Wednesday, June 30, 2010

North Korea Claims $65 Trillion From US As War Compensation

Dream a little dream, dream dream dream

Just a note to Mr. Kim...

When one continues a stalemate for 60 years or so, one cannot then claim damages from one's opponent who helped continue said stalemate.

To be clear: The US rebuilt Japan and Germany - but only after they surrendered, and even then, total aid from the United States only amounted to current day dollars of $1.3 Trillion. The minute that you're willing to surrender and reunify Korea under Seoul, I'm sure that the US will be happy to lend your country some money to rebuild it, but I suspect that what would ACTUALLY happen is that your loyal subjects will happily take capital from South Korea and rebuild the North themselves. I would also point to your (former?) allies, Russia and China and question why they haven't helped you build your country.

Oh, that's right, they look at you as a loon too. So yeah, back to the original message Mr Kim.

Dream a little dream. Dream, dream, dream.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Personally, I'd prefer "Fastest since 1931"

CBC News - Saskatchewan - Sask population growth fastest since '72

Of course, the first mention I heard of this new number was on Newstalk, and the legislative reporter, Sarah Mills, wondering where all these people are going to live.

Well, I have your answer for you Sarah. Here it is... ready for it?

They will build it as they come.

Just like they did 80 years ago when the last large increases in population happened. They got a piece of land, and they put their back into it. Of course, nowadays, you assume that an immigrant will want to purchase a home as soon as they get here (as I assume that's what you wanted to do when you arrived not that long ago), but I would assume that most immigrants are realists in that they know that they will be renting for a while in order to get their paperwork in order for a major purchase. Until then, they will happily work and pay taxes, have kids and make a life much better than what they had in their previous home.

And to all of those new immigrants, and the thousands more who will come behind them? Welcome. Glad to see you.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Why everyone else wants to be Canadian

Forget about all the riots. Forget about the idiots "protesting" what is in essence a meeting of the leaders of the most active countries in the world. What it comes down to is that love it or hate it, Canada, and the apparently uncool Mr. Harper, got everything it wanted at the G8/G20 summits this weekend... other than peaceful protesters.

To all those who want Canada to be a leader on the world stage? This is it. Hope you like it.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Medical Isotopes are still an issue?

CLS may produce medical isotopes

It shouldn't but it never ceases to amaze me how stories evolve from major issues to back burner problems that nobody sees or hears from again.

Medical isotopes are one of those issues. When Chalk River was shut down, it was the end of the world. "Where are we going to get these extra isotopes from? How are we ever going to survive?" were the tone of the questions being asked. Of course, I wondered at the time, why is this just a Canadian issue, and why are these isotopes so special that they can't just be done by any old nuclear reactor. And then I saw the reaction to the idea of doing ANY nuclear development in Saskatchewan.

Now, I might as well lay my cards out on the table right now. I'm unabashedly pro-nuke. I don't equate nuclear reactors with nuclear weapons, nor am I particularly concerned about the issue of nuclear waste and how to store it. I know that nuclear material eventually breaks down into more stable and less radio active substances over time, and I also know that eventually the "waste" from the reactors can be recycled into reactor fuel again. I know that the nuclear fission process in a nuclear reactor uses only a small amount of the total energy of the material, leaving "spent" fuel rods that can be reprocessed and reused in the future.

There's one thing that puzzled me about the whole mess, however. Why is it only in the government's hands to create these isotopes, and why is it that the Americans haven't built their own reactor(s)? Then I read this paragraph:

"(Ottawa) wants some view of how these isotopes will be made commercially," de Jong said Friday afternoon. "Is it a business that makes sense? A lot of that is not clear right now."
I also read about how the federal government wants to privatize the process if it can, and I have no doubts that it might be feasible. I would point out that if the isotopes are truly necessary, then any attempt to commercially produce them will be viable, not because the technology works to make it so, but because the market price will rise to meet the real value of the isotopes and not the artificially low price that the isotopes have been sold under pretty much since inception. It's not that producing these isotopes have been commercially unviable all these years, it's that the government has been producing them, and thus hasn't been charging enough for the service. Not only that, they have created a monopoly on the market through regulation and restrictions which has forced us into the shortage we are currently in.

I can't help but look at the numbers being thrown around - $10 million is what the CLC figures it needs to determine whether the process is viable, but I have a thought, and it's a crazy one - I know:

$10 million is chump change for anyone looking to raise capital to invest in a project such as this. If it comes to fruition, $50 million would likely be the amount of capital needed to put something like this into play in the private sector. So why doesn't the government let the private sector do just that? Why does it have to put money into commercializing a process that can currently be done when the companies who will ultimately benefit from the research could just as easily raise the funds any do it themselves. This is like the government researching Viagra and then handing it off to Pfizer to produce and sell at a large profit.

Of course, this is just a thought.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

An interesting proposal in Immigration

An interesting proposal from an economist.

Current policies are not working, he says, so governments should consider charging immigrants for the right to settle.

He has a point, although I don't know if I would go quite so far as to charge $50,000 or use it as a funding point for government programs.

