Posted by: transcendingchaos | June 11, 2008

Blog hiatus

Dear faithful readers (if I have any),

I’m going on a short blog hiatus while the husband and I are away visiting family. On Monday, we lost someone very dear to us.

I’ll be back in the saddle sometime next week.

Until then, enjoy these tidbits from my interview with Mark Steyn. The full piece will be up on the Fraser Institute website (www.fraserinstitute.org) early next month.

.transcendingchaos

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Posted by: transcendingchaos | June 9, 2008

The awesome power of cell phones

Okay, I seriously, seriously want to try this. Anyone up for a pop corn party?

The kinda scary thing is — how on earth does that work? Is it the radiation? The heat from the phones? The good vibrations?
Or is it all a big hoax to trick poor North Americans like myself?

Posted by: transcendingchaos | June 6, 2008

This is the end (?)

Well, today the BC Human Rights Tribunal heard the final arguments in the Maclean’s/Mark Steyn “trial.”

Maclean’s has a great blow-by-blow live-blogging archive from all five days of the trial, which can be found here. Reading through Andrew Coyne’s live-blogging is almost surreal–it’s hard to believe that what you’re reading is actually happening, has actually happened.

As far as I am aware, no outcome has been decided yet. A few possible scenarios:

1.  Maclean’s/Mark Steyn are convicted
In this case, Steyn will be banned from being able to write anything in Canada. This may sound extreme, but this is what he himself has told me will likely happen if they lose.
Maclean’s will ordered to publish a counter-argument to the piece, or to publish the tribunal’s decision finding that the article was promoting hatred (this is actually what the “prosecution” has asked for — see Coyne’s blog).
Maclean’s and Steyn appeal to a higher court and (God, we hope) win.

2. The HRT throws out the case, but “convicts” Maclean’s/Steyn anyways
A la the Ontario HRT. (see previous post here)

3. The HRT realizes that they’ve way overstepped their authority and gracefully bows out
Not likely, but hey we can hope.

It’s funny… in one way it would be good if Maclean’s/Steyn are convicted because then they could take the case to a real court and actually get the law changed. And that, really, is the most important thing. This kind of unfounded “hate speech” stuff cannot continue.

At least one person in Parliament is trying to do something about changing the law. Keith Martin, a Liberal MP, recently introduced a private member’s motion to delete section 13 (1):

 It is a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to communicate telephonically or to cause to be so communicated, repeatedly, in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking within the legislative authority of Parliament, any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.

(the Canadian Human Rights Act can be found here)

Posted by: transcendingchaos | May 31, 2008

Human rights week continues

Many thanks to Thomas and “mrs. terwilliger” for their comments on my previous post, It’s Human Rights Week! Keep ’em coming.

If I could weigh in again briefly, I would like to suggest that the issue has less to do with Mark Steyn (and Ezra Levant — who gave a riveting speech at the Institute on Tuesday — I’ll link to the podcast once it’s up on the FI website) and more to do with freedom of speech rights in general, and the human rights tribunal, as a state censer, in particular.

I’d like to bring up another recent example of freedom of speech rights being violated: York University in Toronto, Ontario, recently banned anti-abortion groups (see National Post article here; for a libertarian/more opinionated take on it, see the Western Standard article here).

Furthermore–as if that isn’t a bad enough kibosh on freedom of speech/association–the student union has, more or less, banned any discussion that might be anti-abortion.

I’m not making this up.

From the National Post article:

Gilary Massa, vice-president external of the York Federation of Students, said student clubs will be free to discuss abortion in student space, as long as they do it “within a pro-choice realm,” and that all clubs will be investigated to ensure compliance.

Yikes!

Massa dismisses claims that this is a violation of freedom of speech saying, “Is this an issue of free speech? No, this is an issue of women’s rights.”

Really?

Well, I’m a woman, and I’d like the right to say whatever the hell I want about whatever the hell I want!

When it comes to rights, there should no be no such thing as a woman… or a man… or any kind of person for that matter… just human rights. Period.
The crazy thing is that our so-called “rights” are supposed to ensure our equality.
So why is it that they seem to be the very thing that reinforces hierarchies, silencing and marginalizing those whom the “majority” (i.e., the squeaky wheel) disagrees with?

