Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Fast Show

I've been watching a bit of The Fast Show recently. (Funny how our skills of procrastination always come to the fore around exam time.) For those who have never heard of it, it's a British sketch comedy show that aired in the late nineties.

This sketch made me giggle.


For those not easily offended, there is also a great sketch called "I didn't mean to say that". The mannerism of the three guys are great.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Interesting Quotes: Episode 1


"Men are unable to forgive what they cannot punish and they are . . . unable to punish what has turned out to be unforgivable."

Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

Is it just me or is what this quote implies a little debilitating? It's saying in order to move on we always feel the need to make someone else pay for what we perceive to be their mistakes. If we cannot make them pay, or if we feel they do not sufficiently recognise their guilt, we are genetically forced to carry our feeling of injustice with us like a burden... unable to place it down on the ground and keep walking.

What does this say for our relationships with each other? Many of the things we do to each other are unable to be sufficiently "punished"... which makes me think, how much baggage do we all carry around with us?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Snow fall in Rue St André, Montréal - 13:07, 3 December 2007





A crack in the shell and it all just fell apart...

Graffiti in Sydney suburb of Redfern

It's been roughly a week since the Liberal Party lost power in Australia. It has been interesting to see how drastically the party has imploded in that time. The (former) Prime Minister, John Howard, lost his own seat of Bennelong, and has therefore not managing to be re-elected to parliament. It is only the second time in Australia's political history that an incumbent Prime Minister has lost in his own electorate. Peter Costello, the former Deputy Prime Minister, a man who had made his desire to lead the Liberal Party no secret during the last eleven years of government has finally decided he doesn't want to run for the Liberal leadership. In fact, he no longer wants to remain in politics at all, preferring to move into the private sector. Similarly, prominent ministers in Howard's former government, notably former foreign minister Alexander Downer and former Attorney General Philip Ruddock (who was once described by David Marr as "a dark star" and "a blank page of a man"), have taken much diminished roles in the new Liberal opposition government.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how much Howard's obstinate iron grip of the party, his muzzling of the more liberal Liberals, his "we work as a team and we do it my way" policy to leadership was the only thing holding the party together. Without Howard the party finds itself rejoicing in the increased freedom of life in the Liberal Party without Howard, but also daunted by the consequences of what unbridled freedom involves. The implosion of the party demonstrates just how fragile the faith in Howard as a leader was within the party. With Howard no longer dominating the party room, it is clear for all to see just how discontented many members of the Liberal Party were with the way the party was being run. Remember, this is the party that only a week ago, some 47% of the Australian population voted for.

Without Howard the unquestionable is suddenly being questioned. Suddenly apologising to the Aborigines for the Stolen Generation is no big deal. Suddenly, signing the Kyoto Protocol is the right thing to do. Suddenly, gay rights are on the agenda. Suddenly, instead of petulantly crossing our arms and saying, "well, why should we?" we're asking, "why shouldn't we?".
I find it a little disturbing that we followed along so obediently and unquestioningly for so long. Many political commentators have pointed out that one of Howard's great skills was to induce apathy in the Australian public. His leadership was devoid of any real inspiration. It was a case of trying to annoy the least number of people, rather than any real attempt to inspire a nation to follow a dream. When it is revealed, as it has been, that even those in his own party were only marginally behind him (if they were actually behind him at all), you have to wonder why we were all so easily convinced. We just learnt to swallow the pills. We thought, "he doesn't want to talk about Guantanamo? That's ok. He doesn't want to talk about Woomera, about Villawood? Well, hmmmm it's all so complicated anyway. He wants to go to Irak? I mean, pass me the sport would you.... yeah... that's better."

What was gained by being so obstinate towards taking responsibility for anything? What did we gain by being evasive of answers? Why did we feel the need to go out of our way to be so disdainful of the idea of everyday decent values? It didn't amount to anything in the end. Howard hasn't left the Liberal Party in a position of strong intellectual or conceptual consensus as to what it stands for. Instead, the party is left groping in the dark, having to redefine itself, perhaps now knowing more about what it doesn't want to represent, than what it does.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

But sir, I thought seasons were meant to be three months long each?

