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The scattered thoughts of an indecisive amateur...

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Another Good Cause

Tue, 29 May 2007 03:38:00 +0000

I've just been made aware of another friend who is making a major fund raising trek. Ramesh Ferris is going across the country in order to raise money to eradicate Polio. I knew Ramesh when we were both growing up in the Yukon. Polio never stopped him, but then he had the advantages of the Canadian Health Care system. This is a great cause. Please show your support

Cycle to Walk

A Fine Rawlsian Post

Tue, 29 May 2007 03:30:00 +0000

For the truly die hard reader of this site: You will know that I am a fan of John Rawls - the great American liberal philosopher. Go check out the following post. It sheds some light on a part of Rawls' career that doesn't normally get a lot of attention.

Crooked Timber » » Pre-Early Rawls

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Goal: Aid in Afghanistan

Tue, 22 May 2007 02:01:00 +0000

I want to spread the word about the goal of a friend of mine. He has quit his job, sold his possessions and is planning to ride his motorcycle around the world. He is doing this because he cares about justice and equity in the world. Check out his website. I will try to keep this site updated as his project continues.
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Charles Taylor wins a Prestigious International Prize

Thu, 15 Mar 2007 18:32:00 +0000

Vote for this PostOne of my favourite philosophers and most likely the greatest philosopher Canada has ever produced (Sorry George Grant fans) has won the Templeton prize.I was introduced to his work in 1998, and have been reading it ever since; I find it to be unique in the world of contemporary philosophy. Even a cursory reading of something by Taylor will show that he has a a vast knowledge of Western Civilization and its literature. As you read, Taylor weaves the stories and ideas of the last 2500 years while simultaneously producing some of the most unique and original ideas I've ever read in academic philosophy. Yet, he writes to a wider audience as well. His Massey Lecture The Malaise Of Modernity, is an accessible yet multifaceted account of the virtues and vices of the Modern World. Despite a long career in the academy he has always argued from a perspective that includes spirituality and God with the ubiquity of folks like Richard Dawkins, Taylor is an anomaly but an important one and one of the most brilliant.Here are some linksCANOE -- CNEWS - World: Cdn philosopher wins Templeton religion prize"The reason why human beings are violent has something to do with their responding to or looking for answers for really deep questions about the meaning of life, the nature of the ultimate good, and what really gives worth to human life, and so on. As long as people are looking for answers to that then they're open to, among other things, selecting answers that have this property of pushing them to violence.Canadian philosopher captures Templeton Prize | csmonitor.comTaylor helped inspire some of his students to become leading political scientists and philosophers. "We'd be teaching a course in the history of Western philosophy, and Taylor would get so wrapped up in the author he was lecturing on, he'd pick the book up and say, 'Now just listen to what the author says here.' He'd be reading it out in Russian or Greek or whatever," says Jim Tully, professor of philosophy and political science at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, who taught with Taylor at McGill and edited a book critiquing his work. "I think what moved the students was his intensity of engagement. It certainly moved me." Canada``Throughout his career, Charles Taylor has staked an often lonely position that insists on the inclusion of spiritual dimensions in discussions of public policy, history, linguistics, literature and every other facet of humanities and the social sciences,'' said John M. Templeton Jr., the foundation's president, in a statement.Charles Taylor Bibliography - Research - Department of Politics & International Relations - University of KentTechnorati Tags: Charles Taylor, Templeton Prize, Canada, Philosophy, Philosopher, Modernitypowered by performancing firefox[...]

Good and Bad from Angry

Mon, 12 Mar 2007 21:20:00 +0000

Fighting inefficiency is a good thing and it will reduce the volume of CO2 going into the atmosphere. However, though I support environmental initiatives I am upset by the attempts by many environmentalists to put an end to a rational and scientific discussion of climate change.

Science Technology : NDP wants to ban the incadescent light bulb

An NDP MP is putting forward a bill to phase out incandescent light bulbs. Bravo!