What I WOULD do is change the rules for immigration in order to reduce eligibility for certain social safety nets or to put limits on others. While it wouldn't be realistic to cut refugees off from social assistance, there has to be a point where refugees or new immigrants have to be able to stand on their own two feet without governmental help.

As it sits, CPP is a non-issue unless it is paid into. Old Age Security is only available after a minimum of 10 years, and full benefits are only available with 40 years of residency in Canada. Employment insurance, too, is only available on payment of premiums. When it comes down to it, the only real issue is how long to support refugees in the welfare system, and my answer should probably come as no surprise...

As soon as the case comes up for adjudication, then you're on your own. Win, and you're expected to provide for yourself and your family. Lose and you're paying your own freight during the appeals process. This way, perhaps a couple of positive effects will happen - 1) immigrants will move towards more affordable areas of the country to live, and 2) the government of Canada won't be paying money to keep people the Refugee Board has already determined shouldn't enter the country through that method.

Regardless, this is an issue that requires more thought and debate.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Norway decries illegitimate G20

Just a note to Norway as they "decry an illegitimate G20":

What have they really done of significance in the world? What has Norway really done to push itself onto the world stage? What has Norway done to lead on the world stage?

It may be one of the richest countries in the world in terms of total wealth. It may have one of the largest fleets in the world, but really, what has it done of consequence? They were neutralish in the First World War (pressured into providing Merchant Navy to the British). It was neutral in the Second World War until the Germans rolled them, after which they provided troops to the German army. There are no examples of Norway taking an interest in the outside world. There are no examples of the Norwegians taking the lead in any areas of foreign affairs.

"But Dude", you might say, "they only have 4 million people, cut them some slack". I can't really do that though, especially when they are complaining that they aren't part of the G20. And realistically, there are some good points to including them in stuff like that, except that they, despite their wealth, don't have a large economy. They aren't game changers. If Norway opted out of something, or boycotted something, few people would notice. Mr. McParland uses the example that California should be included at a G20 summit before Norway, but I have a better one - if Norway were to be included in a G20 summit, then ALBERTA as a province should also be included.

In the end, they are absolutely right that the G20 are a group of self-appointed leaders... except that's EXACTLY what they are and purport to be. Look around in your community, I guarantee there are 10-20 movers and shakers who look around and think that they can make a difference. It's those 10-20 people who put their hands into everything, and more often than not, will band themselves together to make a difference in their communities. So too on the world stage. These 8 or 20 leaders are leaders that have looked around and decided that they can have an effect on the world stage, and they are acting upon it.

One need only look at the UN to realize how dysfunctional a body can be when EVERYONE, from the largest player in the world to the smallest 2 bit island has a seat and a voice. The fact that Norway is decrying the G20 sounds more like sour grapes for not being included than it does a valid point about the effectiveness of getting the 20 strongest voices in a room to act on certain situations in concert. Perhaps they should expand it to the G41 so that Norway can be included too.

After all, fair is fair.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Good Old Days Are Now: Radio Shack Version

The Good Old Days Are Now: Radio Shack Version

Say what you will about income equality and all that, the guy makes a valid point.

In today's world, it really doesn't take much effort to earn enough to purchase any gadget that improves one's standard of living.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Let the bigotted mullah speak

Jonathan Kay: Let the Mullah speak

Okay, you know what? I truncated the title a little bit, for no other reason than political correctness... that and, well, the original is a little gratuitous.

But Mr. Kay makes a very valid point, and one worth repeating:

In other words, he’s more or less a one-man exhibit for all that is wrong and retrograde about fundamentalist Islam — which is exactly why he should be allowed into this country.
Now let's be clear here - just because this guy is a ignorant bigot, it doesn't mean that all adherents to Islam are the same. Of course, the fact that this man is being invited to speak at a "moderate" conference is another story.

That not-withstanding he should be allowed in the country not to be allowed to speak to his intended audience, but to the others in the country who NEED to hear what he has to say, whether they like it or not. Just like there are some who need to hear what George Galloway or Anne Coulter have to say. This isn't necessarily about free speech, it's about making sure that the marginalized opinions reinforce WHY they are a marginalized opinion.

Just as long as they aren't doing anything illegal like, I don't know, fundraising for a group listed as a terrorist organization in most Western Democracy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The "right to organize" must also include the right NOT to join

A week old, but a valid point.

Nipissing University conferred an honorary doctorate on Mike Harris as planned. Previous to this, the teachers unions let it be known that their members may (interesting word, that) punish Nipissing education students by not allowing them to complete practicums in their classrooms. As soon as their bluff was called, the backpedaling begins:

Ken Coran, head of the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation, put out a press release last week staking out an entirely sensible position: “Our members, both active and retired, still hold strong memories of the bitter legacy left behind by Mr. Harris. However, they respect the right of an institution to confer an honourary degree … [we] would never penalize any students for the decision made by [their] university.”

Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario, has also elaborated upon his earlier statements. It was his comments that had set off the firestorm, after he was quoted saying that his members might not place Nipissing students. When reached by phone on Monday, Mr. Hammond was quick to clarify that he and EFTO’s leadership are opposed to punishing students for the choices Nipissing freely made. While stressing that his union is democratic body and that any proposed resolution would have to be voted on, he said his comments were theoretical and taken out of context. He took pains to make clear that any resolution to retaliate against Nipissing would not find much support.
So this comes down to the point. CLEARLY the union leadership were speaking against the wishes of some of their members, and CLEARLY, the union was bluffing as (at least in Saskatchewan) the hiring and assignment mechanism rests with the school board and not the teachers themselves. In essence, the union was trying to force the university to make a decision to not confer the degree.

But that leads me to a question - does this necessarily mean that the rank and file members wanted this done? Does that necessarily mean that the rank and file members even agreed with this? Why do the rank and file members have to suffer this treatment by their union leadership?

What I'm getting down to, is why can't employees choose not to be part of the union when it does something they don't agree with? Why can't union members refuse to pay their dues when their money is being spent on things they don't agree with? What recourse do union members have when their dues are supporting initiatives that they don't?

Currently in Saskatchewan, the laws are skewed (yes, even now) to the assumption that there is only one way to exercise your "freedom to associate", and that assumption is that if a union is available, then you want to belong to it. But freedom of association doesn't necessarily mean that. It means that you are free to associate if you so choose. I'm not surprised that someone hasn't taken that one to the Supreme Court to reinforce that right not to associate - few would want to spend their own time, money and good will with their coworkers in order to enforce that right. Add to that the fact that no government in their right mind would go to court on their own, and you have the current system in place - where unions can make idle threats, they can exhort, cajole their members and the management, they can act as acrimonious as they want, and it doesn't make a difference because once they have you, you're stuck for the duration of your employment in that job.

Perhaps that will be the first thing the next Saskatchewan government will accomplish - moving the laws closer to fair for all.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Try parasitic government class...

Venezuela: Hugo Chavez Spearheads Raids as Food Prices Spike - CNBC

Much of the wasted food, including powdered milk and meat, was found last month in the buildup to legislative elections in September. The scandal is humiliating for Chavez, who accuses wealthy elites of fueling inflation and causing shortages of products such as meat, sugar and milk by hoarding food.

"They are not going to stop us in the plan, which is to give the people what is their right," Chavez said Friday during the inauguration of a supermarket chain the government bought this year from French retailer Casino.

A note to Chavez - you can't force people to sell anything at a loss for too long. Eventually they either go bankrupt or refuse to continue. Either way it causes hoarding and shortages.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

This is what happens when you let the State have too much control

Court accused of violating homeschooler's 'due process'

Full Disclosure: I don't think that homeschooling is necessarily a good thing in all cases, but I don't necessarily think that it is particularly bad.

But what struck me as odd in this case wasn't that a homeschooler's rights were being trampled (And there have been a few cases of persecution in the news the last few days), it's this excerpt:

He explained Harrold-Claesson, who had been assigned to the Johannson family by the court, was removed a short time after she tried to visit the school where social services agents have left Domenic.

HSLDA reported that unlike most Swedish lawyers, who are, in all cases, both appointed and paid for by the courts, Harrold-Claesson "aggressively and tenaciously fights an often uphill-battle against social services agencies, guardians ad litem and judges that just go along with the recommendations of social workers. She has taken a number of cases to the European Court of Human Rights."

So I'm going to point this out: THOSE WHO DON'T PAY FOR STUFF DON'T USUALLY GET A CHOICE IN HOW IT'S DELIVERED. To put it into shorthand and to quote my mother in the process, "Beggars can't be choosers".

I'm sure that the system works well in Sweden, that the State both assigns and pays for attorneys, but that doesn't mean that you are going to get the best representation possible, or even the representation that you deserve. I find it odd though, that their GOOD attorney was removed after a complaint by what I presume to be the opposing attorney. In any case, this couple wouldn't have known any better if they hadn't had the good forture to be assigned Ms. Harrold-Claesson in the first place.

That leads me to the original reason for the post:

A decision by officials in Sweden to remove a well-known human rights lawyer from a child custody case is being called a "stunning display of bureaucratic indifference and contempt of due process rights."

The declaration comes from the Home School Legal Defense Association in the case of Christer and Annie Johannson, whose son, Dominic, now 9, was taken forcibly by police last year because he was being homeschooled.

Dominic has been in state social services custody since then, allowed supervised visits with his parents for about one hour every five weeks.

So here's the low down - the parents start their child's educational year via homeschool with the intention of emigrating to India and continuing the child's education there. Swedish authorities seize the 9 year old child and force him into a school, allowing limited access to the parents. The parents attempt to get him back through the courts who appear to be throwing road blocks up in the parent's attempt to succeed.

