Media Round-up / Retrospective of Paul Fussell (1924-2012) / Ethical Oil / Over- and Under-reported media stories / This week’s game: Portmanteau Titles (examples: “Erin Go Brockovich” “To Kill Two Mockingbirds with One Stone”) — submit your entries.
A STRAIGHT-SHOOTING bureaucrat will admit that procurement processes are often initiated with the final selection a foregone conclusion. If you know in advance what you need, and you furthermore know who’s most qualified to deliver, then formalities intended to promote transparency and accountability are at best inconveniences to circumnavigate — and every public servant knows well how to steer that ship. That this occurs regularly within the bureaucracy is an open secret.
NEWS OF THE Bagram Air Base Quran burnings, and the riots which have followed, reproduced the usual concern that perhaps no amount of evident contrition would prevent a violent response. Here is an illustration of the root of this anxiety, from a Reuters article of February 22: “Critics say Western troops often fail to grasp the country’s religious and cultural sensitivities. Muslims consider the Koran the literal word of God and treat each book with deep reverence.”
ON DECEMBER 23, 2011, Ontario Superior Court Justice the Honourable Alan C. R. Whitten rendered his verdict in the case of a vicious beating in Caledonia of builder Sam Gualtieri, by defendant and Six Nations resident Richard Smoke. The judgement has received only a smattering of press attention, most of it issuing from the National Post. My feeling is that there ought to be more attention paid, but of a sort which begins by acknowledging universal failure and the urgent need to do something constructive before southern Ontario becomes a Gaza strip of AK-47-wielding Warriors, rock throwing children, and the Canadian army. If you think this is a dramatic and paranoid fantasy, then you are simply one of the many sleep-walking Canadians who has forgotten (or never bothered to notice) that such a thing has already happened. There is no reason at present to conclude it can’t happen again.
IN AZAR NAFISI’S book, “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” the act of removing the veil is a metaphor for transitioning from the world of black-and-white into colour, and of shedding the state-imposed self to be liberated into one’s authentic, willed identity. “Black and white” is itself a good description of the cruel and stupid absolutism imposed upon Iran by the Velayat-e faqih, its antithesis colour indicating the actual and liveable world of vibrant diversity: irony, dialectic, humour, uncertainty, skepticism and multiplicity — whether in literary, moral, or political matters. In the “clash of civilizations,” the West is on the polychromatic side of the ledger against the monochrome despotisms.
THOSE OF YOU who know me only through these sometimes-prickly writings of mine — which is to say you don’t know me at all — may be surprised by my claim that I’m as a rule a docile and muted and even agreeable fellow. I’m provoked now and again — and the yearly occurrence of Black Friday is one of those occasions. I don’t much care for this late, absurd, and phony non-event, which promotes the rotten and rot-inducing ideas that our highest calling subsists in being a consumer, and that everything depends upon one’s subservience to this duty.
A PASSIVE listener of CBC radio as I am (it is on when my partner is home, and off when she isn’t), I first heard of the Government’s surveillance of native youth advocate Cindy Blackstock via the programThe Current.
UPON FIRST encountering him in 1992, I detected on the Arkansas governor and would-be President an unpleasant aroma. Even now I am astonished by the high regard of the man’s verbal performances, which have always struck my ears as maudlin and second-rate. Before William Jefferson Clinton, in the parade of the over-rated and “charismatic,” we find that other infamous liberal womanizer, Mr. John Fitzgerald Camelot: and now it appears we have added to this gross patrilineage the former Mr. Godfather, Herman Cain.
ABOVE THE fold of October 4th’s Globe and Mail there was featured a piece by the fine journalist Steven Chase, “Military intelligence unit keeps watch on native groups.” A more candid and accurate phrasing (Chase, not a writer given to mealy-mouthing, is not responsible for the headline) would be “Canada is spying on indigenous people.”
It wasn’t long ago that one would hear it said the world will be a different place when women are in charge. But then came the masculine regimes of Indira Gandhi — from whom a politician as dirty and ruthless as Richard Nixon recoiled — and Margaret Thatcher. From then forward, the essentialist claim that female leadership is distinct from its male counterpart could be put forward only with laboured qualifications and irony.