Thursday, April 28, 2005

A Leap to the Right

I am not entirely sure what is going on in Canadian politics these days. I think that Paul Martin is getting a bum rap cleaning up Chretiens dirty diapers. I just can't understand why Stephen Harper calls the deal with the NDP, a deal with the devil. Harper says that spending an extra 2 billion dollars a year on education, the environment, housing is irresponsible. This would be irresponsible maybe if we were running a defecit but the last time I checked, Canada ran a surplus:

2004/04 $8.9B
2003/04 $9.1B
2002/03 $7B
2001/02 $8.9B
2000/01 $18.1B
1999/00 $12.7B
1998/99 $3.1B
1997/98 $3.8B

What the hell is wrong with Harper? Why is that the most disgraceful thing he's ever seen. With the Liberals, NDP and Bloc all being left leaning party with over 70 per cent of the popular vote, does it make any sense that he speaks for the people when he's fuming about cancellation of tax cuts for large corporations. Who the hell wants that (even though we arguably need it eventually)?

Harper stands for American style religious politics. He's anti-gay, anti-abortion, pro-military, pro-big business and all for cosying up with GWB and spending our taxes on a missle defence program.

As much as I despise the Liberal party under Cretien, the most disgraceful thing that I've ever seen in Canadian politics is how much the Conservatives smell like the Republicans and have some people fooled.

We're Canadians, not Americans - let's keep it that way.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Shame Shame

Shame on our PM for not keeping his (and our) promise regarding foreign aid. The acceptable target is .7% of GDP, which is 6.7 billion dollars or 61 cents per day per person. We currently give .26%, still better than the USA at .16% but far short of Norway at 0.87%. Keep in mind that this promise was made FIFTEEN FREAKING YEARS AGO!!!

Things are bad in Africa, in fact things are not only bad but they have been getting progressively worse in my lifetime. This is particularly pathetic because technology has advanced so rapidly that there is no real justification for it. It's not that there ever was any justification for it but now more than ever we have the means to make it better but we seem to be making it worse.

So what's the problem exactly? Well first off, African nations are so deeply in debt that they spend more on interest on their loans than they do on basic necessities. This is a lot like how credit cards, gambling and lotteries exploit the poor here but on a much larger scale. Another factor is that they just don't have a chance at fair trade to become self sufficient because of trade tarrifs. Here in Canada, our economy depends on "adding value" to raw materials. We don't sell just sell raw wheat, lumber and oil, if we did we'd be poor too. On top of that, there still is an enormous amount of corruption in Africa keeping the population opressed and keeping the economies stifled.

Sound hopeless but the good news is that technology is making it easier for those in the first world who are acting as advocates for the third world to start to show some solidarity and it seems like there is some momentum gaining. It's very hard to stop it once it is in motion and the faster it moves, the more likely that it will gain critical mass. I don't think anybody is expecting the third world to become luxurious but at the end of the day, water, food, shelter and education don't seem like too much to ask for.

Here's where you can find out more: 

Global Issues


Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Is this cool or what?

Is this the coolest machine you ever saw or what?

Why MS is and always will be in trouble

Everybody that works at Microsoft has to be a little paranoid. This sentiment is justified because everybody is truly always out to get them. It seems like there is always somebody really close to thumping them regardless of the year or decade that you happen to be in. This year it's Google on the search front and Apple on the music front. And finally, here comes Adobe/Macromedia from behind to wizzle their dizzle. Up in the stratosphere, there's still Oracle/Peoplesoft thundering along and from the crusty trenches there are armies of open source grunts lobbing fireballs at 'em. If that weren't enough, the DOJ and the European equivalent are breathing heavy down their backs. A decade and a half ago, IBM was in the same kind of situation and a nimble unrestricted Microsoft came around and stole (literally) their thunder. It seems to me like the timing is ripe for some lanky upstart to hit Microsoft right in their Achilles heel and I'm pretty sure that everybody that works there knows it.

On the topic of Adobe/Macromedia, here's a funny de-PR'ing translation of their merger press release.

Costa Rica and Sumatra

I'm off to Costa Rica in three weeks for another week of surfing. Hopefully I'll be in better shape this time and won't have to spend the week riding soup.

A couple of months ago, Surfer magazine ran an article about the charter trips to Sumatra and how they were helping to shape the economy there. They've re-run it over at MSNBC. It's interesting to see how they have gone through massive pains to preserve the indigenous culture and to help out the locals with local issues like malaria etc. This will probably turn sour when the crowds start growing in these places just like what happened with whale watchers. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, lets wait and see how this pans out. In the meantime, I'm dreaming of Playa Negra.

