Monday, October 30, 2006

New Links and Statistics:
I've added a few new links to this blog. Two of them are anarchist blogs, 'Presto's Ramblings' and 'To the Barricades'. Well worth checking out. Also in the 'Other Interesting Links' section is the 'Institute for Local Self Reliance'. This is an organization that, since 1974, has been promoting technologies,economics and political initiatives around the concept of not just "sustainable" but, more importantly, "local" alternatives to the present system. They have a wealth of publications that are well worth looking at.
As to statistics, here are a few quotes from 'The Quote Garden' ( ), soon to be added to the links.
"Torture numbers, and they'll confess to anything"
-Gregg Easterbrook
"98% of statistics are made up"
-Author unknown
"Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital"
-Aaron Levenstein
"Statistics can be made to prove anything, even the truth"
-Author unknown
"Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable"
-Author unknown
"Then there is the man who drowned crossing a stream with an average depth of six inches"
-W.I.E. Gates
"There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up"
-Rex Stout
"The average human being has one breast and one testicle"
-Des McHale
And then the inevitable political clinchers:
"The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic"
-Good Ol' Uncle Joe Stalin to Churchill at Potsdam, 1945
Finally, not from 'The Quote Garden', and said by Churchill at a totally different time,
even though it would have stood as the "great rejoiner of history" if it had been said in reply:
"The only statistics you can trust are those you have falsified yourself"
-Winston Churchill
That's it for now. More fun with quotations later.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Tales From The Little Stalin Cottage,
We stayed in Praha for about a week. The occasion was an international conference of the WSAVA, and, of course, we stayed in the cheapest hotel recommended by the Association. This was mistake #1. It's easy for me to avoid these "recommendations" in a country that speaks English or French, and I've always done such. I can get a cheap hotel easy in such a situation, but here I am depending on an international veterinary association. This was a "screw-around" in Granada en Espana, and it was a screw-around here as well. It wasn't bad in Rodos in Greece only because you simply can't go wrong in Rodos.
In any case we got off the plane in Praha and were approached by a shark taxi driver. The equivalent of $80 Canadian later we were deposited at the 'Opatov Twin'. You walk up to the door, and the first thing you notice is that they have an ad for the nearest detox centre displayed prominently to the right of the entrance. The hotel "catered" to a "student" crowd who seemed to be in town basically for kopana (soccer) games. All the lights in the hotel's neon sign were operating on the day that we arrived. This didn't last. Each day as we came back to the hotel another letter or 2 or 3 had burned out. It was similar at the parent hotel, the 'Opatov' around the corner. The last three or 4 days no lights were operating in the "Twin", and they were blinking out one by one in the main hotel. Nobody seemed to give a flying fuck.
We walked into the joint. No problem at the front desk, but there are a few stairs to carry your heavy luggage up to get to the elevator. We get there. The "students" are having a great time. The "halls" are covered with graffiti to the 7 foot high level. The elevator was completely covered, right up to and on the ceiling. I'm into my "come into my personal space and I'll kill you" mode.
We pass out of the elevator to more graffiti, hallways that have cheap paneling held up with cheaper glue (ie falling off the base) and finally get to the room. We pass a stairway that says "out of order" in Czech. How can a set of stairs be "out of order" ? I don't know. I tried to get in to see what the problem was, but the door was locked solid.
The room was truly bizarre. You enter and there is a short hallway. One door that creaks like the main gate to Dracula's Castle leads into the bedroom. This, like another door leading to another room containing one very stained cot and nothing else, has an opaque glass upper portion. The veneer is even less attached to the walls in the room than it is to the walls in the halls. The toilet is separated from the washroom by a panel about 1 cm thick.
We finally got some sleep. When I wake up and my head is clear I finally figure out what this building was before it became an "hotel". This was an office building during the days of Communism, and the ghosts of a billion scraps of paper are haunting the place. Actually I think they rendered them, added a little brown dye, and made them into the veneer that coats the walls. Speaking of "rendering" all the rooms of the hotel were decorated (?) with framed pictures of old maps. This wasn't just the guest rooms, but also every other room in the building. I wonder where they found the remainders sale.
Like all things the aspect of the "hotel" falls into place given a little time. The clincher, however, was coming back one night. Another veterinarian, from Honduras of all places, got off at the same subway stop that we did. She joined up with us in the trek through the field to reach our lodgings. Yak,yak. Turns out that she was chilled by the local scene as well, and she was very grateful to have company in getting to her room. What is impressive about this is that Honduras is perhaps the most crime ridden country in Central America. If the building in Praha can chill her it can chill anybody.
Perhaps I'm just too stupid to be scared, but I don't think that the lodgings were particularly dangerous. Nowhere in the Czech Republic is. Just very sad.
