Thursday, June 30, 2005

Skull Twisting Test

Before you go following the link to read on, I invite you to the challenge of identifying the subject referred to in the following quote from an an interview in Front Page Magazine:
<insert name> do care about preserving their own power, but I believe they are liberals to the core, and as such, they actually believe that their power is for the greater good. They will do whatever it takes to protect their political careers -- including trampling on anyone who gets in their way -- not simply because they crave power, but because they truly believe their political careers are for the benefit of "the public" or "the country" as a whole. It's a paternalistic, narcissistic perspective that invades liberalism in general, and <insert name> in particular.
How splendidly this little excerpt draws a circle around our little pompous cabal clinging to the rocks of power like a rash of barnacles.

Code OBL in Aisle 12

Caution: this is a post-progressive post. (explanation)

How to debate a Wal-mart development at Vancouver City Council:
  1. bend over deeply
  2. insert head far up ass
  3. speak

The result:
one council member implied that approving Wal-Mart as a developer might be akin to approving bin Laden as a developer.
Approving that fool as a council member might be akin to restoring the wonders of the Soviet worker's paradise right here in Cannuckistan.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A Gucci Handbag To Celebrate Victory Over Global Warming

The Economist:
The lesson from recent experience in Australia, Britain and the Netherlands is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, a big rise in interest rates is not necessary to make house prices falter. This is bad news for America. Even if prices there initially just flatten rather than fall, this will hurt consumer spending as the impulse to borrow against capital gains disappears. It is by encouraging such borrowing that rising house prices have given a bigger boost to America's economy than elsewhere. Two-fifths of all American jobs created since 2001 have been in housing-related sectors such as construction, real-estate lending and broking. If house prices actually fall, this boost will turn into a substantial drag.
It's true that American house prices have soared. I am contemplating relocating to South Florida - the job offer I have expects me to relocate. The cost of a house in that area is mind-boggling. I am giving the idea a good think. My hesitation is a concern that the timing for buying in a high market is all wrong.

Many Americans have used equity financing to fund lifestyles or higher education. Rising house prices have provided more headroom for borrowing. Home equity loans are tax deductible in the US, making this a very attractive financing option.

However, there are many homeowners who will essentially see all their remaining equity vanish should house prices fall sufficiently. Before we all go pointing fingers at the irresponsible homeowners that partied it up, we should also give consideration to the lender.

That's right, we need a borrower and a lender to set up this scenario. I point to the growing lack of patience in society as the enabler of this precariousness. Not patient enough to save for that new boat, the homeowner is rewarded by the bank that is not patient enough with its bottom line that it limits the credit to build a reasonable margin of safety. And driving the bank's myopic attention to the quarter-to-quarter results? The investors and analysts. As more and more people delegate their investment decisions to the fund managers via IRA's and 401(k)'s, those fund managers shorten the horizon.

Saving for the boat instead of borrowing to have it now makes all the difference.

All of this mumbling is merely one facet of my general thesis about what drives the world today: gratification - also known by the younger crowd as 'fun'. We want our fun right now, regardless of the long term consequences. And problems? Let's go for the fast solutions, and get back to having more fun. Terrorists distracting us from fun? Give them what they want. Queers acting up? Let them get married and pretend to have families. Don't like the Pope? Too Catholic? Embrace statism instead.

These urges to reach for quick fixes leads to ill-conceived contraptions such as Kyoto. "Now that Kyoto is signed, global warming is fixed, so I guess I can go shopping to celebrate".

Thin Edge of the Wedge

Liberal MPs would prefer to hold the next election in May, he said, and not February and March as Martin had promised when he tied the timing of the next campaign to the release of the Gomery inquiry's final report into the sponsorship scandal. However, Martin said he expects to be campaigning in the winter.
Any bets on how long it takes PMPM to say "Canadians want their election to be in May"?

Speak for Yourself

"I believe this is an issue that Canadians want to put behind them," said the prime minister. "Their Parliament has dealt with it."
He means the rogue Parliament that was defeated on a matter of confidence last May, of course.

I am Canadian, and am not wanting to leave the issue behind. Stop putting words in my mouth.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Cherishing Canada

Debris Trail has a Canada Day thingy underway, and has invited me to participate. OK, here we go:

The questions are as follows:

1. What is your favorite Canadian natural geographic location?
The Gulf Islands, B.C.

2. What do you think is Canada’s most admirable cultural trait?
our goofy black sense of humour

3. What is your most memorable Canadian travel experience?
camping right beside the ocean in PEI

4. What is your favorite Canadian hideaway?
a little place in Prince Edward County, Ontario

5. What do you think is Canada’s more admirable political trait?
I wish it had one

6. What do you think is Canada’s most exiting event?
Expo 67

7. What is the most thrilling experience you have had with Canadian nature?

8. What, if anything, does Canada hold that you’d lay your life down for?
my family

9. What is for you, the single most positive defining characteristic of Canada?
that we fought with valour in WWI and WWII.

Which Is It: A Threat or an Event?

Canada's military simplified its domestic command structure on Tuesday, saying the goal was to respond more quickly to domestic disasters and terrorist threats.
"[It will] allow us to react more quickly and more effectively to events across Canada, including the North," federal Defence Minister Bill Graham told reporters.
As I said before, a "terrorist threat" is something that has not yet happened, and is therefore the responsibility of CSIS and the RCMP. An "event" is the real deal, so we can then call upon the military to assist. Could it be that our ass-kissing foreign policy may not actually spare us from the Islama-gonzos? But we're still thinking that the rest of the world us loves us because we one ran around in blue helmets?

Why is our government too chicken-shit to tell it like it is: "folks, the RCMP and CSIS will deal with terrorist threats, the military will deal with terrorist events".

Oh, we're not supposed to notice this semantic sleight-of-hand. What we're supposed to think is that our dear Libranos are keeping us safe by having the military watch out for terrorist threats. It's as if we're standing knee-deep in elephant dung not supposed to notice the elephant in the room.

The military just reorganized to better manage natural disasters or terrorist attacks of such a scale that they overwhelm local and regional resources. Fair enough. But don't pretend the military is reorganizing to prevent terrorist attacks. That's dishonest.

UPDATE: I saw Bill Graham in a televised press conference today, basically answered my question here, stating that we cannot be naive and should be prepared to deal with an attack. I absolutely agree. I hope that his intent was to make clear that the military role is to assist should there be an event. Nevertheless, I find CBC's reporting to be imprecise and misleading. Our defenses against terrorism and preparedness for dealing with its effects call for precision, not a polyanna glossover.

Rolling Blackouts Begin in Ontario

The high level of power usage Monday was behind a series of 15- to 20-minute power interruptions that started hitting 8,000 customers in areas east and south of Ottawa around suppertime.

Of course, the politicians and Hydro One executives and unions will find some doublespeak to call these events something other than rolling blackouts, but, when your power grid can't handle the draw so you shut it down to protect it, it's a blackout.

Hydro One got itself, and therefore us, into this jam by borrowing large when interest rates were high, thereby burdening itself with so much debt that it cannot afford to build capacity. Furthermore, supply is inelastic, so even if there was an ability to finance new capacity, we won't see that capacity come onstream until we have suffered hardship.

Prices for electricity in Ontario are going to skyrocket, and like anything the government gets its paws on, it will never come back down, even if or when the supply crunch abates.

This is what patronage results in folks. The wrong executives hired for the wrong reasons. Can't we learn anything from the U.S.S.R.?

How is that the Americans have sufficient power capacity to bail us out?

Monday, June 27, 2005

Librano Mask Slips, Millions Terrified

I Feel Like A Silicone Rant

OK, this is about cosmetic surgery. We're talking breast implants here.

Guys, you don't seriously like the result of implants do you? What needs fixing? Them, or you? There's something fundamentally idiotic going on when wind resistance is more important than character, warmth, dependability, friendship, fun, companionship, tenderness, passionate arguments from a different point of view, smiles, hugs, car seats not pushed back, steamy hot sex, shared umbrellas and truth. For the most part, men have created the demand for this idiocy, and I'm saying let's just pack up that demand and chuck it. Ladies, I like you just how you are.

We're all going to age (the lucky among us anyway), and I have to wonder about the comfort and health of those things when women enter their golden years.

I just don't get it. I really don't.

Glass Gitmos

Writing for the Khaleej Times (UAE), Mohammed A.R. Galadari makes a good point:
Seeing all those outcry by some Muslim and Arab journalists about atrocities being committed at the Bay, I wonder whether they should also not be equally concerned about and write on things that are happening in the jails or outside in their own lands?
For the most part this article makes the obvious point that the transparency and democratic responsiveness in the West effectively addresses wrongs, and that it is hypocritical for authoritarian crackpots to point the finger at America. He's right, of course.

$39bn Olympic spend

This is not a progressive post. Rather, it is a sensible post. (explanation)

I guess this means that they don't need any more foreign aid from us.

