Thursday, June 30, 2005

Not Pondering

Our politics, religion, news, athletics, education and commerce have been transformed into congenial adjuncts of show business, largely without protest or even much popular notice. The result is that we are a people on the verge of amusing ourselves to death.
-Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves To Death.(1985) p3

hint: For the title ,think synonymously.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Tonight legislation for same-sex marriage passed in the House of Commons and will likely soon be ratified by the senate. Although I'm quite pleased with this result, it is important to realize that this should have occurred long ago.

It is saddening how much ignorance, bigotry and fear can hinder the reification of reason.

Monday, June 27, 2005

On Intelligence

I just finished listening to the audio book of On Intelligence. It was a decent work that defines intelligence as memory-based predictive ability.The neocortex is the main focus of On Intelligence and Hawkins' suggests that the associations contained within it allow for our navigation of the world.
Again, this would be better for those less versed in the psychological literature.

As I've taken in a lot of info this month, the cognitive resources weren't as willing to take many notes for this one. I'll mention that it was interesting to be remined of the temporal dimension to vision and the spatial dimension to hearing (the membranes inside the ear (unrolled)).

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Bastards & Boneheads

What a great book! Bastards and Boneheads was informative, amusing and had the right amount of depth without being to dry. Ferguson makes some great points about the selective memory of people and how Canadians might want to remember (and, therefore currently experience) the nature of their country. I’ll admit I was quite ignorant of Canadian history, so for those in the know, they probably need not read this book. As for the rest of you ignoramuses (:P), I’ll be happy to lend this to you. I think it’ll even serve as a handy little future reference for various events or people in Canadian history.

As usual (it seems), there are some excerpts below. The passages are not representative of the book as a whole, but contain important facts about our past. Consequently, I chose these mainly for there content instead of their style or humour (save the last one). Page numbers are in parentheses.

If a Black tries to escape, we cut off his ears and we brand a fleur-de-lis on his shoulder with a hot iron; if he tries to escape a second time, we cut the hamstrings on the back of his legs. If his is so bold as to try again, it’s death. – Code Noire, drawn up by French Canadians to outline the proper treatment of Black slaves. The Slave trade in Canada lasted for more than 200 years. (66)

In 1928, after a month and a half of debate, the Supreme Court of Canada announced its decision: women were not persons. Canada had overruled Alberta. (128)
(The following year the Privy Council of the United Kingdom reversed the decision)

Often, the same suffragists who wanted the vote for white Anglo-Saxon women just as vehemently wanted it denied to non-white foreign men. (121)

In 1919, the longest sustained general strike in North American history occurred in Winnipeg. On May 15th of that year, the entire city simply shut down. Almost 30,000 workers walked out, and sympathy strikes soon flared up across the nation… As early as 1917, there had been talk of calling a citywide general strike over conscription, and two years later, the pot finally boiled over… The Winnipeg General Strike was, in the hysteria of the day, seen as a Bolshevik attempt at launching a socialist revolution, and it had to be stopped. Ottawa ordered dawn raids. Union leaders were imprisoned without trial, and when workers gathered to protest, the Mounties fired into the crowd, killing one man and wounding many more. The police then waded in on horseback, swinging truncheons and cracking skulls. Mass arrest followed, as workers were beaten and trampled. By dusk, martial law had been imposed on the city. It was June 21, 1919. Bloody Saturday.
The next morning, workers began drifting back to their jobs. (122-123)

The Government will in time reach the end of its responsibility as the Indians progress into civilization and finally disappear as a separate and distinct people, not by race extinction but by gradual assimilation. –Ducan Campbell Scott, director of Canada’s Indian policy, 1931. (149)

Native Canadians were not allowed to vote until 1960. At the provincial level, some areas had granted the vote earlier, but Alberta held out until 1965, and Quebec until 1969 – at about the same time French-Canadian nationalists were in a rage over being ‘oppressed’ and had taken to calling themselves ‘the white niggers of America.’ (153)

Enfranchisement, the dream that the Indians would someday voluntarily vanish, was not removed as the stated objective of federal Native policy until 1985. (154)

