The True Meaning of Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas and I kept on reading Xmas posts and realized “Tis the season to make blog post about Christmas.” So onward we go into something or another…

Tommorow we will gorging ourselves on Turkey, Stuffing, Booze, Carbs, Bread, Buttery delights, Sugary baking, Not so Sugary “healthy” baking so we can all watch our weight, candy, sleepy gravy, cranberry everythings, pies of every shape and flavor, wine that doesn’t qualify as booze, corn, and some more turkey in a fest of gluttony that we will complain about and regret for weeks afterward.

It’s also the season of stress. Because our love is directly measured in the afterlife by the quality and quantity of gifts that we buy now. People are entitled to gifts afterall. Haven’t you heard? The new commandment is: “thou shoult buy a gift of value no less than the brand name value of a similar item but not a reduced price.”

Santa even buys into that one. I’m not talking of course of the pious priest that became a bishop because of courage oh no! And surely not the one that was probably present at the first council of bishops ever that was instrumental in taking out the Arian heresy. And surely not the one that was renown as a patron saint of sailors – especially ones that would go on to spread his name to Anglo-Saxxons and then on to the New World. I’m talking about the make believe Santa we tell children will magically appear on a sleigh with flying reindeer to all give us the gifts that we are all entitled to.

Tis the season where Christians of good faith will rail against the evils of capitalism, and blame it for all the very many sins against Christmas. Meanwhile it’s the most “socially conscious” people that tend to be the most materialistic, it’s those that believe in material equality that stress it when it comes to gift giving, and it’s lovable socialist liberation theologians that will be the first to justify whole manners of dictatorships in the name of the “common good.”

Tis the season where we all forget what this whole jumble of insanity was meant to be...

A child is born this day. A child that would die to give us perfect freedom.

Senatorial Delusions

Sheila Copps claims we're all deluded when it comes to the senate:

It matters little that the real life of a senator is very different. No one cares to remember that the Canadian Senate is the reason women today exercise freedom of choice when it comes to reproduction. Few understand the Senate plays a vital role in overseeing the workings of government. Whether it is security at Canadian ports or a thoughtful analysis of the issues surrounding the right to die, the Senate often goes where Commoners fear to tread.

Precisely because the Senate is not elected, it can afford to exercise long-term vision and provide a counterbalance (albeit limited) to the untrammeled authority of the House of Commons. For all those reasons, Senate supporters should be speaking up in support of the current work of the Red Chamber.

By that estimation the Senate acts a check on the power of the house of commons. There's one problem with that view: that's not what the Senate is or has ever been in recent memory.

When was the last time a Liberal senate blocked a law from a Liberal government? When was the last time a Tory Senate did the same? There aren't many for sure. The senate has merely acted as a rubber stamp for the House in by far the majority of cases.

When Mulroney came to power the way he dealt with a Liberal senate was by appointing more Tory senators until there was a Tory majority in the senate that would nicely pass all his bills.

The way Jean Chretien dealt with this Tory majority in the senate created by Mulroney was by appointing more Liberal ones to make it a Liberal majority once again.

And this is the system that Madame Copps claims provides a "counterbalance to the untrammeled authority of the House of Commons"?

In reality the Senate just provides a smokescreen of legitimacy for those in power to claim that someone is keeping a check on them. It just so happens that the people keeping a an eye on the "powers that be" is appointed by and dependent on the "powers that be" in the first place. That's a befuddling if I ever knew one.

And another thing...

I would ask Sheila if she would be so in love with the Senate had done the opposite on the abortion issue oh so many years ago... Somehow I think not.

Dion Doesn't Feel Like It

Freshly New-Born Liberal Leader Stephane Dion is not prepared to topple the Harper Tories afterall. Apparently Canadians don't want an election " the middle of winter..." We are left to speculate if Santa personally told Dion that Canadians did not like winter elections or whether this has some sort of sound reasoning, or even if it's just that the Liberal Party organizationally would prefer an election when it wasn't fresh out of a convention.

The Bloc argued that Afghanistan was such a pressing issue that an election was necessary if things didn't change. And by changing the Bloc demanded Canada take less of an active role in the fighting and more of a re-construction role. "Build bridges not corpses," I guess is the Bloc motto when it comes to foreign conflicts and peacekeeping.

Dion could have argued from a principled perspective, as Harper has been, that playing politics with soldiers isn't appropriate. There is legitimate room for debate on the issue of Afghanistan. However, the house was given the opportunity to vote on the measure. For the Liberals it was a free vote would you believe.

Given that the house previously voted to extend the mission, it seems very much like the Bloc is merely using this issue in a game of political lacrosse. Otherwise it would await the two year expiration date to renew its objections. Or it would provide some sort of rationale for why such drastic measures are needed now. In the absence of such reasons we are forced to conclude that the Bloc is looking more to the polls in Quebec, than they are thinking about what is best for Canada... And yes a separatist party thinking of what's best for Canada is possible although perhaps rare.

We should give Dion the benefit of the doubt here however. It may be that he had given good reasons for making the choice he has. The media hardly ever does a perfect job at reporting these things.

But in the absence of any other comments being reported, I'm forced to conclude that Dion won't bring down the government, because he doesn't want to.

Two year olds could provide better reasons than that.

Let the Arrow Die Already

The CBC seems determined to promote and extend the myth of the Avro Arrow with our Tory government's latest decision to cancel Canada's participation in NASA's mars rover program.

"The rover decision has the companies threatening to take their operations south of the border, which observers fear could lead to a brain drain of Canadian designers and scientists similar to the one suffered in the wake of the abrupt cancellation of the Avro Arrow fighter-interceptor program in 1959."

"After the Diefenbaker government axed the Arrow, many of the Avro Canada engineering and technical staff left Canada for the U.S. to become lead engineers, program managers and heads of engineering in NASA's manned space programs Mercury to Apollo, which led to the first man on the moon in 1969."

Of course what they don't mention is that by the time the Arrow was built missile defense became the prime concern for Canada. Hence the Bomarc missile defense program. Also Egypt, and India had tried similar routes as Canada did with high speed jet fighter development only to cancel them for the same reasons. However there were no "Diefenbaker's" in any of those countries at the time.

The Arrow is a classic example of cool engineering run amok. Sometimes engineers become obsessed with what cool stuff they can do, and they never stop and ask themselves "should we really be doing this?... Does this make any money?" Ask Chrysler about Engineers run amok.

The plane ended up costing almost 5 times what it was planned. And there is no way the protectionist "made in the USA" America would have ever bought them. The plane would have been an economic disaster and phased out soon after it was built.

The gravy train had to end. And it did - spectacularly. Welfare for space nerds is great, but a country like Canada can't afford like the US does. But I shouldn't speak so fast, apparently the Tories do like welfare for nerds, but only when it has the chance of producing some tangible results.

Also this story cleverly dismisses the debate we should be having about what Canada's role should be in space? Should we be joining the NASA effort or not? Or should we rather be trying an alternative model based more on the commercialization of space?

All good questions. All worthy of answers. All won't be asked in this climate of "Arrow" mythology when it comes to Canadian aerospace.

Sober Second Thought

Harper's plan to elect senators has drawn the fire of every single one of the Statist apologists in this country.

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion: "The very moment the two chambers would be elected, they would have same behaviour, a greater likelihood that you would have a stalemate without some kind of dispute mechanism..."

I'm glad Dion is worried about the troublesome senate holding back progress.

I wonder where he was when the Liberal senate was holding up Harper's Federal Accountability Act? He was pretty silent then.

Dion offers one further objection, but it's not one that is directly quoted anywhere by the media. He suggests that this Act would require a constitutional change. Since the Prime Minister is still appointing Senators, just elected ones from now on, then I think we can chalk Dion's assertion up to either a misinterpretation or just plain scaremongering on Dion's part.

NDP Leader Jack Layton:"It will give the Senate more dysfunctionality and they'll be able to monkey with the business of the House of Commons even more then they have up to now..."

True that the Senate will be more effective if elected because it will have legitimacy and won't be the pawn of a single party unless desired so by the electorate. That means that yes they will be able to "monkey with the business of the House" a lot more often. It is better to have an extra check on the power of those knuckleheads in the House, than it is to have a chamber paid on the foot of taxpayers that merely rubbers stamps anything the government does.

As to this proposal making the senate more "dysfunctional" I fail to understand Layton's logic. A proposal meant to make senators more accountable to the people by making them democratically elected causes them to be "dysfunctional"? Are we actually saying that more democracy, and more voter input create dysfunctionalism? I would certainly hope not because that would mean inversly that the House of Commons would be less dysfunctional if it weren't elected. That's the type of mentality dictatorships are made of.

Quite frankly I trust the people more than I trust politicians or Mr Layton for that matter.

Now it's possible that Layton's comments are a result of not completely distrusting the will of the people, but rather that he distrusts complete populism. So he may believe that some democratic input is needed in a just Dominion, but not too much. Which is a valid argument, however in the case of the Senate, where, by the NDP's own admission is unaccountable and a waste of taxpayer money, more accountability through more democracy is desirable.

