Friday, December 31, 2010

Candy Cane'sLain

I have my alarmist pants hitched up high, and boy, I am going to need them for this post because I am geared up to overreact.
The papers have been loosely following a story that evolved over Christmas where a woman deposited a shrunken head toy and a ghastly skeleton wearing Santa clothes into the mailboxes of some Candy cane lane residents, Candy Cane lane being a neighborhood in Edmonton that is known for its fanciful Christmas decorations.

There are no reports of the woman's age, who apparently turned herself in later, but she is consistently referred to as a woman, so it seems reasonable to assume she is the age of majority, which is extra confusing because usually people get these kinds of stunts out of their system when they are young and ridiculous, and have no concept of consequences. To me, that is the most worrying aspect of this incident.

A rational person has a vague notion of what kind of consequence their actions will merit. Some are even reasonable enough to realize that it does not matter how much you beg, plead, argue, coerce or convince, people are going to do whatever they want to do, and there is no way some rambling two page letter about the "Santa lie" is going to convince them to change the habits they have obviously spent a lot of time and  money on. Therefore what exactly this woman was attempting to achieve is unclear. But whatever idea she had persisted through the planning, preparing, and execution of this stunt, even continuing on afterward, since she took a few days to turn herself in.

One of two things must hold; one she has such an incredible disconnect with the world that she formed some grandiose notion of the aftereffects of these actions that convinced her to expend the effort, or two she simply did not consider what would happen, and decided to enact the theory anyway. Both of these concepts, personally, indicate to me, a need for psychiatric intervention.

Are you serious? People do stupid things all the time!
That is entirely true, Dear Reader, or else twilight would not be successful. The problem, however, is in the nature of this incursion into people's personal spheres. She took it upon herself to "educate" these people. One thing education requires is that a person consider themselves superior to the student. She has no idea who these people are, knows nothing about them except that they decorate their homes for Christmas, but she considers herself above them. That is a pretty creepy notion.

She has not been charged with anything because the police insist she was breaking no laws but if they did not even expend some modest effort to charge her with something, it is mostly because they do not care that much  about the whole situation, which is fine. I think the police have better things to deal with than chase down people who think rubber fingers in mailboxes are a statement of something other than "I am a loony". However, I do think that this woman should be required to see a psychologist. At the very least so they can glean some good data out of her.

The final thought I would like to leave you with is one that I am shamelessly stealing from some errant commenter on the CBC website; what if this woman had been a Muslim? Her religion, which I assume she is atheist, has certainly not been a factor in this story at all, despite her attack on a christian holiday, but if she had identified as a prominent religion, how would the situation have been alternately perceived? Or if the homes had been a different religion celebrating a different holiday? Food for thought.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Human Dignity as the Source of National Purpose

One of the most difficult subjects to deal with is assisted suicide. Especially in Canada, where we battle between our desire to provide people with dignity and a good quality of life, while respecting life itself, we have chosen to ban assisted suicide or its more active cousin euthanasia but this may not be the case for much longer.

An article in this month's The Walrus outlines the struggle for pro-choice advocates, and how their big chance came in the form of an official objection to the abortion ban. It was championed and fought fiercely all the way up to the supreme court, setting the precedent that legalized abortion. The Walrus speculates that it was this process of outright genuine objection that caused Canadians to take a critical look at the issue, meaning it was finally the elephant putting its foot in the popcorn that meant we could no longer ignore it in our living room. They further the point by outlining that it is this process that is needed to legalize assisted suicide.

Although the issue itself is up for debate, and even the process by which we may uncover the truly Canadian belief in the matter, what I feel is unchangeable is the outcome. Assisted suicide will become legal in Canada. It simply must.
Much like in macroeconomics, if the prices in one country are too low the international community takes notice and drives up the demand, thus increasing the prices to the conventional point. The demand for assisted suicide will cause Canada to lose revenue to other countries where the process is legal, until such a point when we are functionally forced to allow it. One of two situations must hold: Demand is increasing or demand is decreasing. In cases where demand is decreasing, Canada can simply table the issue until the public finds some other shiny issue and wanders off, but if demand is increasing, the government will be forced to notice the issue and eventually legalize it (Pot smokers, take note.)

Not only that but the whole issue raises another set of issues; whether Canada has the right to ban someone from traveling to another country to engage in assisted suicide. Obviously Canada cannot prosecute someone for engaging in an activity that was legal in the country it was preformed in, but this principle makes laws dangerous arbitrary. The difference between allowing someone to travel to another country to kill themselves and allowing someone to travel to another building to kill themselves makes us wonder what exactly the point of the ban is attempting to prove.

The main forerunner for the assisted suicide debate will undoubtedly be abortion; a country cannot condone abortion but turn its nose up at euthanasia (you either favor choice over life or not) but it is strange, unintuitive, that it should happen in this backwards fashion. One would assume that abortion would be the tougher case to plead, but perhaps it has had a larger underground market. The main advocate for assisted suicide are the people who, once their goal is achieved, are not in a position to make a statement, whereas the supporters of abortion are the women who desire abortions, and may be very vocal about it. In addition to this, a failed abortion risks two lives, but a suicide only risks one, and in fact, only the one that is desired to be ended. In essence, the main risk in abortion is quantity of lives, but the main risk in suicide is quality of death.

The argument that pushed abortion could be tidily used to support euthanasia as well; if you don't legalize it, it will continue in less safe circumstances. People will still want the control to end their own lives; an unmonitored system simply runs the risk of abuse. It is functionally more negligent to pretend the issue does not exist rather than address it and deal with it, and the "Head in the Sand" approach has never served us well.

The main objection to the argument will be swiftly undone once alternate countries are considered; It is theorized that once we allow assisted suicide, the door will open to a society where we have no respect for human life. This is referred to as the "slippery slope" argument and it can be effectively undone in two steps: one, show that the four European countries it is allowed in have no experienced rampant murder as a result of the legalized suicide and two, show that even though Canadians are allowed to travel to other countries Canada has not experienced a rash of rampant murders either.

Anyway, regardless of where you stand on the issue, the fact remains, the next big change to Canadian law is going to be assisted suicide and it is likely to happen, depending on the motivation of its advocates, in the next decade. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Tessellation Made of Supervisory Boards

It is a rare occasion when we have the opportunity to witness the fallout of stupidity, and be able to genuinely assess where we went wrong and correct for the future, especially in situations where government accountability and possible corruption are under review.

We have this opportunity from a mistake that we made back in 2006, after the "Liberal sponsorship scandals" made it clear that Lobbyists needed to be monitored, which is a sensible plan. Any time people stand to benefit from giving money in exchange for a vested interest, there should be somebody keeping tabs on the situation. The problem was planted back when we organized the system for watching it, and we are now reaping its rotten fruit.

A system of appointed commissioners were brought in to monitor for suspicious or illegal activity surrounding lobbyists donating to campaign funds and what-not. The main problem is that we did not consider what success would look like. This comes in two-fold issues: one, if they found anything, we had reason to party, but if they found nothing, we became mired in the introspective, self-conscious, shame spiral that our Canadian culture has lifted to an art-form,  thus leading to the problem number two, if we didn't find anything, we gave ourselves an instant safety "blame"; the commissioners were appointed. In the ideal case that the board found no wrong doing, we were saved from feeling good about our government (a Mortal Canadian Sin)  because we still had reason to believe they were corrupt and faulty and oh-so-naughty.

So, to be honest, where exactly did we go wrong? We needed to set up the board in such a way that we Canadians trusted, that when they came back with nothing we could sigh, pat ourselves on the back, and start paying attention to the garbage that we like to pay attention to, like what facility Lohan checked herself into, instead of wringing our hands and thinking of creating a board to police the board that's policing the government lobbyists. Ah, Canadians, even when we succeed, we fail.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Don't You tell Me 'bout Your Law and Order

I had heard in some bogus studies that cited people typically operated at the same mental level as a twelve year old child, but I had shrugged them off as alarmist and ridiculous. After a careful examination of the way most priority services work together, however, I am wondering about the truth behind them.

