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USING HER POWERS FOR GOOD, NOT EVIL

When last I reported on lovely and talented Washington boulevardier Kelly Jane Torrance, I noted her newfound and well-deserved ubiquity in American journalism. Then I discovered she has published a short story, her first, in Doublethink. (Not yet online, so you'll have to rush out and buy a copy.) Given the title ("Hack") and our shared experience, I feared (but secretly hoped) it was a barely-disguised evisceration of KMG. No such luck. Instead, it's about a character not a million miles removed from James Guckert (AKA Jeff Gannon). A quite creditable début it is, although I must point out it would have done better in the all-important category of veracity had she made her protagonist a Republican, rather than a Democrat. But this is a trifling complaint, and I'm certain we can expect great things from her stories and novels in the years to come. My only hope is that I'm around to enjoy them. And now that I've reported on her again, that gives me an excuse to run another pic. Did I mention that Kelly is lovely and talented?


Kelly Jane Torrance: 
Her real passion has been art, and she belongs among writers

Kevin Michael Grace, 7.47 pm, 14 July 2005

FUN WITH DVD CAPTURE: MARS ATTACKS!

Jeremy Lott alerted me to his latest Get Religion post, a comment on Teddy Kennedy's attack on Senator Rick Santorum. He was delighted with his handiwork—not so much the post itself as the illustration: a giant picture of Kennedy's gargoyle head.

My first thought: where had I seen that head before? Then I remembered: Kuato from Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall. The resemblance is extraordinary. Here's how to tell them apart—Kuato is the mutant alien leader; Teddy is the mutant Kennedy who championed the 1965 Hart-Celler Act, which transformed America into an Alien Nation. One difference: Kuato came by his dissipation honestly—he lived inside some other dude's stomach.  


Kennedy, Kuato: Separated at birth?

Kevin Michael Grace, 6.59 pm, 14 July 2005

STRANGER THAN SATIRE

Paul Wells has been having a lot of fun with Le Devoir and one of its reporters,

a twit named Jean Noiseux (rhymes with "niaiseux," pretty much) who writes that the Charest Liberals are headed for an electoral result that would limit them "more or less to where the Equality Party was in 1976, that is, to about 15 ridings in the west end of Montreal with high concentrations of Anglophone Jews." 

He points out that the Equality Party didn't exist until the 1989 Quebec election, that Noiseux has wildly exaggerated the number of Anglophone Jews in Montreal and their electoral influence and goes on to insinuate that Le Devoir's refusal to retract these errors is proof of its anti-Semitism. 

But of course, accuracy isn't Jean Niaiseux's goal. All he wanted to do was to put Jean Charest in bed with "the Jews" in his first paragraph. Mission accomplished. Congratulations to Le Devoir for helping him out. Somewhere Mordecai Richler is laughing, as he always did when his targets did all his work for him.

Two days after his original piece, Wells indulged in a flight of fancy whereby Le Devoir blamed the Jews for all manner of historic calamities, including

November, 2000: George W Bush wins Florida, and the Presidency, by a handful of votes over Al Gore. Le Devoir unearths a secret memo from Karl Rove: "We owe it all to the Equality Party and to Anglophone Jewish voters in 15 counties in west-end Miami."

Up to a point, Lord Wells. Five years ago a relative handful of elderly Jewish voters in south Florida were blamed (or lauded) for tipping the election to Bush. Michael Moore wrote to his "friends" 10 November 2000:

There was something about yesterday's demonstration in front of the courthouse in Palm Beach County that profoundly moved me: hundreds of elderly Jewish citizens, many in tears, demanding, begging for someone to listen to them. They tried to explain that the ballot they voted on was so confusing they feared that they had actually voted for Pat Buchanan (a man who once said "Hitler was an individual of great courage") instead of the man they wanted for president, Al Gore.

Rather than being heard, they have been ridiculed across the country as being "stupid," "ignorant" or "sore losers." They are portrayed as a bunch of whiners, old people who maybe shouldn't be behind the wheel of a car, let alone in the voting booth. Get off the road, you're messing up the election for the rest of us!

Moore being Moore, he finds Adolf Hitler, Esq, lurking nearby:

Sixty-two years ago tonight [10 November 1938—Editor], the Holocaust began in full force on what was called Kristallnacht. The German government sent goon squads throughout the country to trash and burn the homes, stores and temples of its Jewish citizens. Seven years and six million slaughtered lives later, the Jewish people of Europe were virtually extinct. A few survived. I will not allow those who survived to come here to this "land of the free" be abused again. They are our fellow citizens in our great democracy, and their voice, if I have anything to say about it, will never be snuffed out.


Confusing or sinister?: The infamous 'butterfly ballot'

A year later a book by John Nichols called Jews for Buchanan: Did You Hear the One About the Theft of the American Presidency? was published by the New Press. Its back cover boasts endorsements by Studs Terkel, William Greider, Jesse Jackson and Cynthia McKinney.

But it is not only conspiracy theorists who believe that Jewish voters in Florida accidentally (or "accidentally") cheated Al Gore of the presidency. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported 8 November 2000:

In the end, the selection of the next president of the United States came down in many ways to voters in heavily Jewish South Florida.

And in a major twist, the votes that might have mattered most were the ones elderly Jews may have inadvertently cast for Pat Buchanan, the Reform Party candidate known for his anti-Israel and anti-Semitic statements...

But state officials ordered a recount of the presidential race in Florida, after seeing it was being called by a margin of less than a half of one percent of the votes. Results of the outcome were not expected before Thursday.

At the center of it all were ballots in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, which have a large Jewish population.

Although Jews made up only 5% of Florida's vote, a large bulk of the constituency was from that area, which includes many senior citizen communities...

US Rep Robert Wexler (D-Fla) told CNN that voters in Palm Beach County, a heavily Jewish area, were leaving the polling place crying because they had voted for Buchanan by accident.

Some voters were apparently confused because of the way the ballot was structured.

Ballots showed candidates on both sides of the ballot, in every-other-page order. So while Bush/Cheney was immediately followed by Gore/Lieberman on the left page, interjected between them was Buchanan.