President of China Calls For Democracy

Warning: this is a post-progressive post. (explanation)

People's Daily Online:
"A harmonious society should feature democracy, the rule of law, equity, justice, sincerity, amity and vitality," Hu said.
President Hu is just darn lucky he didn't try to get his democracy message out to the people via the blogosphere. Here's what the Chinese M$ "Space" version of his message would look like:
A harmonious society should feature [forbidden word], the rule of law, [forbidden word], [forbidden word], [forbidden word] and [forbidden word].
Advice to President Hu from Planet Earth's First Post-Progressive Blogger: you can help achieve that harmonious world you envision by leading China towards respect of Intellectual Property Rights. Oh yes, and while you're at it, the constant attempts to hack in to my network coming from your country are kinda disharmonious too. Could you have a look into that as well?

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Words of a Lucid Arab Writer

Warning: this is a post-progressive blog post. (explanation)

Nadine Al-Baydar (A Saudi writer):
Did the Arabs lift a finger to help the people of Kosovo when they were suffering from Serbian persecution? They gathered a few donations, but it was America who saved Kosovo. The Arabs did nothing to aid the women of Afghanistan when they were forbidden an education, and when the Afghani people were robbed of the chance for a normal life. America had to come in and rid the region of the backward Taliban regime.
Arabic version here, English translation available here, and read the entire article. It's worth it.

Post-Progressive Blogging

Warning: this is a 'sensible' post, not a 'progressive' post (explanation available).

"The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48"

Modern Mod"ern, a. F. moderne, L. modernus; akin to modo just
now, orig. abl. of modus measure; hence, by measure, just
now. See Mode.
1. Of or pertaining to the present time, or time not long
past; late; not ancient or remote in past time; of recent
period; as, modern days, ages, or time; modern authors;
modern fashions; modern taste; modern practice. --Bacon.
1913 Webster

2. New and common; trite; commonplace. Obs.
1913 Webster

Post- Post- (p=ost). L. post behind, after; cf. Skr.
pa,cc=abehind, afterwards.
A prefix signifying behind, back, after; as, postcommissure,
postdot, postscript.
1913 Webster

Have you noted the recent surge in the use of the construction "post-modern" ? I tell you, my patience for such crap is wearing thin these days. Here we have a term appropriated from architecture now being applied to politics.

Post-modern means "after now", which means "future", which in turn means "de facto how it's going to be". To self-annoint one's ideas as being "post-modern" therefore is, of course, inherently arrogant. If you are "progressive" enough eventually you will arrive at "post-modern". Horseshit, I say. I've got you all beat.

I hereby deem my blog (SOS) to be "post-progressive".

Subscription Firewall Piercing

Warning: this is a 'sensible' post, not a 'progressive' post (explanation available).

As a service to bloggers and their readers everywhere (including both of mine), I invite you to check out

I just heard about this on National Public Radio (if I have to listen to public radio, it is the US version and not the CBC).

If you need a login to an MSM site that has put up a subscription firewall and don't want to surrender your privacy, check out this online service to see if there is an off-the-shelf login available for the site you wish to visit. Enjoy.

Sorry for the interruption. You may now return to celebrating Gay Pride Day.

My Dull Pride Day

Warning: this is a 'sensible' post, not a 'progressive' post (explanation available).

The Girl on the Right is giving the Gay Pride parade a miss today.

So am I. I could not possibly bear being surrounded by so many heterophobes.

Big Shu Daun Coming (孫子兵法)

Warning: this is a 'sensible' post, not a 'progressive' post. (explanation available)

and I am sure Canada is helping its very important ally and significant trading partner

Washington Times:
U.S. defense and intelligence officials say all the signs point in one troubling direction: Beijing then will be forced to go to war with the United States, which has vowed to defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack.
and not to be overlooked either is NY Times:
The $18.5 billion offer by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation for Unocal, which had already made a deal to be acquired by the American oil giant, Chevron, is forcing the administration to confront its own internal rifts over whether China should be viewed as friend, foe or something in between.
It's important to read both of these articles. It has been my opinion for many months that China and the US are on a collision course over oil, and Alberta's reserves factor critically into the drama about to unfold. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Personally, I don't believe the anti-US rhetoric that has infected Bananada is accidental and further that it indicates we have already chosen sides. Guess which side? If you get it wrong, take a drive through Markham Ontario and try the question again.

To the somnambulists of Ontario: if you have not yet read Sun Tzu's "The Art of War", I highly recommend it. You can easily find electronic copies on the net and download into your PDAs.
All warfare is based on deception.
Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.
Be subtle! be subtle! and use your spies for every
kind of business.

UPDATE: Wonder what China thinks of all this? People's Daily Online:
In trumpeting the "China threat theory" abroad, Rumsfeld's intention is to evoke doubts and worries among China's neighboring countries, so as to drive a wedge in the relations between China and its East Asian neighbors. But this trick seems cannot succeed--Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has clearly pointed out that the intention to contain China will not be accepted by many countries in the Asian region. Because people free from prejudice can clearly see that China's peaceful development is an opportunity, not a threat.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

You Be Progressive, I'll Be Sensible

Notice that neat phraseological trick of claiming the attribute of "progressive" to lefty points of view? Using a Venn diagram, I noodled this out, and found out that if I am not a member of the set included in progressive, then I am 'regressive'. Yikes. You can get shunned by the herd if you earn that label!

I am so sick of the word 'progressive' I am going to puke on the next person that uses it on me - and I'm warning you, I am eating my green vegetables these days.

OK Moonbats, I will concede to you on the now tired and anemic 'progressive' stance - you can have it, enjoy, bon chance, don't forget to write, etc.

On the other hand, I am going to claim ownership of the 'sensible' stance. That's right, my position on things is the 'sensible' one. You're 'progressive', I'm 'sensible'.

The Sensible Conservative Party of Canada
Sensible Social Policy
Sensible Fiscal Policy

"A rally of 'sensibles' showed up at Queen's Park..."

Canada's Sensible Newspaper

As I try it out here, I am liking it more and more!

That settles it. You Be Progressive. I'll Be Sensible.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Invasion of the Marxist Snatchers

Striking Hydro One workers managed to shut down 6 of 8 generators at the Nanticoke generating station today, during one of Ontario's warmest days thus far this year.

This resulted in the need to import power from Quebec and the US, as these offline generators represented 15% of Ontario's generating capacity - thereby weakening the economy of the province, and our balance of trade with the US.

There, the workers are looking for more cash flow allowing increased retained earnings to improve their balance sheet: and in order to get it, they are willing to use leverage to put at risk the meagre but important frozen food stockpile of economically disadvantaged families, air conditioning for the elderly and feeble, schools, daycares, etc. etc. Imagine the hardship faced by a union-member working mom who has to book off work to pick up her children at the daycare that just closed because it has no power - all the while not being able to drive because of non-functioning traffic signals, and no subway or streetcars, either. Children going hungry because their dinners cannot be cooked. Shameful.

These striking workers are clearly more concerned about their own capital than the overall social good, especially those that are at risk in society.

If they were really good socialists, they would redouble their efforts to ensure that the province had its vital supply of electricity for those that suffer disproportionally without it. I think we've quietly been invaded by the Marxist snatchers, who have furtively been replacing Marxist workers with selfish capitalists - you know, the ones that look and sound like Marxist workers, but act like capitalist swine.

Where oh where have all the real Marxists gone?

Florida Called

An offer is in the mail. South Florida. Good thing I have experience with hurricanes - we suffered through a direct hit from Fran in '96, which was a nightmare, and later Floyd in '99. They're nasty, but unlike living under the Librano dictatorship regime, they're over in 24 hours and eventually you get things cleaned up and back to normal.

Scrooge's Just In Time Raw Vegetable Elixir

I figured that if I gave this post an intriguing title, I might trick you into reading it. So there, it appears to have worked.

My good buddie and reliable reader "Scrooge" treated me to a salad last night dressed with a "just in time" preparation as follows:
3 Tablespoons of mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon of tehini (smashed up sesame seeds)
1/2 Teaspoon of soya sauce
1 Teaspoon of water

Thoroughly mix all the ingredients - result is a creamy/nutty salad dressing.

Modifications: * add a touch more water to thin
* add more mayo for creamier
* add more tehini for nuttier

Sex for the tastebuds.

I know, I know, you wanted politics and got this instead. Cry me a river.

Who Put These Scorpions In My Tent?

The buzz in the MSM these days about the insurgency in Iraq and the call for a political solution that presumably shapes a democracy in which Sunni and Shiite share power got me thinking. What kind of political arrangement can you make between two sects, one of which at least is willing to kill and maim women and children of the other sect?

Has it occured to the Islamafascists yet that the intolerance visible in the middle east between the Sunni, Shiite and Wahabi sects of Islam (the religion of peace), demonstrates clearly what will happen if Islam further encroaches on the West?

