Friday, June 03, 2005

True story of the day

Currently, I am researching for an elaborate essay on the rule of law. A related subject of the RoL, as I like to call it, is the maxim nulla poena sine lege. Here is an interesting story I came across:

Sir Charles Sedley (a dramatist and poet in the court of Charles II) was charged for public indecency in 1663 England. He got drunk, went to a balcony, and did his "business" (ie. crapped) off the balcony near a crowd below. He was arrested. There was a court case.

The judge in this case, not impressed with this Sedley fellow, proceeded to sentence Sedley with a charge never before created: public indecency. Thus, the judge created this new crime from thin air. Sedley was fined for the affair (but interestingly goes down in history because of the judge's decision, and not the actual act).

Here is a quote from Wood's Life and Times about the incedent:

Sir Charles Sedley being fined 500 pounds, he made answer, that he thought he was the first man that paid for shitting.

And he must have paid well. Five hundred pounds in 1663 must have been a mega amount of money, for er, "shitting." It still is. It adds a new spin to the modern cliche: "when you gotta go, you gotta go."

Thursday, June 02, 2005

This pretty much says it all re: the Grewal tapes and the Canadian media. I couldn't have said it better. Way to go Lorne Gunter.

It has to do with the very different standards to which Liberals and Conservatives are held by the punditocracy and editors across the land.

Most people in my profession are entirely uncurious in their approach to the Liberals, completely cynical when it comes to Conservatives. The largest Liberal lapses sometimes cause momentary horror, but that lasts only until the chattering classes have regained their senses. Then they know the Liberals must be forgiven anything and everything lest someone else be given a chance to govern.

This is not a conspiracy, more of a mindset or even just a reflex.

On the other hand, even the slightest misstep by a Conservative is enough to sustain media outrage for days.

Never mind that the allegedly alteration is in just 40+ seconds out of four hours. Reporters won't be too curious whether those are the only 40 seconds (they are not) in which Murphy and Donsanjh engage in questionable behaviour. They weren't really that curious from the start about whether the two Liberals may have violated the Criminal Code's provisions against buying an MP's vote. And now they have an excuse to be entirely uncurious.

Qukkr Dose

Yesterday's Dose newspaper (June 1) had a terrible spree of spelling mistake on the front cover. All the e's mysteriously were k's in their "gay Canadian anthem". I wonder if anyone noticed, or just thought that's how gay folk talk.

BC hospital refuses to treat man in hospital parking lot; told to call 911

Reported by the CBC. Ah, this makes me pretty irate. How in the name of all things good, clean and serene, can this happen? How could the folks at the hospital be so insensitive as to demand the adherence of policy (defunct policy at that) over dealing with a human?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Why he writes

I have had the opportunity to stumble upon this important piece by George Orwell entitled "Why I write."

I found this section to be particularily enlightening (edited for brevity):

"I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose...They are:
  1. Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen -- in short, with the whole top crust of humanity...Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.
  2. Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed. The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc....
  3. Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.
  4. Political purpose -- using the word "political" in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples' idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The CBC is running its credibility into the grown by such foolish utterances:

Alleged audio recordings between a Conservative member of Parliament and the federal health minister suggest the prime minister knew senior Liberals were courting a pair of Tory MPs to cross the floor before a crucial vote.

How, exactly, are these "alleged" recordings as opposed to "real" recordings? What is alleged about them?

Oops Paul Did it Again

It looks like there are some burnt tea on the Hill. And enough to charge a few people in those bribery tapes that have just been released.

On offering Conservative MP Grewal and his wife a Senate seat:

THEN:
Prime Minister Paul Martin, May 19:
"Offers were solicited, and offers were turned down."
Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh, May 19:
"I'm actually offended he couldn't take no for an answer."

AND NOW:
//Yes there was an offer // No, it was not turned
The tape shows this:

Ujjal Dosanjh:
I think what Tim is saying about trust is that most of these things do have our trust and you have to feel comfortable with that and at the end, of course if Chief of Staff say that certain conduct ought to be rewarded in due time that trust is kept 99.9% of the times.

...if there is an arrangement or understanding that we arrive at, we can certainly make that part of the package.


And here is the most damning:

In fact, cabinet can be arranged right away.

Tim Murphy, Chief of Staff at PMO

...we live up to our commitments.... it is better for us and frankly for someone like you to get that reward
-----------------------

This is damning stuff. There is a "package," a "reward," there are "commitments." In other words, Dosanjh was BS-ing. And by extension so was the Prime Minister.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

EU setback

It looks like France has voted down the EU constitution:

French voters have rejected the proposed EU constitution in Sunday's referendum, according to an exit poll.

The poll quoted by French TV gives the "No" side 55% - in line with surveys published in the run-up to the vote.

If confirmed, the result will be a blow to President Jacques Chirac and France's two main political parties, which campaigned for a "Yes".

It could deal a fatal blow to the EU constitution, which the Union has been working on since the start of 2002.

The constitution cannot come into force unless it is ratified by all 25 EU members.