Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Employment insurance hours

After reading this article, I have to agree with the Conservatives. That probably doesn't shock a lot of readers. As a libertarian, I tend to do that on a lot of issues. That doesn't mean that they are or I am wrong.

It is absolutely absurd that a person could conceivably, under the rules proposed and pushed by the opposition parties, work for 9 weeks and receive a full year of benefits. Quite frankly, it promotes dependence on the government, and promotes the idea of sitting on one's duff if they can't find the perfect job. Further, I believe that it's disingenuous to use the specter of a recession such as we've had to push a policy which won't help any person who has lost their job as a result of the recession.

I will agree with the opposition parties on one point though. The number of hours should be standardized across the country, however, I would suggest moving up the number of hours to something close to, I don't know, maybe 1600 hours in the year. If you work 40 weeks of the year, you should be entitled to full benefits for a year. Or perhaps move towards a model whereby the number of insurable weeks you work full time determines the number of weeks of benefits - to a maximum of 52 weeks for 2 years of service. The effect of this change will force more labour mobility whereby people have no choice to move back into the labour market, either by moving to a new place for a job, or by taking a lower paying steady job in order to keep eating and paying the bills.

No idea is perfect. Every idea will yield someone who it doesn't work for. The trick is to find something that is workable for the country as a whole.

It's funny, 'cause it's true

I don't think that anything more need be said.

Gadget Nut

I admit it, I am completely a gadget nut. I constantly look for new things to improve my life. A few years ago, (I know this is old news for some technogeeks out there) I became a huge fan of XBMC. I love this program. It works almost flawlessly, and is the best home theater pc app out there, bar none. I've tried many different ones out there, and this is it.

Now, this is a few years later, and after upgrading my TV, I'm starting to stare down the 1080p arena. XBMC with the proper cables will do 1080i, which is absolutely amazing for a piece of hardware that is already going on 8 years old. (Xbox)

I am a huge advocate for power saving. I run low power consumption servers, NAS devices, network devices, etc. When I'm looking at building my own HTPC to do Bluray and 1080P, low power consumption is near top of my list.

I've been very impressed with the simplicity and speed of the Intel Atom processors. One year ago, I picked up a N270, which is a 1.6Ghz box. That little box ran my server for a year straight, barely hitting 35 to 40w of power consumption. This ran my email/web server flawlessly. I recently upgraded to the dual core atom. Again, this is a great box that is low power.

So, having said that these are my goals for an HTPC:

  1. 1080p with HDMI
  2. Low power consumption
  3. Price (keep it low as possible)
  4. Up to 7.1 Dolby Digital with Optical out
  5. One PCI slot to record Standard Def tv for my kids' TV shows.
  6. Remote
So, this is what I think I'm looking at for hardware.
  1. Zotac Atom Motherboard (link)
  2. 2GB of Memory
  3. Case (note: I'm not big into the fancy HTPC cases. I just want something that isn't ugly)
  4. 7.1 is taken care of on the motherboard.
  5. The remote is tricky. I don't have a solid solution for that yet. I'd like to use the Xbox remote, as it works very effectively for what I want.
  6. Bluray Player
NOTE: The Zotac doesn't have a PCI slot, it has a PCI-E slot. This might be ok though, as I can always go to a USB Hauppauge.

I'm hoping to build this sometime in the next couple of months. By then, there might be some new hardware, but I honestly can't wait to do this.

One other thing I'm looking at doing, is making everything boot off of a compact flash. Why? Silent, low power, and they are cheap.

If anyone has some other options for me, especially for a remote, let me know.

This amuses me...


Apparently the city of Boston needs some help copying/pasting/proofing before publishing!

Stay low to the ground while online.

Interesting new Real Estate Scam

Nigerian scammers find homes listed for sale on these public search sites, copy the pictures and listings verbatim, and then post the information onto Craigslist.

After the posting is listed, unsuspecting individuals contact the poster (fraudster), for more information on the "rental." The fraudster will state that they had to leave the country very quickly to do missionary or contract work in Africa and were unable to rent their house before leaving, therefore they have to take care of this remotely. The "homeowner" sends the prospective renter an application and tells them to send them first and last month's rent to the fraudster via Western Union. The prospective renter is further told If they "qualify," they will send them the keys for their house. Once the money is wired to the fraudster, they show up at the house, see the home is actually for sale, are unable to access the property, and their money is gone.


