Sunday, December 18, 2011

R.I.P. Vaclav Havel and Thanks for the T-Shirt -- No, Really.

The world has lost a philosopher king.

The Velvet Revolution occurred when I was in my late teens.  To me, this was one of the highlights of the spread of liberty in the modern era.

Vaclav Havel, once jailed for his belief in freedom, became a leader who realized true freedom meant giving up power. He did so by refusing to put a state before the freedom of its constituent peoples. Though he disagreed, he did not stop the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia or the birth of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. He realized agreeing to disagree was far more important than recent historical boundaries and political control.

Every leader should take this as a lesson. Recrimination of those who disagree with an opinion is nothing less than the slow death of liberty. As stated in the Constitution of the United States of America, 'general Welfare' is a requisite of liberty. Alienating one's neighbours because of differing beliefs is a dangerous practice. Sometimes, the world requires multiple solutions for singular problems.

During the Velvet Revolution, my Mother visited Czechoslovakia on an academic exchange. On her return, she gave me a white t-shirt, hand painted by a student. On it was written a hopeful message of freedom. Liberty and freedom are ideals of which I hope I never have to say, "Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt." May liberty and freedom last forever.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

So, America, Have You Actually Read Your Constitution?

Boy! It's amazing  how some Americans are mixed up regarding their own history.

If the Founding Fathers were such anti-statists, why would they ever have created a state? They certainly didn't think the state should, under no circumstances, meddle with people's lives. They just realized any meddling should be done with the lightest touch possible in order to serve as many citizens as possible.

Why? They saw the effects of tyranny in their own time. This tyranny wasn't social democracy. SD didn't exist. They saw the tyranny of Monarchy. They saw the tyranny of religious control. They saw the tyranny of a small aristocracy owning more wealth than the vast majority of those they ruled. They saw the tyranny of those in power torturing anyone who spoke their minds in disagreement.

As a result, they wrote one of the most famous documents in history.

Most important documents begin with a preamble that sets out the general spirit of what the creators intended. The Constitution of the United States of America is no different. It seems that many libertarians like to quote bits and pieces of this document out of context. The Constitution was written to be taken whole. In addition, things of greater importance are ordered before those of lesser importance so as to make it clear how the wisdom expressed should be balanced. I have to wonder if many of these libertarians actually know what the preamble says:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

'a more perfect union' They wanted government to unite people. They didn't say anything about partisan politics where politicians find ridiculous ways in which to say any opponent is an evil threat to the Republic. Also, 'more perfect' acknowledges they couldn't agree on a perfect solution so they expected to strive to improve it, over time.

'establish Justice' They realized law has to be created and maintained for government to work. All law creates restrictions on people.

'provide for the common defence' That's rather self explanatory.

'promote the general Welfare' Aha! Now we are getting somewhere. The Founding Fathers talked about Welfare? No, that couldn't be. Well it is. They weren't afraid of a state that looked out for its citizens. They saw the damage that states, where only the aristocracy had welfare, did to the people living in them. This is the opposite of the concept which states the rich and powerful have no obligation to the less fortunate.

Finally, we get to 'secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity'. What? It came last? What the hell? Yup again. In order to have liberty, some things have to be considered first.

That is the great wisdom they hoped you, ' the People of the United States', would live by. Everything written after the preamble is the method by which they thought this could be achieved. What's more, they realized things change and can be improved with time so they included ways to implement changes. They would have been incensed with anyone who suggested the constitution is sacred and unchangeable. No right defined in the constitution is more important than the good sense they hoped would thrive in their brave new world.

The preamble, though it could be changed, has never been. Go figure.

As for social democracy, fear of it only consumed the popular attention in response to communism. The founding fathers were probably long dead by the time Marx and Engels wrote their big mistake. Have you read the news? Communism is dead, now, too. You don't have to keep looking for it under the bed as scared little children look for the Boogey Man. Lose the fear and start making the smart decisions the Founding Fathers expected, made, and passed down to you.

Update: I just thought I would stem the tide of stupidity before it gets started. I'm no communist pinko. I believe in hand ups and not hand outs. I believe in good government, not obese government. I believe in solving problems and not hurling insults, though a little insult may make those who rely on them take notice and read the fine print. I want peace, however, I am not against war, as a last resort, to secure freedom. I believe in borders, not for the protection of wealth, but for the protection of freedom. Most importantly, I believe everyone is capable of greatness even though everyone makes mistakes.

Breast cancer patient: “I want to apologize to President Obama.”

Original article: Breast cancer patient: “I want to apologize to President Obama.”

I'm glad I'm in Canada. After being hit by a car, I know all too well how health coverage may be needed unexpectedly.

I have to laugh at those who insist universal health coverage is a threat to liberty. I can only imagine how free I would feel, now, had I received poor medical treatment. I am also quite free to change physicians if one does not earn my confidence.

I get the impression American conservatives, in the debate on healthcare, anyhow, like the idea of screaming 'Evil!' as directed by politicians so they don't actually have to think about the meaning of true freedom. Perhaps they don't like thinking health issues can effect anyone, including themselves.

Sometimes, in order to have freedom, you have to acknowledge others must matter. If you don't, you risk the wrath of those who's freedom you have denied. Freedom does not mean living as if only one's own problems matter.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Does Command of the Canadian Military Lie With a Single Individual?

In a previous post, I argued Mr. MacKay broke the law by putting human life in jeopardy.