Bloc Leader Giles Duceppe:"We don't want to start a new constitutional round..."

Again a mistranslation or a misunderstanding. This bill has no meaning constitutionally. Future Prime Ministers could easily ignore the results of a senatorial election and appoint whomever they want. The question is will they be arrogant enough to do just that? Or will this start a tradition that will one day become part of common law in this Dominion?

Leeway must be given to the opposition, because it's very well possible that these comments were made to reactions to the bill before they knew the details. They could've been reacting to merely the idea of senate reform which they figured required a constitutional change. Their supplementary comments over the coming months will testify to that truth whatever it may be in good time.

In the end, this measure may very well fail. But if it succeeds, it may very well be that the Senate may one day in the future provide REAL sober second thought.

A Greedy Government, A Lying Leader

God must have a sense of Irony. On the day that Stephen Harper proves himself to be a man of principle, Dalton McGuinty proves himself to be a man that can "change mind." Apparently $90,000 a year is a salary that MPPs are impoverished on. Interesting how millions of Ontarians could afford an increase in taxes by his government that have lower salaries.

No apologies from McGuinty:"“We shouldn’t apologize for saying all we’re looking for is a 25 per cent pay gap between MPPs of this house and members of Parliament... I think it’s fair, I think it’s justifiable, and I think it’s high time.”

I think it's wrong, I think it's despicable, and I think it's MPPs that need a "tax hike" for a change.

A Principled Government, A Principled Leader

That should be the refrain of Harper Tories from this day forward. As of today Harper has managed to do the unthinkable: pass a bill through the Liberal senate. The Federal Accountability Act is now law. Dion, Duceppe, and Layton are now facing a Prime Minister with accomplisments.

To make matters worse for the opposition, Harper's decided what his next battle will be: Senate Reform. Harper's cut the GST, he's cleaned up government, and if he has any say in it he will reform the senate.

Not bad for a minority government. Especially with one with no natural allies.

None of this implies future electoral success for Harper. Accomplishments in the political arena hardly ever materialise into votes on their own. That being said, even if Harper were to loose office tommorow, he will still leave with a greater legacy than Jean Chretien, Paul Martin or dare I say Joe Clark...

Dancing with Afghanistan

Duceppe's on and off again love affair with Harper's Tories seems to be off again. Harper's down in the polls in Quebec. Afghanistan is just as good an issue as any other for Duceppe to impale Harper with. And impale he will, because now is just as good a time as any to go to the polls.

Duceppe's gripe is that the mission in Afghanistan is focusing to much on actually fighting the Taliban. We should be playing "back-up". We do reconstruction not war. That's the Canadian way I guess to Le Chef Seperatiste. Forget the French and English Canadians that died at Vimy Ridge. Canada shouldn't participate in fighting. No reason is given why.

Save one:
"Canada risks getting in deeper and deeper, sacrificing the lives of its soldiers without producing any concrete results, he argued."
This is an interesting argument. The media, in it's shalloweness, doesn't even consider what it means. What Mr Duceppe is suggesting is that a country that takes an active role in peacekeeping, such as the one Canadian troops are doing in Afghanistan, will not produce concrete results. Unfortunately it seems like no one in the media bothered to question him further on this. But it seems reasonable to conclude that Mr Duceppe seems to believe that putting our forces in more of a "re-construction" role will produce "concrete" results.

The flaw with Mr Duceppe's argument is that he assumes that fighting the Taliban and taking a direct role in bringing Taliban fighters to justice doesn't produce "concrete" results. Getting those that were partially responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Canadians on 9/11 thrown into prison is a "concrete" result. Bringing stability to the region by removing these fighters from the battlefield is another "concrete" result.

I would argue that Mr Duceppe has it all backwards. Taking a more "re-constructive" role shows less "concrete" results in the long run. Whatever roads we build, whatever wells we dig they could all be blown to bits by Taliban terrorists seeking to create instability and terror. We need stability, justice, peace and above all Liberty first.

The roads and the wells will come when there is stability and justice. Liberty breeds economic and social well being. Trying to bring Liberty by imposing economic and social norms is like trying to make an egg without a Chicken.

The second flaw with Mr Duceppe's argument is that the role he speaks of is one that Canada has far too much familiarity with. Try telling a soldier to sit back and build that bridge while he sees a genocide going on - or who knows maybe worse? We have a moral duty to act when it's reasonable for us to do so. Doing otherwise puts us on horrible moral ground that reminds me another ill fated peacekeeping mission where soldiers were told not to take an "active" role.

Mr Duceppe should stop dancing with Afghanistan. It's time for him to make a principled stand - not a political one.

The High Frontier

Just watched Ticky Fullerton's "The High Frontier" originally broadcast last year. They were re-broadcasting this past weekend to my delight.

Some first thoughts: I love Jim Benson, there are some real marxist space analysists, stop calling project prometheus a "nuclear powered rocket" because it aint, and Richard Branson really chooses his words very carefully.

Less Bush bashing and more sound reasoned space discussion please.

Benson's claim about satellites literally being able to read the newspaper over your shoulder makes me wonder a bit how much of this is exageration.

We can be reasonably sure that military satellite resolutions are under 6 inches, but it'll be interesting to see the day when satellites imagery becomes the new paporatzi.

And yes I'm late into "The High Frontier" - it being a year old already. But back then I was in school and neat stuff like this took second place to calculating the cycle life of metal parts and trying to solve heat exchanger problems and the like - all neat too when you aren't under the gun of being marked.

LifeSiteNews Has Gone Too Far, usually a decent and reliable source of news with a pro-life and generally socially conservative bent has taken to a habit of bashing conservatives of late.

And now it's blaming Harper's Tories for the same sex marriage motion defeat.

"... The wording of the motion added to its rejection as it included acceptance of same-sex 'marriages' that have already taken place under the current law."

"It is widely acknowledged that the measure was not a serious attempt to reopen debate. CanWest News reporter Janice Tibbetts captured that message in two lines of her coverage. Tibbetts wrote: 'Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the man who promised to bring the contentious same-sex marriage issue back to the Commons, was absent from the chamber and had no plans to defend traditional marriage as debate opened Wednesday on whether to revoke Canada's same-sex marriage law. The Commons was virtually empty, with about 20 of 308 members showing up.'
You can't be serious. Is the author actually trying to write away the defeat as being Harper's fault? Was it Harper's fault that not enough pro-trad marriage MPs were elected and re-elected in the last election? Was it Harper's fault that many in the trad marriage movement seemed to push for this vote?

Similarly, it seems that the folks at LifeSiteNews were also very eager to blame Harper for the defeat of social conservative Dianne Haskett's campaign in London North Center.

It's time for a wake up call in the social conservative movement in this country.

If you don't admit YOUR OWN mistakes you will never win.

Let me say that again - if you don't accept your own faults and try to learn from your OWN mistakes you will never win.

Remember whenever you point a finger at someone, there is always three fingers pointing straight back at you.

The trad marriage movement in this country should have counted the numbers. They were plainly obvious that they didn't have what it took to win.

That doesn't mean that can't change. The natural thing to do would have been to stall. Harper's pledge was a vote to re-open debate that would settle the issue once and for all.

The trad marriage should have done two things: stalled, but kept Harper's feet to the fire. Stall until another election that won't be far from now, and organize like nuts to try to affect the outcome to change the equation in the house. The whole time they would have to keep Harper's feet to the fire that a vote would eventually come.

It just makes me sorrowful for this country, because I don't see social conservatism going anywhere as a movement until the mentality of many social conservatives change.

We have to learn from the enemy. We have to learn and adapt. That's the only way to success.

Anne McLelland's Unfinished Business

Many have experienced the horrible nature of being a gun crime victim. Numerous gun crimes are committed against men and women everyday. The victims of gun violence should be treated with the care and respect that is appropriate.

Frequently gun-control proponents include many victims of gun violence. Those individuals are no less deserving of our care and respect. They have experienced something that, unless we have experienced it ourselves, we have no right to make judgments on.

That being said, I do believe that those victims of gun violence that do support gun control are being horribly lead astray by less than honest politicians - or at least deceived politicians.

Programs like the federal long gun registry are an abysmal failure. Registering duck hunters and treating them like criminals isn't what I think the first step towards tackling gun violence should be. Cost overruns and scandalous behavior seem to be the only result of the long gun registry in Canada.

And what's worse is that politicians like Anne McLelland knew that fact all along. Steven Janke reports that Anne knew all along about the cost overuns in the registry but kept a lid on it.

This will no doubt be ignored by the mainstream media in this country. It will forgotten before it was ever really known.

But I can't help but reflect on Anne McLelland. I can't recall right now for sure, but I wouldn't doubt that she gave indignant speech after idignant speech on the long gun registry supporting it in her time. She probably dismissed it's opposition and their claims that it would only lead to cost overruns.

And the whole time she knew they were right?

This is unfinished business for Anne McLelland. She will have to sleep for the rest of her life with that dishonest behavior imprinted in mind somewhere tucked away where she can't be bothered by it.