One the one hand, I am expected to celebrate the diversity of our cultural mosaic and be tolerant thereof, yet Islam demonstrates it cannot even tolerate relatively minor variants within its own sphere? And I am to expect I will be equally tolerated by Islam?

Do I look like a complete fool? (Those who know me are completely disqualified from answering, as well as those who have read my profile).

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Books for Raising Libertarians

I've made a few recent posts about children's books and the importance of reading to children. I have advanced the notion that reading to children is formative. Maybe our Liberal government already knows this, which is why they appear to be anxious to (a) make daycare necessary (b) ensure that all good children go to state-funded daycare where they can be correctly shaped.

I recall that buying books to read my children was a difficult process - I spent a lot of time at Borders going through the books checking the message in each one, in order to weed out those that were "bleeding heart", "guilt building" or otherwise weakening. Wanting to raise my children to have their own heads on their shoulders, I rejected a few. Books that were about taking risks, being independent, having good morals, creatively solving problems, were just plain silly or funny, were thought provoking, were informative (to a little person), sounded emotional richness, and so on, were high on my list.

The purpose of this post is to ask for your opinions, and share information. What books do you recommend for reading to children and why? Which have you rejected, and why?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Buried Treasure - On the Importance of Reading to Children

While writing today's posts on Mister Dog and "The Wedding Date", I was inspired to suggest to five other bloggers a new variant of the 'book' tag that has been making the rounds of the blogosphere.

The notion is that reading to children is vitally important, that both the interaction with parents, and the stories themselves are formative. I found this about the author of my personal favorite story from childhood, which says the following:
I learned a lot from reading Margaret Wise Browns books. I learned that Tigers have dignity and that frogs go Jug-a-rum, Jug-a-rum. I learned how she understood the anxieties and insecurity that children experience and sought to address these fears in some of her writing.

Why are stories important? Especially why are the stories that we read to our children important?

Pragmatism, the philosophical perspective that influenced Lucy Sprague Mitchell and her student Margaret Wise Brown, holds that our minds, our personalities, are not inherent, but are emergent out of our social interactions. Of primary importance are the special relationships in our families, particularly our relationships with our children. These family relationships are the main social relationships that influence who our children will become.

In this way family relationships form the foundation of our moral character. Moral development grows out of these basic family relationships and extends into our larger society.

Why do we choose to support and nurture infants and children to the point at which they are capable of being independent? We raise the next generation because we want to. It is from this notion of choice, and how this decision is supported in society, that moral character gains its force, and its power.

Our societys morality is a collective product of how we conceptualize and raise each next generation. This theory is the property of ourselves and the decisions that we make as parents. It is owned by ordinary people going about their lives, not by philosophers. It is shaped by our collective culture, not by our sages. For these reasons it is crucial that we are actively involved in the cultural education of our children. We must live examined lives, conscious of the choices that we make and taking responsibility for our decisions and the consequences of our choices.

Stories are important. And the stories that we read to our children can be very important.
[...][bold face mine]
What was your favorite book during those important early years? What impact has that story had on your life? How can you relate that story to current events?

For me, it was Steven Harper's declaration of that he will not visit the spin machine - here is what you get, take it or leave it. Mr. Harper reminded me of Crispin's Crispian. Under all the layers laid down, this current event unearthed a buried treasure from my childhood - my old hero, the dog who owned himself.

Feel free to tag your fellow bloggers with this one. Let's see where it goes, and where it takes us.

Think of the Time You'll Save

Missing the main ingredient for Moonbat Soup? Never fear, soon you'll no longer have to go out and bag your own.

Seven Things You Cannot Say In Canada

1. Government grants to artists floods the market with second-rate rubbish.
2. There is a statistically significant correlation between ethnicity and possession and use of an illegal handgun in Toronto.
3. The True North is hardly strong, and less and less free.
4. The rest of the world gives two hoots about what we think or do - our perception of our own importance is inflated.
5. Traditional religious institutions in Canada are important contributors to society.
6. The current popular definition of "rich" in Canada is anybody earning more than a Toronto Star reporter.
7. Unions protect workers "rights".

Mister Dog

Mister Dog (aka Crispin's Crispian)
Once upon a time there was a funny dog named Crispin’s Crispian. He was named Crispin’s Crispian because he belonged to himself.So begins the story of a dog who runs bang into a little boy, who also belongs to himself. This quirky, breathtakingly illustrated story is one of Margaret Wise Brown’s best.

I am going to update my profile here to include this title, under "most influential books". I obsessed over this story as a toddler, which was read to me out of the original "Little Golden Books" edition published sometime between the discovery of fire and the war on the Korean peninsula. In recognition of its special status, my mother preserved this little volume for me, and it is now one of my most cherised possessions. Yes, it's true, I am a sentimental sop. Most of the time.

Most parents who read to their children understand that there is one particular book over which a child obsesses. This one was mine. Reading parents listen up - when your child obsesses on a book, the essence of that book's story is striking a resounding chord deep with the being of that child. Take note. You are learning something about the little gift to whom you are reading.

Let us allow Steven Harper to own himself. I do not want a false image. Bravo to Steven Harper for his stance. Enough of voting for conjured apparitions, I want to vote for a leader - a human being.

"The Wedding Date"

I'm back from my whirlwind tour of South Florida. The travel in both directions was on Air Canada. I used to do a lot of flying when I lived in the US, so I pretty much know the ropes. But it has been awhile since I have travelled by air, so this was an opportunity to experience Air Canada post 9/11 and post bankrupcty protection.

I have to tip my hat to the personnel on the plane. They were happy folks that worked hard. This is my general observation of most flight crews over the years. Of course, I've met the odd sour-puss, but in broad strokes, they're an admirable bunch. My philosophy is to treat these people kindly and cut them some slack, so I shrugged off getting ice in my complimentary juice when I specifically and tactfully asked for no ice. I figure that if we overall make nasty about trivia, we diminish the reserve of goodwill these people have which can come in handy when you really need a special effort. Example: on the return flight, the juice was spilled when handed over to me. I was pleasant and smiling to the staff when I boarded, and the same when giving my order for a drink. Had I been grumpy and self-centered, I doubt the cleanup effort would have been as gracious, quick, and effective.

There is a big lesson here about goodwill. While the flying juice incident is trivial, it is nevertheless representative of those hundreds of transactions we have day to day.

Goodwill is a two-way street. You invest to build a reserve. You can then draw on that reserve to cope with extraordinary events and circumstances. Those who provide service should understand this as well as their clients. A waiter or waitress can genuinely, deliberately and carefully build that goodwill early in a transaction, which can help them later when the kitchen screws up. Similarly, a customer can be rewarded with care and attention by addressing some simple human needs: demonstrate that serving you is going to be a positive experience, including social rewards.

In large measure, we create service people in our own image.

Goodwill scales well, including within the halls of power of both business and government. Goodwill is built through acting with integrity, and being honest. Because it is intangible, and immeasurable, it is often overlooked, or seriously discounted. It requires leadership to have faith that investments in goodwill are returned in measure, and thus made with purpose and sufficient emphasis.

Now, back to the title of this post "The Wedding Date". It was the official in-flight entertainment, and without a doubt, the worst movie I have ever seen. There is probably a long, boring essay on in-flight movies and the economics and marketing thereof, from which I will spare both you and myself.

But the satisfying in-flight entertainment was the entire experience of watching people come together in this unusual environment, observing their transactions, and contemplating the complexities and richness of human interaction.

"Do unto others".

Profound, immutable and resilient wisdom. As a society, we benefit more from the teaching of these robust tenents than all the government programs put together.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Open Discussion

I'll be away for a couple of days, heading down to South Florida for an up-close and personal job interview. As much as I would like to, I'll not be blogging until I return and spend some family time.

In the meantime, I'll leave this post as an open discussion, so my readership (both of you) can have a free-for-all. Feel free to criticize me while I'm away. I'll get even with you later.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

An Independent Alberta Cannot Be

Start with some assumptions:
  1. carbon fuel reserves in Alberta are strategic
  2. Alberta is landlocked
If you are not willing to concede these two assumptions, leave me a comment explaining why (so I learn), and accept this invitation to depart this blog post now.

The consequences of these two assumptions I present below:
  1. strategic carbon fuel reserves

    Federal Canada will fight tooth and nail to hold these reserves. Tarriffs, world court actions, military intervention, public opinion, you name it. Canada's greatest weapon will be trade-related. Especially imports. Things like kitchen sinks, Japanese SUVs, vegetables, radios, TVs, hockey equipment... Ottawa can cut off access to imports from the rest of Canada through a variety of mechanisms. There will be political support for any of these actions from Central Canada - where else the east meet its carbon fuel needs?