So this was our stay as the "maly Stalin domek", loosely translated as "the little Stalin cottage". My guess is that a "convert" from the old ruling class of aparatchiks picked the property up for a total of 10 kronas (about 40 cents) and a half full bottle of beer when the old rulers became the new rulers. The owner obviously has no interest in maintaining the place. As long as it brings in a little money it's best ignored.
The subways of Praha, however, were great. But more about this later.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Toilet Paper and Civilization:
A travel writer that I have read remarked that the level of civilization of a country could easily be measured by its availability of public toilets. In his view this meant that Byelorussia was somewhere back in the Hyrcanian age. If they have "pay as you pee" toilets there, I'm sure that they have Conan rather than a Baba watching the door.
I'd like to offer an alternative index- the toilet paper scale. I've mentioned the stuff in the Czech Republic already. Basically coarse grade sandpaper. The materials were a bit better in Austria. Still from recycled paper, but the paper manufacturering process was a grade above "lightly chewed". I was swearing to myself that this sort of thing couldn't happen in Italia. I was wrong in one way. There are still some pay as you pee toilets here in Venezia, but a heck of a lot less than Austria or Czech Republic. The toilet paper is, however, on a much more civilized scale, fit for human use. I wasn't wrong there when I couldn't imagine an Italian torturing their hind end with the stuff available in the other two countries. It gives another meaning to 'la dolce vita'.
Anyways, enough of the scatological tour of Europe. More civilized comments are still to come.
Molly from Venezia

Monday, October 16, 2006

For anybody who's interested the Museum of Communism has a website. It's . I've finally figured out how to use the international keyboard. About time. So here's a little calligraphy that means nothing.
More when I get some sleep.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Presently at the train station in Praha heading out to Wien. More when we arrive. Goddamn International keyboard.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

We're due to leave Praha for Wien tomorrow. Lot's of interesting stuff in this city. Many tales to tell for later. Off to see The Castle (shades of Kafka) this PM. The only great annoyance is the "pay as you piss policy" of most public washrooms. Most have an old Baba guarding the door to the can. The price varies from crapper to crapper, and the price bears no relationship to the quality of the facilities. The toilet paper looks for an entrepreneur to start importing the real stuff to this country.
The best incident was desperately !!!! searching for a non-upscale toilet in Wencelas Square one evening. Finally, I find one in a McDonald's. Fumble,fumble with the coins. The cost was 5 koruna (only about20 cents actually). My surprise- the Baba hands me a coupon redeemable in the restaurant. So........I got a coupon for shitting in McDonald's. Above the Big M is (literally) The Museum of Communism. I think that this says it all about why the commies lost. The commies provided subsidized toilet paper for the masses, paper that still exist today. I imagine that the whole lot was (over)produced in some factory in Irkutsk in 1973. But you'd never get a coupon for taking a dump from the commies. They may, however, have distributed free coupons that entitled the comrade to one free dump every third day. Need it or not.

Friday, October 06, 2006

In Homage to Clio:
In contradiction to the beliefs of modern "neo-pagans" who never bother to examine things too closely the mythology of Greece was a rather fluid thing. It varied with location and with time. Some beliefs were not just "different" from others but in total contradiction to them. One of the beliefs that changed through time is the mythology of the 'Muses' . In one version these are the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (one version of "memory" in Greek). At first there were only 3 Muses who were worshipped at Mount Helicon in Boeotia. Three different versions were worshipped at Delphi. Finally there were nine Muses. These were the goddesses of the various arts and sciences. What follows is my tribute to Clio, the Goddess of History.
Why is Clio a great goddess ? Many have said that physics is the queen of the sciences. This is because of its accuracy, simplicity and beauty. Recent developments in "string theory" have thrown this regal status in doubt because a branch of physics has become no more meaningful than theology or post modernism. But the goal of physics still remains for the other sciences to strive for.
That is one "great goddess". What is the equivalent in the "social sciences" ? These fields of study are not yet "sciences" in the strict definition of the term whereby they present propositions that can be proven true or false (ie "falsified") in a more or less dispassionate dialogue. The "dialogue" of the social sciences is heavily ideological, even though it is being encroached upon in fields such as psychology, anthropology and economics by "real science". One can expect the ideologues to carry out a rear-guard action against reality in these disciplines for a few more decades until the old professors are all dead.
There are some academic disciplines that are so much ideological creatures that one can never expect them to be penetrated by reality. Political "science" ? Philosophy ? In a more neutral field, ethics ?
But there is one social science that has its own methods and views that can compare to the natural sciences. Clio is the Muse of History. history assumes that there were real events that actually happened, despite the protests of foolish post modernists. It is as based in reality as any natural science. Even what actually happened may be in dispute, but Clio sets outs ways of argument that can lead to an understanding of such disputes. As to "why" certain events happened the "way of Clio" is a much better guide to reality than any other "method" that has been proposed. It restricts explanation in a way that other social sciences do not. So called "sciences" that give a greater range to the imagination than any theology ever has.