I have been looking at another aspect concerning Mr. MacKay's use of military resources. MacKay's action may actually be an issuance of a command in breach of constitutional and defence statutes. Operational command of the military seems to lie with the Chief of Defence Staff. Cabinet is responsible for policy:

> Primary authority rests with the Governor in Council to implement and amplify the NDA by regulations for the "organization, training, discipline, efficiency, administration and good government of the Canadian Forces."5 Under section 12(2) of the NDA, the minister has the power to regulate the same matters but subject to any regulation made by the Governor in Council and Treasury Board. The minister has the power to make regulations governing who commands what and whom, but the "exercise" of command is then in the hands of the designated commanders subject to law.

What authority does Mr. MacKay have to command operation of the military in the absence of a Cabinet order? Has Cabinet issued any orders to the CDS allowing the minister direct command of the military? If yes, allowing one individual to command the military is a very dangerous situation. If no, then Mr. MacKay has grossly abused his position.

> Subsection 18(1) of the NDA states that the Governor in Council may appoint a CDS "who shall, subject to the regulations and under the direction of the Minister, be charged with the control and administration of the Canadian Forces." Furthermore, "command" of and in the CF is confirmed as a military activity that flows through commissioned and non-commissioned officers under
section 18(2):

>> Unless the Governor in Council otherwise directs, all orders and instructions to the Canadian Forces that are required to give direction to the decisions and to carry out the directions of the Government of Canada or the Minister shall be issued by or through the Chief of the Defence Staff.

Was the order placed using proper chain of command, namely was the order given through the CDS? If not, has the CDS properly delegated someone to receive requests from the minister and is there a defined list of requests which are to be approved? Was the use of SAR resources by the minister specifically ordered, by CDS, as delegated? Is the minister permitted to arrange for operations which, by agreement of the military, are to be denied? Can the minister order covert military operations?

> Although the CDS is subject to the minister's direction in exercising general powers, the responsibilities of the CDS are not delegated from the minister. Moreover, the CDS has responsibility exclusive of the minister of National Defence in three areas: powers in respect of which the CDS is not subject to the direction of the minister, for example, in the promotion of
members below the rank of general;6 in all matters related to "aid of the civil power";7 and in the conduct of military operations.

MacKay's use of a helicopter ride under the 'guise' of a training operation is, in fact, a matter related to "aid of the civil power" and an order to conduct military operations. The minister has no authority to give such direction.

If the Minister of National Defence can issue arbitrary orders to the Canadian military, what stops him from using military power for far less benign purposes? There are plenty of examples of states in which unchecked command of the military lies in the hands of an individual. Does Canada wish to be seen as one of that rather unsavoury clique?

All of the quotations, above, were taken from the DND document located here:

Update: In this article from the St. John's Evening Telegram, it appears someone ordered a military investigation of NDP MP Scott Simms. Simms actively pursued MacKay's SAR misuse in the House of Commons. The article suggests someone used the military in support of political power.  This is a blatant misuse of the military for support of political power which is specifically outlawed.  Who supports their political power through use of the military? There are no shortage of tyrannical dictators in the news.  Is this what Canada has become?

Friday, December 02, 2011

Peter MacKay Must Be Held Criminally Accountable

Peter MacKay should be accountable to the same standards that apply to anyone else. In this case, the Criminal Code of Canada is quite clear.

429. (1) Every one who causes the occurrence of an event by doing an act or by omitting to do an act that it is his duty to do, knowing that the act or omission will probably cause the occurrence of the event and being reckless whether the event occurs or not, shall be deemed, for the purposes of this Part, wilfully to have caused the occurrence of the event.

Search and rescue resources are operated by the Government of Canada for the protection of all Canadians. It is Mr. MacKay's duty to ensure these resources are used in accordance with the purpose for which they are maintained. The Constitution of Canada codifies this duty. Resources such as this actively support rights we are entitled to:

7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

By using a search and rescue helicopter for the sole purpose of convenience, Mr. MacKay has committed criminal mischief as outlined in the Criminal Code:

430. (1) Every one commits mischief who wilfully

(b) renders property dangerous, useless, inoperative or ineffective;

(c) obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property; or

(d) obstructs, interrupts or interferes with any person in the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property.

There are any number of ways in which Mr. MacKay's actions contravene the Criminal Code.

430.(1)(b) was breached since the helicopter could not respond to an emergency completely fuelled or from its base where it could be equipped with required equipment needed for a specific situation.

430.(1)(c) was breached by his use of the helicopter.

430.(1)(d) was breached by causing interference of the crew operating the helicopter.

The aggravated nature of this very specific sort of criminal behaviour is acknowledged with specific mention in the Criminal Code:

430.(2) Every one who commits mischief that causes actual danger to life is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life.

Finally, having authority over property is absolutely no excuse for these sorts of actions, according to the Criminal Code:

430.(3) Where it is an offence to destroy or to damage anything,

(a) the fact that a person has a partial interest in what is destroyed or damaged does not prevent him from being guilty of the offence if he caused the destruction or damage; and

(b) the fact that a person has a total interest in what is destroyed or damaged does not prevent him from being guilty of the offence if he caused the destruction or damage with intent to defraud.

There is strong evidence that Mr. MacKay was fully cognisant of the nature of his actions. According to emails obtained by Allan Woods at the Toronto Star, he was warned by the Air Force. His guilt was confirmed by his fabrication of a cover story, after the fact, in which he stated he was on board the helicopter to observe training exercises. By misrepresenting the nature of his use of this resource, he defrauded the people of Canada.

