Saturday, 31 March 2007

Iran & Britain - Putting the Hostage Situation In Perspective

The Western media and politicians are making a lot to-do out of this hostage situation. Let's put it in perspective regarding what is going on in the vicinity and the history between Britain and Iran:

Iran and the 15 captives: let's have a sense of proportion

by Bill Longstaff.

Why Can't I Own A Canadian

This is amazing.
Excerpt:
Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

Friday, 30 March 2007

Invasion of Iran - April 6th?

This article at Government Dirt claims that Moscow sources say that the US will invade Iran on April 6th at 4AM local time. Friday April 6th is a holiday in Iran.

Of special note here is what the article states regarding a recently passed Democrat bill and what was removed:
This attack is sanctioned by the Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives because they removed language from the just-passed Iraq supplemental military appropriations bill that would have demanded that Bush come to Congress before launching an attack on Iran.

This means that, contrary to what I previously thought, Bush can order an invasion at the drop of a hat.

Oil prices will jump, so will the price of gold, and tensions will rise dramatically around the world. Prepare for the worst.
Doom.

Update: here are links to more stories about the impending possibility of the US invading Iran:
How To Start A War
The War On Iran
Antiwar.com
Escalation of US Iran Military Planning Part Of A 6 Year Administration Push

Election - Me Too Please!

Heather Mallick, a regular at rabble.ca, has a great post this week: I Want My Election Now!

I too would like an election sooner than later as I am disgusted with Harper's gutting of Canada. And, I'm worried about the direction Harper is taking Canada, especially in terms of Americanization and foreign policy. We are now no longer a Peacekeeper nation but a Warmaking nation. That is not my Canada.

Although the MSM says that none of the parties wants, or should want an election now as none are doing well in the polls, I say hogwash! I think if an election is called, regardless of who calls it, that the evidence will then come out during the campaign to show how the Conservatives have been very bad for Canada, and how the Liberals have not been much better.

What choices are there then? Obvious: vote for the party with the policies and platform you most agree with. Vote NDP.

Fun Office Game

Not that you should play this while at work, but it's fun
Kill Yourself.

It takes a while to load when you go to the site. It may seem that nothing is happening for a bit, especially if you have a slow connection (slower than full high-speed). But, it is well worth the wait.

Warning: not recommended for children, polite adults, or anyone suicidal.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

No More American Editions

After reading this post, I think I'll start making sure that I buy non-American releases of books written outside the US. I want the original story, not some watered down pablum.

Peace in the Middle East - Not In Our Lifetime

I was reading this post on Far and Wide, and decided to leap into the fray with my take on the Israel/Palestine issue. I'm sure some will call me antisemitic for my comments, but I am not making any comments whatsoever about race, religion or ethnicity. My only comment is about human rights and an end to violence and the mind-set of the people involved that anyone can see who has studied the history of the situation. That said, read Far & Wide's post, then mine below.


This issue has been commented on for years by thousands of people from all perspectives. Anyone who criticizes the human-rights and international law abuses of the Israelis gets called antisemitic. But the fact remains that Israel does not care what the world thinks and will continue its current course of action (as proved by their actions - read on). Sure there are a lot of people in Israel who want to do the right thing regarding peace and the Palestinians. But there are not enough of these people. The right-wing extremists have a stranglehold on the government, so the government will continue to work towards ignoring the world and the plight of the Palestinians and continue their apartheid and genocide against the Palestinians.

Israel DOES endorse infinite hostility. If you look at what they have done and how they have acted regarding settlements in Palestine, treatment of Palestinians, and their disdain for international law, their hypocrisy regarding their nuclear arsenal, and their treatment of their neighbours (recently in Lebanon), you will see that they have no intention of making peace. They want nothing more than to completely erase the Palestinian people from Palestine and take over all the land and resources for themselves. They will continue to act like they want peace to keep the international community appeased, but they will not work towards it and will continue to blame the failure of the process on terrorists, the UN and the Arab community in general.

And remember, when Israel was a new growing nation, it used terrorism against Palestine (before an all-out war), (and then they cry foul when Palestinians use terrorism against them). Yes, terrorism is terrible and wrong. But STATE-supported terrorism (as practiced by the Israeli army and government for decades) against the Palestinian people is on a far larger scale with a much higher resulting body count.

The only way we will see peace between Israel and Palestine is if the US fully withdraws support from Israel in every way and forces Israel to make peace. And, this will not happen, so the violence will continue.

WAYN: Social Networking for Travellers

Today I received an email that was probably not sent by the person listed in the email. They have signed up for WAYN, entered some friends emails, and that site probably automatically sent me the message to try to get me to sign up too. I generally stay away from things like this as there is a always a nasty catch.