Ok, in this day and age, everyone needs to be that little bit more paranoid. I mean, come on, wire them the first and last months rent without even getting into the building? Personally, you deserve to lose your money then.

Star Trek technology becoming a reality

Add another idea to the list of Star Trek ideas becoming a reality.

Researchers have used at high intensity laser to create transparent aluminum. It seems that the future is closer than we thought.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wasn't he supposed to be deported???

Karlheinz Schreiber is still in Canada. My question is "Why"?

The Mulroney-Schreiber hearings are done. It's all over but the final report. The man was arrested 10 years ago under the Extradition Act, so my question is, why is he still here? Why should we still allow him to stay in Canada when he has charges to face in Germany? Why can't he be sitting in a nice, comfortable jail cell in Germany while he awaits trial for those charges?

Ted Nugent on the right to defend yourself

I'll be honest, I can't really disagree with Ted. There are studies that show that in states with a concealed carry law, the general crime rate is down. There are also arguments that some people might make that the type of "vigilanteism" that Mr. Nugent is suggesting does not allow the courts to work, and could lead to a disconnect between the severity of the crime and the severity of the punishment.

I don't think that's what Ted is saying. There is no doubt that he advocates gun ownership and carrying as a way to reduce crime. What he is also advocating here is that the person carrying the gun can use their god-given brains to assess the situation, and use that carried weapon to resolve the situation without necessarily killing the aggressor.

The reason why concealed carry may reduce crime is because it promotes insecurity in the criminal. If the criminal is unsure how many weapons are in the room, he is less likely to commit a crime, especially if the consequences are more severe. Had someone like Megan Howse had a weapon, she might be living in her house at this time.

Monday, July 27, 2009

It all comes down to one question...

How much do you want done at the point of a gun?

It's been my experience, since I started understanding the Libertarian point of view, that very few people understand what a true Libertarian stands for.

In short, they stand for that exact phrase I started with. How much do you want done at the point of a gun?

Once you understand that everything that government does is funded by forcible confiscation of your property in varying degrees, depending on your "ability to pay", you begin to loath more and more government intervention.

Mr. Campbell makes the point:

"For all the rest, the true believers if you will, the question remains: would a coalition with conservatives where there aren’t any abortions in the country and marriages were respected as the legal contracts they are, but there are concrete property laws, unmitigated free speech, and yes, the occasional marijuana coffee shop be such a bad place to live in? Surely if libertarians are willing to entertain the party of Mr. Dithers, there’s room for compromise with social conservatives…"

as if Libertarians are incompatible with all aspects of social conservatism, but realistically, the opposite is true. I am not a social conservative, but I am not afraid to say that I would argue convincingly Mr. Nicholls' right to refuse to perform certain marriage ceremonies, as long as he reasonably tried to accommodate those he refused. Social conservatives may not like abortions, but as long as they are not forced to pay for the abortions, they may not vehemently argue for abortion laws, again, a compatibility with Libertarians. With drugs, the same is true - social conservatives would not be so vehemently against drugs if there weren't social problems associated with them, and realistically, the most vehement Libertarian would agree that basic laws of civility should be adhered to regardless of your state of intoxication.

In all other things, Libertarians care more about low taxes and non-governmental solutions to problems than they care about the intrusions in those relatively limited areas. The problem is that few people understand this. I've seen many people claim to be Libertarians - Socialist Libertarians, Big Government Libertarians, people who are, quite frankly, socialists who don't want to embrace that term.

It was back in February of this year, that Rush Limbaugh made a speech to CPAC (a conservative movement in the United States). At that time, Rush made a comment that really hit home because it describes everything that a Libertarian believes:

Let me tell you who we conservatives are: We love people. [Applause] When we look out over the United States of America, when we are anywhere, when we see a group of people, such as this or anywhere, we see Americans. We see human beings. We don't see groups. We don't see victims. We don't see people we want to exploit. What we see -- what we see is potential. We do not look out across the country and see the average American, the person that makes this country work. We do not see that person with contempt. We don't think that person doesn't have what it takes. We believe that person can be the best he or she wants to be if certain things are just removed from their path like onerous taxes, regulations and too much government. [Applause]

We want every American to be the best he or she chooses to be. We recognize that we are all individuals. We love and revere our founding documents, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. [Applause] We believe that the preamble to the Constitution contains an inarguable truth that we are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life. [Applause] Liberty, Freedom. [Applause] And the pursuit of happiness. [Applause] Those of you watching at home may wonder why this is being applauded. We conservatives think all three are under assault.

