Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Huzzah!

It's official - you cannot smoke in an enclosed public space in Ontario. As a raging non-smoker, this is great news.

A smoker standing around smoking impacts me. Me standing around not smoking impacts no one.

Take a deep breath, Ontario. Not too deep - there's another smog advisory today.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Cloak of Invisibility

Cool.

The invisibility cloak that allowed Harry Potter to wander unseen through the halls of Hogwarts is no longer confined to the realm of fiction.

Researchers in Britain and the United States have published a theoretical blueprint for constructing an invisibility cloak using revolutionary new materials engineered to bend light and other electromagnetic waves in ways not seen in nature.
[Globe & Mail, Scientists work up a disappearing act]

While they're at it, they should also develop gauntlets of ogre power, boots of elvenkind, a wand of fireballs, and +3 full plate armour.

I am such a geek.


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Thursday, May 25, 2006

The War on Media

This is an open letter to whomever is the Prime Minister of the day. Could be a current one, could be a former one, could be a future one - who's kidding who.

The media is a purveyor of criticism and bad news. Always has been, always will be. There's shoddy journalism, but there's no [insert direction here] wing bias.

Shocking, I know.

Newspapers wouldn't sell a lot of papers or sell a lot of ads for the 6 o'clock news if all of the stories were "on message". I mean, would you buy a newspaper that had as it's lead headline, "Minivan Successfully Executes Left Turn at Busy Intersection", or "Liechtenstein: Not Under Scrutiny for Possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction." Even less, would you watch CBC Newsworld, if the lead story was "Breaking News : PM Stephen Harper just approved a stationery resupply notice for the House of Commons ; Jack Layton relieved to get rid of that worn out pencil with all of the bite marks."

Public criticism, be it of governments or any other institution, is healthy and necessary. Even if it's off-base and from way out in left-field; it makes you consider the alternatives. It makes you consider that there is another position to take outside of the message from the originator and, in the case of governments, the position of the opposition.

Stories that are fabrication, ultimately get dissected and proven untrue.

The media, rightly or wrongly, has turned criticism and "bad news" stories into a profit-making venture and that is the reality of dealing with the media.

Refusing to subject "the message" to that scrutiny smells rotten, and realizing that the media isn't there to sell a message will lead to a first positive step in PM / Media relations.

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Cheers / Jeers

Cheers to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, for reinstating Greg Sorbara as Ontario Minister of Finance. Even though some have argued that it's too soon, these things, more often than not, disappear.

Going back in the way back machine to find out why Greg Sorbara had to leave cabinet [The Progressive Right, Ontario Finance Minister Greg Sorbara Resigns, October 2005]:
Ontario Finance Minister Greg Sorbara stepped aside last night, following revelations that he is a target of a long-running criminal investigation into Royal Group Technologies Ltd.

He was named in the search warrants filed in court, along with a handful of former Royal Group executives, including founder Vic De Zen. The RCMP accuses the men of unlawfully defrauding shareholders and creditors "by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means" from Jan. 1, 1996 to Sept. 30, 2002.
Following this, a judge had ordered that there was not enough evidence for Mr. Sorbara's name to appear on a criminal search warrant [CTV, Greg Sorbara's name removed from search warrants]:
Ontario Superior Court Justice Ian Nordheimer struck down parts of the search warrants that had Sorbara's name listed but the remaining sections are still in effect.

Nordheimer said police acted hastily and with insufficient information when they added Sorbara's name to the warrant. The warrant also included several other former top executives at the company.
Since Mr. Sorbara resigned the cabinet position as a result of the search warrant, and he's no longer named on the search warrant, he should be reinstated. If he's found to have done something illegal, he'll get to step down again.

I'm nothing, if not consistent.

Now, I couldn't go an entire post without a jab.

Jeers to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. What is the Ministry of Small Business and Entrepeneurship and why is Liberal MPP Harinder Takhar the Minister for it [Office of the Integrity Commissioner, Report of the Honourable Coulter A. Osborne Integrity Commissioner Re: the Honourable Harinder Takhar, Minister of Transportation & Member for Mississauga Centre [PDF]]:
"Thus, I conclude that the Minister has breached s.11 of the Act and parliamentary convention associated with the establishment of management trusts by allowing Mr. Jeyanayangam to continue as his trustee after he became treasurer of his Riding Association and by failing to disclose that Mr. Jeyanayangam was his CFO under the Election Finances Act." [Page 29, Section 95]

"I also recognize that in circumstances like this, there is a political price that sometimes has to be paid … I [am] issuing a reprimand under s.34(1)(b). Upon the filing of this Report with the Speaker, that reprimand will be duly recorded." [Page 30, Section 97]
Mr. McGuinty called it a "lapse in judgment". Voting for the Ontario Liberals is a "lapse in judgment".

