Saturday, January 31, 2009

Alex Tsakumis on the Recent Canadian Budget

If you would like to hear a GLORIOUS discussion of federal Canadian politics then click here (7:00) to listen to CKNW's Sean Leslie interview columnist Alex Tsakumis.

IMHO Tsakumis skewers all politicians fairly, but especially the Video Professor, Jack Layton. Absolutely hilarious!!! But the best lines of all he reserved for Iggy:

"Michael Ignatieff is in deep trouble and let me tell you why. Michael Ignatieff is colder and harder than Stephen Harper could be after spending 2 hours getting drilled by a dentist."

Sunny Day at Granville Island

A friend's cousin and her husband are in town this weekend, visiting from Toronto. I joined the family get together at the Dockside Restaurant down at Granville Island. It was an absolutely spectacular sunny winter day!

My 4 Major Political Issues

Recently I've had several discussions with fellow Canadians about the new Obama presidency. Everyone I've spoken with is smart and I would surmise that they've all consistently voted for either the Conservative or Liberal parties here in Canada. Each of them is a big Obama supporter.

But now the Obama Administration has signed into law a provision entitled "Buy American" that clearly and directly hurts Canada. It is almost certain to start a trade war between Canada and the U.S. Even some Americans realize how dumb it is.

This, combined with the recent strange political events in Canada have forced me to go back to first principles and clearly think about what my biggest political issues are. Though they are apt to change over time, here they are in current order of importance:

  1. Law and Order - Many Canadians have come to the realization that our judicial system is an abject failure. Much of the reason for this is our horrific "Charter of Rights", which has proved more important for criminals than for any law abiding citizens. Here in British Columbia, where I live, things appear to be the most out of control. The ridiculously light sentences given out to violent offenders who have committed the most terrible acts is an absolute tragedy.

  2. Free Speech - 2008 was the year where Canadians' lack of free speech rights came into the spotlight. Thanks to the efforts of Ezra Levant, Mark Steyn, Kathy Shaidle, and others a bright spotlight is now permanently focused on the kangaroo courts that we call "human rights" commissions. But a lot more needs to be done to restore free speech rights to Canadians. Belgium has recently provided a signpost in the distance, a perfect example of where Canada is headed if it doesn't reverse things soon (and permanently).

  3. Fiscal Responsibility - Spending is out of control by most governments and by many individuals throughout the Western world. How we ever got to the point where people felt it was okay to spend more than they can afford, leaving debts to future generations is beyond my comprehension. Even here in Canada where I thought the federal government had finally learned its lesson a decade ago, it appears no longer to be the case. Conservative Party friends of mine have assured me that things would be much worse under a Liberal or NDP government. I don't doubt them but it still doesn't relieve my unease at what is happening.

  4. The Promotion of ALL Citizens - All of my life I have believed that all people have the opportunity to be the best that they can be. Certainly each of us is dealt a different set of cards at birth: some are born into wealthy families, some are born into poverty, some are born with physical or mental disabilities, some not. But in Canada today every person does have the opportunity to achieve greatness if they're willing to work for it. Unfortunately many socialist activists have meddled with things, enacting assorted programs that promote victimhood and diminish incentive. I wholly reject any such attempts to artificially establish "equity", not because I'm insensitive or cruel but precisely for the opposite reasons.

In case it is not immediately apparent:
  • Any efforts to meddle with Free Trade (ie. add Protectionism) violate #3.

  • The NDP's policies violate in the worst way all four of the political issues that are most important to me. That's why I can never support them.

  • Where Barack Obama will take America only he knows. If he starts attacking any of the aforementioned issues in ways that I consider destructive then my earlier fears about him will prove to have been correct. Sadly.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Cool Visualizations

Click on the images below to view some pretty cool visualizations:

Growth of Wal-Mart:
Growth of Target:
Taxis in London:


Wordle is a cool tool that allows you to instantly create "word clouds" of a bunch of text or a web page. Here are a few I just created:

This blog:
Small Dead Animals:
The website of a business colleague of mine:
From the comments on this YouTube video:

Vancouver in Late January

Michael Steele Elected as Chairman of the RNC

A true conservative, Michael Steele, has been elected head of the Republican Party. I've heard him several times before and he's a very bright and honourable man. This is a very good sign!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Obama's Manure

Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe illustrates how completely phony and "same old, same old" Barack Obama's stimulus plan is. Just more of the same wasteful spending of the U.S. government. :-(

Update: Looks like more members of the press are waking up to the illusion/delusion that is Barack Obama. Even the left-leaning Associated Press is smelling the B.S. that is the new "stimulus" bill.

