Friday, November 28, 2008

Mumbai Blues

My thoughts to the victims and their families.

And here's an interesting article on the topic:

Is this the Age of Celebrity Terrorism?

Dr Paul Cornish, Head, International Security Programme and Carrington Chair in International Security, Chatham House

Quite apart from the scores murdered and the hundreds injured, what the Mumbai terrorists really wanted was an exaggerated and preferably extreme reaction on the part of governments, the media and public opinion. In these terms, the attackers received as much attention as they could possibly have hoped for, and the Mumbai outrage can only be described as a very significant terrorist success.

The attack received saturation coverage in the world's media from the outset. Almost within minutes, television screens showed harrowing scenes of pools of blood where people had died or been injured, hotels ablaze, Indian army snipers firing at distant targets, and CCTV images of the attackers. Especially disturbing, hostages and survivors reported that certain nationalities had been identified by their passports and taken away for execution.

No matter how obscure, every detail of this multi-point, sustained attack was soon being pored over by terrorism experts, trying to fit the carnage in Mumbai into one template or another. So the speculative and often tendentious questioning began. What were the 'tactics' of the terrorists? What weapons did they have (reporters seem to love the way 'Kalashnikov' rolls off the tongue), and where could they have got them? How much planning and preparation would have been necessary for a 'military-style operation' of this sort? Who were the terrorists - where were they from (Pakistan? Were some of the gunmen British?), and what did they want? Who was the 'mastermind' behind the attacks? And did the attacks have the 'hallmarks' of an 'al-Qaeda-style' operation; was it all part of the 'global jihad' against the West?

This is precisely how terrorism is meant to work. The terrorist's action must always be complemented by the target's reaction in order to complete the scene. How the attack is carried out, and what is done to whom, matters no more (and often rather less) than the way the attack is received, and the impact accorded to it. The impact has indeed been instant and extensive, reaching into the worlds of politics, business and even sport, and on all levels - internationally, regionally and nationally in India.

But for all the horror of the Mumbai attack, there might have been much less to it than first met the eye, and a hasty and exaggerated response might have played more of a part, and given more meaning to the attack than it should. Nobody appears to have heard of the Deccan mujahidin - perhaps because they have never existed. Perhaps it wasn't so difficult after all to plan and execute this attack: small arms and hand grenades are not hard to find; boats are scarcely specialised equipment; and Mumbai is a vast, open city with more than enough soft targets. Perhaps we don't know enough about where the perpetrators are from, because they could have come from almost anywhere? The terrorists were willing to show their faces on CCTV: was this suicide for martyrdom (as in New York and Washington in 2001, and London in 2005), or suicide for celebrity (as in Columbine in 1999 and Virginia Tech in 2007)? And perhaps so little is known of the terrorists' cause, because they simply didn't feel the need to have one.

The attack in Mumbai was obviously planned - but 'military-style planning' (whatever that means) is probably not necessary for the mass murder of unarmed and unsuspecting civilians going about their business in crowded railway stations and restaurants. This could also have been a plan which had a large gap where 'mission', 'cause' or 'vision statement' ought to have been. But no matter; the terrorists might have assumed, quite correctly as it happens, that the world's media and the terrorism analysis industry would very quickly fill in any gaps for them.

The character of modern terrorism is widely understood to have been shaped by a mid-nineteenth century idea known as the 'propaganda of the deed'; a strategy for political change in which the message or cause is contained within, and expressed by the violent act. In a novel twist, the Mumbai terrorists might have embarked on 'propaganda of the deed without the propaganda', in the confident expectation that the rationalisation for the attack - the 'narrative' - would be provided by politicians, the media and terrorism analysts. If so, then Mumbai could represent something rather different in the history of terrorism, and possibly something far more disturbing even than 'global jihad'. Perhaps we have come to the point where casually self-radicalised, sociopathic individuals can form a loose organisation, acquire sufficient weapons and equipment for a few thousand dollars, make a basic plan of action and indulge in a violent expression of their generalised disaffection and anomie. These individuals indulge in terrorism simply because they can, while their audience concocts a rationale on their behalf.

Welcome to the age of celebrity terrorism. The invitation to the world's D-list malcontents reads as follows: no matter how corrupt your moral sense, how contorted your view of the world, how vapid and inarticulate your ideas, how talentless you are and how exaggerated your grievance; an obsessive audience will watch your every move and turn you into what you most want to be, just before your death.

Labels: , ,

Is Canada Becoming a Digital Ghetto?

Good question!

Here are three things that suck about being Canadian right now:

1. Last week the CRTC sided with Bell against a group of small Internet Service Providers who want to offer their customers unthrottled connections where what they download is their own business and not subject to interference.