When I heard that portion of the speech, I felt sure that any party that could staunchly espouse those very same views would be the party to dominate politics over a great many years.

Let's hope that that party shows up soon.

Canada lost in Africa?

Or is it a case of Canada making changes to foreign aid to ensure that it effectively goes where it needs to go and not into the pockets of corrupt governments?

While reading this editorial, I was shocked... SHOCKED I tell you, that Canadian foreign aid was being shifted away from Africa. I mean, we've been giving aid to Africa for 40 years, how dare we stop it now.

Then I researched further and found THIS editorial listing the 3 African countries who are losing aid. Cameroon, Zambia and The Congo (doesn't say which one, because there're 2, but it really doesn't matter which one). Cameroon has a stable but corrupt government. Zambia has made some economic reforms, but 60% of the population still remains below the UN poverty line of $1.25 per day (average is almost $4 per day). The Congo? Both still see extensive fighting and neither one sees much development.

Who got more money? Countries in Latin America who have stable, democratic governments that are taking the aid money and developing their economies.

Hmmmm, so let's think about this... less money for poor corrupt African countries, more money for poor, less corrupt Latin American countries.

Nope, not seeing a problem here. There is a school of thought that we should stop development aid to Africa altogether. That the aid was hindering more than helping, and by sending aid (and increasing aid year in and year out), you not only increase dependance, but reduce the recipient country's need to develop an economy. It is also pointed out that increased developmental aid tempts many heads of state and government bureaucrats to steal from the pot, thus reducing the amount of aid that actually is used for development.

Some people say stop right now. I would say, stop it in 10 years. Give a timeframe that allows the recipients to make a conscious effort to reform their economies with a set time when the aid is phased out. This may make the aid more effective, but even if it doesn't, it allows us to stop giving aid that doesn't get used for the proper purpose.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Free Market health care?

While reading this opinion piece, and especially the title, I thought, as a libertarian would, that it can`t be right. There can`t possibly be an industry where the market doesn`t work.

And to some extent, I`m right - even in health care in the States, if you don`t like how you`re being treated, you can always go somewhere else. It doesn`t happen often, and more often than not the patient isn`t going to move from hospital to hospital because there is an element of trust involved - you have to trust the person who is going to put you to sleep and do something potentially life threatening. You have to trust that the pills you are being given are going to fix what`s wrong and ONLY what`s wrong, and not cause any new, serious problems. For this reason, there is some trust involved. You also may not be able to easily exercise the option to move to another hospital, especially in a place like Saskatchewan where hospitals are an hour or more apart.

One thing that I note though, is that the author of the opinion piece, while assuming that all of the problems of the current system (those being that insurance companies will always seek to deny your claim - those lousy good for nothing rich corporations) can be fixed by turning everything over to a single payer system where an insurance company won`t be seeking to deny your claim, but instead a government bureaucrat. In fact, he rails about insurance companies calling health payouts "costs" to the insurance company, while conveniently leaving out the fact that they would also be a "cost" to a government as well - a highly publicized and political "cost".

In the mean time, there are some very good ideas which aren't being discussed in the United States' debate, things which still retain an element of market based economics (which ensures that patients aren't treated poorly) while improving the system (the main problem being "cost"). Things like health care savings accounts and having the funding following the patient.

There is no perfect system of health care, regardless of who is paying. There are always improvements which can be made in all systems. I have no doubt though that Canada could stand to adopt some features of the US system, and that the US would be making a mistake to wholly adopt a system such as ours.

Friday, July 24, 2009

More stimulus?????

Okay, so after reading this article, courtesy of the Globe and Mail, I have to ask...

Does Mr. Ignatieff even know WHAT he wants any more? Seriously.

He and his party are the same people who pushed the Conservatives into spending a bunch of money on "stimulus" projects. Thankfully the Conservatives went the true stimulus route and only spent on infrastructure and not long term program expansions. Too bad they didn't just do billions in tax cuts instead, but that's a different thought altogether.