Here is a review I found on the subject of WAYN. I've included some highlights from the article below:

Advocates of sites like WAYN believe that being able to broadcast your location to people in your network will revolutionize the way that people meet and interact. As a management consultant, who used to travel to unfamiliar locations regularly, I like the idea of being able to immediately know if I’ve got friends nearby while I’m traveling and/or meet other travelers who are gong to the same location. However, I also recognize the potential dangers of broadcasting your location to the public – especially if, say, you’ve got a stalker or your friends have ever called you a weirdo magnet.

Throughout the demo, a side banner flashed repeatedly: “It’s 100% FREE to join WAYN! Register Now”…This, as it turns out, is a bit misleading

I learned that while WAYN is free to join, membership is not particularly useful unless you pay for an upgrade. Strangely, information about the different tiers of membership and associated costs are not advertised on WAYN’s home page or at any point in the registration process. In fact, you don’t find out about pricing until you complete free registration and start interacting with the site. Even then, the only indication that there are different tiers of membership is a banner on the right hand side of the member’s main page:I was frustrated not to learn about the various tiers of membership, before taking the time to register my personal details. I think it is important for websites to be up-front about costs.

Aside from disliking the interface, I struggled to find members with whom I had much, if anything in common. As with any social networking site, WAYN is only as good as the network of people who use it. WAYN doesn’t appear to have a critical mass of users in San Francisco, CA, USA. Despite this, I did get a ton of pings people in far-flung locations with creepy looking pictures emailing to say “Hello.” This was quite possibly the nail in the coffin for me and the current version of WAYN. There’s nothing quite like getting loads of unsolicited emails from letchy looking men, with whom I share nothing obvious in common and who look old enough to be my father to turn me off of frequenting a website. As I’ve said before in my blog, with the growth of Social Media/Social Networking, privacy is key. As a paying user, I feel that I should be allowed to specify the demographic details of the people who see my profile – not just the people I search for – say “Men and Women between 26 and 38 who plan to be in London between X and Y date.”

A couple of other nitpicky observations about WAYN – The “About us” section doesn’t say anything about WAYN as a company. There are no executive profiles, discussions of corporate philosophy, or corporate aspirations listed. In addition, the bottom of the home page, which hypes “WAYN in the News” features seven media logos, but none of them are hyperlinked.

New Conservative Scandals Brewing

The Conservatives may want to have an election before these scandals grow.

... their stay in office is on the verge of providing even more proof of the Cons' unfitness to govern

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

New Articles of Interest

I'm falling behind here, so I'll just list a bunch of very interesting articles I've come across in the past 24 hours.

No End To Ontario's Child Tax Benefit Clawback

Goodbye Cherry Beach

Response to the Ontario Budget 2007-8

Help, I Can't Breathe. ... Your Perfume ... Gasp!

Ever have your throat swell up and become painful from a few breaths of perfume-laden air? Happens to me with most perfumes and colognes. Perfume worn subtly doesn't usually bother me much, but then there are people who wear a lot. And they don't seem to notice. I guess after wearing so much perfume for so long, they have burned out the sensitivity of their own nose - so they use more and more perfume as their nose becomes less and less sensitive. This results in a painful chemical assault on all those nearby.

And I have a mild allergy to perfumes. Imagine what happens to those with more severe perfume allergies.

Check out these stories:

maybe you should, um, tone down that perfume a bit?

Woman's scent not 'Very Irr├ęsistible' to Calgary bus drivers

US Build Up To Invade Iran Continues

Despite the lack of news about this in the MSM, and the continual denials, The US is still preparing to invade Iran. Here is the latest news.

This would be a very stupid and bad move if it happens, and could result in nuclear war in the Middle East, and could start WWIII.

With growing pressure within the US government to quit Iraq, it makes you wonder why they continue to build up to invade Iran. Bush still has the power (that congress ceded to him at the beginning of the Iraq invasion), to launch an attack on Iran without congress' approval. Let's hope that they pull the plug on Bush before he presses the button.

Another article on this here.

Buffy Lives!

Today I stood outside a comic book shop, waiting for it to open, so I could pick up a copy of the newly arrived Buffy comic book. The store was getting only 30 copies of the 2nd edition of issue # 1. They had previously got only 10 copies of the 1st edition (and those went pretty fast). Apparently, the 1st edition printing already sold over 100,000 copies.
The next issues, # 2, will be out April 4, 2007.

If you didn't know, Joss Whedon, creator of the hit tv-series Buffy The Vampire Slayer (that lasted for 7 seasons), has decided to continue writing and producing a season 8 in comic book form.