I feel sorry for her.

The Vote

Dion is dismayed that Harper's Tories will inevitably accuse him of muzzing his MPs if he muzzles his MPs:
' "If I go with a free vote ... then I will demonstrate very clearly that the overwhelming majority of us Liberals don't want to go there, and we think it's a matter of rights indeed and it's an attack against the charter," Dion told reporters yesterday. '

' Conversely, "if it's a whipped vote, we know that they will accuse us" of having "muzzled our MPs," Dion said. In that case, the Conservatives will argue that they could win a free vote and use that as justification to try to revisit the issue in Parliament yet again, he remarked. '

How quaint. Though I can't understand how Dion can reason this in his mind. He's upset that the Tories will claim that he prevented his MPs to vote according their conscience, if he prevents them from voting according to their conscience? Don't convict me of the crime I will commit - is that the jist of what he's saying?

It gets even worse as I read this:
' Liberal party officials say opposition to same-sex marriage has dwindled considerably since Bill C-38 was passed in July 2005, when 32 Liberals voted against it. Today, 26 of the MPs who did so remain in Parliament. '

So dwindling support for Liberal MPs translates into a reduction in support for Traditional Marriage?

TTHere's something wrong with that logic.

Moon Or Bust

NASA's set a goal of a permanent polar Lunar base sometime after 2020.
"The base is likely to be built on one of the Moon's poles and will serve as a science centre and possible stepping stone for manned missions to Mars."
They have it all wrong. It should be the other way around.
A Lunar base should serve as a stepping stone for a manned mission to Mars, and possibly as a science centre.

It's either that, or this hypothetical base has already become a Lunar version of the ISS: A white elephant in the sky.

This is encouraging though:
"Nasa is also expected to ask other countries - and businesses - to help it build the base."
If NASA can engage the business community in lunar exploration and turn this into a commerical opportunity, it goes a long way to getting the public out in space.

And let's not forget, that's what the whole point of this adventure is. If it's just about a select few individuals exploring the Cosmos or some space-geek getting nifty data from a science experiment then it's lost its true value to humanity.

We need an escape. The sooner the better. Hopefully one day 40 years from now we'll look up the Moon the same way that Europeans looked across the Atlantic Ocean and dreamed about a New World and a second chance.

One more thing...

I notice that the "plan" for going to the moon involves leaving the CEV unmanned in Lunar orbit based on this tidbit: "(7) In Moon orbit, they re-join the waiting robot-minded Orion and begin the journey back to Earth..."

That is of course if "unmanned" is what they mean by "robot-minded."

Apollo left one astronaut aboard the command module while the other two went down to the surface. In the event of a problem, like say the lander being unable to return to same orbit as the command module around the moon, the astronaut in the command module would have been directed to leave his comrades behind and head home. The thought being that it was better to have one astronaut come back home than risk loosing all three by trying to maneuver the command module to a lower orbit.

Or so the story goes... I'm wondering if leaving the CEV unmanned is NASA's way of eliminating the ethical dilemna of having one astronaut still in Lunar orbit. Now it's all or nothing.

I Was Wrong

My Rae prediction for victory proved to be less than accurate.

Ok well not accurate at all would be a better way to put it.

The winner of the Liberal Leadership Clown Show turned out to be non other than Stephane Dion, who started out third in the pack on the weekend.

As a public service, here was my official prediction for Dion:

"...Dion will remind everyone of 'sustainable development' and
everyother codeword for socialist policies that he can think of. I
think of him more as the 'John Crosby' of the Liberal Party - everyone
would vote for him, if they only thought he had a chance."

And I think that about sums up what Dion's effect will be on Canadian politics. What would the world had been like if John Crosby had become PC leader oh so many years ago over Clark and Mulroney?

Strange that also in Alberta Stelmach, who also started out third in the PC leadership race out there, won over establishment candidates Morton and Jim Dinning.

Is there are a general shift in mood of most people out there? You can almost sense the political ground shifting.

Either way I think Harper will have a real battle ahead of him. Dion is no fool. He's an intellectual and a ideologe just as Harper is. I'm looking forward to the two debating each other... Can you imagine that a REAL debate for once?

Who should really be nervous tonight is two people: Jack Layton and Elizabeth May.

Dion's "Greenish" tinge is no doubt going to blunt the Green Party advance. Liberals I'm sure had the recents results in mind in London North Center when they propelled Environ-Friendly Dion to the forefront.

Dion is essently a Chretien II - without the Martin rivalry. Chretien's centralizing and socialistic policies appealed a great deal to Dippers of every age. It was under Chretien's tenure that the NDP was almost wiped off the face of the map. Dion's socialism is almost as fervent as Jack Layton's. I'm sure that isn't something lost on NDP strategists this week.

My prediction of a Rae win was based on the idea that an "anybody by Iggy" campaign would be afoot. Rae was appropriately positioned to pick up that anti-Iggy vote after a ballot or two. An anti-Iggy campaign was definitely going on, but it didn't fall flat in Rae's lap. Instead it fell on to Dion, the "John Crosby" of the Liberal Party.

What happens when everyone's second choice gets elected? We're about to find out.

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The Clown Show Files XVIII

Ah the sweet smell of a leadership race convention.... What's this I smell a hint of rancid backroom dealing?
"There were also suggestions that an effort was underway to keep Dion out of the top three after the first ballot."

"As a result, strategists from other camps have predicted that Ignatieff and Rae will shift support to Kennedy to keep him in third place because Kennedy poses less of a threat than Dion to leapfrog the two frontrunners and steal the victory."
I can't say I've ever agreed with the "delegate selection process" that has been traditionally used to elect leaders of political parties. One member, one vote makes a helluva lot of sense to me. I could never quite get the reason why people seem to like it.

I'm told it's supposed to be "more exciting" than a one-member one-vote system. If what you mean by exciting is the amazing ability of candidates to make shady back room deals that may or may not reflect the wishes of the membership then this is your leadership selection process.

Also I would like to point out that the Liberal's last leadership convention that used the delegate system was hardly exciting - it was a coronation.

And now Dion is conspirying to take out Ignatieff and Rae, and they in turn are conspiring to take out Dion by propping up Kennedy. Sounds like an "honest" and "accountable " Party to me.

Anyways on the eve of this, the end of what was a clown show that provided me with a lot of blogging material and more than a few laugs, I feel like I should say something noble, wise, prophetic and generally illuminating.

Yep - I got nothing.

But here's some predictions:

1. Joe Volpe will still scare the living daylights out of me even after this leadership race is over. I'm expecting some sort of tense moment with him when he gets turfed after the first ballot. That guy really needs to work on the way he comes across. In politics perception is everything. Fear is not the best thing to inspire in people - unless you plan on being supreme overlord of the Liberal Party.

2. Iggy will pontificate about something or other probably Quebec and bore us all like a good professor should. There's the possibility of some more "misunderstandings" coming out of him too in the last final hours.

3. Rae will talk about fiscal responsibility this weekend.

4. Kennedy will continue to be a nice guy and continue to be so even after this leadership race. He's like the Tony Clement of the Liberal Party as far as I'm concerned - everyone yerns somewhere inside of them for him to win but they all know he won't.

5. Dion will remind everyone of "sustainable development" and everyother codeword for socialist policies that he can think of. I think of him more as the "John Crosby" of the Liberal Party - everyone would vote for him, if they only thought he had a chance.

And finally I'm going to go out on a limb here and make one final leadership prediction. The next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada will be.... (drull roll please)

BOB RAE! He's a lefty. The NDP and the Greens are a real threat to the Liberals right now. They need someone like a Rae, a Dion, or Kennedy to retilt the party to the left after Martin's tenure made the party seem to go more to the right. Since Dion or Kennedy are gonners my money is on Rae after a "anyone but Iggy" campaign develops.

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Enlightened Utterings From the Clown Show Files
The Clown Show Files

Spaceman Hawking

The latest is that Stephen Hawking wants to buy a ticket on Virgin Galactic: "I am not afraid of death but I'm in no hurry to die. My next goal is to go into space... Maybe Richard Branson will help me."

Something like this would be a huge public relations snatch for Virgin Galactic IMHO. A disabled reknown Cosmologist on a long dreamed flight to space is definitely something people will want to hear and watch about.

That and I do have to admit that I share Hawking's dream - as I'm sure many other space nutsos out there such as myself do. So the prospect of a disabled Hawking going into space lends credence to the little spark in us all that yes IT IS possible.

My bias admitted you can make up your own mind as to whether this had any real chance of happening.

h/t Curmudgeons.

Target these MPs on Same Sex Marriage

As regular readers may note I've been unimpressed by the strategy (or lack thereof) of the trad-marriage movement. A blanket campaign to get people to contact their MP to get them to vote for traditional marriage can only be so effective. Jason Kenney does not need to be pressured to vote for trad-marriage for instance.

But specific MPs could be targeted. Particularly those that voted for traditional marriage but were noticeably absent the last time around.

