Thursday, March 30, 2006

You had me at "idiocy"

Theodore Dalrymple, the pseudonymous physician and social commentator, writes the way I would if I were extremely brilliant and talented, instead of an overtired cliche-ridden hack.

Exhibit A: This piece from The Times of London, entitled "The Striking Idiocy of Youth."

Allow me an excerpt or two:
THE SIGHT OF MILLIONS of Frenchmen, predominantly young, demonstrating in deep sympathy and solidarity with themselves, is one that will cause amusement and satisfaction on the English side of the Channel. Everyone enjoys the troubles of his neighbours. And at least our public service strikers just stay away from work, and spend the day peacefully performing the rites of their religion, DIY, and not making a terrible nuisance of themselves. In fact, many of them are probably less of a public nuisance if they stay at home than if they go to work.

Of course, demonstrating in huge numbers is what the French do from time to time. We should never forget that to break a shop window for the good of humanity is one of the greatest pleasures known to Man. Trying to topple governments by shouting insults is also great fun.
It is often pointed out that French unemployment under the age of 26 is the highest in Europe, running at about 25 per cent. Moreover, in the banlieues it is 50 per cent. These banlieues are homes to millions of people, disproportionately young. It follows — does it not? — that there must be a considerable section of the young population in which unemployment is less than a quarter, actually much less. One would hardly have to be de Tocqueville to guess in which section of the young population the unemployment was less: the section from which the demonstrators, or at least their leaders and agents provocateurs, are drawn. In an increasingly desperate situation, the demonstrators are so afraid of the future that they want to hang on to their privileges and job security by hook or by crook, even if it means that the youth of the banlieues will eventually have to be kept in order by the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité, the much-feared riot police, the CRS. There is nothing idealistic or generous about the demonstrators, just as there wasn’t in 1968.
We have no reason to condescend to the French, however, for the British are in fundamentally the same boat, with a few extra problems of our own. The vast and fraudulent expansion of tertiary education, which leaves students indebted for their own useless education, is merely a means by which the Government disguises youth unemployment and keeps young people off the streets. [...] Our economy is corruptly creating public service jobs — endless co-ordinators of facilitation and facilitators of co-ordination — but not many in the private sector, the only true measure of economic health and growth. Any fool can create public sector jobs, and [the Labour Government in the UK] has done so: but not even the most brilliant man can make them economically productive in the long term.
It can’t be said either that we won’t deserve what we get. It is we, after all, who have listened to the urgings of demagogic confidence tricksters, and believed their promises of irreconcilable goods. We should have paid attention instead to the wise words of Benjamin Franklin that apply as much to economics as to politics. He who gives up freedom for security, he said, will end up with neither.

"We should never forget that to break a shop window for the good of humanity is one of the greatest pleasures known to Man." Hah. Awesome.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Hockey versus Politics

Last year, I found myself so disgusted with politics that I started avoiding the front page of the paper in favour of the sports section. At the time it looked like Harper was misplaying his hand, and that Martin would be able to pimp the Dippers until a spring election returned another Liberal government.

It was so disgusting I had to look away.

Since the January election, I've been avoiding the front pages again--not because it's disgusting, but just because it's boring. Well, either boring or insane--like the Battle of Khartoon.

I don't really care about the internal machinations of a Tory government. I don't really care about whether Peter Mackay was awarded Foreign Affairs as a prize for hard slogging, or as a firework designed to illuminate the man's deep shallowness. I don't care about the Liberal "race"--a competition so shockingly pathetic that Belinda Stronach (insert DSM-IV Axis 2 reference here) is straightfacedly described as a front-runner.

As a cynical Canadian libertarianoid, I ask of my government only two things, really: (1) cut my taxes, and (2) don't piss me off too much.

The second probably requires some explanation.

I fully expect to be pissed off a lot by any Canadian government. Bombardier will continue to turn wealth into ashes. The Wheat Board will continue to try to prove that black is white, and will do so on my dime. The CRTC will continue to insist that I be entertained and educated only in a fashion Approved By The State.

But I don't need to have my face shoved in this pile of ordure. And as long as the government mostly stays out of my face, I'm not going to rush the barricades.

Harper's only been PM for a couple of months. He hasn't had a chance to do anything yet. So far he hasn't pissed me off too much, which is all I'm asking for. But I'll be scuppered if I'm going to blog about it. I've got nothing to say, and I'm not going to pretend otherwise.

So I'm back to the sports pages, and trying not to go crazy over my sadsack Vancouver Canucks.

For them to make the playoffs, realistically they've got to beat out Edmonton and Los Angeles. I don't think L.A. should be too tough--although as I write this the 'Nuckleheads are in tough against the Kings. It's the Oilers that are giving me the heebiejeebies lately. Not only do I think we're not going to beat them, I honestly don't think we deserve to. The Canucks have underachieved since at least Christmas. They have played like a team of Tin Men for months, and a team like that won't get anywhere in the playoffs even if the Oilers collapse out of the top 8.

Or maybe there's a simpler, psychological explanation for my ennui. Maybe I can only function as a contrarian. Now that my (Tory) team won the election, I have to find another team to grouse about--and thank goodness, I've got the craptacular Canucks!


Go Sens go!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Another Loss

The Vancouver Canucks just lost 4-2 to the Dallas Stars, in Dallas, after dropping 3 straight at home. This team is driving me completely bonkers.

Is Bertuzzi to blame? I honestly have no idea. I don't think anyone does--at least, not anyone outside the 'Nucks dressing room. But he's not alone in his futility: witness the pathetic performance, night after night, of Vancouver's "pure scorer" Markus Naslund.

This guy was on the cover of EA Sports NHL game a couple of years ago. He was Hockey News' best scorer in '04. And now he's basically a waste of ice time.

Maybe Bert is bringing Naslund down. Maybe the two of them are just simultaneously slumped. Who knows. I'm starting not to care. Even the Vancouver radio announcers are starting to laugh at them--for getting bad penalties, for missing shots, for cruising back at low speed instead of backchecking.

I've heard two theories about why Bert is doing so badly this year. Is he (1) on some medication that is sapping him of his drive? Or maybe (2) off some "medication" [koff koff Barry Bonds koff koff] that he sorely lacks? Impossible to say.

But he and Naslund ought to be benched. Add their goose-egg partner Brendan Morrison as well. Sit them all down in the press box for the Nashville game on Thursday. If they won't play when they're on the ice, they might as well not be on the ice.

Who cares if they make the playoffs or not, at this rate? Is there a single creature with opposable thumbs that can imagine this team NOT getting swept out of the first round?

Damn Canucks.

Go Sens go.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

It's not cognitive dissonance. Really. It's not.

I can hold the following ideas simultaneously in my own little head:

(1) George W. Bush is inept and foolish, and largely unworthy of the presidency
(2) The Democrats are disgusting and pathetic, and totally unworthy of the presidency

In general this same "contradiction" holds for any two parties you could name (Canada: Tories/Liberals; UK: Labour/Tories; etc.).

What's a poor libertarian to do? Ought I Jardinify myself? Does it really not matter which lizard wins? I mean, what if the wrong lizard got in?

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