I read it and it wasn't bad.
You can tell the writing is Joss, so fans will not be disappointed. Some interesting new things come up that will leave you wanting more, especially if you are a jonesing Buffy fan. The story carries on from where they left off at the end of season 7. "To be continued" of course.

Hexagon On Saturn

Rotating above the North Pole of Saturn, there is a hexagon-shaped feature about 25,000 km across and 100 km deep.

Here is the large image

Maybe it is Xenu's spaceship waiting to come to earth again... :)

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Ethanol Fallout - about to rear it's ugly head?

As I've mentioned before, ethanol, while it seems like a good idea, especially as the politicos and media paint it, has its downside.
- the pollution created to grow and process it almost defeats its purpose of being cleaner than gasoline
- and then there is the negative effect it has on food supplies, as mentioned here. Large tracts of land reserved for growing food crops, switched to grow more profitable fuel crops - thus driving up the cost of food (which is deadly for the world's poor - which is most of the world).

The technology is here to make cars that are WAY more efficient than what they are making - as evidenced by the various home car hackers out there souping up their cars to get things like 100-300 miles/gallon - 1, 2, 3, and many other sources - check out Green Car Congress too.

Bring back the electric car.

You Should Be Able To File Your Own Income Tax For Free

Give on-line tax filers a break: NDP.

It's bad enough when you have to pay taxes. But, if you take your own time to do the calculations and fill out the tax forms, at least the government could set it up so you could file on-line. It would save a lot of time and money. Instead, in order to file on-line, you have to pay for a program to do so. The government should make a program and set it up with forms on-line so you can fill out the forms on-line and submit.

Way to go Jack and the NDP.

No Smoking In Apartment Buildings! Yay!

New story in the Toronto Star about looking at banning smoking in some apartment buildings.
Mine please! Then maybe I could breath air instead of gasping for air.

Some 64 per cent of respondents to the poll said they would prefer a smoke-free building over one where smoking was permitted, while 46 per cent of apartment dwellers said smoke from their neighbours had seeped into their units.

I hear ya! I'm surrounded by chain-smokers and the building is built like a sieve. The smoke just pours in. I plug all the cracks I can find and it still gets in.

However, I do agree that if they could change the building code to make landlords deal with the cracks and holes that allow smoke to travel freely throughout the building into other apartments, then, that would be better in terms of privacy. You should be able to consume whatever poison you want in your own home (as long as it doesn't leak into another person's home and poison them too!). However, banning of smoking could be good for other people who live with chain-smokers who don't smoke.

And another story from the Star March 28th.

How Rich Are You?

Compared to the rest of the world, how rich do you think you are?
You will probably be surprised.
Here is a calculator.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

28 Weeks Later

Sequel to 28 Days Later, this comes out May 11th and stars Robert Carlyle and Catherine McCormack, and is directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (Intacto). See more details here.
YES! More dark intense zombie action.

Conservative Vehicle Scam

This article says it all.
- change the wording of bill just so a not so environmentally friendly car gets included in the rules for rebate-eligible environmentally friendly cars - a car built in a riding that the conservatives need to boost their support in to keep ... Flaherty Pork indeed.

Friday, 23 March 2007

Sci Fi News

Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck) to guest in remake of Bionic Woman series.

Dr Who carries on.


Jet Li To Play Mummy

Jet Li to Rise From the Dead in Mummy 3?

from "16 Things It Takes Most of Us 50 Years To Learn"

7. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.

8. If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be "meetings."

10. If there really is a God who created the entire universe with all of its glories, and he decides to deliver a message to humanity, he will NOT use as his messenger a person on cable TV with a bad hairstyle or in some cases, really bad make-up too.

12. A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter/janitor, is not a nice person.

16 things it takes most of us 50 years to learn

Metal And The Mind

Good heavy music has always worked to energize me and stimulate my mind, and, relieve stress.

Heavy metal 'a comfort for the bright child'

What the Hell indeed!

CTV post-budget survey actually took place before the budget was announced.

See here.

Conservatives "underhanded and manipulative" - no surprise

I figured that the quest for proportional representation reform was put on hold when the Conservatives took the reigns. Here is more proof that the Conservatives want to convince the public that they won't want proportional representation.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Dog Poop Too Much For Canada Post

This story on the CBC site today reminds me of walking to school in the spring when I was a kid. As the snow and ice melted off the sidewalks, they would be covered with dog poop. You would have to choose your footing around the ice, snow, puddles and turds. Nice. Shovels and a little dog training here people.

