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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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3/26/2005

Well Hello Kyoto!


British company Intelligent Energy today unveiled ENV, the world's first purpose-built, fuel-cell motorbike - ahead of any of the world's leading automotive companies. The ENV bike is the creation of Intelligent Energy, a British energy solutions company, whose board includes Chairman Sir John Jennings, the former Chairman of Shell Transport and Trading.

The ENV (Emissions Neutral Vehicle) bike was designed to Intelligent Energy's brief by a British team, led by multi-award-winning designers Seymourpowell. The ENV bike is fully-functioning and has been engineered and purpose-built (based around Intelligent Energy's CORE fuel cell) from the ground up, demonstrating the real, everyday applicability of fuel cell technology. The CORE, which is completely detachable from the bike, is a radically compact and efficient fuel cell, capable of powering anything from a motorboat to a small domestic property.
rubber magazine
If I have to save the world let it be on the back of this....

3/25/2005

Amazing!

For more than a century, the study of dinosaurs has been limited to fossilized bones. Now, researchers have recovered 70-million-year-old soft tissue, including what may be blood vessels and cells, from a Tyrannosaurus rex.
AP
70 million years....astonishing. Apparently the structures resemble those of ostriches.

3/24/2005

Copywrong

Those who enjoy swapping music, books and movies online may want to reconsider.

The federal government inched closer today to cracking down on file sharing by announcing several proposed amendments to the Copyright Act.

The changes would include the signing of two World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties and forcing Internet service providers to keep records of those who share high volumes of copyright-protected material such as songs, Hollywood movies and TV shows.

The amendments would "clarify that the unauthorized posting or the peer-to-peer file-sharing of material on the Internet will constitute an infringement of copyright," say documents released jointly Thursday by Canadian Heritage and Industry Canada.

"It will also be made clear that private copies of sound recordings cannot be uploaded or further distributed."
toronto star
I assume that this will also mean that the Feds will be scraping the "media levy" on all blank media sold in Canada.

Yeah, right.

You can read a summary here.

It is early in the process however, politically, file sharing and the media levy are issues which may be important to younger voters.

In actual fact the sharing horse has probably left the stable....private virtual sharing networks with tetrabytes of bit torrented data are rapidly coming online. These nets are unabashedly illegal but are designed to be small enough to avoid penetration. Oddly, it semms much of the impetus for their creation was the level of virus and spyware infestation on P2P nets.

Update:
a new survey from the nonprofit Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that 27% of U.S. Internet users, or 36 million Americans, say they're downloading audio and video files outside of the peer-to-peer networks and paid online services.

The emerging media for content exchange include digital audio players, E-mail, instant messaging, blogs, and other Web sites. Some 19% of those who download audio and video files--about 7 million adults--admit to having downloaded files from someone else's iPod or MP3 player.
techweb
That would be the horse running down the road.

3/23/2005

Vote Liberal....Well let's not be hasty

In my earlier post on the CPC SSM position I said it had cost the CPC my vote. The flea has gone one step further and said his reaction is to vote Liberal. I am certainly sympathetic to that position and, more or less unthinkably, it is an option I am seriously entertaining.

My problem with voting Liberal is that I don't think the Liberals deserve one more minute in government. I was sorely disappointed when the CPC sat on its hands when its own Budget ammendment came up for a vote.

James Bow suggests the Green Party and I will certainly investigate that option as, out here on the Gulf Islands, a Green candidate could be elected.

However, more likely than not, I will not vote at all.

In a democracy the option of "none of the above" is officially unpopular. Unofficially, the voter turnout statistics suggest that it is just as popular as any of the parties.

My Tory friends are urging a Tory vote to get rid of the Liberals - a position which I am also sympathetic to. The problem is that a Tory vote is an explicit endorsement of the CPC's policies including its embrace of second class citizenship for homosexuals. I cannot endorse that policy.

My Tory friends also suggest that the SSM position of the CPC was part of a deal to keep abortion off the floor of the convention. If this is, in fact, the case it only strengthens my disgust at the utter lack of principle or constitutional understanding the CPC seems willing to exhibit to the world.

Cutting a deal on equality before the law in order to placate the soccons is reprehensible.

I have written a number of posts on the optics of the CPC SSM position and what I expect the Liberal (and NDP/BQ) spin will be. However, if this really was a "screw the gays and we'll give you a pass on abortion" deal, the Lib/NDP/BQ attacks will be entirely justified.

And, worse still, the CPC's opponents will be able to say with justice that the CPC stands for nothing at all. That for no better reason than internal peace it is willing to create second class Canadians.

I think the flea is quite right when he predicts ten more years of Liberal government. Not because Canadians want Liberal government, rather because they want the rudderless CPC's two tiered citizenship even less.

I dispair.

3/21/2005

Politics and Pandering

As the comments in the post below suggest, simply saying that the CPC's position on SSM is enough to ensure they will not be getting my vote next election is just a teeny bit controversial. (And calling people who would "protect" hetrosexual marriage by denying equality before the law to homosexuals bigots, while accurate, is none too popular.)

To pour a bit of gas on the fire I can't resist pointing out it is really goofy politics as well.

