This Week at City Hall

Monday, June 1
City Council (8:30 am): Our council is up at the crack of dawn to discuss external funding and a debenture bylaw for the global transportation hub.

Tuesday, June 2
Finance and Administration Committee (12:15 pm): Considering property tax exemptions for Regina Education and Action on Hunger (REACH), Regina Foodbank, and the Regina Airport Authority.

Wednesday, June 3
Paratransit Advisory Board (5:30 pm): Looking at the paratransit registration process, April 2009 operation statistics and an update on service hours for June 2009.

As always, full reports and agendas can be downloaded at the city's website.

So I Just Finished Reading This Racist Novel

I have just read one of the most racist books I’ve ever come across. The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu or as the American edition that I have just read is called The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu. Apparently Americans need to be sold on the more exciting insidiousness of the novel rather than the mysterious mysteriousness of the novel. The novel was written in 1912 by Sax Rohmer and was the first in a series of thirteen novels featuring the arch supervillain Dr. Fu Manchu.

“Imagine a person, tall, lean and feline, high-shouldered, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan, a close-shaven skull, and long, magnetic eyes of the true cat-green. Invest him with all the cruel cunning of an entire Eastern Race, accumulated in one giant intellect, with all the resources of science past and present, with all the resources, if you will, of a wealthy government---which, however, already has denied all knowledge of his existence. Imagine that awful being, and you have a mental picture of Dr. Fu-Manchu, the yellow peril incarnate in one man.”

I've been reading a lot of pulp fiction lately and this novel is one of the first few that gave birth of the super-villain. Mysterious deaths, death trap after death trap. Secret labs in secret evil layers - evil henchmen with ninja skills and awesome rope strangling techniques. This novel has it all except a hero to root for.

The novel follows the adventures of a Sherlock Holmes rip-off named Nayland Smith, who has just returned from Burma and is on the trail of a threat to the British Empire.

"A fiend who, unless my calculations are at fault is now in London, and who regularly wars with pleasant weapons of that kind. Petrie, I have traveled from Burma not in the interests of the British Government merely, but in the interests of the entire white race, and I honestly believe--though I pray I may be wrong--that its survival depends largely upon the success of my mission."

The Dr. Watson like Dr. Petrie follows Smith on his adventures. He also writes them in novel form, much like Dr. Watson so he is in fact the narrator of this adventure. They try to stop Dr. Fu Manchu by running around and usually arriving seconds too late to stop whatever evil Fu Manchu was planning. Whatever Fu Manchu's vast plan is - it's never revealed. The only reason the two get even close to stopping the good doctor is that Fu Manchu's slave - the beautiful Karamaneh is in love with Doctor Petrie. Petrie himself is infatuated with her - constantly referring to her charming accent. Smith pretends to be some sort of intellect and spends most of the novel insulting the Asian race at every chance he gets. And his take on women is just as bad. His advice to Petrie on how to win Karamaneh.

"You don't know the Oriental mind as I do; but I quite understand the girl's position. She fears the English authorities, but would submit to capture by you! If you would only seize her by the hair, drag her to some cellar, hurl her down and stand over her with a whip, she would tell you everything she knows, and salve her strange Eastern conscience with the reflection that speech was forced from her. I am not joking; it is so, I assure you. And she would adore you for your savagery, deeming you forceful and strong!"

The only way I could get through this novel was to root for Dr. Fu Manchu. Smith is a racist idiot. He blunders into death after death trap only to have the beautiful Karamaneh save his and Petrie's life time and time again.

Throughout Smith and Petrie's racist tirades, there is this bizarre praise that they continually heap on Fu Manchu. "He has the brains of any three men of genius."

"What perverted genius was his! If that treasury of obscure wisdom which he, perhaps alone of living men, had rifled, could but be thrown open to the sick and suffering, the name of Dr. Fu-Manchu would rank with the golden ones in the history of healing."

Of course near the end of the novel Fu Manchu acts more like the evil villain that he is known for.

"They die like flies!" screamed Fu-Manchu, with a sudden febrile excitement; and I felt assured of something I had long suspected: that that magnificent, perverted brain was the brain of a homicidal maniac--though Smith would never accept the theory.

"It is my fly-trap!" shrieked the Chinaman. "And I am the god of destruction!"

In the end Fu Manchu gets away to attack another day but not before he saves the life of a detective that was helping Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie. The detective attacked Fu Manchu and instead of Smith getting poisoned the detective was. So Fu Manchu - being the evil super-genius that he is - cures him.

"Say no more, Mr. Smith," he interrupted; "you misunderstand me. I do not quarrel with that, but what I have done from conviction and what I have done of necessity are separated--are seas apart. The brave Inspector Weymouth I wounded with a poisoned needle, in self-defense; but I regret his condition as greatly as you do. I respect such a man. There is an antidote to the poison of the needle."

This is an evil genius? Obviously I was right to root for Fu Manchu. There is much potential in this story. And to blame the racism on the year that it was written seems like an easy out to me. H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines was written in 1885 and it's treatment of the native Africans expresses much less prejudice than one would imagine. In fact one of the main heroes is a native African who Allan Quatermain helps to regain control of his kingdom. Oh well. Still without Rohmer's Fu Manchu there would be no Ming the Merciless, no Dr. No and no Lex Luthor.

Boston Police on Zombies: "We Let You Know."

Apparently in the event of a zombie attack, the Boston Police Department will keep the public informed via Twitter.

Plus what do in the event of a zombie attack.

Personally I think this book is more helpful. And damn funny too.

Suing Terrorists: Now Available In Canada!

The Globe and Mail reports that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced an amendment to the State Immunity Act that will let individuals sue terrorist organizations, nations and individuals in Canadian Courts.


1.) Can this guy sue the political leaders who created policies where he could be deported and tortured?

2.) Can these people sue for the destruction of their homes and lives during a military action many consider to be chock full o' war crime?

3.) Can this guy's family sue the individuals, organizations and religions that incited lethal hatred against him?

Just wondering how broad our definition of terrorism is here. Are we helping people sue all terrorists--which is absolutely fine by me--or just the ones who speak Arabic?

I know my position will be consistent. How about our Prime Minister's?

Abortion Doctor Murdered In Kansas

Ugh. (L.A. Times) Bet you a nickel the murderer is a church-going Christian with a pastor who regularly spoke passionately against abortion. Happy Sunday, everyone.

UPDATE: Joan Walsh, the editor of the excellent online magazine Salon, has a pretty good blog post here. People following the story are going to hear the phrase "Christian Terrorism" a lot in the next few days. It's still unclear with the killing is motivated by religion--though it seems unlikely it wouldn't be. We'll have to wait and see.

UPDATE 2: A suspect is in custody, reports the Kansas newspaper Wichita Eagle. The Eagle is following this story--if you're interested keep an eye on developments at kansas.com, here.

Sunday Afternoon Talking Points: Gay Marriage

The California Supreme Court's recent ruling that it's somehow okay to let Cali voters veto same-sex marriage doesn't affect my life in any significant way. After all, Canada already allows gay marriage. Also, I'm not gay. (Now)

But I'm still pissed off about it. The United States is our influential neighbour to the south and their foolish, old-fashioned, emotional/hysterical ideas on social policy inspire and motivate Canada's troglodytes, jerks and nutjobs. (New York Times). And then I have to read about their stupid ideas. (National Post)

But this video makes me feel better because it reminds me that my side of the fight for truth, reason and civilization has all the cool, smart people.

You can find more from Robert Tisinai at his blog, here. And in case you care, I originally found this link on the Stranger's blog, Slog, here.