"It's the white witch that makes it always winter. Always winter and never Christmas; think of that!"

So sayeth Mr Tumnus The Faun to dear little buck-toothed Lucy upon her falling through the back of the wardrobe into CS Lewis' magical world of Narnia.

Ok, so maybe we do get Christmas, but nonetheless I do feel that CS Lewis had Montréal in mind when he came up with the idea of a world where the snow rests thick on the branches of the trees all year round, where the rivers are perpetually frozen over... where it's always winter and never spring.

I mean, ok, it's only been a couple of weeks now since Montréal's famed winter temperatures have descended to the point that snow is no longer melting. However, the thought that it is going to be like this until the end of MAY is just crazy! I mean, we're not talking about a cold winter here (rumour has it that there is a always a two week period of -40 degree temperatures in February). We're talking about a resetting of the seasons.

I mean what happened when the supreme being was deciding the make-up of the world?

God: Alright Montréal, how's it going?
Montréal: (slouched in his chair, a petulant school boy, his shirt untucked, he chews loudly on a piece of gum) Yeah.
God: (slightly awkwardly) Allllllright. That's good. Now,(looking down at his note pad) last time we spoke we agreed you'd get a bilingual culture. So let's now move on to weather patterns.
Montréal: Whatever.
God: Ok. So do you think you'll be wanting Spring?
Montréal: hmmm... what does it do?
God: Well, uh, flowers will bloom, temperatures will get warmer, animals will generally reemerge and fornicate, ... it's a period of fecundity and rebirth... a new beginning and all that.
Montréal: What's the alternative?
God: Well, if you decided you don't want Spring we could throw in a few extra months of biting cold, horizontal sleet, deathly penetrating wind, and seemingly never-ending snow fall. What do you think?
Montréal: Ummm... yeah we'll go with the death cold and stuff.
God: (taken back) Oh! Ah... right... I mean, you're sure about this? I mean, it's just that no one's ever gone for that option before.... I mean, you're sure? Winter, from November through to May? That's seven months of winter?
Montréal: Yeah.
God: You want seven months of winter per year do you?
Montréal: Yep...Seven months of winter is awesome.
God: Awesome.

ps. God to be played by John Cleese.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

When something's so cringeworthy, it makes you smile.

The following paragraph is from an article in Melbourne newspaper The Age about John Howard's impending loss to Labor candidate Maxine Mckew in his seat of Bennelong. To set the scene, Howard is giving his parting 'I concede we have lost the national election' speech at the Wentworth Hotel in Sydney in front of the Liberal Party faithful. At some point during the function his opposing Labour candidate for the seat of Bennelong, Maxine Mckew, is flashed across the big screen. It's a little like someone carrying a poster advocating gay rights through the centre of Tehran. It's never going to get a positive reaction. Anyway, the article (which you can read in full here) describes the incident in the following way:

"When Ms McKew appeared on giant screens around the Wentworth Hotel ballroom, filmed being feted by the Labor faithful at her Bennelong function, loud boos rang out [amongst the Liberal faithful]. Some Young Liberals abused the Labor candidate, one yelling 'get a facelift, you slag'."


There is something so horribly Australian about this comment. It's so unwarranted, so crass, that it almost makes you want to applaud - really slowly. It's a comment that screams, "for me, whether I've had thirteen beers at a day-nighter at the MCG, or I'm at a national political party function, I pretty much act the same way." As Will Ferrell says in Anchorman "I'm not even angry, I'm impressed". Makes you just want to say, "what was going through your mind just before you decided to say that? What is the thought process there?"