2. In last week’s throne speech the Conservative government renewed their intention to “modernize” Canadian copyright law. Their effort to do so last session was Bill C-61, a woefully unbalanced and retrograde piece of legislation that led to the greatest citizen backlash to any proposed bill in recent memory. Yet there has been no indication from new Industry Minister Tony Clement that a much-needed public consultation will take place. The best he has offered is the possibility of a “slightly different” version of the bill.

3. Twitter has just announced that they are killing outbound SMS messaging in Canada due to exorbitant and constant rate hikes from Canadian cell providers (former Industry Minister Jim Prentice vowed to get tough on SMS price gouging, then backpeddled). Cell phone rates in Canada are among the highest in the world, and the result is that mobile penetration is pathetically low and that emerging new cultural platforms like Twitter are being hobbled.

This growing list of backwards policies is already creating a sense of digital isolation: Canadians can’t stream the videos Americans stream, download the files Americans download, remix the media Americans remix, or tweet the way Americans tweet.

With the election of Barack Obama, digital culture in the U.S. hit a tipping point, where a robust online public sphere proved itself capable of changing the world. Meanwhile, here in Canada we’re approaching our own tipping point, where a series of ignorances and capitulations threaten to turn our country into a digital ghetto.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Let's Hope They Can't Go Any Lower...

This is not only disgusting, it is plainly anti-democratic.

I am speechless.

So, bearing in mind that the Conservatives are a minority government, they might submit this project as a confidence vote. If it's accepted by the other elected parties, they, among with all the minor parties that get votes but no seats, will lose substential funding. The Conservatives would lose the most siginificant amount of money, but it represents less than 40% of their funding. Other parties are counting on this method to a bigger degree. For exeample, the Liberals accounts are funded at 63% by this methof.

If they refuse, we're going back in elections, again. And, apart from the Conservatives in power, almost no party has any money to go back to the popular vote for a fifth time since 2000. Furthermore, the Liberal party is looking for a new leader.

The federal funding to political parties is a program that was established by Jean Chrétien in 2004, copying Québec's own program, created by the late René Lévesque. It consists of $1.95 per year per vote to a political formation. Chrétien's program, opposed by the Conservatives' predecessors, the Reform party, also limited corporate and personal donations by imposing a cap. Ironically, the Conservatives adapted by establishing a strong network of small private donations, while the Liberals, counting on large donations from corporate sponsors, had a hard time adapting to their own program.

Let's just say the timing sucks big time, and the conservatives are laughing their asses off.

Not the population though...

EDIT: There's a possibility that a confidence vote defeated by the opposition could put a Liberal-NDP coalition government in power. But this is still a premature supposition.


Labels: , , ,

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Treeplanting Motivational 2008

This is the time of the year when my seasonal job comes back to haunt me. As a friend once said; "the day I won't miss planting when the winter approaches, I know I'll be done with it." Funny enough, I absolutely hated the experience during my first year. Now, every year, I miss it more and sooner...Guess I'm not done just yet!

Here's my treeplanting motivational posters for the 2008 season:

(click for larger)

(click for larger)

(click for larger)

(click for larger)

(click for larger)

(click for larger)

(click for larger)

(click for larger)

(click for larger)

(click for larger)

(click for larger)

(click for larger)

(click for larger)

(click for larger)

(click for larger)

(click for larger)

(click for larger)

(click for larger)

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Electric Sheep Dreams

I have written about this before, but I'm currently working on a virtual series project, titled Krossroads. It has great potential and the credit goes to my friend Jeremy Grunloh, whose creativity in many artisitc fields makes no doubt. His other virtual series, a Star Trek re-imagination, would really deserve to be adapted for the small screen.

Here's an update on how Krossroads' opening credits would look like if there was any chances of this show being real:

Thanks and kudos to Jer for the efforts and talent put into this video.

And what's the story about? Well, it basically revolves around the somewhat conservative Kross family, running a strategically-located space station (akin to a truck-stop) in a star system rich in natural resources. If I'd consider it a character-based drama set in space above anything else, it remains part of the science-fiction genre. It's closer in style, approach and themes to the re-imagined Battlestar Glactica and what I assume the upcoming Caprica will be about than shows like Lost in Space and Star Wars.

I'm quite involved in this project, and therefore biased, but the story outline along with this vid really makes me wish this could ever appear on my TV...

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Ever heard someone saying that life sucks?

I'd rather say it's challenging. Of course, some challenges suck. And sometimes, these fucking challenges last quite a while (examples: Your whole childhood, teenagehood, marriage, life), but I do believe that it's a question of attitude and how you act and react to life's blows.

Recently, I've been procrastinating my fare share and I actually became apathetic and satisfied with the nothingness of my life. I was filled with contentment over simple pleasures and a stress and worry-free life.

So much that I became bland.

No, wait, not bland. FUCKING BORING!

A life wasted doing the same routine, repeating the same useless actions, a brain amorph, without virtually any stimulations despite hopes and ideas waiting to be developped.