  2. landlocked

    Alberta has no independent access to a seaport. True, it does not now, and must rely on surface and air for importation. Access to sea transportation is vitally important to an independent nation. The Feds will cut off access to imports from the rest of Canada.
Alberta will thus be forced to look south of the border for access to imported goods. The US will thus have the opportunity to achieve a quid-pro-quo: oil for access to the sea. Either Alberta accepts federation into the US, or trilateral negotiations begin wherein the US finds a way to prevent the remaining Canadian Federation from destabilizing the supply. It will be a mess, possibly driving the final wedge between Canada and the US.

In short, a very real outcome is that Alberta may have to accept entry into the US federation as the price to pay for access to sea trade when Canada starts to play hardball - which it must. If Albertans begin taking steps toward independence (and I cannot say I blame them), then they must understand that the game is for keeps, and be prepared to accept this potential outcome.

There is a reason Trudeau felt secure enough about the federal control over Alberta to be able to stridently raise his signal digit salute in Salmon Arm. Give it a think.

70% of Canadians Want to See an End To Healthcare Rationing

via Nealenews:
In fact, seven in ten (70%) agree they should be able to buy services from a private healthcare provider if they want to - 37% strongly feely this way, and more than half of Canadians see two potential positive outcomes as a result of this ruling:

1) 60% percent think it will lead to shorter waiting lists, and
2) 54% think it will lead to improvements in the quality and availability of the healthcare services that their family receives.
Essentially, Canadians want to see an end to healthcare rationing. Rationing, last seen in this country during WWII, is a tool useful for enforcing fair distribution of a good or service when there is a scarcity.

There is a definite scarcity of healthcare in Canada - certainly as compared to the US. Having lived in the US and experienced it's healthcare system for a decade, I know whereof I speak.

Allowing private healthcare to augment supply puts an end to need for rationing. Supply, and thus cost, will be self-regulating.

Furthermore, and there is no denying this, the US system delivers far superior healthcare than the Canadian system. I am not imagining this - I have lived it.

Who's That Knocking on My Firewall?

A recent report from my firewall:
Jun 17 16:36:28 fw1 sshd[13399]: Received disconnect from 11: Bye Bye
Jun 17 16:36:38 fw1 sshd[6987]: Connection closed by
Jun 17 22:25:32 fw1 sshd[27466]: Illegal user test from
Jun 17 22:25:32 fw1 sshd[16945]: input_userauth_request: illegal user test
Jun 17 22:25:32 fw1 sshd[16945]: Failed password for illegal user test from port 57141 ssh2
Jun 17 22:25:32 fw1 sshd[27466]: Failed password for illegal user test from port 57141 ssh2
Jun 17 22:25:33 fw1 sshd[16945]: Received disconnect from 11: Bye Bye
Jun 17 22:25:35 fw1 sshd[17583]: Illegal user guest from
Jun 17 22:25:35 fw1 sshd[21084]: input_userauth_request: illegal user guest
Jun 17 22:25:35 fw1 sshd[21084]: Failed password for illegal user guest from port 57218 ssh2
Jun 17 22:25:35 fw1 sshd[17583]: Failed password for illegal user guest from port 57218 ssh2
Jun 17 22:25:35 fw1 sshd[21084]: Received disconnect from 11: Bye Bye
Jun 17 22:25:39 fw1 sshd[5466]: Illegal user admin from
Jun 17 22:25:39 fw1 sshd[7456]: input_userauth_request: illegal user admin
Jun 17 22:25:39 fw1 sshd[7456]: Failed password for illegal user admin from port 57286 ssh2
Jun 17 22:25:39 fw1 sshd[5466]: Failed password for illegal user admin from port 57286 ssh2
Jun 17 22:25:40 fw1 sshd[7456]: Received disconnect from 11: Bye Bye
Jun 17 22:25:42 fw1 sshd[27831]: Illegal user admin from
Jun 17 22:25:42 fw1 sshd[18897]: input_userauth_request: illegal user admin
Jun 17 22:25:42 fw1 sshd[18897]: Failed password for illegal user admin from port 57405 ssh2
Jun 17 22:25:42 fw1 sshd[27831]: Failed password for illegal user admin from port 57405 ssh2
Jun 17 22:25:43 fw1 sshd[18897]: Received disconnect from 11: Bye Bye
Jun 17 22:25:45 fw1 sshd[28108]: Illegal user user from
Jun 17 22:25:45 fw1 sshd[24567]: input_userauth_request: illegal user user
Jun 17 22:25:45 fw1 sshd[28108]: Failed password for illegal user user from port 57472 ssh2
Jun 17 22:25:45 fw1 sshd[24567]: Failed password for illegal user user from port 57472 ssh2
Jun 17 22:25:45 fw1 sshd[24567]: Received disconnect from 11: Bye Bye
Jun 17 22:25:49 fw1 sshd[19282]: Failed password for root from port 57548 ssh2
Jun 17 22:25:49 fw1 sshd[1007]: Failed password for root from port 57548 ssh2
Jun 17 22:25:49 fw1 sshd[19282]: Received disconnect from 11: Bye Bye
Jun 17 22:25:52 fw1 sshd[12117]: Failed password for root from port 57648 ssh2
Jun 17 22:25:52 fw1 sshd[15743]: Failed password for root from port 57648 ssh2
Jun 17 22:25:52 fw1 sshd[12117]: Received disconnect from 11: Bye Bye
Jun 17 22:25:56 fw1 sshd[27688]: Failed password for root from port 57742 ssh2
Jun 17 22:25:56 fw1 sshd[3944]: Failed password for root from port 57742 ssh2
Jun 17 22:25:56 fw1 sshd[27688]: Received disconnect from 11: Bye Bye
Jun 17 22:25:58 fw1 sshd[10387]: Illegal user test from
Jun 17 22:25:58 fw1 sshd[21661]: input_userauth_request: illegal user test
Jun 17 22:25:58 fw1 sshd[21661]: Failed password for illegal user test from port 57829 ssh2
Jun 17 22:25:58 fw1 sshd[10387]: Failed password for illegal user test from port 57829 ssh2
Jun 17 22:25:59 fw1 sshd[21661]: Received disconnect from 11: Bye Bye

Looks like is trying a dictionary attack to get in to my network... wonder where is located on the net?
# traceroute
traceroute to (, 64 hops max, 40 byte packets
[...] removed for my own security
5 ( 6.875 ms 21.712 ms 8.768 ms
6 GE5-1.WANA-TOROON.IP.GROUPTELECOM.NET ( 7.310 ms 8.783 ms 19.846 ms
7 POS6-0.WANA-VANCBC.IP.GROUPTELECOM.NET ( 68.950 ms 70.30 ms 70.23 ms
8 POS8-0.PEERA-STTLWA.IP.GROUPTELECOM.NET ( 69.254 ms 78.836 ms 72.841 ms
10 ( 243.824 ms 228.701 ms 228.430 ms
11 ( 226.865 ms 227.952 ms 228.472 ms
12 ( 229.166 ms 233.903 ms 228.360 ms
13 ( 249.466 ms 250.843 ms 255.74 ms
14 ( 261.970 ms 253.639 ms 263.263 ms
15 ( 251.733 ms 254.979 ms 251.826 ms
16 * * *
17 * ( 376.792 ms !H *


Folks, I receive thousands of hits like this from China everyday, as do most of you if you are broadband. There are hundreds of systems in China that bang away on your firewalls all day and all night trying to find a way in.

What do you suppose they want?

Friday, June 17, 2005

Upon the Visceral Cavity of A Moose

Don't just sit there wondering if you should follow the link or not, just go there.

Vegi-slation to Buy Elections

I like this idea. When I've gone all the way to the grocery store to buy an avacado, I sure hate it when I get home, open the bag and see that it's turned into a turnip.

Pierre Pedicure Assaulted

I don't much care for the man's work, but this is wrong. Make noise if you like, carry a big sign, blog, write, argue, but do not injure someone or attempt to destroy their property. Do unto others...

Recommended Replacement Ethics Commissioner

The NDP has to be feeling that it should have canned the sorry bunch of lying, thieving, power-mad incompetent fools when it realizes it now has to make demands such as this.

If the current whitewash ethics commissioner won't act on our behalf, then let the people be their own ethics commissioner. Give us the chance, and we'll judge PMPM and his fetid cabal.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Colonel of Truth in All This?

It has faded from our memories now, but back in 2001, before 9/11, the BBC reported that a very senior Chinese intelligence officer defected to the US in NYC:
The BBC has learned that the officer is Xu Junping, a senior colonel.

A terse statement issued in Beijing on Friday confirmed the defection.
Now what have we learned from the good colonel? Here's what one interested group is claiming:
Al Qaeda "is financing its worldwide terror operations by investing in blue-chip Australian stocks with the assistance of Beijing's powerful Secret Intelligence Service" (World Net Daily). The intelligence group from the People's Republic is also involved in drug deals with Osama bin Laden's terrorist group; which is the original source of the money.

