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Archive for January, 2006

Election aftermath

Yesterday was election day, and I must say I was mildly surprised at the result. Over the past few days I had started feeling that a major Conservative wave wouls sweep over this country and reduce the Liberals to rump status – kind of like what happened to the tories in 1993.

That didn’t happen. In fact, the Liberals, who ran the most ill-managed and directionless campaign I can remember, did considerably better than I expected. Why did people continue to vote for these corrupt, unethical clowns? If people who vote Liberal are really afraid of the Conservatives, why don’t they vote for the NDP? Or (gasp) the Bloc? Or a third party? Voters in this country seem to be too lethargic or timid to vote for more marginal parties, so not much happens to keep parties like the Liberals honest, or introduce ‘fresh thinking’ (sounds like a buzzword) to Ottawa. No wonder everyone my age is cynical about politics. If people vote strategically, it just ends up keeping the chaff in Parliament. A damn good argument for proportional representation, in my view.

Unfortunately, Rupinder didn’t win in his riding (but we’re still proud of you, Rup!)

One bit of good news, however: Sam Bulte lost her seat in Parkdale to the NDP candidate. Looks like the entertainment industry will have to find another shill on Parliament Hill.

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Couple of things caught my eye today:

First, Google has been subpoenaed by the DOJ to turn over parts of its search records – one million random search records from its gargantuan database – and, having refused, is now being taken to court by the feds. For national security reasons, right? Of course not – this is because the Bush adminstration is trying to revive the Child Online Protection Act, a bill already ruled unconstitutional (not that ‘national security’ reasons qualifies as a good reason to turn over such a broad swath of records). So the U.S. government is trying to invade the privacy of its own citizens to satisfy a political agenda. Although there’s no indication that any specific person’s records will be targeted in this request, the real problem is the nasty precedent this sets, where the U.S. governemnt can snoop into any such such records, forcing organizations to turn over data that should remain confidential. If the court allows the DOJ to go ahead with this atrocious abuse of power, I think we can expect to see far more invasive attempts by the government to snoop on its own citizens for any reason (though it would not surprise me if some administration official attempts to tie those attempts to the ‘war on terror’). Can any of my American readers (assuming I have any) tell me why Americans appear so willing to put up with these types of civil liberties violations? According to the DOJ, other search engines have already turned over their records. If that’s true, then there is no search engine I will use except Google ever again.
Second: I note that Sam Bulte, the Liberal MP who takes money from special interests and downplays it, has now threatened to sue Michael Geist for…well, it’s not exactly clear what Geist has done wrong, apart from criticizing the fact that she’s taken money from the content industry and her stance on copyright legislation is ridiculously one-sided. She called people like Michael Geist (and, by extension, myself) ‘pro-user zealots.’ (Think about that term.) If she’s trying to argue that her positions are not influenced by her industry ties and that her prime concern is protecting Canadian artists, then threatening to sue someone who argues (correctly, I might add) that her positions on copyright legislation are gifts to the entertainment industry and will destroy the rights of users makes those claims absoutely farcical. I hope she gets what she deserves on election night. (Is she going to sue me too for criticizing her? The more she sues, the more these issues get out there…)

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Random thoughts

  • The US Patent Office’s attempt to quantify and improve the quality of patents granted might infringe on a patent the USPTO itself granted for rating patent quality… What happens if the USPTO infringes on that patent with its system to discover that the original patent is low quality and should be overturned??
  • Doug described Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe as “70% brilliant and 30% absolutely crazy.” Just a perfect characterization. That’s why he’s so much fun to watch in debates.
  • I have been following Digg for the past couple of days and I am amazed at the number of stories about Apple, specifically about whether or not the new MacBooks and iMacs will support Windows. Every time a new article comes out speculating about it, every time someone says something about it, every little statement from someone who speaks for Apple is being followed obsessively, and not one of the (must be) ten or so stories submitted to Digg actually has more information than the preceding. Geez, people, you won’t know until someone tries it, stop speculating until more concrete information is available.
  • They finally cleared the snow here in Kingston. OK, they didn’t clear it, the ten days of unseasonably warm weather melted it away.
  • Corus starts today! Go Magnus!

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Tonight was the most important debate of the federal election campaign, and what a tedious affair it was… but holy crap, Paul Martin promised to get rid of the notwithstanding clause! Okay, it was probably a desperate strategy, but it’s almost enough to make me vote liberal. Almost – I’m still angry at the whole entrenched corruption thing and kickback scheme involving hundreds of millions of dollars… Notwithstanding clause, what a stupid thing. I’m glad someone’s talking about getting rid of it even if it’s not likely to happen.

I’m (more or less) an NDP voter but Layton’s endless commercial on tonight’s debate nearly put me to sleep. I love watching Gilles Duceppe argue because he’s the only one who seems logical, coherent, intelligent, forceful on policy without making stupid personal attacks, fun to watch(!), etc, etc. I’d probably vote for him if he were running in my riding. But he’s not so the NDP it is. Or maybe the Green Party, not sure yet.

Vote for Rupinder! Er, if you’re in Mississauga, that is.

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Done with Christmas

Sometimes I wonder if Christmas was invented by the retail industry. Then I remember that Christmas is hypothetically about something else that has nothing to do with buying stuff. Then I wonder how the two ever got related in the first place.

I went back to Montreal for Christmas about a week before the actual day so my parents had plenty of time to bug me about all the things they can’t bug me about while I’m in Kingston. Especially washing my hands excessively, which I do on occasion. My dad’s ears perked up every time he heard the water running. I contemplated leaving the water running without doing anything several times just to psych him out, but I’m too lazy to play mind games with anybody.

I brought my computer over and had fun setting it up (it’s a real desktop, not a laptop), primarily because the internet in the house is divided among three computer via a Linksys router. After setting up my connection using the colour-coded ethernet cable my dad keeps in my room, the internet failed to work. On everyone’s computer. Apparently the Internet service just “goes down” for no apparent reason at random times, although it hasn’t happened in a while. So we spent 24 hours without internet. Then it was discoverd that the internet plug on the router was disconnected. The colour of the internet cable was the same as the colour of the cable that connects to my computer, so someone (not me, seriously) unplugged the internet cable and plugged it into the port on the router that connects to my computer. (Grumble.)

On several occasions the internet died for no clear reason. Unplugging the router and plugging it back in worked wonders. Goodness, how flaky. Nonetheless, when the internet worked I actually got some work done…

Everyone — everyone — thinks I need to gain weight, after spending the first twenty years of my life being overweight (I lost a lot of weight after moving to Kingston three years ago, just for the hell of it). I cannot count the number of cakes, pastries, chocolates, etc my parents pushed on me. I’m happy to say that I ate most of them and still gained only one pound the whole time. (Maybe. My scale is not very reliable.)

Ah, now I know: Christmas was invented by parents of college kids so the kids would have to come back home for two weeks every year. They’re bloody sneaky, parents.

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