Ink & Paper

Saturday, April 23, 2005



God-dang, I just found out that I have parent-teacher interviews on Sunday after skool. Boo.

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An excellent article about the impending peak of world oil production and the subsequent issues facing humanity as production decline.

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Back in Kuwait, 54 days, 12 hours to go as of this moment. I had a good flight and came home to find out that my roomate Marc found 24 dead cockroaches in his bathroom when he returned from his trip. Lovely. I hate this place.

But I am doing ok, jet lagged a little, and just wanting to get the ball rolling again. I miss Megan a lot right now. And I miss Monday, the apartment seems empty without her around. Not nearly as much hair wafting about though, so that is a positive.

I really enjoyed my time back in Canada and it was really a bitch to get on the plane again to leave for Kuwait. Everytime I am set to return to Kuwait I almost bail. I would have this time too, save for the money and the short time period.

So Megan, with lots of appreciated help, will be moving into the place in Red Deer soon. Which means that I have a home. I have been feeling that for the past 4 or 5 months, since Megan moved out of the Whyte Ave apartment, that I have essentially been homeless. I have my place here in Kuwait, but this isn't home, its just some place I sleep while the clock ticks. So to have a place, even though it is a ways away, is comforting to me in some way. I dunno.

Lastly, for this post anyway, I want to acknowledge the fact that Megan has just completed her last ever physio placement, meaning that she is done-diddily-done Flanders with her physio program. She has to write the national exam, but for all intents and purposes she is a full-on physio now. 8 years of study, 2 degrees, a very high GPA, and she is only 25. Congratulations Megan, I am so very proud of you, as is everyone else. I am a lucky man.

Until later....

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A letter my brother wrote to Red's at West Edmonton Mall. Sorry for the delay Jeff.

I am a 23 year-old educated man, who also happens to be a fan of Alexisonfire. While watching their show on April 14th (and many other shows at your establishment), I was appalled by the excessive force used by your 'security'. While there will always be a few out-of-control kids, the majority of kids who go to a show like this one are there for a good time and are not hurting anybody. However, when your security guards are putting people in headlocks, arm bars, and using general excessive force, it does the exact opposite - it leads to more out-of-control kids, not less. These are the methods your security guards have taken for years.

I'm sure you've heard this complaint before, but when your security starts using force on the musicians who play there (without provocation), it is a different story. Perhaps you should check the Alexisonfire website (
www.theonlybandever.com) to hear what they have to say about the incident. Think of the financial repercussions your security's actions are having, and will continue to have, on your establishment. Those are two (maybe three, including the Fullblast) bands who will never play your venue ever again; these are bands who have a rabid fanbase who will also not support Red's anymore after last night's incident.

You can throw all the stats at me you want - about how you may have the least amount of injuries, lowest insurance, and so forth. The fact of the matter is, your reputation as a show venue is plummeting. I know numerous hardcore music fans that boycott your venue because of instances such as these. I will now do the same.

I am not a bitter, angry teenager. I am a grown man telling this to you for your own benefit as a businessman: get better, smarter, and less aggressive security. Make sure people know about it. Your profits will increase, I guarantee it. But until I (and many others) see steps to make these changes, I will not be supporting your venue in any way, shape, or form.
Thanks for your time.

Jeff Archibald

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Thursday, April 21, 2005



I don't have too much to say today. I really do not want to go back to Kuwait, not after seeing all the little things that make Canada home. If I wasn't going to average a paycheck every 11 days, I would be skipping my flight. So I guess I can be bought.

Only 56 or so more days to go, but what passes as 56 days here seems to take a lot longer in Kuwait. The temperature for Sunday, my first day back at teaching, is supposed to be a lovely 39 degrees. The only consolation is that I don't have to walk the dog in that heat.