This, folks, is why giving the State too much control is not a good idea. It's all about trust. When a government authority can not only seize a child for no apparent legal reason, but also use it's own legal system to hold the child, we have a problem. If you don't believe me, just ask the aboriginal population in Canada.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Note to union members

CBC News - Saskatchewan - Printer's workers lose severance bid

If you go on strike, you don't necessarily get to retain the benefits of your union contract. Especially if the company closes permanently while you're on strike.

Something to think about as you try to exhort more and more and yet more from your employer.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Can they really do anything right?

So let me see if I have this right...

They were pilloried because they chose to pay RCMP overtime rather than use military personnel for security duties. Now they are being pilloried for actually USING some military personnel.

Seriously, can the Tories really do anything right? Maybe they should just sit quietly and not try to do anything on the world stage. Except that they should be a leader on the world stage. Maybe they should distribute stimulus funds to all ridings across the country, except whoops, they can't give more aggregate dollars to Tory ridings than they do to any other party's ridings - even if the Tories hold a plurality if not a majority of the ridings.

So honestly, thanks for pointing this out, Mr McParland, but don't you really have something better to do than focusing on decisions that are actually good?

Oil: The Real Green Fuel

Oil: The Real Green Fuel - Jonah Goldberg - National Review Online

Just another article about the unintended consequences of the environmental movement.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Another reason why models can't be trusted

For ANYTHING, let alone the effects of pollution on populations.

The money quote, and the reason why a lot of modeling doesn't predict future or past events:

In the case of the CMA’s model, the selected pollutants are ozone and particulate matter of 2.5 microns. Boadway explains these two factors were chosen among all other possibilities on the recommendation of an international panel of experts. Choosing your explanatory variables ahead of time and then looking for significant links is called model selection.

McKitrick uses a different approach, something called Bayesian model averaging. Such a method is necessary, he claims, due to the sheer number of possible variables involved. “There are literally tens of billions of potential combinations,” McKitrick observes. Besides numerous different forms of air pollution, researchers may also include time-delayed measurements, as well as independent factors such as weather, lifestyle and income. Allowing authors to arbitrarily pick the variables through model selection creates uncertainty and opens the potential for cherry-picking the most desirable results, he says.

It's the same with "climate change" as with this study, in the end, no two people have the same circumstances, and so we can only study correlations, not direct links.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

An interesting investment technique

Somewhat related to this morning's post, a column in the Wall Street Journal from the creator of Dilbert:

I have a theory that you should invest in the companies that you hate the most. The usual reason for hating a company is that the company is so powerful it can make you balance your wallet on your nose while you beg for their product. Oil companies such as BP don't actually make you beg for oil, but I think we all realize that they could. It's implied in the price of gas.

Read the rest here.

Sadly, I thought the same thing - that it is a good time to buy BP stock - just yesterday as David Kirtin was pompously (and smugly) telling me during his newscast that BP's stock was down 45%. Of course, Adams also had me at the closing paragraphs:

The other day I was in the Apple Store, asking how to repair a defective Apple laptop, and decided, irrationally, that I needed to have Apple's new iPad. The smiling Apple employee said she would be willing to put me on a list so I could wait an indefinite amount of time to maybe someday have one. I instinctively put my wallet on my nose and started barking like a seal, thinking it might reduce the wait time, but they're so used to seeing that maneuver that it didn't help.

My point is that I hate Apple. I hate that I irrationally crave their products, I hate their emotional control over my entire family, I hate the time I waste trying to make iTunes work, I hate how they manipulate my desires, I hate their closed systems, I hate Steve Jobs's black turtlenecks, and I hate that they call their store employees Geniuses which, as far as I can tell, is actually true. My point is that I wish I had bought stock in Apple five years ago when I first started hating them. But I hate them more every day, which is a positive sign for investing, so I'll probably buy some shares.

Want a real method to clean up the Gulf spill?

Just talk to the man who starred in Water World.

Now, I don't pretend to have all the answers, but Kevin seems to know a lot about the subject, he seems to be directly interested in the subject, and he honestly thinks his machines can help.

I wonder what James Cameron thinks about his idea?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Stay off sidewalks, police tell cyclists

CBC News - Saskatchewan - Stay off sidewalks, police tell cyclists

This should go without saying, but then again, I learned the hard way when I was 14 years old.

Bicycles are vehicles, and as such, they must follow the rules of the road like any other vehicle.

"Cyclists are considered vehicles and are expected to follow the same rules of the road as motorists," Saskatoon police said in a news release.

I got a valuable lesson at the time - it cost me $60. It also gave me a really interesting perspective on the bicycle lane. Whenever I listen to Murray Wood ranting and raving about how bikes don't belong on the road in traffic (they do - they're supposed to keep to the right hand lane and NOT obstruct traffic unless they are turning left) I remember back to that Remembrance Day when I got ticketed on my bike.

Long story short, not a day goes by that I don't see someone doing something stupid on a bike. Be it driving on the sidewalk, driving down the wrong side of the street (today), blowing signs or breaking every other rule of the road, the point is that there should be better education as to the status of bikes on the road, and how to properly obey the rules of the road.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Inside Sudbury’s bitter Vale strike

Inside Sudbury’s bitter Vale strike -

Two sides to every story.