News Opinion : Canadian "denier" threatened with death -- and it is not reported in Canadian news

A Canadian scientist questions the science of climate change, and he begins receiving death threats. I read about it in a British newspaper. Isn't this newsworthy in Canada? I found this in a British paper:

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Day Care

Fri, 02 Mar 2007 08:31:00 +0000

I've been flooded with e-mail from loyal readers asking "CMM where have you been? I require wisdom and guidance, will you please make a post so that I can get on with my life."

I will explain: about a week ago we received a telephone message from our daycare provider saying "the spot that you had booked in October is no longer available and here is the number to Pacic Care." From then on my wife and I have been looking for daycare. We found a place, so life and stress is returning to normal.

I don't fully understand daycare economics and am a bit intrigued. There is very little price difference between providers which is problematic. Good places are within $40 of very nice places so the market is not keeping those who CAN pay more from taking spots from those who cannot. Strange. I wonder if there is legislation involved (comments anyone?) I would have thought that with the demand that clearly exists there would be a greater diversity of pricing.

The other thing that I was surprised to find out is that there have been very few people who have withdrawn from daycare even though federal subsidies have been reduced so dramatically. I guess that will come.

This is just a warm up post. There will be more to come!

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MMM Beer and Popcorn

Wed, 14 Feb 2007 23:17:00 +0000

- Vote for this PostThe other night, after putting my 10 month old daughter to bed I cracked open a nice refreshing Granville Island Gastown Amber Ale and put a bag of WalMart popcorn in the microwave! It was quite a pleasant evening. The beer was extra fizzy and popcorn more salty because I had just received $100 from the federal government - basically my snack was free.The child care cheque that comes around once a month is getting a lot of attention now that tax time is coming around. People are upset to learn/realise that the money is taxable. This will be my first tax year with a kid, so I can't comment on the taxation aspect. Instead I want to loosely defend the cheque.There are a lot of things in Canada's Social infrastructure that are good, but they tend to eliminate some aspect of choice from the lives of Canadians. Health Care, for instance is great but there are not many places to shop for the best health care - shopping is essentially illegal. It is also a large bureaucracy that concentrates on health care delivery. This may be the right model for health care in Canada, but I'm not sure it is the right model for child care. Parents have a lot of emotion invested in their children and want to make sure that they are doing the right thing for them. Part of that concern translates into ensuring that their children are left in the hands of the "right" daycare. Whatever that means - it might mean a religious daycare or perhaps one that serves organic soy beans for lunch.I like the idea of giving parents the means to choose what is right for them and their children even if that means staying home. A monthly cheque in theory makes it easier to stay home because it doesn't discriminate between stay at home parents and those that work; by providing cash it can increase demand for child care that will create supply over the long term; it allows the market to create niches that cater to parent's demands; and finally because it is taxed by a progressive tax system the subsidy is progressive benefiting lower income Canadians more than higher income Canadians.Now, all of the critics will point out that after taxes I can afford only 48 bottles of beer and a dozen bags of popcorn - probably true; I would also be able to afford 60 bottles of beer if I went with NDP approved and subsidised beer (Lucky?) and could likely get an extra six bags of popcorn if I went to Giant Tiger. But I prefer Granville Island and find WalMart convenient. And, as I am about to find out day care is more expensive than I would like to contemplate. I agree with these criticisms, which is simply why I say that in order to meet my need for quality beer (like Granville Island Beer) I need more money every month. I will let the bean counters in Ottawa figure it out, but individuals in the lower tax brackets must not see an increase in their child care bills because of a switch in how child care is subsidised. If that means a monthly cheque of $400 is required in order to ensure that the after tax cash infusion matches the subsidy that has been removed is required, then so be it.No Tory child-care plan as parents face long waits, rising feesthere’s uncertainty mixed with alarm across Canada over looming fee increasesand program cuts since the Tories dropped the $5-billion Liberal plan to build a national early learning system.In other words, the Tory plan is good and doesn't go far enough. One of the principles that underlies, to my mind, a liberal society, is that changes to the structure of society, and a redistribution of wealth for child care is part of that structure, says that such changes when they further inequality ought to improve the lot of the least well off.Here is what others are saying:A BCer in Toronto: Conservatives clawing back "day care" chequesConservatives clawing back "day care" chequesAs Liberals predicted at the time, the chickens are now coming home to roost[...]

CFS and Tuition

Sat, 10 Feb 2007 21:33:00 +0000

With all of the hullabaloo from the Canadian Federation of Students this week regarding the costs of education:
CFS - Media
From St. John’s to Victoria, thousands of students and other Canadians are participating in rallies and events as part of the Canadian Federation of Students’ campaign for affordable, high-quality post-secondary education.
I would like to point out that a recent study conducted by Statistics Canada has pointed out that the cost of education is not the barrier that many people believe it is. It is more likely, according to the study
"school marks reported at age 15, parental influences, and high-school quality account for 84 per cent the gap"

Only 12 percent of the "gap" (between the prospects of lower and higher income high school student for university education) is attributable to income. So, this tells me that the "size of your wallet" as the national chairperson of the CFS calls it, is not really that much of a factor when it comes to ensuring equal access to university education. So, with this survey, it is now up to the CFS to argue why public dollars ought to spent on lowering tuition.

On the face of it, there would seem to be little marginal gain in investing money in lower tuition fees when that money could be spent on any number of the following things that would likely achieve the putative aims of the CFS more effectively than by reducing tuition:
  • Educating lower income high school students about budgeting and the true costs of higher education,
  • Ensuring that lower income high school students are more likely to succeed,
  • Creating a national or uniform provincial standard of high school education regardless of neighbourhood,
  • Educating middle and upper income families about the importance of trades and non-university post-secondary employment [I think a survey of lower and upper income families will show that the progeny of upper income families are under represented in non-university employment], and
  • Educating parents of lower income families about the true possibilities of university education.
My suspicions are that the CFS will not respond to this survey by answering any of these questions. Instead I think it will try to discredit the survey in the hopes of lowering tuition to a point where demand far surpasses supply or the capacity of society to absorb all of the high expectations of university graduates. The CFS in my experience is predisposed to pointless political agitation and not at all concerned with practical public (and personal) parsimony.

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Climate Change and The Decline of Reason

Thu, 08 Feb 2007 07:53:00 +0000

I want to start off by saying that I firmly believe that we need to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and pump less crap into the air, as well as cut down fewer trees, throw less garbage into the oceans and be cleaner better people. I don't think that the Canadian Government is doing enough, nor do I think the liberals will do enough.Now, onto my main point:Since the release of the IPCC report last week I have seen a form of zealotry normally associated with middle eastern politics. Headlines in my local weekly papers have read that "The debate is Over," "Global Warming Verdict is In" "Climate Change is a Fact". [I wish I still had the papers and could cite them properly. Alas, they have been recycled] Generally the past week has seen normally rational people call for an end to any discussion, debate or conversation regarding the science of climate change. Appeals to the "consensus" of scientists and the credentials of an international panel have all been designed to halt the debate. I understand that the good intention behind these headlines is to prod those people who wish to go on with their polluting lives as they have for decades, but the result of these headlines is to ignore the very roots of our great Western Civilization.Undeniable Global Warming ( people have the impression that there is significant scientific disagreement about global climate change. It's time to lay that misapprehension to rest. There is a scientific consensus on the fact that Earth's climate is heating up and human activities are part of the reason. We need to stop repeating nonsense about the uncertainty of global warming and start talking seriously about the right approach to address it.My concern is the decline in the willingness of rational people to permit debate, doubt and scepticism. The ideas of human caused climate change (HCCC) are considered to be so sacrosanct that I worry that should someone find evidence against it that it would go completely unnoticed. The concern within the scientific climate-change "community" is not with empirical fact, but with coming to a formulation scientific data that will be sufficient to force political change. In this way it bears greater resemblance to a lobby or a political-religious movement than a group of dispassionate observers of the natural world.There seems to be a general trend against funding scientists that are sceptical of HCCC. Sceptics are not given a voice further stifling debate and other theories are not explored.Leading scientific journals 'are censoring debate on global warming': TelegraphTwo of the world's leading scientific journals have come under fire from researchers for refusing to publish papers which challenge fashionable wisdom over global warming. A British authority on natural catastrophes who disputed whetherclimatologists really agree that the Earth is getting warmer because of human activity, says his work was rejected by the American publication, Science, on the flimsiest of grounds.The ideas of deniers are often given little credence and dismissed. Take the example of Dinner Table Donts, who is often very rational and conscious of what makes a good or bad argument. In this post he dismisses a statistical argument with a list of facts that may or may not point towards HCCC. He should know that the fact of a pine beetle infestation has no bearing whatsoever on what constitutes a significant statistical sample. In fact they are just more small samples and do not address the thrust of the sceptics argument.Dinner Table Donts: Denying Climate Change "Whatever age of the earth you pick, data collected on weather patterns in 100 years is almost entirely meaningless and cannot be used to predict future patterns." [Source]Never mind the fact that entire forests in British Columbia are being destroyed by the pine beetl[...]