This guy looks like my old room mate. He probably smells a lot better too. Posted by Hello

Monday, April 25, 2005

F is for Fungus

This morning I received a quote for corporate insurance with a disclaimer that they added a new exclusion for fungus and spores. I am not insured for a rampant mushroom outbreak! (WTF???)

And in a different part of the earth some smart guys figured out how to make some other fungus produce hydrogen for cheap. I am really impatiently waiting for the end of gasoline, it's likely going to take decades but who knows - maybe some fungus is going to save our collective asses in the end. I don't really get what all the tree huggers are wigging out about, we are going to run out of petroleum in 50-75 years anyways.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I am a moron

Have you ever tried to save a bit of time and end up wasting lots of it? I have been trying to get my summer tires put on for almost a month now. Usually I call up my usual shop and make an appointment. I drive out there, wait for an hour and my car is ready. This time, I decided to find a place closer to my home and office. So I did what almost everybody else does, I went out to Canadian Tire to get it done. The first time I went, I waited 10 minutes in line to find out that it would take 4 1/2 hrs. As I don't ever have that much time to spare, I had to pass on that offer. The fellow told me to come back at 7:30 AM to get it done first thing. So I went back the next week, at 7:33 I was there in line behind 4 people. 10 minutes later, I found out that my car would be ready at around 10:30. Again I had to pass and a week later (this morning) I went to Gordons Goodyear on St. Jacques. I showed up at 7:00, 10th in line. The wait was about 2 minutes and they had at least a dozen car bays and mechanics cranking out summer tires. So 7:20 comes around and the guy calls me over, it turns out that the summer tires that I brought were actually the tires from my old car. Screwed again, at least I didn't have to wait 4 1/2 hrs to find out. For the record, Gordons on St. Jacques and Cavendish seems to be a quick hassle free place to go if you have to get something like this done. I'll let you know after my fourth attempt next week.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Moldy Oldies

I always related motorcycles to being young and being free. This past year it really dawned on me that in reality, motorcyclists seem to be a lot older than I'd thought. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but it definitely does make things different. This past weekend, I ran into dozens of fellow bikers on the highway and roadways and for the most part they seem a lot older than me. The irony of this is that I am not exactly a teenager myself. So what's up with that? When I was a pup, pretty much every one of my buddies saved up and bought a ratty bike and went through the irritation of getting a motorcycle license. These days, I run into (younger) people all the time who want to get a harley or a vespa but don't do a damn thing about it. Come to think about it, I don't think that I know more than one or two people in their prime who regularly ride street bikes. For the most part, the bikers are geezers older than I. I guess that's the sad part and what's worse is that all of those biker shows on Discovery and Speed make it worse because they give the impression that you can't be a biker without a hundred grand custom bike. That's bullshit, give me a rat bike any day and that's another day I’ll never regret. If you want a bike, go get it and stop talking about it, you too ladies.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Here's the cool part, how many times in my life have I been able to ride my motorcycle to the hill to go riding? Posted by Hello

Being the last day of the season, they dig a big pit and fill it up with water for a little hybrid watersport. Needless to say, it's a gas to watch the punters take a little unexpected dip. Posted by Hello

Yep, you guessed it - I spent another weekend in tropical conditions snowboarding in the sunshine. Pretty much every pro snowboarder and wakeboarder that I know came around so things were pretty crazy. Posted by Hello

Friday, April 15, 2005

A weird weekend tale

This crazy looking wild mongrel lives in a huge toxic mine pit that is caked in dried sulphuric acid. This is really a strange story even by my standards.

On a different note, it's going to be 16 degrees and sunny tomorrow so I'm in for another sun drenched snowboard and beer session. Hopefully the snow has melted enough to get my motorcycle out. See y'all later.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Moonshine Gasoline and Peer to Peer fuel

So check this out, there is a fellow who is selling stills that will produce ethanol from rotting fruits for about 50 cents a liter. The big deal about this is that mixed with a little gasoline, this can run most cars and it burns really clean. If a town/neighborhood/village was really smart, they would form a collective to set up some huge stills and give all the coop members cheap ethanol.

Most people don't realize that Canada exports more oil than it consumes so it isn't such a big deal on the level of independance but the cost and decentralization of fuel supply could be dramatic. Between homebrew ethanol, methane and electricity in theory the general population could form a peer to peer fuel grid. This concept seems so obvious that I'm really shocked that it isn't front and center. For the record, I am definately not a tree hugging environmental type - I have a huge horsepower/petrochemical appetite and a vested interest in keeping it fed. That means I want to use more fuel and not less so better, cleaner, cheaper fuel is my primary motivation.

