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Archive for October, 2008

Jack Layton "Heartened" by Afghan Loss

October 6th, 2008

We’re not going to win this war,” Brig. Mark Carleton-Smith said this weekend. He is the most senior British military commander in Afghanistan, and he was talking about a war in which almost 100 Canadians have lost their lives. He may be right, at least at present troop levels, we may only be able to reduce the risks “…to a manageable level of insurgency that’s not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army.”

But it is unimaginable that someone who claims to be running for the Prime Ministership of Canada would respond to that declaration with these words:

I’m heartened actually by the words of this senior military commander…

He’s heartened by the country he leads suffering a military loss! He is heartened that he was right and his country will, according to Mark Carleton-Smith, not win a war in which they are engaged! He is heartened by the defeat of his country at the hands of mysoginistic, hateful terrorists who want to tear down the progressive society he has worked his life to try and build up.

For the record, here’s the quote in context, because some apologists will say it matters – it doesn’t:

“I’m heartened by the words of this senior military commander who is adding his voice to those many, many Canadians and others around the world who believe that the prosecution of the continued war effort has got to be changed,” Mr. Layton said.

“The New Democrats came out very early with this view and we’ve continued to argue respectfully with those who disagree that there’s got to be a new path … Let’s hope that more and more people are reaching this conclusion.”

Again, read it how you want, but Jack Layton (pictures above, riding away) is “heartened” that a senior military adviser has said what Jack Layton has been saying, we will lose this war.

Being heartened by Canada’s defeat, makes him unfit to lead it.

Afghanistan, The Layton world view

The Freedom of Music: Up Close with Steve Howe

October 5th, 2008
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.

Rush – Spirit of Radio.

I noted a year and a half ago that I’m a big Steve Howe fan. When I was a teenage guitar player with big ideas about what I would do with my life, I learned early that versatility was what I wanted in my playing. Can you play country? they would ask, and I would reply with some crying guitar in a major scale. Acoustic guitar? I would flat pick, finger pick and toe tap. Jazz? I’m a hot cat who plays it cool. Classical? Baching right.

It started with Jimmy Page. He can comfortably handle any style, all the while sounding like a rock player. But when it comes to playing in many varied styles with virtuosity no one can compare to Yes guitarist Steve Howe.

I cottoned on to Howe with Yes’s Fragile album. The rock/classical album features the legendary Roundabout that has Howe starting the piece with a classical intro, segueing into some jazzy harmonics before flat out rocking the chorus. Truly an awe inspiring song to a young impressionable with a penchant for guitar versatility. Fragile also features the Spanish tinged rock/classical masterpiece Mood For a Day. A few years ago the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet covered this song a really brought out the flamenco side of it. It was, in fact, the first classical style song I ever played, and I was tickled when the LAGQ legitimized it in the guitar repertoire.

So a few months ago when I received an e-mail from fingerstyleguitar.ca announcing a Steve Howe performance I didn’t think twice, I didn’t call anybody, I didn’t send around e-mail seeing who was interested. I immediately ordered a single ticket, knowing that every second I waited I would get farther from the stage. It paid off, and Thursday night I sat in the fifth row, almost dead centre, and watched one of the great guitar players doing what he does best. Half a show with a nylon string playing his classical tinged material, and half with a steel string playing fingerpicking stuff. His playing is elegant and almost flawless, even if his memory isn’t what it used to be.

There is something truly magical about seeing a master musician, up close and personal, nothing but his instrument. When it is someone who’s music, and musicianship, you have admired for many years it is magical. To have a chance at a meet and signing afterwards is worth every penny. To hear Mood for a Day and The Clap from 25 feet away: priceless

The Freedom of Music, This Week on my I-Pod

Saturday Fluffernutter: Super Bowl Bruce; Barking up the Aniston tree; Paul Newman 1926 – 2008

October 4th, 2008
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Saturday Fluffernutter – all the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities.