America Today

I absolutely agree with Barack Obama here:

But also find it puzzling (in a good way) that his supposed "amazing" powers of persuasion had no effect over 11 members of his own party. Might it be possible that much of what we've heard about him is all hype?

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is gone, in a vote of 59 - 0. Hurray!
In case you're wondering, the new governor is Pat Quinn ... though not the hockey coach!

Snapshot of Canadian Politics

My time away from Canada has separated me from watching the spectacle of the sport that we call Politics. Returning a couple of days ago, sure it's fun to watch the Video Professor come to the realization that his brightest moment in the sun has now passed.

And I almost spat out my coffee yesterday when I heard a fellow call into Vancouver's CKNW and condemn Harper for not increasing EI to 2 years! He thought this was a terrible injustice and not very "Christian" of our PM.

But in the bigger picture, I can't help from thinking that with all of the parties we're just watching a well rehearsed stage play, with each actor playing his role to keep us entertained.

Last night I received an e-mail from a fellow on Facebook who created an anti-Coalition group. He's super ecstatic about the budget and even more so that the Coalition is now dead.

But I can't get very excited. I pointed out to him that the Conservative Party is no longer a conservative party. Oh sure, they're clearly the least worst choice but what REAL efforts did they make to control spending? I don't see much.

And now we have a new deficit of tens of billions of dollars and everyone is ecstatic? Sorry, but count me out of that Conga line.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Different Forms of Government

If you'd like to watch a short but informative video on various forms of government, click on the image below.

Washington & Oregon Trip

I needed a break from work so last Thursday I embarked on a journey to visit friends in Seattle, Portland, & Tacoma. It was quite rushed but much fun!

I usually take the truck crossing but the main crossing at the Peace Arch was reported to be quite short so I gave it a try. The wait was only 2 minutes and the interview the same. Just marvelous!
I tried getting an obstructed shot of Mt. Baker but this was the best of the bunch.
Fry's is the mecca for techies. I made it there twice on this trip!
I took this shot to show my friend, Danny, what a good education & hard work can accomplish.
The girlfriend of my friend, Mike, served this fruit flan to us after dinner. I already adore her!
And here's her cat, now 14 years old.
On Saturday I drove down to Portland. Soon after arriving I went out with my friends to attend a Seafood & Wine Festival. We drove up to Washington Park, where we caught the Max train to the convention center.
There was much more wine than seafood at the event, but it was still fun. This banner caught my attention!
So did this gorgeous old restored boat.

A shameless Crackberry addict!
Here's an absolutely brilliant sign outside the convention center. You can also visit their website.
This was a huge structure hanging from the ceiling. To me the "flowers" looked like poppies.
This is the cat of my friends, Ginette & Erik. His name is "Goose". To completely confuse their kids I asked my mom to get a stuffed goose who we would name "Cat". I'm not sure how Goose feels about his new buddy. P.S. Don't even get me started about my mom's bird choice!
I just had to take a photo of their wireless router. It's for their new FIOS service, which delivers fiber-optic service directly to their home!!
While still in Portland I went to a Mexican restaurant with my friends, Phil & Denise. The chairs themselves were a work of art!
One unfortunate thing happened with my rental car. When we walked out of the restaurant someone had sheared off the passenger mirror. It was just hanging from the electrical wire so we had to cut it free in order to take it safely back to Vancouver.

I stopped in Tacoma in the late afternoon and had dinner with my friends Lora & Dave, and their kids, Hannah & Travis. We went to a neat place called The Hub.
On Monday I went out for lunch at Bellevue Square with my longtime friend, Stanton and his wife, Midori. The weather was beautiful so I took this shot from the top of the parking garage.
The last dinner on my trip was at a great Italian restaurant in Woodinville called Pasta Nova. I loved the arrangement of these colourful cans of olive oil.
And their wine bottles also had an interesting arrangement to them.

Pat Condell: Shame on the Netherlands

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Good Reason for Canadian Businesses to Buy Computers

There's an interesting gem at the bottom of Page 23 of the new federal budget:

Introducing a temporary 100-per-cent capital cost allowance (CCA) rate for computers acquired after January 27, 2009 and before February 1, 2011.

