Sunday, March 25, 2007


What a LOONY TUNE week in British Columbia. I’ll try to be brief, but there are so many stories that give a citizen-reader indigestion, it’s hard to keep it simple.

How about that story of Briony Penn, (March 21) the full time environmentalist and sometime lecturer at UVIC? A denizen of the Gulf Islands, Penn has decided to dazzle the Ottawa lawyer riffraff with her PhD, by contesting the Grit nomination in the riding of Saanich Gulf Islands. She actually endorses Stephane Dion’s pledge to mandate 33% of federal Liberal candidates be women in the next Canadian election. Liberal? Dictating terms to riding associations, refusing to sign off on their democratically chosen candidates, sounds hard line Stalinist to me. Members are supposed to dictate policy, not let leader driven policy dictate the candidates. Ms. Penn was a Green Party activist until handed a sweetheart deal by top echelon party recruiters. She’s most famous for baring her activist tits in downtown Vancouver in 2001, in a protest of the environmental policies of … the Liberal Government. Oh, oh!
Her campaign website panders to her ideological home - the Green Party, and the temple of her ambition, the Liberal red. Hoping to have it three ways, (a little Tory Blue) she actually boasts of having supported herself for years as a small businessperson. Hardly. A quick scan of her online c.v. reveals she's enjoyed her full libation of academic $$Welfare and access to government seed money.

Crime stories are a staple here and I’ve said before, B.C. is the most fertile breeding ground in Canada for serial killers. It’s irrefutable. Everyone knows that our criminal courts have a “catch and release” policy, which does not intimidate the outlaws and it certainly doesn't impress the legion of victims. The ONLY justice we get is when the criminals kill each other or sometimes themselves. Case in point : March 20 - two “career criminals” died when their ride spun out in New Westminster. Michael Emmitt Reid, 30 and Michael William Arthur Laird, 42 were fleeing police in a stolen car filled with loot and house breaking tools. Laird had 27 registered convictions since 1983 (God only knows how many charges!) and was out on Statutory Release from a federal prison. Reid had convictions going back to 1993 (when he was 16!). Nothing but nothing, was ever going to stop that pair, certainly none of our sissyboy “I feel your pain!” judges. Thank cripes for telephone poles and culverts.

More to the point, (and who with even half a brain didn't see this coming?)... we read (March 21) that B.C. millionaire human rights victim Rupudaman Singh Malik, the O.J. Simpson of the Vancouver legal system, is now suing the government for wrongful prosecution and wrongful detention. I'm not even going to rehash the case. If you don't know, I've got no time for you.

Needless to say we're damned lucky the hapless horsemen didn't torture the bloke, because we already know how many millions $$ that's worth.

There was a time when I supported the concept of a Sikh homeland. That was back when India was still a client state of the Soviets, and messing with us. Geopolitics being as filthy as it is, I'd now settle for just cleaning up our own backyard.

R.S.M on the left, in his salad days.

Yesterday (March 24) THE VANCOUVER SUN revealed that a female border guard, employed by the Canadian Border Services Agency, is a Hell’s Angels groupie, or worse. Her co-workers have scoped her out a biker events and informed the CBSA internal investigation unit. Evidence culled from CBSA documents acquired by the Vancouver newspaper clearly indicates that the guard has been assisting in the smuggling of cocaine. Rather than fess up, CBSA officials have decided to brazen it out. The tainted guard has also worked at Vancouver International Airport and her name is matched to an older high-value drug smuggling case. The Agency refused to identify the woman, and she continues to be employed by the Crown interdicting overages of cigarettes and wine at the 49th Parallel.

And last, you can’t make this stuff up… the Globe and Mail reported yesterday (March 24) on the rotten case of Richard Young, an unemployed informant who lived in Victoria B.C. He was “paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the RCMP” for information which they later discovered he simply made up. Rather than taking him to a back road and giving him a good thumping, the Mounties chose to reward Young. They paid an additional $130,000 in debts he had run up, and gave him a new identity under the Witness Protection Program. Pardon my cynicism, but it sounds like a couple of Horsemen wanted him shut up and safely out of reach of the press – thereby saving their careers and thick pension packets. Then Mr. Young, who knows this society and its justice system far better than most, elected to murder someone. The Witness Protection Program is better than James Bond’s license to kill. He can’t be identified and the courts can’t charge a “Mr. X”. Is anyone screaming foul? All I hear from Ottawa is some chin music about reforming the system. Since we don’t have a Reform government we aren’t going to get reform. That’s all folks!