As a public service I list them here:
Cardin, Serge
Comuzzi, Joe
MacAulay, Lawrence
Matthews, Bill
Perron, Gilles-A.

The last time around the vote split 150 yay, 130 yay against trad-marriage. Since the last election no real movement has been shown in those numbers. But if as little as 10 MPs change their minds, that alone can make a difference.

I certainly don't agree with the strategy around this vote - and I doubt Harper does either. Most of the stuff I'm reading seems to leave the insinuation that it was caucus pressure that lead to this vote.

My thinking has always been that we need to stall. Stall until an election gets called and the make-up of the house can potentially be changed, or the trad-marriage movement makes some inroads with MPs.

Since that's not going to happen all I can do is urge all of you to contact these MPs listed and the MPs of the Liberal Party in particular that seem to have forgotten their "trad marriage" stand in a few years. Like I said the Jason Kenney's of MPs don't need to be convinced to vote on our side because they already are on our side.

And I sincerely hope this vote passes, because if it fails we will not see another opportunity like this for a long long time.

The Science Actually Done on the ISS

Curmudgeon's uncovers that science is actually done on the Space Station.

What are among the items considered vital to research before humanity leaves this nest? Finding out how your "health" changes in space. And if that didn't stimulate your brain, they also have Space Station Alpha astronauts tracking how they sleep in space. But oh, it gets better mind you, they also have experiments on how plants grow in space.

Now I know finding out how to stop bone marrow loss in zero-gee environments is a must if people plan on living in zero-gee environments in space.

But the study on sleep? And we've had study after study regarding human health in zero-gee environments. At what point does it start to become overkill in the context of it potentially pulling away resources from actual space exploration?

Also what happens if after years of research we find there is no way to reverse the effects of zero-gee on the human body? We wouldn't just give up. We would just set "recommended" limits to the exposure of an astronaut to a zero gravity environment.

Creating artificial gravity using centrifugal forces has been a long proposed solution to long duration space missions. I find it hard to believe that some sort of recommendation hasn't already materialized from past experiments on how humans are effected in space. And in that case why are they still studying this issue? Do they not trust their results?

At what point do we stop studying and start actually doing?

Bi-Election Thoughts...

Elizabeth May's suprise bushwacking of the NDP in London should make dippers cringe. They have a new threat to face.

Also the Tories dropped by 4 %. That's a recipe for disaster if that number drop is consistent across all of Ontario. Talk is abounds about those voters migrating over to the Green's of all places. I wouldn't doub it. I know many Conservatives, and sometimes ultra-Conservatives express interest in some of the Green Party's policies. Even I have to admit that some of it doesn't seem completely "out there." Though my guess is Tory sympathy for the Green Party only exists so far as they want them in parliament. Their first loyalty is to the Tory party.

Father Graves is in parliament. Apparently he plans to vote against re-visiting the same sex marriage issue. So much for the pledge he gave not to vote on certain "moral" issues his bishop asked him not to touch. I wonder how he rationalizes such a choice, but some things are between a soul and God.

Climate Change! Climate Change!

The sky is falling! The world is going to end! We're all going to die! Green Party Leader Elizabeth May come and save our poor environmentally challenged hides!

Why? Because Carbon emissions have been rising despite the glorious Kyoto deal that was supposed to fix all our global climate change woes:
"From 2000 to 2005, the growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions was more than 2.5% per year, whereas in the 1990s it was less than 1% per year..."

But how can that be? We were told by our enlightened Liberal overlords that Kyoto was achievable not unrealistic and saner than Public Healthcare. We could meet our Kyoto targets by the deadline by everything they said. And it didn't matter that they were going to magically evaporate their Kyoto reductions by trading carbon credits on a new "Carbon Market" - Free lunches can happen in Liberal land. That's what we were told. That's what we were promised. Can it be that Emperor Kyoto has no clothes?
"'There has been a change in the trend regarding fossil fuel intensity, which is basically the amount of carbon you need to burn for a given unit of wealth,' explained Corinne Le Quere, a Global Carbon Project member who holds posts at the University of East Anglia and the British Antarctic Survey."

But isn't that what Bush, and Harper have talked about reducing for years as an alternative to reducing Carbon emissions on bulk? Ralph Klein in Alberta mused about putting targets for reducing carbon intensity didn't he?

That's ridiculous. The Enviro-Enlightenend like Al Gore couldn't be wrong could they?
"'The other trend is that as oil becomes more expensive, we're seeing a switch from oil burning to charcoal which is more polluting in terms of carbon.'"

'The Project does not have data on precisely where this is happening, but there is anecdotal evidence of increases in charcoal burning in parts of Asia and Africa.'

Anecdotal evidence? I see "anecdotal evidence" of environmental science befuddling everyday but that just be me with my errant unenlightened perspective. Because afterall truth is only relative if it supports a particular world view that's best expoused by people in big Cities and yuppy lifestyles. Good. My blinders are back on firmly.
"'At these rates, it certainly sounds like we'll end up towards the high end of the emission scenarios considered by the IPCC,' commented Myles Allen from Oxford University, one of Britain's leading climate modellers."

"The 'high end' of IPCC projections implies a rise in global temperature approaching 5.8C between 1990 and the end of this century. "

Time to get that ground shelter built and start buying rations. We're all going to die folks. Time to take our cash out of the family bank and start cultivating tofu in the bathtub.

Of course there have been times in earth's history when the climate was a few degrees warmer than today, but let's forget about that and drink our environmental Koolaid.
"At the recent United Nations climate summit in Nairobi, a number of delegations, including those of Britain, Australia and the US, pointed out that they had managed to grow their economies without significant increases in carbon emissions."

"But, said Corinne Le Quere, the latest data showed this approach would not be enough to curb emissions in the future."
What's this? The US and Australia - the climate devils - managed to grow their economies without significant increases in carbon emissions? You're telling me that two non-Kyoto countries did better than Enviro-saint Pro-Kyoto countries?

The world has been turned upside down.

Another Day, Another Space Golfer

The Russian's yet again appear to be higher on the free-market curve when it comes to space than the American's are with their impending "Golf stunt." Basically a cosmonaut will tee off outside the station in a space suit for good cashy monie. The "invisible hand" of free-market economics is about to break atmo.

I've talked about these types of gimicks before. My opinion hasn't changed. This brings private enterprise into space - the first step to getting my own behind out there and the rest of my space nutso compadres.

I don't particularly see the safety issue concerning this. In order for this golf ball to become a "ballistic golf ball" and strike the station the cosmonaut would have to hit the ball on a very specific trajectory.

Not to mention the fact that according to some estimates 100,000 pieces of debris already exist in orbit in the same size range as our lovable golf ball. If a single golf ball is a safety issue, the Station is already swimming in a pool of danger as far as I'm concerned.

Bi-Elections Galore

The one I'm most interested in, is whether London North Centre goes Tory or not.
"Results are less clear in London-North-Centre, where a fierce battle has been waged to seize the riding vacated by longtime Liberal Joe Fontana, who resigned to make a failed mayoral run in London."

And the politically foolhardy comment of the year must go to Steve Mackinnon for this:
"A byelection is a byelection. They do not reproduce the conditions of a general election. I don't think you'll hear us, either way, blaring from the rooftops that the country has reached a conclusion about the government..."

And now you've effectively closed the door on using a possible positive result for the Liberals in London-North-Centre as a springboard to fight the Harper Tories. Not that I'm complaining, but if this was a Tory I would be slapping myself in the face at this point.

And I have to say the professionalism I'm seen from the Harper team seems to be getting higher by the day:
"Conservative strategist Goldy Hyder said every seat is important in a minority Parliament, but noted neither seat is the government's to lose."

"Since the Quebec byelection comes on the heels of a strong show for federalism in the House of Commons, he said any slippage in support for the Bloc will be a good sign."

"'If you are doing a barometer of what success looks like for each political party, win or loss is defined by whether the BQ maintains its support or loses support,' he said."

"'It would be a good sign for federalism and a good sign for Canada, if there's any shift away from the BQ to a federalist party.'"

I seem to remember a day when Harper strategists would openly muse about winning elections in ridings where they had a very good chance of loosing. Politics is firstly about managing expectations. And apparently the new Harper Team is accutely aware of that fact.

When Priests Become Politicians

You have to wonder how some Quebec bishops think when they allow priests to enter politics:
Each of the candidates opposing Gravel has taken potshots at everything from his refusal to take part in all-candidates' debates, to his adherence to Catholic doctrine.

Contrary to most Catholic priests, Gravel supports the ordination of women, the legalization of abortion, and the rights of homosexual couples to marry.

His outspoken stances against Church convention even earned him a personal letter of rebuke signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now known as Pope Benedict XVI.

In a provocative 2005 interview with Fugues, a magazine that caters to Montreal's gay and lesbian community, Gravel said most priests don't respect their vows of celibacy, and added "50 per cent of priests in Quebec are gay. But if I became a priest it's because I have faith and I believe in the message of Christ."
I guess the Bloc has become the new home for spiritually aging Liberal priests. It'll be interesting to see if Father Gravel can avoid turning the teachings of the Catholic Church into a joke in parliament.

