Sunday, July 30, 2006

Down Time

The last two days have been relatively quiet here on Ilha Grande, as it's been rainy and cool. No problem for me though, it's nice just to chill and have coffees under the awnings of the cafes here. Met a couple new friends here, Mariana from Argentina, and a guy from New Jersey who's name escapes me at the moment. We're going for dinner later tonight. Yesterday there was a dance party on the main street of this town of 3000 (which must have swelled to at least 6000 for this festival), and even though it was raining, people were dancing and laughing and partying anyway. That was cool. After checking that out for a while, we retired to the Pousada for drinks and cards. Tommorrow we go to Salvador, which I''m really excited about.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Ilha Grande

We've just arrived in Ilha Grande, an island off the coast of Brazil near Rio. It's an island with 102 beaches! Quite the idyllic spot. We've got a room right on a beach with a beautiful view, hopefully I can upload a few pictures later today. The pousada that we're staying at is run by an ex-pat German guy and his Brazilian wife. Quite a colourful character, and as it turns out, he still owns a touring van which he stores in Winnipeg, for when he's touring North America.

We're here because there's a weekend-long music festival going on, which promises to be amazing! A friend that we made at the hostel in Rio, Ana from New Zealand, will be joining us here today to help us make sure we party appropriately. She is an engineer professionally, so her and I have alot of common interests - lots to talk about. A bit of socialist though....sigh.

On monday, we'll go back to Rio to catch a flight to Salvador, where we'll likely meet up with this guy named Colin that we also met in Rio. He's from Singapore, but he teaches in Taiwan, and is here for his vacation. He's a great guy, and he's also got pretty good english and portuguese, so he's been immensely helpful, in addition to being fun to hang out with.

Anyway, it's almost 10 am here, so I guess I should go...Time to go seek out a good beach or two for surfing!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Favela Funk

There´s these things called favelas in Rio. They are essentially slums, populated mainly by the descendants of African slaves who were eventually ´freed´ from bondage by their portugese owners. Freed is not really the right word. They´re completely segregated from the regular population, they have very minimal access to electricity, there´s open sewage everywhere, they can´t get jobs, the Brazilians don´t consider them humans.

They offer tours through the slums, half of which supposedly goes towards humanitarian aid, the other half to the tour operators. They also have favela funk parties where you can go to this giant hall where the favelians party. but you are in a VIP area, looking down on the scene from above. I haven´t been able to bring myself to go to either.

The other travellers here at the hostel all say it´s a great experience, but I can´t help thinking that it wouldn´t feel right. Making this poverty a spectacle, the socialists here revel in their elitism, and it makes me ill.

I´ll definitely be ruminating more on this situation at a later date.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Life´s a Beach

We´re in Rio now, staying at a nice hostel in Copacabana, about 4 blocks from Copacabana beach. Went to the beach today, or rather beaches - Copacabana and Ipanema, which are right next to each other. Beautiful day, about 27 degrees, sunny, a bit of a breeze. Cervejas are about 3 reals, which is around 1.25. Coffee is strong, black, and delicious. Women are beautiful. Jeremy is very content. This city is huge, and incredibly busy. We´ll stay for around 4 days, and then set out for the beach towns outside of Rio. Ciao for now.

P.S. I should be posting some really nice pictures sometime soon...stay posted.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I Made It!!

6000 plus kilometres, two days later, I´m blogging from Foz du Iguassu, Brazil. We've already played a round of golf, I shot a 103. Ugh. Many, many cervajas have been consumed, the food is great, the people are very friendly, and accomodating. We played golf with a Taiwanese businessman who was really nice. We're gonna go see the falls here, and then we fly to Rio. We'll be there for 9 days, and then to Salvador. I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunity to blog from there. Bye for now.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Quote of The Day

I'm ripping this off from the Free Will blog, so please check him out some time:

"How do you tell a Communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin." - Ronald Reagan

Saturday, July 15, 2006

No Compromise

It should seem so simple to Hamas and Hezbollah. Simply release and return the 3 soldiers that are being held hostage, and the fighting stops. Instead, Hamas is foolishly demanding that Israel release 1000 Hamas prisoners in exchange for one soldier, and I don't even know what Hezbollah has asked for in exchange this time. Cox and Forkum, the site where this cartoon is published, notes that Israel has capitulated to these sorts of ridiculous demands before, but isn't in any mood to right now.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Israel's Response:

Israel will stop the offensive in Lebanon once Hezbollah disarms.