Mr. MacKay should face the same force of the law which applies to all Canadians and defend his actions in criminal court, not the court of public opinion.

Update: Friday 2 December 2011

I have made the Gander, NL detachment of the RCMP aware of this case. In order to respect the  criminal proceeding which may follow, I will not be posting any updates which mention the specifics of this case. Feel free to post comments about this article, however, I may hold them until after the legal process concludes.

Update: Monday 5 December 2011

On Mr. MacKay's behalf, the military undertook an operation in which denial was discussed and agreed upon. If the mission had any sinister objectives, it would be a covert operation. If Mr. MacKay can arrange this deniable operation, what else could he do? I have written a post about legal aspects of control of the military.

Also, I would like to thank Allan Woods, at the Toronto Star, for taking time to engage me in an email discussion. He pointed out, the emails I referred to in his article did make mention of allowing MacKay's helicopter use on the condition that the use not effect SAR services. However, in light of the fact that this operation was arranged with deniablity in mind, would the denial lead to altering procedures to guarantee safety? Also, considering the time frame in which this operation was arranged, was there even enough time to put safety practises in action?

Update: Thursday 22 March 2012

This past winter, a tragedy occurred in which a Labrador boy died, lost in a blizzard.  In this episode of the Fifth Estate on CBC, it appears the Canadian Forces misrepresented its ability to perform its search and rescue duties. I have to wonder what's going on when Peter MacKay, the Minister of Defence can order a convenient ride on a search and rescue helicopter, yet one was not available for its primary purpose, saving lives.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's Nice Being Right, It's Even Nicer When the B.C. Supreme Court Says So, Too!

I posted a note on Facebook a little over a year ago. The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador had enacted new drunk driving legislation. My first reaction was a facepalm. My second was express why.

Here is my original post:

New Motor Vehicle Legislation Is Bad
on Friday, 1 October 2010 at 16:10

The greatest sanctions the state can take against an individual are criminal sanctions. The state can seize property (fine you or take property you have acquired because of the crime), restrict liberty (lock you up), and give you a criminal record (make the record of the action public). In some jurisdictions, the state can even take life.

We have developed a series of rules the state must abide by when it wishes to sanction an individual in such a manner. The state MUST be subservient to these rules. That is the rule of law. It guarantees justice for everyone. It lets us know where we stand. The rules are detailed and tough because the sanctions the state can take are so great.

One of these rules, relating to evidence, is probable cause. If the state wishes to search and detain you, they must have a rational reason. This prevents such things as being detained and searched for being seen with someone who may be a known criminal. There are many other examples of fundamental rights as well. Read the constitution.

Recently, the provincial government took away the requirement of probable cause when it relates to detaining an individual for a vehicle check.

This is fine in the context of taking away someone's privilege to drive FOR A SHORT PERIOD to reduce risk to the public, eg., a seven day suspension of one's drivers licence. The power the state is exercising, here, isn't very great while the value of public safety is much greater. Also, driving isn't a guaranteed right.

The problem arises when criminal charges are laid against an individual because of knowledge gained by this detention and search.

Because driving under the influence is a criminal matter which could infringe the basic rights of the individual, I have a feeling due process will be required by the courts if the state wishes to do more then just suspend a license. The courts will make this finding simply because criminal punishments are so great.

If the police charge an individual who is found to be intoxicated AFTER search and detention WITHOUT due process, chances are, a court somewhere along the way will insist due process should have been followed and it will dismiss the matter. They will insist in due process because, again, the sanctions can be so great.

The new legislation, which removes the requirement by the police to exercise a facet of due process, may actually end up setting drunk drivers, caught without probable cause, free.

It is a cheap, lazy, and irrational approach to a major problem. The only reason that I can see for this removal of due process is to make us feel better for doing something about drunk drivers.

I hope the police are smart enough to continue to require probable cause otherwise they might start losing cases that matter.
Here is the CBC story about the B.C. legislation.

There isn't a whole lot of difference between the court's reasoning and that which I posted over a year ago. Drunk driving is a terrible problem but trying to fix it by ignoring fundamental legal processes and basic rights is not the way to go. This is a symptom of a far more common illness. People don't think rationally about hot button issues.

Hopefully this will mean a quick death for the same legislation here in Newfoundland and Labrador

Monday, November 28, 2011

There's a Conspiracy All Right. A Conspiracy Of Denial

You know, sometimes the population of a country has to come back to reality and take a bitter pill.. We did here in Canada in the '90s. Our federal budget deficit reached the point of becoming a disaster. The debt to GDP ratio was causing the same fears Europe is now facing.

It was that crisis which showed me something very interesting. We had a conservative government at the time. They would cut and chop the things they didn't agree with. They spent on the things they did agree with. The reduction of the deficit was a token. The only effect this had was really pissing of the more liberal population while completely disappointing fiscal conservatives. Needless to say, that government was defeated so severely there was talk of it being the end of the party.

Well, the Liberal party won a landslide. For two terms, we had a very interesting contradiction for a government. We had a Liberal government with an absolute majority which had no need to make political compromises. You'll never guess what happened next. They did something which was a threat to every ideology considered too sacred to suffer the indignities of good sense. They became more fiscally conservative than any conservative government had been in my lifetime.