"There is no doubt that there was much confusion at Palm Beach County yesterday at the ballot box," Wexler told CNN.

He said Buchanan received 3,000 votes in the county, compared to an average of 400 in other districts...

The effect is obvious to Lisa Stoch, [a Jewish Community Center] employee who passed around a petition at the center calling for a re-vote.

"Buchanan didn't even get 20,000 in the whole state of Florida, and he got 3,400 in Palm Beach County—something's not right," she said. "What percentage of that 3,400 were people that thought they were voting for Gore?"

Stoch rallied a meeting of Holocaust survivors early Wednesday, triumphantly announcing that "all of them have agreed to sign" the petition.

Meanwhile, concern surfaced Wednesday that a ballot box in heavily Jewish Fort Lauderdale had not been counted, adding to the confusion.

This controversy was even taken up on Saturday Night Live, with Darrell Hammond impersonating a more-than-usually unctuous Gore, reading the names and reciting the stories of fictitious elderly Jews cruelly confused by the "butterfly ballot." One would have thought that Wells, an aficionado of American politics, would know all this.

As for the late Mordecai Richler, am I the only one irked by the apotheosis of this cheerful hater into a plaster saint? Richler was richly talented, no question, but his novels and journalism evince a loathing of the Catholic Church and a settled conviction that the Québécois are animals: the women good for screwing, the men good for nothing, their leaders and their culture fit only for racial abuse. 

Richler's bigotry dominated the Quebec headlines after he published the New Yorker essay later expanded into Oh Canada! Oh Quebec! In the 28 September 1991 Montreal Gazette, he made a feeble attempt to defend himself:

I seem to have read again and again that I called Francophone grandmothers sows. This is not true.

What I wrote was, "In the past, [Francophone] families of a dozen children were not uncommon. This punishing level of reproduction, which seemed to me based on the assumption that women were sows, was encouraged with impunity from the sidelines by l'Abbé Lionel Groulx, whose newspaper L'Action Française, founded in 1917, preached la revanche des berceaux ["revenge of the cradle"—Editor]."

"Punishing level of reproduction"—le mot juste, non? I could point out that similar levels of reproduction were once common throughout the Catholic world, but I cannot speak to which eminences noir were encouraging (with impunity!) the women of Spain, Italy, France, Ireland, Bavaria, Slovakia, Croatia, Poland and other such primitive lands. And after I wrote about Richler on the occasion of his demise, I received a letter from Jewish correspondent in Quebec pointing out that a similar punishing level of reproduction was observed in Richler's own family on his mother's side. I wonder which rabbi on the sidelines encouraged that—and toward what revenge?


Richler: What kind of animals
do sows produce, anyway?

Kevin Michael Grace, 3.34 am, 14 July 2005

RELOCATION DAY

After moving in November, I declared that I wasn't moving again until I died. Well, eight months later, and I've moved again. Perhaps I did die; that would certainly explain how I feel right now.

About two months ago, my building manager mentioned that the storage room next to my apartment was being converted into living space. The other shoe dropped a week or so later—my apartment was being joined to the storage room to create a much bigger apartment. Would I like to take this new apartment? No, not really, I replied. I was then asked if I would care to relocate within the building. No, not really, I replied. A week or so later again, I was informed I had no choice in the matter. I could move quietly, or an order would be obtained. Resistance was obviously futile.

Moving day was put off several times, as my new suite was not yet ready. Still not quite ready yesterday when I moved in: the dining room fitted carpet has a large stain that is supposed to be replaced this morning. Yesterday I started moving my stuff out at 8 am and went on nonstop until 6.30 pm. The relocation itself was one floor down and half a corridor across and was accomplished with the aid of the building manager and the resident handyman. So not nightmarish like my previous move and all the others going back 20 years. Even so, I have hundreds of books in boxes, even after spending from 8 to 1 unpacking. I hate moving.

New pledge: now I'm not moving again until I'm dead. But that could be sooner rather than later unless I figure out immediately how to rustle up $1,000.

Kevin Michael Grace, 1.36 am, 13 July 2005

TWO IRISH JOKES

On his PBS show Foreign Exchange this week, Fareed Zakaria referred to "the world's foremost singer-statesman, Bono." Much competition for this accolade, is there? Oh, who will rid us of this globe-trotting bogtrotter? We could use conventional weapons, but that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think ridicule is the answer. Here's a start:

Last time we looked, no one was planning to storm the streets of Edinburgh to demand an end to didactic Irish frontmen. But think of the untold suffering that Bono—and other celebrities like him—have caused the world over the years. It’s enough to make a stone weep…

Save your tears, get out your credit card, and send away for this:


Think globally; sneer locally—that's my motto.

As long as I'm sneering at self-righteous Paddies, it's time for another go at John Doyle. The Globe and Mail's resident poor mouth began his review of Live8 with a pig-ignorant generalization:

The melodies and lyrics of pop music are keys to the dream life of our culture. All sunny optimism and sentimentality...

You mean like "Satisfaction" or "Hotel California" or "Every Breath You Take" or "Smells Like Teen Spirit" or "The Real Slim Shady"? Do you even listen to pop music, Doyle? He concluded: 

By the end of 22 hours of broadcasting, only the totally tone deaf and the rabidly, terminally cynical and mean-spirited could have thought that Live8 didn't stand a chance of starting change. Anyone who watched early on Saturday got a sudden, shocking taste of the capacity of the event to unleash emotional forces.

Or at least to unleash emotional fatuity and lumbering prose. Perhaps Doyle saves his fancy writing for his books. He has one coming out in October: A Great Feast Of Light. From the blurb:

Small-town Ireland was then [in 1957] an isolated backwater ruled by priests and steeped in anti-British politics. Its values were rural, religious and nationalist. The mentality was feudal. Many books and films were banned, there was no divorce, and contraception was outlawed.