 

Back to Mark Steyn… who is being tried this Monday, June 2, in Vancouver at the courthouse on Robson Street.
For those who are interested, there will be a protest in favour of his rights (and everyone else’s right to speak freely) at 8:00 am, outside the courthouse.

Posted by: transcendingchaos | May 27, 2008

New Sigur Ros album!

On June 23, Sigur Ros will be releasing their fifth album, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (English translation: With a buzz in our ears we play endlessly).

There will be a presale on the website (www.SigurRos.com) on June 2.

The first track, Gobbledigook, will be available for download sometime later tonight (or at least that’s what their website says–I haven’t had any luck yet). But here’s a preview below.
Viewer beware: there is quite a lot of nudity in this video.

I’m not sure exactly what to think of the video, but I do like the song. I am so excited to hear/get the new album. They’ve already announced tour dates for the summer, but they’re all in Europe (with the exception of a few in the US–East Coast–and Mexico). However, the website says “further announcements of Sigur Rós headline tour dates around the world will be made soon.”

Hurrah!

Posted by: transcendingchaos | May 26, 2008

It’s human rights week!

Well, not officially. But it is in my world.

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Mark Steyn, a well-known author and columnist for Maclean’s magazine who happens to be speaking at a Fraser Institute event tonight.

I haven’t had a chance to transcribe our talk yet, but when I do, I’ll post some excerpts here.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Steyn . . .
In October 2006, Maclean’s magazine published an excerpt from his book, America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It (the article can be found here).
In December 2007, the Canadian Islamic Congress filed a human rights complaint against him and Maclean’s for publishing this piece (and others), accusing the magazine of being “flagrantly Islamophobic.”
The case went to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, which in April 2008 decided not to hear the complaint. However, after saying it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case, the Commission issued a statement (here) in which it accuses Maclean’s of promoting prejudice.
(This Wikipedia article does a good job of documenting the back-and-forth between the magazine and the Commission.)

This month, Steyn will appear before the BC Human Rights Tribunal for the same charge (his Maclean’s article).

I encourage everyone who cares about freedom of speech/multiculturalism issues to actually read his article and decide for themselves whether they think it could qualify as hate speech. I personally don’t think so, but I’d like to hear what others have to say about this.

As a side note, I also met Ezra Levant today, who has also had a number of human rights complaints filed against him, most notably, for republishing the Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed in the Western Standard. He is speaking at the Institute tomorrow, and I’m going to hear him.

Links

Mark Steyn’s blog
Free Mark Steyn.com
“I’m starring in one of those movies”
Ezra Levant’s blog

Posted by: transcendingchaos | May 25, 2008

How I spent my Saturday night

From The Province:

Fights, stabbing on crowded English Bay beach bring in RCMP helicopter

Vancouver police were forced to call in the services of an RCMP helicopter as they struggled to control fights and deal with a stabbing at English Bay on Saturday night.

An estimated 1,500-2,000 people were on the beach when the mayhem began to unfold starting at about 9 p.m.

Two men got into an argument that escalated when one pulled a knife and slashed the other in the throat, police said. Both were 20-year-olds from Vancouver.

The victim was treated in hospital for non-life threatening injuries. He didn’t cooperate with police, but a witness videotaped the entire incident which helped police make a quick arrest, VPD Insp. Ted Schinbein said. Investigators also recovered the knife used in the attack.

A suspect, known to police, is in custody and faces charges of assault causing bodily harm.

Later, at around 10:15 p.m., police used pepper spray to break up a brawl involving approximately 100 drunken youths.

The RCMP’s Air One helicopter used its high-powered spotlight to help the marine squad and patrol police move troublemakers off the beach and close it down for the night.

In total, officers dealt with at least seven disturbance and fight calls, four reports of mass pepper-sprayings and at least three gun calls, Schinbein said.

It was very strange.
Last night, Veronica, Jeremy, Chris and I were down at English Bay from about 6:00 to 10:30. After eating a nice dinner at Milestone’s, we found a bench just off the path at English Bay and sat and talked for a few hours.

It was subtle at first.
A police car drove up. Then another. And another.
By the time we started to leave the park around 10:00 or so, there were about four police cars and two ambulances waiting nearby. By the time we actually left, two police cars were combing the beach itself, herding hundreds of people onto the streets. The police helicopter was flying overhead, spotlight roving as it circled around the Bay. Once, twice, three times… again and again.
As Veronica and I waited for Chris and Jeremy to come back from the bank machine, we saw at least one person in handcuffs standing by a cluster of three police cars. Others were being questioned.

