Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Department of Friggin' Amateurs in Training

It seems to me that DFAIT needs a new department name to accurately reflect the quality of work being done by the political leadership there. In short order, we have managed to piss off both the Chinese and the EU due to a complete lack of understanding of the nature of diplomacy.

In the very same issue of the Globe and Mail, China has very publicly 'snubbed' the Harper government. To anyone remotely familar to the Chinese culture of 'face' this is firstly, expected, and secondly, quite a rebuke. It's been known for a while that Harper has let dangle some of the relationships and talks the Liberals had established to this point.

Regardless of how you may feel about Tibet, or human-rights in China, the art of diplomacy is keeping channels of communciation open, and subtly influencing rather than preaching a position.

This is also true for the EU, where Harper has skipped an EU summit in order to avoid direct criticism over reneging on our Kyoto commitments. Now EU leaders are calling for Canada to suffer sanctions over those very same actions. Again, this was a case where subtlety was called for. Being perfectly frank, *most* countries are not going to meet their Kyoto committments, but actively pulling out served no purpose, save perhaps the ability to tell the US that they aren't the only jerkoffs out there on the international climate change scene.

Regardless of Liberal domestic policy, they always held to what I call 'the backpack test' meaning simply, will these actions make me proud and unafraid to wear the maple leaf on my backpack when travelling. I think most Canadians of my generation are familiar with this concept and can agree that was something of an unspoken but powerful agenda.

Complete disengagement and 'preaching' leads to situations like North Korea and Iran where rhetoric and sabre-rattling prevails, but cordial relations and trading, even with people whose viewpoints you disagree with leads to more openness in the end. It's clear to me that our right-wing government, like the one to the south is incapable of the levels of nuance needed to properly handle international relations.

In the case of China, they have always been able to take the 'long view' and when Harper is gone soon enough, this will be but a blip, but the EU will not soon forget.

I think it's clear that amateur hour was fun, but we need the professionals back running things.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate

Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate

I'm back in Chicago for a few days and I revisited the Anish Kapoor sculpture Cloud gate, affectionaly known as 'The Bean'

It's quite a brilliant bit of scuplture, a flawless fluid form of reflective steel.

Rockefeller Center in New York will be getting their own scupture called Sky Mirror. I'm not sure the placement will do it justice, as it will take away from the flow of Rockefeller center, while crowding an already very busy part of Fifth Ave. I think there are plenty of other locations that would perhaps serve as a better location. UPDATE: My good friend Andrzej has taken a pic of Sky mirror.

In comparison, Cloud Gate in Chicago is perfectly placed to relfect and distort the skyscrapers on two sides and attract quite a large crowd with plenty of room to give the piece its due.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Going through the archives

Art Institute of Chicago

It's always fun to go through old photographs. I find it's great for rediscovering old gems that you've forgotten.

Recently, I created a new Flickr set called the Museum::People project to showcase people interacting with art in various museums around the world and I had a few photos that I forgot to upload, so they are now up.

I've been using Adobe Lightroom to quickly go through my photos, and have found a way to upload directly to Flickr from it. The beta is free, so I highly recommend it.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Flickr Maps

Recently, Flickr incorporated Geotagging into their website. Previously, Geotagging was a mash-up using the Google Maps API. This is a much improved system, where you can drag and drop photos onto the map. I've tagged nearly 250 photos already.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

More on softwood lumber...

This just gets weirder and weirder... apparently one of the provisos of the softwood deal is that $450 million gets redirected to the Bush White House for use in *whatever the fuck he wants* - likely a giant slush fund for the November mid-terms. Think of the entire Republican propaganda machine war chest - this will nearly triple it. The Toronto Star has the article (along with The Tyee - an excellent BC online newspaper).

I hope this news gets to all the major papers on both sides of the border and blows both right-wing administrations right out of the water. None of this is above board. This is not what democracy is supposed to be.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Post to the Globe and Mail today

The Globe and Mail had an article on the softwood issue: Softwood deal to move forward, and I thought I'd contribute my $0.02. Specifically I took issue with Stephen Harper's claim that there was a “clear majority” in the country that now supports the government's softwood lumber agreement with the United States.

I'm honestly wondering who this "clear majority" is. The last time I checked a week ago it looked like this deal was going to fall apart, and without any significant announcement of changes, all of a sudden we're all on board? "Mr. Harper did not say what percentage of Canada's softwood lumber producers signalled their support for the deal" so for all we know, support could be at the very same level. Sounds a lot like perception management, instead of actual results to me.

For what it's worth, I think we should get out of NAFTA entirely, as the US has shown total disregard for its agreements and procedures. As should be totally clear by now, the US is pro Free Trade so long as it only benefits them.

Having a mugger steal from you and return 80% of the haul with conditions like "don't go to the cops" and "I reserve the right to mug you again real soon" isn't a deal in any sense of the word I know - it's capitulation.

The rest of the comments seem to back me up on this one as well.

For those of you who would prefer to watch video - Rick Mercer has a very funny explanation.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Morning Funny.

For a blog posting
Originally uploaded by m.d..

I was walking to get a coffee this morning and saw this shirt, and had to write about it. I'm a sucker for a clever tee.

In the UK they have a version; 'George Bush & Son Family Butchers, by Royal Appointment'