Brain McAdam, a Canadian investigator who helped the FBI find thousands of Communist front organizations in North America, (see 8/20/03 Update) said of the money involved, "We are talking of billions of dollars." The fronts he found include "major players on Wall Street" (The News, Australia), and some "are linked to al-Qaeda through its investments."

Also fingering Communist China is Xu Junping, a former PRC Colonel who "for five years oversaw all secret CSIS operations against the West," before defecting to the U.S. in 2000 (see 3/28/01 Update). Xu "has described Beijing meetings with Osama bin Laden in 2000, during which the investment plan was discussed."

Communist China's links to al Qaeda, while not very well known, go back to at least the 1990s, when the PRC paid up to $10 million for unexploded American cruise missiles the terrorist group recovered in Afghanistan. Communist China has also allowed a piece of Pakistan it controls to be an al Qaeda haven (see 10/24/01 and 8/14/02 Updates).
If you are wondering where you heard the name Brian McAdam before, it was because he was one of the authors of a rather controversial report mentioned at The Shotgun.

Puncturing Gitmo Prop

I don't know how she finds these things. Kate at SDA has a post that takes a laser beam to the excessive Gitmo prop being hurled around by Amnesia International and the Dems down south.

Ultimate Crime Fighting Tool Discovered

Henry the Organ Mauler received his honorary doctor of law degree from the University of Western Ontario, in London. In his address, he states:
He claimed that violent crime has decreased since 1991, a trend he attributed to more abortion procedures being made available.

"The most important factor is that there are fewer unwanted children, fewer children likely to be abused, brutalized or neglected ... children so victimized they may grow up for a thirst for vengeance which seeks an outlet in violence" [...]
No doubt that some of the lives he ended would have joined the criminal ranks.

Henry, can you not see the light? Your new crime-fighting tool can completely eradicate criminality if only we have the courage to apply it widely enough.

There are many arguments to be made on all sides of the abortion issue, but attributing the drop in crime to abortion on demand just does not sit right with me. "So I flushed it - probably would have grown up to be a criminal anyway...". Shudder.

An Amazing Specimen ( 邪恶的间谍 )

Here is some fascinating reading to follow up on after today's reports from defectors.

The text is a transcript. If you scratch around with Google long enough, you can find a web page with scanned images of what may be the original document (cannot attest to authenticity - it's the web, after all).

Update: for the impatient, and the even more impatient.

I Thought We Were Waiting For Gomery's Report

Eight individuals and 11 ad firms are being targeted for alleged transgressions ranging from breach of contract to outright fraud.
I thought we were all waiting for Gomery's report before we made up our minds about who was guilty and who not. Looks like the Liberals have jumped the gun. Oh, wait, Liberals - I forgot for a second - there is one set of rules for them (because they are superior human beings, for which we bestow upon their gracious beings the privilege of being Natural Governors), and another set for the rest of us - we who grovel around in this miserable grey utopia they have created for us.

Baltic Dry Index Sinking


Down from 4800 in mid April.

This means that the demand for bulk ocean shipping of raw materials continues to decrease. A usually good precursor to overall economic activity, the BDI continues its steady decline.

Get a quote here.

A Subtle Change In Nomenclature

Calgary Herald:

Forget it, said Scott Reid, a spokesman for the Prime minister's Office.

"There is no deal and there will be no deal between the government and the Conservatives to delay the civil marriage legislation until the fall. Period."

Got that everyone? It's no longer dubbed "Same Sex Marriage". The operative handle is now "Civil Marriage Legislation".


Fulan Gong In Yer Face

I am no fan of the Communist Chinese government, as most of my regular readers no doubt realize. The recent news items floating around both the blogosphere and now the MSM surrounding the Chinese government's hostility to Fulan Gong has piqued my curiosity.
Here is a brief explanation of what it's about:
Falun Gong (also called Falun Dafa) is an ancient form of qigong, the practice of refining the body and mind through special exercises and meditation.

[...]Falun Dafa distinguishes itself from other qigong practices by emphasizing not only physical cultivation, but also cultivation of one's moral character in daily life according to higher principles taught by Mr. Li Hongzhi, Falun Dafa's founder.

At the heart of the practice are the supreme principles of the universe: Truthfulness, Benevolence, and Forbearance. Through a combination of studying the books and performing the exercises, practitioners strive to become better people by embodying these principles in everything they do.
Well, now I understand the need to suppress Fulan Gong. It's spread would create standards of character that most members of the regime would not meet.

When I write such things, it is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but they are also expressions of one of my core beliefs: look for the simplest answer to a question (keep boiling the ocean to find the truth). Why would a commie fear such a practice? With head on pillow, in a reflective moment, a black-hearted commie knows that what they do is wrong, and hence fears exposure.

If Fulan Gong was truly flawed, there would be no need for suppression by the state. It would be self-limiting, and pose no threat. Ironically, by actively suppressing Fulan Gong, the state is validating it.

Update: I found a bit more background information on why the Chinese government is persecuting these practioners at Epoch Times:
However, as Falun Gong continued to grow in popularity in China, the state organization that oversaw it perceived an opportunity for profit. Falun Gong’s founder refused to charge fees for his practice, and left the state-run organization.

Suddenly, the communist government was at an impasse. By their own estimates, there were over 70-million Chinese citizens practicing Falun Gong by 1998. The Chinese authorities mandate that all spiritual practices be under the control of the state, but Falun Gong was no longer under the state’s administration. China’s then-leader Jiang Zemin began to see the practice as a gaping hole in the regime’s tight grip on Chinese people’s ideology. He banned Falun Gong in July 1999 and launched a Cultural Revolution-style campaign to “eradicate” it. The persecution continues to this day, leaving in its wake at least 2,500 dead.

Where Are The Conversation Police When You Need Them?

I was waiting for it. It appears that I may be blogging my way to hell:
THE Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has criticised the new web-based media for “paranoid fantasy, self-indulgent nonsense and dangerous bigotry”. He described the atmosphere on the world wide web as a free-for-all that was “close to that of unpoliced conversation”.
Other than having to observe and upload the laws of the land, yes, this is an unpoliced conversation. God save me, that's what I like about it so much.

Now, with respect to the "paranoid fantasy, self-indulgent nonsense" I suppose he is referring to blog posts such as this one?

Only A Thousand?

Two Chinese defectors say the Chinese government has a network of more than 1,000 spies and informants in Canada.
Where's that Sidewinder report again?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

They're Onto Something Onto Something Onto Something Onto Something...

China edges closer to the perfect "People's" democracy.

And here we were, needlessly worried about Microsoft assisting the Chinese in the suppression of free speech.

Just think how efficient voting can become if we each get one of these new gadgets.

Gosh, I wonder what they will attempt after they master control of their rodents?

I'll Take Credit For This One

I recently made a comment over at Strong World. Here's a bit of it (visit Bill's excellent blog to read his post and other comments and the rest of mine):
If we do find ourselves with an election (oh please please please), then I hope to see from Harper is a happy, smiling, optimistic face, and a twinkle in the eye as it looks forward to a day when democracy is restored, investment, saving and risk-taking rewarded, wealth created, creativity unleashed, personal responsibility shouldered, compassion given freely, our talent unleashed and our work rewarded. Give us the vision Steven, and show how happy we will all be when we grasp it.
Wow, within 48 hours, look what happens.

So watch out if I come commenting at your blog - I have some freaky comment mojo thing happening right now and I can't control it...

No Two-Tier Access to Food in Canada

Alright, alright, in a weak moment I gave in to the 'universal access' mantra. As though overpowered by the Holy Spirit, or a hit off a meth pipe, I realized what a brilliant idea 'universal access' was. Why, oh why, have we allowed our limited imaginations to restrict its application solely to, of all things, healthcare? Certainly, we deserve equal treatment when it comes to food, which is an even more fundamental human right. Why, without food, healthcare is irrelevant.

Why should any one individual in our society have access to better or more food than another? This has to stop! It has to stop now! And what fairer way to distribute food with equality than to make it free? That way, the homeless can get all the food they need. Single mothers are assured their children's nutritional needs are met. The role of nutrition in education becomes a non-issue. Problemo solved.

I will be loudly denounced (well, not actually, not that many people read my meagre scratchings here) in all quarters for taking this heretical stand: the left is far far too conservative, and lacks true vision. Foodicare. Foodaid. Universal access to food. Free food.

Stand back Martin. Stand back Laydown. I thought of it first.

Shoot to Kill

A simple order, given to guards, when prisoners have rioted. Prisoners are given warning shots. And then, if order is not restored, disobedient prisoners are at risk of being shot dead where they stand.

Why do such a thing? To prevent stories like this containing lines such as:
[...] "The victims' heads were displayed on stakes on the prison roof." [...]
Harsh? Exactly. Riots in prisons are not to be tolerated.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Opulent Administration Buildings

A second brother loses his life in a heartbreakingly tragic drowning incident in Ontario.