UPDATE March 28 - It was great to see that Chad Skelton, reporter for the Vancouver Sun, stuck with the story on the tainted Canadian border guard. In an update yesterday the paper identified the woman by name, and gave further (incredible) details about what she has gotten away with over the years. Maybe in addition to ... ah... dating bikers, drug runners and people smugglers, she has also been a police informer. Something has kept her out of jail. In any case the SUN published an undated and tightly cropped photograph of Mindi Niedermeiser enjoying herself at a bash.
If she had worked for the U.S. Border Service it's likely she be doing time.
I see that a biker news Blog republished this photo today, so I will let Runagatesclub readers having a look. If I were her, I'd move to P.E.I.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Best Music Video - Fairchild TV

Award ceremony - Fairchild TV Video Contest 3/17/2007
Richmond, B.C. - Vincent Lin - Best Music Video

It’s always gratifying to see a young talent getting recognition for creative excellence. With enough encouragement and a few breaks, a talented teen might develop a productive career. With that in mind I wrote a Blog piece on January 9th - “Student Director Dreams Large”. In the article I praised a new video shot by Vincent Lin 林學寬 of Burnaby, a film maker attending Grade 12 at Burnaby Central High. The six minute film, entitled Twilight’s Chapter Seven, is a murder drama filmed on location in Burnaby and Vancouver’s Gastown district. It was set to the music of pop-star Jay Chou. Vincent was invited to attend the Fairchild TV Video Contest event in Richmond on January 17, and there found he had earned the prize for Best Music Video. I spoke to the neophyte director today and he informed me that his film is on YouTube and has been downloaded about 2,600 times. You can have a look at More to the point , Vincent is already planning an even more ambitious project – a half hour mystery. I certainly wish him, and his multi-talented group of friends – actors, musicians, and video crew, great success with that new video project.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Blogger as Narcissist

I spend a lot of time with Asian youth. Call it an occupational benefit with content hazards. I'm not complaining mind you, because they do help distract me from the sad reality of just how fast I'm aging. Really, I do sometimes forget. Young Asians are an interesting bunch, but they do give me pause from time to time. A fascinating aspect of their trend driven and image conscious youth culture (stereotype warning here) is the thick vein of narcissism which runs through it. Case in point? I'm glad you asked.

I encountered a rich deposit of it this morning as I dug through generous layers of sedimentary advertising, looking for the shelf price on the new SHORTBUS DVD. Those who have trolled through the archives of this Blog will know that it was launched on December, 28 2006 with a story on Sook Yin Lee, the Toronto radio personality who was nurtured on the streets of Vancouver. Ms. Lee is herself a narcissist of the first water. I sought news on how many $$ my local DVD outlets want for her sex film. [The answer $19.99]

In the process of researching the disc I stumbled upon some clumsy photos of a restaurant party held last week in New York ,which launched the SHORTBUS DVD. The snaps were web posted by a 24 year old Chinese who has attended Harvard and MIT, but is now a roving correspondent, covering the youth beat for a startup podcasting company in the Boston area. If those are genuine academic credentials, her interests are woefully disappointing. I think she is dumbing down her writing, using ICQ type grammar and spelling to make herself accessible to a generation addicted to online chatter. I surmise from the Blog that her career model is Canada’s own Sook Yin Lee. One hint is that the trend watching U.S. Blogster decided it might be useful to stake out Director John Cameron Mitchell's SHORTBUS party. To see and be seen, as it were. Why not? Good for her.

I read several of her Blog entries. The narcissism was breathtaking. At one point she obsesses over whether it is essential to have a MySpace account in order to validate her very existence. She seems to have found no better alternative. That's very sad coming from the heart of a young lady who already has a quality of life which most people in this world can only dream of or fantasize.

