Saturday, September 10, 2005

This is it, stay tuned to the fall

In the interim since my last post, Hurricane Katrina has struck the Gulf coast, and chaos is the word of the day in New Orleans. The high winds and water have exposed the truth about the Bush administration, that they are inept at doing the one thing they claim to be good for - providing security. It's not a failure far off in a Middle Eastern country, where they're also failing, but at home in the streets of one of America's oldest cities. Let's recap - the Federal Emergency Management Agency head (nominated by the President) is an ex-horse breeder, and is doing as well as expected with his vast credentials. He's fallen on his sword, and been removed from overseeing the disaster. Police and the military are beginning to forcibly remove residents who have decided to stay in the city, even though there is no constitutional power to do so. Maybe they'll treat the residents with the same kindness they've extended to reporters and photographers. The administration has tried to prevent the press coverage of dead bodies. They keep telling the public that there are enough soldiers at home to provide, but Blackwater (a guns-for-hire "military contractor" - read mercenaries) is also in the streets, carrying automatic rifles, while citizens with constitutional rights to firearms are having theirs confiscated. The Red Cross is not allowed into New Orleans, but hired guns are? This points to the bold truth that the Bush administration believes that security comes out of the barrel of a gun and silencing the press - even at home when not attacked by terrorist, when medical supplies, food and sound planning would have been the best solution.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Did you get your tickets...to the gun show!

On Saturday I went to the annual gun show at the arena in town, and it was quite the experience. Basically it's a bunch of basement gun dealers selling and trading guns. There were tables covered with guns and ammo, and people milling around checking out the wares. Politically (funny how I always come back to that isn't it?) it was very conservative (as in Alliance). There was a table at the door with two petitions, one to abolish gun control for long guns, and the second to lift a ban on using lead fishing tackle because there is no conclusive proof that it causes poisoning in fish or waterfoul. I can't believe people would try to lift that ban...even if it did no harm to the fish/birds, there are lots of people who have to work making the molten lead, and breathing the toxins in the process. Utterly selfish...and the sport fishing industry has not suffered because of the ban, as lure makers simply switched to different metals instead. Regression is our representative's main accomplishment, making issues out of non-issues (as above, and accusing liberals of wanting to ban the bible) and making anti-homosexual slurs in Parliament. Backwater at it's best.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

printer manufacturers and the disposable printer - environmental responsibility

Here in Canada we have a government program linked to the Kyoto agreement that challenges each Canadian to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by one tonne. (link) I fully support this initiative, and have another idea for an environmental cause, one that I feel would not only reduce consumption and waste. One of the most wasteful office or home office products is the color printer (I should know, I sell them at my job) Not only do you have the paper (which is less avoidable in a printer) but you also have the ink cartridges, which last for at most a few hundred pages. The manufacturer inks cost more than a generic ink, and often with the pricing structure of printers and consumables, it is more economical to buy a new printer than a full set of replacement inks. This begs the question why manufacturers do this, since they know that the printer will likely be thrown out, or passed on to some unlucky secondary buyer who didn't do their research. There is also an immense amount of plastic in an inkjet printer, which consumes petroleum, only to be thrown out. Colour laser printers are beginning to adopt a similar pricing model. (link) As a salesperson in an electronics store, I'd say the great majority of customers justify buying colour printers for their children in school, and the remaining purchasers use them for printing digital photography at home. A wonderful initiative for an environmental group (which I will forward as a suggestion to a few) would be approaching school boards and asking them to adopt a policy for all assignments to be handed in black and white only with a reasoned explanation behind such a policy. With widespread adoption, this would decrease the market for inkjet printers, as more consumers would wisely choose a monotone laser printer, with more economical costs per page, and a much longer duty cycle and lifespan. A second approach to this campaign would be an educational component regarding the true costs of printing colour photos at home, and how they far outweigh the costs of a professional developing lab. If it was plainly evident that it's cheaper, more environmentally friendly, and it won't make a difference to your kids' marks if you print in laser black and white, most rational consumers would choose the better option. This type of consumer education would encourage companies to sell products that aren't priced to encourage waste, or at least reduce the market to those who truely feel they need and are willing to pay for the convenience of colour printing at home. Too much of our focus is on making corporations change their actions for environmental causes, when we as consumers are often the engine behind the suspect production. It is time for consumer groups to push consumer education, because we are competing against advertising with much deeper pockets.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

OPEN YOUR EYES!