Ignoring, for a bit, the childish antics of the provincial government after they switched ambulance providers and began to ticket the new drivers for speeding and running red lights, (which caused the higher-ups to tell the drivers to not speed, well, only speed when they really need to, well, no they shouldn't, but maybe...)the latest bout of prepubescent flailing is between the police and the Canadian border services.

Despite acknowledging that the cooperation prevents the trafficking of drugs, guns, and explosives across the Canadian border, since the police won't approve customs officers carrying firearms on duty, the border services has packed up their stuff and gone home. No more joint operations.

The official memo is because border guards don't know what kind of situation they are walking into and might occasionally need serious firepower. Yet, the decrease in apprehensions, persisting since 1997 and dropping almost 50%, despite America tripling their border agents, implies that there is really no need to increase security, especially considering the rapid increase inn migrant mortality rates per 10,000 apprehensions.  There is a 28% increase in violence against agents since 2005, but there is no specification as to the nature of the attacks. The data even includes people throwing rocks, which I would actually not consider shooting a valid response to, but hey, I only carry a gun on a daily basis.

What this proves is just that there is no professional relationship too good, no higher purpose too productive, to be safe from severing if it means you can hostage the public opinion for a cool gun. Just take your toys home, try to release the news on a day you don't think people will be paying attention (Christmas eve) so you won't have to justify your childish actions to the public and wait for the perks to roll in.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Speeding Hearts Aglow with Sirens

Sometimes politics occur just so that the resultant public backlash will draw attention to an injustice or some such that politicians and other various powers-that-be want us to be outraged about. I am willing to bet that if there were not such a significant number of high profile people with a vested interest in the airport opened their mouths, the "controversy" that "raged" about the airport would have been much shorter, smaller, and less annoying.

In Edmonton recently, there's been some notice that ambulance drivers have been ordered to slow down - to the point of obeying the speed limit, and stop at red lights (common policy) before blazing through to ensure the way is clear.  The official rubber-stamped memo that was handed down assured us that this had safety in mind, and nothing else. Just safety.
They didn't just realize that the added seconds gained by driving faster imparts no advantage to paramedic's efforts in saving lives; they've been doing this for decades. They just now realized that we drive like assholes when confronted with sirens and lights, and they finally got sick of it. "Fine, dickheads, you want to impede our progress and drive like morons - see how you like it when we drive like you SHOULD be driving."

The official media reason is that ambulances are finally being charged for speeding and red light tickets, and I have no doubt they considered this new policy a double-whammy. They're just going to wait for people to catch wind of this and raise an objection so the police are pressured into not ticketing ambulances and other essential services. One of my pet peeves is being coerced into indignity by people who think they know better than us.

The season of brotherly love indeed.

Also, if there seemed to be a higher proportion of cuss-words in this post than usual; I am at my familial home, surrounded by little guys and I need to find an outlet for my foul language, lest I teach my parroting nephew something new.

UPDATE 24/12/10
Oops! Ha ha!  They didn't mean it; Ambulance drivers can speed when they really need to. They didn't mean that memo. Couldn't we tell?
The amount of deliberate public manipulation these days is staggering.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thank you for not Existing too Close to our Artwork

Every so often there are incidents that arise in the popular media that make you wonder, make you shake your head, perhaps huff a laugh before flipping the page or clicking  the next link. You dismiss them swiftly, but they remain in your brain as a source of confusion, laughter even, and once reminded they are easily recalled. It is in these events, however, that we must pay close attention; they show the color of our society, we are fascinated because they are strange, and anomaly, and we hone in on that, our bodies built to detect incongruity or confusion, a lesson I learned well in perception class. The professor had shown us a model of the ventricular system, the tubes in the ears that detect movement of the head, and explained that they were maximally activated by rolling and pitching the head forward, twisting the chin downwards in a movement much like trying to place your ear on your chest. It took me a great deal of thinking before I understood that the body didn't care when your head was doing normal things, it wanted to know when they systems were failing, when things were going wrong (like when you decide to kiss your chest with your ear, for example).

The particular incident I am referring to in the paper, perhaps Dear Reader noticed it, was about a women who was told not to breastfeed her child in the Edmonton art gallery. It was not, mercifully, about decency laws; she was apparently violating the Food and Drink policy of the gallery. She was welcome to breastfeed her baby in the hallway, she was informed, but not in the show-rooms themselves.

It is a confusing state of affairs that we have evolved to the point that we consider a woman's body food and drink, but as a non-mother, perhaps this is a subtle aspect to the process of breastfeeding I am not privy to. I am just dying to know if the gallery had suffered damage to the artwork as a result of some particularly acrobatic breastfeeding.

The main problem is between the fact that the gallery apparently considers breastfeeding a "food or drink" issue (she was not thrown out of the gallery or asked to step into a restroom [a suggestion many commentators brought forth, despite the fact that they refuse to eat in a bathroom] so it isn't really a breastfeeding insensitivity issue), and the couple considering the issue a "human rights violation". I tend to get my hackles up pretty hard for human rights violations, and I do believe they can happen even here in Canada, but is being asked to move to a different room to breastfeed a human rights violation or is the phrase being tossed about any time the members of the general public feel fed up and ill treated? It almost feels like our emotions and devotions are being led by the nose by the indignation, the triggered reaction to a "human rights violation", and I don't like being led.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Little Sexual Frustration, Combined With Lack of Motivation

I can just see, a few years ago, several politicians wiping their brows and exclaiming how happy they were that the constitution had been translated onto these new-fangled VCR tapes so that it would be more modern and accessible in the new age. Perhaps I should explain how I got here.

The news lately has been tittering to itself that the Alberta health care code of diagnostics apparently regards the state of homosexuality (Next to Arizona) as a mental disorder. It's true in the hay-day of the American diagnostic manual homosexuality was regarded as a paraphilia, right up there with bestiality, but since I had learned about it's removal as such back when I was doing my Psychology degree, and textbooks are notoriously slow to adapt (2000-computers are added to economics manuals) I had assumed it was a non- issue.

The Provincial government's response has been largely red-faced stammering about how it's a slow process to keep the manual updated and such, implying that the whole thing is a mere oversight, whoops, but it appears that Doctors have been billing provincial health care as recently as 2004, which is pretty darn recent by my standards. What this means is that it was in use, not a simple red-tape error. It also does not imply that there have not been any more recently, just that we did not have access to that data (If they are using it in 2004, they are using it in 2010, I bet you a dollar).

My first reaction was to just wonder why the hell they didn't just make one big push to transfer legislation online to a huge archive making it more accessible, but I suppose they want to wait and see if this "Internet" thing is going to stick around. But the larger problem revealed is that we have Doctors in the system treating patients for their "disease" of homosexuality and no one in the higher system is bothering to let us all know about it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The True Meaning of Christmas - Corporate Fines

When I was working one day, during the actual day-time too, I received a call from a number I didn't recognize and stupidly answered it out of sheer habit. It turned out to be some telemarketer with Bell phoning to offer me a great long distance plan and to be honest - I flipped. I kept my language clean but I relayed to them that I was on the do not call list and was not to be called - ever. She gamely persisted, in a show of reckless stupidity, and I became even more blunt that she should not be contacting me ever, and I demanded to know how they had even obtained my number in the first place (I am not a Bell subscriber) when she hung up on me, which is my personal criteria for Worst Offense Ever. I actually debated phoning their head office to complain but my cooler head prevailed and I calmed.

Today, however, is like an early Christmas present; Bell has been ordered to pay $1.3 million in damages for unauthorized phone-calls to numbers on the National Do Not Call list. True, it is only $1.3 million, but that's money they don't have anymore, and any good business is not going to continue to do things that cost them money.