I'll tell you another thing you may not know about Canada. We make a sport out of trying to guess what bizarre story will come from you side of the border next. It's great entertainment. It's even more entertaining than all those pricey prime time T.V. show's on your networks. Yes, we watch your networks, too. What we see generally scares us back to being Canadian.

We keep pretty quiet about it. We know a good thing when we see it.

First, if you make a mistake down there, it is usually a really big mistake. We look at it from the perspective of airline accident investigators. We're not interested in pointing out who's bad behaviour did what and who should be strung up for it. While your politicians are accusing each other of being traitors, we use the lesson of why it happened in the first place so we don't make the same mistake.

No we aren't perfect. Some of our politicians seem to wish to make a point when all common sense says it's a bad Idea. It's no secret our current Conservative government thinks it's alright to waste money by locking up people who, without a big risk, would make money instead of costing it if they weren't in prison. In addition, extra prison guards aren't really doing anything that adds value to the economy either.  They are really just economic dead weight. The whole criminal justice system is a parasitic infestation. Cost in property loss has to be incredibly high to justify it. Guess what, it wasn't a pinko Canadian liberal's idea. Some of Texas' most conservative Republicans heard about it and pointed out it didn't do Texas one bit of good when they did it.

So America, get off your high horses. There are more important things to do than trying to say it is a threat to the Republic to say Pizza is not a vegetable. Have you forgotten? The same ridiculous need to find the most emotional excuses to fight about who the real Patriots are seems to have caused you to give up on the real problem. You are spending so much more money than you take in, your screwed. It just gets worse and worse and worse. Can you understand why we see it all as a comedy of errors?

In the mean time, you can continue to pay the best Canadian comedians enormous amounts. Do you ever wonder why Canadian comedians like Jim Carey, Howie Mandel Dan Aykroyd and so many others are so good at making you laugh? They make you see what we see. You might want to stop laughing at them long enough to figure out what you're laughing at.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

"I'll Occupy" by Chloe Cornelius - The song of the OWS-movement / 18-year-old Emma Sullivan embarrasses Kansas Governor Sam Brownback - UPDATE! ~ Politicalgates

"I'll Occupy" by Chloe Cornelius - The song of the OWS-movement / 18-year-old Emma Sullivan embarrasses Kansas Governor Sam Brownback - UPDATE! ~ Politicalgates

Awesome! You go kid!

Politicalgates: Great Blog

From the Extraordinarily Dumb Diplomatic Complaints Department

Read this CBC News article.

Background: So Pakistan votes for war on its neighbour Afghanistan because Afghanistan  is ruled by and supporting terrorists who attack other countries.  In addition, Pakistan and Afghanistan have an ongoing dispute over their shared border.  Well, to no one's surprise, the vote passes at the U.N..  NATO, with others, invade Afghanistan and successfully force a regime change.  Subsequently, the most wanted terrorist, who shared responsibility for the actions leading to this war, lives for years after the invasion, supposedly unnoticed (Likely story!) for quite some time quite close to an important military compound within Pakistan.

According to the article, recently, some Afghan soldiers, near this undisputed border, come under fire from the direction of Pakistan.  As one would expect, the Afghan soldiers are not about to put up with being shot at and they call in NATO air strikes.  As it turns out, it was Pakistani soldiers or others very close by who were firing on those Afghan soldiers.  Pakistani soldiers were killed and two posts were destroyed.  As a result, Pakistan has cut of supply routes into Afghanistan, demanded that NATO leave a base in Pakistan within 15 days, and complained bitterly, through diplomatic channels, to Secretary of State Clinton and the Afghanistan foreign minister.

I mean really, what the hell did you expect, Pakistan?

How's Your Driving? I Can Show You the Video.

Occasionally, I watch a television show called Mayday.  It tells the stories of transportation disasters using the accounts of survivors and accident investigators.  Most of the episodes concern airline crashes.

In Canada and elsewhere, airline pilots are highly trained professionals.  Safety authorities investigate accidents thoroughly for the purpose of preventing them.  Placing blame is not considered a primary goal.  Airline safety has made airline travel, from what I remember hearing on numerous occasions, the safest mode of transportation on the planet.

What does this tell me?  You don't solve these problems by placing blame.  You solve problems and save lives by studying failures and looking for common threads between them.

Taking a look at the airline industry, we can draw other conclusions.  Pilot error is still a significant cause of airline accidents.  A number of times on Mayday, accident investigators have concluded that pilot error occurs far more frequently if pilots are under pressure as a result of being behind schedule.  Even these extremely well trained professionals are subject to the effects of trying to rush.

Drivers are not held to standards anywhere near that of an airline pilot.  Generally, if a driver faces an accident or loss of control it will be on the road, in a real conditions.  Airline pilots, on the other hand, have to train regularly in simulators so that they know how to react to a huge number of disaster scenarios.

Why are cars different? If an airliner crashes, we hear of hundreds of deaths.  However, if a car crashes, we hear of a just a few.  Also, because we see the car as a necessary part of our lives, we expect to use them just like we live our lives, with as few restrictions as possible. We drive our cars like they are our own personal space.  In the worst cases, drivers who feel like their personal space has been violated, act out in episodes of road rage.

How else is driving different from flying?  Far more people in this country die every year, on average, in motor vehicle accidents than in aviation disasters.  So why aren't we horrified?  I suspect it is because we feel that making this simple realization means we lose that personal space.  Well, that space was never personal in the first place.  A belief which is contrary to reality is know as a delusion.  Delusions are one of the debilitating symptoms of the worst mental illnesses.  Think about that.