Just what the world needs, another Memoir of Dark Ages Eire:

A great tramping, barracking, bollocking man was our Father O'Pression. His writ ran the length and breadth, the highways and the byways, the up hill and the down dale of County Tooraloora. And to be sure, any of us boys at Saint Miseryguts had only to whisper a hint of a glimmer of a fancy of what we all wanted to do to witty, pretty Kitty McMahon behind Finnegan's cowshed, when then, as sudden as the rains that fell from the shimmering, slatey-grey clouds above, he would appear before us, as tall and as terrible as old Finn MacCool himself, stinking of the bacon sandwiches he stuffed in his soutane, of the Jameson's he swigged from a battered pewter flask and of the lack of the deodorant he damned as a wicked Protestant innovation, the wrath of a thousand Dies Iraes in his eyes, etc etc.

According to George Orwell, "At 50, everyone has the face he deserves." Those tempted to doubt this are directed to observe the picture of Doyle below. Warning: best not to be drinking anything when you do, mind.


Doyle: Behold the mick

Does Doyle know he seems to be wearing a motheaten Beatles wig? That his expression puts the "imp" in simpering? And was it his intention to impersonate a defrocked priest? To think there are those that mock intelligent design. If this isn't proof of the Angelic Doctor's belief that God created the world in the spirit of comedy, then you must be invincibly ignorant.

Kevin Michael Grace, 4.01 am, 11 July 2005

RIP CHUCK PONYTAIL

The Canadian Press, displaying its usual rigorous objectivity, eulogized Chuck Cadman as

the Independent MP from BC whose vote rescued the minority Liberals and spared the country a summer election.

And who wouldn't want those words carved on his tombstone, eh? Stephen Harper was quoted as saying of him, "He entered politics for a cause. He fought his illness with a cheerful dignity, and we will all miss him." The cause that took Chuck Cadman to Ottawa in 1997 is best expressed in P J O'Rourke's description of Bob Dole: "I've suffered; now it's your turn." No one has been churlish enough to say it, but the cause that kept Chuck Cadman alive in his final year was his determination to revenge himself on Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party.

Cadman was a sitting Conservative MP when he was denied renomination in his Surrey riding after a carpetbagging Vancouver broadcaster swamped the membership rolls with an instant Sikh army. Stephen Harper wasted no time in calling Cadman a sore loser and brushing aside his concerns about the devolution of the democratic process. House leader John Reynolds announced in April 2004 that Cadman would not be welcome in the Conservative caucus should he be re-elected as an Independent, which he was, overwhelmingly, in June. (The Conservative candidate finished fourth.) 

By November Reynolds was begging Cadman to come back, but Cadman refused to do so unless the Conservatives changed their nomination rules to prevent takeovers by instant members and mandated that only Canadian citizens could vote. (The latter restriction was a Reform Party rule.) Putting Canadians first is anathema to the Conservatives, so Cadman remained outside Stephen Harper's big tent. Six months later he got his revenge when he cast the vote that doomed the party. "They died for multiculturalism" will be the words carved on the Conservative tombstone.


Final score: Cadman 2, Conservatives 0

Kevin Michael Grace, 3.56 am, 11 July 2005

BLOGROLLING

Added a new site to the blogroll: Edward Michael George. Besides sharing two Christian names with me, he is also a smoker, and while not all my friends are smokers, all smokers are my (natural) friends.

Two names, you ask? My confirmation name is Edward, ostensibly after Edward the Confessor but actually after someone else. I was seven years old at the time, was noted at school for being devout (don't laugh) and was given the privilege of making my own pick. I was wise enough even then to know it would not have been a particularly good idea to let the nuns and my parents know of the sacrilegious tribute I had in mind, so I hailed a young man on the street and asked if he was Catholic. He replied in the affirmative, so I then asked if there was a Saint Edward. He replied that he believed this to be true. From his mouth to the bishop's ear. And that's how I came to be named after Eddie Shack.


Edward the Confessor: Noted for piety  Eddie Shack: Noted for illiteracy

Postscript: Ohmigod Dept.: I once owned a copy of that picture on the right. I just discovered it was from the Bee Hive Hockey Picture collection, a free promotion of the St Lawrence Starch Company. At my insistence, my family consumed an enormous amount of Bee Hive Golden Corn Syrup so I could send away for the glossies. They ended the promotion in 1967, so it's been almost 40 years since I've tasted corn syrup or the name Bee Hive has crossed my mind. A real shock to the system, that is. 

Kevin Michael Grace, 6.59 pm, 8 July 2005

LONDON CALLING I—TONY SPEAKS

Since 11 September 2001 it has been confidently asserted that we are at war. A very post-modern war this must be, because its nature is at best in dispute and at worst unknowable. What is the "we"? The Occident? What was once called Christendom? These assertions are strongly denied by our wartime leaders. What is the "they"? The Orient? Islam? These assertions are also strongly denied by our wartime leaders. They claim we are at war with "terrorism" or even "terror." But the first is a technique, while the second is a state of mind. They claim we are fighting for "our way of life." But our leaders assert that this phrase is not to be defined with regard to our Western nations and races and their traditional beliefs and habits. So how are we to know what constitutes victory in this war? When "democracy" is made universal? But democracy is merely a process, not a determination of belief or quality. Has anyone ever gone to war for a process?


London Transport attack locations: 'Don't mention the war'

Reading the statements made today by Prime Minister Tony Blair one is driven to the conclusion that this "World War IV" is entirely illusory. For what sort of war can it be when the second most important war leader responds to a serious attack on his country with a petulant outburst?

It is my intention to leave the G8 within the next couple of hours and go down to London and get a report face-to-face with the police and the emergency services and the ministers who have been dealing with this and then to return later this evening.

It is the will of all the leaders of the G8, however, that the meeting should continue in my absence, that we should continue to discuss the issues that we were going to discuss and reach the conclusions that we were going to reach.

Not one in 20 Britons could explain what the G8 is and what, if anything, it accomplishes. Or why its meetings are necessary. Especially since, as Blair acknowledges, its conclusions are predetermined.

It is particularly barbaric that this has happened on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of poverty in Africa and the long term problems of climate change and the environment.

Just as it is reasonably clear that this is a terrorist attack or a series of terrorist attacks it is also reasonably clear that it is designed and aimed to coincide with the opening of the G8.

These last two paragraphs would be shocking, if we were not thoroughly familiar with Tony Blair’s overweening vanity. There he was, working his heart out to rescue the benighted peoples of Africa from poverty and rescue the whole wide world from the menace of greenhouse gases when he was forced to leave a conference in Scotland and return to his hobbled capital city. Barbarians, indeed. But the question arises, If we truly are at war, why is the war not first, second, and third on the G8 agenda?

