it'll be on the web for a week).

The Fraser Institute’s review, entitled Independent Summary for Policymakers, is a more detailed summary than the IPCC's and is, naturally, less alarmist.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Dion is "unfit to lead"

Last Friday Stephane Dion spent an hour meeting with the editorial board of the Ottawa Citizen. In his column today (registration required) under the headline "Why Stephane Dion is unfit to lead this country" Randall Denley said the experience was "frightening". Some more quotes:

I've just met Liberal leader Stephane Dion for the first time and I have to say, it was a frightening experience. The thought that this fellow could become the prime minister of Canada ought to alarm us.

Dion is a verbose, mild-mannered academic with a shaky grasp of English who seems unfit to chair a university department, much less lead a country.

Unfortunately, he's a one-issue candidate with no coherent position on that one issue.

Dion isn't one of those down to earth guys like Ralph Klein. He's more like the wooly-headed professor next door. Dion simply cannot give a clear, succinct answer to a question. It's a necessary skill for any politician at his level.

Dion would have us believe he's qualified to be prime minister. If he thinks that, he's kidding himself. Let's not let him kid us, too.

You have to listen to the whole interview to get the full flavour. But, believe me, it's a stupour-inducing chore.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

The transition has begun

[h/t - Vinney D.]

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Global economic boom

In today’s National Post Terence Corcoran documents the boom in the world’s economy over the past 10 years. Selected highlights:
...the last 10 years have generated relatively steady growth and a globalizing world economy that promises more to come.
...dark spots on the map, notably in Canada, where annual real growth over the last five years has lagged behind the United States. Yesterday's reports demonstrate Canada's problem: In the last quarter of 2006, U.S. growth hit 3.5% while Canada will be lucky to get 1%.
United States has been growing at almost 1% more per year over the last five years than Canada.
...a gap that should highlight the need for significant reform of tax and regulatory policy from the New Government in Ottawa and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in particular.
A month or two ago, China was thought to be on the verge of sliding into a slower growth track. Now the country is expected to grow by more than 10% next year.
The last decade is also one that has operated under the greatest global free trade period in many decades. Most trade barriers to growth have been removed.
Notwithstanding Canada’s lagging performance relative to the U.S. global economic growth is good news for nearly everyone but anti-globalization radicals, global ‘justice’ flim-flam artists and of course environmentalists and other assorted global warming hysterics. For them economic good news brought about by capitalism and free trade is generally considered bad news. It runs counter to socialist economic theory (actually most reality runs counter to socialist theory). And naturally global economic growth means more CO2 in the atmosphere.

Climate change - sanity in a sea of stupidity

"Back in the real world, if what many scientists say is true, climate change will not be a media-generated, one-year or one-election wonder. It will be a centuries-long struggle..." - Lorrie Goldstein

Lorrie Goldstein, in today's Toronto Sun, lends some much needed rationality to the media and environmentalist driven climate hysteria:
This is serious, long-term stuff. It's not about whether Dion names his dog "Kyoto" or Baird wears a green tie.
...I doubt the Liberals, Tories or anyone else in Ottawa believe a word of their own rhetoric on global warming these days. If they did, they'd be calling for a national unity government to address what could be an unprecedented crisis, not taking cheap shots at each other and insulting our intelligence.

Dion on Kyoto - duplicitous or duped?

John Ivison's column in today's National Post raises important questions concerning Dion's commitment to the Kyoto Accord. He quotes B.C.- based emissions management consultant Aldyen Donnelly:

"The only way industry can do its 'fair share' under the Kyoto cap is to shut down at least 20% of existing manufacturing capacity and jobs over the next 36 months," she said. Even if a new government closed all of Ontario's coal-fired power stations, shut down all oilsands activity in Alberta and slapped a moratorium on new development, it would address less than one-quarter of Canada's current "Kyoto gap."

Mr. Ivison then correctly wonders:

Is Mr. Dion prepared to let the Canadian public in on this reality check, or is he deliberately misleading an electorate that polls suggest is in favour of Kyoto, even though two in three acknowledge they don't know anything about it?


Either Mr. Dion knows this and is being duplicitous for political gain or, worse, he doesn't and has been duped by the environmental lobby. Neither explanation inspires much confidence in him as a future prime minister.

I'd also bet most Canadians are unaware that even if we did meet our Kyoto targets at the expense of a 20% chop to the economy, the net effect on global climate would be near zero. In fact, since Canada's contribution to global GHGs is small, the effect on climate of shutting the economy down all together would be negligible.

That's not to say, assuming there's a chance anthropogenic GHGs are actually the culprit, we shouldn't be doing our 'precautionary' bit. But it does strongly suggest that there's no great urgency, no reason for Canada to commit economic suicide other than to prove itself a global goody-two-shoes. Doesn't the world already know this?

I hope the National Post editorial board gets a chance soon to quiz Mr. Dion, and Messrs Harper and Layton, on these things. Canadians need to be informed.