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Ben Stiller != Dr. Peter Venkman

This is much worse than having a blonde James Bond [IGN, Third Ghostbusters movie planned]:

In a report attributed to InFocus Magazine, and picked up by various outlets including Hollywood.com, actor-filmmaker Harold Ramis offered up some details on the long-in-development sequel, Ghostbusters 3: Hellbent. He even suggested who might take over as the star of the franchise since Bill Murray refuses to.

Ramis reportedly wants franchise vets Dan Aykroyd and Rick Moranis to reprise their respective roles in the sequel, which the report claims will be called Ghostbusters in Hell, but he has his eye on A-lister Ben Stiller to star as a new Ghostbuster.
No Venkman, no Ghostbusters 3.

Similarly, with no Jake, there should have been no Blues Brothers 2000. If you can't get the original band together, it isn't worth trying.


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Monday, May 15, 2006

James Calder Endorses the Ottawa Senators Edmonton Oilers for Stanley Cup Champions

I'm almost pretty certain I don't care anymore. Updated support as follows:

(1) Toronto

(2) Canadian team, in order by proximity.

  • Ottawa
  • Montreal
  • Calgary
  • Edmonton
  • Vancouver

(3) American team, as part of the original six, in order by proximity.

  • Detroit
  • New York (Rangers)
  • Chicago
  • Boston

(4) Pittsburgh

I will take a pass on the playoffs once this list is entirely out.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Door Princesses

A long, long time ago, I ranted on about escalator princesses.

Today, I'd like to rant on about Door Princesses.

[Incidentally, I use the term "princess" not as an indication of gender, but as an indication of the wafty-airiness of the individual. A man can be as much of a door princess as a woman.]

A door princess is one of those annoying people that refuses to hold the door for you, when you are following them through a doorway. Common courtesy suggests that you at least offer a token hand or arm to stop the momentum of the door from completely shutting in front of the person behind you. Not to the door princess - that's irrelevant. As long as they can get through hands-free, that's all that's important.


Now, there is no requirement that the door be held open for me so I can either walk through first or to see if I can in turn become a door princess and watch the door slam in front of the person behind.

Nor am I requiring the person in front of me to become a doorman, who's sole job is to ensure I have adequate time and space with which to cross the threshold. If I'm 10 or 20 feet behind, that person can let the door close.

It's a token gesture. An acknowledgment that it is important that the person sincerely - even if they don't mean it - is attempting to be polite.

Contrast this with the Revolving Door Princess, who, like in the movie Superman, feels the need to spin the door exceedingly fast in order to have time to change into his superhero costume. It's either that, or they feel insecure and need to reassure themselves that they are in fact strong, like
Lothar, of the Hill People, and regular doors are much too heavy; revolving doors provide a better outlet for a feat of strength, I guess.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Joe Clark : Look Beyond the U.S.

Former Progressive Conservative Prime Minster, Joe Clark [Globe & Mail, Foreign policy: Look beyond the U.S.] talks about Canada's role in the world:

There can be no doubt about the importance of the United States to Canada, so Canada-U.S. relations have to be a dominant priority of any Canadian government. But they should not be the dominant international priority.

When Canada has been most effective internationally, it has been because we pursued two priorities at the same time: a close friendship with the United States and an independent and innovative role in the wider world. Those are not opposite positions; they are the two sides of the Canadian coin and both must be given attention or we debase our currency.

...

Our strengths as a society are real, substantial. And more relevant than ever now, in a world that grows more turbulent and complicated. Managing diversity, bridging differences, setting an active example of respect are valuable assets again. We Canadians have the luxury, skill and imagination to help lead the world's response to deep tensions which, clearly, cannot be calmed by bombs and dollars.
Well worth the read.

[H/T, Cowboys for Social Responsibility]

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Loose != Lose

Since I'm at it ...

Loose, meaning "not tight" or free, does not mean the same thing as lose, meaning to misplace or to "not win".

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog reading.

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Mute != Moot

Mute, meaning to not give off sound, is not the same word as moot, meaning indifferent or irrelevant.

This has been a public service announcement.

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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Fumes

I can't for the life of me figure out why my 4-year old and I get a kick out of this video.



Not a clue. None.

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Beer and Prison Spaces

I guess Carolyn Bennett just removed herself from the first round in the Liberal Party leadership race [Toronto Star, Child-care battle rages]:
"There's actually no plan for early learning and child-care spaces. So it's a good job they're putting more money for prisons in the budget because we're going to need them if we don't get this early childhood right."
Now, I support structured day care as an option for parents. I think a structured day care as an extension of the public school system (expanded nursery and kindergarten programs) is a good thing and something I would support whole-heartedly. I see the early exposure this has on my eldest, and I'm pleased with it. Plus, this model sates my conservative leanings - there's no new bureaucracy, no new black hole money pits created - just public schools with early childhood educators working with younger children in a school environment. Perfect.