Was it something like this:

"Ok, we've just lost the federal election... that's bad. How can I rectify this? Oh, there's the Labour candidate on the big screen. They reckon she's going to knock off John Howard... hmmm... she's a woman. God, look how happy she is when she smiles... so smug... Like she's better than me... hmph... I've got an idea. (Screams the immortal line: Get a face lift, you slag!)... hehe...Oh yeah!... yeah that's right!... Stay down Mckew! Stay down!... hehe, I reckon that showed her!"

Everybody sing along now. I am... you are... we are... well, you know the rest.

Australian Labor Party sweeps Australian elections

Kevin Rudd: 26th Prime Minister of Australia

Back in 2001 I went to Student Leadership Forum on Faith and Values in Leadership in Canberra. A bunch of pimply faced, zealous students and "prominent community leaders" (I think that is how he introduced himself!), we were gathered in a room to hear the Prime Minister speak about his decision making processes. The room stood to a rather awkward standing ovation as John Howard entered the room, one of those standing ovations where half the room jumps to its feet and the rest sort of gradually pop up out of a perceived obligation to not seem like a bad sport. After the Prime Minister's speech, Liberal Bruce Baird informed us that the then leader of the opposition, Kym Beazley, was not available to speak to us, but that instead we would be hearing from the shadow foreign minister, a guy whom the liberal minister described as being, "one of the good guys, even from our side of politics." That 'good guy', was Kevin Rudd.

Whether based on the strength of policy platforms, or on a deeper discontent with the perceived moral bankruptcy of a government deemed to be out of touch with the Australian public, or based merely on a general feeling of a need for change that seems to be a part of the Australian psyche, Australia has elected Kevin Rudd, leader of the Australian Labour Party as the 26th Prime Minister of Australia. Three years out from a disastrous loss, the Australian Labour Party has bounced back to claim a landslide victory, gaining at least 30 seats to make a total of approximately 86 out of the available 150 parliamentary constituencies (with counting still to be finalised). To add insult to injury, John Howard, our outgoing prime minister, may not even be re-elected in his electorate (in which I grew up) of Bennelong. If he does lose to high profile Labour candidate Maxine Mckew, he will be the first sitting Prime Minister not to be re-elected in his own seat since 1929 when the then Prime Minister Stanley Bruce lost the seat of Flinders.

Politics is a sensitive subject. I don't know whether it's an Australian thing, but it's almost as if we tend to feel more comfortable revealing intimate details about our sexual history than we are revealing our political tendencies. However, I couldn't help feeling slightly more positive about life when I woke up this morning to a cold but sunny Canadian winter day, and read that Labour had won. I'm not necessarily excited that it is Labour that has won, but it's more what they represent at the moment, and that is a party that is prepared to reintroduce the idea of standards to our nation, standards in education, standards in our foreign policy, standards in the way we run the economy. There is some comfort to be drawn from the fact that a market economy will be pursued, but that it will not be pursued at all costs. The fact that Australians may have voted through their hearts and not just through their mortgage, is somehow reassuring.

Former Prime Minister Howard concedes defeat.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

First snow of the year: The first of many...

Avenue de parc
The McGill hospital
The Law Library
The old law faculty building (where I have all my classes)
The LLM Crew (almost entirely french, save a couple of canadians, a couple of poms, a spaniard, a columbian, an argentian and me.)
Avenue de parc again (they had beach volleyball courts here a couple of weeks ago... whimper)

Ps. These photos were taken about 8:30 in the morning. What I'd give for a day of 35 degrees C and a Sydney beach. You have to say that you wouldn't blame Canada for not really being all that passionate about preventing global warming. I mean... really!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Paris je t'aime - Bastille

Some nice observations about relationships from the movie Paris, Je t'aime:

The Irony of Subjugation

"Ce qui lui portait également sur les nerfs avec sa femme, c'était qu'elle ne commandait jamais d'hors d'oeuvre ni de dessert mais qu'elle mangait toujours le sien presque en entier. Et le pire de tout c'était qu'il finissait toujours par commander ce qu'elle aimait."
"What really got on his nerves about his wife was the fact that she never wanted to order an entrée or a dessert, but would always eat all of his instead. And the worst of all was that now he only ordered things that she liked."