Which perspective will you believe?

Do I feel for the miners of Sudbury? Yes, somewhat. But to be quite frank, the union should be there to help resolve environmental, health and safety issues, not necessarily push more higher and higher premiums on wages and benefits without a resulting reduction in risk.

What it comes down to is that the union is pushing for what is in their own best interests, which happen to appeal to the greed of the miners as a whole. The problem is that the miners have already lost the battle by virtue of being on strike.

Sad that good people have to suffer for the wrong reasons.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Higher education's bubble is about to burst

Glenn Reynolds: Higher education's bubble is about to burst | Washington Examiner

I'm going to start off here by pointing out that I do have a post-secondary degree, and that I'm not an uneducated bum. My degree, as Captain Capitalism so elegantly puts it, is not one that leaves me jobless, realistically, at any point in my life, and especially now that I am self-employed.

I'm also going to point out that I didn't set foot in a university in order to get this degree - it was all done by correspondence while I've been a full-time member of the workforce since I graduated high school so long ago.

My reasons for getting there in this way are simple - after 13 years of full time school, I wasn't ready to spend 4 more years studying full time. I also was aware of the fluff classes that universities force on their students in order to make money and "round out" their education, and didn't want to pursue those courses which didn't seem to be necessary to my career. Some may roll their eyes at this point, others may understand this point all too well. As a result, I got the best of both worlds - I am educated and I have experience in my field. I'm one of the lucky ones.

Knowing what I do, I understand what the value of a proper education is. I always have, my education has been an investment and not a cost. From this perspective, I also know that the burst of the education bubble will be a good thing for society as a whole. Not necessarily because it would denote a lack of education within the population, but because it would represent a shift towards being taught useful workplace skills in post-secondary education not fluffy-bunny utopian ideals by a professor whose only skills are that he can regurgitate what his own profs said.

Realistically, there are a lot of jobs and careers in today's world which are filled by university graduates who don't have to BE a university graduate to do the job. There are fields of study in university which are limited to a small number of graduates per year for no other reason than to manage the supply of those educations in the market place. There are many university students studying in fields which make them all but unemployable in the current marketplace, and it's only going to get worse.

This is why it heartens me that the bubble is about to burst. It heartens me because the more people choose an option other than a university education (unless they have to), the less kids choose to go to university to "find themselves", and the less that those students find that they can perform most of the careers that they desire with a simple technical school degree, the more valuable a university degree will become because they will be forced to change from a collection of narrow fields of study in Arts which teach no career-useful skills to a single Liberal Arts education which rounds out the person's education and makes them more valuable to the world as a whole.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Who understands Economics best

Which Political Party Understands Economics Best? - Veronique de Rugy - The Corner on National Review Online

The answer probably shouldn't surprise you. Libertarians understand the basics of Economics the best. Followed closely, I note, by conservatives.

This can be put into the context of Canada, where the biggest knock on Mr. Harper has been that he's a control freak and a cold calculating heartless person. He just doesn't care. These, unfortunately, stemmed from a person who understands Economics and understands that people can't always have everything that they want or necessarily everything that they need.

It should be noted that the further left on the political spectrum you go, the more "caring" for people there is, but only certain people. Those people deemed special and deserving of special care and attention. In general, however, that caring extends to the expansion of government to help all those poor little people who are being oppressed by whatever mean person is visible.

Now, I don't honestly believe that caring is a hallmark of the left of the political spectrum. I have always said that conservatives and libertarians care, just not necessarily in the way that most people expect. They care for people, they honestly want people to succeed, and be successful in everything that they do. The problem is that they don't believe that by giving a person something, by doing things for them, by enabling them in self-destructive behaviour that you are actually helping these people. This is the difference, and there also isn't much that can be done about it. It comes down to a different approach - self-reliance vs reliance on everyone else, and while neither approach is necessarily wholly the right solution, there is a proper mix between the two points which promotes self-reliance without taking away the basic social safety net.

I maintain that the basic question which must still be honestly answered by everyone on the full spectrum is "How much do you want done at the point of the gun?" I maintain that the more people that honestly think about and answer that question without blowing it off as hyperbole, the more people you will find gravitating towards the fiscal conservative side of the spectrum.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Spray Painted farewells for fallen skateboarder

CBC News - Saskatchewan - Spray-painted farewells for fallen skateboarder

Now, far be it for me to dump on people who are grieving, but two things have come to mind as I listened to news reports and comments made on John Gormley Live.

The first thing was how the deceased died. I'm sure he was the greatest kid in the world, and I'm sure that he had a lot of life goals to get through, but regardless of all that, he made an error in judgment that got himself killed. Simple as that. It happened twice within a month of my own graduation, and to be quite frank, it was the same story. A kid that did something stupid and got himself killed. It could be part of the reason why we came up with the idea of a tax on oxygen... but I digress.

