A Supporter of the Iraq War Repents

Belle Waring believes her initial support for the Iraq War was a mistake, and she makes a lengthy post explaining what has changed and why. It is most definitely worth reading, and one wonders how many other supporters of the invasion are now thinking differently.

It would be arrogant to say “I told you so”, especially since most of what has happened in the aftermath of the war has surprised even those who spoke out against it. Hindsight is 20-20. On the other hand, learning from one’s mistakes is pure gold.

Link courtesy Tilting at Windmills.

The Last Disney/Pixar Film to Debut on November 5

(After which, Pixar sets off on its own).

And I am so there!

Bellwether Reviewed

Bellwether, by Connie Willis

A while ago, I read Connie Willis’ Bellwether. Ms. Willis is a multiple Hugo Award winner with many science fiction and fantasy novels to her name. In such novels as The Doomsday Book or To Say Nothing of the Dog, she ably creates a near future populated by slightly above-average people dealing with fantastic things. She uses this technique for both comic and horrific effect, such as the Oxford scientists who use time travel to rebuild Coventry cathedral, or the same scientists who suffer through a deadly flu epidemic, even as one of their number experiences first hand a mediaeval village destroyed by the Black Plague.

Bellwether is much lighter, but it is also about above-average people facing fantastic things. It is a romantic comedy, featuring chaos theory, human psychology and long discussions about fads. It is also, believe it or not, impossible to put down.

Sandra Foster is a scientist hired by HiTek Corporation to discover what causes fads. For HiTek, the reason for their support is obvious; if one can find out what causes fads, one can create fads and make a million. Sandra would actually like to stop fads. She lives in a maddening world of fads; the scientists at HiTek are hard-pressed to work as their boss (known only as Management) is calling company meetings every other week to roll out the latest, more intrusive management fad. The city of Boulder, where Sandra works, has coffee shops, trendy restaurants and surly waitresses coming out of its ears. Everybody around her is falling under the influence of Barbie, Barney and the latest fads of fashion, except for one man, chaos theorist Bennett O’Reilly. Bennett is more than out of fashion; he has no fashion — completely fad free. Sandra suggests combining their projects in order to secretly study him. Their search for the source of fads leads them to examine the progress of fads in sheep, and in the chaos that ensues, she falls in love.

What makes Bellwether work is Flip, HiTek’s administrative assistant, and Sandra’s nemesis. Flip (Phillipa J. Orliotti) is obviously an amalgam of every blissfully unaware, selfish, lazy, incompetent, hair-pulling-inducing personal assistant Ms. Willis has probably ever worked with. Flip’s unbelievable incompetence sets the tone of the novel, providing great comedy and an atmosphere of barely controlled chaos that seems to define Sandra’s life. Indeed, Flip embodies chaos theory, and is primarily responsible for many of the things that goes wrong (and right) in Sandra Foster’s day.

The brilliance of Bellwether is that, though it is chaotic, like chaos theory, a pattern emerges that perfectly explains how the end resulted from the beginning, and it’s all done for a madcap romantic comedy. Bellwether is an excellent read for those looking for something superficially light, but with deeper elements beneath; who have just escaped from dead-end jobs with faceless corporations, or who have dealt with incompetent assistants and surly supermarket cashiers. The novel is easy to slip into, warm and comforting throughout, and highly and remarkably intelligent.

Bellwether is very different from Connie Willis’ other work; however, it might prove an interesting entry point to the person who is possibly the leading science fiction writer of the past decade.

I still have a digital camera, and I’ve taken a few shots of late. Here’s a selection:



isolated shopping cart

Isolated shopping cart



fall colours

Fall colours beginning to show.



seated in water

Performance art installation at Kitchener City Hall.


Cushy job for the art models, huh?

setting up

More setting up. We didn’t stay to see it finished.

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