Lower-income Jewish refugees were rejected ostensibly because they would be a drain (even though the Canadian Jewish Congress had vowed to fully support them), and wealthy Jewish refugees were rejected because they would be competition for Canadian businessmen. Instead, Jews were kept in Europe, where their money enriched Nazi coffers and their bones enriched the fields of Auschwitz. (166)

Once Hitler became our enemy, he was hated, but that hatred had nothing to do with his persecution of the Jews. Even as we were marching off to war, anti-Semitism was gaining ground in Canada. (167)

As late as December 1943, there was still a chance to get 6,000 children out of France before the Gestapo arrived. The U.S. offered 4,000 open visas and asked Canada to take 1,000 of them. Canada never replied. Our country could probably say that it had saved not a single child from the gas chambers, even when the opportunity to do so was presented. (167)

The mass evacuations of Japanese Canadians from the West Coast began in February 1942, and by September of that year, virtually every man, woman and child of Japanese descent had been forcibly uprooted and relocated against their will. In the end, 22,000 people would be moved: 75 per cent of them were Canadian-born citizens. (177)

Japanese Canadians lost millions upon millions of dollars in property during the war. It was nothing short of a public looting, and it was supported right down the line by our stalwart prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King. (179)

John A. Macdonald, a legend in his own time, was a gregarious man both beloved and reviled. His drinking binges were epic. He once puked on stage during a debate and then blamed his upset stomach on the speeches given by his opponent. (241) (Hahaha)

ps: regarding the excerpts, my only addition was the ‘hahaha’

Thursday, June 23, 2005


What progress we are making. In the middle ages they would have burned me. Nowadays they are content with burning my books.
- Sigmund Freud, 1933

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Foreign Aiding and Abetting

Why can't things just be simple and sincerely altruistic? So goes reality.

Hegemony or Survival

Today I finished listening to the audio book of Noam Chomsky'’s Hegemony or Survival. It is brilliant, thorough and cogent. The information presented is extremely important and I think everyone on the planet should experience it, especially every American (forced if need be).

Chomsky discusses the role of United States foreign policy mainly over the past 50 years, but with an emphasis on recent events. What I heard was infuriated and disheartening. Once again my idealism runs smack into reality and is discouragingly trounced.

There is just so much (ludicrous) indignation and moral righteousness expressed by America while it commits acts of subterfuge and terrorism. Hegemony was an aptly chosen word.

Honestly, it is hard to realistically communicate how many spurious and specious situations/arguments that have been put forth by various US administrations over the years, that in turn justifiably results in a stance of complete mistrust of America as a country acting in the world. Acting on the world is probably more accurate.

The general trend is that it is not terrorism if We do it, but only if They do it (to us, or our interests.) Interesting, if US polices were followed by other countries, there would be numerous '‘valid'’ attacks on American soil.

Another trend is that the United States does what it wants. Then the world court says stop doing it. Then the US says, "“Screw you. We'’ll do what we want."” Or, they will vote down various UN resolutions, creating a two-fold effect: (1) the resolution is not passed, and (2) the negation of the bill makes it so the whole procedure barely exists in the historical records. These are not illogical resolutions, but things like non-proliferation of biological weapons, having standards for international law, human rights, and keeping space non-militarized.

Go get this book.

Here are some quotations and some thoughts:

"“Destroying hope is a critically important project, and when it is achieved, formal democracy is allowed, even preferred, if only for public relations purposes."”

"…the weak would have to be insane to implement their rights."”

The saddening irony of a bust of Winston Churchill, and man who called the Guantanamo Bay like detaining of prisoner's’ "‘odious,"’ faces Bush in the oval office.

The United States decimated Nicaragua, tried to destroy Cuba and terrorized Panama.
Iraq, which had the best food distribution system aid organizers have ever seen, lost the ability to do so. Consequently, infant mortality went way up. Additionally, the US actually stopped water tankers from reaching Iraq when they were experiencing a shortage of drinking water.