I was most interested in determining what she does take seriously, and it turns out to be career development. To that end I note that she has just returned from a conference on mobile media, held in Texas, where she listened to several panel discussions germane to her startup career. A sample dip includes “From Blog to Book” and “Under 18: Blogs, Wikis and Online Social Networks for Youth”. Another was called “Do you Blog on the First Date?”, which apparently, she does. Her Blog mentions having slept at the loft-apartment of a New York rock video producer who is “spectacularly hooked up”. Weyda go girl! Her Blog profile offers a list of her favorite books, as does mine. Such lists are rather silly but I play along. I admit I smirked when I read hers. Top of the chart is Nabokov’s novel “LOLITA”. (You can’t make this stuff up!) I predict she’s going get a lot of offers to “crash” at apartments owned by movie producers! No doubt we’ll be reading about it.

What I found most jarring though was her comment, “haven’t taken photos of myself lately. In a funny way, sometimes I even forget what I look like.”
(Hardly. Her multiple websites feature HER!) I’m fairly certain that her comment is one which I never heard from the mouth of a student of my generation. Even we weirdos in the highschool camera club didn't photograph ourselves. Were we less narcissistic in our time? Should we blame this mania for enjoying the self-image on the ubiquitous digital cameras that are now in every pocket? Or the YouTube phenomenon? I don’t know, but I’m trying to find out. It has me beginning to worry that writing this Blog is a form of narcissism. When I start posting my photograph we'll know. Calling Dr. Fraser Crane! or better yet, Dr. Jennifer Melfi.

An image from her Harvard thesis. Narcissism grad school?

Friday, March 16, 2007

History as Fiction, Fiction as History

It's called "creative non-fiction" by its devotees, “CNF” in many university catalogs, and even "the Fourth Genre" by those who evangelize on its behalf. A sort of “true lies” approach to writing maybe, but leavened with literary flare and craft. The rules of the game are that you can't make up composite characters, as in fiction. "All you can invent are new ways of seeing and remembering, and new ways of saying what's true." When it’s done well, and Truman Capote’s IN COLD BLOOD is an outstanding example, it’s brilliant. (Capote is credited with inventing his own genre.)

The difference between CNF and ‘crap’, like the memoirs of UFO abductees or of syndicated psychics, is that in CNF there is greater emphasis on the convictions of the author whose quality of language and mode of stylistic expression is on display; there is less interest in convincing readers of the literal truth of the life or historic events being depicted. Many practitioners care far more that you understand their emotional response to history, than they worry about explaining past lives honestly or completely. Where do such attitudes spring from? I would argue that it is a predictable product of the moral relativism which has seized hold of our society. Most people are simply not truthful as they go about their daily lives. They are even less reliable when they turn their hand to writing.

Six years ago I clipped a Robert Fulford column called PANTS ON FIRE, which discussed lying as a commonplace. I share the clipping often with students. Fulford’s main point was that because people care little about the effects of their lies, they “pollute” the social atmosphere. We expend more energy on making our lies persuasive, than we do attempting to make the truth work for us. Doesn’t that sound like “CNF”? His handy cinema reference was to Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece Rashomon, in which the camera examines the consequences of a rape and murder in 12th Century Japan. Four participants in the events testify before a magistrate (we the audience behind the lens), and of course each has a different story. Lies are being told, but we marvel at the sheer majesty of their subjective interpretations of recent events. I don’t know if the Japanese tell fewer lies, but they can certainly be more frank in their culture, and I respect them for it. Last month I watched Shohei Imamura’s 1967 film, A MAN VANISHES. It compliments the theme of Kurosawa’s film, probing with gentle tenacity mounting evidence of widespread self-deception and deceit in a modern Japanese context.

I think about this state of affairs constantly. I was thinking about it the other day when I was teaching an essay called “History as Fiction, Fiction as History”. It’s the product of a militant black lesbian who has made her mark in the field of CNF. [Her sexual preference is revealed on her Wiki page, and it seems to have made her militant before she immigrated to the U.S.] I found her writing offensive and blatantly dishonest, and that’s the rub, because her goal was a denunciation of the dishonesty of others – specifically white people who had denied black history. Her use of irony is appallingly ham-fisted, but the point is that her whole approach is wrong headed. She chose as her source material a black heroine who left behind a heavily embroidered autobiography, which three generations of historians have yet to unravel. I learned from further research that the writer had taken that questionable material and written a novel in which she created a parallel figure (based on her own life and values) and inserted that character into a highly subjective interpretation of what happened at a pivotal moment in American history – John Brown’s raid on the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry. I have a strong interest in Brown and I do care when somebody messes with the history, for questionable literary gain, or no gain at all.