Thus, I am a worshipper at the shrine of the Goddess Clio. She is the greatest of the Muses. Things seen in her light take on a different perspective from other lights.
Molly waiting for her flight.
Manuel II Palaiologus: Lived 1350- 1425: Byzantine Emperor 1391-1425.
Manuel Palaiologus was the next to last Byzantine Emperor. As such he has had a deservedly obscure place in history, an obscurity only recently disturbed by the ill fated quotation of this Emperor by Pope Benedict XVI, a quotation that has sparked a lot of anger amongst Muslims.
Perhaps it would be good to examine the actual record of Manuel to see exactly how much his actions lived up to his professions against "spreading faith by the sword". What follows here is the actual history of this emperor. Parental guidance is advised as facts tend to disturb the "version of reality" transmitted by good catholics to their children. The following will contain scenes of treachery, double dealing, hypocrisy and "holy falsehood". The reason why "byzantine" has become an adjective in the English language will become apparent. Given Benedict's use of this author perhaps "Benedictine" should become an adjective that refers to something other than chant or liquor.
The house of Palaiologus had been founded by Emperor Michael VIII who, in 1261, had driven the Crusaders from Constantinople which they had conquered during the Fourth crusade in 1204. Speaking of "spreading the faith by the sword" !. Manuel's father, John V(reign 1341-1391), had been a particularly ineffective Emperor. during his watch the Turks had crossed the Hellespont and conquered Thrace, Macedonia and finally Serbia at the battle of Kossovo (1389).
John V was continually casting about for allies to "spread or at least defend his own faith by the sword". In 1365/66 he journeyed to Hungary to seek support. Manuel accompanied him on this trip. In 1369 he travelled to other countries of Europe on a similar mission, but being as he was rather lax in paying his debts he was thrown into debtors' prison in Venice. Manuel paid his debts and ransomed him in 1371. John V was twice deposed, once by his son Andronicus IV and once by his grandson John VII. The Byzantine Empire consumed itself in civil war during this period. John Cantacuzenus was crowned as John VI in 1346 but had to abdicate in 1354. He spent the last 30 years of his life as a monk doing all sorts of holy contemplation and never realizing that the slaughter that brought him temporily to power wasn't the sort of "rational persuasion" that Benedict XVI supposedly advocates.
All well, all was forgiven more or less. The daughter of John VI became the wife of John V and mother of Manuel II. Are you confused yet ? Remember the word "byzantine". Manuel's older brother first rebelled against his father in 1373 and again, with the support of the Turkish Sultan Murad I (1362-1389) in 1376. Manuel and his father were imprisoned in the same tower where they had sent their son/brother to after the first rebellion. In 1379 the pair escaped and fled to the court of the Sultan. They managed to bribe him by the offer of higher tribute than Andronicus was paying, and they were restored to power by this "rational argument". The result of this deal was that Manuel found himself compelled-rationally of course- to confiscate half the property of the monasteries to pay the bills for his soldiers that were allied with the Turks for awhile. Spreading their faith, of course.
The Empire continued to disintegrate. The only success that John V achieved was to recover the Despotate of Morea in the Peloponnesus from the Cantacuzeni family in 1382. this was given to a third son, Theodore, to rule and pillage. From 1382 to 1387 Manuel was co-emperor in Thessalonika. Manuel gave many inspiring speeches about resistance but promptly fled shortly before the city fell in April 1387. The population of the city had no such privilege.
Sultan Bayazid I (1389-1402) skillfully played the "rational defenders" of the faith off against each other and installed John VII (son of Andronicus IV) on the Byzantine throne in April 1390. Manuel "rationally" fought his way into the city and expelled John VII on September 17th, 1390. He re-established his father as Emperor.
The "rational" wheeling and dealing around this event,however, was that Manuel was required to reside at the Sultan's court as a hostage. At that court he met his nephew John VII who was also a "guest" of the Sultan. From this time until February 1391 both pretenders to the imperial purple supported "rationally of course" the military campaigns of the Sultan. It was during this time that the supposed dialogues that Benedict quoted were supposed to have happened. The only proof of their reality is the word of Manuel.
On the death of John V both Manuel and John VII zipped out of the Sultan's care. Manuel won the race, and his solidified his position by marrying (Feb 10th, 1392) Helena Dragash, the daughter of the Serbian Prince Constantine of Serres. Manuel promptly began to "rationally" push his tiny weight around. He convinced the Metropolitan of Russia Cyprian that in the liturgy the Emperor should be named first. This incurred the wrath of Grand Prince Vasili I of Muscovy who said, "Church we have one, but emperor we have none".
