Wednesday, February 29, 2012

academician, n.

Pronunciation: /əˌkadəˈmɪʃn/

  1. A made-up word with extra syllables to make academics sound more learnèd.
See also: ponce.
  • For the record, I know it's a real word that's been in use since the 1600s. I still think it is silly to us a word like this when "academic" is perfectly serviceable.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I call bullsh*t

How would you feel if your cell phone and home internet bills doubled next year without any improvement to your service? If you said you wouldn't like that very much, then Vic Toews has a name for you: child pornographer. That's right, anyone who opposes the new mandatory spying bill for any reason is a child pornographer. He actually said this, in parliament, no less.

We are proposing to bring measures to bring our laws into the 21st century and to provide police with the lawful tools that they need.
He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers.
So if these lawful tools are needed to fight child pornography, then it must be impossible to arrest child pornographers without them, right? No, eh? And I'm definitely not the first to point this out. You can read more about it from Michael Geist.

So anyway, while I'm not thrilled by the idea of paying twice as much for internet access, the thing that scares me is this: if the government is willing to call another MP a child pornographer to his face in open parliament, what are they going to do to me when they can get my address and phone number from my ISP after reading this blog post? What are they going to you when you post something anti-Conservative on Facebook?

I suppose it could have been worse, Toews could have called Scarpaleggia a pot grower.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cute but deadly

I learned a surprising fact today: there are now more tigers alive in captivity than in the wild. And a huge number of them live in the United States. And nobody knows exactly how many; a US government worker puts the number somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000. This is all stuff I learned on CBC's the Nature of Things.

The show was mainly about the debate amongst experts as to whether captive tigers are "junk" tigers, that is, too inbred to repopulate wild habitats.  It also did a pretty reasonable job of mitigating any "ZOMG WANT WANT WANT"-factor by highlighting the 2003 injury of stage magician and seasoned tiger trainer Roy Horn, and my personal favourite line about a tiger who had been seized from his owner and put in a sanctuary: "Had he been seized prior to that, his owner would still be alive today."

The thing that struck me as most interesting was the comment that we "need new ideas." This flies completely in the face of what is being discussed at that exact moment in the show: natural habitat destruction and illegal tiger goods. We don't need new ideas; we need political will. All the captive-bred tigers in the world aren't going to repopulate the wild if there's no wilderness to repopulate. And governments need to crack down on poaching by making sure the penalties for buying, trafficking, or selling tiger parts are harsh and consistently enforced.

Anyway, if you like cute animals or nature shows, totally worth watching.

The full episode is available online. 

You're thinking of MPs

 … Nicholson told Fraser that drug traffickers are "people who are in the business of destroying other people’s lives…"
 - Federal Justice Minister, Rob Nicholson, on the subject of whether raping children is worse than growing pot in your basement.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What more could anyone ask for?

If someone told me that they were really coming over with Doritos and whiskey right now, I'd be pretty much over the moon.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Unenforceable Regulations

You've probably heard about Canada's Air Transport Security Authority's new regulations banning transgender people from flying. Leftygirl responds with an interesting take (emphasis in original),
The thing is, we don’t know much about how this law is being enforced at present. Maybe it’s not being enforced at all, I have no idea. And before we respond to it, maybe we should figure out what it actually is first and who it actually impacts.
Just a thought.
You have probably also heard of SOPA and PIPA in the US and Canada's bill C-11. If not, here's Michael Geist on the Hour to fill you in:

The thing that strikes me about these is not the direct oppressiveness of the regulations but rather of the unenforceability of them.  In the case of the CATSA regulation about people needing to appear the same gender as indicated on their passport, the wording is so vague as to be completely subjective. In the case of the C-11/SOPA-type laws, the problem is as complicated as shutting down every internet connection in the world, one-by-one.

Let me give you another example of an unenforceable law: public drunkeneness. If the police were to arrest or fine every person who was ever drunk in public, they'd never stop arresting or ticketing drunks, at least at some times of day. Instead, the law is used to stop people who are causing trouble but not breaking any other laws, per se. It's a stick given to the police to be used at their discretion.

So it goes with the CATSA rule and bill-C11, except the stick has been given to the same kind of people who confiscated a cupcake in the name of safety and Hollywood, respectively.

So the question is: do you want some WB executive deciding what you can and can't see on the internet, or even whether you're allowed to connect to the internet? No. Do you want some airport security guard to stop you from flying because she's having a bad day and your passport says 'W' but you haven't waxed your upper lip in a while? No. It's time to stop the Conservative government from giving out these kinds of discretionary sticks. Write your MP.