So suck it up, I'm almost done, keep on trucking, etc etc, I have heard all the suggestions. I'll be fine, but would rather not have to see mounds of garbage and a scorching climate. What really sucks is that Megan in going to be in our new place in Red Deer as of May 1, which is only a week or so away. I want to be there, that is where my life is now, where my life is going to be for the forseeable future. Going back to Kuwait just seems to be like driving to Vancouver via Montreal.
I've been meaning to mention that Megan is moving on May 1, which is a Sunday, from Edmonton to Red Deer. She could use some help, and Jay is providing the beer and pizza to all those hardy souls who show up. It should be a relatively easy move, as most of our stuff is in storage at the U-Haul on 17st and 76ave in Edmonton, and as such would only need to be loaded onto the truck from there. A quick stop in Beaumont is needed too. If you can help either in Edmonton or Red Deer (as some people are coming up from Calgary to help unload) or both, we would both be very appreciative. So would Dog Monday, who you may just get to meet. So if you can pitch in, great. Call Megan at 910-7344 and she'll give you the low-down.

Anyway, I land in Kuwait on Friday night (Kuwait time), so I'll put up a post or two over the weekend, keep you all loyal. It was good seeing people this past week and a big thanks to Dacia and Matt for letting me mooch free sleeps at their house in Airdrie. I'll see you all in a little while.

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From the CBC....

U.S. House poised to pass Alaskan oil drilling

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Controversial legislation to allow oil drilling in an Alaskan wildlife refuge looks likely to pass in the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday after the failure of a Democratic move to stop it.

On Wednesday night, Republicans defeated an amendment that would have taken the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling plan out of a broader energy bill. The vote was 231-200.
A final vote on the omnibus energy bill is expected Thursday.


There's no guarantee that the drilling plan will go any further, however. Two times in the past four years, the Senate has quashed measures allowing drilling after the House of Representatives approved them.


Democrats have long accused the Bush administration of ignoring conservation concerns in the area, which is home to polar bears, caribou and other forms of wildlife, while letting oil companies rake in billions of dollars in profits.

Republicans say the drilling is necessary because the nation is becoming too dependent on imported oil from volatile countries around the world. They also point to the need to find new sources of oil to deal with rising prices for crude.

The refuge area could produce a million barrels a day, sponsors of the bill said.

Other provisions in the legislation will provide tax breaks worth more than $8 billion US over the next decade, primarily to promote the production of energy from oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear sources.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005



Two stories that speak volumes about how the US may be written up in future history textbooks. Anyone for Denmark?

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From the CBC...

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Paul Martin, whose Liberal government continues to draw heat over the sponsorship scandal, will address the country on Thursday....The Prime Minister's Office said he will speak about the sponsorship program and the current situation in Parliament at 7:45 p.m. ET.....The address will be broadcast live on CBC Newsworld and on CBC Radio.

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In the past two weeks we have seen the rise of what the mainstream media has called the "New Asian Nationalism", fueled by protests in China against Japan. Most of these protests have centered around the approval by the Japanese government of a school textbook that, Chinese critics charge, obscures Japan's wartime atrocities against Chinese people in the 1930s, when Japan was flexing it's imperial muscle.

While these protests are alarming, they in themselves are rather insignificant, akin to a city having some small surges of violence after a local sports victory, i.e. a championship of some kind. One year later, most people will have forgotten what happened. But these protests are indicative of the rising power that Asian countries have and want to acquire. Two or three dogs in a very small kennel, if you will.

Japan has been a major economic player for some time now, and is struggling with the idea that China, who has been a poor giant in recent history, is now challenging Japan's big-dog status in Asia. South Korea and India are players in this game of international chess as well, but neither have the conjoined history that China and Japan do.

No one, save for the Japanese official line, remains unaware of the wartime atrocities that were committed by Japanese troops before and during WWII. Japan has steadfastly glossed over this lamentable part of their past, much like Canada has done with its past treatment of Japanese Canadians during WWII. Germany is far ahead of Japan when it comes to acknowledging the evils that have been done in their country's name. Japan has yet to come forth with an official apology for their treatment of various Asian peoples during WWII, leading to a festering wound that flares up from time to time.

However, China, as most know, does not have a glorious record of human rights in their past either, and unlike Japan, continues to oppress various countries (Tibet), religions (Falun Gong), and movements (democracy, whatever that is nowadays), all the while leading the world in the number of crimminal executions for this past year. While Japan has failed to atone for their past, China is failing to atone for their present.