The Sultan was, to say the least, not pleased with Manuel's pretensions. He exacted various concessions from Manuel and in 1394 began a siege of Constantinople that lasted until 1402. Before this he had summoned Manuel, John VII and the other brother Theodore as well as Prince Stephan Lazarevic of Serbia to his court. They were all eventually released, and only bother Theodore "rationally" took part in the Sultan's campaigns in Europe. He later escaped and "rationally" rejoined the Byzantine side.
Manuel realized that his little Empire was doomed without Western aid and thus he attempted to "not spread religion by the sword" by appealing for the swords of Pope Boniface IX and King Sigismund of Hungary. The Hungarian King launched a crusade ,"to rationally spread the faith without swords" in 1396. This ended with the defeat of the Hungarians at the battle of Nicopolis on Sept 25th, 1396. Manuel then attempted to sell Byzantium to Venice, but the most serene republic had other plans. Manuel appealed, "rationally" of course, to the Pope, The Doge of Venice, the Kings of France, England and Aragon and the Grand prince of Muscovy. he tried again to sell Byzantium, this time to the French King. he got no takers for this fool's bargain.
He had,however, better success with his bargaining with the Mongol Tamerlane, though Tamerlane hardly needed the alliance with Byzantium in his plans for the conquest of the Sultanate. Sultan Bayazit was defeated the Turks at the Battle of Ankara in 1402. At this time Manuel was touring western European courts in hope of gaining allies for a new crusade to -I suppose- "rationally argue against the Turks without spreading the faith by the sword". The Emperor partly bought his political support by promises and occasional delivery of "sacred relics" from Byzantium. This isn't as irrational as it seems. The "little finger of Saint X" was, at that time a real economic asset. Think early tourist industry.
Manuel responded to the lifting of the siege of Constantinople due to the victory of Tamerlane by composing an imaginative and spiteful drama detailing the plight of the captured Sultan with about as much imaginary dialogue as he put into his supposed dispute when he was the guest of the Sultan. News of this propaganda piece and various presents were sent to Tamerlane. He responded with the laconic demand that the previous tribute paid to the Sultan should now be paid to him.
Meanwhile the God fearing princes of western Europe had persuaded Manuel to make peace with his nephew John VII. This was a stroke of luck as John VII was able to negotiate some very advantageous treaties with the feuding sons of Bayazit who fought over the remains of the Turkish Sultanate. One of them, Suleiman, became a vassal of the Emperor. Manuel responded by agreeing to the treaty arranged by his nephew but insisting that John VII transfer to Thessalonika where he was isolated from the centre of power. Very "rational". Manuel skillfully played one Turkish pretender against the other, and the eventual winner was Mehmet I (1413-1421). This catspaw remained at peace with Byzantium even after the collapse of Timurlane's empire. Manuel later replaced his nephew as Despot of Thessalonika with his son Andronicus in 1408. He also installed his son Theodore II as Despot of Morea and, in1421, crowned his other son John as "Autokrator" ie co-Emperor.
Manuel's negotiations with the West, without which his tiny Empire couldn't exist continued. These were disturbed by the "Conciliar" movement afoot in the West which hoped to limit the pontiff's power and subordinate it to councils of the Church. Manuel supported the Papal party insofar as he was able and also tried to approach the Holy Roman Emperor with a proposal for "union" of the empires. This became a matter of serious "byzantine" intrigue as the Holy Roman Emperor, Sigismund of Luxembourg, was involved with a war against Venice which he expected Byzantium to give support to. It never happened.
By this time the 'Great Schism' was in full bloom within Catholicism. The Council of Constance was supposed to end the antagonism between the three different Popes of the time. It dropped the "Greek question" from its agenda in favour of more pressing matters. The imperial party was deeply disappointed as a strong "regal Papacy" was always much more to the advantage of Byzantium than a democratic council.
Manuel actually did one honourable deed in his double dealing life. In 1421 the Turks were at war with the Hungarians and Sultan Mehmet I requested permission to travel from Asia to Europe via Byzantium. Manuel rejected the plans of his advisers to murder the Sultan during transit. This was opposed by the war party within the byzantine court, led by Manuel's son John VIII. This son later bet on the wrong pretender to the Sultanate, Mustafa as opposed to Murat, now Murat II. Manuel's son John VIII married Sophia of Montferrat and this, along with the betrothal of the other son Theodore II to Cleopa Malatesta (aside to my anarchist comrades-I shit you not) held out the hope of Italian aid to Constantinople.
The latest Turkish siege of Constantinople failed. Manuel suffered a stroke on October 1st, 1422 and handed over the reigns of government to John VIII. Manuel's youngest son Andronicus went to Genoese controlled Pera and from there to to the Turkish court as pretender to the throne. In 1423 he sold Thessalonika to the Venetians who, in turn, lost it to the Turks in 1430. . In 1424 Sultan Murat imposed a treaty that once more required Byzantium to pay tribute. A trip by Manuel's son John to western Europe in 1423 had failed to gain the support of the Holy Roam Emperor who was engaged with the Bohemian Hussites at the time.