More On The Budget

More analysis of the Budget in this article in the Toronto Star

A striking number of Canadians actually won't benefit from much of what is promised in this budget. As alluring as tax cuts are, many Canadians are starting to connect the dots: A tax cut today means service cuts tomorrow.

And another one from the Star.

So who loses?
First, anyone who would rather have strong national safety nets than yearly gifts from Ottawa.

Second, anyone who believes that 32 million Canadians can achieve more collectively than individually.

Third, anyone who thinks equitable social services are part of the glue that holds this country together.

Fourth, anyone who gets frustrated by the procrastination and leakage that occur when money gets passed from one bureaucracy to another.

Fifth, anyone who can't compete in the marketplace for child care, housing or a job that pays enough to support a family.

And finally, anyone who looks to Ottawa for leadership on the big issues facing the nation.


Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Government Could Fall On The Environment

As reported in the Toronto Star, the 3 oppositions parties have finally got together and tabled amendments to the Clean Air Act.

The original act proposed to set goals of 40 to 60 percent emissions reductions (from today's levels) by 2050 (43 years from now!).

The amendments put forth by the opposition parties agree on the Kyoto target of a 6 percent cut in greenhouse emissions from 1990 levels by 2012, and also a 25 per cent cut by 2020, and an 80 per cent cut by 2050.

Right after the amendments were tabled, the Conservative government canceled the following committee meeting. The deadline for this committee to report back to parliament is March 30th.

So, sometime in early April we could see the government falling on a confidence vote (IF the government calls the vote a confidence vote).

Upcoming Toronto Concerts

Sat. April 21, 2007 - VNV Nation
@ The Docks. - on tour with a new album Judgement, (which comes out sometime in April). Opening will be And One (9:30pm), and another guest (9pm). VNV are scheduled for 11pm. - Tickets at Rotate This. $29+ s.c. All ages & drinkin'. Doors 8pm.

Thurs. April 26, 2007 - Front Line Assembly
@ The Phoenix - w/
16 Volt and Acumen Nation. Tickets $22.50+ from Rotate This. 19+, doors 8pm.

Sat. May 5, 2007 - Headscan
@ Funhaus. - Darkrave. Headscan performs in the main room. More info soon.

Sun. May 13, 2007 - Lisa Gerrard
@ The Danforth Music Hall - $35+ s.c.

Social Distortion
They are touring the US and Canada in the West up to April 2007. Maybe they will tour the rest of the US and Canada later in the spring. Stay tuned.

Music And The Brain

Playing Music Makes You Smart

Check out the link above to an article on the LiveScience site.

With 8 years of formal instrumental music training, a number of years of choral music and the odd year singing and playing in bands, I've always found that I can pick out fine nuances in sounds and voices. This comes in handy every day when speaking to people and in many other situations. On the trivial side, I often find myself putting a name and face to a voice when I hear voices in ads, TV shows and such (where you only hear the voice). I wouldn't say that playing music makes you smart, but just better able to hear differences in tones/sounds and to pinpoint specific sounds/voices amongst a sea of other sounds. It makes sense since when you play an instrument or sing, you are focusing on how it sounds. When you play in a group, especially in a large band or orchestra, you listen to yourself as well as the rest of the group as a whole, and other individual instruments at certain times. You spend a lot of time focusing your ear and brain on specific sounds.


Amazing Eye Facts

Your Eye's "megapixel" Resolution

... ladies see colours brighter than gents but can't see as well when it gets dark.

The Air Car

The Air Car - zero pollution and very low running costs


Pros
- no pollution - operates on compressed air
- 1/10 the cost to operate of a gasoline car
- oil change > 1 litre of vegetable oil for every 50,000 km.

Cons
- top speed of 68 mph
- needs compressed air stations/compressors
- small production means not readily available
- to compress the air, energy is needed, so there is some pollution from whatever the electricity generation gives off

... unless of course the compressed air is produced with compressed air (which is produced with compressed air, which is...)


Other Nonsense pt 1

Interesting stuff found via Boing Boing

Creepy Russian Playgrounds

Creative People's Workspaces
of note: 3rd picture down in under Jennifer Lewis: Icebat!

Most of these look too neat - not messy enough. I like Geoff Gibson's though - nicely cluttered. His site is interesting too.

Cthulu!!!!!!!!!!
in Spanish but there are some great pics (lots of scrolling involved). You can always do a Google translation of the page for lots of automatic-translation laughs in Spanglish.

Overflowing Bath For Two
I want one!

Crystal Cave of Giants, Mexico




Monday, 19 March 2007

Thoughts on the Budget

Some comments and observations on the latest federal budget from the Conservative government.