It's small, it really is, but it's something, and in this increasingly expanding world it is so easy to forget that we can make a difference, that things can change, that even small people can do big things; but there it is.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Who we Need Fixing the Environment

CBC radio was broadcasting a special about killer whales this morning, specifically how they are currently being studied by their feces so researchers have to keep a dog on board to sniff out the poop in the water (apparently it floats for about 45 minutes) so they can evaluate its contents. The results of their study are depressing however, since it seems that this particular species of Killer Whale is dwindling because their main dietary requirement, Chinook Salmon, is being hunted too greatly, and its numbers are dropping. Throw in some increased stress from whale watchers who get too close, and the 89 member strong species is in serious trouble.

It was early in the morning when I was listening to this so I should be forgiven for my next thought which ran:
"Why don't we just grow more salmon?"
Which is a bit embarrassing, considering that I like to consider myself a super-genius but I then made it worse by wondering how we would do that; obviously by increasing the salmon's main food supply which is smaller fish (When I discovered Salmon are mostly carnivorous, my toes shriveled like old lentils - I may never swim in random lakes again) and then wondered how we could do that, obviously by increasing things like oceanic algae and various plants, since it will eventually come down to plants, but then at this point I began to consider the higher levels of the chain. The increased Salmon will undoubtedly lead to higher levels of things which eat Salmon, such as eagles, bears, killer whales, and bigger fish, most of which also like to eat us (I may never set foot in water again - my tub might be hiding a killer whale). This whole issue is likely to lead us to a circumstance roughly similar to the one experienced by Bob the angry flower, where he releases a species of fungus, then releases something else to control it, culminating in the entire human population being devoured by carnivorous tribble-like creatures that he released to rectify the whole situation.

Until I considered that we understand reproduction pretty well, all we need to do is understand the multiplier effect, an economic term used to imply the resounding ramifications experienced within the economy when a tax cut or unexpected surge of income provokes consumer spending. Analysts have found a way to calculate the expected increase to keep us from plunging headlong into rampant inflation, effectively courting the inflation to provide maximum growth. If we applied this principle to restocking our planet with species, it would take a while to obtain all the relevant statistics (mortality rate, consumption rate, etc) to most accurately represent the environmental multiplier effect but if there was a way to do it, Economists would be it.

In that vein, Economists are excellent evaluators of human motivation, observing external events that lead to strange behaviors, even if they can't predict the next "Furby" craze. One of the main problems of the environmental movement has been getting enough people motivated to form a "critical mass", which is functionally the number of people it  would take to make environmentalism more efficient than a consumption-based lifestyle. Without this mass exodus towards conscientiousness, it is still more profitable to maintain the status quo. With most economists' backgrounds in recommending government policy to motivate people and regulations, this could be applied to the human component of environmentalism while not damaging the essential capitalistic nature of our nations' markets.

Finally this may be the most uncomfortable reason, but the main motivation people have for building a career in environmentalism is that they want to save the world, but this motivation can sometimes blind us to the harsh realities of the situation and solutions. Economists may not necessarily have that problem. Not to imply they are heartless, just that they are motivated by results and numbers,  and this change in emphasis might be the focus we need.

This may sound like a radical suggestion but consider; economists managed to create a machine which simulated movements of the greater economy with the use of water in tubes and control inflation within our massive nation to an extent that it stays within its narrow little band of 1 to 3 percent year after year. I think we should give them a shot.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sociological Psychology Post-it note

Just a quick thought today before I get back to procrastinating on my studying; Kin selection. It's widely understood that people feel more disposed to protect members of their self-determined "tribe" or those they feel genetically resemble themselves. As one evolutionist put it, "I would lay down my life for two brothers". This is subscribed typically to the idea that people do this to preserve their genetics in the mating pool (two people to pass on genes being better than one), but I feel it would be an interesting point to assess whether people would respond the same (with regards to "laying down their lives for brothers") if they knew the brothers were sterile. If this alters the response, obviously the hypothesis about genetics  is true, but if it is not, it could raise pressing evolutionary questions.
Anyway, I submit for your cognitive joy; More regular and larger posts should start appearing after this Friday, when the bulk of my exams culminate.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Trigger warning folks; might want to grab something to hold on to while you read.
Victor calls me a Liberal. We had an argument regarding wiki-leaks and whether we support what they're doing or not, I do, he doesn't, so he wryly pointed out that when I vote, he feels I should vote Liberal. I suppose it's true, I am so Liberal, I'm kind of a Liberal joke. Free speech above all else, more green policies, and to be frank, I don't use shampoo. But this is precisely why I dislike that the highest form of government we can aspire to these days is Democracy.

As a result of the system, we are forced to choose; to put ourselves  in one camp, pigeonhole ourselves. "I don't support this policy." "Oh, so you're a Tory?" Well, no. I can't choose to compromise some of my principles so I can have others. They are all equally precious to me and I refuse to rank free speech against other things, weighing them as if I could do without one or another. It is reprehensible to me  that I should be forced to act like there are things I do not support to gain the ones I do.

For example, Victor may have identified me as Liberal, but I support the military. I believe it should be a priority in our budget, and this is not really a classical Liberal view. But I also support gay marriage. Which is not a typically conservative view. But the biggest divergence I find is that while I support free speech and complete openness and accountability in our government, I cannot support abortion.

Feels pretty good to go on and get that out there. Before any heated discussion begins I should point out two things: one I am necessarily not talking about medical problems. If there is a forty percent or greater chance that your pregnancy will harm you, it should entirely be your choice to risk it or not, and the hospital should assist you. Two, I am discounting the morning-after pill which, although it is classified as an abortifacent, I consider it valid, but I also believe it should be readily available. These exceptions considered, I'm putting my foot down.

But why? Don't you support a woman's right to choose?
What conservatives and Pro-lifers feared would happen is coming to pass. Just today I was listening to the radio (Tuned to a heavily conservative station; one of the hazards of living with a Tory I suppose) while they discussed twin reductions. No, that's not where you stop sleeping in a queen bed and start sleeping in a couple of twin beds instead, that's where a pregnant woman discovers that she is carrying twins and elects to "reduce" it to a single baby (fetus, whatever).This is apparently pretty common in cases of IV fertilization because  to ensure at least one pregnancy takes, they will implant two zygotes, which people are warned about prior to, and elect to take the risk of twins.

How can we support this? Even hardened pro-choice people squirm at this. It is selfishly terminating a life. Pro-life people everywhere feared that we would become too flippant about abortion, that we would take it for granted and you would see people getting needless abortions, and now, here we are. I cannot say what should be done about this; I personally can't see where we could draw a line. Any stand we take would be arbitrarily placed. 6 months? 3 months? Only 1 to 0, not 2 to 1? Only if there's a risk of medical issues? All I know is that it is too loose now. We are experiencing what we experience with divorces. A fifty percent divorce rate because they are too easy now, too accessible, and we take that for granted. But we cannot stand by and let people take abortions for granted. As much as I try to dissociate  myself from it, and take a dispassionate view, it is ending a life. I'm not going to hold up disgusting pictures on the sidewalk to convince others to see things my way,  because that just disrespects what has been done, and I cannot support that, but neither can I support its continuation in this fashion.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Life Like a Broken Condom

Now that my disastrous math final has terminated its final bracket, I have a buildup of creative and intellectual energy that I am itching to inflict on some topic but to be frank, it's a pretty boring news Monday. I suppose you don't want to release anything interesting in the news on a Monday, since everyone and their dog is trying to catch up with all the news they missed over the weekend (Miley Cyrus smoked a bong?!) but it is a disappointment to find that the most interesting thing resides in the Wikileak founder's briefs.