The strangest thing was having no idea what was going on. The air was abuzz with curiosity and a sense of danger, and yet the situation felt surprisingly under control.

The story in The Province today put the puzzle together for me, but I was still left with a sense of bewilderment. Why is this happening? Why is Vancouver becoming a hotbed for violence? And why are all the people involved so young? Those involved were barely twenty-somethings, “adults” for little more than a year.

I hate to say it–since such a recommendation may come back to bite me, a fun-loving twenty-something, in the butt–but I really think police should begin patroling places like English Bay on weekend evenings and cracking down on people who are making trouble and throwing people who have had too much to drink into the drunk tank for the evening. A few troublemakers should not be allowed to ruin the beach for the rest of us.

Posted by: transcendingchaos | May 22, 2008

My new favourite British comedy

Peep Show.

 

Posted by: transcendingchaos | May 21, 2008

How do you visually convey national mourning?

Modern Express NewsBeijing TimesBeijing News

Following the devastating earthquakes in China, these three newspaper covers appeared:

(left to right)
The Morning Express News
The only character in the head reads “mourning.”

Beijing Times
The big three characters under the candle read “Mourning Day.” 32,476 is the number of fatalities.

Beijing News
The photo caption reads: “A student was holding a pen tightly when the body was moved out from the rubble at Dongqi Middle school, Hanwang Township, Mianzhu, Sichuan province on the night of May 16. Xinhua Photo.”
The headline reads: “The nation mourns for 3 days.”

Credit to Charles Apple for these images and translations.

Posted by: transcendingchaos | May 17, 2008

bright lights, big buildings

It’s Saturday morning, one week after Chris and I returned from the Big Apple, and I’m drinking coffee from my “I (heart) NY” mug and wondering how to encapsulate my trip into a few paragraphs of witty prose.

To borrow a well-known phrase, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” — both the trip and the city itself.

In some ways, it was the best trip we have ever been on, but our fun was hampered by a few ongoing miseries. And the city, while oh-so-glamourous on shows like Sex and the City–and you do get some sense of that while you’re there–is actually quite dirty and not that exciting unless you have a bottomless bank account.

So, on the whole, I guess you could say that I did in fact (heart) NY, but somewhat half-heartedly.

We arrived in New York City during rush hour on Monday afternoon, after traveling via transit train from Newark. The train from Newark wasn’t all that full, leading us to wonder where all the people were. When we arrived at Penn Station in Manhattan, we found out. Hordes and hordes of people were pouring into the station (which is conveniently located under Madison Square Gardens). After fighting with the crowds, and feeling a sudden kinship with the salmon who swim upstream, we made our way up onto the street where there were still even more people.

The station was reasonably close to our hotel, so we decided to walk. Some of our initial observations: there was garbage everywhere and just about every other building was covered in scaffolding. It seems that in order to “clean up” the city (metaphorically), the city had decided to make the city that much dirtier. There are no dumpsters in New York. All businesses leave bags and bags of garbage on the sidewalk outside their shops. As for the scaffolding, it seems that the city was undergoing a bit of an overhaul, particularly in the area in which we were staying.

Then we arrived at our hotel, which was on E. 28th, not too far from the Empire State Building. Great location. Unfortunately, the hotel itself was not so great, and was certainly one of the low points of the trip.

First, upon arrival we discovered that we would be staying in a room that did not have a bathroom. This meant that we would be sharing a bathroom with the entire 7th floor. Now, we didn’t book the hotel ourselves, so we didn’t know this going in. I hadn’t brought any sandals or bathroom/shower sharing supplies. We actually went out the first night and bought sandals. I have stayed at hostels before and so I don’t have a problem sharing a bathroom when that is part of the deal, but this was unexpected and unfortunate.

Especially since, on Tuesday, our second day in New York, the toilet on our floor was plugged for the entire day, even though I called the front desk twice to ask them to fix it. To make matters worse, we had no hot water from 8am-4pm on Wednesday and Thursday, and had very little notice that this was going to be the case (i.e., they put a few posters up the night before).