It is important, however, that those engaged in terrorism realize that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire impose extremism on the world.

Whatever they do it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilized nations throughout the world.

Readers will have noted the strange (and seemingly deliberate) indeterminacy of this statement. The nouns "Britain" or (more telling still) "England," do not appear in the text. Blair is determined to "defend our values and our way of life" but the nature of these and their provenance are not discussed. Neither is the provenance of "their" nor the purpose of "their" extremism. Blair’s reference to "civilized nations" is therefore thoroughly out of place and sailing rather close to the wind. Does he mean to suggest the existence of "uncivilized nations"? Where might these be, and what makes them uncivilized?

The noun "British" appears twice in Blair’s second statement, made after his return to 10 Downing Street. Perhaps someone reminded him he is more than a world leader pretend. Its acknowledgement of the suffering of his peoples

This has been a most terrible and tragic atrocity that has cost many innocent lives. I have just attended a meeting of the government's Emergency Committee, received a full report from the Ministers and the officials responsible. There will be announcements made in respect of the various services, in particular we hope the Underground, insofar as is possible, and rail and bus services are up and running as swiftly as possible.

I would like again to express my profound condolences to the families of the victims, and to those who are casualties of this terrorist act. I would also like to thank the emergency services that have been magnificent today in every respect. There will of course now be the most intense police and security service action to make sure that we bring those responsible to justice. I would also pay tribute to the stoicism and resilience of the people of London, who have responded in a way typical of them.

presumably serves to remind them he is their ostensible first minister and attempts to mitigate any damage to his reputation following his earlier display of pique.

Blair then makes the requisite pro forma declaration:

In addition I welcome the statement that has been put out by the Muslim Council of Great Britain. We know that these people act in the name of Islam, but we also know that the vast and overwhelming majority of Muslims, here and abroad, are decent and law-abiding people who abhor this act of terrorism every bit as much as we do.

Here we see the implicit admission that the 7/7 attack (as it will surely come to be known) was identical to the 9/11 attack in that both were perpetrated not by foreign governments or from foreign soil but by citizens or legal residents—or illegal aliens still resident due to ministerial indifference, which amounts to the same thing. But Islam is not the enemy, because Islam is a religion of peace, and spokesmen for the Muslim "community" stress that the killers do not speak for them.


Blair: Repeat after me—Islam isn't as Islam does

Blair next makes a clumsy attempt at what some have probably already characterized as "Churchillian rhetoric":

It is through terrorism that the people that have committed this terrible act express their values, and it is right at this moment that we demonstrate ours. I think we all know what they are trying to do—they are trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to cower us, to frighten us out of doing the things that we want to do, of trying to stop us going about our business as normal, as we are entitled to do, and they should not, and they must not, succeed.

When they try to intimidate us, we will not be intimidated. When they seek to change our country or our way of life by these methods, we will not be changed. When they try to divide our people or weaken our resolve, we will not be divided, and our resolve will hold firm. We will show, by our spirit and dignity, and by our quiet but true strength that there is in the British people, that our values will long outlast theirs. The purpose of terrorism is just that, it is to terrorize people, and we will not be terrorized.

Churchill, for all his faults, would have said "cow" instead of "cower" and "business as usual" instead of "business as normal"; more important, he would refrained from the use of that endlessly mutable term, "values." According to Blair, they have their values; we have ours. Again, the nature and provenance of these values remains unspoken.

Blair concludes:

I would like once again to express my sympathy and my sorrow to those families who will be grieving, so unexpectedly and tragically, tonight. This is a very sad day for the British people, but we will hold true to the British way of life.

It is customary in wartime speechmaking for the leader of a country that has suffered a reverse to swear vengeance on the enemy, pledging to take the fight to them with greater vigour. Blair pledges, "Our resolve will hold firm." But resolve to do what? Presumably, to uphold and extend the highest value in Blairite Britain, "tolerance." To that end, his government has resolved to prohibit religious insults. Awfully convenient, as this will make it a crime to point out that, to the extent we are at war, it is a war prosecuted against us—in Britain, just as in America, Spain, Holland and Russia—by Muslim Fifth Columns.

Kevin Michael Grace, 3.50 pm, 7 July 2005

CRIMINALLY SEXY

Kudos to my good friend Kevin Steel for a fine Western Standard piece on notorious National Post columnist Rachel Marsden. It elicited the usual responses from the Our Stephen Harper Fan Club at The Shotgun: Why aren't you attacking the real enemy? (The Liberals.) Going after "one of our own" plays into our enemy's hands, etc. Here's another binary division: those that aspire to membership in a gang (or "movement") and those that don't. I don't want to belong to any movement that includes Rachel Marsden (or Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and Andrew Coyne). 

My question for members of the "conservative movement" in America or Canada is this: What are the benefits of membership? If tribal solidarity ("us vs them") is your thing, there are other, far more rewarding binary divisions: Yankees vs Red Sox, Eskimos vs Stampeders, Celtics vs Rangers, Coke vs Pepsi, dogs vs cats, that hooligan Beethoven vs Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Brahms and all the other composers that knock him into a cocked hat, etc. Conservative movementarians will reply that their membership demonstrates they are on the side of prudence vs recklessness, right vs wrong and even good vs evil, but I remain unpersuaded. What has the conservative movement ever done to make America and Canada better places? And no, I don't mean the phantom accomplishment of growing the Gross Domestic Product, whatever that might be.

I digress. Someone called Judi McLeod of something called the Canada Free Press has jumped to Marsden's defence. Inter alia, she notes previous attacks on "Canada’s latest media celebrity" by the CBC and Antonia Zerbisias but ignores my own considerable labours in the field of Rachel Marsden Studies. Oh well. (And she adds a superfluous "e" to Steel's name throughout, as well as misspelling Muhammad Ali.) McLeod's article resembles something a clever but emotionally incontinent 9th Grader might write after being dumped by her boyfriend. In other words, it reads like a Rachel Marsden column. Sample prose—note suicidal search for alliteration (©William F Buckley, Jr):

When Canadian journalism tilts trashy tabloid, it fizzles out. Canadians, by and large, are pointedly polite...

