July 22, 2006

Stupid poetic justice

Well, well, well. Look who's come crawling back:

An Islamist preacher barred from Britain for his radical views has said that he had tried to join the British evacuation from Lebanon but had been turned away.

Omar Bakri Mohammed, speaking from Beirut, said he had been prevented from boarding a naval warship evacuating Britons from the chaos because he did not have a British passport.

Bakri, who lived in London until his exile last August, said he had asked British authorities to rescue him from the violence in Lebanon for the sake of his family, who are still living in Britain.

"I know controversy surrounds all the news about me, I am myself accepting my destiny. But I have the right like anybody else to look for safety," Bakri told Sky News television after being turned away from the ship on Thursday.

[Full Story]

As an Islamist radical living in London, Bakri has praised the 19 9/11 hijackers, expressed his desire to see Israel eradicated, advocated the re-establishment of the worldwide caliphate and the domination of the globe by Islam, appraised the life of an unbeliever as worthless, and generally speaking denounced the West and everything it stands for. But when he finds himself in the middle of a "hot zone" in the Middle east, suddenly the West doesn't seem all that evil, does it?

Tough darts, Omar. Either start swimming, or enjoy your jihad. Coward.

July 18, 2006

A lunchtime observation

I clipped this off my soup can this afternoon:

I don't know about you, but I find this kind of advertising strangely reassuring.

July 13, 2006

Shine on, you crazy diamond (Syd Barrett, 1946-2006)

Syd Barrett, the legendary original guitarist/vocalist of the progressive rock band Pink Floyd, died on July 7 at the age of 60.

It was Barrett who originally came up with the name The Pink Floyd; the band was originally an R&B cover outfit, so it was fitting that he coined a moniker that combined the given names of bluesmen Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. As songwriter, Barrett turned the band in a more psychedelic direction; songs from this era tend to be whimsical ("Lucifer Sam"), humourous ("Arnold Layne"), or sometimes outright weird ("The Gnome").

However, Barrett's mental health deteriorated in the late 1960s as Pink Floyd's star began to rise. He was a heavy user of LSD and other psychedelic drugs, and some people believe he had a mental disorder, such as schizophrenia or Asperger Syndrome, which might have been aggravated by his chemical abuse. His behaviour became erratic and unpredictable: for example, he would stand on stage with his guitar and stare into space, or strum a single chord for the entire concert, or fiddle with his guitar's tuning. In 1967, the Floyd appeared on American Bandstand but Syd refused to move his lips to the recording of their hit "See Emily Play." He refused to answer questions in interviews, staring blankly instead. Guitarist David Gilmour was hired to replace him, and one day the band just decided not to pick Syd up on the way to a gig.

The lengthy song "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," from the 1975 album Wish You Were Here, was written as a tribute to Syd Barrett. Coincidentally, after several years of seclusion, he showed up at Abbey Road Studios to pay a visit during the recording of that record: having gained weight and shaved off all his hair, the band hardly recognized him and were moved to tears. Some years later, Barrett returned to live with his mother (also deceased), reverted to using his real name (Roger) instead of the nickname "Syd," and took up painting.

Nonetheless, Barrett was an influential musician - artists as diverse as R.E.M., Dream Theater, The Who, and Smashing Pumpkins have either covered his songs or claimed inspiration from him. Syd Barrett is the poster boy for wasted talent as the consequence of a lifestyle of excess.

July 05, 2006

This just in . . .

North Korea test-launched half a dozen missiles yesterday, including Scuds and the never-before-fired Taepodong-2 missile.

Observers report seeing debris of some kind falling off the missiles shortly after launch.

The Crusty Curmudgeon wishes Kim "Nodong" Jong Il "better luck next time."

July 04, 2006


Well, hope everybody liked my Canada-coloured template, as I didn't mean to leave it up all weekend.

Honestly. If this blog were Christmas lights, they'd be up in June.

July 03, 2006

Arrivederci James Spurgeon

James Spurgeon, aka The Howling Coyote, has withdrawn from the blogosphere for personal reasons. This is unfortunate, as he is an insightful pastor, not to mention a longtime online acquaintance of mine.

One thing that disappoints me about his departure is that he has deleted his blog. I was enjoying reading his series on Galatians (being stalled in my own). Unfortunately, burning your bridges like that has another side-effect: his URL (still available in my blogroll for the moment) is now being squatted by a spam blog. Not the most graceful way to depart from cyberspace.

Don't be a stranger, James.

July 01, 2006

Bonne fête, Canada

Today is July 1: the 139th birthday of the Dominion of Canada. Here in Ottawa, that means that there is a massive street party in the vicinity of Parliament Hill, together with a couple hundred thousand of your closest friends. At some point in the day, everyone is going to get completely drenched by rain. (This has not failed to happen in my memory.) Finally, the day ends with a spectacular fireworks display over the Ottawa River and a long wait for a ride home on the bus with a few dozen of your drunk best friends.

It is my custom on Canada Day to introduce my readers (particularly my non-Canadian ones) to a Canadian patriotic song. I am a sixth-generation Canadian, and although I am Ontario born and raised, my generation is practically the first to live outside of Nova Scotia. It seems fitting, therefore, to showcase the traditional Nova Scotian folk song, "Farewell to Nova Scotia" this year. When I attended the McClare/McClair family reunion in Nova Scotia in 2000, this was one of the songs we sang around the campfire. It was ironic that so many McClares from all over the continent gathered at our point of origin and sang this song.

My recording is by the Irish Rovers (who, ironically, are based in the West); the lyrics as recorded by them are:

Farewell to Nova Scotia, the sea-bound coast
Let your mountains dark and dreary be
When I am far away on the briny ocean tossed
Will you ever heave a sigh or a wish for me?

The sun was setting in the west
The birds were singing on every tree
All nature seemed to be at rest
But alas there was no rest for me.


I grieve to leave my native home
I grieve to leave my comrades all
And my parents whom I hold so dear
And the bonnie, bonnie lass I do adore.


The drums do beat and the wars do alarm
My captain calls, I must obey
Farewell, farewell to Nova Scotia's charms
For it's early in the morning I am bound far away.


I have two brothers and they are at rest
Their arms are folded on their chest
But a poor simple sailor just like me
Must be tossed and turned in the deep dark sea.


(If you'd like to sing along, naturally the Net has a MIDI accompaniment.)

The authorship of "Farewell to Nova Scotia" is unknown. Likely it was written in the early part of the 20th century, before or during World War I. In those days, Canada was still a colony of England, and when she went to war, so did we. The song is about resentment at being shipped across the world to fight (and perhaps die) overseas without seeing the homeland again. A century later it takes on a new significance, given the migration away from the economically depressed Maritimes for the more prosperous climes of Ontario and the West.

Virtually every East Coast musician of note has recorded this song, from Anne Murray to Great Big Sea. It is said that the best recording is that of the late folk singer Stan Rogers, although I have not heard it.

Previous songs from previous Canada Days: