Saturday, December 31, 2005

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Bush defeated on ANWR

The Senate handed GWB a defeat on drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a critical caribou habitat. Opening up the vast Alaskan wildlife refuge for oil exploitation would place the herd of caribou at risk. The Republicans, manipulative buggers, had inserted the drilling provision in a defense appropriations bill. Maybe the path to energy security lies in reducing the grotesquely inflated consumption of North American consumers? Just a thought.

Should this man be Prime Minister?

A number of my co-workers are Tory supporters. They believe Stephen Harper is the victim of the news media. These Tory supporters are critical of the hidden agenda charge that is sometimes levied against Harper. "Why are people 'afraid of Stephen Harper', especially in Ontario?" is the question that was posed to me.

Ontarians believe that Harper is not being straight with them. Harper portrays himself as a moderately conservative politician; basically a similar but non-corrupt alternative to the Liberals. This hidden agenda allegation is a valid and astute observation of Stephen Harper.

The agenda is a radical transformation and attack on the government, on the scale of the vicious and radical restructuring of the provincial government in Ontario. A Harper majority government will not simply be a caretaker "non-corrupt" version of the Liberals, but will involve the dismemberment of many government programs that conservatives despise.

His hidden agenda can be extrapolated from his past statements and associations. First, he is undoubtedly anti-environment. His fierce oppostion to Kyoto, plus his association with the oil and gas industry should firmly entrench his status as an anti-environmentalist. Check out his Wikipedia bio here.

Second, he is openly hostile to the federal government in general. He has suggested in the past that Alberta should build a firewall seperating itself from the rest of Canada. This has prompted legitimate questions about his patriotism, and committment to govern on behalf of all Canadians, rather than just conservative Albertans.

Third, he is hostile to the values that many Canadians share, such as universal health care and worker's rights. He is the former leader of the National Citizen's Coalition, a conservative special interest group which campaigns against unions and universal health care. Coupled with his masters degree in economics, it suggests that he would govern as a radical fiscal conservative, regardless of the middle of the road values that Canadians share.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Le Parkour

Radio One had an interview today with a practitioner of Parkour. This sport originated in France and is a type of urban adventuring; a type of dangerous-looking steeplechase praticed in cities. Holy mackeral, these people have guts of steel. I like the idea of urban adventuring - making use of the city in a creative way, but frankly I am unwilling to risk my 30-something ass in such a dramatic way.

Toronto has a local parkour group with much tamer-looking stunts, pictured here.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


A family member R, has specifically asked that certain family members not give him gifts. At first my reaction was disdainful - that sounds pretty cheap; he obviously said that so as not to create any obligations for him to exchange gifts.

On further consideration, it's a ballsy. Christmas can be quite crazy; it makes sense to simplify and not give a lot of unnecessary trinkets. Christmas ends up being an internal struggle. You want to avoid the situation where someone buys a gift for you and you didn't get anything for them. How embarassing! Heaven forbid! And for those you are giving gifts to, you don't want to appear cheap

R's directive on gift giving is straightforward and refreshing. Fuck the local retailers anyway. I am not responsible for WalMart's or the Bay's profit margins.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

EcoBunk Awards

Toronto's ecorati were present at the 15th annual EcoBunk Awards on Thursday. EcoBunk is an annual roast of some of the worst greenwashing and anti-environment advertisements of the past year. The ads ranged from the horrific and absurd hunting gear ads from Gerber Gear (example above) to the merely cynical (GE's PR campaigns).

This was my first EcoBunk and I'm told the tone was a littler happier than in the dark and dreary Mike Harris years, when much of the show was spent bashing the Harris government.

SUV's came in for some hard knocks, and rightly so. For next year's EcoBunk awards I would nominate Volvo's new V8 SUV which currently bills itself as providing "intelligent transportation for families that value performance, safety and the environment." This is of course, an oxymoron - an environmentally friendly SUV. I doubt I will ever buy a Volvo after seeing that particularly cynical and disingenuous piece of advertising

CBC Radio One host Bob MacDonald was an emcee at EcoBunk this year. Gord Miller, Ontario's Environmental Commissioner was sighted in the audience. NDP federal candidate and retiring Senior Campaigner Gord Perks presented one award. Also in attendance was local councillor and federal NDP candidate Olivia Chow.

Friday, December 09, 2005

London Congeston

CBC's Linden MacIntyre interviewed Nicky Gavron today on The Current.

Gavron is the deputy mayor of London in Ken Livingstone's administration. In 2003, their administration introduced a congestion charge in the downtown core. Each driver wishing to enter Central London must pay the charge which is directed towards transit programs. The £8 charge has reduced traffic in the downtown core by 30 per cent, according to Gavron. Additionally, the city has supported transit by strictly enforcing buses-only lanes.

"I used to think that if you change attitudes you change behavior. I now know that if you change regulations you change behavior, said Gavron.

She is also pushing for greener technologies for heating and cooling to reduce domestic energy use: "We want to overcome market failure and and stimulate markets".

She remarked that London has a lot to learn from Canadian initiatives such as the EnerGuide and loan structures to promote efficiency.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Google Transit - Coming Soon?

Google has a new service, but currently only for Portland, OR. This service lets you key in two locations, just like with their popular maps offering, and then generates a route, complete with schedule, walking time, total time, and price.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Linux & Lentils

Part community center, part professional group, and local coffee joint - the LinuxCaffe is open for business at Harbord & Grace. David Patrick opened his cafe seven months ago. Barista is a radical job change for him, after his work in the film industry. But he already had the IT experience needed to run the cafe.

Run the cafe? That's right. The cafe is stock-a-block with laptops and servers running various distributions of the open source O/S kernel Linux. The shelves are full of quality technical books related to IT, programming, and Linux. The sound system runs on Linux. And the cafe hosts a wireless access point for its customers covering the cafe and southern part of Bickford Park.

The food is sourced from suppliers within walking distance and picked up with a wagon. Paninis, soups, and wraps are the steady favorites.

I order hot lemon tea with lentil soup, seasoned with 'Spike', a celery salt based seasoning, and the soup comes with fresh slices of baguette. Good comfort food on a cold December night.

Great place to spend a quiet evening surfing the Net and writing software.

Hours (from the LinuxCaffe site):
Monday - Thursday
7ish to 7ish
7ish to 11ish
10ish to 11ish
10ish to 5ish