A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for March 2007

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Written by Randy McDonald

March 24, 2007 at 6:16 pm

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[BRIEF NOTE] Schadenfreude

Writing in The Telegraph, Jeff Randall’s “Lord Black’s Downfall” provides an excellent overview of the history and impending downfall of Conrad Black, a Canadian-born press baron best known for his hard-right politics (Thatcher was appalled by his support for the idea of torturing criminals, at least according to Tom Bower’s biography) and his looting of his company’s finances to pay for a billionaire’s lifestyle. Black is a piece of work: Explaining his existence Thursday night to Americans lemurbuoy and schizmatic, I was taken by the latter’s observation that Black is Canada’s version of Lex Luthor. This is true, though myself I think that he bears closer comparison to some decadent eastern European aristocrat of the belle époque, perhaps a Hungarian magnate who liked boozing it up with his friends in the sauna and writing stern letters to the press condemning the development of evil ideologies–minority nationalisms, say, and socialism–among his peasantry. Fortunately, the United States has a functioning legal system quite capable of dealing with people of his ilk.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 11, 2007 at 11:59 pm

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[META] Blogroll Update

Joe.My.God is now on the blogroll, as is 1948, an interesting group blog concentrating on internatuional affairs that includes occasional commenter Nicholas Li as a poster.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 11, 2007 at 11:51 pm

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[URBAN NOTE] Osgoode, after a while

As I rode the escalator up to the main level of the station last night, I realized that it had been a while since I’d seen the TTC’s Osgoode station. Before I moved, Osgoode was a key stop on my commute to and from work via the Queen Street streetcar. After the move, I missed it. The sense of nostalgia that I felt walking through the station, and the surprise I felt at seeing the elevator construction finally completed, was pleasant. It was worth the trip, even without catching The 300 at the Scotiabank Theatre (note to self: buy tickets ahead of time).

Written by Randy McDonald

March 10, 2007 at 6:50 pm

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[LINK] He haunts the Balkans still

I didn’t expect to read this.

Deceased Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, who died in captivity in Haag last year standing on trial for War Crimes in a UN War Crimes tribunal, still seem to haunt the Serbian nation.

Recently his grave in the eastern Serbian town of Pozarevac was desecrated in a bizarre incident, when Serbian vampire hunters in accordance with old folklore and tradition wanted to make sure the late president remained dead, and drove a three-foot wooden stake into the grave and through his heart.

The leader of the group Miroslav Milosevic, who by the way has no relations to the former president, gave himself up to police who have launched an investigation.

Milosevic said he and his fellow vampire hunters acted to stop the former dictator returning from the dead to haunt the country, The Register reports.

This Google search reveals numerous references to Milosevic’s vampirism predating this bizarre incident, going back as far as June 2001 when then-Governor of the National Bank of Serbia Mladjan Dinkic said (in response to the failure to extradite Milosevic for trial in The Hague “Milosevic is like a vampire. Politically he is dead but he’s still taking our blood by preventing us from getting the aid.” How apropos that this impaling occured just as the fate of other war criminals is bedevilling Serbia now.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 8, 2007 at 7:54 pm

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[REVIEW] Blood Diamond

The problem with Blood Diamond is that this movie is a competent paint-by-numbers job. The origins of the blood diamond trade in the civil wars that wrecked Sierra Leone and Liberia in the 1990s is portrayed well, as is the involvement of mercenary companies from post-apartheid South Africa in the export of these gemstones, as is the human devastation caused by–among other factors–the use of child soldiers, as is the general indifference of Westerners to these traumas until diamond consumers began to realize their own complicity in those horrors. The direction works, the actors are more than competent, and the dialogue generally good. Blood Diamond was just too predictable. (The Heart of Darkness stylings don’t seem that relevant–yes they’re clichéd, but the clichés are in my opinion quite justified.)

Written by Randy McDonald

March 5, 2007 at 11:55 pm

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[URBAN NOTE] Winter’s toll

It started with the weather: not cold but precipitation-heavy, coming down as snow and sleet and melting and freezing. It became worse thanks to an unfortunate accident at the intersection of Brock Road and Highway 401 in Pickering, the first city found to the east of Toronto.

A CN freight train derailed in Pickering just before 11 a.m., sending 32 cars off the track. No one was hurt and there were no chemical leaks, but the derailment forced GO Transit to shut down part of its Lakeshore East service.

Trains are operating from Union station to Pickering, and limited shuttle bus service will be available between Pickering and Oshawa, the company said on its website. Delays are expected, including on the Lakeshore West service.

Meanwhile, a freezing rain warning is in effect for the GTA. Ice pellets and heavy rains are forecast to follow the snow that hit the region shortly after noon and continues at this hour. As of mid-afternoon, fewer than 50 vehicle crashes had been reported on roads outside the city, but the Ontario Provincial Police were expecting many more.

“The entire GTA is now enveloped in snow and it’s covering right off into eastern Ontario. It’s heavy at times,” he said.

I wasn’t commuting as such–the TTC’s buses along Dupont Street were too irregular, and the GO train is quite irrelevant to my transit needs. All that I was doing was walking along Dupont, watching the thick ropes of cars inch their way along the streets, getting bunched up at intersections.

Not that I could claim superiority: I hadn’t expected so much snow to come down, and it was cold. “It’s cold,” a matronly old woman told me as I passed the Ossington shelter, “you need gloves.”

Toronto’s still recovering, not least because of today’s warm temperatures. What happens to molten dihydrogen oxide? It runs, everywhere.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 2, 2007 at 9:02 pm

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