So what do these little demonstrations mean, in the long run? While China has pledged to manage their explosive growth in a peaceful manner (provided Taiwan plays along nicely), they are demonstrating via these allowed demonstrations, that they are willing to let a sense of nationalism grow and ferment. In a nation that has far more men than women, a historical indicator of future aggression, China is sending an early signal to the world that while they want to play nice, they are the vying for the top spot in Asia and are willing to flex a little muscle, throw a little intimidation around, to get their way.

Japan's foreign minister was in China a few days ago, seeking a formal apology for these demonstrations. He didn't get it, a diplomatic equivalent to a kick in the nuts. Japan is upset now, both over the ongoing demonstrations, but also over the refusal to apologize.

Perhaps Japan is truly upset because of two other reasons. Reason one is that they can see their hegemony in Asia is nearing an end, rather quickly fading from a strong first place finish to a distant second. It is a tough thing to admit that no matter what actions you now take, you will probably still lose out in the end. Perhaps a bit of sour grapes, if you will.

Reason two has more of a mirror quality. Perhaps Japan is upset with China's economic-imperialistic visions of Asia because such desires hit a little too close to home for Japan, a scratching of an old wound that Japan, loathe to acknowledge, wishes would just go away. Japan sees China about to accomplish what Japan failed to do militarily 65 years ago. And it stings, hits a little too close to home. Japan may not want to look in the mirror because it may just be too obvious that China is much like Japan was, and it is hard to hate something that you yourself stood for not so long ago.

Frankly, the world is going to have to start playing by China's rules soon, if it hasn't already done so. Japan, as friendly as they are to western interests, is not the Asian country that we should be betting on in the 21st century. Like them or loathe them, China is the horse to bet on, and we will have adjust to the fact that there will be a third division of power in the world, adding China to the US and Europe to create what unfortunately emulates the world of Orwell's 1984, where three main forces are constantly at war or in alliance with each other. Whether or not this real world version can co-exist in peace or ravage itself in war remains to be seen, but I suspect that with over 1/6 of the world's current population, China will be able to demand and acquire pretty much anything they want in the years to come.

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India rejects HIV infection claim
BBC

The Indian government has dismissed a claim by an Aids expert that the country now has the most HIV-positive people in the world.


The claim was made by Richard Feachem of the Global Fund to Fight Aids. He says figures showing India having fewer cases than South Africa are wrong.

The United Nations says that South Africa has 5.3 million people infected with the Aids virus.
The Delhi government says there are 5.1 million cases in India.


However, independent experts say the number of people infected in India could be anywhere between 2.5 million and 8.5 million - because of the lack of reliable data here in relation to the HIV pandemic.

India's government-controlled National Aids Control Organisation (Naco) chief SY Qureshi told the BBC that Mr Feachem's claim was "nonsense".

"Our [Aids] surveillance systems are certified by the World Health Organisation, UN agency UNAids and the Indian Council of Medical Research [ICMR]. We stand by our figure of 5.1 million [infections]," Mr Qureshi said.

Mr Feachem, who is the executive director of Global Fund to Fight Aids, said in Paris on Tuesday that the epidemic in India was spreading rapidly and that nothing was being done to stop it.


Mr Qureshi strongly rejected his comments. "HIV/Aids is a serious problem [in India]. We are aware of the gravity of the situation and we have programmes to deal with it," he said.

But Indian and international groups working to prevent HIV/Aids have questioned the official figure.

Anjali Gopalan of the Naz Foundation, an non-government organisation working with HIV-infected people, said the statistics did not look reliable.

"We have seen the numbers of the infected grow rapidly. Each and every confirmed case hides at least two more. This means the number of infected could be as high as 15 million," she said.

The Global Fund to Fight Aids has committed more than $3bn to 300 programmes in 127 countries for combating HIV/Aids, TB and malaria.

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So they picked a new pope, Benedict the XVI. That's 16th for you heathens. Formerly Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, this just-turned 78 year old German was apparently a front runner all the way through. He has been painted as a very conservative doctrinist who enforced the Vatican's decrees on the churches of the world.

It was interesting to hear the descriptions of him, as the media was scrambling to fill the time with relevant information. While he is apparently a well-known conservative in the church, the immediate spin I noticed from people CBC was interviewing was that he has a dry sense of humour, is open to dialogue, very caring and sympathetic with youth, and is a humble man.