Self deception vs Life is What you Make of It

"À force de se comporter comme un homme amoureux, il devient de nouveau, un homme amoureux."
"By behaving like a man in love, he became once more, a man in love."

Monday, November 12, 2007

McGill Law students protest for the reinstatement of the Rule of Law in Pakistan







Some of the students in the masters decided to demonstrate our solidarity with the lawyers suffering abuses of power in Pakistan, as well as with the situation in general, which has seen the country's constitution suspended and a period of (ill-defined) state of emergency implemented.

The protest was an organic experience. It grew out of a conversation over lunch between my colleagues on a Tuesday, occured in its first manifestation on the Tuesday and then again in a more organised manner (student associations mobilsed, professors and press informed, police authorisation etc) on the Friday, and subsequently appeared on the Canadian news on the Friday night. It has also been mentioned to New York Times.

I nice reminder to all of us never to underestimate the power of doing "something".

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dan in "real" life

Last Friday I went and saw “Dan in Real Life”, a romantic comedy about people, family and about retaining the ability to be surprised by life. Basically, whilst on holiday with his whole family, Dan, a man struggling with the task of raising his three daughters after the death of his wife, meets a woman in a bookshop and there is an instant connection. The problem is that the woman is going out with Dan's brother and thus Dan is forced to spend the family holiday hiding his attraction from his brother, and from his family. Sounds pretty simplistic right? To save me explaining the plot further, go and see the trailer, here. Although not really conclusive, you'll get an idea of the style of the film. The reviews of the film range widely from "As resolutely plastic and formulaic as most half-hour network comedy pilots" and "The movie is called Dan in Real Life, but it’s a stretch worthy of Reed Richards to believe that anything in this tepid plate of idiocy would actually happen in real life" all the way to "If what you want is a star-driven sophisticated romantic comedy that is successfully aimed at actual adults, the wait can seem like forever. Until now."
Granted, the film is fairly basic. But I think it is saved by some really sensitive performances and some beautifully sincere and genuine human moments. While the plot may be at times unbelievable, the human reactions are not.

Early in the film, the title character (Steve Carell), at a bookstore, meets the woman he will fall in love with (Juliette Binoche). Mistaking him for an employee, she tries to describe the kind of book she’s looking for. “I want something funny,” she says. “But not laugh-out-loud funny. And definitely not making-fun-of-people funny. I want something human funny.” Unable to really explain what she wants, she capitulates: I want to feel something... I want to be engaged. It does not take long to recognize this as a declaration of the film’s own intentions.
The truth is, this film is simplistic, but if it were not, would it be as popular? People have their own lives to be depressed by. They don't need to go and see someone else who's life is a mess. And after all, the great things about films is they enable us to be unrealistic. It's liberating. It's gratifying.

But why do we gravitate towards entertainment that presents a simplified version of our lives? Why do we enjoy that feeling of, "yes, that's what I feel but I haven't been able to articulate it up till now!" so much.
Why, when there is amazingly genuine intense and emotionally observant music, do we all smile when Bernard Fanning says "I just want to wish you well" in a song with three chords or the Beatles say, "I just want to hold your hand"? Why, when there is a film like Adaptation, does Love Actually take out the box office? Is it that our own lives give us so much grey, that all we want to do is grab onto the black and white and hope to god no one asks us to return it at the door? It is this that films like Dan in Real Life give us. They tender to our intrinsic desire to want to bathe in nostalgia. They allow us to indulge in all those things we wished could be true for own lives but that we seem not able to grasp hold of.

Just like the girl in the book shop, I think some of us are all yearning to be engaged, yearning for someone to make us feel... something. Whatever that something is...

As far as I'm concerned I know there are times when I want to turn off the grey, when I want to forget about the "what am I going to do?"s, the "how will I ever be happy?"s. I know there are times when I just want to turn up the music, forget that the words are meaningless, and jump up and down, and smile.