There is another interesting caparison  to think about.  One criminal activity that horrifies us the most is murder.  If you look at Statistics Canada data for cause of death in Canada for 2000 to 2008, roughly eight to ten times more people are killed in motor vehicle accidents than by murder.  Again, why are we so horrified by murder and not by deadly motor vehicle accidents?  Death is death regardless of how it happens.  Families still lose loved ones.  Again, we consider driving as personal and no one wants to think that they have a real chance of killing someone.

Here is another reality check.  If you get behind the wheel, you are operating machinery that can kill if operated improperly.  If a parent were to leave a child unattended in a dangerous situation and that child died, they would likely be charged with criminal negligence causing death.   If you happen to break a traffic regulation, no matter how minor it seems, have  an accident, and kill someone, you are absolutely no different.  You're a criminal.

For the most part, we resent the expectation that we have to drive according to rules.  Well, we do.  Just like airline pilots, permission to drive is given to an individual based on qualification.  We pass a driving test and we are granted a licence, just like a pilot is granted a licence to operate a plane.  If we don't live up to our responsibility as drivers, that permission can and is taken away.  No one seems to complain when a drunk driver has his or her licence revoked.

So, when you drive down my street under license and you break the law, if I continue to become frustrated and angry about how you ignore my right to the enjoyment of my public space, just hope i haven't yet decided to protect it.  I don't drive around your cul-de-sacs at 80km/h.  After being hit on the sidewalk in sight of my front door, I now have more free time than I know what to do with.  I may just choose some of that time and use it to my benefit.  I have a wonderful camera with great video quality.  It is quite capable of accurately recording your licence place.  Also, with that camera, I can prove, with a little simple trigonometry, exactly how fast you are going.  I may choose random times to hide and record your activities in my public space so you'll never know when you can get away with it.  You had better start believing it is a public space soon, too, because the law is on MY side.  I can catch you when you cross the centre line and pass someone trying to park, as required by law, by backing into their driveway.  I can't wait to be responsible for the ticket you get for using your cell phone.  No?  I can't do that?  Just after the prohibition on cellphone use was passed, Danny Williams, himself, was spotted using his phone while driving.  Once he was reported, he was charged and, shortly after, paid the fine.  If Danny Williams, with a considerable legal knowledge, knew he was caught red handed, do you really think you have a chance?  I have a lot of other experience with poor drivers in my neighbourhood, too.  You'll never know what may piss me of and make me think of my camera.  I'll give you a hint, though; I know the rules of the road pretty well.

Update: I just found @BadDriversNL on Twitter.  Glad I'm not alone!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thailand's Royal Family, The Ignoble Nobles

Ouch.  If I was tried there for things I had said regarding my Queen, not only would I get a life sentence, Thailand being a predominantly Buddhist country might just sentence a few of my reincarnations to life terms, too.  That doesn't worry me though.  I'm bound to reincarnate to a much lesser life form that can easily sneak out between the bars.

To the Thai royal family, all I have to say is, "You suck.  Good thing you were born noble, as you certainly have no other claim to it!  Come get me.  I'll be waiting.  Something tells me you'll all be coming back as dung beetles.  I'm not going to look where I step, either."

Thailand’s 20-year Sentence for Text Message ‘Repressive,’ Says Amnesty International | Amnesty International USA

Update: The UAE is no better: UAE: End ‘travesty of justice’ for five convicted over President insults

Will Our Graffiti Last To Tell Our Stories?

Amazing, these haunting pictures of Hashima Island, Japan. Timber littered
streets and crumbling concrete worse than a Montreal overpass. Abandoned in
the '70s, it is in far worse shape than many ancient stone monuments. We sure
don't build to last, these days. How much of what we create will become
unidentifiable dust before the works of the ancients lose just a hair's width?

Just like buildings, our ideas may disappear, too. From writing with stone and
ceramic tablets, sometimes on plates of lasting metal, then papyrus and
vellum, through cloth and wood fibre paper, our methods of recording our
knowledge have become incredibly less durable over time.

Now we are in the digital age. Our writing appears on screens and it's stored,
mostly, on chips which count on the presence of tiny electrons and tape or
disks with microscopically thin layers of magnetic material. Only slightly
more durable are the invisibly small holes burned into CDs and DVDs.  A solar
storm can pop electrons from our precious flash drives.  A bad concentric
scratch can render huge portions of a CD or DVD unreadable.  The magnetism
used by hard disk drives and backup tapes may vanish simply because of the
passage of time.

These wonderful social media sites, such as the one I'm writing this on, are
the graffiti of our times.  They can enable ordinary people to topple tyranny.
They can give a new parent advice.  They can bring geographically distant
people, who share interests, together.  We are in the midst of one of the
biggest changes in human history.  This is the beginning of a new paradigm.
Everyone on this little blue planet may soon matter equally.

Everyone has always wanted to matter.  Read the letters in lead written by
soldiers at Hadrian's Wall or the graffiti left by ordinary people on the
walls at Pompeii.

Our graffiti, however, may not last.  All these wonderful changes we are
experiencing are historic.  Our ideas, whether personal or otherwise, are
coming faster and more ferociously then at any other point in history.
Unfortunately, there is a real possibility of, as named by others, a
technological dark age.  We may disappear simply because we store our ideas
using methods that are designed to have an expected lifetime of x hours.  Yes,
HOURS!  If you doubt me, read the specifications of a hard drive for its MTBF
(mean time before failure).