What Should The World Do?

Is a UN Security Council resolution the right move at this juncture? I would suggest not, given the toothlessness of its resolutions of the past oh, decade or so. The only thing that they've done that's been quasi-effective has been to sanction Saddam. And actually, all that did was starve his people and perpetuate his tyranny.

Should world leaders continue to tut-tut and issue soundbites to try and influence domestic polls? Not if they have learned a lesson from Canada's own Mssr. Martin.

An interesting idea has been floating around for a while, involving admitting Israel to NATO. This organization has a policy that, if you attack one member, you're attacking all of them, so there would be less disharmony from member nations when thinking about how to proceed. NATO used to be an instrument to contain the Soviet Union. Since the Commie threat has dissipated in no small part due to NATO, perhaps using it to contain the Islamic fundamentalist threat would be ideal!

What Should Israel Do?

There are a lot of condemnations of Israel coming in from around the world right now (although remarkably, they still have some allies other than America), and very few of Hezbollah. Nobody seems to be mentioning the hundreds of Hezbollah rockets raining down on Israeli cities and towns, having been launched across the border in Lebanon. Or that the Lebanese government seems unwilling or unable to stop them.

Funny thing about these rockets. They are difficult to aim. You sort of point them at the city you want to hit, and hope that they'll hit something of high value.

Funny thing about Israeli warfare. It's targeted. Highly lethal to actual military targets, less dangerous to civilians. It's designed to avoid 'collateral damage', to put it crudely.

Assuming that Israel is entitled to their own self-defence, they are acting within their rights as a sovereign nation when they are attacking Hezbollah targets. And if Lebanon can't stop Hezbollah, because Israel can, Israel should.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

It Took Longer Than I Expected....

....but some moonbat has finally blamed George W. Bush for Israel's developing war with Hezbollah. It's funny how people can simultaneously ridicule him for being a moron who can't talk properly, and demonize him for being this evil genious who is the cause of every bad thing that happens in this world!

Let's see....have you blamed GWB for :

1. Global Warming?
2. Poverty?
3. War?
4. Tsunamis?
5. Hurricanes?
6. Business Bankruptcies (Think Enron)?
7. Unemployment?
8. Illiteracy?
9. The Tech Bubble Burst?
10. Last, but not least, 9/11?

Because he's just as responsible for these things as today's catastrophe. That is to say, not at all.


A lightning storm in Arkansas, no photoshopping involved.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Monday, July 10, 2006

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Dial-up Is Dead

When AOL decides to abandon dial-up, you know the show's over.

A Eulogy to Tata

Tata, arguably the world's oldest crow at 59 years old, has died.

I have one question for those who would question the existence of God:

Why would a crow need to live so long if not for God?

The 24 Hour Relay Fast

Various A-list Hollywood celebs are participating in a 24 hour 'rolling' fast, where they fast for 24 hours, and then hand off to somebody else, who does the same, to protest the Iraq war. Mark Steyn dissects.

Among my favourite quotes:

***"Personally, if celebrities have to 'put their bodies on the line for peace,' I'd much rather see them bulk up. How about if Cameron Diaz and Gwyneth Paltrow promise to put on 20 pounds for every month Bush refuses to end his illegal war?"

***"So Sean Penn is starving himself to death, but just for a day? Brilliant! If Gandhi had been that smart, he'd still have a movie career. Willie Nelson and Michael Moore are also among those participating in the ''rolling fast,'' which in Michael's case will involve going without the roll. Greater love hath no man than to lay down his lunch for his friends."

***"The problem for the 'activists' is that the entire anti-war movement is undernourished. Indeed, in all their contempt for America as an effete narcissistic ninny too soft and self-absorbed to stand any pain, even al-Qaida couldn't have come up with as withering a parody of the Great Satan's decadence as a celebrity pseudo-fast. As the great Shakespearean actor Edmund Kean said on his deathbed: 'Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.' Not for Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon."

Mobilize For The Liberation of the Gnome!

There are gnomes all over the world who need your help!