It doesn't help me make any sense of anything. But it feels good.

Right?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The way we will be

Ted Talks is a conference that takes place once a year were some of the world's most inspired thinkers and doers give presentations on culture, history, law, medicine and innovation (just to name a few) by a wide variety of the world's thinkers and doers. If you have some spare time, instead to looking on facebook to see if Barry, the bloke you met once when you were drunk at the pub, has sent you a magic zombie ring, go and check out some of the speeches. They are very thought-provoking.

I've chosen two presentations just to give you a taste of what Ted Talks is about. The first is about the effect of mobile technology on our way of life. The second is on how law is stifling creativity in our society. Highly recommended.



Monday, November 05, 2007

The Hall of Shame

Was sent this chart of the world's most evil people (I say "people" but they are all men! that says something huh?!)

Would you change it at all? Who do you think they were wrong to include? Who do you think they missed?

Australian politics: Economic management


Latest offering from these two commentators on Australian politics. It has a bit of a biting end to it. Check it out here.

Quick game of footy?


Max, (third from right, bottom row) and I played for the Mcgill MBA rugby side, a group of lads having a bit of fun a couple of weeks ago. It was a great day. Two other Canadian university sides traveled to Montréal for the day and we played a bit of a round robin. Mcgill went down in both our games but the boys were valiant and courageous given they were all pretty new to the game.

In any event, it was good to have a run around. No lasting damage done, apart from Max's relationship with his girlfriend, who he made watch all three games back to back during her brief visit from France. The things we do for love. To be honest James, people have probably done worse things for love than just watching a rugby game. Some people take jobs they hate to pay for bright shiny gifts for their partners. Some people take partners they hate to keep their job. Some people stay with people who hate them because they are too scared to leave. Some people dont... Yeah ok. Enough already. You'll scare away the readers.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Tamtams


Tamtams in Montreal from james on Vimeo.
Every Sunday in Montréal, people gather on the side of Mount Royal to form a massive drum group. The concept is basically that everyone comes together to drum, dance and feel the music in the name of peace and harmony. Last Sunday was the final session for this year given that it's getting a bit too cool to play outdoors. I went down to check it out. It was pretty crazy. There were about 80 people drumming away, with all different types of drums and instruments, and then around the drummers are a whole lot of people dancing (way to describe, James. Really evocative). I have to say I felt very white and private schoolie amongst all these people. You can find out more about it all here.

I took some pretty amateur photos which you can see below... but for better ones go to the site linked above.

Safe to say there are some interesting characters which take part in the Tamtams. There were some obvious veterans of the event. This one 60 year old guy had his own home made beer holder which he sported with pride.
And just if you thought that the drumming circle was a bit passé, a bit further up the hill people were re-enacting medievil battles (something Eric assured me takes place every Sunday as well - So Trent, how was your weekend? - Oh you know Bob, just the usual, defeated Charlemagne and all that. Nothing special.)

Justice

Following the shaving of beard episode (see previous post) eric and I headed out with Maximin and girlfriend Aude to see Justice (you may have heard of their song "Dance"), a french group made up of two djs which are apparently the big hit in Paris at the moment (Ooooooh! Bow down all you minions and follow the mighty city of trend!). It was wall to wall doof doof music (a long way from sufjan stevens he said with an air of "it was great, if by great you mean totally lacking in melody, skill or originality". I mean two guys bobbing up and down, acting as if changing urp urp urp urp to burmp burmp burmp burmp is a great achievement, while strobe lights turn them into a mystical source of everything "cool" is so representative of the show vs substance problem with our generation! I couldn't help thinking if you turned the lights on, and turned off the smoke machine, it would have been like watching two nerdy guys, trying to entertain a bunch of adults using only the "look, i got your nose" trick that grandparents do to their four year old grand children. Wow. A little bitter there James? Ok, so maybe I'm a little harsh. Btw, thanks for the ticket Eric. Awesome show : ) The atmosphere was electric ).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The night was homage to the fact that things are a lot more fun when you dress up. We thought we were out there until we arrived and saw the arrange of costumes people had indulged in. Either that or their normal clothes were just wierd. A lot of cool montrealers (montrealites?) were out to be seen. A girl next to me had taped a plastic baby to her chest, a chest which was not very discretely covered I might add (he said in his "in my day..." voice). When I happened to glance at the baby (warranted action I thought), the girl got all, "That's so typical of guys, my eyes are up here!" I had to laugh.