Remember Soldiers in the City

Mon, 05 Feb 2007 17:27:00 +0000

I would just like to recall, in fairness, that it was the unspoken implications that the add made that made them so offensive. It was the ominous drum beat that seemed to say "hide your children, their next game of street hockey will be played under the watchful eye of men in jackboots."

I’m surprised this isn’t making big waves in the Liberalsphere. Remember those ads by the Liberals accusing PMS of wanting to put soldiers, with guns in our cities? Well he is planning to do just that.

RT: Soldiers with guns. In our cities. In Canada. `
Today we learn that the Harper government plans to boost military presence across the country with new units in 14 cities. According to the Conservative government’s own “Canada First Defence Strategy” just leaked to the Ottawa Citizen, before 2016, the army will establish “territorial response battalions” in Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Niagara-Windsor, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Saint John, N.B., Halifax and St. John's, N.L. So there you go… Soldiers with guns. In our cities. In Canada. The Liberals did not make that up.
The adds were offensive regardless of whether or not the Conservatives plan to deploy troops was true. If the Canadian Forces are deployed to more cities, there is nothing to fear in those cities. Winnipeg, Halifax or Edmonton are not less free than other Canadian Cities because they house significant numbers of Canadian Forces.

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Charles Taylor on CBC

Mon, 29 Jan 2007 22:04:00 +0000

Found this one out late! Give it a listen before it's off the list. Charles Taylor if probably Canada's greatest philosopher, and the author that got me into philosophy.

CBC Radio | Ideas | The Best of Ideas Podcast

Modern Social Imaginaries

What makes modernity different from all previous ways of life? Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor talks to IDEAS producer David Cayley about what makes us modern.