This story was featured on television news last night, and included footage shot in the administration building of the Grand River Conservation Authority.

Just a little note here to politicians and public "service" officials everywhere: we notice the opulence of your administration buildings while you are being filmed being very concerned about funding for life-guards being cut off. Suggestion: be more frugal with your administration buildings and expenses and put the operational budget first. That's how it works in the real world.

Take the Bus to the Clinic

Imagine, if you will, how our society might be different if all public transit was free. No charge. Nada. Zip. There are certainly enough compelling reasons to provide universal transit service. Smog. Non-renewable resources. Utilization would go way up. Waiting times for available space would grow. The fees currently being charged on most public transit systems don't cover costs, so we can't argue that ridership fees support the economic viability of the transit undertaking. So what is the real reason for these fees?

There is a simple reason to charge a small amount to ride transit: it dampens, and therefore makes more predictable demand for service. No charge, unlimited demand. Unlimited demand, no ability to control costs. Dampening demand is very important when supply is relatively inelastic.

The very same logic has to apply to health care. A modest fee will dampen demand. It's a pragmatic reality.

There is Always a Choice

Microsoft is joining Yahoo in helping the Chinese government oppress free speech:
[...]"If you want to deal with the Chinese, you have to deal with their rules," said William Makower, CEO of Panlogic a marketing consultancy with operations in China.
"If you want to deal with the Chinese". Of course, Microsoft does not have to do business in China. But it is also free to do so.
"Microsoft is a multi-national business and as such needs to manage the reality of operating in countries around the world," a Microsoft spokesperson told the BBC News website.
Surely, the reality of operating in certain countries must eventually encounter a line where Microsoft will uphold principles over money. Where is that line? Would Microsoft co-operate with a regime that introduces restrictions on content that can be read? Or forces it to convey state propaganda?

What is being demonstrated to the world in China is that in exchange for supporting the exploitation of a people by a gang, you can become rich. A political party that behaves the way the Chinese communists behave is simply a large gang.

Microsoft could stand up to this gang: if you want our products and services, there will be no strings attached.

I have to believe that the Liberal Party of Canada is monitoring this situation in China carefully, and taking notes on the degree to which dissenting opinion can be suppressed before citizens begin to act up. The day that the Liberals ignored their defeat in Parliament is the day that erased the last difference I perceive between them and the Communist Party of China.

Oh, and Mr. Martin: there will be private healthcare in Canada because the courts have demonstrated that they intend to uphold our constitution. Your assertions that there "will not be a two-tier system" loudly announce to me that next stop in your destruction of our democracy is your intent to ignore our supreme court. Your strident assertions are seasoned with too much confidence - which is a red flag.

Monday, June 13, 2005

How to Prevent Viruses, Trojan Horses and Spyware, and Hacks

Friends, neighbors and relatives are nailing me all the time to fix their trashed systems - usually XP, sometimes earlier Windows systems. They almost always ask how it is that I manage to avoid these same problems that plague them.

So, here is how I do it - YMMD.

1) Get behind a decent firewall. A cheap little PC with a small physical footprint is good enough (500Mhz is plenty fast enough). Install OpenBSD on it. Run nothing on that box you don't need. Configure the firewall for NAT, and turn off the usual ports used by the hordes of Chinese hack-in servers running out there. Zone Alarm and products like it protect only the local machine, not the network, and they mess with the traffic as it goes by - not good.

2) If you insist on using Internet Explorer to browse, NEVER EVER accept any ActiveX from anywhere, anytime.

3) Use a webmail interface for your email. This has many benefits, not the least of which is your portability. Access your email from anywhere. Once you download it, it's yours to look after. Leave it on the mail server and access it via the web.

4) Use separate logins for different family members sharing a machine. This creates separate environments. This has many advantages.

5) Consider getting rid of Microsoft stuff altogether. I have used Linux since 1997. It does everything I need. I admit it's not the best platform for games - but I don't do many of those, and when I do, I dual boot into Windows. Many Windows applications run fine under WINE - a windows emulator.

Contrary to what Microsoft wants you to believe, you *can* surf, blog and email happily with a completely free and robust Operating System.

6) Put a UPS between the nasty wall circuit and your precious machine. This will do the best job for conditioning your power at home that is affordable.

7) Use Firefox instead of IE if you want to stay on Windows. It's great for nailing those irritating popup windows.

In general, if in doubt about any security/privacy option, choose the option that causes you to be prompted. Knowing what's going on is your first line of defense.

If your firewall gives you reports, have a look at them from time to time. Be very suspicious of outbound traffic that is blocked - it may mean you are already infected.

Post your questions in the comments below.

Jack's Crying Crocodile Tears

This is unbelievably rich. Jack Laydown is now critical of the Liberals - the same bunch he propped up by digging a bigger hole in our pockets:
NDP leader Jack Layton said the letter amounted to an "insurance policy."

"The Liberals just don't seem to let public inquiries go if they're going to expose any fault of the Liberal Party," Mr. Layton said, citing the Somalia, APEC, Maher Arar inquiries as evidence. "It's a consistent practice. And that's our concern. People don't want Jean Chrétien and this prime minister to team up once again... the last time that happened, we had the sponsorship scandal."
Jack [Ass], here is the definition of a word for you:
Moral soundness; honesty; freedom from corrupting
influence or motive; -- used especially with reference to
the fulfillment of contracts, the discharge of agencies,
trusts, and the like; uprightness; rectitude.
And the word is? Integrity. If you want us to believe that the matter of letting inquiries run their course is important to you, then you should have collapsed the regime on top of their crooked pointy heads. You look like a complete asshole whining about it now.

CBC off the Air at SOS

I am currently listening to KYES-DT, an Internet radio station in Anchorage, Alaska (over built-from-source XMMS on a built-from-source Linux system that runs forever). It has a wonderfully eclectic program, ranging from Bach harpsicord suites to bluegrass. Aural Freedom! No CBC whining simps trying to out-fartsy each other. No Librano prop rammed into my ear holes. No holier-than-thou anti-American b.s. Just good music. From Alaska.

A Telephone Interview

You know life is good when you learn about a career opportunity in south Florida, contact by email, ask for invitation to present resume, get invitation, send resume, and within a few hours you have arranged a telephone interview. How my American friends are good at making decisions!

Update (V1R1): interview has happened, went well, glad I have the Green Card... dang those Yanks know how to do business...

Update (V2R1): telephone call received from principal (2nd call in same day), setting up call with technical folks tomorrow (to find out if I am blowing smoke at them or know what I am doing)... this has a decent pace to it... talk of flying down to Florida to have a look see... AND BEST OF ALL... the work sounds terrific!

Update (V3R1): telephone interview today with technical fellow ... call went well... it's looking very positive

Update (V4R1): received phone call inviting me to fly down to Florida on Sunday, interview and return on Monday.

Time to Spring the Trap is Soon

Having been taught well by their alpha superiors (a.k.a. the Liberal Party of Canada) to lie, bold-faced and brazenly, Canadians have been of late making great sport of sending the dictator's Prime Minister's pollsters scurrying back to the Hill with the latest great news.

That's right my Liberal pals, we Canadians are so sick of your scandals, your thievery, lies, deceptions, heavy-handedness, moral weathervaning, lust for power, that we have pulled the Big One on you: those polls? We're lying through our teeth. And thanks for the call. They were oh so polite.

That's right. We're lying to you. We've led you on. You have been bullshitted and sandbagged. Make your move. We've been waiting...

I Smell An Election

Let's see. Harper is on the ropes. The CPC has a wooden Grewal driven through its heart. The BQ's pants are down around its ankles. The polls reflect that lying, cheating, stealing and spitting on democracy are forgiven by the stupid electorate. Gomery is gone quiet.

What better time to call an election?

Go for it Libranos!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Marry Us, Or Else

"We want to get married in your Church".
"Sorry, you can't."
"Why not?"
"Because you do not meet our standards for marriage."
"You hateful biggot. Your standards don't matter anymore. It's what we say that counts now."
"So you would have us change our standards?"
"So why do you want to be married in this Church? It is our standards that make us what we are."
"Look, if you don't marry us, then we'll destroy you."
"If we change our standards, we will destroy ourselves..."
"We don't care. But we insist that you marry us."
"So, we are destroyed if we hold our to our standards by refusing to marry you, and we are destroyed if we erode the standards that make us what we are. Is that what you seek? "
"Correct. But we want you to marry us first."
"Look, why don't you go create your own Church with your own standards? Get married there, and leave us alone."
"Because then we don't get to destroy your Church. Your Church must be destroyed because it does not agree with us."
"Thank your for your candor. Now we understand what this is all about."