If you haven't heard that he's being held in Britain on charges of sexual assault let me welcome you to December, but the fine details are being so mangled by the press that it's almost unintelligible. Worse, we've taken a step back in terms of open-mindedness and some people have examined the ladies' histories to decide whether or not they feel the women are truthful. Look, she maintained a blog about using the courts to get back at your unfaithful lover, she's probably lying. They went out for breakfast afterward, obviously she didn't regret anything.

Let's be blunt here, the case shouldn't be going anywhere. The precise complaint lodged by the women is not that he raped them, but that he balked at using a condom, which at worse showed he has poor sense. The fact that the women still chose to have sex with him when he wouldn't wear a condom shows they have poor sense themselves. But the inevitable conclusion is that if we are going to prosecute this man for having sex without a condom, we have to prosecute the women as well, since they agreed to have sex with him without a condom. They met a man and a few days later consented to sex with him without adequate protection. They both got burned a few days later because it turned out he was seeing multiple people. You would assume that in a couple hours they should have been able to tell he was an upstanding, committed gentleman.

There's no reason to be dragging these ladies' characters through the mud, they can probably do that themselves; they were bit in a relationship, we've all been there,  they're learning a hard lesson. However, lying to get into someone's pants is not a criminal offense, even if maybe it should be (Remember that case about the lady who slept with a guy because he told her he was Jewish and he wasn't?) If we start prosecuting this stuff, we're also going to have to start prosecuting make-up, hair extensions, and push-up bras. So in essence? This case is a farce.

Last thoughts: he is being held without bail. Let me say that again; he is accused of having sex without a condom so he is being held without bail. (We have a guy putting stuff in people's drinks to make them sick, and all we say is "Be home before eleven, okay?")This feels far too much like the international community holding on to his collar just in case something bad happens because of his leaks, "Just stay where we can see you..." or because they might want to prosecute him on charges of espionage, which I am not really "up" on, but I'm not sure it is related to cases where you are voluntarily given documents that you did not ask for (Next stop: Unlawful giving, where someone donates in your name [not with your name] to an embarrassing charity). The fact that none of the talking heads are addressing this issue, however, bothers my soul. This is clearly a human right violation, but we're just going to sweep it under the rug. I would be willing to bet that this man will not spend Christmas in Britain, that extradition is going to get fast-tracked, and they are going to appeal until such time as they have exhausted every possible avenue. Ridiculous.

Friday, December 10, 2010

At Least he didn't have a Cellphone

Finals week is really bogging me down, so I'm afraid the updates are going to be somewhat smaller for the next little while, but this was an issue that no-one is kicking up a fuss about, and I can't waste a good tantrum.

There was, a few Edmontonians may have noticed, a piece in the paper about a nut-bar in a Honda screaming down Jasper Ave at speeds some witnesses have estimated at 140 km/h. Unless Jasper Ave has become the autobahn since I was there last, this is decidedly over the limit. After he was wrenched out of the twisted wreckage of his car by the jaws of life and taken to the hospital, he has now been charged with dangerous driving, cruelty to an animal (there was a dog in the car which was killed) and breach of recognizance.
I stopped at this; I have no idea what that means, so I Googled it. Turns out it means 'breach of bail conditions', and I found my interest picking up; What had this gentleman been arrested for that they let him out to recreate burnout with downtown Edmonton?

If this Garth Schuck is the right Garth Schuck, he was previously a member of the Canadian Forces, and was charged with trafficking (snore, right?) but also, here's the fun part, with "administering a noxious thing" (I desperately want to see those court charges. If the phrase "thing one and thing two" come up, I'd just die laughing.) He was at a Tim Horton's and offered to buy a couple of ladies some coffee, then they got sick. Reports don't seem to indicate the exact nature of the noxious thing, but how messed up do you have to be to do something like this? I have a psychology degree so take my word that the answer is "pretty-darn". I just have no idea what was going through the judge's head when he took at look at the charges, the fact that the man willfully sought to harm another person, in the guise of kindness, and said, "Sure, go on home, just don't stay out too late." If he is let out on bail a second time after speeding down the road at over-lethal speeds while not even on drugs or alcohol, I think we should protest. This man has demonstrated that he is willing to injure people both passively and actively; if anyone should be locked up, it's him.

Anyway, on a humorous note, there has been a lot of joking on the Internet lately aimed at people who check the shower curtain when they go into the bathroom, asking what they would do if they did find a murderer there, and my answer is that I plan to die with dignity instead of dying while pooping with my pants around my ankles. 

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Wildwhat A-who-now? Part 2

I am just about to hand in one of the most schizophrenic papers I have ever birthed and I have very little clue as to whether it satisfies the conditions that it needs to meet because I have only the vaguest notion of what those are. I've re-read the outline sheet a million times - I could still make the case for an "A" and an "F". Needless to say I'm cranky, irritable, and looking to start a fight; As Spider Jerusalem would say, I'm in the perfect mood for journalism. (Which is what I like to tell myself I am doing, no matter how much it feels like rolling in a tub of political margarine while hollering about semantics.)

But you aren't here to read about my personal irritants, are you, Dear Reader? Not unless it's Ed Stelmach exfoliating my heels, which I sent a letter regarding even using the phrase "Win-win-win" but so far I haven't heard anything. So I am back at them with fresh vigor and a whole new lease on life that only a freshly snorted turkey soup can bring. (No, that's not a euphemism. I fricken love turkey soup.)

I'll start off with some praise; the Wildrose Alliance is in favor of municipal government, which puts them ahead of the Sovereign Dictatorship (Or "Veiny Dic" party for short) by a wide margin. The flavor that their support takes is that they want to put the control for government financing back in the hands of the municipal governments, because they feel funding shouldn't be a popularity contest. I'm not sure I agree. The process has definitely turned into a matter of giving money to the metaphorically 'prettiest' whiner, but no matter what system you conceive, either you are going to bleeding money left and right to cities who are all of the opinion that their project is the most important one or you are going to have to *gasp* judge them. It's sad that the province must play the bad-guy and double-tap the occasional "bad idea" and we've seen that ugliness here in Edmonton because of our Expo bid but that's the nature of the system: not everyone can get all the money they want and someone who is disinterested in the results should be weighing the options. Plus, the leader slags on the provincial government's carbon capture program, saying "no one asked for [it]". Technically Kyoto is not a "someone" so she is correct, but I don't see her volunteering any carbon emission programs to replace this one. (Which really isn't a long-term solution, but at least it's something.) They really bring the whole issue together with a promise to conduct a massive inquiry of provincial tax revenues and required infrastructure projects, topped with a list of "funding criteria" that will apparently help allocate funding to where it needs to be and I think it sounds stellar, assuming it is needed. I am an optimist in that I find it hard to believe the province has no idea how much money they get from taxes, or where it is really needed, but this has been a complaint from many people, so if you find yourself in this camp, this might be your party.

I had not realized the last three sections I had postponed included health-care so this behemoth might become three posts, especially as I find myself drawn in to her description of the health-care crisis. It is damn hard to find a family doctor in Alberta. The fact that health-care spending is over 40% of the provincial budget, however, is trivial. That's just how it is; that's not unusual so don't hold it up like we're freaks. Their main plan is to encourage alternate forms of medical care. They want to encourage out-of-hospital care facilities, like old-folks homes etc, but the form that I am concerned about is alternative medicine. Their paradigm heavily suggests loosening the restrictions on "sanctioned health-care" methods, and although I support the idea, I have no health problems (and arrogantly assume that I never will. I am much like a teenager still.) But to people with dangerous conditions who are sometimes scared and looking for a miracle fix, this can be dangerous. Just think of the young man who underwent a controversial treatment to open his veins to relieve his MS symptoms, but when he returned and suffered complications he could not find a doctor who was willing to see him and he died.
The other portion is they plan to encourage a surge of medical staff by forgiving students loans, etc, but this is counter-productive to the plan to loosen health-care restrictions. It is risky for medical staff to treat people who have been treated with methods they may not be familiar with or trust. Few doctors will be willing to risk their malpractice premiums just to waive some loans, and live here.
The party says others will try to convince us that we should not listen to the naysayers who label their plan as scary, but I will be honest, it  is scary. Despite the fact that our health-care is sick, we should not be pushed into exploring alternative medicine because we are scared; we should explore it because we want to. But to do so we must have a functioning, healthy system in place first.