Harper's Quebec Victory

Harper's Quebec motion has just gained him some points apparently. Though these "law experts" pretty much sums up my own views:
However, some constitutional law experts say the motion as worded by Harper has no meaning in law.

According to the motion, the Québécois, not Quebec as a province, are to be recognized as a nation within a united Canada. The experts said the people themselves are not a legal entity.

Which is exactly what I thought when I read the motion. It's verbage - nothing more. But if it satisfies some, I can't see the harm in it.

Quebec Nationhood Verbosity

Can someone explain to me how this motion isn't more than a bunch of verbosity on the Quebec issue aimed at befuddling the seperatists?
"Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced a motion on Wednesday that recognizes Quebecers constitute a nation within a united Canada, in a surprise move aimed at countering an imminent Bloc Quebecois motion."

"Quebequers" apparently "constitute" in a "united Canada" a "nation?"

That's about as clear as Iggy's moral views on torture...

Mercer shows his true colours...

I knew when I heard of Dianne Haskett, and her previous social conservative history, that London was going to get a lot more attention by the national media - and soon.

Rick Mercer apparently was the first operative of the Liberal Party of Canada to chime in:
The fact that Ms. Haskett has been in America working for the Republican Party for the past six years may seem like a deficit at first glance, but I say every cloud has a silver lining. It will be easy to spot the Tory candidate in the Santa clause parade this Saturday, just look for the car with the American license plates and Bush-Cheney sticker.
First he brands her as an "American" and "Republican" (Translation: Diane Hails from the Deepest Pits of Hell) . Then in the same blog post he brings up the fact that she was formerly a Mayor of the riding she's running in. Funny how those two points seem to be what we "non-Mercers" like to call "kinda contradictory." A former Mayor of Canada is not Canadian enough to run as an MP? Heck, she's got tons more "Canadian" in her than another nameless Harvard Brat this blog shall not mention.

Apparently being a mayor in Canada, having been educated Canada, and having lived in Canada for the 20 years means nothing. Spending as little as 6 years in the US permanently taints you with the "Yankee-Cooties" in Mercer's fantasy land life. Maybe Mercer would like us all to do "Canuck purity" tests before we are allowed to enter politics that would ask questions like: "Do you believe that the Liberal Party of Canada is Divine?" To which the answer "no" would bring you a nice stint at a "re-education" center somewhere up in North Bay where the rest of us non-Mercer's could get up to speed on how stupid we are.

Oh and it just keeps on getting better:
In fact the Prime Minister’s Office has so much confidence in Ms. Haskett’s ability they actually own her. Well they don’t own her of course but they do own her name. As you can imagine in politics these days the single most important tool any politician has is their Internet identify. In Dianne’s case, she doesn’t control her online identity, the Conservative Party of Canada does. In fact the party bought her domain name days before she was given the nomination. The party also owns office furniture, photocopiers and a portable sound system.
In the sixties, radio stations in the United States used to make a practice of owning the on air names of “Negro DJ’s”. This way if they ever stepped out of line the station could fire the DJ and they wouldn’t be able to find other work using their name. Of course this name owning practice has long been abandoned because apparently it’s despicable but it’s nice to see the practice resurrected in the Prime Minister’s Office.
So not only is Dianne an "American" and a "Republican" but the person that backs her is guilty of being similar to 1960's American racists? All for having the gall to have had registered her domain name in anticipation of a by-election? Has that spontaneously become a crime all of sudden?

Wow. That is just one type of loonie I haven't seen since the last Liberal leadership convention.

A long long time ago I warned that Mercer wasn't just a funny man making jokes. He had an agenda. I guess it's finally coming out.

Speaking about falling on your own sword...

Harper's Tories look to already have an idea of just how their government should fall if it has to in the forthcoming budget... The "sword" to fall on apparently is "income splitting" - giving double-income no-kids and kid couples (DINKs and DIKs) more of their tax money back.

The Tories need to pay particular attention to their accomplishments in this government. Things are not boding well thus far. Now a lot of that has to do with the fact that they've been hamstrung in the bonds of a minority government. But Harper no doubt is realizing that he's turning off hard core supporters with two items: Senate Reform (ala Fortier), and Income Trusts.

With a looming vote on same sex marriage that could possibly fail, small "c" conservatives don't have much to hold on to with this government. Malaise, defeatism, and the ire of de-motivation is just around the corner. All this "conservative talk" lately, with Harper's government openly musing about every this and that Tory dream policies certainly does the trick.

If the Air Force had built the Shuttle...

Would we have gotten something similar to this?
"The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle is similar to the space shuttle, except it's about a fourth the size and unmanned. The OTV can return from space on its own, said Lt. Col. Kevin Walker, an Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office program manager."
Now that DARPA has the X-37 program completely under it's wing, it'll be interesting to see whether it's the USAF that manages to create the first truly re-usable and cheap launch system in human history... And not the black hole the Space Shuttle has been with NASA's guidance.

PS - Slightly ironic as well that the OTV is taking shape as a launch vehicle 1/4 the size of the Shuttle. If I'm not mistaken, it was the USAF that pushed the shuttle design to a larger size in the first place... Though that opinion is a matter of contention I think since NASA had other reasons for pushing a larger sized shuttle design.

Ambrose The Honest...

She might as well be called so for what she's managed to do at the latest UN climate change convention:
"Kyoto requires its members to cut emissions by five per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. However, some members, including Canada, have said the target is unrealistic and can't be met. Canada's Environment Minister Rona Ambrose, who is attending the talks, says Canada is 35 per cent above its Kyoto targets due to years of Liberal inaction."
This is one of the rarest bursts of honesty I've seen in this whole Kyoto fiasco. Everyone seems to talk and talk and talk and talk.... Years go by. And then some more talk...

No one actually has made a mention of what the progress we've made so far with Kyoto has been.

Canada was a Kyoto-happy for years. It was the darling of enviro-nutsos everywhere for it. "How dare anyone suggest that Kyoto was unrealistic!" it's opponents were told.

So much for realism. For all there Kyoto-happiness, the Liberals managed to prove Kyoto opponents right: emissions are up despite the "Kyoto plan." Not that it was a "real" plan anyways...

Milton may have popularized it, but Heinlein created it...

Post-Death tributes to Milton Friedman are abound. His contributions for the fight against modern socialism can't be denied.

That being said I read this quote from WSJ from Kathy's blog and nearly lept out of my seat:
"In truth, Professor Friedman always argued with civility and a bracing wit. One of his best barbs on the size of government: “Given our monstrous, overgrown government structure, any three letters chosen at random would probably designate an agency or part of a department that could be profitably abolished.” And he popularized 'There is no such thing as a free lunch.'"
Let's get things straight here. Milton may have helped to popularize the phrase, but he wasn't alone.

Legendary Classic Sci-Fi author Robert Heinlein, as far as I know, coined the phrase in his book "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" - A story about an essentially libertarian penal conoly on the moon that revolts against the earth.

Also it isn't "There is no such thing as a free lunch" but "There AINT no such thing as a free lunch." It was acronymed in the story to TANSTAAFL, which become part of the lingo of the colony.

For years computer programmers used the word "TANSTAAFL" to characterise a situation where something went wrong.

Just thought that needed to be cleared up. Friedman though was obviously a Child of Heinlein.

Don't Say "Happy New Year" On The Shuttle...

Tidbits of concern over the coming Shuttle Launch attempt over this quote:
"The software in question is designed to constantly monitor the positions of the sun-tracking arrays and warn flight controllers of possible rocket plume contamination or excessive structural loads, Sources said the new monitoring software - and the training needed to use it - likely cannot be formally certified before Discovery's current December launch window closes."

"Instead, engineers hope to have a workable system in place by Dec. 7, although details about what needs to be done are not yet clear."
Now there are really two things that could be going on here at NASA in my humble opinion.

The first is that the engineers in charge of this software development are covering their behinds by asking for excessive time to complete the software. "Want to cut my time short? We can't guarantee bupkis then..." NASA managers sense this stupidity, and ignore.

The second thing that could be going on is that the engineers in charge of this software actually mean what they say when they say they "hope" to have a workable system done on time. That's usually a code word for: "We're eager to work... We'll agree to your insanity just to please you but we have no clue how to do it... Safe? We'll we hope so..."

Or at least that's a common line of thinking where I come from in any event.

In the "covering your behind" scenario you'd figure NASA would want to delay the launch until it was absolutely sure this new software had the "seal of approval" it needs.

We aren't talking about some temporary system here by the looks of it. Future updates to it might happen, but just what is the risks involved in using "workable" software in the first place?

Put it another way, would you feel comfortable flying in a plane with software that governed a permanent power system that was only "workable"? Even for a short period of time?

Why the rush anyways to launch?
"When the shuttle's flight control software was developed in the 1970s, NASA managers did not envision the possibility of flying missions during the transition from one year to the next. Internal clocks, instead of rolling over to Jan. 1, 2007, would simply keep counting up, putting them at odds with navigation systems on the ground."