Bush is running up debts that might cripple future generations.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have lead to increases in terrorist recruitment, a decrease in safety for the world, and serve as an indicator that the best way to negate a possible US invasion of one’s country is to have nuclear weapons (or WMD). How can these sufferers of psychopathy and narcissism in office say that is

"“One always hopes that worst case scenarios will never materialize, and every effort should be dedicated to that end… It is the range of likely possibilities that determines the evaluation of policy choices that are made. At least for those capable of entertaining elementary moral standards."

"“We confront evil'’s face by lending it a willing hand, at least if there is something to gain."”

They want space. I a’m not kidding. If they have their way, America will be the sole military force in space and be able to launch an attack anywhere on the Earth.

Learning these things from the work makes me want the Chinese to take over… But then '‘human rights'’ suffers and blogging is screened/censored. It'’s just a bad scene. Hopefully, China and India will bring some balance to the Earth as opposed to having to choose between the lesser of two (or three) evils.

Gotta see

The past two Jon Stewart's have been especially well done. Follow the link, scroll down to 'headlines' and click on "Best leak ever," and then "Get Smarter."
I love this show!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Mind Wide Open

Yesterday, I finished listening to the audiobook of Mind Wide Open. It is a delightful ‘book’ that examines the recent developments in the world of psychology and neuroscience as it relates to the individual. This is an excellent work for those with little exposure to either and are (or should be) curious about developments that have occurred. (For those in psyc maybe get it for to lend to your friends.)

One of the main themes is that we vastly overrate our conscious control of most things we do. Couldn’t agree more. What follows are some random thoughts/tidbits, some quoted, some paraphrased:

Personality is the sum of your (brain) modules.

Your brain is like a complicated ecosystem. It’s a jungle in there.

Autisim is discussed and how the deficit can sort of be viewed as an inability in ‘mind reading.’ (The lack of social/emotional processing). I really liked that he said they almost have a ‘gut’ feeling for numbers (when counting tooth picks), but we have it for emotions.

He’s a big proponent of neurofeedback, which might help ADHD and ‘normal’ people focus attention better..

Mentions prairie voles and sexual attachment,

Laughter, comes from the brainstem, primal, life-sustaining.

Discusses drug users and how they work on similar brain regions/receptors that does ‘love.’ “The needle contains the very drug that makes a child’s love appealing.”

Psycho-active drugs activate the psyche.

You are nothing without drugs.

It’s not ‘The hormones talking’, but which hormones are talking.

Intelligence is sensing cause and predicting effect.

Wit of the staircase. French expression describing the failing of witty retort.

Cocaine makes you a new man, and that new man wants more cocaine. –G. Carlin

To understand another, try to realize that it feels ‘okay’ for them whatever they are doing. (aside from clinical disorders, and even then the threshold isn’t breached because behaviours continue).

I've used this before, but is such a good one:
The better we understand our nature, the better we can nurture.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Bay

At its peak, the Hudson's Bay Company's territory covered nearly a twelfth of the world's land mass. That makes the HBC the largest private landholder in human history.
- Will Ferguson

Saturday, June 18, 2005


I recently heard the song "Unbelievable" by EMF. I've always thought the song meant 'unbelievable' in a good way, but after looking at the lyrics it would appear it is meant in the negative sense. Thoughts?


Extremely recently (i.e., 20 minutes ago), I finished the audiobook of Freakonomics, written by an economist (Levitt) and a journalist (Dubner). They admit there really is no unifying theme, just discussions of various social phenomena. I would say that a main point they make is to be wary of experts as they often, purposely and inadvertently, abuse their position when they state their positions.
I would say it is an interesting work that is most useful for those will little exposure to statistics and how they are more useful than intuitive judgements or age-old ‘wisdom.’ Others who have come across some of their findings will be less enthused, but there is likely enough new material to warrant a browsing, if not a full reading. (or you could just read my highlights and see if you want more info)

I vacillated on whether I agreed to calling what the authors do ‘economics.’ It seemed more like ‘statistics’ or even sociology or psychology. This does not matter much, but we humans do seem to become attached to arbitrary designations of sound/print.

Various notes (probably more to remind me than for explicitly informing you)

Abortion is legalized, crime goes down about 20 years later.