While the Trudeau boys don’t dress up like Nazis and smoke cigarettes at cucumber-sandwich-and-tea garden parties like some British bluebloods do...

When Marsden became the National Post’s latest acquisition, competing media went into purple prose pique mode...

The title of McLeod's piece is simply berserk: "The Killing-off-Rachel Rally." Eh? She is talking about Rachel Marsden here, not Karla Homolka, right? As far as I can understand McLeod's argument, she is accusing Marsden's accusers of fabricating lurid charges against Canada's latest media celebrity, whose only sin is that "Like many young women making their way through the dating scene, she’s had her share of trouble with bogus boyfriends." That's certainly a curious way to describe a career that includes, first, precipitating the most spectacular self-immolation in Canadian academic history and, second, a 2004 conviction for criminal harassment.

And yet, according to McLeod, Marsden "has never in her life been convicted of a crime." She (and La Marsden) should tell it to the judge, the Honourable Judge W J Kitchen:

I am left to consider general deterrence and denunciation of what she has done. In varying degrees, accused persons must be used as examples so that the values of our criminal law are reinforced. There are many rejections to be experienced in life. In this case, the message must be sent that responding in the manner of Ms Marsden will not be tolerated. What has happened to Ms Marsden should be enough to dissuade most thinking members of the public from acting as she did. I am satisfied that a discharge will equally serve the purposes of sentencing as will a suspended sentence. A discharge is in everyone's interest.

The defence has asked for an absolute discharge, with no conditions. I am satisfied that Ms. Marsden does not need monitoring. She has undertaken to the court and to the public that this will not happen again, and that she will have no contact with the complainant or anyone associated with him. Dr Eaves says, and I accept, that assessment, treatment, or counselling are not necessary.

I am concerned about the appearances of an absolute discharge. I have concluded that the offence has some aggravating features and some may see an absolute discharge as indicating that the incident is of no matter. I am also concerned that for future reference there will be an indication that this is more than a technical offence. Ms Marsden could also benefit from having the matter hanging over her.

Ms Marsden, I grant you a discharge but it will be conditional. You will be on probation for one year, to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. You will not be bound by other specific conditions but you have undertaken to the public, continued good behaviour beyond that one year.


Marsden: From the abode of the damned—the damned good-looking!

And yet, according to McLeod:

When I asked Marsden how it felt to be attacked on a personal basis as a "convict" a "serial stalker" and a "fraud artist", she told me that she believed she could sue the Western Standard. "But a litigation victory would be a shallow one given that they likely can’t afford to pay, so why give them any publicity?"

Yes, and if she had some cream cheese, she could make a lox and bagel sandwich. If she had some onion, salt and pepper. And lox. And a bagel. And knew how to use a knife.

The scariest thing in Steel's article is an old quote from Canada's latest media celebrity: “Fifty percent of people want to sleep with me, and the other 50% want to kill me.” She is talking about Rachel Marsden here, not Karla Homolka, right?

Kevin Michael Grace, 2.20 pm, 6 July 2005

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

We must be contented to amuse, when we cannot inform.
Thomas Jefferson

Kevin Michael Grace, 9.48 am, 6 July 2005

GRACE NOTES

This site had a record number of visitors last month: 11,700 (approximately, according to Site Meter) or 15,998 (exactly, according to Webalizer): a 37% Site Meter undercount. Not that these numbers are anything to crow about, but they do please me, as I hope The Ambler pleases you. I'll keep it going as long as I can, but I fear that destitution may soon force another interruption of service.

In the meantime, I often wonder just who it is coming here and why. Top Three searches leading to this site:

1. "lipstick lesbian" (with seven times as many hits as No 2)
2. "stephen harper"
3. "old Canadian flag"

Of course I know who's using the Internet: stupid, stupid people. I mean, how thick do you have to be to believe that there exists somewhere on the Web unexploited naked (even hardcore) pictures of seemingly every famous women alive? I know you're out there, people, and I know where you live. Or at least your ISP addresses.

Now that I am officially an oldie (see below), it is only fitting I have abandoned the hurlyburly of Bravo and Showcase for the deep, deep peace of the Discovery Channel. Watched several episodes of a Mythbusters marathon Sunday: decided I liked Adam Savage and that Jamie Hyneman was a bit of a dink, but this is clearly what we are supposed to think. I very much liked their proof that appliances in the bath will kill you, especially that they were men enough to admit they'd completely buggered the simulation first time round. But I'm afraid How It's Made moves much too quickly for me. Except their segment on the making of bubblegum, which resembled nothing so much as a great cauldron of fat people copulating. Quite the most obscene thing I've ever seen.

I wasn't in San Francisco last week for Thursday's Breasts Not Bombs protest, but I probably would have been disgusted by that as well. As Jerry Seinfeld taught us, there's good naked and bad naked. Naked hair brushing, good; naked anti-war protesting, bad. Protest leader Sherry Glaser, who appears to be channeling Libby Wolfson ("I'm Taking My Own Head And Putting It On Right, And Nobody's Gonna Tell Me That It Ain't"), told the San Francisco Chronicle, "Boobies never hurt anyone." As Glaser is a "size 40DDD," this is clearly not an empirical statement. 

Naked MPs, too grim to consider. The people behind hottestcanadianmp.blogspot.com have asked me to plug their site. In my opinion, politicians are already far too arrogant without being flattered as sexually desirable, but I'll let you decide. I've never met a female politician who looked anywhere near as good as her studio portrait, by the way.

If zaftig Sherry Glaser is straight out of SCTV, then the City of San Francisco is straight out of Hank Hill's nightmares: 

"Hey! Explain this to me!" said an agog visitor from Florida, approaching San Francisco police Sgt Carl T, who was assigned to keep an eye on the crowd and who really has only a letter for a last name.

"It's not illegal," the sergeant told the woman.

"All right!" she said, giving him a high-five.

Technically, the sergeant explained, nudity can be considered misdemeanor indecent exposure if the person in their birthday suit has an intention to titillate. Because the protest is political, not sensual or lewd, it really doesn't count, he said.

