Thursday, April 19, 2012

April 19: Today is a big day (for me)....

When I began this blog site some 16 months ago, a dozen viewers was a good day. Now, it reaches 150 to 200 a day. It was a long and slow start; but today, perhaps even as a I write this, it will reach a grand total of 30,000 hits.

Curiously, a large number, sometimes as much as 20% of the total has come from the United States. That percentage has been consistent from the start. Why Americans are interested in The Moncton Times, I have no idea.

More surprising has been the recent growth in Russian readers, actually surpassing American readership for the past week.

Of course, most of that could be spy agencies on both sides.

Nothing much in the TandT today. There are a couple of curious articles on fracking. (A10 and A12) It seems the federal government (always picking on corporations) is going to conduct a massive study to see if fracking causes earthquakes - since earthquakes often occur after fracking is carried out.

American studies show that they do. But, says the article, it may not be the fracking that does it. It could be the disposal of the wastewater from fracking.

Isn't that like saying that junk food doesn't cause obesity; it's eating it that causes obesity?

The other one is Alward's announcement that there will be public discussion of the new shale gas regulations once they are published.

????Why does public discussion require his permission? Aren't all government measures open to public discussion?

And why does he tell us a cabinet minister will set the terms for the discussion? In a democracy, isn't it up to us to set those terms?

Young David also has quite an unexpected sense of humour. He says we don't really need much discussion because he says there has "...already been a full blown discussion of shale gas in the news media..."

Actually, the fact that the TandT would actually print such a statement suggests it has a sense of humour, too. Alward and the editorial staff of The Times and Transcript could have the makings of a great comedy team.

NewsToday is the usual blowoff. It's major foreign news, coming from Reuters as usual, gives the impression it is mainly Syrian government troops
that are breaking the ceasefire. Most other sources I have seen, ones that are more reliable than Reuters, have a different opinion - and a wider one. Not only are they saying the rebel forces are ignoring the ceasfire, but they are also chasing any rebels who want democracy out of the country.

Many things are possible in Syria. Democracy is not one of them. Remember Libya? Heard much about the joy of democracy there? Egypt? That's the place where ten candidates, two of them major contenders for the presidency, have been told they're not allowed to run. The African rebellions are not about democracy. And the last thing the US wants to see in Africa is democracy.

On editorial and op ed pages, I have minor quibbles with Alec Bruce and Jody Dallaire - in the only two items in the whole paper worth reading.

For Alec, he underestimates the importance of the War of 1812 to the US. But his general point is dead on. The War of 1812 celebration is a political spin game; and any historian who is associated with it should be ashamed. And, as he says, the Canadian charter of our rights is far superior to anything in the US - or in most other ocuntries. (An American historian of some note once confided to me that no country has ever followed the American model. The idea that the whole world wants American-style democracy is pure myth. Always has been.)

Similarly, I think Jody Dallaire is quite right. I just would not separate morality from human rights as she suggests. I think that morality is fundamental to human rights. Human rights are given because (or if) we love our neighbour, we refuse to kill, or slander, or covet or steal.

The problem is that some people (large numbers of them Christian) think that morality means pointing a self-righteous finger at whatever they disapprove of. Unlike the impression given by some Moncton preachers, there is no commandment that says "That shalt scorn sinners, and pat thyselves on thy backs for being righteous, and shalt get, without need for a security search, a ticket to heaven."

Morality has nothing to do with being vindictive or goody-goody. It is the foundation of any civilized order. I criticize some of our economic leaders not simply because I happen to disagree with their actions and think they are harmful - I disagree because they harmful BECAUSE they are immoral.

For those patient (or lonely)enough to be still reading, I'll try to answer a question from anonymous. It appears in yesterday's comments section and asks re nuclear and missile testing, what the hell is going on in North Korea>

Well, it's one of those simple things that's complicated.

At one level, what North Korea is doing is quite simple and no threat to anybody.

Big countries beat up little ones, steal their resources, and impoverish their people. That's because big ones have better armies. Now - if you were a small country - but could get just one nuclear bomb.... wouldn't shoot it at somebody because that would be suicidal. The big ones also have lots more nuclear weapons to shoot back with . But.....

...if you have one or just a few, the risk of retaliation might, just might, make them decide that the winning wouldn't be worth the cost.

The threats to world peace are not the small players in the nuclear game. It's the big ones, starting with the US, then Russia, China, India, Israel (yes. it's big time). They are the ones that, in a pinch, might start a nuclear war. Those are the ones to worry about - not Britain or France or North Korea - or Iran, (even if it had one or twenty.)

The motivation for North Korea was probably not to threaten anybody. It was to deter. But... But, then there's level 2.

The rulers of North Korea are, you know, people. And, like the people who rule the US, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, they can be prone to do foolish, selfish, and short-sighted things.

That's why we're in a world in which capitalism is being destroyed by our leading capitalists, why in the US democracy has been destroyed by American economic and political leaders who benefited from it.

North Korea, like all countries, is like that. Only more so. It is a country that does not exist for any reason other than to serve the vanities and whims of the familiy that rules it. Now, families like that can produce some very odd progeny. You can check the emperors of Rome, for example - or the later generations of wealthy families.

At level 1, what North Korea is doing is very sensible in the context of these insane times. At level 2 - I am damned if I know what is happening.


  1. I don't mind CBC's budget cuts affecting 'Battle of the Blades' (eye-roll), but when one of the only national radio programs reporting at length on foreign events and human rights abuses is cancelled, you begin to realize something is really wrong.

    'Dispatches' with Rick MacInnes-Rae is slated to have its last radio show aired in June. ( is there another future show to replace it? I don't know yet)

    Coincidentally, I happened to hear today on CBC's Dispatches their report on Syria.

    Finally, CBC is publicly airing an article on Syria with the line of questioning as to who really are the rebels? Who's financing them? And who's telling the truth in general about things over there?

    Certainly, not mainstream news organizations, except for maybe Al Jazeera.

    The cancellation of programs such as Dispatches is another step in keeping this type of information away from the average citizen.

    And, maybe the 20% of Americans who visit you are more than slightly fed-up with the perpetual three-ring-circus in full-throttle down there in Dixieland, and they're simply glad to find that intelligent life is surviving elsewhere.

    Or, it could be unintelligent life such as spy groups.

  2. I am so grateful to see someone defending North Korea's nuclear ambitions. I was concerned the world was growing less bizarre.