A Real estate will sell their own house for 10 grand more than they will sell yours.

Americans spend more on bubblegum than elections (in the billions)

Daycare centre in Israel and the manipulation of incentives and punishments.

Looking at teacher/student standardized tests, about 100,000,000 individual answers, past/future. A minimum of 5% of teachers cheated.

Sumo wrestling: examined 32000 bouts, 281 different wrestlers. Found that on final bouts of a 15 battle tournaments, expected prob. of winning was 47% and the actual prob. was 79%. Definitely seems sketchy. Two insiders, named names, died under suspicious causes. Their namings of good/bad sumos match the sketchiness.

Selling of Bagels in offices: smaller offices are more honest Good weather = pay, bad weather = cheat more. Holidays are worse (but 4th, labour day are better)

KKK. History of the Klan. Saddening. More lynchings, but earlier when there were less members. Relative to the size of the black population, not so often.
All lynchings decade by decade:
1890 1111
1900s 791
1910s 569
1920s 281
1930s 119
1940s 31
1950s 6
1960s 3
For comparison Looking at the 1920s/281 lynchings. In the black population malnutrition and similar conditions claimed 13/100 or 20,000 each year.
The lynchings worked. L Stetson Kennedy, an insider who tipped off a radio show and gave them the Klan’s secret codes so Superman (in the radio show) could beat the Klan caused such an embarrassment that recruitment went down. J

They return to discuss real estate, it wasn’t worth it.

On the “Weakest Link” both the elderly and Hispanics are discriminated against. I didn’t like how the authors used the pronoun ‘he.’ Isn’t doesn’t make much sense to talk about (the contestant’s) his ‘age, gender, and race.’ His gender?

Some online dating stuff that wasn’t surprising. People lie! Ta-dah. A good line was that blond hair for women is worth about a $200,000 salary for guys. And a picture is better than no picture.

Chapter 3: Why do drug dealers still live with their mom. Hahaha great title.

It’s been said that 1 in 3 women will experience rape or attempted rape and the actual number is more like 1 in 8.

Crack dealers and their lives. Amazing data on a crack dealing organization from an embedded sociologist. Similar to a corporation, there is a hierarchy.
Hourly wage for the lead man was 66 bucks. For the 3 officers it was 7 bucks. For the Footsoldiers it was 3.30 cents.
Foot soldiers beaten if they used crack.
Autumn is the best crack selling season.

The typical prostitute makes more than a typical architect. (and the cute line that the latter is more likely to hire the former than the reverse).

1964 black babies are twice as likely to die as white babies.
1970s, the number cuts in half.
1980s crack killed them. Infant mortality up, blacks going to prison tripled.

Black Americans hurt more by crack than anything else.

Economist author is quite humble, describes himself as the “weakest human alive”

Chapter 4
Romania, 4:1 ~ abortion:live birth. Pregnancy test in workplaces. Children born after abortions made illegal do worse in every way (school, labour, criminals). The leader was overthrown in 1989, executed on Xmas.

Very little relationship between economy’s success and violent crime.
Harsher imprisonment rates do have an effect on crime.
25,000 grand/year to keep a prisoner

Waiting lists, gun buy back, are not that effective.

1.6 million abortions a year in US.

Swimming pools are 100 more likely to kill a child than a gun.

Deaths from flying and driving (per hour) are about the same.

Child car seats are nominally helpful.

How much do parents matter? (Who they are matters, but not as much what they do) Big longitudinal study done on 20000 kids, kindergarten to 5th grade. Lots of interesting data, but I was concerned about misinterpretation. They decently qualify, but the could do a bit more.

The end has a lot of name stuff (the top names of black children and white children), it wasn’t really that useful. Awful lot of time/content devoted to names and how they change over time.
Some rare jewels though: Someone actually named their child ‘shithead’ and another ‘orangejello’ with pronunciations ‘sheh-teed’ and ‘or-ang-eh-lo’ respectively. I think as soon as you register those types of names they should take your child from you.
High SES names trickle down the ladder, adopted by lower SES groups, and then high SES parents choose new names.

Not as freaky as it could be, but many wouldn’t react well to “Well, one good thing about abortion is that crime goes down,” even though it is true.


Quite recently (i.e., yesterday) I finished reading Carol Shields' Unless. What a wonderful and intelligent work of fiction. It was so well written, apparently worthy of the Pulizter. Additionally, it took place in Ontario around 2000-2002 and mentions parts of Toronto that I visited recently; I love that about Canadian literature (it makes me want to read more).

The content of the book was something to which I was cautioned I might not relate: a 44 y.o. woman dealing with concerns about her 19 y.o. daughter, her family, her friends and the novel she is trying to write. The content was not even remotely problematic. There was also an underlying theme of the role of women in the world and how they are still often marginalized. For those concerned about too much ?feminism,? this is unfounded. I, for one, usually have positive connotations to the word, but that could be because of my denotative tendencies.

A great book is one that contains those magnificent sentences that you just want to re-read because of the point expressed, the description of a situation/object or just the organization of language itself. This work has many such sentences. It was a pleasure to read, and now to recommend.

(addendum: As I was linking info about Shields I found out (or was reminded) that she passed away in 2003. Such a loss.)

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Age of Spiritual Machines

Also recently, I finished Ray Kurzweil’s Age of Spiritual Machines. As I was listening to the 210 minute audio book and the paperback version is 400 pages, I believe I experienced an abridged version. I found the work worthwhile, but mainly because I listened to it while driving to and fro Markham from Toronto; a distraction is much appreciated during Toronto traffic.

The ‘book’ was very interesting and people should be exposed to many of the concepts within it. The main theme of the work is that computational processing capacity will continue to increase and allow for technological developments that have heretofore only been in science fiction. Kurzweil acknowledges that futuristic projections are often flawed, but makes the valid point that most projections of the future do not mention the advancement of computers and machines.

He discusses the ‘law of accelerating returns’ that describes how new technological developments allow for newer technological developments at an ever-increasing rate. I’ve thought of concept before, but I hadn’t heard that specific term used. It’s a good one.

Kurzweil sketches out a world (from 2010-2100) where most written works will be digitized and computers will be able to read and comprehend the material. This shall allow for computers to have access to the world’s knowledge. Moreover, in about 2040, you might have the same ability. Try to imagine a world where computers become part of your appliances, your clothes, glasses, and even brains and bodies. In about 2050, it might be possible to download your consciousness! It will be interesting to see if technology demolishes age-old philosophical quagmires.

One of the most interesting things was thinking about how ‘people’ might become software and be some sort of nanobot swarm. Or even have most of their information (and existence) on something like microchips. Consequently, any highly technologically developed alien society won’t be arriving in a big, wasteful spaceship. But something smaller, like nanobots. That makes so much sense!

The audiobook was useful in that there are important technological possibilities occurring (as I write this) and will continue to occur; the implications are important to ponder. As many things will occur in my lifetime, it is good to have a heads-up. He may be too optimistic, but the ideas are mostly reasonable and provide useful intellectual stimulation, even if the specific timeline projections are off.
I would suggest finding some essays of Kurzweil’s online or borrowing the work from a friend or the library instead of buying it.

It might just be a very interesting life my generation will have.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The World is Flat

Recently, I finished reading Thomas L. Friedman’s “The World is Flat.” Friedman is a writer for the NY Times and has won the Pulizter Prize three times for his work there. He has written three other books, the first dealing with the conflict in the Middle East, and the others about 9/11, and globalization and its affects on individual countries. The World is Flat, his fourth book, is about how the technologies and developments of the past 5-15 years have allowed a level of ‘horizonatal collaboration’ like never before and how this is affecting the world. The ‘flattening’ represents a levelling off of the economic playing field. Friedman discusses the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dot-com boom and bust, outsourcing, offshoring, insourcing, as well as the effects of web browsers, connecting cable, wirelessness and increasing computational technology. He analyzes companies (like Walmart and Dell), discusses America falling behind in science education, covers geopolitics (terrorism and economic issues), and wisely mentions the 3 billion people that might be left behind.

