As a friend wrote, “I never expected to see anyone but a white male elected President of the United States in my lifetime”:http://cielf.livejournal.com/301745.html. (That post is friend-locked, so only some of you can see it, sorry).

On the other hand, I still don’t expect to see the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup in my lifetime. And until last week, I would have given better odds on the Leafs… :-)

posted at 1:23 pm on Wednesday, November 05, 2008 in Current Events, Humour, Politics, Random Thoughts | Comments (1)
  1. Jeff K says:

    I thought that someone who tries on women’s clothing without ever looking at the price tags was a shoe-in for a high office in the United States, but unfortunately it was not clear that Paulson could continue on under Palin.

orwell or huxley?

I saw this, and I had to share…

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.” —Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

(copied from “Will Shetterley”:http://shetterly.blogspot.com/2008/10/orwell-or-huxley.html)

posted at 8:36 am on Thursday, October 16, 2008 in Current Events, Links, Politics | Comments (1)
  1. Jeff K says:

    “pain” and “fear” don’t seem to be quite the right words, although they are not completely wrong.

    It strikes me that people who write tend to make associations on paper not unlike the process of paranoid thought, and thus come off as “fear”. Its just a slightly unvarnished side to the creative process, in my humble opinion.

    The real problem is the unwillingness of people at large to re-establish the context of their beliefs as the context changes, or indeed if it is not known.

    Example: “Okay I want to write a book called ‘Clockwork Orange’ about the hedonism of violence and emotional music”. Director “Well, let’s make it into a movie for a buck”. Public: “Oh cool! Let’s beat the director up just like in the movie!”. Director: “Ban movie in Britain for life”.

    Pretty funny actually… (CWO was on a few days ago). Ain’t it sad knowing someone who’s been “cured”? [joke]

voter turnout

Yesterday’s Canadian federal election broke a new record; lowest voter turnout in history, at 59% of eligible voters. This apparently ranks us 83 in the world.

I received six voter registration cards; two for us, and four for previous owners of our house. We’ve lived here eight years and three federal elections. I called Elections Canada to ask if they wanted to remove those bad names from the list, and they replied “no”.

I wonder how much of that “drop” in turnout is real, and how much of it is a growing number of “dead” registrations on the Canadian voter list?

posted at 12:35 am on Wednesday, October 15, 2008 in Current Events, Politics | Comments Off on voter turnout

more ‘i hate people’

“Car vandals aim at Liberal supporters”:http://www.thestar.com/article/512033

bq. Toronto police patrolled a midtown area overnight, after vandals cut brake lines on at least 10 cars parked at homes with Liberal election signs on their lawns.

posted at 7:48 pm on Sunday, October 05, 2008 in Current Events, Politics | Comments (1)
  1. Nita says:

    I doubt they catch them, but if they do, a large part of me says “nail their asses to the wall.”

found money

bq. For years now, they’ve told us that we can’t afford—that the government providing healthcare to all people is just unimaginable; it can’t be done. We don’t have the money to rebuild our infrastructure. We don’t have the money to wipe out poverty. We can’t do it. But all of a sudden, yeah, we do have $700 billion for a bailout of Wall Street.

— Senator Bernie Sanders, in “an interview on Democracy Now”:http://www.democracynow.org/2008/9/22/sen_bernie_sanders_robert_scheer_and

In a fit of synchronicity, Canada is in the middle of an election where three of our four candidate parties are promising to spend money that the government doesn’t have. The Liberals claim they’ll fund with yet another new tax; the Green and NDP would just restore deficit spending.