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Fine Art Photography

I use an 8x10 view camera, which is a pondorous beast of a camera. With lens it weighs about 30 lbs. Each exposure is made on a single sheet of film measuring 8 inches by 10 inches. Everything is fully manual. Using one of these machines brings new meaning to the word pedantic.

When you make an image with one of these cameras, you have just spent around $10. At that burn rate, you pay great attention to detail and repetitive, failure-avoiding process. That, and a vast store of craft information takes care of execution.

But more than craft and execution is required to produce a silver print that is worth another's contemplation. Allow me to depart into a moment or two of pure vanity...

When one takes up practice in the expressive medium of photography, the typical learning curve attends to all the issues of craft. Assuming one approaches the craft with diligence, one ultimately achieves some degree of notable capability - perhaps even mastery. Having surmounted this pinnacle, a vocabulary has been gained.

But what to say?

I came to realize that in the most successful, deeply moving images, the photographer is not the voice, but rather the medium. I'll explain it this way: the photographer learns to recognize the moment when an image presents itself, and then applies craft to make visible that which was felt in an instant. Anyone sufficiently involved in the medium will understand what I mean. Photographers learn to surrender to some force that is commanding, yet mercurial.

Discovery of this truth can set off disquieting tremors of introspection, moreso should the medium (i.e. the photographer) come from a background of logic, mathematics and science (all helpful in the process of mastery of craft). Is this force within, or without?

Surrendering in toto to this gradually more and more recognizable impulse yields images that are steeped in symbology. This is not imagined - honest work that has reacted to true moments of influence of this hitherto unenumerated force are universally moving. When executed with craft, these images have the power to reach deep into the underlayers of the human observer. It is a remarkable, wonderful and mysterious phenomenon.

I discussed this at length one night with Chris Rainier, who was Ansel Adam's assistant at the time I met them both. We each had independently produced a similar analysis, and shared the conclusion (delusion?) that we had learned, through the medium, to recognize points of power.

The significance of coming to this realization should not be taken lightly: it brought me to the belief that we are not simply blobs of protoplasm, organised in a temporary, brief but endlessly fascinating array of systems and processes, but hopelessly fated to simply cease to be. No, there is something else. There is an undercurrent which connects all things, and we are part of it, each individual.

There are consequences to this belief. When our perception of ourselves as a vessel, as a bearer of something grand takes root, we are imbued with a sense of responsibility. It is as though we have been kitted out with faculties and abilities, urges and cautions, and charged with our own unique mission to fulfill. Our life is not about fulfilling our momentary needs, but rather to engage in the process of discovery and bringing definition to that individual mission, and using the tools we are born with and have developed undertake its execution. If we are more than our mere corporal beings, we have that responsibility.

And that is why I need liberty. I cannot fulfill the mission to which this life I have been granted has been charged, unless I have the freedom to devote myself fully to it.

I find it strange to hear the collectivists talk of spirituality. A true belief in spirituality is forced to recognize the fundamental need for individual liberty. Collectivism and spirituality are orthagonal.

So I put before those who would have me conform to their correct view of the world and those within it: are you a vessel, an integral part of a larger schema, or are you a momentary and meaningless spark, needing nothing more than the gratification of each instant's whim?

I believe the former, which is why I believe mankind must have liberty.

I've Been Tagged

Richard, the favorite troll of moonbats everywhere, tagged me with the book virus blogthing.

Oh, alright, in the spirit of the blogosphere, here we go:
1. How many books do you own?
A: I guess around 800 or so. At least 300 are technical books - Linux, technical management, software development and Java junk mostly. I have a raft of books in each of my eclictic interests: fine art photography, sea kayaking, hiking the Appalachian Trail, making split cane flyrods, marine acquaria...

2. What is the latest book you bought?
A: Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown

3. What is the last book you read?
A: Angels & Demons, Dan Brown

4. Which 5 books mean a lot to you?
A1: Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
A2: The Fountainhead
A3: Atlas Shrugged
A4: Zen in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
A5: The Daybooks of Edward Weston

5. Spread the virus to Bloggers...
A1: Debris Trail
A2: An American in T.O.
A3: Strong World
A4: Gin and Tonic
A5: Daimnation

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Baltic Dry Index June 8 2005

Folks, the BDI continues its steady decline. Down 2% today to 2,931:


Update: for an explanation of the BDI, and why it is something to watch, see this earlier post.

Kangaroo Kash Kontributors

According to Elections Canada, Anil K. Pandila contributed to the Liberal Party of Canada in 2003.

If this is the same Anil K. Pandila that chairs the Saskatechewan Human Rights Kangaroo Court Tribunal, then I have a problem with such individuals making any contribution to any political party. It causes me to doubt their impartiality.

Speaking of Human Rights, according to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, here are some highlights worthy of review:
7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

9. Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.

10. Everyone has the right on arrest or detention
a) to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor;
b) to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and
c) to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful.

11. Any person charged with an offence has the right
a) to be informed without unreasonable delay of the specific offence;
b) to be tried within a reasonable time;
c) not to be compelled to be a witness in proceedings against that person in respect of the offence;
d) to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal;
e) not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause;
f) except in the case of an offence under military law tried before a military tribunal, to the benefit of trial by jury where the maximum punishment for the offence is imprisonment for five years or a more severe punishment;
g) not to be found guilty on account of any act or omission unless, at the time of the act or omission, it constituted an offence under Canadian or international law or was criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations;
h) if finally acquitted of the offence, not to be tried for it again and, if finally found guilty and punished for the offence, not to be tried or punished for it again; and
i) if found guilty of the offence and if the punishment for the offence has been varied between the time of commission and the time of sentencing, to the benefit of the lesser punishment.

I object to the administration of justice through Kangaroo Kourts Tribunals. A person should have the right to tried before a jury of their peers where the potential exists to gavel down fines like these - what if 20 people joined this complaint? 100? at $5000 each, a point is reached where trial by jury is warranted.

Furthermore, your accusers don't even have to be present in order to cash in on your tribulations:
The Complaints of James Komar and Kathy Hamre

Neither of these Complainants was able to attend the hearing and provide evidence. Apparently Kathy Hamre was out of the country and James Komar was unable to attend for health reasons. Accordingly there is no direct evidence as to the specific impact of the flyers on these two Complainants. There is however the testimony of Gens Hellquist as to the general impact of the flyers in the gay and lesbian community. In addition, under s. 31.4(a), compensation can be granted to up to the maximum where a person has wilfully and recklessly contravened any provision of the Act. As previously stated, there is evidence of the widespread distribution of the materials before the tribunal and Whatcott’s zealous belief in his moral obligation to continue speaking out in any manner he sees fit against the gay and lesbian community.

In all of the circumstances therefore, I direct William Whatcott to pay to James Komar and Kathy Hamre, the sum of $5,000 each for his wilful and reckless actions in contravening s. 14 of the Code by distributing or causing the flyers to be distributed and as compensation for loss of their dignity, self-respect and hurt feelings.
Read the whole decision here.

Important Supreme Court Decision Tomorrow

A significant Supreme Court decision is expected tomorrow:
OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada will render judgment tomorrow in a case that could have far-reaching implications for the future of medicare.

At the heart of the controversial case -- heard in court one year ago -- is whether it is unconstitutional to outlaw private health care for patients who can pay.
A decision in support of freedom to purchase and sell medical services should put an end to all the hand-wringing over the evils of private medical practice.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with a hybrid health services system. True, those with financial resources would get better service. But those without resources would still get services, with less load on the system. And, what's wrong with a society which rewards achievement and financial success with access to better products and services?

Aggressive Denial, Praise Be

via Nealenews:
OTTAWA (CP) - A group representing Canadian Muslims accuses security officials of unacceptable intimidation when investigating terrorism.

The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations says CSIS and RCMP officers have used aggressive behaviour, threats of arrest, visits at work and intrusive questioning.

The council released a survey indicating that of the 467 people who responded, eight per cent - most of them young, Arab males - had been visited by one of the two security agencies.

Almost half who received visits said it made them feel fearful, anxious and nervous, while about one-quarter said they felt harassed and discriminated against.

The council wants Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan and Justice Minister Irwin Cotler to probe the matter.

McLellan has denied that federal agencies resort to racial profiling - the investigation of offences based on race and ethnicity.

Racial profiling? So, we should be fair-handed about this and question senior citizens, homeless, Christians, aboriginals, Afro-Canadians, Asian-Canadians, etc. in proportion to the ethnic makeup of the country in order to avoid 'racial profiling'. In order to gather intelligence on Islamic fundamentalists positioning to commit terror attacks, we should question Christian ranchers in Alberta?

RCMP and CSIS poking around the Arab-Canadian Islamic community makes plain sense. Those within that community that wish to help their new country defend itself against terrorism should be willing to co-operate with these agencies, as would any other patriot.