On the other hand, I do agree with their plan to set up tax-free medical savings plans and establish greater access to our personal health-care history (See When we Used to Play Bang Bang for my thoughts on government created file systems, however), but I think their plan to publish wait times and costs for various procedures is useless ("Oh I have to wait a year for chemo? Well, never mind then, I'll get it another time.")Worse, their plan to publish statistics (times and success rates for procedures) on various hospitals will just lead to a polarizing effect when successful hospitals are overemphasized, and under-represented hospitals are "ghettoized" and stigmatized. We don't need to make our health-care workers feel like losers for working at a  particular hospital. ("You work at Such'n'such Hospital? Maybe if you'd studied harder...")

Finally, for those who have been with me since the Edmonton Municipal Election, this dog and pony show is old hat but for the Newcomers; Welcome to the "Everyone Wants Democracy, so Shut Your Cake-Hole" Dance!
The leader is encouraging MLAs to form their own opinions, and I must admit, I was burned pretty badly when someone (Not naming names) forced their representatives to vote against scrapping the gun registry. I was pretty irked. But I am not convinced that they are advocating the best course of action. If people band together they can accomplish things that the majority desire. Imagine a million people all voting for different things: nothing gets done. A coherent message is sometimes better than five small ones. I can not believe I am going to draw this comparison, but in households where unorthodox, unusual, or strange values are taught, children have a better recovery rate if the message, however backwards, is consistent. If we're going to be screwed up, it is better if it's consistent. It's not the best system, but it might be the least bad for a massive government like Canada's.

They're also trying to push increased citizen involvement but again, those familiar with the Edmonton Municipal Election know what happens when you lean on "pleblecites" and citizen-initiated referendums - you don't get elected. Hell, we can barely pull in 50% of citizens to vote on major elections such as who is going to steer our little ship for the next term, let alone a vote on whether the ballots should be mauve or puce.

Good on them for backing MLA Sherman, who is alternately portrayed as a rebellious upstart or a maniac wild-dog depending on who you talk to, (I haven't made up my mind about Mr. Sherman yet, but I love any political scandals that might revolve around how "that bitch wore my colors to the latest party" and this certainly smells like potential) by invoking his name and advocating empowered government watchdogs, but their plan to publish MLA's expense accounts will be quietly ditched the first time someone actually looks at them, I am willing to guarantee, and the "independent review board" to determine MLA's wages would swiftly be either corrupted and vilified or vilified and ignored.

That, in a nutshell, seems to be the policies of the Wildrose party. I can't say whether or not anyone SHOULD vote for them, just that I won't be surprised if they don't win too many seats come next election whip round. We don't take kindly to strangers 'round these parts, especially if they come with a gold-wrapped feel-good basket that says they hear us and they understand why we've had such a tough go, poor us. It's too damn patronizing. If a party really wanted to gain ground here in the Texas of the north, they better come packing a steak the size of a smart car, promise a shot of whiskey if you agree to not clog up the emergency room with stupid crap (If you resist the urge to go when you have the sniffles, they just mail you a bottle) and vow to suck all the oil out of the earth into giant pools so it's environmentally friendly and profitable. Then we'll talk.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Wildwhat A-who-now?

I periodically embarrass myself. It's true; once I announced to an entire cafeteria packed with other women that the "first male in the lounge" had arrived (made a spectacle, really) just to discover that no, he hadn't, but a very pissed off short-haired women had arrived. Compare that with the fact that I deadpanned the belief that politician came from two words (Poli- meaning many and -ticks meaning blood-sucking creatures) to a completely unamused, dead-silent sociology class (That joke is classic, you losers!) I have a pretty wide penchant for humiliation.

It is with this chagrin and good humor however that I discover that I have precisely no idea about the nature of the party that is, according to the last political poll to come off the pipe, rivaling the conservatives so hard they might need to pick them as a wedgie once they are in privacy. For those who haven't seen it rest assured it isn't the Liberals, who probably couldn't get a good showing here in Alberta if they turned themselves into Nutria thongs for the Conservatives to wear on the political stage. (I'm not saying I'm Conservative or Liberal, just observing the climate out here.)

From just a brief viewing of them, however, I'm not convinced they're going to be a solid choice. I had vague flashbacks to my "TeenLife" magazine reading days just from perusing the front page which had a link so I could "Speak Out!" to share my "Health Care Horror Stories"  (OMG! Then, when I bent over to pick up my ultrasound, my stethoscope fell down! LAWL!)and they're really pushing the whole "By the people, For the people" schtick by insisting their policy is built from the ground up. This practically assures infighting and cliques; I'm willing to guarantee in five years their meeting room looks like the set of "Mean Girls". This plan is reflected quite solidly in their education policy,  which promises to return power to the parents and school boards. I had never seen (or even imagined I'd see) the complete opposite of the "No child left behind policy" but here it is: The first and most important step is to have educational funding follow the student. They acknowledge that this program would suck the life out of smaller schools and cause a "coagulating effect" on larger schools, but so be it. This almost seems like a continuation of the policy that was being bat around to merge the Catholic and Public school boards and systems. They're apparently also going to bring in a "tailored to the child's needs" policy of education, but it is almost too easy to point out how much additional strain this is going to put on our educational system, not to forget the friction this could potentially cause between students in Alberta to other provinces. "I'm in grade eleven!" "Really? I'm in grade flowering butterfly, just moved up from grade colostomy bag!"

Their environmental policy at least acknowledges the beatings we're taking in the global arena over our Oil Sands, but their three pronged attack makes me think of Satan's trident. The first one is clean air (which is apparently good? I was hoping we'd reach a state where I could chew my air while I breath it, but fine) they plan to address this issue by moving the provincial focus from our current sources of energy to natural gas. This will create demand and bolster a local industry while reducing emissions and save us money because it's cheaper! I don't want to point this out because they are so obviously pleased with this plan but points one and three are mutually exclusive; their "triple win" is on a crash course. If the demand rises, sure as I order desserts with dinner, the price is going to go up too (Hot damn, I'm all set for my Macroeconomics final!) I'd love to have an opinion on whether or not it will reduce all emissions but I know so little about the industry, I will have to leave it at a skeptical "Sure".
The second portion is clean water, which they are going to achieve through a bunch of regulation and standard enforcement. Not to mention praying really really hard for new technology that will Hail-Mary the tailings ponds away. I've never seen an official government policy that called for a Deus ex Mechina but I'm excited to be a part of it.
The third portion is clean land, which they plan to achieve by streamlining the process through which new ventures which might cause environmental damage can be approved faster because then they can get to the recover phase faster. Get it? Me neither. Then again, I'm not one of those people who like to whip band-aids off as fast as possible, so there might be some nuance I'm missing. They also plan to establish an environmental ombudsman board to address environmental concerns and such.
Want to hear the punchline?
They think there's too much government regulation!
I don't want to suggest that having a "ground-up, everyone-has-a-good-point" policy in place is leading to a schizophrenic campaign that works at cross-purposes, but it almost smells that way.

The final aspect I'll look into for today (I'll cover the last three tomorrow) is their view on post-secondary education. I am not childish enough to point out that in the Alliance leader's speech to the University of Calgary she refers to "less students", which typically means a measure of quality, so she is functionally saying that the students getting in are worth less, so I will have to find something of value to pick on. Their plan of attack is to reinstate tuition hike caps (Please note: tuition hike caps, not tuition caps) and crack down on institutions that charge non-instructional fees. You know, like health benefits, LRT, and other boring things institutions like to tuck into their student's goodie bags.