The reality is that socons have nowhere to go with their votes. If the CPC had taken a stand for equal rights before the law the socons might have seethed; but would they have voted Liberal? Hardly.

The people the CPC lost were people who have options. They can vote Liberal, they can stay home. The difference is that those people are more likely to be found in th ridings the CPC desperately needs to win to form the next government. Racking up 10,000 seat pluralities in Prarie ridings is, no doubt, good for the soul; but it does nothing to shift power in Canada.

By coming out against equality, and that is how David Herle is going to spin it, the CPC is saying to millions of potential CPC voters, "We really are scary. We really are willing to turn the Charter on its head in order to protect a rather tattered symbol. We really are prepared to treat some Canadians as second class citizens so that the "first class" citizens can feel their institution of marriage is safe."

Anyone who believes, as I do, that one of the few protections for individual rights in Canada is equality before the law will find it impossible to vote for a Party incapable of supporting that equality. It really is that important.

Which is especially dumb of the CPC given that there is next to no chance that any CPC legislation rolling back gay marriage will survive the scruitiny of the Courts. In fact, it is constitutionally doubtful that the feds have the power to change the rules in provincial marriage registries.

Which means the CPC has lost a significant number of votes in key ridings in a cause which is almost certainly doomed.

Why? I am inclined to think because the leadership of the CPC lacked the backbone to fight hard on the equality issue. Possibly because they don't actually understand it, possibily because they are still squeamish about the Charter and the Courts, possibly because they simply had to throw the socons a bone, or maybe their Canada does not include gays...who knows?

Regardless of the reason, the trashing of the idea of equality before the law lost them my vote. I suspect it will lose them many others.

Paul Martin doesn't deserve it, but the CPC has pretty much handed him the next election Gomery or not.

Update: A number of critics have suggested that getting the government out of the marriage game entirely would be a good idea. I was posting to this effect as early as 2003. If you're that interested you can read posts here, here (where I quote Michael Kinsley's original Slate article on SSM), here (in which I suggest that the CPC's energies would be better spent on a family friendly tax and benefits strategy), here (on the SCC Reference), here , here (a lengthy response to Kathy Shaidle complete with the suggestion that the Bishop of Calgary is issuing fatwas) and here ( in which, inter alia I discuss the fact the Divorce Act has revised "traditional" marriage rather radically...And that is just the first page of a Google search of my blog for "government, marriage".

The Flea Say it all

I will never support, let alone vote for, the Conservatives as long as this is the party line on marriage. Not only is this separate-but-equal take wrong on moral grounds but this sort of anti-Charter, anti-judiciary pandering is exactly the sort of populist pap the Alliance tried to sell for years. Welcome to ten more years of Liberal government.
the flea
I thought I would bring this up from my comments. Nick is a pretty good representative of the hipper, more libertarian, people the CPC has just sent to the sidelines for the next few years. The CPC SSM position means that I have no party to vote for come the next election.

And yes, it does matter that much because I do not want a country run by bigots or a party which panders to bigots. In fact, and it pains me to say it, I would rather have a country run by arrogant crooks who respected the essential equality of all Canadians than one run by Puritans who don't.

Leaves a clear field for Ezra and his ilk to prove, once again, that socons are an electorally insuficient minority of Canadians. You would have thought that Stocky's run would have made that point; but never underestimate the depths of dumb available to the socon right.

3/20/2005

Whatever you do don't push the Red Button

Speaking to more than 2,000 delegates at the party's founding policy convention last night, Harper at long last drove a stake through several of the social policy demons that have haunted the Conservatives since their birth in a historic merger 14 months ago.

On same-sex marriage: Harper pledged a Conservative government would introduce legislation maintaining the traditional definition of marriage, while providing "the same rights, benefits and obligations to all couples."

On abortion: "As prime minister, I will not bring forth legislation on the issue."

On free votes in Parliament: "I will always allow all MPs to vote freely on matters of conscience."

On missile defence: "On our common interests with the United States ... including on missile defence ... our Conservative government will take Canada back to the table."
Greg Weston
SSM fail...there is no possible way of bringing this legislation into force without overturning the rulings of the seven provincial Courts which have ruled SSM a right. Or, at least there is not without invoking the "notwithstanding clause. Which harper has said he will not do. Politically this will hurt the CPC in Quebec and in urban Canada - it may help in some ethnic groups; but whether they will offset the losses among the young and the urban is doubtful.

Abortion: pass. But at the risk of having the Ayataolah of Calgary issuing a fatwa and losing the passionate support of the socons. (all of which I think would be a good thing but electorally rather difficult.)

Free Votes: we'll see. The test will be whether Belinda Stonach and, as Sean puts it, her Main Muffin, Peter MacKay vote with the government on SSM.

Missile Defence: A+. Politically this is not going to hurt the CPC much because the young and the urban and the French, who are thought to oppose BMD, will have already decided not to vote for the CPC on SSM grounds. But it encourages the significant fraction, dare I say majority, of Canadians who are not Bush deranged and who want to work with the Americans.

Kudos to the CPC for the absence of blood on the convention floor. In itself that may be the most significant news out of the convention.