And now you know why saying "Happy New Year" on the shuttle is a big no-no.

Zune Blues...

Microsoft has just released it supposed "iPod killer" MP3 player and service.

They're "serious" about taking on Apple's dominance of the legal download market.

So serious that they've chosen to copy the caveman model that Apple and the rest of the magnates of the legal download world have chosen to sell songs with. Songs that can only be played on their own "Zune" player. Once more they will fix their songs prices and make their money off of subscriptions - Just like Apple.

In fact the only difference between the "Zune" and the "iPod" looks to be file sharing. The Zune will allow users to share files between Zune players over a Wi-Fi network. Those files will last three days and then will be automatically deleted from your Zune player.

And it's with this type of player and service they plan on beating Apple? Some difference!

While Steve Jobs and Bill Gates duke it out, you have to wonder if anyone will actually ask the question "maybe it's the downloading model you could change?"

If you ask me two things need to happen before legal downloading really and truly becomes competitive: individual songs need to sold at their free-market price, and the song files need to be easily portable between any generic MP3 player or computer.

Otherwise you might as well buy a CD and create MP3s from it for your own personal use. They won't have the power crazy restrictions that Apple and Microsoft seem addicted to. That alone makes the increase in price worth it.

And for those that love those subscriptions and think they are getting a deal with fixed song prices under $1 I would like to point out that you spend $250 on your MP3 player and >$10 a month on your subscription service. That's a heck of lot of overhead.

There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - they got the money from you in other ways and probably more than the free market price would allow.

Funny enough the recording industry agrees with me about the price fixing. The ease of portability is another issue. So long as parties that build MP3 players are the only ones providing the music they will always limit the portability of the songs they sell.

What we really need is for a Universal or another record company to start an online music service without fixed song prices that allows for ease of song portability... Wow Apple would sure be upset about that idea!

When Space Nerds Freak Out...

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' attempt at building a rocket company for space toursim just had it's first test launch. And space nerds are all gidy.

Secrecy is always a must surrounding this little Bezos project. No one really knows what's going out on that land.

Reminds me of another little project that was clouded in secrecy for years.

I can still remember watching footage of something we would eventually know as the "White Knight" taking off and landing from Mojave. It was supposedly being built by a guy named "Burt."

Intellectual Property Rights Do Not Exist

Now before you get your shorts tied up in knots I am not saying that an artist doesn't have a right to protect and earn money from his work, or that Microsoft shouldn't be able to make money off of it's products, or that copyrights shouldn't be enforced, or that downloading music illegally is all good.

So please take your blinders off, sit back and take a deep breath, and please try to read what I write, instead of reading one or two lines and inferring whatever you want in what I write.

Got it? Good.

Let me say it again: Intellectual Property Rights don't exist. You can't "steal" and idea or a thought or an imagination. Nothing material has been exchanged. If I think of building an airplane first, that doesn't mean that someone else living somewhere else living under the same conditions wouldn't have come up with the exact same idea later on.

But there is something wrong with downloading music illegally, abusing a copyright, or ingnoring what people refer to as "intellectual property rights."

The problem is that it's a lie. It's not theft. I think we have gotten our sins all mixed up in the quest to live honorable lives.

Patents DO Have Problems

Some people try to pepper over the obvious injustices caused by the copyright laws in the world. "It's the law," I've been told. So obviously we must follow it I'm told.

Problem is that the law has, and frequently is wrong and riddled with injustice. Sometimes we have a duty to fight immoral laws in the name of justice.

But those that just sit back and ingnore the complaints of many in the IT industry about how certain monopolies are created by said laws are not doing their cause any justice.

I'll start with a quote with much more wisdom than I have in my pinky finger to make my point:“The granting [of] patents ‘inflames cupidity’, excites fraud, stimulates men to run after schemes that may enable them to levy a tax on the public, begets disputes and quarrels betwixt inventors, provokes endless lawsuits...The principle of the law from which such consequences flow cannot be just.” - The Economist 1851

The Economist was right then. There is something drastically wrong about the way we protect ideas with the granting of patents and copyrights.

But if you still don't think there is a serious problem with the whole concept of intellectual property rights I'd invite you to consider the fact that "Happy Birthday" is patented.

"The current owner of the 1935 copyright believes that one cannot sing 'Happy Birthday to You' lyrics for profit without paying royalties."

You heard that correctly. So he's had lawyers apparently running around the world suing restaurants where people are caught singing "Happy Birthday."

The next time you're in a restaurant you'll notice that when the staff come to a client to sing them a song for their birthday it's always some made up song that the restaurant has come up with... That's no coincidence.

So the next time you sing Happy Birthday, remember to make sure that it isn't in a place or environment that could be construed to be "making profit."

If that doesn't convince you that there is a fundamental problem with the modern concept of people owning an idea - nothing will.

It's not theft, it's worse... It's a Lie

When I start working at a company they immediately throw a pile of documents at me to sign.

In the pile of documents one piece of paper will most probably be titled "Confidentiality Agreement" or something to that effect.

You sign it, and agree to uphold the conditions of the agreement. That means that any information that can be classified as "intellectual property" by the agreement can not be disclosed to people outside the company ie competitors or whomever else they specify.

What happens if you break that agreement? Did you steal the idea?

You didn't walk into the office and take an idea from someone's head that they no longer have access to did you? Nothing material was exchanged, so it wasn't theft.

But the company would still be wronged. Then what did you do? You lied by breaking the terms of the agreement that by signing you indicated that you would abide by.

You broke your word. Some would consider that worst than theft.

Stealing an Idea

We're going to do a quazy thought experiment at this point.

If you walked up to me and said, "hey bub, I got a great idea. Let me tell you about it."

And so you did tell me all about the idea.

Then I went off on my merry way and decided to use your idea for my own benefit without giving you any credit whatsoever.

You feeling pretty good about that plan? Probably not. Why is that? Nothing material was exchanged and I didn't steal anything from you.

Don't matter. You'll still stand up and exclaim "You stole my idea!"

It aint true. And you know it. But there is something wrong with what I did - mainly that I wasn't acting in an honorable or upright manner. You just scream out "You stole my idea!" because you don't know how else to express it.

When you came up to me and told me that idea you probably assumed that I was an honorable guy and I would respect the norms of good conduct. I wouldn't try to screw you over, or use whatever information you gave me in a way you wouldn't want.

In effect we entered into an unwritten agreement. The norms of good conduct would stipulate that I not use your idea unless I received your permission first, and at the very least gave you credit for what you did.

In other words by not observing those norms I was acting dishonestly. I should have told you that I don't opperate by those norms to begin with.

Now who else will work with me? Especially knowing that I was not willing to observe the norms of good conduct in that situation? I might act dishonestly in another situation for all they know...

I won't have anyone come up to me to tell me their idea anymore, or trust me for that matter. Eventually I learn that for other people to trust me I have to abide by those unwritten norms.

Call it "natural law." Call it what you will. It exists.

It's all about the Service Agreement

When you install a piece of software you invaribly have to click "I agree" at the notice of a service agreement or some legal document. Mostly you ingnore and click past it.

Regardless of whether we know it or not we are effectively signaling our intention to enter that agreement with whomever made the software in the first place. It doesn't mean we own the software. It doesn't mean we have a right to a darn thing. It means we agree to use their information in the way they want us to as spelled out in that agreement.

When we buy CD's there is always fine print spelling out a copyright somewhere. That copyright, whether we agree to it or not, spells out that by buying that CD you agree to be bound by their rules whatever they may be.

No one owns information. The whole idea is not valid as far as I'm concerned. But we can and do enter agreements with companies or individuals and we are no less bound to follow them.

The Road to Hell is Paved With Good Intentions

The good intentions of many lead a lot of people to bash others over the head with the comment "music piracy is illegal and it's theft!"

For people such as myself that comment sometimes rings hollow. How can it be theft if nothing material has been exchanged? What about all the injustices that patents cause? How then can patents be just?

"Theft is theft," I'm told. Such a stupid horrible person I am to think any different. Sometimes it's like they assume you're running an illegal downloads site, or you're making pirated downloads by the boat load each night... The possibility that you avoid it, even though it makes no sense to you, mainly out of fear that all these knuckleheads around you are actually right, doesn't cross their minds one bit.

I'm sure that isn't the intent of proponents of Intellectual Property Rights. That being the same myself I want to be the first to admit that I could be wrong about everything I'm saying here, and that I'm not going to beat you down with a stick if you disagree with me.

Heck, I've been wrong many times before. So if you figure you got a better idea then give her up here in the comments section below.

Far too often I hear people asking the question "Is downloading music wrong?" only to hear the answer "It's theft. Of course it's wrong." Really? Have you realy thought about it?

They're most certainly right that in the sense that when you use someone else's idea without their permission we exclaim "you stole my idea" we are "stealing." But stealing implies that if we had bought that "idea" we would then own it.

That creates a whole bunch of new problems that people don't always consider.