The last contradiction readily apparent in their education policy is that they point to Alberta's track record of advancements born from our Universities' research departments, but then says that we have nothing to show for the billions the PCs have poured into Post-Secondary. It's a minor point, hardly worth noticing, but again it just underlines the lack of cohesion present in this party, and the fact that they are just telling us what we want to hear. Then again, that's definitely par for the course when it comes to political parties so perhaps I am just being naive.

Part Two should hit the air tomorrow.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Ratigan: Previously a Disney Villain, now a Rat Afghan!

I'm not sure what I am more embarrassed about; the fact that I got suckered into reading a fashion article from the newspaper, or that I'm going to blog about it. The headline read "Swamp rat's 'guilt-free' fur making a fashion splash" and who wouldn't want to read about that? Fashion models wearing swamp rat pelts, the possibility that there is some species of rodents who shed whole pelts of fur (Other than my husky. It's seriously a blanket), and the lilliputian chance that there will be a genuine fashion model brawl somewhere in the article. (I hold out hope dearly)

What, in actual fact, makes the fur "guilt-free" is that the Nutria species (That is truly its name. It sounds like something health-conscious, cancer-oblivious people stir in their coffees) has become somewhat of a nuisance. Since it was imported by the primordial fashion industry in the 30's, it has been left to its own machinations which, as all animals' do, involve screwing and eating. The eating is starting to destroy the coast-lands, however, since the overdetermined little buggers like to gnaw root vegetables down to the nubbins, leaving big patches of barren land that oblivious and sterile people apparently call "eat-outs". Louisiana, in the fine tradition of over-reactors everywhere (Rodents everywhere! Is Canada invading?!) has ordered a cull. That is apparently all the "go-ahead" the fashion industry needs to capitalize on their ancestor's mistake, bonk the little blighters over the head, and steal their clothes to wear while they flutter their lashes and talk about how committed they are to environmental preservation.

For crying out loud, you're still killing them. You are still causing the death of something living. I don't want to be bleeding heart about this, but you don't get to hack their jackets off and hoist them on your petard of "guilt-free". Just because you've lost conscious touch with the moral portion of your brain doesn't mean you should feel better. Worse, since the average individual on the street can't tell that your fur jacket is "government-cull-condoned" it perpetuates the glorification of the fur culture that is killing thousands of animals needlessly that obviously don't have the warm-fuzzy label of 'saving a whole beach full of yams'. How is Peta not up in these people's grills like they were for Michaelle Jean when she ate a piece of seal blubber? Models are weak and largely irrelevant, isn't that Peta's target market?

On the other hand, watching people killing and flaunting the carcasses of beasties that are purported to look just like svelte beavers might give us the excuse we've been dying for to declare they are taunting our Canadian heritage, and just invade them. I just wish I felt more comfortable following Stephen Harper...anywhere, really. Even just down to the neighbors for a kegger. The Liberal media really paints our PM in a harsh light, as though he's some money-grubbing, war-mongering, women-hating Arch-Demon. But he's not even trying to defend himself. If this was a UFC fight, the ref would be covering him like he's hiding a Smartie from a fat kid. This past week he deferred some gun-tracing regulations for another two years in the hopes of being able to gain a majority vote and not ever need to bother with them, like, ever. But he has done so on the 21st anniversary of the massacre at Ecole Polytechnique, which is the flagship defense for the gun registry. Harper, you may not care enough to kowtow to the Liberals, but for crying out loud, don't give them a gift like this. If you actually do want to get rid of the registry, you might have to try things that will actually work.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Don't you Wish your Doctor was Hot, Like Me?

If I catch whichever low-down, mud-wriggling, borderline-psychotic, ADHD individual it is that is leaving fliers for the LRT tucked under my windshield wipers while I am parked in the LRT parking lot, I will do things to them that will make bystanders uncomfortable, and possibly pull out their cellphones, fingers poised over the police complaint line.

Health care. You just haven't heard enough about Alberta's health care, have you? It might never be enough. The latest avenue for discussion is about how health-care workers are trained to tell us citizens how to live healthy, while many seem to not bother following their own advice with regards to stress, nutrition, sleep, and indulgences. Three things immediately leap to mind upon evaluating this reality:

One, our society seems obsessed with sussing out "hypocrites", or people that tell other people how to do something while not doing so themselves, the whole "do as I say, not as I do". I have long advocated that there isn't anything wrong with this lifestyle. Good advice is good advice regardless where it came from, and if it is from a person struggling with the same issue, perhaps it is good advice that is not tailored to the advice giver's particular situation. Perhaps they don't value the elimination of the problem in the same way the advice seeker does, or they feel that the advice-seeker is in a better position to implement the advice. There is nothing inherently bad in the fact of hypocrisy, it has just gotten a bum-rap. I think if we could harness its power, it would allow us to spread advice better without judging the source it came from.

Rebuttal: If the advice can't even work for the person giving it, even if the reason is because they cannot find the motivation, then there is obviously something flawed in the advice if it cannot even motivate the person who finds it useful enough to pass on. The "goodness" of things are usually assessed by their ability to perform their function (Thanks, Plato!) so if the advice offered is unachievable, it is then, by definition, not good advice. his raises larger questions about the fitness of our health-care paradigm, i.e. shouldn't good health be motivating enough?

Two, From my near-categorical knowledge of the study of Scrubs and House M.D, I feel qualified to point out that few other professions live the hectic, over-worked lives of health-care professionals, so advice that may be impractical for their own lives could still work for ours. A better examination would be into why the hell our system has gotten to a point where health-care people can't take better care of themselves because we're working them into the ground, but that doesn't carry the same schadenfreudic shiver to it.

Rebuttal: Again, it's about the quality of the advice and commitment of the individual. It doesn't take much to ensure good health, and it should really be a priority in everyone's life.

Three, The main problem with our health-care system is bigger than we can really imagine right now. The problem is rooted deeply in how ingrained capitalism is within our culture. The overarching "good", the highest right in capitalism is profit and over the years we've gotten really good at maximizing that. We've formed whole disciplines around the study of how people react to profit and incentive, motivation and manipulation. When it comes to the health-care system, however, we cannot run it like a business; the primary aim of hospitals and such should be the continuing good health and welfare of its patients, and that is just not fiscally feasible. We know so little about the health motivations of most people, they are so wild-card in their actions with regards to health, that any predictions we make are heavily dependent on the environment, situation and actors, which doesn't do us much good for establishing policies. All in all, we are not currently equipped to maintain the kind of paradigm necessary for a national health-care system where the main "product" is healthy people.

Shut your cake-hole.

There you have it. Why you should not care if the doctor telling you to cut down on cholesterol is larger than some "used-to-be-a-planet" objects whizzing around in space. Ultimately it comes down to the same thing everything does; personal responsibility. Yes, maybe the doctor is telling you to eat healthier while he waters the lawn of your face with crumbs from the Twinkies he just snagged, but don't you want the best for your body? Man up, and do what's right.

Friday, December 03, 2010

It's an EMT! It's a Doctor! No, it's Supernurse!

I can not believe I am going to write this, but here goes: In the recent case where a man was visiting his wife who had just given birth in the hospital and he then suffered a diabetic seizure, prompting the staff of the hospital to give him some minimal form of treatment then phone 911, I agree with the hospital. Let me break it down a little more clearly. A man had an emergency medical problem that the nearby people were unable to deal with; paramedics were summoned to treat the man and transport him to an emergency center. The fact that the nearby people were nurses is irrelevant. The fact that he was transported three floors is irrelevant. (Obviously not to his bill; The couple shouldn't have been charged and I'm pleased it was waived, but that's not the point.) I genuinely appreciate, no, I LOVE when ambiguous situations are responded to with meticulous adherence to the guidelines. It makes me warm and fuzzy inside.