Then they started decrying the horribly large deficits that the country was racking up due to the stimulus spending being done in May and June.

NOW he's saying that there should be MORE stimulus spending to be done? Newsflash Mr. Ignatieff: Bank of Canada says that the "recession" is over. I don't know if you realize what that means, but for the normal person who's actually paid tax in this country for the last 3 decades or so, that usually means that you turn off the taps and STOP SPENDING OUR MONEY.

Just a thought. Perhaps you should fire your strategists while you're at it. Apparently they have no clue.

Say hellooooooo to privatization...

Now, regardless of how you feel about unions, there are some situations when what you're doing is counter-productive.

This is one of them.


“We wanted to conclude negotiations last March, but the city refused to budge from its concessionary demands,” he said.

is where the union is blaming the management negotiators for not caving in last March and saving the union from making concessions in "the worst economic collapse since the great depression" (not their words, compiled from all the fear-mongering in March).

And this:

Asked what he meant by “we are finished,” Mr. Ferguson said his union would stop negotiating and stay on strike until the city presents a deal the union finds fair.

is where they pick up their ball and leave the court until the city of Toronto management comes to them, cap in hand, apologizes for playing to win, and offers to buy ice cream.

And you know what? They will. That's the sad part. And life will go on for the 416, even if an arbitrator SHOULD have been appointed and used.

Newsflash 4... Conservatives hate Mustard too

Just a shot in the dark here, but I'm betting that THIS festival didn't receive any funding from the Marquee Tourism Events program either.

I think that this is proof positive that the Conservative Party of Canada hates mustard too.

In other news, Diane Ablonczy the National Post speaks out in the National Post today. Definitely a must read.

The Star turns over a new leaf

I was pleasantly surprised this morning when I read a story in the Toronto Star about the good that Canadian troops are enabling and performing in Afghanistan. I honestly didn't expect to see something like that from the Star.

Of course, I wasn't surprised to see that there were few comments on the story this morning, and even less so to see that comments have been closed and that the last one posted 4 hours after the story was posted.

I can't imagine how many comments were rejected from their readers to make them shut down comments that quickly, but I would have to assume it was quite a few.

In other news... a recession has been on...

Hot on the heels of what many people have been fear-mongering as "the worst recession since the Great Depression, quite possibly EVER", comes news that the PSA pension plan was down 22% in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2009.

In the words of Iaggo from Alladin: "I'm gonna have a heart attack... and die... from THAT surprise."

Now, I have to admit, when you put it in real terms, it sounds like a lot... "we lost 9.8 BILLION dollars", but considering the markets were down as much as 40% up to March, I don't think their hit is so bad.

As for the other poke where the PSA is wanting some of their own people as part of the management of the fund, I just have 2 questions: 1 - what can your people do that a PROFESSIONAL MONEY MANAGER YOU ARE PAYING TO DO THE JOB can't, and 2 - Oh? You have people that have time to oversee this? Hmmm. Apparently there's some fat to cut.

I'm not unsympathetic to their concerns - their pension plan HAS taken a hit, thankfully for them not at a time when it needs to be utilized, and also thankfully not as deeply as, say, MY investments which were down 4o% at one point. It's all in perspective I guess.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Newsflash 3 - I can't believe I get to do another update...

But it appears as though something I said in the last post was more true than I realized. I, of course, assumed that nobody would dare confirm it in writing:

Despite official denials of any such thing, it is, sadly, reasonable to suspect that the Conservative government is pandering to its redneck base at Montreal's expense by denying funding to the local Divers/Cité gay pride festival.

Sadly, I also find out from reading the comments at the Small Dead Animals post on the subject that there were also concerns raised over no funding from the federal government for the Canada Day parade either.

Kinda gives strength to the "official reason" now doesn't it?

Toward a Child-Friendly Saskatoon?

Or the stroller nazis strike again.

First off, I'm going to make a couple things clear. I'm going to annoy my fellow contributor by espousing my point of view here. I'm also going to make clear that I have no problems with people with kids who want to take their kids out of the house.

What I do have a problem with is people who assume that nothing changes after you have kids. Not only that, that they are ENTITLED to do everything that they want to do regardless of circumstances. I'm entitled to take my stroller into that ice cream shop, even though it barely fits in the door and doesn't allow for a clear path out of the store for anybody. I'm ENTITLED to take my kids to any restaurant I want, even if the restaurant wants to create a nice, quiet, intimate atmosphere. I'm ENTITLED to never be put out because of my choice to have kids.