So public defecation really is legal if its intent is "political"? And to think there are some who believe Canada crazier than America. How long before we are all heartily sick of the phrase "King of the Hill Democrats"? A month? A week? Before we are, here's this Canadian's advice for the Donkey Party: remember above all that Hank Hill is a protectionist and no friend of big business. Study episode 35, "Propane Boom," which is a closely argued tirade against Wal-Mart (cleverly renamed the Mega Lo Mart) for destroying local business and communities and for humiliating its employees and customers.

Is my old friend Kelly Jane Torrance still Canadian? Discuss. In any case, a star is born; she has become positively ubiquitous in the American media. And deservedly so. If I had a criticism of Miss Torrance's oeuvre, it would be her tentative tendency. In her review of Evening In The Palace of Reason by James R. Gaines, she claims, "No one composer could be anointed the greatest." I fail to see why not. Go ahead and make the case for Édouard Lalo; you'd be wrong, but it would be fun to hear. And this is silly: "While many of Mozart's best-known works are light, he can be deep, too. Just listen to his final masterwork, the Requiem." Or you could listen to just about anything with a Köchel number higher than, oh, say, 450.


Kelly Jane Torrance: From beyond the Vistula to the banks of the Potomac

Nothing published in the Washington Times is going to lower the status of Mozart, thank God. C P E Bach, on the other hand, deserves all the help he can get, so I cannot let this libel pass: "Bach's own son Carl...rejected the complicated, serious music of his parents." No, that would be Johann Christian Bach (enjoyable as he is). Emanuel Bach's music is as serious and complicated as any connoisseur could desire—it is also wild, passionate, strange and even bizarre. He is not well-served on CD since the vegetarians claimed him, but I strongly recommend Mikhail Pletnev's one-disc survey of his keyboard works and Hartmut Haenchen's two-disc survey of his symphonies. Unmissable.

Unlike Gaines, if this is any indication: "What is greatest about Bach's work is literally impossible to talk about." Then why did you write a book about him?

The final word on Saint Bob Geldof comes from his partner in philanthropy, Midge Ure

Furious that Bob had refused to allow him to perform—but then Bob appeared himself singing the Boomtown Rats song "I Don't Like Mondays." Ure was heard muttering furiously: "Oh God, what a tart he is," when he saw Geldof singing on the video screens in the VIP room. Those who were at the original Live Aid remembered how Geldof had moved his performance around in the first show meaning that he, and not Ure, would perform in front of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

Give me humility but not yet, as Saint Augustine might have said.

I daresay that nothing published in the entire obsequious history of Rolling Stone quite matches this Live8 bootlicking from Roger Friedman:

You had to be there to believe it, and I was—backstage, that is, and as far as I can tell, the only journalist who scored a much-cherished and coveted deep purple wristband for the occasion.

Maybe you saw this extraordinary event as it unfolded. I have no idea what it looked like on TV, but from the trenches (and these were trenches with a lovely VIP tent and ironically overflowing amounts of catered food, a gelato bar, and a, thank you, regular bar properly supplying Red Bull and a bottled water called Bleu Water) the whole thing was simply the most amazing gathering of pop icons since the Constitutional Congress.

Come back, Sid Vicious. All is forgiven. But where is our Thomas Jefferson: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

On the stereo, Neil Young, On The Beach, "Revolution Blues":

I got the revolution blues, I see bloody fountains,
And ten million dune buggies comin' down the mountains.
Well, I hear that Laurel Canyon is full of famous stars,
But I hate them worse than lepers, and I'll kill them in their cars.

Kevin Michael Grace, 1.40 pm, 5 July 2005

WHEN IRISH EYES ARE SCOWLING


Lord Bono of Vox, Sir Bob Gandalf, some groupie: 
Would you buy a used ego trip from these men?

It was only about a week ago I learned what Live8 was about. (I still don’t know what "Live8" means, however.) I’d assumed the concerts were about raising cash, but no, they were about raising "awareness." How soppy, was my first thought—put a stake through its heart, and the 60s ethos still refuses to die. It was only later I understood how clever and sinister Sir Bob Gandalf (as Joss Stone called him) really is.

Gandalf knows his Chomsky. Live8 was, if nothing else, proof of how easily the media can be induced to manufacture consent. Oh, we care so very much about the poor people of Africa, do we? Gandalf knows better than that. So he engineered a classic bait-and-switch. Round up the biggest names in music for a series of concerts, get the networks to broadcast it for free, count the McViewers—two billion served—then assert a global mandate for one white man’s burden: a lunatic demand to "make poverty history."

According to the Globe and Mail,

While most musicians who performed [in Barrie] made mention of the purpose behind the event, it seemed lost on some in attendance.

Marty Gradwell from Whitby, Ont., said he came to the Canadian gig "to rock out and enjoy the start of a warm summer."

Asked what prompted the worldwide music extravaganza, he could only venture a guess.

"For AIDS in Afghanistan, is it?"

Why not? Every 10 minutes I see Nelson Mandela on TV mumbling importantly about some grave crisis that must be solved immediately. Does this have something to do with Live8? Why is St Nelson wearing a baseball cap with the logo "46664 arctic"? Is this the name of a clothing company, like Roots? No, 46664 arctic was the name of another rock concert, this one held in Tromsø, Norway, 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The geographical significance of this is lost on me, and the numerological mystery remained unexplained. A quarter-hour with Google News established that 46664 was Mandela’s prisoner number, something we are all supposed to know, apparently. The purpose of the concert was to, wait for it, "raise awareness and commitment to combat AIDS/HIV." Such a lot of awareness about these days.


St Nelson: We are all ballcapped now

Yet such little knowledge. For instance, that the African AIDS "catastrophe" is utterly phoney. Africans are dying, as they long have, in civil wars, of wasting diseases and lack of public hygiene and sanitation, not from some amazing virus that is somehow transmitted completely differently there than here. Black magic, indeed. Or as John Potterat says, "First World researchers doing second rate science in Third World countries." And to paraphrase Malcolm Muggeridge, the Africans want clean drinking water, and we give them condoms and AZT.