Nurses have specific roles and skill sets that are different from doctor's specific roles and skill sets which are different, in turn, from paramedic's specific roles and skill sets. Each are valuable and critical pieces of the whole health care pie. It may not make the wait-times shorter but I guarantee that if we start crossing expectations of people and forcing them to changing their jobs in "special cases", it will sabotage any further progress we hope to achieve. We need to accommodate for the precise expectations of each sector in the well-oiled Deus ex Medica, in order to keep something this large and unwieldy in efficient order. Sometimes when special cases are highlighted, it can vilify the system of due process that is required for anything more than a few people deciding where to go for supper because seriously guys, we went to Boston Pizza last week, but I really feel like Chinese, but there is a reason we put these systems in place.

Why are you writing on something so comparatively trivial?
To be honest, Dear Reader, ever since I read the article on one of Nina Courtepatte's murderers (a. Trigger warning and b. It breaks my heart that a 13 year old has "murderers") outlining how Alberta's highest court upheld the girl's sentencing as a minor, I have been downtrodden. The girl stuck a knife in Nina's neck, and then held her down to allow the other murderers to sexually assault her. The court feels that since she didn't plan beforehand, and did not do anything worse (Anything worse?! The mind reels.) afterward, means that the girl can serve 4 years in a facility, followed by 3 years in community "under supervision", i.e: 4 years in juvenile then a babysitter for a while. The only way I can console myself enough not to just run into the streets shrieking because obviously we have no justice in the world, is to repeat to myself that the girl is doomed to live as a despicable human being, and that's a pretty ugly sentence. Cold comfort in the winter of my discontent. 

Thursday, December 02, 2010

This is not the Bid you are Looking for...

I always assume that when politicians come to conclusions about public opinion, they use official polls and other important measures that probably involve electrodes to discourage deception. The recent incident involving the expo, however, may disillusion me of that notion. It seems that Prime Minister Harper believed Edmontonians did not support the bid because of a media survey he had seen. I shudder to think of which media survey he viewed (The one in the Sun asked how people "feel" about the fact that the federal government would help fund the bid: Happy 47%,  Sad 20%,  or Don't care 33%). If that was the main reason he decided to quash the bid, then I'm not sure he made the right step. It is notable that he says killing it was the right move for Albertan and Edmonton taxpayers (who knows what he feels is right for Canadian taxpayers?) he's just concerned that we might have to pay too much. Thanks for telling us what we want, Harper.

It's true, as our mayor points out, that it depends heavily on what questions a surveyor asks: The question "Do you support paying $2 billion on an Edmonton Expo?" is likely to garner negative approval, but the question, "Do you think Edmonton should be allowed to host the Expo?" is probably going to show support from respondents. This is just the nature of the beast; the only annoyance is that we have two of the most slanted newspapers I've ever had the misfortune to rely on for information. Even just the headlines reveal a deliberate slant towards the conservatives, at least within the Journal (the Sun recently asked "Are the Alberta Tories out to get Dr. Raj Sherman?" which produced an overwhelming "yes" response, which is no big surprise with wording like "out to get".) The question is whether this reflects public opinion, or creates it.

The other article of interest is that Alberta's Metis community lost a lawsuit in their battle to exercise their right to hunt and fish on public land in Alberta, the court turning  it down by citing that it was not traditional Metis territory (I remember the story about the leaking Tailings pond, and how that pond was next to traditional hunting grounds; no one made a stink that we were poisoning the animals we expected them to hunt...). From the comments and responses to this article it seems most people are in favor of "One country, One set of rules" but I am concerned that this may be doing a traditional culture a disservice. It's true there are abuses of the current regulations, even some Native advocates admit that, but it is hard to say then that we should clamp down on everyone. People hold up the notion that we should stop living like it's the 1800's and bring ourselves into the 2010's, but anyone who thinks the residual effects of the residential schools are not relevant, is sadly uninformed. To address both of theses issues I think legislation that would allow hunting, but also encourage the Native community to police themselves with regards to poaching, or hunting for "non-sustenance" reasons. This would encourage stronger community ties but also ensure over-hunting does not become a problem.  I also think the cause suffered a terrible loss with the death of Ron Jones, who died earlier this year, and was a passionate advocate for Metis hunting rights. 

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Less The Situation; More The Situation Room, please.

Before anything else of import I feel a public service announcement is in order. When you are  frantically running for the LRT doors that are closing, and you achieve your stance right in front of them, there are precious microseconds left, don't push the "door open" button. They don't give a crap about you. Those buttons disable two seconds after the train pulls into port and disgorges its load. What you want to do, and yes it is a little scary, is stuff your hand in between the doors. Those suckers aren't going to close and drive off, severing your fingers or dragging you along like a little girl's errant stuffed wubbie. What it is going to do is lose the battle of chicken with your digits and open again. Too many times I have seen polite people run up with the doors about six inches apart, pushing the "open" button, while the doors merrily close and the person is left standing on the platform with a "last turkey in the shop" expression. Just this morning I sprinted for the train myself and the full compartment stared at me as I wedged my fingers into the absolutely minuscule inch left between the doors, and gawked when the doors opened to admit me. Let this be a rule for life, if you don't think you are going to make it, just wedge your fingers on in. (Advice not valid for all circumstances)

Now on to things that matter. (Ha ha, see what I did there? I implied politics matter. Hah.) I hear we're being shown a document that implies the conservatives (which as everyone know, Alberta tends to back that pony) are looking to move towards a two-tiered health care system. This document, tabled July 2010, mysteriously appeared under the Liberals' door in an unmarked brown envelope. Can anyone think of a former-conservative who would have seen the document who might now have reason to back-stab the conservatives with respect to the health care system? Personally I would be interested to see if MLA Raj Sherman moves to the liberal camp in the following weeks. I'm not sure what his division looks like, or if his voters would support him more as an independent or liberal but it is tough out here for an Indy. Especially when you consider this whole exchange in the Edmonton Journal where Sherman confronts the Tories about the documents and asks at what point after he left did they decide to not move forward with the plans? To which Mr. Zwozdesky responded that he didn't know what he was talking about, he wasn't there for that meeting. He also thanks Mr. Sherman for his input on the document. Whether it is on the leaked document or not is unclear. Let me translate this to reality show talk: "Guys you were totally making faces behind Alberta's back!" "Nuh-uh! No we weren't!" "Yes you were, I was there, I saw you!" "Yeah, well, you were making faces too!" and cue twenty minutes of back and forth nattering.

The document talks about finding alternative sources of payment for "non-essential services". No word on what that means but boy do I ever hope it means I can start trading banana bread for professional massages. "Hey if you chiropractor my back, I'll do your nails!" (Is chiropractor a verb? It sure is now!)
It mentions the possibility of limiting out of province or out of country services which I would not support at all. When I was involved in a violent car accident over in Ontario while on a road trip I didn't stop being covered by Alberta health care; I was still an Albertan so fix me, dammit. If they were going to, they should be providing better sources of travel insurance so those who can not afford a heavy financial loss because they decided to do the running of the bulls (So awesome!) can cover their collective butts. As it stands now I don't even have the faintest clue what type of regulations are surrounding providing travel insurance.

I assume the province could regulate this kind of thing but I think they're too busy regulating beer instead. Yes, it's true, Alberta has banned beer that has an alcohol content of over 11.9% which was stupid because any beer higher than that is usually around $10 a bottle, so it's not something every idiot picks up to get wrecked, it's just regulating high-end crafted beer. Thank goodness we have the government holding our hands to protect us from good beer (I use this term loosely, I have yet to meet a beer I like.)

One final note; the "How to Survive a Cookie Exchange" article on the Edmonton Journal's website is not actually about tips on how to talk to journalists, they are talking about exchanging cookies with coworkers. I was disappointed.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wikileaks? Put on Your Adult Diapers.