The second thing that came to mind was the grieving process being undertaken. Now to be quite frank, I could REALLY care less how many friends this kid had. I can understand that these kids are grieving, however. Some of it at any rate. I can understand congregating at the place where the accident happened, especially if there are too many friends to fit in the kid's house or somewhere similar. I can understand turning the place into a shrine, replete with the standard crosses, teddy bears, or whatever else turns their fancy. What I object to is the spray painting and graffiti. Especially spray painting expletives as part of the graffiti.

I may be a real jerk about this. I've heard the argument that he liked to create graffiti art, and so it's fitting. I've heard the assertion that the graffiti will keep getting replaced every time it is removed. I've also heard the argument that this is how the students are choosing to grieve. And I call bullocks on all of these points. I don't care who you are and who friggin' died, graffiti is still defacing public property, and it still (last time I checked) is against the law to do so (something about VANDALISM, perhaps?).

So in the end, I can only say this to all those kids who are grieving right now... I empathize with you, I really do. Like I said, this happened twice in the month before I graduated. But to use your grief to vandalize and deface property in the name of your deceased friend really doesn't honour him. It dishonours his memory. If you really think it honours him, then I suggest doing the same "art" on his parents house and property and see how much THEY like your grieving. It's only fair. If you don't think that's a good idea, then I suggest you find another outlet to pour your energy into - perhaps a memorium at your school?

Doctor's sex assault trial starts

CBC News - Saskatchewan - Doctor's sex assault trial starts

Is it just me, or is it fitting that the man's name is "Dr. Poon".

Just sayin'

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Conservative budget passes final Commons vote

Conservative budget passes final Commons vote thanks to 30 Liberal absentees

Now there were a couple things that caught my eye when reading the story. First being this one:

"Trojan-horse bills such as this one are the last refuge of a government trying to make unpopular changes.” - Jack Layton
Really Jack? Is that really what you want to say about large omnibus bills such as this one? How about this one? And this one? Perhaps this one?

The fact is, you're absolutely right Jack, large omnibus bills such as this one are the refuge of a government that wants to make changes that might be unpopular to the rest of the Parliament. The only problem is that it's also the refuge of a government who wants to actually get things done without having to suffer through the feigned outrage of three political parties who have absolutely no intention of forcing election.

That's right Jack, I said it loud and strong. Instead of suffering the feigned outrage of two bit players like you that can't get more than 20% nationally, not to mention having every piece of legislation slowed to a snail's pace, Mr. Harper is making sure that he finally gets all of these bills passed and something done. If you don't like it, Jack, ga'head shoot him down. Oh wait, you don't have enough votes unless both of your opposition friends want to force an election too. Ooops.

The second part that caught my eye was this one:

A 49th Liberal senator, Raymond Lavigne, is fighting criminal charges related to his Senate budget and has been stripped of his voting rights.

Now I don't know which part of that disturbs me more. The fact that Mr. Lavigne is still a Liberal Senator, or the fact that it's taken this long to resolve the case... especially after the government created a special committee to investigate his conduct which then produced a 40 page report about it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ignorance is not a defense under the law

All I know is that ignorance is no excuse.

Especially for someone who has been in the House of Commons for more than the last decade.

What it comes down to is that no parliamentarian should be allowed, under the rules, to hide their expenditures from the electorate, regardless of which department looks after their funding. The Board of Internal Economy should be under the purview of the Auditor General as a federal government department.

This way, MPs will be hesitant about going through such arrangements that even have the sniff of impropriety.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sask. civil servants get pay hikes

CBC News - Saskatchewan - Sask. civil servants get pay hikes

It should be just that easy. Negotiate, contract, done.

Apparently, it IS that easy when you are a non-unionized, out of scope employee of the provincial government.

Now granted, there ARE some reasons to negotiate different areas of a contract that clearly aren't working anymore, I question whether this isn't how it should be with the unionized portion of the civil service as well, not to mention all unionized workplaces.

You can't tell me that a union member is so hard done by that they need that extra 1% on their salary that they have to strike for it (1% generally being about 3 days of work for the whole year).

The fact of the matter is that if the union goes on strike, they have already lost for their members in real dollars what they will gain by a settlement. The only people that win in a strike are the unions themselves who will see additional union dues from their members, and higher esteem from the members as they "stick it to management".

But that isn't how the relationship should be anymore. We're no longer in an age where labour mobility isn't an option, nor are we in an age where the "big bad faceless corporation" seeks only to exploit its workers. This is especially true in the public sector where the "corporation" is the government itself.

What it comes down to is that there should BE no more negotiations on wages, but before you get your shirt in a knot, hear me out. There should be no more wage or benefit negotiations because most union shops already have a pay structure setting up automatic increases based on experience. The only thing being negotiated in the contract are the standard increases to each pay level. So here's the thing, why should those even be negotiated at all?

Realistically, that increase can be automated in such a way that it never has to be negotiated again. There are tons of economists who forecast growth rates, forecast the consumer price index, forecast inflation. There are also tons of economists that then calculate that stuff after the fact in order to help the other guys make new predictions for the coming year. So why isn't an annual increase factored into all contracts based on a standard measured CPI with a retro payment if the CPI is higher for the year than estimated.