Summary
Nothing for singles
Nothing if you are childless
Nothing if you are poor
Nothing if you are a senior
Nothing if you are native and unassimilated
Nothing if you don't own a vehicle and don't plan on buying one anytime soon
Nothing for cities
Nothing for public transit
Nothing for students
Less than nothing for childcare

and a little bit for everyone else, but not enough to really make any difference.

And, guess who is propping-up, in-bed-with, supporting the budget? - NOT the NDP. Not the Liberals. But the Bloc - because the Conservatives are giving a big pile of money ($ billions) to Quebec.


Some Details:

Ummmm Cities?

A budget only a separatist could love


Here's a post that sums up a number of points for a lot of people. I scored 4 out of 6 on this:

Something for everyone in the budget? Not quite.


And this one

The Disappointment of Election Budgets: Long on Pork Short on Priorities

makes some interesting points:

So while everyone gets a little bit nobody gets enough to solve their fundamental problem: a little for the environment but not enough to even come close to a serious plan; a little for child care but not enough to actually make cheap affordable high quality child care a reality; a little for provinces but not nearly enough to make up for previous years of off-loading and the economic inequalities that it help to create.

...Election budgets are bad because they attempt to mask the priorities of the ruling party...


The budget was pretty much as I expected. Too bad the Bloc is voting for it, because the sooner we get rid of these numbskulls, the sooner we can put some other party in power that probably won't screw up Canada as much as the Conservatives have been doing.


More
Here are some more interesting posts on the budget I found on Blogging Dippers:

Tax cut budget out of step with Canadians' priorities


Conservative budget doesn't make country fairer, safer or better


Budget message on child care: let parents eat cake


Harper’s cut and run approach hurting families


The 2007 Bribe Everyone Budget



And, this one provides many details:

Budget 2007

In anticipation of a federal election, Budget 2007 unleashes a blizzard of tax cuts, increased transfers to provincial governments, and small spending initiatives. Many of these measures seem somewhat innocuous and lacking a clear sense of priority. However, the Budget also continues a schedule of deep corporate tax cuts combined with subsidies for the oil sands. Its basic direction, like previous Liberal and Conservative federal budgets, is to reduce the size of government and hence its capacity to serve working people. An ever smaller share of Canada’s economic resources will be devoted to making important public investments and providing crucial services to individuals, families, and communities.


And more - found on Rabble.ca

Budget lacks leadership


Tax cut mantra music to ears of the wealthy

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”




Thursday, 15 March 2007

Canadian Polluters

Recent story in the Globe & Mail:

Alberta is Canada's top polluter, survey finds

The NDP do NOT support the Conservative government!

Why do the MSM and many of the Blogosphere insist that the federal NDP are supporting the Conservative government? Bad or non-existent press is one thing, but lies are another. The NDP are NOT propping up the Conservatives.

If you look at the voting record of the NDP since the last federal election, you will find that it has been the Bloc and the Liberals who have been supporting the Conservatives. The NDP have voted against the Conservatives on every single confidence motion, as well as many other votes.

Also, the deal with the committee to improve the Clean Air act: The NDP threatened to bring down the government if it didn't agree to an all party committee to work on improving this act. The Conservatives caved in and agreed to allow this committee to go forward. The NDP's aim for this committee is to improve the act so it complies with Kyoto and more. But the Liberals and Bloc have been dragging their feet on the committee (Dion is playing a political game here in order to keep the environmental focus away from Jack and the NDP, who have always had the best environmental record of all the parties, and on him, who supposedly had a good record on the environment as a minister, but really didn't - but the MSM won't say that).

Many say that this committee means that Jack Layton and the NDP are supporting the Conservatives and that if the Conservatives decide to, in the end, re-introduce a new Clean Air act that does NOT comply with Kyoto and is still watered down, then the NDP will support it. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Jack has continually stated that unless the act is cleaned up and goes far enough, then the NDP won't support it.

Wouldn't it be interesting if the MSM and the MSBlogoshpere actually spoke the truth and went on about why should Canadians vote for the Liberals and Bloc since they just support the Conservatives and their draconian goals?

The only real alternative now is the federal NDP. Stop pandering to the MSM and lies and look at the voting records and the actual policies of the parties.

Here is a recent interview with Jack Layton from The Tyee
In it, you can see he deals with issues I speak of above:

We have voted for an election on every opportunity since the last one. So I love this line about us being in bed. Boy if that's being in bed, it's a heck of a relationship. Who supported them the first time? The Bloc, on the budget. If the government had been brought down on the budget last March then Canadian politics would be a very different right now.

the Bloc kept them in power twice already, on softwood lumber and on the budget and the Liberals made sure there were enough Liberals voting for the Afghanistan mission, which was also a confidence motion...We said no.