To raise quibbles about the efficacy of numbered charity concerts is to risk the wrath of the do-gooding class, which has turned quite nasty in its triumphalism. Chris Martin of Coldplay, the lucky fellow who snagged Gwyneth Paltrow, would have me a "knobhead." Ah yes, the argument from authority. John Doyle of the Globe and Mail prefers the argument from ethnic grievance.

To sneer at Geldof and Bono is to sneer at common decency. To sneer at their motivation is to misunderstand everything.

Both Geldof and Bono are Irish, as I am. We all carry with us the famine memory. That is their motivation. The famine memory is not widely discussed in Ireland or even outside, whether in the context of Geldof's Live Aid efforts or now Live8. It is a searing, angry sore beneath the surface of the collective Irish consciousness, anger at the avoidable deaths. It is the lacerating memory of a country and a culture brought to its knees by death and grief. One million died in that famine, and another two million emigrated. Most of those who left sailed away on "coffin ships" and some made it to another country, but many didn't…

What happened in the Irish famine of the 1840s began with a force of nature but was exacerbated by economic policy and political philosophy. That it precisely why the memory of it motivates Geldof and Bono to act on behalf of people in Third World countries who suffer not only natural disasters, but are at the mercy of foreign governments and policies that are remote from them.

In 1845 when blight struck the Irish potato crop and destroyed it, Ireland was under colonial British rule and 5% of the population owned 95% of the land. The 95% non-owners were Irish tenant farmers, most forced to live where little could grow except the nutritious potato.

The 5% were landlords, mostly British and many living in England. During the famine years, in adherence with economic philosophy of the time, grain that could have fed the starving was routinely exported from Ireland. Further, during the early years of the famine, the British government refused to send food to Ireland for relief, because bulk buying by a government would have interfered with the free market.

You can see the parallels with the plight of many poor countries today—the lives of the poor and starving are manipulated by economic decisions made in distant cities and by economic orthodoxies that nurture a culture of greed, not decency...

If John Doyle cannot see the difference between the Ireland of the 1840s and the Africa of today, he wants a doctor’s attention. The whole of Ireland was then part of the United Kingdom, and the British government, in refusing to relieve the famine, committed a crime against its own citizens.

All men are not brothers, and the Africans are not our people. Colonialism is dead, even if economic imperialism survives, but Africa's leaders must accept responsibility for the latter. Everything we do "for" Africa only makes things worse. Economic aid only swells Swiss bank accounts, and famine relief ("Live Aid") only destroys African agriculture. Dropping the debt will serve only to strengthen Africa’s dictators, while "fairer trade" will serve only to force Africans into the cash economy, the better for the dictators to steal what little they have.

And yet, according to Doyle,

To sneer at these men and their aims is to sneer at the collective memory of the Irish.

Well, I am sneering, and may God strike me dead should I ever dare claim that the sufferings of my race grant me the plenary power to instruct others on morality. What has happened to the Irish? Once a people noted for their sanity, they have traded God for a mess of EU pottage and lost their wits thereby. They are now just another mewling minority group.

Thank heaven for Rex Murphy. As mentioned previously, I am not a covetous man, but when I heard how he had been damned from the stage at Barrie by that corpulent hack Dan Aykroyd and that the rabble had howled in execration, I could not suppress a stab of savage jealousy. Murphy is not only the Greatest Living Canadian, he’s got the true Irish spirit.

On the stereo, Wire, Pink Flag, “Reuters”:

Our own correspondent is sorry to tell
Of an uneasy time, that all is not well
On the borders there's movement
In the hills there is trouble
Food is short, crime is double
Prices have risen since the government fell
Casualties increase as the enemies shell
The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive
And sooner or later the end will arrive
This is your correspondent, running out of tape
Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape

Kevin Michael Grace, 2.15 pm, 4 July 2005

MASTERS OF PROSE

To the Mahaffy and French families, to those who grieve personally because of evil incarnate in some of the most horrific sex crimes in Ontario's history, forgive me. I am about to use your pain for my gain. Another headline, another conversation allowing celebrity crime to prosper from the industry that ensures your trauma bond can never be severed.

Just when you thought you were moving on, more attention to the comfort of your heinous victimizer emerges.
Lorna Dueck, Globe and Mail, 4 July 2005

Kevin Michael Grace, 8.51 am, 4 July 2005

NOW WE ARE 50


The Ambler at midcentury: 'They do their thing/I do mine' (Pic by Jay Currie)

I had planned an extensive State of Grace for my grand climacteric but thought better of it, as I whinge too much in this space as it is. I’ve decided instead to present a self-interview, modified from the famous Proust/Vanity Fair questionnaire.

1. What is your present state of mind? Apprehensive, apathetic.

2. What is your greatest fear? Death.

3. What is your idea of perfect happiness? Couldn’t possibly imagine.

4. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Philip II of Spain.

5. What is the trait you most deplore in others? A bullying nature.

6. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? You don’t have the time.

7. What is your greatest extravagance? My spirit.

8. What is your favourite journey? From the foot of Lonsdale Street in North Vancouver, east at Keith Road, then north up Grand Boulevard and into Lynn Valley.

9. On what occasion do you lie? Whenever I speak.

10. Where would you like to live? In the North Vancouver of my childhood.

11. Which historical figure do you most despise? Henry VIII.

12. Which living person do you most despise? George W Bush.

13. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? "Interesting."

14. What or who is the greatest love of your life? Daren’t say, because it is too embarrassing to me and would horrify the woman, now safely 3,000 miles away.

15. What is your greatest regret? Everything I have ever done.

16. When and where were you happiest? Wherever I was living before I became crippled with self-consciousness.

17. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? They’d be richer.

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I’d prefer not to be physically ugly.

19. What do you most value in your friends? Intelligence, insight, loyalty.

20. What is your principal defect? I don’t know when to quit—more to the point, when not to begin.

21. What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes? Dying in a state of mortal sin.

22. What would you like to be? Detached.

23. What natural gift would you like most to possess? Charm.

24. To what faults do you feel most indulgent? Failure.

25. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Sincerity or "good intentions."