Meet eric, my house mate. We considered forming mid 90s brit pop group after this photo.
The crowd was crazy. Luckily, we managed to get up on the balcony level and thus avoided the crush. What? You don't really care where we stood? OK.
Max, me and Eric. When I say "arrrrgh" you say ....

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bearded Mayhem

Friday night was spent in with Eric. We had some time to kill before going to see Justice, a Dj group from France, and somehow we found ourselves making this.

Friday night + Camera + too much law = this from james on Vimeo.

Friday, October 19, 2007

All you need is (to) LOVE (yourself)?: Flipping Political Science the Bird

Following is a recent excerpt from Big John P's monthly column:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"In the midst of this reverie I added another book by Paulo Coelho to my collection. The collection began with The Alchemist which I regard as essential reading (once a year); and there are at least seven other works worthy of attention. This latest publication bears the title The Zahir and is subtitled a Novel of Obsession. I have only read half the book but already that which is on my mind has been addressed and I have been given reason to pause.


Coelho seems to be sharing himself from inside his life as a writer and the details are details about his life. His wife, named Esther in the book, has gone off to be a war correspondent and Coelho is struggling to cope with her absence and her vocational decision. In one of their brief reunions Coelho tries to talk Esther out of her commitment and the following emerges.

"As long as I am in a war zone my life has meaning. I really live, I mean, loving every minute, every second. There’s no room for sadness, doubts, nothing; there’s just a great love of life."
"So, in your opinion, human beings only find life meaningful when they’re at war."
"We are always at war, we are at war with death… and the things that happen in daily life. We need to find a way of channelling all this, of allowing the energy of this pure, absolute love to flow through our bodies and spread around us."

Then Esther goes on to say,
“If everyone is capable of loving his companion without restrictions, unconditionally, then he is manifesting the love of God. If the love of God becomes manifest, he will love his neighbour, he will love himself. If he loves himself then everything returns to its proper place. History changes. History will never change because of politics, or conquests or theories or wars; that’s mere repetition, it’s been going on since the beginning of time. History will only change when we are able to use the energy of love, just as we use the energy of the wind, the sea, the atom.”

Coelho asks, “Do you think we two could save the world?
Esther answers, “I think there are more people out there who think the same way.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
HEY HUMAN! WANNA SEE MORE?: To see a video of Coelho talking about his book and reasons for writing click here

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rencontrez mon colocataire: Eric Demay

My flatmate Eric Demay (see post on Thanksgiving in Ottawa) is a designer/architect/photographer/blogger. He was recently interviewed for an ARTV, an TV channel here in Canada focusing on art, music and culture. It's a cool interview. For the french speakers amongst you, check it out here. (For the english speakers, you will probably understand "on brainstorm ensemble... c'est du back and forth" - Good times!).

Mon colocataire Eric Demay (regardez en-dessous Thanksgiving in Ottawa) est graphiste/architecte/photographe/blogger. Il a été récemment interviewé par ARTV, une chaine de télévision canadienne traitant d'art et de culture. C'est chouette comme interview. Pour le regarder, cliquez ici.

If you think Eric looks cool, it is because he is wearing my jacket! Surely that counts as a screen credit! Somebody please update my IMDB site accordingly.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Open questions: Comments welcome!