Do that and the only real thing to negotiate between management and unions would be health and safety issues and any workplace problems that have arisen over the past period of time. The relationship between corporation and union becomes cooperative rather than caustic and everybody involved become much happier.

Monday, June 7, 2010

What if Judges had to live directly with their sentencing decisions?

CBC News - Saskatchewan - Regina man repeatedly stabbed as child watches

As Aldo recently relayed to me, what is it going to take to change the Youth Criminal Justice Act?


When I look at a story like this, my first question was "How big is a 10" knife"? And the answer? Waaaaaaay too big to just carry around "in case something happens".

Now Mr. Hughes is very fortunate to be alive after being stabbed multiple times with a 10" blade. Some may even call his actions courageous or brave or heroic. What it comes down to though, is that these kids will be back on the street within the week, if not today, and it's all because of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

While I don't necessarily disagree with the premise of the Act, that kids are allowed to "make mistakes" and not suffer the consequences of those minor foul ups, there seems to be no limit to the number of mistakes those kids can make on the Youth "get out of jail free" Act. Personally, I'd like to see some changes, and I don't know how big the public appetite is for those changes, but I'll give it a shot:

The Youth Criminal Justice Act should only apply to mischief or theft under a certain threshhold, say $5,000. Anything else should be punishable by adult sentences and time in a detention facility. That threshhold should be cumulative - if he/she has 50 offenses of $100, then away they go. If they steal a car - go straight to Jail, do not pass go. Every offense after brings more detention time.

By doing this, the spirit and the intention of the YCJA would be upheld while the serious offenders would be taken off the street where they can maybe be "rehabilitated" without seriously harming society. The alternative is teaching a generation of kids that everything's legal as long as you're under 18.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

66 years ago, the Greatest Generation crossed the Channel

Commemorating D-Day June 6, 1944

More at Small Dead Animals

Just one question before they nuke the oil spill

Fox News 'Forbes on Fox' Panel: Detonate Nukes in Gulf to Stop Oil Spill |

Now, I'm not an engineer - I don't even pretend to be one. But something hasn't sat right with me since the first attempt to cap the well 7 weeks ago.

The first attempt was to put a big heavy cap over the top. It didn't work - presumably because it's fighting a flow rate of 5.78 gallons per second (as per the current estimate of 500,000 gallons per day leaking). In high pressure conditions and at that rate, of COURSE it's not going to work - nor would the heavier cap that followed.

But there's one thing that I'm curious about - and any real engineers can correct me if I'm out to lunch here - but instead of capping the well by trying to stop the flow, wouldn't they have been doing better to put a cap on with a proper pipe to channel the oil into a big long hose that safely carries the oil to the surface and a waiting tanker that can suck up the oil and safely carry it away? Even the smallest tanker would have enough capacity to carry 70,000 barrels which roughly translates into 6 days of leakage. Granted, this isn't a permanent fix, but it's not intended to be permanent - it IS good enough (if it can be done) to get them to a point where the relief well can be completed and both wells can be capped safely and effectively without throwing a nuke or golf balls at it.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Another sky is blue moment brought to you by Jack Layton

Layton blasts corporate tax breaks- Politics -

You know, I could understand Mr. Layton opposing everything listed in the article. I understand that Mr. Layton wants to suck everything possible out of corporations. I understand that he wants to do everything in his power to ensure that we Canadians continue to support money losing, life sucking, unionized crown corporations rather than forcing them to be competitive and profitable. I understand all this.

What I don't understand is where his head is at when it comes to the CPP.

So Mr. Layton? Jack? I'm going to give you some history on the CPP, just so that you understand how absurd your assertion is. The CPP was legislated in 1965 and began in 1966 as an elaborate ponzii scheme. The whole thing was meant to be funded on the backs of the current workers. In 1997, the rules changed such that the CPP became partially funded. Since that time, the plan has steadily moved towards being fully funded by the contributions currently being made.

Now here's the thing Jack - nothing in the CPP ever intended it to be funded out of tax receipts. To have YOU, Jack, suggest that corporate tax cuts could just as easily have been rescinded in favour of beefing up the CPP benefits currently paid smacks as political opportunism - hurting the faceless entity in order to enrich the masses. To be quite frank, Jack, the CPP was never intended to be a comprehensive pension plan, it was intended to force most workers without a pension plan to save something for their retirement. In that goal it succeeded. In the rest, it fails miserably.

So to close Jack, I've said it before, and I'll say it again. The LAST thing that needs to be done is to give more to people who have not fully funded the CPP in the past. The more you push for it, the more I will make sure that every one of my clients does everything they can to save every other way EXCEPT the CPP. After all, if you want to return it to the ponzii scheme it started off as, then so be it, but you should always remember one thing - people in ponzii schemes have a CHOICE whether to participate.

Friday, June 4, 2010

To merge or not to merge, that is the question

I don't normally peruse Liblogs, but this one that I caught on Full Comment actually makes a lot of sense.