So, that was too bad. But now for the good…

On Monday night, we walked to Times Square. And you really must walk to Times Square to get the whole experience. For blocks and blocks leading up to the Square, there are billboards and lights, hinting at what is to come. And as you get closer, you notice that there are more and more people on the street, all heading towards the square.

The Square itself is like 500 sq. ft. of visual stimulation. There are so many lights, it’s almost like daylight. There are tons of shops, restaurants, and street vendors, as well as an army recruitment center right in the middle of the Square.

After wandering around, shopping, and taking many pictures, we returned to the hotel, happy and excited for the next day.

The next day, in honour of Chris’ birthday, we went to the Empire State Building, which was one of the many buildings (as I mentioned above) that was undergoing restoration. That didn’t affect the view at all, though. After waiting in line for about an hour or so, we had our chance to go to the top. The view is amazing. Words are inadequate to describe it–you’ll have to visit my Facebook album here.

After that, we decided to catch the subway and head down to Ground Zero. The subway was an interesting experience. I love taking subways/skytrains/etc simply because, in many cases, it is the fastest mode of transportation. This is certainly the case in New York, where the blocks are long and it takes a while to walk, and the cabs are expensive and the traffic is heavy. A small subway map I found in the back of a tourist brochure became our guide for the rest of the trip.

Ground Zero, seven years later, is somewhat of a non-event. Nowadays, it really just looks like a large construction site that’s well cordoned off. Still, the site has significance for many people. We certainly weren’t the only tourists who came down to have a look. The impact of the loss was more evident from the Empire State Building. Looking south, there was a very obvious gap in the skyline where the towers used to be.

At the end of the day we were tired and so we decided to go shopping and then relax (or try to relax) at the hotel.

Our third day was wonderful. We ventured first to Central Park where we at two-dollar hot dogs for lunch and sat on a bench in the sun. It was actually quite warm the whole week we were there. It was a gorgeous day, but we had other plans: we were going to MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art).

MoMA was just fabulous. The range of art, the quality of the art, the diversity of pieces–the five hours we spent there were perhaps the most enjoyable five hours of the entire trip. All of the great artists from the last century or so were well represented, including Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Warhol, Rothko, Giacometti, Oppenheimer, Jasper Johns, and many many others that my brain is preventing me from remembering at this moment. It was a treat.

That night, we decided to return to Central Park for a horse carriage ride. I was really looking forward to it as the one truly cheesy touristy thing we were going to do. It was nice–I like horses and the park is gorgeous. Our driver definitely ripped us off, though. He charged us more than the price that was posted on the carriage, and when I complained, he just shrugged and told us that that was the way it was.

On our final day there, we were are jazzed up to go to the Guggenheim. And so we took the subway there only to find out that it was closed. Worse still, it was under construction and was covered in scaffolding, so we couldn’t even get a picture of the outside. I was so, so disappointed.

Feeling more than a little crushed, we decided to go to the Met instead, which was only a few blocks away.

Our first hour or two at the Met reminded me of the British Museum. The whole bottom of the Met is devoted to ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art, and so there are plenty of sculptures, sarcophagi, and such. Having been to the British Museum, which, in my opinion, has a far better selection of ancient art, I felt kind of ‘meh’ about this part of the Met.

The modern art section of the Met was much better, but, having just been to MoMA… well, it’s not really fair to compare, given that MoMA is entirely devoted to modern art. Still, there were a number of pieces I was excited to see.

The Met’s real chance to shine came on the second floor where they essentially have a history of European paintings, right from Medieval times until Expressionism. Because the galleries are set up in order of time, we were actually able to do a walking survey through the last 600 years of art. The selection was very good and very large. For example, near the end they had an entire room devoted to Monet.

That evening, we went for a very nice dinner in Rockafeller Center. Since it was our last night there, and I hadn’t do so yet, I ordered a Cosmo. I figured it was an absolute must for me to drink a Cosmo in New York. The food was very good, and we were seated close to the Prometheus fountain which drowned out all conversations except our own.

The next morning, we returned to Penn Station, flew from Newark to Denver, sat in the Denver airport for 5 1/2 hours, and then came home–tired and really looking forward to sleeping in our own bed.

For your viewing pleasure, I’ve posted pictures on Facebook and you can find them here.

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