I'm on a bit of a search for what drives me. I think the simple answer is many things. The more complicated answer is that there are some things that drive me that I'm aware of ie. my skills, my interests, my passions, and others which I'm less likely to admit to, ie. fears, obligations, a feeling of "doing the right thing", expectations.

What is your purpose? What drives you?

Nigerian writer Ben Okri once wrote, "a dream can be the highest point of a life."

I recognise that I am privileged to even have the opportunity to indulge in such self-examination, but does Okri's quote apply to me? Is it unrealistic to think that life should be full of dreamy moments, a forest of "highest points" rather than the odd sporadic tree? Do we as people have to accept that life and dreams are two parallel lines that never intersect? Is life about finding that point of intersection where dream becomes reality, or is it only about "the striving" for it? Do we have a right to reality full of attainable dreams?

I feel like working at Ronnie Johns was a bit of a "dream". Ok, it was not wholly fulfilling, but it gave me a taste of what life is like when you live your dreams every day rather than keep them at a distance, as an observable future goal, a goal that you strive after but one which you inherently understand to be unattainable.

I'm interested in what drives you.

Discuss.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Global Conference on the Prevention of Genocide in Montreal


A Genocide Conference is currently taking place in Montreal, having been organised by the McGill Law Faculty. It has drawn together some of the foremost experts and minds in International Criminal Law from all over the world to try and tackle the issue of how Genocide can be prevented. How do we stop "Never again" becoming "Ever again"? (A cute turn of phrase that doesn't really make sense.)

I encourage you to look at the website of the conference. It is available in Francais or English.

I attended the opening ceremony last night, which featured four temoinages by four genocide survivors (holocaust - jewish, holocaust - gypsie, cambodian killing fields, Rwandan genocide). The temoinages were very moving for different reasons. Some were obviously still dealing with the pain for on a daily basis, whilst others were able to move past anger and to talk about why genocide happened. The cambodian survivor, Youk Chhang, was particularly moving, talking about the process of moving from anger to wanting to constructively do something about preventing genocide. He talked about the liberation that comes with no longer defining his personal identity through genocide. He finished by saying, "Now, I don't want to be known as a genocide survivor. Please call me Youk Chhang."

The ceremony also featured a panal of respondants including General Romeo Delaire. The General spoke very briefly and succintly about the crux of the prevention dilemma. He asked simply, what is that special formula that we (those trying to justify international action/intervention) can emply in order to convince government leaders to have the courage to rise above domestic reelection, public opinion and to act in the interests of the planet, in the interests of humanity.

This for me is the crux of international criminal law's modern challenge. There can be benevolent international government intent, and pretty slogans of "never again", and a functioning international legal apparatus, but if governments are not willing to implement available strategies provided by international law, then what effective practical impact can international law have in preventing genocide?

Clarke and Dawe: Quizzing Joe Blow

I've posted sketches from these guys before... Although the performances in this one are not as sharp as they usually are, the content is pretty biting. Check it out here!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Ottawa - Thanksgiving

Well, it was thanksgiving at the weekend and I was lucky enough to be invited to stay with my flatmate Eric in Chelsea, a suburb just outside Ottawa, to spend Thanksgiving with his family. It was a really relaxing weekend, a large amount of time spent in Eric's spa.

Here are a few random shots from the weekend. Me, Anna (Eric's Sister), Daniel (Eric's brother), Gabrielle, Eric (my flatmate - top bloke), Laura (Eric's sister). The guy taking photo obviously hadn't used a zoom since 1968.
Eric in fade
Panorama of Ottawa
Spider installation and Ottawa Cathedral
Eric and I (if you have seen Devil's Hill you will notice Eric's remarkable likeness to Badge)
Parliament tower
Canadian Parliament
Danial, Laura, Anna, Gabrielle in fade
Canadian memorial to peace-keeping missions

Ottawa cathedral
Eric and his sister Anna

Canadian Wall commemorating service of Canadian forces in peace-keeping missions: Sudan