By The Way, Did You Know How Rich You Are?

There's often some heated rhetoric being casually thrown around by middle-class folks about the awful gap between the rich and the poor. It's neat to hear rich people talk about how terrible it is that they're materially better than someone else. I mean, did you know that 85% of Canadians live above the poverty line? Did you know that being below our 'poverty line' generally means that you still eat once in a while, have access to safe, clean drinking water, and almost certainly have a roof over your head? I bet you even get vaccinations against many deadly diseases! So I wonder how many really poor people this country actually holds...Because you know what? Really poor people do exist in this world. It's true! And they're so poor they can't even afford that stupid fair trade coffee! I know that's hard to believe.

How about we start trading in some of those luxuries we take for granted, so that others may receive them? Stop taking flu shots. I mean, who are you to deserve one, when so many people can't afford it? Stop drinking lattes, maybe give up your winter jacket, get rid of your addiction to wearing shoes (even in January),, and so on. I mean, these would be small steps toward equality, but you would be perceived as pious and altruistic by your judgemental peers.

Or maybe we could stop feeling guilty about our material wealth, and show others how we've gone and accumulated it, so that they can too.

The Conspiracy Theory That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Hey! Did you hear? Apparently, AIDS is a mythical disease concocted by Bush/Cheney/Halliburton/Industrial/Military/Capitalist/Crony Conspiracy Incorporated to prevent people from having casual sex, and to keep the population addicted to products made by big pharma!

Okay, just kidding, some of the people that work for Halliburton vote Democrat, so they're not reeeally Capitalists....or at least they feel guilty about their dirty capitalist ways.

Aaaaaaaaany way, what's really true, and super neat, is that big pharma has come up with a single pill, to be taken once a day, that will treat AIDS. According to this article, the AIDS patients who used to take cocktails of up to 36 pills per day will now get better, more effective treatment from one pill. It'll be a breakthrough for patients in poor countries, because logistically speaking it'll be easier to supply. And no more expensive. Actually, over the long run, it'll probably be cheaper.

By the way, I don't know for sure, but I bet none of Bill Gates' money was necessary for this breakthrough.

Additionally, and more importantly, no taxpayer money was either.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Capitalism and Unemployment

The only economic system so far to allow citizens the freedom to accumulate new wealth is Capitalism. It is the economic form of Liberty. What other system allows you to keep what you make? What other system enshrines property rights? What other system puts value into so many types of task that in a country like Canada or the US, there's only a 5-7% unemployment rate, versus the 20-30% rates you'll find in basket-case nanny states like France or Germany?

What I mean with that last bit is that, in any given city in Canada or the US, young people work jobs filled with menial, unskilled labour, which without allowing their employers the right to accumulate capital in the form of workplace technology (which is what adds value to the tasks that the employee is doing), would seem as funny as a kid flipping imaginary burgers on an empty lot for 8 bucks an hour. But they're not. They're crappy jobs, yes, but they are opportunities for these people to accumulate their own personal capital to go to school, buy houses, learn a bit about workplace processes and interactions, and grow from there.

In the nanny states, where welfare and safety net programs take wealth away from the capitalists to give to the 20-30% of people who aren't working, capital accumulation slows (because of taxation), people start making more money to stay home and do nothing (with welfare) than they would with that entry level job. But the worst thing is they never accumulate. They never get into jobs that require experienced people. They never get to pursue business opportunities that require investment. They stay poor, unemployed, and unemployable.

Four Bombs That Must Have Been America's Fault

Click here to see the obituaries of the 52 people who died during Al-Qaida's multiple bombing of London's 'tube' system, one year ago today.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The U.N.'s Claim to Legitimacy is Tenuous

As the BBC reports, "The UN human rights watchdog deplored Israel's campaign in Gaza as a breach of international law in an emergency resolution passed in Geneva.", referring to the military incursions Israel is making into Gaza, in response to both 1. The kidnapping (and probable torture) of an Israeli soldier, and 2. as reported in the same article, Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli city Ashkelon.

Let us now remember who the U.N. Human Rights Commission consists of:

15 islamic nations, all of which are dictatorships/monarchies; Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, and Tunisia. All of which voted for the resolution.