But here's the thing, and I believe that Gormley was right in this case - some places just aren't meant for strollers or kids. It's not that you're being discriminated against, it's that you're forcing not just the business, but other patrons to make accommodations and concessions for you. Those patrons may not WANT to make that concession to you, and I'm betting that there are more of THEM than there are of you in any given place.

Rather than trying to FORCE people to adapt to your wants and needs, realize that sometimes you have to adapt because of the choices you made. Whether it's a kid-unfriendly restaurant, or a too small ice cream shop, sometimes the business just isn't interested in serving your needs, but remember that in 10 or 20 years, you will be happy that that same business is applying those same rules which allow you to have a quiet dinner with your spouse without reminder of your child rearing years.

A splash of common sense

... dashed on one of the biggest hoaxes of the year.

That article is some straight talk from an epidemiologist regarding the Swine Flu "Pandemic" which has been declared in the world. One of his answers is something to take particular note of:

SPIEGEL: Do you think the WHO declared a pandemic prematurely?

Jefferson: Don't you think there's something noteworthy about the fact that the WHO has changed its definition of pandemic? The old definition was a new virus, which went around quickly, for which you didn't have immunity, and which created a high morbidity and mortality rate. Now the last two have been dropped, and that's how swine flu has been categorized as a pandemic.

Particularly telling and just part of a great read.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Newsflash Part2

...and in other news, I called the correct reason why the conservatives won't fund a Gay & Lesbian festival in Montreal this year.

Could it also be that Montreal is already receiving half of the Marquee Events dollars that are going to Quebec?

People are going to believe what they want. Those pre-disposed to believing that all conservatives are bigots (and sneeringly questioning why the Calgary Stampede received $2 million under the same program) will keep on believing that the reason was that the Conservatives are so ideologically blind that they will do anything (especially self-destructive stuff) to appease their base.

Those people should look in the mirror.

Newsflash, Tories aren't funding another Gay and Lesbian Festival

Okay, so that may seem like a no brainer. Of COURSE the Tories aren't funding a Gay and Lesbian festival in Montreal. They don't like any of those kind of people, right? RIGHT????

Or at least, so this article attempts to insinuate. So the question is, is there maybe another reason why they won't fund this particular Quebec based festival? Anyone? Anyone?

When you look deeper into the issue, we go straight to the Canadian Tourism Industry website - the government website which shows who has received funding under the same program this festival applied.

Quick addition says that there are approximately $27,500,000 in funding currently allocated on this 24 month, $100,000,000 program. Of this 27.5 million allocated, approximately 11.150 million has been allocated to festivals in Quebec. That's something like 40% OF THE ALLOCATED FUNDING IS ALREADY GOING TO QUEBEC.

Now, knowing that there will never be enough funding to go around for something like this, is it really surprising that additional Quebec festivals aren't being funded? Is it surprising that the government would hold off funding more festivals in Quebec to ensure that there is proportional funding for other festivals or projects in other provinces?

Perhaps the Conservatives aren't so anti-gay after all.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

... but of course, the opposite is all right...

Nicolas Sarkozy is in hot water because the media are publishing the same polls that he is commissioning. Well, I guess that's one way to bail out the newspaper industry.

Of course, the opposite is true in North America, and perhaps that's why the media here is losing money hand over fist - they're spending money on stuff that the government could be doing for them for free.

Oops, maybe I shouldn't have given them the idea.

It's been a long time...

We're back after a long absence. Unfortunately life got in the way for quite some time as I've pursued other goals and other things.

This blog was originally set up to expose the ignorant things that I've come across in my news travels, and to point out the obvious - that there is another point of view that doesn't always come through on a news story.

There are some changes with this incarnation of the blog. We are no longer hosting the blog ourselves - given that Blogger does an admirable on so many others, this is the platform we've chosen - we hope that you will notice the usual Blogger stuff as little as possible. We have another contributor to the blog, and hopefully he fills in the space when I'm busy with other things. Finally, we're moderating comments - not to censor opinions (because god knows that's where half of the oxygentax-base comes from) but to ensure that there aren't any spamming comments.

So without further ado, on to the show...