Manuel's instructions to his son were indeed truly byzantine. They essentially consisted of advocating delaying tactics vis-a-vis the West so that it might be conned into support without the promise of Church union. This was considerably more "rational" than the present pontiff's quotation of the emperor in support of the Church that Manuel always opposed. Manuel finally died on July 21, 1425. Throughout his reign Manuel exhibited great literary and political talent. his fanciful "Twenty-Six Dialogues with a Persian" are what Pope Benedict quoted. The actual real career of Manuel is, of course, in direct contradiction to his supposed ethics of not spreading the faith by the sword.
The word "byzantine" has to make its final appearance here. The attitude of the present Pontiff is a classic example of the attitude of the man that he quotes. He hopes to expand the range and power of his Church. Because the end justifies the means he will do anything in in pursuit of this goal. In his quotation he got caught with his pants down. He came close to expressing the truth. Since then he has retreated to the usual politics of the Catholic Church, with less credibility than before.
The embarrassment of the papacy gives me great pleasure. I only wish that some advocates of the politics that I espouse-anarchism- who continually disgrace the name by their antics could be caught in their "byzantine" theology as well.
Molly-shortly before vacation.
Still more local stuff:
I'm going to be on vacation soon so the frequency of posts here will plummet. I'll check in as often as I can via internet cafes,etc and post what I can.
I'll also try and check in on the local elections here from time to time. The latest is that the business and resident opposition group to the new Oly-West hog plant in Winnipeg's St. Boniface district has signed up a number of other organizations so as to show an "united front" against the plant. The plan, by the way, has been offered all sorts of goodies from both the province and the city, "goodies" that small producer coops would never get even though they can create far more employment per dollar spent (by a factor of 10 ?) than such a plant can. With, of course, no nuisance costs to the neighbours. A hog plant comes pretty well near the top of "nuisance costs".
Anyways, the opposition group has now signed up not just the Green Party (an expected event) but also the provincial Liberal Party to their coalition. They have also signed up a number of environmental and animal welfare groups such as the 'Save Our Seine Coalition' (the Seine is the river that flows through St. Boniface), the Winnipeg Humane Society and others. Some of these organizations actually have a base and aren't just the usual lefty house of cards supported by government grants.
The opposition to the plant has begun to endorse or oppose candidates on the basis of their stand around this issue. Some candidates for city council have been endorsed, and the traditional lefty candidate for Mayor, Cerrilli (see previous post) has also been endorsed for her stand. The clownish "fashion left" candidate Hasselriis has studiously avoided the issue. An interesting sideline is that there has been some backroom wheeling and dealing vis-a-vis candidate Dan Vandal's campaign in St. Boniface. Vandal is running against Mayor Sam Katz's favourite poodle, Franco Magnifico, and he is the supposed "lefty" candidate for the ward. Behind the scenes, however, the provincial NDP government, which supports the plant and is willing to "fertilize " it with all sorts of taxpayer dollars seems to have "leaned on" Vandal to distance himself from the opposition. The opposition has responded in kind by refusing him support.
All that I can say to the latter, as an ex-member of the NDP who quit in disgust over such conspiracies and lack of principle, is "good and double plus good".
Should I have the misfortune of living in the vicinity of the proposed plant I WOULD violate the anarchist strictures against voting and vote for a candidate opposed to the plant. Furthermore I would be part of the resident/business coalition. Living in perpetual stench is enough of an incentive to violate principle. I actually like the proposal to "build in in Tuxedo" (the affluent area of Winnipeg which has lots of available space). Anyways, lucky for me I don't live in St. Boniface so I remain a non-voter.
More local stuff:
Just got through the pile of newspapers. Found that one Graeme Voyer had written a review of Mark Leier's 'Bakunin:The Creative Passion' in the Oct. 1st 'Books' section of the Winnipeg Free Press. It's actually quite a fair review.
Also, there's a new post on the Winnipeg Indymedia site that says more about our beloved and bold supreme leader, Mayor Sam Katz. The title is 'Katz Cons City'.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Tip of the Hat to the Master:
In case anyone wonders where the "daily history" timeline that sometimes appears here, this is the story. It all essentially begins with David Brown's anarchist timeline at 'The Daily Bleed' (see the Links section). This is edited down for my interests and added to from some other various sources. Any (rare,rare,rare,rare !!!!) errors in The Bleed will hopefully be corrected in this process along with the other process. This is expansion as opposed to pruning. various matters are looked up and expanded from the original in The Bleed.
So let me take this opportunity to tip my hat to the original master of the anarchist timeline, David Brown, and encourage you to visit his site. Your interests may be very different from mine, and some things that I leave out may be quite interesting to you.