The older I get, the more I think the libertarians may have a significant truth buried in their theology; Big Government _bad_!

posted at 7:42 am on Tuesday, September 23, 2008 in Current Events, Politics | Comments Off on found money


I predict that there will be six more weeks of winter…

posted at 3:16 pm on Monday, February 04, 2008 in Current Events | Comments (1)
  1. CL says:

    The thing I’ve always loved about groundhog day is living somewhere where 6 more weeks of winter is pretty much the same thing as an early spring.

interesting reading

I just finished reading through the Livejournals of “three”:http://cvillette.livejournal.com/ “FBI”:http://trollcatz.livejournal.com/ “agents”:http://0metotchtli.livejournal.com/. They apparently work for a of the Behavioural Analysis Unit? Interesting reading, though. There’s certainly _something_ going on out there that they’re not telling us about…

posted at 7:57 pm on Saturday, January 12, 2008 in Current Events | Comments (2)
  1. Coffee Em says:

    Some kind of weird U.S. security theatre thing?

  2. chk says:

    Anything is possible, especially given the state of “U.S. security theatre” these days!

    Maybe I should reconnect with an old friend that works for CSIS and see if she knows anything about that incident near Sherbrooke QC last month…


Quotation of the Day for December 23, 2007

bq. “Whoever imagined that you would hear from the United States and from Britain the same arguments for detention without trial that were used by the apartheid government.”

– Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in a December 10th speech commemorating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

(via the Quotation of the Day Mailing List)

posted at 10:12 am on Sunday, December 23, 2007 in Current Events, Politics | Comments Off on qotd

I don’t like the world I live in…

Schneier on Security: The War on the Unexpected

bq. We’ve opened up a new front on the war on terror. It’s an attack on the unique, the unorthodox, the unexpected; it’s a war on different. If you act different, you might find yourself investigated, questioned, and even arrested — even if you did nothing wrong, and had no intention of doing anything wrong. The problem is a combination of citizen informants and a CYA attitude among police that results in a knee-jerk escalation of reported threats.

In particular:

* “Fathers can’t hold daughters’ hands”:http://www.bloggernews.net/18108 (Grr. Grr! this is appalling.)
* “iPod terror”:http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=11211166&pageNo=1&sid=1 (yes, it happens here in Canada too)

I noticed at my son’s hockey arena recently that the anti-photography signs have changed; now in addition to reporting to building staff that I’m using a camera, the sign claims that I’m only allowed to photograph the people I came to the arena with. Why is this relevant? Because policies like this are both driven by, and feeding into, the societal paranoia that defines this decade.

Several years ago at Niagara Falls I saw a child who was climbing, on the wrong side of a safety fence, on the rocks near the river. I told her it wasn’t safe to be over there, and that she should come back. One of her parents finally noticed and came over to scold the child; not for being in a dangerous place, but for talking to a stranger! (She hadn’t actually said anything to me, for what it’s worth :).

I’m sure I could come up with more stories, personal and on the Internet; it’s too easy this days…

Ugh. Refuse to be afraid, people!

posted at 3:34 pm on Wednesday, December 05, 2007 in Current Events | Comments (6)
  1. Jeff K says:

    You don’t really need to do anything at all to attract scorn. After the Trans Siberian Orchestra performance at ACC, I sat watching the roadies take apart the stage for 5 minutes or so and was approached by security and told I should go home. I had been watching the security guard’s behaviour earlier in the evening. He was obviously a mental case. He probably thought the same of me, in his eyes there was nothing left to watch so my behaviour did not make logic sense to his limited mind.

    He probably didn’t even hear the lead guitarist announce that band members would come out into the stands after the show.

    He probably reported seeing a suspicious person to his management for all I know, and some bureaucrap is busy writing up a sign to cover the infraction right now. Something like “last person out at each performance will be shot.”…

  2. Nita says:

    I get lost of grief for not blindly following the “teach children stranger danger”. fear of things that should be feared, fine. Fear for it’s own sake? I call bull.

  3. Jeff K says:

    Had another one today! The cashier at Costco asked me for my membership card, so I stepped up and handed it over assuming the tendering of the previous transaction was drawing to its usual conclusion. Alas, the lady ahead of me was paying for her purchase in $10 bills. Augh, I thought, a waste of another 10 seconds of my life. But then… she glanced at me. So I said “Hello.”. She then continued, by my estimation, on the 60th $10 bill, and glanced at me again. Now I thought, uh-oh, she must be paranoid about something, but I saw a child wandering close by and wondered if she glanced at him. ..but then after $10 bill #70 she glanced at me again and said “I would like you to move away from me, I have a lot of money in my hands, and I do not know who you are.”