When you think it's Stealing...

Currently songs downloaded from Apple's iTunes store have what is called "Digital Rights Managment" (DRM) information stored on them. Some people have suggested that the term is a misnomer and should be called "Digital Restrictions Management." The first insinuates that you have rights and they are being managed. The second makes it clear you have restrictions and they are being managed. The later is the truth unfortunately.

DRM's are used typically to restrict the use of your songs. Like in Napster's case, it's songs will stop playing after you cancel your subscription. In Apple's case it restricts you to only be able to play those songs on Apple's iPod. Apparently that's owning the music you pay for.

Some say they own those songs when they buy them. Because you know, if they stole them, it would be theft. So they subscribe to the idea of DRM stripping with removes the protection of those files. It's unfair that DRM's are imposed on them in the first place.

The only problem is that according to iTunes, and Napster's user agreements, they specify that removing such protections is prohibited. So to download those songs you must agree to those agreements in the first place.

Their position? Until Apple makes a cease and decist order it's not illegal so it's not wrong.

That's one way of doing things I guess... One would not have to care about "honesty" to use that justification I would think.

If you believe that you don't own the songs, but that you bought into an agreement, all of sudden the moral picture changes.

Furthermore DRM stripping is illegal according to the Digital Millenium Copyrights Act (DMCA).

Funny, that if you assume that you own information, you should be able to do with it as you will. The DMCA assumes otherwise.

It would seem that either the US Congress is acting immorally in a digital sense, or the whole concept of owning information must be wrong in some way.

You take your pick as to which you agree with. There is an inconsistency in any event.

User Agreements... User Agreements...

In the end this means one thing - you are bound to the agreements you make.

The law should reflect this by not treating patent holders as Kings of digital fiefdoms. The law should not create imaginary "intellectual property rights." Copyrights, and the like should be used to enforce binding contracts. It should be seen as a matter of "tort law" or just as confidentiality agreements are seen legally today.

That changes the whole nature of the game. If it's all about user agreements, then, in that case not only do you have obligations under the agreement, but the person giving the information has obligations. Software providers should back up the viability of their product in those agreements. Artists could also have obligations that if certain objectionable content is on their song/music/art they would have to make it clearly known to the person entering into the agreement.

Then also it becomes possible for the person who provided the information to breach that agreement. And the courts become a legitimate avenue to satisfy the injustice that was caused by say a software provider or even an artist.

When it comes to "Happy Birthday" agreements could have a "public domain" clause that limits the viability of an agreement before the information becomes part of the public domain.

Those that try to create to restrictive agreements are no doubt not going to find many takers. The Free-Market I believe would encourage a healthy balance between restrictions on use and the price people are willing to pay.

Either way you shake it you are breaking your word by not abiding to copyrights and what they refer to as "Intellectual Property Rights." If you think the difference in wording makes no difference, then your miles ahead of me so please enlighten.

I can't understand how you can believe that you can "own" music without believing that DRM stripping is fine and dandy.

If you do, please fire a comment down below correcting me. I'd rather someone set me straight than I go around preaching falsehoods.

So please comment away... I know I'm bound to get a couple unhappy commenters after writting this that will only read the title of this post and scream at me "it's theft you immoral idiot!" and then go on their merry way.

Things are definitely not as they should be.

Legal MP3 Rant...

Trying to do things the honest way and downloading MP3's legally is like asking for brick to be thrown at your head.

I honestly don't know what kind of marketing research these knuckleheads of the legal download world like itunes, Rhapsowhatevertheheckitscalled, Napster and the rest of the bunch have done but it don't represent me all that well.

Love music and frequently buy it? You'll love these services. All push subscription services that want you to pay a certain amount a month to get a certain amount of downloads.

Every once and while buy an album only for two or maybe three songs out of fifteen? Figure you'll download the three songs so you actually get what you want?

That would require a pay per download service. Plenty of those with itunes and Napster. Everyone seems to offers it. Download a song.

Just so you know the only way you can actually play the MP3s on an MP3 player is if you actually get a "-to-go" subscription.

And what if you switch from one legal download service to another? All your MP3s will stop working.

Forget about actually owning your own MP3s either. seems to have the right idea. You can actually "own" your own MP3s with this service, and they'll work on any player, not just an Ipod or whatever other players the big guys have deals with. Only problem is it's still a subscription based service, and the selection leaves much to be desired.

Honestly, I would be willing to pay $5 or more per song, so long as I could avoid these subscription fees. I'm not that frequent a downloader that I need a subscription package with X number of downloads a month.

I don't understand what the problem is? Sell the songs as individual single MP3s and let the free market determine their price. I would probably buy more music if I knew that I got specific songs that I liked instead of buying bundles of music in an album where mostly I'm getting the album for one or two songs. That was the whole reason as far as I'm concerned why MP3s became so popular.

I'm thinking until competition drastically increases we're going to see much of the same - Poor selection, service, and options.

Klein Vs Belinda

Sitting at dinner with some nameless people last night I overheard the conversation get to Ralph Klein spontaneously. Now the man aint that popular in regular dinner convo, so you can imagine my ears peark up at the very mention of the mad man from out West.

"... Do you know what he said about Belinda?"

I figure ooh boy, this is going to be good. What kind of trouble did King Ralph get himself into this time?

"... he said: 'I don't think Belinda had a Conservative bone in her body... Well except for one... "

Wow. I thought to myself. What a complete master of media stupidity.

Of course I wouldn't have slept last night if I didn't read up on it to find out that yes it was true.

Only problem was it was done at what we like to call a "roast."

A roast, for those that don't know, is an opportunity for politicians to make lewd jokes and get away with it because it's for charity. No seriously the intent is to let loose and make fun of each other a bit.

Now I've heard the jokes at roasts before. I've thought many of them are uncalled for. You can certainly make fun without dragging yourself down into the gutter. Ralph Klein's comments are going to go into that category in my book.

But the response on this one from Belinda and the whole press corp is not warranted. Ralph Klein was at a roast. He can easily use the "roast" defense. My goodness if politicians were held accountable for what they said at these things I think some of them would have had spectacularly shorter carreers.

Disclosure: Ralph Klein is in my bad books. I firmly believe he's not loyal to conservatism one ayota, and I think he's either run a stealth campaign against Stephen Harper in the past or he's just unbelievably politically inept.

Now that that's out in the open, let me say this: not too long ago Ralph Klein was dishing out advice to Harper on how to handle the media.... Where's is Ralph Klein's media wisdom now?

Why the Republicans Lost...

This one doesn't take a rocket scientist. Hell, rocket science doesn't take a rocket scientist for some.

The reason why the Republicans lost is the War in Iraq. Regardless if it was right or wrong, that's what happened. The public was fixated on it. The difference between Bush's re-election bid and these Congressional elections can be summed up with that primary difference.

Kerry wanted to make the election about Iraq. He failed miserably. Instead Karl Rove was successful on making the election about those contentious Moral Issues... You know the ones we're told repetitively make Conservatives loose elections both in the Dominion and in the US?

Social Conservatives for the most part can be broken down into two groups: religious people, and everyone else. The "everyone else" category I think is safe to say a minority group among Social Conservatives.

Religious people aren't exactly raging Bush-a-holics. They've supported Bush in the past only for his moral stands. Many of these people are in fact very liberal. They frequently have an overabundance of charity and don't see Republican laissez-faire economics as being quite so. No matter how wrong they are that's what the majority of them believe as far a Your Humble Servant is concerned.

I've had the unique experience of learning that first hand. Being quite politically conservative before becoming religious, I understand quite clearly that most Christians see the world in an economically liberal, socially conservative bent.

Now part of that bent comes from the fact that western society is just quite frankly very Liberal today. We have to admit that fact. We live in a society that believes firmly in government intervention in our daily lives. The days of distrusting the state are in the dust bins of history if it ever existed at all.

And for the most part these types of social conservatives don't like war, and especially not the War in Iraq. When the focus is on moral issues they flock to Republicans. When the focus is on the War in Iraq the opposite happens I think.

I believe that despite their small size, the dwingdling love-in between social conservatives in the US and Bush because of the War had a large part to play in the loss last night.

But that's just one Canuck's opinion.

What did people expect?... Saddam to get sentenced to Life without Parole?

That's what you'd think hearing not a few people talk lately. Did we honestly expect an Iraqi court, with an Iraqi judge to come out with any other type of punishment that didn't involve sending the dictator to the great beyond?

I've grown particularly frustrated by the indignant behaviour of some towards this trial. It's almost as if people are saying "How could you possibly even think about hanging Saddam for what he did?" Well I can think of many in Iraqis living under the fear of Saddam's regime that would say "How could we not?"

The question of the morality of sending Saddam to the guilotine is one thing. I don't believe in the death penalty personaly because I think giving the state the right to kill someone is like giving a criminal the keys to your bedroom and telling him where the valuables are. A healthy distrust for the state is well more than in order in the case of the death penalty.