How stupid to pretend we aren't looking for sleeper terrorist cells within an ethnic community from which has sprung a group that has flown airplanes into office buildings and blown up commuter trains.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Mugabe "Fit as A Teenager"

Robert Mugabe is not only still alive, but
"He is as fit as a teenager. He is in the best of health and is at work. Those doubting can check on Thursday when he addresses Parliament," Charamba said.[...]
Why is it that these tin-hat dictator types have to exaggerate to such a degree. There is no 81-year old person that is "as fit as a teenager". Completely unbelievable. How about "fit as a man 15 years younger"? Somewhat believable.

If I were in the dictatorship business, I would take more care with the hyperbole. It just seems safer to be somewhat believable rather than patently ridiculous. Less agitation among the rabble is a good thing for a dictator.

China Forces Blogs to Register

via CNews:
"There's a 'Net Crawler System' that will monitor the sites in real time and search each web address for its registration number," said one document listing questions and answers about the new rules. "It will report back to the MII if it finds a site thought to be unregistered."

Anne Cools Speaks out Against Senator Abuse

Anne Cools is alleging she was hit by senators.
Cools stood by her claims Monday, saying she had been hit by two senators, but she wouldn't name them.

"I was grabbed, more than once, by one of them in question," Cools said.

"I have been grabbed and handled by more than one senator, all right? Leave it there," she said in an interview.

"It was painful," Cools said, making it clear she was not talking about only partisan attacks.

Why report this now, and not at the time?

Let's see where this goes. She's opened Pandora's box, but won't name names, or state particulars. At this point, it's just looking like a drive by smear to me.

Perhaps she is mistaken and was just being nudged awake?

Monday, June 06, 2005

Hours for Being Catholic are Between 6:00pm and 8:00am Mon-Fri, all day Sat and Sun

The infamous Mike Constable cartoon is defended by a Catholic.

Sharon Fraser reprises the furor in her own words:
Some people — and I'm one of them — thought my best line came when Mike Duffy asked how I, as a Catholic — could “get your head around” Mike's cartoon. I don't go to work as a Catholic, I said. I go to work as an editor.
Ahem, but doesn't one go to life as a Catholic? So it's fine to ridicule the Catholic Church using the symbology of hatred because you have reached the sanctuary of work?

She goes on to justify the cartoon by stating that the Roman Catholic Church is a big, rich and powerful institution.

If I apply that same logic, then I should be able to libel rich and powerful people because, well, they are rich and powerful.

Sharon, my advice: decide if you are Catholic, or not. Then, do your best to either be a Catholic, or try apostasy. But you look a little silly up there on your high moral horse right about now.

Amnesia International

Amnesty International does not like how some of our national security threats are being treated.
[...]Much of the evidence in security certificate cases is heard in camera [...]

Concerns about security can never justify violating fundamental human rights.[...]

Well, yes, they can.

So let's suppose that we spend a great deal of effort developing a network of clandestine informants that successfully infiltrate organizations on our soil that would do us harm. Is Amnesty International seriously suggesting that we expose these intelligence assets in an open court? Not in any country in which I wish to live. AI - you do realize that there are non-citizens living in our country that would do us harm - do my family harm?

Allow AI to run the world and we will not be able to operate a security intelligence service effectively. Sorry, AI, the security of my country, my fellow citizens and my family trumps the rights of foreign national non-citizens any day of the week.

After comparing Guantanamo with the Gulag Archipeligo, and now this bit of Alice-in-Wonderland naive thinking, I am going to completely forget about Amnesty International.

Globe and Mail Minces Words on the Military Reorganization

Globe and Mail:
Ottawa — Canada's military command structure is about to be turned upside down so the Armed Forces can deal more quickly with natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.
OK, I get the natural disaster part. This is how you momentarily augment regional police forces, provide additional equipment and logistics, etc.

But potential terrorist threats? How do you organize around potential terrorist threats? Are the terrorists predictable, or unpredictable? Do they strike en masse, or selectively, with stealth? The very nature of terrorist acts is to avoid confrontation with a superior force - i.e. the military. Terrorism is a tactic chosen when you have an inferior force trying to avoid conflict with a superior force and instead attempt to leverage civilian fear into political action.

Handling potential terrorism threats is not a military task. The military is a brutal, blunt and destructive force. Dealing with terrorism calls for development of intelligence assets, surveillance, etc. Prevention is the objective when dealing with terrorism. Dealing with potential terrorist threats is a matter of policing, both regionally and federally. It's one of the current functions the RCMP, and CSIS.

Or, is the Globe trying to say actual terrorism - that is, dealing with the mess after the fact?

Globe and Mail, don't play fast and loose with the words. Is it potential or actual acts of terrorism? As for a military role, the former case makes no sense. I certainly do not want to live in a society that has given the military the authority to do police work on a status quo basis. And certainly, with the democratic underpinnings of our political system being egregiously abraded by a horde of power-obsessed, corrupt and dishonest politicians, the last thing I want to see happen is an intrusion of the military into daily domestic affairs. And this from a great fan of our military.

Let's be grown up about this. If the reorganization of the military is to better allow us to deal with the aftermath of a terrorist attack, then say so.

Smoking Nurses

I was out for a walk with my family on Friday night. Nearby is the local hospital. We walked by a bench where were seated four nurses on break from the hospital. All of them smoking.

Has anyone else noticed how many nurses smoke?

I find this baffling. One would think that of all people, nurses, who see the worst effects of smoking on a daily basis, would be the last people on the planet to smoke.

Nurses of Canada! Butt out! When our children see you smoking it undermines the health impact statements made by the medical community.

Should we pass a law? NO! Nurses have the right to smoke if they want. I am just saying it is a very bad choice, and I encourage all nurses who smoke to stop because the sight of a nurse smoking causes cognitive dissonance in innocent random perambulators. I encourage anyone who smokes to stop, but today, I am feeling particulary steamed about seeing nurses smoke, so I am unfairly picking on this group.

We Need Whistleblower Legislation NOW

Here's where we have to start to wonder about the credibility and altruism of the NDP. Since this has to be difficult legislation for a majority government to bring upon itself, what better time to apply leverage to get this desperately needed legislation through the house than now?

If the NDP made this the price of supporting PMPM's morally bankrupt and corrupt government dictatorship, then I would be well pleased (and I would still want to teach the Liberals a lesson they will not soon forget).

Jack, redeem yourself, and do it now - force real whistleblower legislation onto the agenda NOW.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Why I Am Glad I Am Not Building Ships in China Right Now

According to The COSCO group:
Around 6 billion tonnes, or 98% of world trade, is carried by sea. Coal, iron ore and crude oil predominate along with grain, rice, steel, timber, bauxite, phosphates and refined products of oil. These form the raw materials for the world's economy: fuels for industry and food for people. Baltic Exchange members arrange their transportation from the producing countries to their destination. It is the matching of ships and bulk cargoes that forms the cornerstone of the Baltic market today.

Slate on the shipping news in 2003:
Baltic Dry isn't a Latvian deodorant or an Estonian cocktail. Rather, it's a number issued daily by the London-based Baltic Exchange, which traces its roots to the Virginia and Baltick coffeehouse in London's financial district in 1744.

Every working day, the Baltic canvasses brokers around the world and asks how much it would cost to book various cargoes of raw materials on various routes—150,000 tons of iron ore going from Australia to China or 150,000 tons of coal from South Africa to Taiwan. Brokers are also asked to consider variables such as the type and speed of the ship and the length of the voyage.

The answers are melded into the BDI, which appears in shipping publications such as Lloyd's List and on the screens of information vendors such as Reuters and Bloomberg. Because it provides "an assessment of the price of moving the major raw materials by sea," as the Baltic puts it, it provides both a rare window into the highly opaque and diffuse shipping market and an accurate barometer of the volume of global trade.

The BDI is a good leading indicator for economic growth and production. After all, it doesn't deal with container ships carrying finished goods. It deals with the precursors to production: bulk carriers carrying building materials, cement, grain, coal, and iron. Unlike stock and bond markets, the BDI "is totally devoid of speculative content," says Howard Simons, an economist and columnist at People don't book freighters unless they have cargo to move.

Because the supply of cargo ships is generally both tight and inelastic—it takes two years to build a new ship, and ships are too expensive to take out of circulation the way airlines park unneeded jets in the Arizona desert—marginal increases in demand can push the index higher quickly. And significant increases in demand can push the index sharply higher. That's precisely what happened earlier this fall. As this chart shows, the Baltic Index doubled in September and October—an unprecedented jump.

You can visit the The Baltic Exchange yourself, but it's behind a subscription firewall.

You can chart it yourself here. When you do, you will see that it has been dropping steadily since mid April at 4800. This may well be foreshadowing a decline in economic activity, which in turn makes the multi-billion dollar vote-buying boondoggles of late look foolish. But, hey, the country comes first, right? Perhaps the shipping tycoon at the helm of the good ship Canada has deeper insights into the BDI than we do.