Word this week that Bruce Springsteen will be the 2009 Super Bowl half-time show headliner. The all American, working man’s

performer is a natural choice for the XLIInd Super Bowl which makes it surprising that either he hasn’t done it before this, or that he has finally been asked to do it now.

‘Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run for a first down.

Jennifer Aniston says men should be more like dogs:

“it wouldn’t be bad when a man comes home, he’d run to his woman with his tail wagging.”

Ahem… Woof, woof.

Rock group Phish will reunite for 3 shows in Virginia next March, marking the first time the band has played together since they broke up in 2004. Phish, who formed in the early 1980’s, became a concert staple through the 1990’s with concerts that featured long improvisational jams and a loyal, hippy following similar to the Greatful Dead’s “Deadheads.” There will be additional dates announced early next year.

You can almost hear the collective ‘glug’ of Phishheads surfacing for air.

Led Zeppelin rumour of the week, courtesy of Ramble On:

Any hopes of a Led Zeppelin reunion featuring the four musicians who performed at the 02 in London last December appears to be dead. Singer Robert Plant has announced he will not be joining the other three members of the band for a 2009 tour, contrary to the current rumours sweeping the interwebs:

“It‘s both frustrating and ridiculous for this story to continue to rear its head when all the musicians that surround the story are keen to get on with their individual projects and move forward”

Perennial cutie Heather Locklear was arrested last weekend in Santa Barbara California for driving under the influence of a controlled substance. Forty-seven year old Locklear was thought to be under the influence of prescription medication.

In one of the better celebrity mug shots Locklear has a classic doe in the headlights look.

Paul Newman (1925 – 2008).

There’s been so many tributes to Paul Newman this week, who passed of lung cancer at the age of 72 last weekend. I have little to add except to say Hollywood has been graced by so few truly classy individuals, then or now. It has one less to look up to with Newman’s passing.

Fluffernutter

Manufacturing Crisis Has Roots in Federal Liberal Governments Failure

October 1st, 2008
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Stéphane Dion and Jack Layton like to suggest any economic woes happening in Canada is Stephen Harper’s fault: Harpernomics is an in play term at present. U.S. banks are failing: Harpernomics; Car plant shutting down: Harpernomics. According to Dalton McGuinty, however, that car plant shutting down is Jean Chrétien’s fault.

OK, that’s not really what he said or meant, but a logical deconstruction of his comments can come to no other conclusion:

“There’s no doubt that there’s some of our traditional manufacturing is being challenged.”

The premier said it was time for a great deal of humility. But he sounded positively chastened.

He said Ontario manufacturers, sheltering behind the low Canadian dollar, “hid from global economic realities” longer than did the U.S.

“We didn’t make the necessary productivity gains that we should have made. We weren’t necessarily as innovative as we could have been and should have been.”

He’s right, but only partly so. He suggests the low dollar masked a productivity problem, but as I’ve previously noted, the low dollar was not a mask, but an indicator. It indicated that companies were not investing in Canada:

…problem is the opposite, the low dollar of the Chrétien era. While exporters and the unions loved the low dollar, and claimed it was driving growth through the 90’s, it was really driving the present manufacturing contraction…

In the 90’s everybody was building like mad, but not investing. Canada’s manufacturing facilities have fallen behind the rest of the world. Changes to manufacturing have been drastic the last 20 years, and manufacturers have not been investing in Canada. The result: loss of jobs now.

If Jean Chrétien and his brilliant Finance Minister Paul Martin did not recognize this implication of the low dollar, they should have.

The current U.S. fiscal crisis has it’s roots in regulations and lending practises that occurred through the 1990’s (although certainly not exclusively). Conversely, at a time when manufacturing was soaring, credit was easy to get and a technological revolution was making factories built a mere 5 or 10 years earlier obsolete, nobody noticed that companies – manufacturers – were not investing in Canada. They were not building new plants and they weren’t updating the ones they had. Ten years later there’s a ‘crisis’ in the manufacturing sector, and everybody is surprised.

The only thing that should be surprising is that Dalton McGuinty was the second person to notice.

Economic Fundamentalism, The Media Following My Lead.