At the same time, parents are fully qualified to raise their children. To suggest otherwise is almost political suicide.

I'd like to think this was just a partisan attack on the budget, and surely that Dr. Bennett doesn't truly believe her own rhetoric.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Not Appalled

The budget has left me with a "not appalled" feeling, which is I believe the desired effect. In large part, this is a budget introduced by a party governing a minority who wants the government to last at least until the next budget.

I think the only people appalled by the budget are those that believe it should have honoured Liberal and NDP election promises.

You can read the budget for yourself: Budget 2006, Focusing on Priorities.

That all said, and even though the opinion is that this budget will stand as is, I think it would be good for the Conservative Party to negotiate with the NDP to include some of NDP's priorities for a few reasons:
  • The CPC shouldn't just rely on BQ support for the budget because the last thing you want is someone to say that this budget "lacks legitimacy". By not relying on the BQ for support (who have already publicly endorsed the budget), the CPC can campaign on the fact that they represent Quebec views better than the separatists as recent polls seem to indicate.
  • The employment tax credit will cost about $1.3 billion for 2006 and $2.5 billion for 2007 - based upon Statistics Canada indicating there are 16.4 million working Canadians as of March 2006 (that figure times $77.50 and $155.00 respectively for the amounts of the credit). Since this employment tax credit was a bit of a surprise anyway, this means that there is almost $4.8 billion dollars that could be "amended" in some meaningful way (more funding for post-secondary schools, more funding for (gasp) day care spaces, aboriginal spending, etc.). Plus, that's $4.8 billion over two years, not stretched out over 5 or 10. Maybe the Cons realized this and that's why they didn't include it in the basic personal amount increase ...
  • Strategically, this would continue to demonstrate that the CPC plays a more open role in negotiating legislation than its predecessor.

An okay budget - I feel it was what it needed to be.

On another note, I feel obliged to comment on the Kelowna Accord. I'm not an aboriginal affairs expert, but I do have a somewhat general problem with new governments immediately reversing what a previous government has agreed to do, and I say that "in general" because I believe that the Kelowna Accord was negotiated with the Government of Canada, not the Liberal Party of Canada.

Commitments entered into by the "Government of Canada" should be honoured. Sometimes it's not easy to differentiate between a commitment made by the GoC and simply a partisan commitment by the governing party.

In short, the Kelowna Accord had generally a positive response by all impacted parties with largely no political win-fall for the Liberal Party (in most aspects) and the current government should have made some effort to maintain it in some form as an act of good faith - even if it was in a slightly but not significantly reduced version - until the "review" could occur.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Apparently, I Had Been Assimilated ...

... and didn't know it.

Just read a post over at Far and Wide [Tories Surge]. This paragraph, in particular, caught my attention:

The opposition must frame this government as a slick machine, who's only motivation for popular policies is power. Legislation is not presented from a set of values, but as a means to the majority end. It is crucial that the opposition attach cynicism to the Tory plan. Arguing details about policy is futile, in the face of this mountain of manipulation. The discussion must differentiate between good government and good politics.
Did I just step into some kind of weirdo change-of-role machine, or is it just a case of deja vu?

Where have I seen this before?

Replace "Tory" with "Grit", and you have the election strategy for defeating the Liberals in 1997, 2000, and 2004. I think it was in reference to the current government being a "machine" that tipped me off.

That all said, Steve V points out a drawback that I seem to also recall Tories having a frustration with:

Admittedly, this tactic is a longshot because it presupposes a voter who is engaged enough to follow the argument through the maze of propaganda.

Apparently, we are Conservaberal borg.

[Let's see how many heads I can explode with this post]

:-)

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Monday, May 01, 2006

MySpace and People

I don't get MySpace.

Okay, let me rephrase that. I do get "it", I know why it's there and why it's attractive to certain people, but I don't get what it has over other available services on the internet.

Catherine Saillant, a LA Times columnist, reviews her daughter's experience with MySpace [Duluth Times Online,
Mom on MySpace]:

I've covered murders, grisly accidents, airplanes falling out of the sky and, occasionally, dirty politics. But in nearly two decades of journalism, nothing has made my insides churn like seeing what my 13-year-old daughter and her friends are up to on MySpace.com.
It's an interesting story about the perils of young 'uns and the big bad internets, so it's worth the read. But, what I don't get is this part where Ms. Saillant explains why she got a MySpace account:

My 49-year-old sister, Christine, joined MySpace and told me she was having fun using it. She urged me to set up my own account so we would have a free, easy way to exchange e-mails and photographs.
Isn't email an easy way to exchange emails and photographs? Why would I set up a MySpace account (using an email address), to send email to somebody else who used their email address to sign up to MySpace? Is email passé?

So, if you're a rabid MySpace user, please let me know what it is about MySpace that makes it better / different than using other internet services, like, email or an instant messenger software.


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