That being said I've always believed that a valid moral case can be made for the death penalty in principle. If you believe that the only way to stop someone from comitting a crime or an injustice is to end their lives then I see a case where the death penalty becomes justifiable in a moral sense.

For those interested, the Cathecism of the Catholic Church mirrors that point. Which is interesting because a Vatican official does not agree with the recent decision. Keep in mind that this Cardinal is apparently not particularly overly agreable to some in the Vatican.

Particularly in cases where we are dealing with a dictator that was once powerful and could potentially rise to power once again, the death penalty becomes a morally justifiable means of preventing the aggresor from coming back to power.

Now that justification depends on the belief that the only way to stop Saddam from coming back to power is to end his life. At this point that is very dubious. His power is pretty limited. His chances on returning to power are pretty slim.

Then again to millions of Iraqi's who lived under his regime that possibility may not seem as far off to us "enlightened" westerners that know better than those base "uncivilized" Iraqi's as it does to them... I seem to remember another dictator by the name of Napoleon that attempted to come back to power after he was "imprisoned for life securely" on an island.

If you feel the compulsion to judge the Iraqi's ask yourself this question: if you were in the same situation would you feel so secure with the prospect of keeping Saddam alive? With the Americans and possibly the UN keeping watch over him?... It's not like they haven't screwed up before right?...

The west was in a similar yet diffferent situation many years ago as the Iraqi people.

Are the Nazi trials of Hitler's henchmen that ended in their execution so forgotten that we don't even remember them?

Regardless whether Saddam's execution is moral the question in the end is not ours to answer. And that's why I find the self righteous indignancy to be tirying.

This is a question that Iraqis and only Iraqis should and can answer. We're just outside observers with opinions and not victims or potential future victims that have faced or could face the risks we'd like to impose by keeping a violent brutal dictator alive.

Did we honestly expect anything different from Iraqis? Discretion would say otherwise.

Zubrin's Spaz...

I've been meaning to comment on Mars Society Head Honcho Robert Zubrin's dastardtly comments on the now reversed decision to desert the Hubble:
"...Alone among space advocacy groups, the Mars Society responded the former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe's stupid and cowardly decision to desert the Hubble with forthright opposition, exposing as fraudulent the technically illiterate oaf's claims that a mission to Hubble was more dangerous than missions to the Space Station, as well as his attempt to deceive congress into accepting the telescope's demise through a feckless offer of a fake robotic repair effort."

Among the feedback from the space cadets of the blogosphere, T.L. James provides the scariest view of the Mars Society. Then he takes a shot off the bow at Zubrin's wife that it seems like it's been a long time coming too...

In the end I've said it before, and I'll say it again: something needs to give. If NASA is really going to get back to the business of space exploration, then it's scientific and research efforts need to curtailed or refocused towards initiatives that actually get people into space. Science is great. But sometimes you can do research up the wazoo and still get nowhere.

I think that's where NASA is at this point. I disagree with those that believe that so much more analysis and research needs to go into space exploration before we actually leave these "green hills..."

Testing dead frog legs in space and seeing how mildew grows in zero gee are not what I would call "focusing" on space exploration.

I've argued before scrapping the Hubble could be a good idea. Can the Hubble be used for more a space exploration focus? Sure. But just how much? At a certain point it has to be admitted that the Hubble's more practical use is for scientific research in the astronomy business than the space exloration business. In which case NASA shouldn't have anything to do with it. Maybe I'm wrong, but the Hubble in my opinion should not depend on NASA and vice versa. If NASA wants to be in the space exploration business, then it actually needs to spend money on space exploration, and not merely on taking pretty pictures and satisfying researchers.
"...As a result of the debacle that followed, the Philistine bureaucrat was essentially forced from office, clearing the way for the appointment of a NASA Administrator actually committed to science and the human expansion into space."

And that's the problem with Zubrin's view. In basic terms he figures a committment to science is a committment to the expasion of humanity into space.

Quite frankly, the history of NASA over the last 30 years since Apollo has shown otherwise. More science does not equal more humans in space. He's got the formula all wrong as far as I'm concerned.

The SSM debate Is Back...

And is likely to fail. Unfortunately, that's just the sad truth.

I have never really understood the almost unreasonable belief that many in the "Trad Marriage" movement in this country have that somehow they will win a vote in the commons with the make up of the house as is.

The vote was a close vote but no cigar once before. Looking at the number of "Yays" and "Nays" in terms of MPs not much has changed this time. Strategically, you would figure it would be better for the cause to stall for another election and organize to topple MPs in select ridings to change the power balance in the house to get a pro-Traditional marriage vote to pass.

It's like they can't add. I'm sure they can, but for whatever reason they're plowing ahead - and I think mainly due to political inexperience.

Climate Change Politiking...

This time Tony Blair is a victim, or a willing accomplice to Climate Change exagerations:

A report by economist Sir Nicholas Stern suggests that global warming could shrink the global economy by 20%.

But taking action now would cost just 1% of global gross domestic product, the 700-page study says.

Members of the climate change religion will now have their head engulfed twice their normal size because of that study. The problem is that conclusion makes no common sense. So put your "eco-spirituality" back in it's drawer and calmn down.

Regardless of where you stand on climate change everyone has to concede that cutting carbon emissions requires some sort of sacrifice. The economy we live in depends on carbon emissions. We all drive cars. We all fly planes. We all buy goods that were transported in cars and planes. Until the internal combustion engine goes the way of the do-do any plan to reduce carbon emissions must mean that we drive less and probably consume less as well.

Just looking at the graphs they provide it appears as if they are requiring an 80% reduction of carbon emissions. That means you and I would need to burn 80% less fuel in our daily lives.

We would need to drive 80% less. We would need to buy 80% less fuel. Prices everywhere would go up as transportation became more expensive. Simple things like health care could become a world of more complicated if ambulances couldn't rush to a scene guzzling their fossil fuels.

There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. So how can they claim that it will cost the economy only 1% of gdp?

Mr Brown called for a long-term framework of a worldwide carbon market that would lead to "a low-carbon global economy". Among his plans are:

* Reducing European-wide emissions by 30% by 2020, and at least 60% by 2050

* By 2010, having 5% of all UK vehicles running on biofuels

* Creating an independent environmental authority to work with the government

* Establishing trade links with Brazil, Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica to ensure sustainable forestry

No wonder it will only cost 1% of GDP. They aint doing a darn thing.

First they want to create more government bureaucracy - something that if anything will slow down and not speed up a darn thing. Then they want to establish sustainable forestry by making deals with Brazil? On this count I have to admit to being confused as to how saving forests in Brazil will lead to a reduction in carbon emissions. But maybe someone out there can educate me on that one.

Establishing a carbon trading market doesn't mean lower emissions. Nations will just trade carbon "credits" back and forth in an attempt to get rid of the burden. That isn't a plan for reducing emissions. It's just a plan for some countries to get out of doing it.

The only good suggestion I can find here that actually lowers emissions is the goal of having 5% of cars running on bio fuels. With the direction of most car makers already that goal I think is already well on it's way at becoming reality. But will that reduce carbon emissions by 80% over the next hundred years? My friggin' eye it will!

And of course like most enviro nutsos they have their doomsday scenarios all ready to go to get us into a frenzy:

It warns that if no action is taken:

* Floods from rising sea levels could displace up to 100 million people

* Melting glaciers could cause water shortages for 1 in 6 of the world's population

* Wildlife will be harmed; at worst up to 40% of species could become extinct

* Droughts may create tens or even hundreds of millions of "climate refugees"

Notice in each case they use the word "could"? That's no mistake.

Let's be honest here. Even if climate change happens over the next 100 years in the levels predicted, they will still not be higher than levels experienced during the medieval age.

And if I'm not mistaken the world didn't turn into hell overnight, the sky didn't fall, and wildlife survived. That's why they use the word "could" repetitively.

They must figure "how do we know for sure that it won't happen?" "It could happen, although not probable..." So then they rationalize deceiving people.

By the end of the century who says we will be still using the internal combustion engine anyways? The IC has only been around for the past century. Climate Change has been a phenomenon that is recent to the last century. Based on the latest trends by that time we'll all be driving cars driven by canola oil or some such thing.

Climate Change, as in were all gonna die in global floods and weird tornados is not real and is a farce of science. The fact that today's scientist plays these exageration games is a detriment to the credibility of the scientific community.

Climate Change, as in the rise of average global temperatures over the last century, is real. But it isn't the end of the world. We do have some time. We're talking centuries here not decades. And the contribution of fossil fuel consumption to it should be treated a with a very cynical eye. Variations in temperature of this level have been seen in the past - when we didn't have cars or airplanes or much of anything else.

In the end it doesn't require government meddling. If the government really wanted to help it should simply back off.

Stop giving tax payer money to make pointless studies that produce no tangible results and return that money to individuals and businesses so that the innovation needed to get rid of the internal combustion engine has nothing standing in it's way.

There isn't a shortage of so-called "green" businesses that are out there trying to sell clean energy. Those businesses don't need anymore government meddling then the next guy as far as I'm concerned.