I did hurt others, not intentionally of course, and felt basically nothing. But then it happened to me. My ego was bruised, my contentment with my little existence ceased as one of the few exciting moments of my trouble-free life, one of the few activities I would do outside the cocoon I've settled into, was suddenly cut down.

I was somewhat expecting it: The stress I had in the afternoon prior to this change was palpable. I knew something was going to happen and that I had to act accordingly. I made a small effort getting ready. That was a good start.

Then my actions realized before my brain that it was too late. So I stopped caring and had a political discussion over a few drinks with a friend I haven't seen in months.

Then I went back home and took the expected blow. Stayed on the ground for a day or two.

And now I'm standing on my two feet. I learned something, I've felt something. That's good, I was getting a little worried about that part.

I've got a kick in the butt, again. That's the way I live, that's the way I need to live. It's been written in this blog's title for years, because I always wait for one to get me to the next step. I need a motivational jumpstart to learn, adapt, grow, improve.

Therefore, I think I would need more challenges, more often.

Donc, merci pour le coup de pied au cul. Ce n'est jamais agréable, mais ça empêche de s'asseoir dessus, pendant un temps...

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

That's Why it's Called Evolution...

Why the KKK is disappearing, apart from being blatantly anachronistic?

Because they kill their recruits during their initiation ritual.

The funniest part: She was supposed to go back to her home state to recruit more people!

I'd like to quote local Sherrif Jack Strain:
"The IQ level of this group is not impressive, to be kind, I can't imagine anyone feeling endangered or at risk by any one of these kooks."

Nice try guys, what about quitting now?

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bloggin' Nothin'

You know, there's an upcoming election for me...again! Québec's Premier, Jean Charest just threw us a provincial election. Nothing too interesting on this front for now.

So I figured I'd talk a little about my personal life, since it's been a while.

The problem is that it might have been a while, but there hasn't been a lot...

So, just got out of between a rock and a hard place. Or actually, I've kept people there with me. I basically held other people's feeling in hostage.

Now I feel like my life's all over the place, with no clear focus...and no, I don't want to be clearer, for now.

But I think I owe apologies to my past and present. As for the future, let's wait and see...But fingers crossed, there's a bright and shiny one there. Just hope I didn't affect such a future already with the consequences of recent past choices.

Wouldn't be a first, I just hope I already have seen the last...

Cryptic, eh?

Nah, people will read what they need there...

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Here We Go Again...

In case you're just not sick of elections yet.

Elections overdose for some, withdrawal, at the end, for some others...

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Hope Returns

Geekiness candy:

Labels: , , ,

History in the Waiting...

A Quebecker in Chicago's Grant Park tonight:

"It's a rock show ambiance. It's like waiting for U2! Everybody's wearing Obama t-shirts. When you get to the park, in the streets around, there's a lot of items for sale: t-shirts, buttons, CDs of Obama speeches. Everybody smiles! But security is very, very present. I had to go through four checkpoints, showing my ticket, my ID, they searched me, went through the metal detector...


Every US flag you'll see on TV, wavered by the crowd, was given by the Obama campaign."

Labels: , , , ,

McCain Upsets the Maverick Family

As translated from Montreal's La Presse

La Presse

Not easy to hold a name that becomes a political or social slogan. After the upset caused by the French Bougons against the European country's adaptation of the famous Québec TV series, it's now the American Mavericks who are protesting against the use of their patronym to describe the political style of the Republican candidate John McCain.

John McCain likes do define himself as a "maverick"; a sharp-shooter, a free man with independent thoughts. He is an "absolute maverick", as Vice-President candidate Sarah Palin dared to say during her debate with democrat counterpart Joe Biden. according to the New York Times, she said it at least six times.

What is a maverick? The word entered the American political lexicon thanks to Texan Sam Maverick who, at the beginning of the 19th century, went against the flow by refusing to brand his cattle. Since then, the word is used to describe people who are not afraid to voice their opinions, despite all odds and no matter who is against them.

But a grand-daughter of Sam Maverick thinks that John McCain doesn't deserve to hold to her family name to promote his candidacy.

"How does he dare to say he's a maverick when he voted for Bush in 90% of cases?" outrages Terellita Maverick, an 82 years-old lady that we contacted in San Antonio, Texas.

"The word inspired by our name describes someones without owner or master. It is not the case of John McCain", added Mrs. Maverick.

Maverick or not, John McCain won't be able to count on the vote of this retired teacher, who is resolutely democrat. "I will vote for Barack Obama, absolutely. He will win, the future is ahead of us" she exclaimed.

The abuse of this noun derived from the name of a Texan family was, of course, not missed by Barack Obama's campaign. "He was so independant that he almost always voted with Bush" constantly repreated the democrats. A maverick can have a boomerang effect...

Labels: , , , , , ,