While I have no reason to doubt this is true, it struck me as a little over the top, as if the people being interviewed (priests, sisters, theologians) knew that some marketing was in order to appease the liberal wing of the Church who will see this appointment as a regression in Chruch policy. He was also painted as a close confidant of JP II, which he was, and this led to the speculation that the Church will not deviate too much from the leanings of the last pope.

He is also 78 years old, much older than JP II was when he was elected pope. No doubt this is to ward off another 25+ year reign. He is said to be in excellent health, still very much a sharp intellectual, etc etc. But at that age it does not take much to experience a turn for the worse. So we may see another pope in less than 10 years. As well, there is no way a man of his age will be able to travel as much as JP II did during his tenure, which could create a void of sorts in places like Africa and Latin America, where the growing numbers of Catholics had regular visits from JP II. Benedict XVI will be hard pressed to live up to the "People's Pope."

The brother sent me this link, which seems to be a well-researched critique of Pope Benedict XVI, but as always take it with a grain of salt. Only time will tell what changes, if any, the new Pope will bring, but he does have many pressing issues, including the issue of birth control and AIDS prevention in Africa, one of the few places that Roman Catholicism is experiencing growth.
I also wonder how this conservative pope will be viewed in Washington. We are all aware of the bush doctrine on such issues as same-sex marriage, abortion, birth control, and other issues the Church sees as relevant. I suspect that there is much to be happy about in Washington, as they may feel they have a moral ally in Rome now, something they appreciate after getting the bruch off from JP II on the Iraq war.

Anyway, that is the big news of the day. I'll post more later on today, once I get a chance to read the news.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005



Ok, I've been a little slack on the news analysis front lately, so here ya go...

From Media Matters for America, a solid analysis of an article Time did about that nutjob Ann Coulter.

And more from our Darth Vader-in-waiting hero Tom DeLay, who said last week the House majority leader (DeLay) called for an investigation of the federal judges in the Terri Schiavo case, saying ominously: "We set up the courts. We can unset the courts." NY Times

Yes, excellent. Let's take a system that, while not perfect, has performed relatively well (from my layman's perspective anyway) and let it be ripped apart and put back together by a select few people who are so sure of their righteousness that they claim the war on terror is not a misunderstanding. It is not an opportunity for negotiation or dialogue. It's a battle between good and evil, between the Truth of liberty and The Lie of terror. This war is the moral extension of World War II and the Cold War, and like the Nazis, fascists, and Communists before them, the terrorists are going to lose.

What a moron. There are so many historical oversights in this quote that I don't know where to begin. If someone is this ignorant, or willing to twist history any old time it suits their needs, then the idea of him threatening to "unset" the courts in order to get ideological judges onto the bench makes me really fear for the future of American democracy and civil rights.

Blame Canada. This is how we are portrayed by the NY Times with regards to seemingly endless charade of dishonesty that is coming from the Gomery inquiry. Grain of salt though, as the article is written by David Frum.

"I love Canada: It's so clean!" Visiting Americans may be about to lose their favorite cliche about their chilly neighbor. Over the past few weeks, a judicial inquiry in Montreal has heard charges that Canada's governing Liberal Party was running a system of extortion, embezzlement, kickbacks and graft as dirty as anything Americans might expect to find in your run-of-the-mill banana republic.

Together, the opposition Conservative and Bloc Quebecois parties could force an election call at any time. Opinion polls suggest that if an election were held now, the Liberals would lose decisively.*

From World War II until the 1980's, Liberal power rested on two political facts: its dominance in French-speaking Quebec and its popularity in the immigrant communities of urban Ontario.
Over the past two decades, however, the Liberals' Quebec-plus-the-cities strategy has worked less and less well.


*Just an editorial note to say that the Liberals would not lose "decisively" as Frum misleadingly claims. At best, current polls suggest a Conservative minority government, winning no more than 35% of the seats.

I was listening to Rex Murphy on CBC Radio One's Cross Country Checkup this past Sunday and remember a caller making a very interesting point. If the Conservatives and the Bloc unite to topple the Liberal minority government, most current polls show that we would end up with a Conservative minority government. As such it is entirely conceivable that we could have an election in 2005 and, if a minority Conservative party were to be formed, another in 2006, as minority governments rarely last longer than a year and a half.