I highly recommend this book. Numerous things have changed in a short time and he acknowledges even he had missed most of it. As well, he is cautiously optimistic about the future. I felt more informed (at least about the level of my ignorance).

I still chastise the use of sweatshops and the companies that use contractors that do, but it doesn’t make as much sense to dislike outsourcing. I guess I might be moving from the “All these things happening are terrible for Canada (and my kids, friends, city, the Earth) to “Okay, this is happening, what can I do with it.” I’m not saying it isn’t important to fight ‘evil’ corporations or things that harm the environment or violators of human rights. I’m just seeing the validity of working with within these systems. If you get a massive corporation alongside your interests, they get accommodated because of their stature. Friedman gives some great examples of people doing good things working within the structures.
Anyway, onto some highlights (some of those more statistical have been posted on baserates).

1) It is possible to hire a personal assistant in India who can work on documents or a presentation during the night while you sleep.
2) In at least 3 McDonald’s in the US when you go to the drive-through you are talking to someone in a call centre in a different state. (Corporate Mc hasn’t done this yet, this is a franchise owner who found out it was more efficient.)
3) When you purchase something at Walmart an order for that specific item pops up on a computer screen in China (or wherever) to replace the order. Immediately.
4) UPS doesn’t just ship things. They are now involved in bill collecting, fixing computers and numerous other aspects of commerce.
5) When a Dell computer is purchased over the phone or online, it is actually built! The parts go to the warehouse, someone puts them into a bag, puts it together, downloads software and ships it. Including suppliers of suppliers, over 400 companies are involved in that computer.
6) The Dot-com bust actually flattened the world more. Optic cable was produced and laid down in such abundance that it became cheaper to connect in India and other parts of the world. Additionally, India was able to be the ‘second buyer’ on many things. (Meaning after the first buyer goes bankrupt and the banks sell it off at a much reduced price.)
7) It appears that an abundance of natural resources inhibits a country from having to innovate as well as tax its people. Less taxation, leads to less governmental responsibility to its people (think of many middle eastern and north African countries)
8) Taiwan has the third largest financial reserves in the world.
9) China and India. Oh boy… they’ll be doing almost everything. Yes, they are willing to work cheaper, but they are also much more motivated and possibly better. Those last points are hard to argue with. Good luck Western world.

Last two fav tidbits:
(a) Microsoft has three major software development centres. In the US, England and China. The Beijing centre, to recruit a new team, went to the top universities in China and handed out 2000 IQ and programming tests to PhD level people. From that pool, they cut it down to 400 and then to 20! After a year or so, 12 made the final cut. What a selection process! Getting the top 12 people out of 2000 PhD level people who already were good enough to make it to a top university. Gates said the stuff coming out of there is “mind-blowing.”
(b) Friedman said his parents used to say to him, “Finish your dinner because someone is China is starving.” He now says to his kids, “Finish your homework because someone in China is starving for your job.”

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Cloudy Goodness

I flew home (in a plane... sigh) from Toronto to Halifax last night. The clouds were absolutely amazing! I love the big puffy ones and they were out in full form (and various forms too). Looking at this chart, it seems there were combinations of altocumulus, cumulonimbus, stratocumulus and cumulus clouds.
It was so beautiful.

The plane flew 'right beside' them and the sun was intermittently blocked by a rising cloud stack. I wished I could have just hovered a bit longer, or had a larger window than the tiny one on the plane, or to be able to walk on or ascend these magnificent puffs of white.

Hmmm...Dreams as ethereal as the clouds themselves.

Romeo & Sudan

During a cbc news show this afternoon Romeo Dalliare was shown discussing Canada's aid to Sudan. He said we are doing exactly what should be done: providing supplies/amenities and facilitating discussion among various groups. The front-line stuff should be left up to the African Union.

I am not as informed as I'd like regarding the Darfur conflict, but right now I can say, "If it's good enough for Romeo Dalliare, then it is good enough for me."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The blog and short of it.

If you look up cliché in the dictionary, you'll find this phrase.