We design for the present thus we risk disappearing only shortly thereafter.
For that reason, I think I'll print this.  See you in history.  Oh, and to my
descendants, "Stephen Harper is a moron."  With any luck, he'll have a
paperless office.

P.S.  My first attempt in writing this was partly disappeared by the social
media site I used, when I clicked the submit button.  I guess I was a little
too wordy for the comment form.  Ideas can disappear very quickly, indeed.

P.P.S.  The draft I printed is going to go in the black garbage bag.  Sorry
recyclers!  My thoughts have a far better chance in a land fill; most of them
are really only mental trash, anyhow.  I'm going to enclose it in a couple of
sealed plastic bags, too. Plastic seems to be one of the few modern marvels
having a chance to last.  Don't tell the Prime Minister.  I like my version of
history far better!

Avoiding hypocrisy...

Well, I will start in the middle.  In the near future, I'll be adding some material I have written previously.  So, in the spirit of starting in the middle, I'll start with some writings from the start of the last half of my life.  With any luck, I will have a lifespan which makes this scenario true!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Canadian Libertarian Manifesto

There is nothing more important than true freedom.
I am free to make bad decisions.
I am free to disregard advice I disagree with.
I am free to repeat the mistakes of others.
I am free to create arguments with little base in fact.
I am free to limit debate in case my bad decisions become obvious.
I am free to muzzle others who disagree with me.
I am free to believe what I want and make you believe it, too.
I am free to stand my ground so as not to lose face.
I am free to say you should have more choice then ignore the choice you make.
I am free to deny the government useful information about me since I must be 
free to argue without the restraint of fact.
I am free to outlaw you for unlocking your own property.
I am free to deny freedom to you instead of helping you make better choices.
I am free to tie up helicopters which should be saving your lives.
I am free to send the persecuted back to persecution for arbitrary reasons.
I am free to spend your money frivolously on summits that host others like me.
I am free to spy on you at your own expense and send what I learn to private companies.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Killing More of Us Each Year, It's Time To End the Bad Driver Epidemic

I just finished listening to a CBC, St. John's, interview with a flag person from the town of Paradise, Newfoundland, Canada. Sadly, I'm not surprised when hearing yet more concerns about bad drivers.

Cars are a huge part of our lives. They make life easy. They get us to work. They carry our kids to school. They even take us on short holidays giving us a break from the usual grind. Behind a house, a car is often the next most expensive purchase we make. Some people even see their cars as part of their identity. We get excited about cars; just listen to the interview by the former Opal owner, later in the same broadcast.

On the other hand, some still drink and drive. Many use cell phones and text. Just about all of us don't give a second thought about hitting the gas a little more than we should if we're running late. If you want to see just how bad inattentiveness and lack of care can get, just watch Canada's Worst Driver.

Taking our vehicles for granted has a huge downside.

My home is on a busy street that is used by many as a through-fare in the St. John's area. It is an old and narrow street and would never be built this way using current standards. What's more, some years ago, the posted speed limit was actually raised.

I can think of many accidents on this dangerous road. A driver once left the road, cut through a utility pole, went through my parent's front yard, and came to a rest in their neighbour's. My parents live just up the street from me. Across the street from that, in another incident, a car left the road and damaged a stone wall next to the entrance of an elementary school. A few hundred meters down the road, a vehicle left the road and damaged another neighbour's stone wall. If we keep going down the street, to my own home, a driver, going too fast for the accumulated snow, sideswiped the utility pole between my home and my neighbour's home rather then hit the oncoming city bus. The impact was hard enough to dislodge a transformer fuse, cutting the power to myself and a number of my neighbours.

The incident which left the biggest impression on me, both literally and figuratively, happened just over two years ago. A driver who was legally intoxicated by prescription medication was coming up my street. I had just left my own home to walk to my parents house just up the street. I was on the sidewalk. Somewhere behind me, the driver became disoriented and possibly unconscious as a result of the medication. The SUV drifted into the oncoming lane. When the driver snapped out of it and tried to correct, the SUV fishtailed, hopped the curb, and hit me.

I heard the tires scream behind me. I had just enough time to pivot on one foot and look over my shoulder. My last clear memory was seeing the windshield of the SUV shatter from impacting my head and shoulder; I thought it looked like a spider's web. That memory is as vivid now as it was then. Later, the accident investigator told me it took hours to pick my hair out of the windshield.

Within 48 hours, I underwent two emergency surgeries. My leg was crushed below the knee. Before the surgeon could place a pin from my knee to my ankle, he had to make incisions on each side of my lower leg from just below to just above my calf. This was left open, bandaged, for roughly 24 hours because the muscle damage caused so much swelling, my foot would have died from lack of circulation.

In addition, my collar bone was broken at its joint to the shoulder blade and the ligament at the joint completely separated. This required another two surgeries. I can no longer do many things I wished to do before the accident because of my shoulder. The fifth and I hope the last surgery removed the pin which was placed in my leg after the accident.

Finally, the impact my head sustained has caused my ears to ring permanently and my balance is a problem if I close my eyes or it's dark. This has gotten worse as time goes on.

I required strong pain medication for about a year. During that time, I decided not to drive at all. Sure that was a nuisance, however, I know for a fact that I'm not responsible for doing to someone what was done to me.