This means that businesses, be they small or large, can write-off 100% of computer purchases rather than having to depreciate them over time. More incentive than ever to buy a computer!

Seattle Sushi Recommendation

I was asking some Seattle friends about great sushi restaurants and they highly recommended this one:

515 S. Main Street

"If you are more of an advanced sushi eater, then I recommend sitting at the bar and ordering omakase (chef's choice) for sushi. Only do this if you enjoy the more traditional forms of nigiri such as uni (sea urchin), clam, tako (octopus), etc. If you prefer the more standard types of sushi (unagi (eel), salmon, tuna), then make sure to tell the chef so. Sho is the chef's name and he's very friendly - just talk to him. By the way, it's a very small place, so unless you're willing to wait, my suggestion is to not go during peak times (i.e. Friday night 6 - 8pm is very busy)."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Greetings from the Emerald City!

I drove down to Seattle yesterday and surprisingly fast: 2.5 hours door to door! Believe it or not, I was not speeding. The wait at the border was only 2 minutes and the interview the same. Traffic was extremely light almost all of the way down. The peculiar thing was that there was a solid wall of fog on either side of the road most everywhere except for Bellingham.

Since arriving, I have:
  • Enjoyed a delicious, authentic dinner of Mexican cuisine.
  • Walked "Big Dog" (aka Rufus) twice.
  • Had lunch on the Microsoft campus and strolled all around it.
  • Gone to Fry's Electronics twice.
  • Shopped at Trader Joe's once ... so far!
  • Barely thought about work at all!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Boeing 747 Anniversary

January 22, 1970 was the first commercial flight of a Boeing 747 aircraft. It was flown by Pan Am between New York and London.

The origins of the 747 are rather infamous. The creation of the airplane reportedly all started from this simple note in 1965:

Dear Mr Boeing,
Please build us a very big aeroplane soon. If it is pretty as well that will be a bonus. We will buy lots of them.
Yours sincerely,
Pan Am

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Scary Times in the UK

There is great speculation that Britain's Labour government has taken their country to the brink of bankruptcy. More here.

Barack Obama = Chance the Gardener ?

I heard a fascinating interview today where the guests compared the speeches of Barack Obama to those of Chance the Gardener, the famous character in the 1979 film, Being There. Here's the trailer:

First, no one is attacking Obama's intelligence. Rather, they're questioning the substance of Obama's speeches and wondering if there's a whole lot more meaning attached to his words by those listening than anything to do with the words themselves. You can listen to the interview yourself by clicking here (@33:45).

3 Police Officers Arrested for Assault & Robbery

I wonder what on earth this trio was drinking? Yikes!

Foggy Vancouver

Vancouver has been immersed in a blanket of fog for much of the past week. Here are two different perspectives. The first photo is mine, the second was sent to me:

Traveler Tip for Shaw Customers

If you live in Canada and subscribe to Shaw for your Cable TV or Internet or Digital Phone, here's a little tip: If you're ever going away for an extended period, ask them about suspending your service while you're gone. My mom is heading to Hawaii for 30 days and will now not have to pay her approx. $120 monthly bills. Instead, there'll just be a $20 reconnection charge.

Note: This feature is likely available with other companies too.

Lotus Symphony: What's Old is New Again

Back in the old days of personal computing there was a product called "Lotus Symphony" that competed head to head with Microsoft Office as the business suite of choice. I used it throughout the late 1980's and loved it! It tightly integrated a spreadsheet and word processor and could be programmed to do a variety of tasks.

Fast forward to 2009 and Lotus Symphony is now available for FREE from IBM. If you're interested to check it out, you can download a copy here.

2 Overarching Questions for 2009

Here's a key section from Obama's Inauguration Speech:

The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account -- to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day -- because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Let's be very generous and give him a year. By January 2010:

  1. How many major, wasteful programs do you think will be cut?
  2. Precisely what will happen to those in the public sector who have poorly managed the public's money?
If he proves wrong my healthy skepticism then I too will become a believer. Otherwise we'll know that these were merely "words, just words" and it'll be same old, same old.

The Left in January 2009: A Snapshot

In the same week that folks on the Left refuse to condemn or even mildly criticize this:

They also think that this is a perfectly valid comparison:

In a nutshell, this is precisely what is wrong with our society today!