    I was aghast, so I said, “What? I made $15,000 on IMAX on Friday, you think I care about a $10 bill in your purse?”… and stepped back.


    To which I said, “This is the most ridiculous conversation I’ve had in a long while..” (that would be since the security guard asked me to leave the ACC after the show last week).

    After the 80th $10 bill found its way out of her purse and she received her bill and was off to pick up her ever so valuable merchandise at the counter, I said to her, “Buy IMAX…”, to which she turned and glared, and then said nothing.

    Anyway, wish me luck, I’m taking the heavy equipment to a Skate-Canada event today. Nikon D200 with IS/ED 400 f/5.6 glass. Come bail me out after the show, I’ll give you a free stock tip.

    Here, I’ll pay in advance: Stay the hell away from CIBC shares.

  4. Jeff K says:

    Yep, I was harassed. I actually decided to put the 85mm f/1.4 lens on, its better for such a venue. The first security lady said I could not bring a camera like that in, but I thought I’d ask the lady right behind her who was selling tickets and sitting under a sign with 30 point letters that said that cameras with lenses “200mm and less” *were* permitted. After some discussion it turned out that she did in fact know she was sitting under the sign. Once this fact was discovered, some unwritten rules were mentioned about how I could only take pictures of my skater. I simply said “Okay”, and it appeared to be the correct answer. Unfortunately, I was not told which one was my skater, so I had to take pictures of all of them so I did not miss her. Now I’m stuck sorting out hundreds of pictures.

    My elder daughter asked me on the way to our seats, “Daddy, why did the first lady say the camera was not allowed, the second one did not know that 85 was less than 200 (duhhh) and the sign on the wall doesn’t say anything about which skaters you can take pictures of?”.

    …oh well.

  5. chk says:

    I’m pretty sure that Parks & Rec has no legal basis for the photography claim, and I’ve been planning for a while now to give them a call and find out what’s going on….

  6. Jeff K says:

    Hm, some (persons) apparently unloaded 1000 April put options on CIBC today for about a $300,000 profit on CIBC’s wonderous 5% drop this morning. Thus expireth my stock tips. You are now on your own. Keep the $300,000, maybe we’ll sue the camera-nazis next time.

Outsourcing the Picket Line – washingtonpost.com

I’m not sure if this is irony or hypocrisy. The Carpenter’s Union is outsourcing its picket lines to random people off the street, paying them $1 above minimum wage ($8/hr) to protest … low wages.

Outsourcing the Picket Line – washingtonpost.com

posted at 2:18 pm on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 in Current Events, Links | Comments Off on Outsourcing the Picket Line – washingtonpost.com

potter economics

Megan McArdle: Harry Potter: the economics

bq. The low opportunity cost attached to magic spills over into the thoroughly unbelievable wizard economy. Why are the Weasleys poor? Why would any wizard be? Anything they need, except scarce magical objects, can be obtained by ordering a house elf to do it, or casting a spell, or, in a pinch, making objects like dinner, or a house, assemble themselves. Yet the Weasleys are poor not just by wizard standards, but by ours: they lack things like new clothes and textbooks that should be easily obtainable with a few magic words. Why?

An interesting touch on the subject. It seems true that in the Potterverse, magic is free, something that never works very well for story telling. C.S. Friedman just published _Feast of Souls_, the first book in a trilogy based on the opposite extreme; the source (and cost) of magic is life force. in _The Magic Goes Away_, Larry Niven deals with magic as a finite resource, to interesting effect. There are lots of other examples in SF&F literature.

So why don’t we care about this inconsistency in Rowling’s work?

posted at 1:22 pm on Tuesday, July 24, 2007 in Current Events, Links | Comments (2)
  1. Nita says:

    Because nowadays, dissing Rowlings works in public is much like going to Rome and picking on the pope?