Also, one other item. I've added the Saskatoon Anarchy Blog to the blog section of the links. have a look.
Marley Said: "It is a long and ponderous chain that you have laboured on these many years"
Scrooge McMolly said,"Oooohhh!".
In Other Words....More Links
Additions to the links today include 4 blogs and one addition to the online library section. The latter item is 'A Selection of Modern Anarchist Writings by Women', and it comes from the Irish Workers' Solidarity site.
The blogs include two by Anna Anniston and 'No Gods No Masters'. There is also the 'Joey Only' "blog". Is it a blog ? Is it a website ? Is it an online library, in this case of Joey's Music?Have a look and decide for yourself.
Deleting Spam:
Just removed another comment that promises "shopping paradise" from one of the posts. This is only item #2. I will probably never remove a legitimate comment, no matter what it says, but the web bots ads are a very different matter.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Local Elections and Other Atrocities:
Winnipeg, along with the rest of Manitoba, will be holding its municipal elections this October 25th. Me...I will be out of town, and I can't say that I'm weeping big tears about the matter. The field for mayor of Winnipeg holds four candidates, all equally unappealing. The front runner and likely victor is the incumbent Sam Katz. He stands as the "right wing" candidate though his record as either a tax-cutter or a spending-reducer is marginal to non-existent. What he excels at is glad handing in the fine old political tradition and conspiracy in same. When the recent affair of turning part of Winnipeg's Forks historic location over to be part of the parking space for his ballpark he had the grace to step out of council chambers for the vote. But when it was suggested that there was a certain amount of "influence" that he had on other council members to sway their vote there was "great shock and indignation" that such a thing could even be suggested. Perish the thought !!! This from a man who does his damnedest to get his "friends" elected to other council seats, forming an "unnamed Party" over and against the "unnamed Party" of the NDP oriented councillors. The Green Party who are also running candidates in some wards have the best take on this. Part of their platform is that candidates should be free to declare their Party orientation. It would be a considerable step forward from the present wink-wink, nudge-nudge system where everybody is quite determined to lie about an obvious reality.
Actually Sam Katz would make a truly magnificent Mayor if he would apply 1/10th of the sort of business acumen to running the city as he has in running his own financial affairs. In the last civic election which Katz won against a full slate of about 9 (I think) candidates. One radio station took it upon themselves to look up the legal records of the various candidates. Katz totalled more lawsuits than all the other candidates combined. He had been a regular for many years in sueing others and being sued in turn in a wide variety of different matters. A lawyer could make a decent living by only representing Sam Katz.
I had a recent conversation with a couple who are active members of the Conservative Party here in Winnipeg, people who might be assumed to have some sympathy for the mayor. They do, insofar as they dislike the other candidates more. But the three of us came to an agreement about two matters. One is that Katz is definitely!!! the most intelligent candidate in the race, and the proof is......he'll never get caught. The second is that Katz is standing proof that a person can never become rich by investing their money wisely. You only become rich by investing other peoples' money wisely .....and then never paying them back.
The other candidates in the race deserve little mention. One, Ron Pollack, is a joke candidate, and the only person who can't get the punch line is himself. Another, Chris Hasselriis, is the ultimate "fashion lefty". He oozes "slick" from the top of his fashionable haircut to the soles of his fashionable shoes. He actually has a "platform" of sorts which is to promise as much as he can to everybody that he thinks of as fast as he can. An occasional idea of his such as abolishing the business tax might seem "appealing", but what would replace the lost revenue of $60 million dollars is a matter of great silence. Should the waters of the sea part and Hasselriis gets elected it would be likely that this cut would go the way of Sam Katz's similar promise 4 years ago. In sum Hasselriis seems like the sort of person who has never heard of a way of spending money that he couldn't love.
Hasselriis has been labelled a "libertarian socialist" by some of the local media. Cough !, Gack !, Choke !. Such a label robs the term of all possible meaning. He is actually too much even for the local leftists, and one has to say that their taste buds are pretty jaded. So another more traditional leftist candidate, Marianne Cerilli, has entered the race. If Hasselriis has never met an expenditure that he couldn't love Cerilli has never met a tax that didn't spark romantic interest on her part. Once more, some of her platform may be superficially appealing. Putting an extra tax on big box stores certainly gets my "spite vote", though the surrounding RMs will undoubtedly take up the slack. Opposing the new hog processing plant in St. Boniface is also a winner in my books, though getting this reprieve through the process of electing a Mayor hardly solves the problem of the availability of city coffers to private interests in a structural sense.
This can be seen from a deadly silence about a certain question that follows from another one of her promises...that city funds won't be available for Winnipeg's professional football team. Fine and dandy from my point of view. Let all sports teams rise and fall on their own ability to generate income from fans. OK, but she justifies this by stating that the interest in the football team is only an interest of a "minority". Maybe, but she has made no noises whatsoever about city support for "high culture" and the not-so-high culture of the local arts scene. Minorities ???