On a different note, it seems like the Liberal government is about to fall and it is likely that the Conservatives will win with a minority govenment. Having a minority government means that not much change happens because nobody can agree on anything significant. Having a conservative minority government and an entirely left leaning minority means that nobody will be able to agree on anything other than the meat and potato basics. Gay marriages, missile defence, government reduction and all of that touchy stuff will be stuck in a deadlock because there is no middle ground. I think the Conservatives are in for a rough ride if they win and the Liberals are in for worse if they stay.

On the topic of the Gomery commission, how come nobody has questioned why the PQ got the same dirty money as the Liberals? How could they not know about it? That is some serious double standard bullshit and its pretty sad that the media and public don't seem to give a crap right now.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Phew, who would have thought that I could get sunburned in April! I spent YET ANOTHER weekend snowboarding and drinking beer in the sunshine with the local hooligans. These fellows are now riding these crazy little snow skates, no bindings, looks pretty tough but a lot of fun. There is enough snow up there to keep the hills open at least another month but Mt. Garceau closes next weekend just in time for motocross season to begin. Speaking of which, I spent two hours trying to dig out my street bike and finally gave up. I guess I'll wait another week before taking the motorcycle out. Posted by Hello

Friday, April 08, 2005


Am I ever excited about this coming weekend or what! It's supposed to be sunny and warm all weekend so all of my redneck friends and I are going to be snowboarding in the sunshine and sucking back the brews. Hopefully I can bring out my motorcycle this weekend, last I checked it was in a shed under a meter of snow which hopefully is gone by now.

Bust out the BBQ, here comes the summer!

Oh yeah, don't wash your face in stream water - believe me it's not worth it.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Aye Carumba, bad news for the Liberals

There's been a publication ban on the testimony of Jean Brealt regarding the Adscam inquiry but it seems that at least one American based blog has published the proceedings. It is probably illegal to post a link to that blog but it isn't hard to find and the fallout from the claims made on that blog if proven to be true are going to be massive and the claims are frankly really disturbing. I can see why a lot of people are expecting an election soon. Paul Martin had previously pushed through a budget that passed even with a minority government, he is now pushing it through again with a Kyoto-ish amendment that is very likely to fail. They seem to want to trigger another election really quick. In any case it is really going to be messy. The ramifications for us Anglo Quebekers are not too promising either with all of the heavy handed Charest policies that have pissed off a lot of socio-fraco-quebeckers. On the upside, maybe I'll be able to buy a house in Westmount at a bargain again in a few years, kind of like how things used to be in '95.

Sunday, April 03, 2005


Before I jump in, today is the spring forward day so spin your clock forward an hour if you are in a daylight savings time zone.

I read this story about Jews in Iran before the Shah got booted in the 70's. I know some Iraqi Jews as well and until I had met them, I never even knew that there were Jews in that part of the world at one time. My point is that the people in Iran were living in a relatively peaceful ethnic/religious plural society at one time in their lifetimes. They were also relatively moderate and dare I say prosperous at one time before the Islamic revolution. I never lived there and I'm not an expert so I don't really know, maybe I'm wrong so let me know if I am missing something.

Back to the point, you have this society of cultured, modern people who went through a radical change in the 70s and isolated themselves from the world who now are looking at other societies in the Middle East and the rest of the world who are doing much better economically and socially than they are. If I was Joe Public there, I would want things to change so it seems logical that Iran would be the next Islamic state to self-liberalize. You can also assume that the CIA is in there already stirring the pot if that was the case. Many Americans are worried that a new Iraqi Shia government will swing in favor of the Iranian Shia fundamentalism. I think that the opposite will be true, the Iraqi Shiites will temper the Iranians and hopefully give the Iranian people the confidence to take control of their own society without first world interference.

Then again what do I know, this is just my impression from the fragments of data that I am exposed to.

A weekend at work

I have been day tripping to Ottawa for work on a weekly basis so have locked into the routine of getting out of bed at 6AM every day. This weekend I stayed in town and worked at unholy early hours. This isn't so bad because for every hour I work on weekends when nobody is around, it's the equivalent of three hours during the week when the phones are ringing and everybody is on my ass. No complaints though. What I realized yesterday is that I get a sick demoralizing feeling when I am in a work paralysis state. I think everybody gets in that funk, you know where you surf the net, do busy work but don't get around to doing the tough crap work on your list. Joel Spolsky has a good article about this on his blog. Lucky for me, all I usually have to do is hit the crap stuff on my list and I get into a crap killer trance and rip through the stuff I have been procrastinating and then, well then I feel great. I think that a lot of it relates to learned helplessness, when you put off doing one tough thing, it's not so hard to put off a second and third and fourth and then finally you feel like you have no control over the ever mounting list. I get control back by knocking down one pin and hopefully the rest come tumbling down after.