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Just War and Retribution

Mon, 29 Jan 2007 21:50:00 +0000

Here are some thoughts about the idea of a just war and retribution, prompted by the Hon. B Gen Gordon O'Connor:Canadian war against Taliban is "retribution" for 9/11 attacksSpeaking at a symposium about Afghanistan, O'Connor said Canadian soldiers are in the country because Afghanistan's democratically elected government wants them there, because Canada has a responsibility to help as one of the world's richest countries and because the war is in Canada's own interest. "When the Taliban or al-Qaida came out of Afghanistan, they attacked the twin towers and in those twin towers, 25 Canadians were killed. The previous government and this government will not allow Canadians to be killed without retribution," O'Connor told his audience of roughly 200 people, many of them military personnel.Definition of retribution - Merriam-Webster Online DictionaryMain Entry: ret·ri·bu·tion Pronunciation: "re-tr&-'byü-sh&nFunction: nounEtymology: Middle English retribucioun, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin retribution-, retributio, from Latin retribuere to pay back, from re- + tribuere to pay -- more at TRIBUTE1 : RECOMPENSE, REWARD2 : the dispensing or receiving of reward or punishment especially in the hereafter 3 : something given or exacted in recompense; especially : PUNISHMENTClassically the justice of a war is assessed using three criteria: legitimacy, just cause and just intention. The Afghan mission as it has been sold to the Canadian public has met all three of these criteria. It has legitimacy in the legal sense that it is sanctioned by international law and a supranational body. It is the new articulation of our cause and intent worries me. The very idea of retribution cannot be a just cause; as a cause of military action retribution implies that the original injustice that has been perpetrated against one's self deserves to be met with deadly force. There is no reason for military force other than military force. The argument slips into a deadly circle with terrible consequences. It is the applicability of the same flawed argument to the enemy's circumstances that makes this kind of reasoning so pernicious and dangerous. Moreover it inverts the normal labels of innocence; for If our innocents were lost in an attack, then retribution would seem to demand that their innocents must pay too. No justice can come from the death of innocents.The attack of the 11th of September 2001 may serve as the basis of a just cause for military action. That day may have demonstrated the existence of a threat or that the Al-Qaida/Taliban coalition represents the kind of oppressive hate inducing regime that is both a danger to our security and the rights of Afghan people that requires immediate action. It may have been the case a week prior, but that attack could be a just cause to bring one nation to action.When a state is spurred to military action and whose intention is to seek retribution there can be no end to the bloodshed. Military action requires an objective in order to focus the application of force; and this is why I do not believe the defence minister. Objectives in Afghanistan seem, from this distant perspective, to be focused on securing infrastructure from terrorists in order to provide security for reconstruction. To my mind that is not punishment or a form of blood lust that would expected from a mission of retribution. My faith in the justice of our war in Afghanistan would be severely shaken if not for the actions of our troops speaking louder than the words of their Minister.[ed. Incidentally I do not necessarily endorse the theory of Aquinas that I linked to above, he is just one of the early proponents of a tripartite and very popular theory of the justice of wars.]Technorati Tags: just war, afghanista[...]

Pure Genius!

Sat, 27 Jan 2007 04:33:00 +0000

I've always thought that the whole "set your watch 5 minutes ahead and you won't be late" thing was retarded. I believe that it is impossible for a rational person to deceive him/herself. Thus a rational person who intentionally sets his/her watch will compensate and not fall act as though it was on time. Of course you can get a friend to pick a random time, but that can be easily defeated and you are back to square one. So here is a new solution:

David Seah : A Chindogu Clock for Procrastinators

Enter the Procrastinator’s Clock. It’s guaranteed to be up to 15 minutes fast. However, it also speeds up and slows down in an unpredictable manner so you can’t be sure how fast it really is. Furthermore, the clock is guaranteed to not be slow, assuming your computer clock is sync’d with NTP; many computers running Windows and Mac OS X with persistent Internet connections already are.
H/T Crooked Timber

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Schools and Gangs

Wed, 10 Jan 2007 00:51:00 +0000

Over the holidays I had a chat with an old friend who is a schoolteacher in Ontario. He mentioned a theory of his that seems to make sense to me. The idea is that by making the school year a year we would help to reduce the ability of gangs to recruit high school aged children. Idle hands are the devil's workshop and by insuring that high school hands are not idle for long, the more sinister will have difficulty influencing them.

I remember those long summer breaks. They could be quite boring and I could get into a lot of trouble if there wasn't anything organised for me. The idea of a long summer break has come and gone. Children are not required to work on the farm any more and the two parent household has to fork out a lot of money to entertain children over the summer. Moreover the children forget so much of what they have learned over the summer that a long break seems a bad idea from a pedagogical point of view.

I am neither a teacher nor a criminologist, so I am not really in a position to speak in much more detail, but, the idea seems sound and worthy of further investigation. It doesn't need to be applied universally, but only where it makes more sense and there are a lot of different ways of applying the idea. The same number of school days can be maintained just spread out differently or another trimester can be added to make busy curricula less so.

There are a lot of ideas out there for dealing with youth and crime, many of them involve programmes, and money. Schooling is one of the biggest and most effective such programmes, why not see if it can be used more effectively.