  2. Greg Wilson says:

    I think it goes something like this:

    1. Magicians can conjure up anything, so why would any of them be poor?

    2. Hey, if they can do that, why would any muggles be poor either? Or have diseases?

    3. Hm… Why are so many people in the real world poor/hungry/sick, when we could clothe/house/feed/cure them if we wanted to?

    4. This train of thought is making me uncomfortable, so I’m going to stop worrying about it and get back to the story.

lessons of history

From Bruce Schneier’s security weblog:

bq. Here’s a “clip”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xs3SfNANtig from an Australian TV programme called “The Chaser”. A Trojan Horse (full of appropriately attired soldiers) finds its way past security everywhere except the Turkish consulate.

bq. At least they remember their history.


posted at 7:30 pm on Monday, July 16, 2007 in Current Events, Humour, Links | Comments Off on lessons of history


First tropical storm of the year: “Andrea”:http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/text/refresh/MIATCPAT1+shtml/091443.shtml on May 09, 2007. And so begins another year of watching hurricanes…

(with my luck the remnants of a hurricane will blow through Atlantic Canada when we’re supposed to be on the ferry between NS and NF…)

posted at 11:04 am on Thursday, May 10, 2007 in Current Events, Links | Comments Off on first

culture of fear

AlterNet: Rights and Liberties: Culture of Fear: Poetry Professor Becomes Terror Suspect

bq. Because of my recycling, the bomb squad came, then the state police. Because of my recycling, buildings were evacuated, classes were canceled, the campus was closed. No. Not because of my recycling. Because of my dark body. No. Not even that. Because of his fear. Because of the way he saw me. Because of the culture of fear, mistrust, hatred and suspicion that is carefully cultivated in the media, by the government, by people who claim to want to keep us “safe.”

“Bruce Schneier”:http://www.schneier.com/ has been collecting a bunch of these stories lately. His point is less about civil liberties, though. If police and emergency services are kept this busy chasing false alarms, it’s that much easier for the real criminals to slip past unnoticed…

I’ve linked to some of his recent entries:

* “A Rant From a Cop”:http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/04/a_rant_from_a_c.html
* “Stage Weapons Banned”:http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/04/stage_weapons_b.html
* “How Australian Authorities Respond to Potential Terrorists”:http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/04/how_australian.html
* “Another Boston Terrorism Overreaction”:http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/04/another_boston.html

posted at 7:46 pm on Wednesday, April 25, 2007 in Current Events, Links | Comments Off on culture of fear

car seats again

ConsumerReports.org – Infant car seats 2/07: Safety alert, European models, Ratings

bq. You’d think that in a car crash, infants in their cozy car seats would be the most protected passengers of all. But you’d be wrong, our tests reveal.

bq. Cars and car seats can’t be sold unless they can withstand a 30-mph frontal crash. But most cars are also tested in a 35-mph frontal crash and in a 38-mph side crash. Car seats aren’t.

bq. When we crash-tested infant car seats at the higher speeds vehicles routinely withstand, most failed disastrously. The car seats twisted violently or flew off their bases, in one case hurling a test dummy 30 feet across the lab.

I’ve been trying to write a rant on the topic, but can’t seem to get it organized. The fundamental issue for me is that:

– government officials don’t want to scare consumers, so publicly refuse to admit there are any problems.
– manufacturers slip through the cracks, doing the minimum possible to develop and sell products.
– both parties seem more interested in the appearance of safety than in actual risk analysis.

I do not believe that consumers are served by this process, but I’m at a loss to suggest alternatives…

Update 2007/01/21: The whole point is apparently moot:

“CONSUMER REPORTS WITHDRAWS INFANT CAR SEAT REPORT”:http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cu-press-room/pressroom/2007/2/0702_eng0702ccs.htm

bq. We withdrew the report immediately upon discovering a substantive issue that may have affected the original test results. The issue came to light based on new information received Tuesday night and Wednesday morning from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concerning the speed at which our side-impact tests were conducted.

posted at 9:54 am on Friday, January 12, 2007 in Current Events, Links | Comments (1)
  1. Nita says:

    At least part of the problem is that the vast majority of consumers don’t want to have those facts. They want to believe that they’re safe. Hence, the vast overuse of antibiotics and antibiotic soaps, as opposed to working on developing healthy immune systems. *shrug* Government officials give what they’re demanded of in the populous. If people want the illusion of safety, why wouldn’t they give them that? Until there’s enough groundswell to do something different, there’s no incentive *to the government* to change the way they behave.