Of course they care

(from the Toronto Star, Michael Kunzelman from AP)
Researchers at Harvard University's School of Public Health said they examined more than 7 million documents, from 1969-2000, to probe the tobacco industry's efforts to lure women.

A 1993 report by Phillip Morris that extolled the virtues of making a longer, slimmer cigarette to offer the false promise of a 'healthier' product.

A 1982 report from British-American Tobacco Co. that said women buy cigarettes to help them 'cope with' neuroticism. It said, "We can safely conclude that the strength of cigarettes that are purchased by women is related to their degree of neuroticism."

Companies explored adding appetite suppressants to cigarettes.

Worldwide smoking rates among women are expected to increase 20% by 2025, "driven by the growth of female markets in the developing countries."

Wow, that makes me so frustrated I could light up right now. (kidding!) <.s Twenty year

Foreign Aid

The Toronto Star recently reported that a poll showed that Americans think that about 22 % of their GDP is used for foreign aid.
Correct answer? 0.16%

I fear that Canadians might have a similar response. In case you are curious, we give about 0.3% of our GDP for aid. We have plans to make it 0.45% by 2015 but do not plan to try to get it to 0.7% like many in the international community.

On the brighter side, there are less impoverished African nations from which corporations routinely, and richly, harvest that have to pay back debt. I have to read more about it, but it does seem like quite a good thing. Maybe it is as if we will still let them be down, but at least we won't be kicking them (as hard?)

Saturday, June 11, 2005


I think we should all applaud Bobby Mugabe for his insightful, compassionate and analytical approach regarding the demolishing of 200,000 homes because he used his political/diplomatic discretion and perspicacity when he named the action "Operation Drive Out the Rubbish." (cbc report)

Friday, June 10, 2005

Beautiful advice

Out of clutter, find simplicity.
From discord, find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.
-Albert Einstein

British Parliamentary debates, 1763

Lord Sandwich: "Really, Mr. Wilkes, I don't know whether you'll die on the gallows or of the pox."
John Wilkes: "That depends, my lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

I think I'd watch more parliamentary debates if the insults were as amusing as this and not just vituperative children yelling at each other indicating they need a 'time-out.'

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Al's 'God'

"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."
-- Albert Einstein, Albert Einstein: The Human Side.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Gettin' my hate on...

I hate Jennifer Lopez. I really do. I’ve never met her, or talked with her personally, so I should logically reserve judgement. BUT, how she has chosen to lead her life and what she represents disgusts me.

Briefly channel surfing, on MuchMoreMusic they had ‘The Fabulous Life of…” about J.Lo. What I saw depressed and angered me. I am always annoyed and disconcerted by the waste illustrated by this show. Normally, to be fully informed I would have watched the whole thing but I couldn’t take it. I hate that bitch. The main thing is the ostentatious life she leads whilst trying to present the opposite. She employs 4 top-notch stylists for various things. One of these ‘specialists’ actually said, “There are many artists, but only one Picasso. I am the Picasso of eyebrows.” This woman waxes eyebrows. That’s what she does. Gah! Additionally, she cancelled 10s of appointements to fly 3000 miles for Jennifer. WTF?!?! It was implied that this costs over 5 but under 10,000 dollars. For your eyebrows?!? Before her wedding she also paid $15,000 for a haircut. Sigh.

I know she isn’t the only one, but the superficial detritus feeds off itself creating entire communities of narcissists that do not realize how absurd their own lives are.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I think J. Lo must actually eat fecal matter to be that full of shit.


Sunday, June 05, 2005

Good Judgment

Good judgment consists equally in seeing the difference between things that are similar and the similarities between things that are different. -Plato (?)

Saturday, June 04, 2005

How it is and how it should be

Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.

-- Bertrand Russell, "Is There a God?" commissioned by, but never published in, Illustrated Magazine (1952: repr. The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell, Volume 11: Last Philosophical Testament, 1943-68, ed. John G. Slater and Peter Köllner (London: Routledge, 1997), pp. 543-48, quoted from S. T. Joshi, Atheism: A Reader

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Like a Soldier

I gotta live my life here
with some pretty scary bretheren
but now I'm a rebel on a mission baby
to live and die by my smile