You probably know CNF from assigned readings in high school. Jack Kerouac’s ON THE ROAD, did you no harm. Every generation is looking for a new role model or a guru. Jack’s "novel" was actually autobiography but he wasn’t famous enough to sell a memoir, so he gave his friends fictional names. The novel begins: “I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up.” You can compare text with the photo of his manuscript (below). No matter. Neal Cassady and Kerouac’s other pals are easily identified. And as first lines go, it’s not so hot. My favorite work of creative non-fiction is Negley Farson’s THE WAY OF THE TRANSGRESSOR, which opens with “My Grandfather kept his three Negro servants by the simple expedient of not paying them.” Farson is a far more interesting “life” to read, but he pretended to write ‘fact’, while the Kerouac’s of this world pretend to write ‘fiction’. The marketplace decides their fate.

I long ago read that Kerouac had written ON THE ROAD in a twenty day burst of drug fueled energy, typing it onto a 119 foot long roll of “teletype paper”. The intended implication was that the existence of said artifact meant that the novel sprang from Kerouac's mind in one sustained gush of creativity, almost as if he was taking dictation for a supercharged alter ego – ie. his genius. Since I had never been a fan of the novel (no sin there) I was a bit relieved to learn that it is not true. The artifact (sold at auction for $2.4 million) is actually taped together from a dozen lengths of tracing paper. It is not a first draft, in spite of the presence of corrections. Asked later if all the stories in the novel were true, Kerouac said, “All the stories I write were true because I believed in what I saw.” If translated into the classical Nipponese idiom, that might sound convincing coming from the mouth of a Kurosawa character in Rashomon.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Great Global Warming Swindle

Heresy !!!! A non-believer !!!

For months I have been shaking my head in disbelief. The opinion makers, ie. the Canadian news media, have been telling us that desperately urgent Environmental issues and high anxiety over the threat of "Global Warming" are filling the average Canadian braincase to bursting point. Every politician in the country, from the civic to the federal, is grabbing free press simply by burbling nonsense on Global Warming or posing beside a hybrid automobile. I wrote about this hysteria on February 2, here in Blogspot, describing Environmentalism as the "New Canadian religion". It's become a real freak show. As I walk down the street I'm half expecting pod people to point accusingly at me, and give out an eerie alien shriek. Remember Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers?

If you are the hardy, self-reliant type (ie. conservative), you might want to dose yourself with a free injection of common sense serum. It called The Great Global Warming Swindle, and it's a free download on Google Video. "Why should I?" you ask. Well, as I've written before, this epidemic of Global Warming hysteria is going to last for years until it finally burns itself out. I intend to share the film with those I care about, especially students.

The Canadian federal parties have all crafted policy on Global Warming and the Opposition parties are already campaigning. My local M.P. is a "New Democrat" and we get virtually nothing from him in terms of representation. He has just rented a local movie theatre to show Al Gore's propaganda film; the one which has the indecent gall to use the word "truth" in its title. When I think of "Algore" I can't help but recall the super-star status of Marshall McLuhan in the 1960s. He was UP THERE with the Beatles, Marilyn, Elvis and Andy Warhol. A scholar noted in 1968
that McLuhan's success could not be the product of rational persuasion. People offer adulation to those who tell them "something they already want to hear". Hence the wholesale acceptance of the utterings of the likes of Michael Moore and Al Gore.

Last Friday, Channel 4 Television in Britain had the guts to broadcast a heresy I am recommending you view. The Great Global Warming Swindle won't be rebroadcast on PBS or CBC anytime soon, but some helpful soul has put it up on Google Video Canada. That's appropriate
because four or five of the scientists interviewed in "Swindle" are Canadian. It is over an hour in length but I found that my Shaw connection kept up with the stream, because I gave it a 15 minute headstart. You can find it now on both GOOGLE VIDEO and YouTube. Here is a link:
The film should be recut for DVD home use, because there are several repetitions of the key points. These repeats follow the advertising prompts of course. The show is edited in segments for television. Chances are you are already used to this, if you watch a lot of shows on Discovery and other cable channels.
Update March 19 : Wow, now I believe a few people are waking up to the swindle. Even Ottawa news-sniffer Pierre Bourque posted a link today.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Victoria Cross recipient - Budd's widow is my Hero