Now it may be that the Liberals need to have their asses handed to them and be booted from government. I surely will not defend their rampant mismanagement of the country's finances. But I wonder if Canadians are going to be able to muster enough enthusiasm for 3 elections in three years, if the above scenario comes true. Voter turnout has been falling every election, and I suspect that people will just say "the hell with it, even when I vote it all goes sideways 6 months later."

If we do end up going to the polls again, and again, one must wonder what we will look like in the eyes of our peers. From such a stable country to one that seemingly is beginning to emulate Italian politics is not a reputation I think we would be proud of. I don't want this to be seen as some pro-Liberal, keep the status quo arguement. Instead let us consider the turmoil and potential voter apathy that could come from having elections more often than Christmas.

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Monday, April 18, 2005



Back in Airdrie after a good but hectic weekend. Lotsa running around and visiting, but it was what I expected and was certainly appreciated as I saw some friendly faces. Also saw Jeff's face. Ugh.

Good turnout at the Trapp on Saturday night, as some of us stayed until they turned the lights on, something that I haven't done in a loooooong time. Fell asleep on the way home after a little too much grog, yet woke up in the morning feeling fine. Megan woke up with a headache, which I attributed to her pounding of Coke and water all night long. She was not impressed.

Anyway, just relaxing for the rest of the week. I found out that I don't have to teach this Saturday, as it is some prophets birthday or something. I tried to change my ticket to stay an extra night but no deal, as they didn't have room on the flights. Oh well, kinda crappy, but I'll live.

You'll notice that I updated the countdown on the left hand side of the page. Those numbers now represent the amount of time until my flight takes off on June 17.

Its amazing to me just how normal everything is here, although I suppose normal is a relative term, somewhat subjective. But I was sitting with friends at the bar, having some drinks, and just amazed at the comfort I felt. It is just different in Kuwait, so different that having a 'sociable' with my friends now causes me to sit back and be somewhat amazed. I dunno if anyone will understand, but that is what I was thinking about on Saturday night. I was also thinking that I am going to have to call Cameron, after his wife was spotted dancing with another guy. Many times.*

Also finalized the Groom's side of the wedding party, as follows...

Best Man: Me (if I wasn't the best man there, why would Megan be marrying me?)
Best Man (backup): Jeff
Open Bar Abusers/Groomsmen: Todd, Cadrin, Al, Cross

Ideas that we came up with to make this wedding awesome and not TLC Wedding Story-dumb....

1. Dodgeball at the stag party
2. Barbershop redition of Kirk Van Houten's (Millhouse's dad) love song Can I Borrow a Feeling?
3. Smoke machine at the reception
4. Individualized entrance music for each groomsman. (i.e.- Al = It's Raining Men)
5. White adidas sneakers for the groom and his posse, with Run DMC playing in the background
6. Powder blue tuxes, cumberbunds, ruffled shirts, etc

All of these were personally approved of by Megan. This is true. Jeff was a witness.

Along with my bewilderment at seeing men and women who were not related to each other drinking alcohol together until late into the night, I was also struck by the efficiency of Canada. I will (probably) never complain about red tape again. I went into AMA to get my licence renewed, and was done in about 15 minutes. In Kuwait, this exercise has taken people I know up to 2 working days, including much time away from school and many visits to different departments. Much like the doggie passport story. Plus a charge of $250Cdn to maybe get it done. So paying $62.50 and 15 minutes of my life at AMA is a little mind-blowing for me right now.

Anyway, I'm kicking it old skool here in Airdrie for the next few days, and I fly out Thursday night around 5 or so. I'll blog here and there, so come back for a visit now and again. Thanks to all the people who came out on Saturday, it was great to see you all. And I'm usually super anti-social, so you know that my appreciation is heartfelt. Not Hallmark-heartfelt, cause I ain't no corporate whore sissy, but I was happy to see you all. Off I go now before X starts crying....

*Actually only danced once with him, and then came back to our table. But don't tell Cameron unless you are going to make it sound real hoochie. Keep on rocking Anna Bee!

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