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Gee Mom I want to go back to Ontario

Thu, 04 Jan 2007 19:43:00 +0000

We are back in Ontario for the Holiday season and I am reminded of what seems to be the greatest difference between life in Ontario and life on the Island. DRIVING. We have spent a lot of time on the road already and the differences are stark. First there are the design differences. On the island the highways have low speed limits and even the divided highways have traffic lights: not so in Ontario, ofcourse. But the most significant difference to my mind is the culture of highway driving that seems to exist out East. There is a set of behavioural expectations that motorists have of eachother - whether it is to yield lanes or speed up/slow down in certain circumstances. This culture seems well entrenched. You can tell that people follow it and expect others to follow it. It is a truly amazing thing when compared with the kind ofdriving out West. In Ontario there are few old duffers cruising in the left lane, doing the speed limit and shaking there fists at passing cars because nobody should be overtaking a car doing the limit. Funny, though the more I travel the more I notice how the culture changes a little with each highway.

Ahh, and then there is that lttle piece of commuting heaven called the 407!

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Truth Revealed by Quiz

Mon, 04 Dec 2006 21:58:00 +0000

Your 'Do You Want the Terrorists to Win' Score: 83%

You are a terrorist-loving scoundrel who hates our dear leader and the values he defends. There are few redeeming qualities about you. You most likely celebrated when the evil-doers hit us on 9/11, then opposed the Iraq war when we tried to pay them back. You hurt us at every step and cause troops to die in the field by questioning Bush's decisions. You are most likely a lost cause, doomed to be a brainwashed victim of free thought and liberalism forever. No dose of Ann Coulter's prose can save you now.

Do You Want the Terrorists to Win?

Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

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When will we focus on reconstruction?

Mon, 04 Dec 2006 18:07:00 +0000

An excellent post:

The Torch: Why Canadians don't know the trivia that's not trivial

Quickly now - no Googling: can you name three projects Canada's Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team (KPRT) has undertaken in the past year? The first wiseguy to spout off that "they dug a well" gets a slap in the head for his trouble.

H/T Tart Cider

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Wed, 29 Nov 2006 23:04:00 +0000

The other day I formatted my C Drive and installed Windows XP again. This was the first time that I did that after having downloaded a couple of LPs from the Future Shop sponsored Bonfire (Puretracks) download site. I had also upgraded to Windows Media Player 11.

Well, I thought I should back up my Licences before formatting. Well WMP 11 doesn't allow you to back up your licences. (unlike 10) I had a backup from a while back so I continued. Anyway, I am now operating WMP 10 again and half of my legitimately acquired songs DO NOT work. I have tried downloading the songs again, but they won't download with the licenses. So because Microsoft Windows needs to be re-installed every so often, and Microsoft's Media Player doesn't allow you to backup DRM licenses I am stuck with unusable music. The situation is garbage. I am NEVER going to frequent a download site again.

I object to the whole DRM system. With the large levies that we pay when we purchase recordable media there is no excuse to have such restrictive software. Moreover, all the portability and network playing restrictions that are built into the DRM scheme infringe on fair use. It is perfectly reasonable for me to store all of my music on one computer and want to listen to the song on a networked computer, or let a friend listen to my music via a wireless network on his/her wifi enabled laptop. These are not unreasonable uses, yet the DRM programme is intent on hamstring my ability to use the songs that I have legitimately acquired. I am all for legitimising the trade in digital music but this kind of crap forces reasonable people underground. We need to decriminalise and resurrect the original spirit of Napster.

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Nation! - Me Too

Fri, 24 Nov 2006 05:14:00 +0000

(image) I think that enough has been said about the Quebec nation debate, so I will change the subject.

I would like for everyone to look back at the history of British Columbia. I believe that when they do, they will come to the inevitable conclusion that the province of British Columbia was founded by TWO Colonies: The Colony of Vancouver Island and the Rest of British Columbia (ROB). While Vancouver Island was an organized bastion of colonial civilization, ROB was an unorganized backwater of fur traders and prospectors. And yet, since joining, ROB has has garnered all of the attention, money and political power. Certainly most of the premiers of the Province have represented ROB (There hasn't been a Vancouver Islander since the election of Premier Byron Johnson in 1947).