The pain medication, as normally happens with opiates, caused me physical dependance. Luckily, within days after my fourth surgery, I decided to get off them. If you are under the impression that addiction can only happen to others, think again. It took at least two months before I started to feel myself again. The first month is summed up by saying I felt like I was living in Hell on Earth. After that surgery my pain was at a moderate level. Within a day or two of giving up my pain medication, pain became excruciating. My joints, skin, and bones hurt with indescribable pain. This was not pain in the areas of my injuries. I had terrible diarrhoea. I became depressed and anxious. My world was turned upside down all over again. A few days in, I took some pain medication because I just couldn't stand it any longer. I thought about that lapse, realized this would never end if I kept it up, and made my final decision not to take any more.

The person who hit me had just received a dose of methadone for an opiate addiction. The thought of continuing that chain of addiction was probably what gave me the will to suffer more pain and give them up myself. I have no hatred or anger for the person that hit me. That person was trying to fight a monster that I now understand vividly. From what the accident investigator has told me, neither the driver's doctor nor pharmacy gave adequate warning of the side effects.

I hope my graphic descriptions do upset people. If you are upset by what you have read though, don't use it as an excuse to finger a group, individual, or social problem. There are many causes for the accident which I have described. There are even more causes for the accidents I mentioned briefly leading up to the one which has effected me so greatly.

Think about this instead: Cars are not an absolute right. The most basic law we have in Canada, The Constitution, tells us what rights we give ourselves. Real rights include the right to life and security of person. I was lucky I didn't lose my life and my security of person was certainly denied me. Cars are a privilege. Each time we get behind the wheel of a car, we are taking responsibility for others. What's more, what chance does a bicycle or pedestrian have against a many thousand pound vehicle travelling at speed? By forgetting about others when we get behind the wheel, we are gambling with the lives of others. It could be your spouse, your child, or your parent. Remember this when you're in a hurry.

We do have a myriad of legislation meant to insure the safe operation of motor vehicles. It's great stuff in theory. Practice, though, seems to be another matter. Things have to change.

Politicians have to think. Why would anyone, in their right mind, raise the speed limit on a section of road which is over capacity? Are you afraid that you are going to inconvenience people who are in a hurry? Time for a cliche: two wrongs don't make a right. Stop thinking your political image is more important than safety.

Drivers have to change. Pay at least as much attention when driving, in general, as you would backing into your own driveway. Value other lives as much as you value your own property. Don't let yourself fall into the trap of hurrying. You will get there eventually and so will everyone else. If you want to show you're smarter than most, plan your time better. Finally, if these reasons aren't good enough, think about the cash you'll have in you pocket from lower insurance rates.

Enforcement has to change. It doesn't have to cost a lot or be unpopular, politically, either. I felt safer walking in Ottawa then I do here. That seems counter intuitive since Ottawa is a much larger city with far more traffic. Perhaps, we haven't yet realized we are a bigger and busier place than we used to be. Ottawa also has methods of enforcement like red light cameras. So lets try out things like video recorders at construction sights, intersection cameras, and speed trap cameras. We don't need many. We just need plenty of signs reminding us that we will be held accountable. The technology can be moved from location to location thus preventing the ability to ignore it. What's more, the technology is no where near as costly as paying for more police in patrol cars. Finally, if you introduce the new systems gradually, very few are going to deny the supporting politicians a vote. Start new systems with a period of warning notices, not fines, perhaps, followed by a period of fines much lower than normal. It is just as easy or easier to print and deliver warnings than fines. With an approach like this, people will learn that the laws we have on paper are in practice, too. Perhaps we will all become a little more responsible.

How long will it be before I can stop worrying if I walk out my front door?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Is our government hoping we're stupid?

Funny, I don't feel threatened by Islam, in Canada. All the Muslim immigrants I know came here because the countries they left aren't free or are economic disasters. They are often the smart and affluent demographic of their former countries. That sounds like a rational group to me. Sure, some don't seem to realize they have to obey Canadian law. I doubt the alleged Canal Killers are going to have much of a life here, in the near future, however.

I feel more threatened by the seeming loss of rationality our current government seems to be suffering from. This government seems to use the libertarian cry as a method to gain votes from scared and angry people. They are bent on wasting our national resources for projects such as new prisons and an increased prison population. This increases the number of Canadians who will have liberty denied.  Also, greater restrictions on refugees only reduces the number of productive people, available to Canada, who understand better then most, exactly what freedom and democracy really means.

A fiscally conservative government should be trying to use intelligence to reduce spending. There is an abundance of evidence, including comments from the right in Texas, saying, we tried it, it doesn't work. Prisoners aren't productive. The prison guards who guard them aren't either. Their talent is much better used in adding to GDP rather then costing it.

Finally, actions like meddling with the long form census and gagging research within the civil service makes it easier for a government to convince a population that its ideology is correct. Those of us responsible for voting for them can no longer make rational decisions. We will have a better likelihood of believing unsubstantiated claims like, "Crime rates are down because more crime is unreported." I am beginning to think our government is relying on us being stupid.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Tyrannical Dictator Prearranged Funeral Plan

Is your iron grip on your population slipping away?  Afraid the U.N. will be freezing your world wide assets?  Have other rogue nations started to turn their backs on you?

Act now!

The Tyrannical Dictator Prearranged Funeral Plan will help in the event of your capture at the hands of freedom fighting rebels.

Highlights of the plan include:

Execution Consultant -- We have all seen the videos of poorly organized executions:

Our execution consultant is trained to prevent execution mishaps like these.  Also, we screen those attending executions so jokers and taunters are excluded.