Could it be be that Cerilli's regard for certain "white-wine socialists", to use an old cliche, is so strong that she thinks that one of these is equal to 20 "football boors" ? Even Katz won't touch this one with a ten foot pole.
Enough of the other candidates. On to the atrocity. Despite being the obvious front runner Katz has been searching around for an "issue" that makes his campaign look less like the shuffling of a herd of zombies. He has found it in a proposal to ban the sale of spray paint to anyone under 18 years of age. This would presumably cut down on the amount of graffiti around the city. He also wants to make it an offense for anyone under 18 to even possess a can of spray paint. A law prohibiting sale of spray paint to minors would likely survive a constitutional challenge, but one prohibiting possession would not. The mind boggles. "Sheriff Wyatt Katz" determined to clean up the crime of downtown Dodge City- I mean Winnipeg- by barring the dangerous weapons of spray cans from the hands of the young hoodlums. "All right kid, this is the police. Drop that can and come up with your hands up or we'll start shooting".
The sad part is that this lead weight will likely float. Mercifully it will attract only those who would have voted for Katz anyhow, even if he was proven to be the AntiChrist. About the same number of people who would believe that the city should drop support for the football teams but keep support for artists, real and pseudo. The majorities lay elsewhere.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A couple of new links:
The links on the bottom of this page contain two new items. Under the "Texts" section I have added 'The Manifesto of Surrealism' by Andre Breton, and under the "Other Interesting Sites' I have added the "Marx-Brothers Website'. Both of these come from the previous post for the history of Sept 28.
Back to the Past, Which Is, Of Course, the Future of the Past Which Was Past When the Past Was the Present or....
Sept. 28th In History:
551 BCE: Traditional birthday for Confucius. The name Confucius roughly translates as "Master Kong". But he didn't "monkey around". Go ape over the following:
The Analects of Confucius are available online at . The Analects are considered one of the "four great books" of Confucius. The others are:
1)The Great Learning
2)The Doctrine of the Mean
3)The Mencius (compiled by Confucius' disciple Mencius)
There are also the 'Five Classics' said to have been either written or used by Confucius. They are as follows:
1)Classic of Changes- The I Ching
2)Classic of Poetry
3)Classic of Rites
4)Classic of History
5)Spring and Autumn Annals.
There is also a sixth classic that has been lost, the 'Classic of Music'. History may indeed be the search for the lost chord.
1820:Friedrich Engels born. Patron saint of suckers in the Church of Mollymew. Despite being far more educated in a real sense (as opposed to Hegelian wordspinning) with much greater knowledge of various subjects he lowered himself to be the toady and unappreciated "bank" of second rate philosopher and perpetual mooch Karl Marx. Apparently he didn't "know all the Engels". Historical proof that simple intelligence is insufficient to leave a lasting influence. Made the mistake of writing much more clearly than his leech friend. bad news if you want to be "interpreted" by academics for a few centuries.
1850: US Navy abolishes flogging on naval and merchant marine vessels. Leads to total breakdown of respect and the end of Western Civilization.
1864:Formalization of the founding of the First International (see previous mention of proposal of French delegates at commemoration meeting) at a meeting at St. Martin's Hall (where a lot of English radical history seems to have taken place).
The ancient Persians had an unique method of arriving at decisions. First they would make a decision at a drinking party where the wine was flowing freely and creativity was at its height. Then they would review the decision in the cold light of the hangover. If it still looked good---well on to the races. I wonder if the foundation of the First International was similar ?
1868: Uprising in the French city of Lyons suppressed. Bakunin, who had arrived on Sept 15th gets the hell out of town. Being as he was Bakunin I'll bet that he also left a lot of unpaid bills behind.
1895: French scientist Louis Pasteur dies. Famous for many different discoveries in vaccination, microbiology, etc.. Disproved "spontaneous generation" and laid out the theory of "pasteurization". Even today there are many that simply "don't get it" and assert that there is some mysterious "life force" that is destroyed by Pasteur's process. For those interested in horrible diseases please google both TB and Brucellosis.
1901: Philippine guerrillas ambush US troops on the island of Balangiga, killing 48 American invaders. In retaliation US General Jake Smith orders his troops to kill everyone on the island. Never one to abandon a good thing later in Samar he orders the killing of everyone over the age of ten. I guess he either got "merciful" or he realized that total extermination would leave nobody to appreciate the value of American "civilization". The good General was eventually courtmartialled in 1902, but he was allowed to retire with no punishment.