Most importantly, as a founding colony of British Columbia, Vancouver Island deserves some recognition for its unique historical and sociological contributions to the Province. Vancouver Islanders have a unique culture and way of life that deserves formal recognition - in a sociological sense. Anyone who has ever visited Vancouver Island will notice that older cars are driven and at slower speeds; we complain about Toronto; and we believe that every four lane divided highway should have stop lights and overpasses are for pedestrians. Moreover, as a people we have distinct tastes: Starbucks and Serious Coffee are preferred over Tim Hortons. We have a distinct way of talking: When we complain about snow in February or March we are referring to the petals falling from the flowering cherry trees.

To this end, I urge you to help convince the Provincial Government of British Columbia to "Recognize that Vancouver Islanders form a nation within a united British Columbia."

Sign the petition here!

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Response to CDNTARHEEL

Sat, 18 Nov 2006 04:51:00 +0000

CDNTARHEEL commented on my post about Ignatieff's statement on China. Here is a response:

Fair enough, here is a bit more explanation. I was quite excited to hear that Ignatieff was running. I saw hope for a liberal party that put deep thought and principle into their policies - in contrast to the liberal party of Mr Martin. I may not agree with all of his pronouncements, but I was hoping he would stick to his guns with a little more steadfastness.

The statement that I quoted in the original post makes human rights sound like something a father would lecture a teenager about - say, coming home after 11pm. That wouldn't be a problem were he Jean Chretien, but Chretien did not write a book like The Needs of Strangers. Of course, he goes on in the interview to argue for a softer approach to China. This isn't the human rights professor strategising about the best way to help the Chinese, but the work of a political hopeful trying to earn the respect of Bay Street while appearing to remain committed to the principle of Human Rights. He seems to be pandering when I hoped he would stand on principle.

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Something Feminism has done for Me

Fri, 17 Nov 2006 22:12:00 +0000

Here is an interesting post:

Pieces of a Whole » Blog Archive » Stay at home dads

The post sets forth two arguments:

I am saddened by this post for a couple of reasons. If I can assume that this person is a member of the so called "Christian Evangelical Right" then how does this kind of an attitude "focus on the family". I would have thought that anything that would build good strong families would be welcome, especially ones that seem to reinforce the importance of males in the rearing of children. There are some that say that fathers are no longer essential for modern families. Oh well here are some thoughts on the post:

The first is an ideal of strict gender roles that are based on some conception of scriptural hermeneutics apparently from 3 Genesis. There is a lot to be said against this kind of straight-jacketing. Few fathers regardless of whether they stay at home or not would accept the kind of gender roles for their daughters so why should they accept it for themselves? So, unless you are willing to raise your daughter to believe that they have one purpose in life that is predefined by her gender then so might the fathers. But, I think most fathers are willing to raise their daughters to believe that their daughters can play many roles in life, and what better way to show that to them than as a father who too is willing to have many roles.

The second argument is one that is much easier to agree with: More fathers ought to spend time with the kids even if that means taking a pay cut. My problem is that by railing against stay at home dads the post is removing the one option that might best achieve that aim. Parental leave taken by fathers is one of the ways many men (including yours truly) get the opportunity to stay at home. And here is the rub it often comes with legal protections against job loss and discrimination - unlike taking a 10% pay cut as the post suggests in order to work less and play more.

REVISED 21 Nov to reflect a post made elsewhere.

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Ignatieff vs Harper & China

Fri, 17 Nov 2006 21:42:00 +0000

There are a lot of things that I dislike about what Harper is doing with respect to China and the diplomacy of trade and human rights. There is one good thing that can be said about Harper that cannot be said about Ignatieff is that at least Harper knows what he is supposed to say to Canadian electors about Human Rights. The quotation from Ignatieff, who I had a lot of hope for about 2 years ago, demonstrates a total amateurism that reminds me of the kinds of things I saw at the height of the Stockwell Day carnival.