Extended Family Relocation Service -- Unfortunately, there is little anyone can do to protect your immediate family, especially males, from the wrath of a downtrodden populace.  We can, however, provide instructions to more distant relatives on how to conceal valuables in underwear, create false documents for refugee applications, and where to find corrupt ship captains twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.

Superpower Special Operations Stealth Face Saving Service -- If final capture and torture at the hands of angry rebels is not for you, we can, through our vast contacts in the world wide intelligence community, find a world power willing to launch a covert operation on your behalf.  This service guarantees you will be shot by commandos trained at efficient killing.  Your body will be extracted for anonymous burial at sea.  This avoids the embarrassing situation of leaving a grave which can be defiled.

Act now while you have the international liquidity!  Payment may be made in bullion, bearer bonds, and other untraceable financial instruments.  Failure to act immediately could lead to your inability to make payment!  Your time is limited so take advantage of this offer without delay.

    • New Service!

      The first five callers can try the basic service free with the purchase of the Superpower Special Operations Stealth Face Saving Service.

      Historical Revisionism Misinformation Time Capsule

      This wonderful new service will plant information for later generations. It is guaranteed to rehabilitate your historical image. Capsules are timed to be found by future archaeologists and historians. The basic service guarantees you historical deniers. If you require an even better image, other plans are available to guarantee you a post-nominal title such as: "The Great", "The Brave", "The Magnificent". We also offer this service to the leaders of major religions. Some of our most requested religious post-nominals include: "The Pius", "The Martyr", and "Defender of the Faith".

    • Now hiring Arabic, Korean, and Persian translators.
    • Sales update: We have just finished a promising teleconference with Bashar Al-Assad.
    • The TDPFP is seeking sales people. The successful applicant must be outgoing fearless. As the positions require explaining the writing on the wall to tyrannical dictators who may still command significant armed forces, no health, disability, or life insurance benefits are part of the remuneration package.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

We Promised "NEVER AGAIN", Yet We Have Bill C-4

So Bill C-4 puts the weight of a smugglers crime on the shoulder of someone who may not be able to return to his or her house, search through his or her old filing box which was nearly forgotten, poked away under a mountain of life's stuff in the attic. Instead, he or she happened to make it across a border while so many others were imprisoned or killed, behind them.

Turning back refugees on boats has a precedent in Canada:


Although some organizations and high-placed members of religious groups such as the Anglican and United Churches, actively campaigned on behalf of Jewish refugees, most Canadians seemed indifferent to the suffering of German Jews and hostile to their admission to Canada. Rev. Silcox spoke out in Toronto. The Globe and Mail asked "does Canada stand for anything?" In New Brunswick the Lieutenant Governor George Stanley condemned those who shed tears over the fate of Jews in Europe. IN March 1939 Blair was attempting to deport Jews back to Germany who were here on tourist visas. Even the famous "voyage of the dammed" received no mercy in Canada. This ship loaded with 907 Jews from Hamburg was on its way to Cuba but Cuba refused it. The U.S. and Canada refused them and Canada even sent out a "gun boat" to shadow them.

Eventually, as a nation, all political parties chose to acknowledge this terrible event for what it was. We all know the mistakes we made, as a country.

We did learn our lesson in one instance. Canada embraced the Vietnamese "Boat People". These refugees have become an integral part of the Canadian landscape.

As a child, I was disappointed that I lost a murky old black and white television which I used to watch on Saturday mornings with my scrambled eggs and ketchup. I was disappointed until I understood where it went. Even at three or four years old, I realized it was not a major loss. I knew the Vietnamese family it went to needed it.  There was a larger one in the living room, anyway. We have plenty in this wonderful country.

Is this government so inept that they believe the Vietnamese and Jewish
survivors I mention, who are now part of the backbone of our nation, will not draw connections? The VAST majority of these people are part of the wonderful fabric of Canada. They have living memories of unspeakable events. How can we ignore the suffering of these or any other persecuted peoples? How can we allow those Canadians, who have unimaginable memories of persecution, feel that we may ignore them again?

Perhaps, a lucky Jew will pull a fast one on the Gestapo and receive full German citizenship documentation. Europe is mostly NAZI occupied. The Swiss border has been closed to Jews for some time. Amazingly, the Gestapo dupe is not discovered in time. Portugal is teetering on neutrality, selling Tungsten to Germany while guaranteed support by Britain is by means of a Middle Age treaty. One side or the other could cut off this route any moment. This poor refugee has no time to waste. Luckily he or she manages to make it to Lisbon all the way from the Swiss border. There is a South American freighter in port. The unscrupulous captain manages to extort every last penny from this poor soul.

This person has already had unbelievable odds. We know the numbers of Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, Catholics, "mentally defectives", homosexuals, and others who died in the extermination camps.

There are a few others on board fleeing as well. They aren't as lucky as our refugee. At least our refugee has documentation.

I have to wonder, if we pass Bill C-4, what are the chances of all these deserving refugees? Perhaps, only our friend with the documentation will be accepted by boarder services.

We turned them away during the Holocaust. NO, we chased them away at gun point, during the Holocaust.

I thought we promised to learn this lesson? I thought, as a nation, we promised, "NEVER AGAIN!"

This is one of the saddest and most ashamed moments I have had as a Canadian, in my lifetime. I do not want their blood on my hands. I want to shake their hands and say how strong they are for living through this horror of which I can only imagine.