Corporal Bryan James Budd, the Parachute Regiment

Corporal Bryan James Budd of the Parachute Regiment, was killed in action in Afghanistan on 20 August, 2006. A member of A Company, 3 PARA, he was shot during a firefight with Taliban forces, and due to the exceptional nature of his role he was recommended for the Victoria Cross. His death was forensically examined by a British army investigatory team, at the same time that a review of his contribution to the action was conducted in order to ensure that he met the criteria for the great honour of receiving the V.C. The fact that Cpl. Budd had single-handed outflanked several guerrillas and put fire on them, and by so doing managed to save the lives of seven of his comrades, was the clincher.

At the time of the corporal’s death his 23 year old widow was at home with their daughter, and also eight months pregnant. Mrs. Lorena Budd has stood up to her loss incredibly well. A civilian employee of the Royal Artillery regiment, she chose to remain silent while the M.O.D. sorted out the award process, and the bumpy period of adjustment to life as a single parent. By all accounts she is a woman of great personal strength. And if the loss of husband and father were not tragic enough, a week before the V.C. investiture ceremony was scheduled with Her Majesty the Queen, the British media leaked word of the fact that her husband had been killed by “friendly” small arms fire. Lorena has weathered it all, and stood in her husband’s place, with his comrades of the elite Parachute Regiment. They were lucky to have had each other, even if for a few short years. Lorena Budd has her soldier hero, and she is now one of mine.
Mrs. Lorena Budd, the Parachute Regiment

Another V.C. story made the news last week. My brief report on the "Canadianized" version of the Victoria Cross, is found here:

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Mars and Earth - both sweating out a heatwave

Mars south polar icecap The Mars south polar icecap. This recent photo shows the melt runoff channels. Photo-recon proves Mars global warming.

Some may recall that on February 2 I posted an article in Blogspot called "ENVIRONMENTALISM - THE NEW CANADIAN RELIGION". I wasn’t overly aggressive, and found it hard to be brief on such a weighty topic. One of the points I made was that Mars has a geologic and climate history which has many similarities to Earth. I supplied a photo of Mars’ south polar icecap as it was in 1877, pointing out that our neighbor goes through melting cycles even without the man-made influence of automobile exhaust and smokestack industries.

Last week there was a flurry of stories refuting the "man-mad" Global Warming thesis. One report in particular caught my eye because it was in the National Geographic News e-magazine. Not even the crankiest of Doubting Thomas’s, I hope, could slough off the venerable NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC as being an organ of the “vast right wing conspiracy”. That article, entitled “MARS MELT HINTS AT SOLAR, NOT HUMAN, CAUSE FOR WARMING, SCIENTISTS SAY” reported on the analysis of daily satellite reconnaissance imagery coming from Mars orbit. The findings show that solar irradiance has caused dramatic melting of the carbon dioxide and water icecap for three years in a row. The conclusion? “The long-term increase in solar irradiance is heating both Earth and Mars.” The reaction to such contrarian thinking from runagate scientists is predictable. Scientists and Global Warming enthusiasts all over the planet began bombarding the media with press releases mocking the latest heresy.
The N.G.N. story is here.

It's kind of fun to read this a.m. that even the powerful Washington politicians who have been running with this issue, can themselves be stymied by the ... weather. A case in point. This morning a Senate Committee was scheduled to fill American TV sets with live reiterations of reiterations on Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth".

The website schedule says "Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality Hearing on "Climate Change: Are Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Human Activities Contributing to a Warming of the Planet?" at 10:00 a.m., in room 2322 Rayburn House Office Building" The problem is, one inch of snow overnight has created chaos in D.C. The suits have rescheduled.

The Mars Society - logo
One last comment on the subject of Mars: I am of course a big fan of Mars colonization, and have been receiving the informative mailings of THE MARS SOCIETY for many years. (our logo above) Yesterday’s post brought news of the Tenth International Mars Society Convention, scheduled for Los Angeles in late August. I had to smile when I read the list of Conference Sessions.

No. 28 reads “Law, Governance, and social systems for Mars”.