It leads to a few questions, but what it comes down to is why DON'T the Liberals discuss merging to the right rather than the left? Why do they insist on moving further away from the centre of the political spectrum rather than towards it?

It's a common myth being perpetuated that Canada is a centre-left country. I would disagree with that assessment. The only evidence is that people vote for the NDP, the Bloc and the Green Parties, all of them farther to the left of the Liberals, but the only thing skewing things is that the Liberal Party, which has campaigned on the left and governed from the right in the last 25 years is a centrist party. Canada is no more a centre-left country than it is centre right, but it votes for the party that is closest to the centre as it can. Right now, this is the Conservative Party, but historically it has been the Liberal Party (and the Progressive Conservative Party) which has occupied that space.

In short, it would make sense for the Liberal Party to merge with the Conservatives - the true lefties will drop off and find their space to occupy in the other 3 parties. The question that I would have is this:

Why would the Conservatives want to merge with the Liberals?

Ottawanians teach poor sportsmanship

Not surprising that this story comes out of Ottawa, however I think that Kelly McParland and Hugh McIntyre put it into the proper perspective.

The fact is that sports are there not to provide everybody with a participant ribbon. They aren't there to teach people to let up if they are winning too easily. They aren't even there to teach good sportsmanship. No.

Sports began as an easy way to teach warrior skills and to practice them. Running, jumping, throwing, grappling, these are all skills that were taught and honed through sports. Further, sport taught the competitive spirit, the fighting spirit, to never give up and never surrender. This is what's missing from this particular soccer league, and why it's arguable that it could be called a sporting league.

There are many other options which could be employed in order to make it more "fair" than to force teams to let up and employ poor sportsmanship. The teams could be reshuffled on a weekly or semi-regular basis. The teams could be seeded to ensure that the teams only compete against other equally strong teams, but in the end, only one thing is for sure:

In any given day, any given game, even the best teams will have a lapse or a bad day. They shouldn't be protected from losing too poorly, the loss should motivate more for the next meeting.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Yet another "Human Right" created

After reading this newspaper article, I just have one real question - what "human right" was being violated this time?

It's obvious from the article that the "illegal acts" cited by Mr. Richardson weren't actually illegal acts. If they were, then they would have been prosecuted as soon as the complaint was brought forward. Instead of bringing those complaints forward to the proper authorities, they are being brought to the one forum where they have no business being brought - the Human Rights Tribunal.

In this case, the only reason why this group is identifiable is because they are poor. That is not a group that is protected in the Charter. These people aren't being discriminated against on any fundamental level other than being harassed because they are causing a nuisance by parking or squatting where they are not wanted. To be quite simple about it, if the only way that "justice" could be served is by taking it to the Human Rights Tribunal in BC, then the case is already lost.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A point about discrimination

Ezra Levant makes an interesting point about discrimination in Canada, but I'm not sure that he quite goes far enough to make the point. Of course, he was being published in a national newspaper, and as such, it's not savvy for the paper to publish the analogy which REALLY should have hit home, so I'll give it a shot from my little pedestal here.

Mr. Levant points out:

A reporter asked Mr. Duceppe if he wasn't being "a little Mc-Carthyite"; Mr. Duceppe brushed off the accusation and went further: Opus Dei members should not be allowed to participate in political life--even as volunteers --if they identify "as a group."

Stop for a moment and try that sentence out again, substituting the words "gay" or "Jewish" for "Opus Dei members." Jews shouldn't be allowed in politics if they "identify as a group." Sikhs shouldn't be allowed in politics "if they identify as a group." How does it feel?

Now, Mr. Levant chooses two of the largest groups of people who might be directly discriminated against with that analogy. Let's try it again while substituting something that might hit a little bit closer to home for Mr. Duceppe, if not below the belt:

Stop for a moment and try that sentence out again, substituting the words "francophone" or "Quebecois" for "Opus Dei members." Quebecois shouldn't be allowed in politics if they "identify as a group." Francophones shouldn't be allowed in politics "if they identify as a group." How does it feel?
There. That's better. Perhaps Mr. Duceppe would like that analogy better.

A curious question

What response is the equivalent to a nuclear bomb, because you KNOW that that's coming at some point in the future.

A Question of Proportionality - Michael Rubin - The Corner on National Review Online

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Send in the Clowns...

I wonder if the same people protesting Arizona's new law are also protesting Israel's right to guard it's territories.

Now that I think about it, it makes sense that these people would protest both issues, but when it comes right down to it, there's a couple of things to remember:

1) The Gaza Strip can have all the supplies it wants, as long as those supplies don't include weapons or bomb parts, and

2) The Gaza Strip can be the best place in the world to live and visit, all that has to happen is that it's government stops sanctioning attacks on Israel.

It's a simple concept, but one apparently too few understand. All of the current situation in the middle east stems from the too high ambition of some leaders, and the inability for a middle eastern country to field an army that can beat the Israelis, not to mention the false assumption that Israel, after 60 years, does not deserve to exist as a country.

I hope the useful idiots learn this lesson soon.