Sorry for the caps in the title, but I'm getting a bit angry with the discussion I can hear clearly in the living room below my bedroom. Sound travels really well in this house. My father is meeting with his flyfishing club, and I guess they got a bit off track, because somehow they are discussing global warming, and one of them (not my Dad, I'll quickly point out) is arguing that global warming as caused by humans doesn't exist. I don't know what he does for a living, but he likely doesn't read, or follow any research developments, but all the G-8 nations have accepted that global warming is largely attributable to human cause. I really think it is high time that we (as in all of us, civilization) dismiss people who are holding us back from making progress in making concrete steps towards possible solutions and greenhouse gas reductions as tragic fools. Let's put them in the same category of people who argue that HIV doesn't lead to AIDS, and Holocaust deniers. At least if the majority of us who do accept that we may have something to do with climate change are wrong, we won't all die. I don't want to gamble on the lunatic fringe, and I think the game theory approach probably the best argument to counter someone who disputes the widely accepted scientific evidence.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Weak democrats...fighting the wrong battles.

I've been following the recent uproar regarding the Grand Theft Auto San Andreas (PC version) scandal. For those of you who haven't, basically there's a patch that someone created for the game to add explicit sex scenes to the game, which is adult rated, and cannot be bought unless you are at least 17. Well, leave it to Hillary Clinton to get angry and start an inquiry into the game.
I'll admit, the GTA series is fairly violent, but a governmental inquiry? The US is at this moment engaged in brutal urban conflict on a flimsy mandate (and that's being generous) and all the most promising democrat can busy herself with is a videogame? Dissolve yourself Democrats, and let someone else step into the ring. For a great take on the videogame situation, read this.

On another note, I just finished watching another great documentary series, called "The Power of Nightmares" done by the BBC. It outlines a well reasoned case that the threat of terrorism is grossly overstated for the benefit of the rulers in the West. I recommend it to anyone interested in understanding the stakes of the 'War on Terrorism'. See this link here for a dialogue with the writer, and here for the CBC's site for the series.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Interesting times in US politics

The next few months in US politics will be telling. If Karl Rove survives his CIA agent outing fiasco, I'll have lost the last shred of hope in the defacto global ruling power, and the passive and docile press. Here's a link to a fairly balanced overview of the events [factcheck.org]. I've also been playing with some graphics applications, thinking about having some stickers or t-shirt made. Below is an example. What do you think?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Overdue update

It's been forever since my last post. I often think to myself about something cool to post, but by the time I'm back at my PC, I've forgotten. Such as life.

My birthday just passed, and I got Sony DRX-800UL external DVD writer. It's pretty cool, and considering the amount of downloading I do, it was about time. I've recently gone on a spree of downloading documentaries (yeah, I know, I'm a 50 yr old trapped in a 24 year old's body) mainly purtaining to the war in Iraq, or some more general political topic. Some gems I've recently watched are from CBC's Correspondent series, called 'Meet the Stans' that followed a reporter on his travels through the lesser known former Soviet republics Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It's an eye opening look at a region that not many people know much about, that will likely play an important political role in coming years. Check them out if you can.

It's pretty sad that the internet seems to be the best way to find quality programming. TBS will rerun the same crappy multimillion dollar blockbuster 3 times in a row, but a groundbreaking documentary gets a brief unheralded airing on a channel like PBS (a previously politically unaffiliated channel that may go down the tubes now being headed by a Republican campaign guru) and then fades into relative obscurity. Thankfully there are people who think it's important to distribute them online.