There is a lot to criticise Harper on the China file. He didn't send Mackay to meet with their ambassador and he hasn't visited China himself. (Does anyone have a source for this, I heard it mentioned on a CBC radio interview with Dr Byers of UBC). In a world of symbols these things mean a lot. It is no wonder that China was not too willing to meet at APEC.

Ignatieff blasts Harper's 'megaphone' diplomacy with China
"Mr. Harper, I think, believes you can go to one of the greatest civilizations on earth, a superpower of the 21st century and give them a little lecture on human rights," Ignatieff told CBC News.
Hat Tip to: AC

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Kyoto - International Law

Thu, 16 Nov 2006 05:42:00 +0000

I want to put aside the very important issue of the state of the environment and how that relates to the Kyoto Protocol. Another issue of profound importance to the Canadian National Interest is being missed entirely. One of the things that I've blogged about in the past is the importance of international law to the Canadian foreign policy. Quite simply put: as a small power in the presence of an American Super Power and an Asian Uber-Factory if we are ever going to have an international presence that punches beyond our weight class, then we will have to rely on an effective and respected system of international law. The alternative to relying on the civilising effect of law is using dangerous international military missions to get seats at tables and to earn favours. I am not willing to endorse such a foreign policy as the price is too high, the policy is unsustainable and the whole thing is morally reckless.I think that most can guess where I am going with this post. It is believed that Canada will be the first state to withdraw from the protocol. The fact that there probably are some withdrawal clauses in the treaty is not important. Leaving treaties and/or ignoring the commitments that have been made on the international stage is precisely the kind of thing that will weaken Canada's place in the world. Imagine how we would feel if the United States started to ignore the provisions of NAFTA or simply withdrew from the agreement - imagining itself not bound by its obligations? Where would we stand and what could we do about it? The point here is that a policy of strengthening the norms of international law and the expectations among nations that treaties will be upheld is the kind of foreign policy that Canada ought to be advocating at every turn. We don't want to have to use our economic weight (which is waning against Asia) or to veiled threats of military force (which we cannot back up). We can get what we want on the international stage by being a good global citizen and working to ensure that others will be too. If we don't get what we want, we will at least have the consolation of knowing the system by which we didn't get what we want was fair (or at least agreed to).The kind of publicity that we have been getting c/o Rona Ambrose and the Canadian delegation to the conference in Nairobi is a disaster. The example that Canada is setting is entirely hypocritical. I won't start on my thoughts on the politics of blaming the previous guys. Technorati Tags: Kyoto, Canada, Politics, International Law, Rona Ambrose, Conservative Party, Foreign Policy, Environmentalism, Conservative Party, Treatiespowered by performancing firefox[...]

West Coast Life

Thu, 09 Nov 2006 22:26:00 +0000

When I was doing my undergrad, I thought that it would be very cool and studious if I had a bust of some famous person on my desk - it would make me look smart and that is what school is all about. The only one that I was able to find (I didn't look very hard) was a bust of the victor of that glorious battle of Omdurmann - Lord Kitchener. Now, that bust would become the bain of my existence as it got tossed out of windows and photographed in compromising situations.

Now that I am on the West Coast it would seem that the tradition continues. This past week I woke up and found an e-mail urging me to sign a great petition urging a state funeral for the last Great War Veteran. I wrote that article and then went to see how I could get a code to have it voted on at Progressive Bloggers. Their I found A Post by Lord Kitchener at the top of the Voting List! Then the next day I found a post over at My Blahg about a White Poppy. I went for a morning walk to think about this idea and came to some conclusions. When I sat down to write the post I found it almost idea for idea written by Lord Kitchener.

So, I blame the three hour time difference. If I was operating on Ontario Time my greatness would be more fully realised and accepted throughout the world. However, I'd rather not move back to the land of snow and ice, so I'll just sit back and read Lord Kitchener's blog (now on my blogroll) whilst plotting his demise.

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Rumsfeld Resigns:

Wed, 08 Nov 2006 18:33:00 +0000

What did it take?

Rumsfeld resigns as U.S. defence secretary

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