The Philippino people rebelled against the Spanish colonial power in 1896, but their struggle was caught up in the Spanish American War. The resistance of the Philippino people has become known as the 'Philippine-American War' (1898-1913). The American troops were particularly brutal, and the estimated death toll for the Philippinos was anywhere from 250,000 to 1 million (some leftist sources put it higher). Most of these were civilians who were deliberately starved to death or died in American concentration camps of disease. For a general overview of this war see the Wikipedia article: .
1905: Directorate of the Mexican Liberal Party (Partido Liberal de Mexico) formed in exile in St. Louis, MO. despite the name the PLM was anarchist in orientation. For a collection of the writings of one of their leaders, Ricardo Flores Magon, see the Anarchy Archives at , and also 'Writings of Ricardo Flores Magon in English and Spanish' at
1906: US troops reoccupy Cuba and stay until 1909. They liked the cigars I presume.
1917: 166 Wobblies indicted for interfering with the war effort. No arms manufacturers indicted for interfering with the "life effort".
1923: Tuli Kupferberg of 'The Fugs' born. Author of such all time classical music as 'Coca Cola Douche'. See the Fugs' web page for more info . eat your heart out Mozart.
1936: National Plenum of Regions of the Spanish CNT. Horacio Martines Prieto argues for collaboration with the national government of Republican Spain. Big mistake that still reverberates today.
1964: "Harpo (Arthur) Marx dies at 75 years. Part of the Marx Brothers who rescued the family name from "the tapeworm of socialism" and made it something that could be mentioned in decent company. See the Marx Brothers Website, for many more details. A few quotations from the founders of Marxist One Lineism:
"I find television very educational. Everytime somebody turns on the set I go into the other room and read a book"
Groucho Marx
"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception"
Groucho Marx
Chico Marx: "Can he live in NY on $3 ?"
Groucho Marx: "Like a prince. Of course he can't eat, but he can live like a prince"
"Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes ?"
Chico Marx
Many more available at the website.
1966: French Surrealist Andre Breton (1896-1966) dies. See 'The Manifesto of Surrealism' at
1968: Brazilian anarchist Edgard Leuenroth (1881-1968) dies. His archives are held at the Universidade Estudial de Campinas, and they are the largest anarchist archives in South America. See the Edgard Leuenroth page at The Daily Bleed at .
That's about it. Nothing spectacular on this date for the next 38 years.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Few Items From the Sept 15th Edition of Science Magazine
1)'Claim of Oldest New World Writing Excites Archaeologists'
A recently discovered stone block from a quarry at Cascajal, outside San Lorenzo, Mexico may have pushed the known date for writing in the New World back to as early as 900 BCE according to this report. This artifact apparently belongs to the Olmec culture who predated the Mayas and Aztecs in Mesoamerica. The artifact has been provisionally assigned to the San Lorenzo period of the Olmec culture (from 1200 BCE to 900BCE). The Toltecs had disappeared by 400 BCE.
2)'Grounding the Planes During a Flu Pandemic ? Studies Disagree'
This is a report about the recent article by John Brownstein and Kenneth Mandi in the Sept 11th edition of PLoS Medicine about how the post 9/11 drop in air traffic seemed to delay the onset of the flu season by 13 weeks. This article puts forward the various counter-arguments and the response that they are "computer models" while "this is empirical evidence".
3)In the 'Books et al' section there is a review of 'Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy'. The author of this review, Romain Wacziarg, states that the model presented in this book appears such that "In some ways, this basic model is a formalization of Marx's dialectical materialism." Well yes and no. The reviewer goes on to note that the authors of the book, who are economists, lay out an hypothesis of when a ruling class will respond to demands from other classes by either a)repression, b)concessions or c)democratization. They argue that the ruling class will follow the later path when the other classes feel that they must have guarantees of the good will of the rulers. The theoretical framework is that of game theory economics.
Yes, it terms that Marx emphasized the role of economic class struggle in the development of political institutions - as, of course, did many others who didn't have to borrow from the superstitions of the Hegelian academy and style it "dialectics". No because the authors of the book, even if they are as innocent of actual facts as Marx ever was lay out a program whereby their hypotheses can be falsified by actual research. this, of course, is "science" in contrast to the "science" of Marx's "scientific socialism" which grew out of the antique conviction that Hegelian philosophy was a "science" and that deductions using its methods of over abstraction deserved the name "scientific".
Links, links, get your red hot links here. Only 50 cents for one, three for a dollar. Get em here, and get em now. The following 6 new links have been added to the list at the bottom of this page.
Under the general Links section see:
1)Autonomy and Solidarity, a libertarian Marxist site.
2)Jesus Radicals. Christian anarchists. Their library has also been added under the Online Libraries section.
3)Daybreak Collective. A group active in the Minneapolis/St Paul area.
Under the Online Libraries section besides item #2 above see also:
Question Everything.
Under the Texts section see:
Barbarians At The Gates of the Public Library by anarchist librarian and member of the ATN discussion group Ed D'Angelo.
Ttttttat's all for now folks,