8 borderline dictatorships; Argentina, Ecuador, Ghana, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, Cameroon, and Nigeria, 5 of which voted for the resolution,

and China, and Cuba, both of which are real dictatorships/prison states, both of which voted for the resolution,

leaving only India, South Africa, and Phillipines as democracies voting for the resolution.

Abstentions and votes against were as follows: Cameroon, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Netherlands, Nigeria, Peru, Poland, South Korea, Romania, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

The Americans aren't allowed at the table here, having been voted out of the Council in 2001.

So what can we conclude from this, and the resolution of a few days ago making Israel's 'human rights abuses' a permanent feature of the council's meetings?

1. The majority of nations on the 'Human Rights Commission' are dictatorships, which should theoretically disqualify them from positions on this commission, and

2. The majority of nations which voted against Israel (and sponsored the resolution) are Islamic, thus natural enemies of Israel, which should be a conflict of interest in this vote, and

3. The resolution seems unfair anyway, as Hamas seems to have initiated the violence.

Well hey, at least all those dictatorships are 'united nations' in their jew-hatred.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bushitler is Dictator of the World!!

An interesting piece in the Boston Globe by Jeff Jacoby pointing out how wrong Bush's hysterical enemies are about his alleged 'dictatorship of the world'. He uses Bush's acquiescence to the Supreme Court on the Guantanamo/Military Tribunal issue as his example. Fairly strong argument I'd say.

Living Poetry, Enduring Justice

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Bye bye Roomies!

Well, a next step in a series of changes in my life has now occurred; my room-mates are gone. I've been looking forward to this for a few months now. You know, while I'm sure humans need to cohabitate in order to solve both emotional and logistical problems, I sure don't feel like I need to have that kind of living arrangement again. It's hard when your roomies don't care about your house. They don't clean, they don't fix things that they break or find broken, they take your stuff, listen to music that you can't stand, have friends that you can't stand, etc.

Of course, having said that they don't clean, take care of the place, etc., I do have to admit that I will have no one to blame if this place is a mess anymore. :)

So, now that I'm unemployed, and before I take off to Brazil, my number one task is getting this place in order, and cleaned up. Ken's room is now my room, while my old room is now the office/spare bedroom. Andy's room is now my music room - I've got a drum set, guitars, bass, etc., time to rock! - , and I've now got plenty of cupboard space to take over. I might even get some matching glass tumblers and new towels since I will be the only one to blame if they break or get musty.

Happy Independence Day!

Seeing as the majority of the political blogging I do is a defence or promotion of the American way, I'll keep this post brief.

Today is a celebration of the birth of a country and the embodiment of an ideal. For some, this is a black day, as the country born today represents everything that they are against. However, it truly is the living triumph of the individual over the collective, and the beacon that lights the way forward for Liberty-loving folks.

When I think about how America is the only country of its kind in the world; that is, born of an ideal, I can't help but correlate its remarkable success compared to the rest of the world with its political uniqueness. Can it be a coincidence that the richest, most powerful, most innovative and progressive country in the world is also the most free?

Why would I celebrate America's day? Because its progress pulls us all along - we all get the benefit of their success. I would suggest that they are responsible for the national security of virtually every country in 'the west', they are responsible for the economic growth of many, and they are responsible for many of the technological, pharmaceutical, and medical advances that we all enjoy the consequences of.

So, just as I am grateful for Canada, and celebrated its birthday a few days ago, so I am grateful for America, and all of her glorious achievements.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Why Do We Need the U.N.....

.....To make sure those crazy jews pay!

The U.N.'s new 'Human Rights' Commission has just voted to make a review of Israel's alleged 'human rights violations' a regular and permanent feature of every council session.

Do you think that Palestinian suicide bombings targeting busloads of innocent people will ever be a feature of these sessions? Not likely...

Canada Day...Is Canada Aging Gracefully, or Trying to Hang on to Her Youth?

Our great and majestic country turned 139 today, if she was born in 1867. While I do spend a fair bit of time criticizing our government, and though I do detest the fact that we have a monarchy, I do love living in this country and I'm optimistic that I'll live here until I die.

For me, the things that make this country great are as follows: We've got a relatively low population density. There is tremendous natural beauty everywhere you look. Despite a late tax-freedom day, we are a relatively free citizenry. Finally, Canada is home to the greatest game in the world!