26. In what country would you like to live? Pre-1967 Canada.

27. What do you consider your greatest achievement? N/A.

28. What do you regard as the lowest depths of misery? Separation from God.

29. What is your most treasured possession? My good health.

30. What is your most marked characteristic? Wilfulness.

31. What is the quality you most like in a man? Manliness.

32. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Femininity.

33. Who is your favourite hero of fiction? John Strickland (A Married Man, Piers Paul Read).

34. Who are your heroes in real life? Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

35. How would you like to die? In a state of grace.

36. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, who or what do you think it would be? N/A.

37. If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? N/A.

38. What is your favourite: colour, flower, bird and occupation? Navy blue, carnation, duck, independent man of means.

39. Who are your favourite writers, composers, painters, and poets? Evelyn Waugh, Jean Sibelius, Velazquez, Roy Campbell.

40. What is your motto? "You can never go too far" (Ferris Bueller).

Kevin Michael Grace, 5.51 pm, 2 July 2005

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

I know we’re all pretty small in the big scheme of things, and I suppose the most you can hope for is to make some kind of difference. But what kind of difference have I made? What in the world is better because of me?…

I am weak, and I am a failure. There’s just no getting around it. Relatively soon, I will die. Maybe in 20 years, maybe tomorrow. It doesn’t matter. Once I am dead and everyone who knew me dies too, it will be as though I never even existed. What difference has my life made to anyone? None that I can think of. None at all.
—Warren Schmidt, About Schmidt, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor

Kevin Michael Grace, 12.59 am, 2 July 2005

POETRY CORNER

Spleen

I’m like the King of some damp, rainy clime,
Grown impotent and old before my time,
Who scorns the bows and scrapings of his teachers
And bores himself with hounds and all such creatures.
Naught can amuse him, falcon, steed or chase:
No, not the mortal plight of his whole race
Dying before his balcony. The tune,
Sung to this tyrant by his pet buffoon,
Irks him. His couch seems far more like a grave.
Even the girls, for whom all kings seem brave,
Can think no toilet up, nor shameless rig,
To draw a smirk from this funereal prig.
The sage who makes him gold, could never find
The baser element that rots his mind.
Even those blood-baths the old Romans knew
And later thugs have imitated too,
Can’t warm this skeleton to deeds of slaughter,
Whose only blood is Lethe’s cold, green water.

Charles Baudelaire (translated by Roy Campbell)

Kevin Michael Grace, 12.33 am, 2 July 2005

MY CANADA DAY

Was spent with Jay Currie and then with him and his delightful wife Susan and their handsome children Max and Sam. They were, as always, too kind, and I am most grateful for their hospitality.


Max and Sam Currie: Charming children

Kevin Michael Grace, 11.30 pm, 1 July 2005

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY (SPECIAL ANGLOSPHERE EDITION)

On the great battlefields of marriage and the family, education and culture, morality and law, the Tories have been utterly outmanoeuvred and bypassed. Because they did not fight, they cooperated in the destruction of their own electorate. To this day, they have no idea why it is that they are so despised by the young, and their wretched attempts to toady to fashion—in such areas as civil partnerships for homosexuals—manage to offend or puzzle their supporters while utterly failing to convince their opponents that they are genuine. It would be perfectly all right to be the Nasty Party if they knew why it was necessary to be nasty and meant it. Millions long for a truly Nasty government, that will be thoroughly horrid to the wicked, the criminal and the dishonest, and to the European Union. But to be Nasty without meaning to is worse than useless. And to be Nice about these things is to let down the besieged, oppressed, vandalized, burgled, mugged people of Britain.
—Peter Hitchens, "Conservatives Do Not Have A Party," Spectator, 18 June 2005

Kevin Michael Grace, 10.54 am, 1 July 2005

LIVE AND LEARN

Hyperlinking is a pain, but one does discover interesting things as a result. (My most overused word: "interesting.") I had not known, for instance, before I linked to his short Wikipedia biography, that Toronto Star columnist Richard Gwyn was Catholic. I suspected it, as Richard Gwyn is also the name of a saint, one of the Forty English and Welsh Martyrs canonized in 1970. (Included in this group is my great hero Saint Edmund Campion.) But I doubted it, as Gwyn has never really given off much of a whiff of Papism. One develops a nose for this, just as Jews can sniff out other Jews, Calvinists other Calvinists, etc. 

I had not even known that Gwyn was British (Welsh, to be precise). His accent was always singular (and his haircut strange), but Canadian speech west of Quebec was not always bland and uniform. It turns out Gwyn was educated at Stonyhurst, the Jesuit public school (some famous alumni: Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Laughton, Cardinal Vaughan, Monsignor Bruce Kent, General Vernon Walters, Paul Johnson, Charles Sturridge) and then at Sandhurst. 

I rather lost touch with Gwyn's columns after Conrad Black sold out to CanWest and non-in-house opinion was banished from the Southam papers. I almost always disagreed with Gwyn, but I respected him as a decent exponent of Liberalism. You know, the good old days, before Liberalism became synonymous with moral cretinism and outright gangsterism. Gwyn impressed me with his assertion that Remembrance Day has become the de facto national holiday, Canada Day being given over to celebration of the immigrant.

Further research revealed that Gwyn has been chancellor of St Jerome's University since 2002, so his Catholicism is more than nominal. Not that "Catholic" reveals much useful about religious belief anymore; the designation is as amorphous as "Anglican" and almost as much so as "Protestant." Gwyn confirms his Papism in an April column about John Paul II, but due to his characteristically gnomic style, it is difficult to discern his opinion of the late Pope. 

Comic highlight of the evening: my introduction to St Jerome's website. This ain't your granddad's parochial school!  It's about reason and passion and tradition and wonder. And I wonder how much they paid for that slogan. It is now universal, apparently, for Canadian universities to believe they can separate themselves from the herd with the oh...so...dramatic! use of buzzwords. Final new knowledge of the day: "St. Jerome's is also the centre for a vibrant Catholic community serving the campus and the region." Steve Sailer wrote it down first, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to claim co-discovery of the insight that "vibrant" (and all variations thereof) is always coterminous with aggressive bogosity.

Kevin Michael Grace, 12.34 am, 1 July 2005

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