5 years

“I’m tired of September 11th”:http://www.easterwood.org/hmmn/?p=88 – me too.

posted at 8:16 pm on Monday, September 11, 2006 in Current Events, Politics | Comments (1)
  1. Jeff K says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever get “tired” of Sept. 11, 2001. What that person is tired of is propaganda. I am not tired of that since I don’t listen to it much in the first place. I think its a shame October 16, 1970 is not mentioned much any more.

    Within 48 hours of the proclamation of the War Measures Act, over 250 people were arrested. Among them were some of the better known labour leaders, entertainers and writers in the province. Thirty-six of those arrested were members of the Parti Québécois. By October 31, the number arrested passed 400. The police is [sic] reported to have carried out 1,628 raids by October 20. By the end of the year, 468 will have been arrested. Eventually 408 will be released without charges being laid; only two people were sentenced.

    Ah, the good old days. Oooooh, like the Trudeau quotes from that era “Just watch me”, “There can be no rule of law with a parallel power”(roughly) and “There can be no freedom without rule of law”.

    Tune in this October for a miniseries, I believe.

    The FLQ fell off the front pages in Nov. 1970, and the War Measures Act invocation ran out April 30, 1971.

Cape Breton joins space race

TheStar.com – Cape Breton joins space race

They’re building a private launch facility in Cape Breton, launches planned by 2009 or 2010.

I wonder if they need any network security people? :-)

posted at 9:53 pm on Wednesday, August 16, 2006 in Current Events, Links, Personal | Comments Off on Cape Breton joins space race

Wait, Aren’t You Scared?

Kung Fu Monkey- “Wait, Aren’t You Scared?”

bq. Errr, no. And if you are, you frankly should be a little goddam embarrassed.

bq. marvel as cool, well-trained, ruthless law-enforcement professionals — who spent decades honing their craft chasing my IRA cousins — execute their job magnificently.

posted at 8:11 pm on Sunday, August 13, 2006 in Current Events, Links | Comments (1)
  1. Greg Wilson says:

    “…I’m sending angry Welshmen to burn your country from the Rhine to the Polish border.” OK, *now* I’m scared ;-)

Schneier on Security- Last Week’s Terrorism Arrests

Schneier on Security- Last Week’s Terrorism Arrests

bq. None of the airplane security measures implemented because of 9/11 — no-fly lists, secondary screening, prohibitions against pocket knives and corkscrews — had anything to do with last week’s arrests. And they wouldn’t have prevented the planned attacks, had the terrorists not been arrested. A national ID card wouldn’t have made a difference, either.

bq. Instead, the arrests are a victory for old-fashioned intelligence and investigation.

Schneier can be a bit heavy-handed with his analyses, but I don’t think he’s wrong…

posted at 9:26 am on Sunday, August 13, 2006 in Current Events, Links | Comments Off on Schneier on Security- Last Week’s Terrorism Arrests

the $2-million comma

globeandmail.com – The $2-million comma

bq. This agreement shall be effective from the date it is made and shall continue in force for a period of five (5) years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five (5) year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.

From a contract between Rogers Communications Inc. and Aliant Inc. for the placement of cable lines in Eastern Canada. Aliant cancelled the initial 5 year term in 2005 after only 3 years. The cancellation will force Rogers to pay an extra $2.13 million to use utility poles. The placement of the second comma in the sentence above permitted the contract’s cancellation, to the surprise of Rogers.

(via the “Quotation of the Day”:http://ca.geocities.com/quotationoftheday/index.html mailing list)

posted at 7:44 am on Sunday, August 13, 2006 in Current Events, Links, Personal | Comments Off on the $2-million comma
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