It would only come as a surprise to the egotistical Americans that Canada has a bit of an inferiority complex. Canadians are unimpressed. The complex they speak of comes from the fact that they think Canada piggy-backs on the coat-tails of their accomplishments and commitments. They feel we never really do anything because they only hear about our efforts and accomplishments when it is of interest to American readers; i.e. when it directly involves the U.S. I recall reading one anonymous person's comments about why should Americans give assistance to other countries when the U.S. was able to get itself out of trouble after hurricane Katrina, and another poster curb-stomping him with the fact that dozens of countries had given the U.S. charity, including Cuba, who is not on good terms with the U.S. to say the least. But that's exactly the American mind-set; If it didn't happen to us or because of us, no-one cares.

We've lived in the shadow of the Colossus for a while and it's tended to give us a bit of a "tiny-man" syndrome, but that doesn't mean we're embarrassed about it. Politicians are tripping over themselves to reassure everyone that it won't change the relationship we have with the states but all in all, who would care? We have kind of a Harry-Ron thing going on (I was going to use the Lone Ranger and Tonto, but I'm not quite sure what their dynamic is, to be honest). It's true Harry might be more famous and is definitely louder, but that doesn't mean we don't have our own hopes, dreams and goals, not to forget accomplishments. As one official has said however, "digging into diplomatic underwear is not a nice business". That's only true in two cases: 1) if you are expecting  balls and don't find any or 2) you are not expecting balls and find a really hairy pair.

The moral of the story? Nothing. This isn't going to change a damn thing. Because it doesn't really matter. Okay so some officials think some other officials are doofuses and weiners. It's not going to change how the countries interact, they've got policy for that. It might make for some awkward conversations, but that's hardly a country's concern and from the sound of it (Prince Andrew's colorful rant about foreigners that is apparently patriotic in the neurotic sense of the word) they've been having awkward conversations since someone noticed it makes you popular to be funny and it makes you funny to pick on the fat kid that wheezes. Canada is going to just keep on trucking in the semi-embarrassed, overly-polite, backstage fashion that we do, regardless of the fact that it makes the U.S. think we're sissies.

At least we're not Berlusconi, who had to tell everybody that he only throws dignified parties ("Seriously guys, c'mon! Totally classy!")and I am *dying* to find out what a "bunga bunga" party is... 

Copyright? More like Copy=wrong

Imagine this for a moment: that you are a baby, just a little tiny baby (Seasoned Readers can smell the emotional pandering coming from a mile away) and the federal government agency of copyright protection comes into your hospital room and says that you owe them a few hundred because you are probably, at some point in your life, going to violate some copyright laws by downloading something so you might as well pay them now. What would you say?
See this is a trick question because you are a baby so you are unlikely to do anything other than burble and soil yourself which is (full circle!) what most university students are going to do when the University of Alberta comes over to them to say that they have to fork over $45 a year because they might download a textbook at some point and the copyright hounds have decided we weren't paying them enough (current fee is around $4 and is allegedly paid by the university [the likelihood that they are flat-out paying it and not getting the money back by charging students for a "book fee" somewhere is so close to zero that they both get sick if one sneezes]).

For anyone who is not a student, the circle of textbooks looks like this: Pay an exorbitant fee to have the book, sell it back to the store for a grossly reduced amount (I have personally had over $200 worth of texts sell back for $7. I hate you too, English.) the store then turns around and sells that text for a disgustingly inflated figure to the next moron in line, and so the cycle continues, until the course spontaneously decides to stop using a text, thus leading to a "hot potato" sort of issue where you either find someone who is trying to save money by using the old edition of the text or try to convince yourself that you really wanted it as a reference thus filling your shelves with brightly colored heavy-ass books that look like they were puked on by an artistic geometric figure and are about as useful as geometric figure puke.

Sometimes, like in my sociology class, the prof will compile a bunch of journals and text excerpts, photo-copy them and distribute this bundle of fun to the students. There are two ways they can do this: one, informally, where the students literally just get a bunch of handouts, or two,  by having the copy-shop professionally produce a "course-pack" which is sold to students for roughly the same amount as a cheap text, but saves (theoretically) on the fees that the manufacturer pays the publisher and the writer. It's really this second option that the copyright puppies are heading after, insisting that the university is not paying enough for use of the materials within the book.

The textbook industry is sort of like Microsoft, except there isn't any organized Linux for cheap people to run to. They're offensively expensive and it's sort of confusing why. It cannot possible be that expensive to create them; for crying out loud the average cost of producing a hardcover seems to run around $2 (and that's from a self-publishing site. It seems pretty tough to get average costs of book production). Some students opt out of the circle of ridiculousness by finding the books in libraries and copying pertinent passages or, in the case of really dedicated students, the entire text, but employees tend to notice when you have to bring a packed lunch to the copy room, and tend to get quite annoyed... so here's the big change for now:

Effective Jan. 1, 2011, the required textbooks for a course can no longer be placed on reserve in the library or other resource room. Other required printed materials, such as journal articles, essays or chapters, may be placed on reserve but students may not copy them. These changes are a result of the fair dealing court decision and the fact that the university’s protection through Access Copyright will expire with the agreement. 

It's too early to tell how this will effect student's lives but given that I myself possess at least one journal article that I had to photocopy from a text in the library (paid over $1 a day for late fees before I noticed I could only have it for a week) it is not a stretch to say it's going to make life annoying for students who are strapped for cash. 

Worse, the copyright people are bringing up this kind of radical change now, a month before the current contract expires, so the University professors are scrambling to get copy-package orders in now before the price hikes. I'm not going to say it looks like the gas pumps during the oil crisis,but I did see a prof take a penknife with him to the copy store and I saw another one wearing a "Team Plato" shirt...

This whole issue is in direct opposition to things I have advocated earlier (the right to protect intellectual property) and I myself will likely argue the opposite point in later posts once I become a world-famous literati, beloved by millions, and sticking it to the un-learned masses in the form of exorbitant royalties, but it is almost starting to look like we are going to require some government regulation to keep textbook manufacturers from gouging us all.

Anyway, good luck finding out anything about this in the usual Edmonton newspapers. I heard about it on the radio and have been searching for the last hour online in the sad attempt to find anything about it. If I was doing a post on Fefe Dobson or how The Bieber doesn't want to date a female fan, I'd be all set, but about this issue that could actually effect people's lives? Hah. The only place it can be found is here on the University of Alberta's website.

Rexcycle, Reduce, Reuse

Edmonton. Home of the recycling nation. We never get rid of anything if we can help it. Take a look: We had scrapped the city center airport. Said it was over, closed it, gave the businesses, to whom we had contractual obligations, the legislative finger even though the whole issue damn near tore the city apart. Now we are going to pave that sucker over and race the Indy on it, another event Edmonton "broke up" with (read council's lips: No More Indy), but can't really bear to part with even though I hear we are technically losing money on it, some estimate to the tune of $12 million which is a pretty ugly song.
The Edmonton Expo bid was prematurely whacked by the feds, but we're still going to cobble together bits and pieces of it, build a cool new bridge, etc.I've heard criticism of the Expo revolving around how the bridge and various other municipal projects were not going to be done since they weren't included in our bid to the Expo committee, and there is criticism that the Mayor did not tell Edmontonians about that, but simply taking the plans off the bid proposal doesn't mean that they were going to be done; it just means they wouldn't be presented to the bid committee, but would rather be included in the "tour" when the evaluation group came to town ("Check out our sexy new bridge!")
MLA Sherman, kicked out of the conservatives over a health care issue, only to be re-born as an independent. Last election almost our whole council got recycled, for better or for worse, including the mayor that everyone groused about, who still won pretty handily. Seem we weren't mad enough to put him to waste.
Sure we didn't get into the Grey cup, but we're going to recycle the party and use it to steal  money from the rabid Riders fans, who honestly sound sort of like the Hun army from the reports I've heard on the radio and my goodness, didn't I hear about it on the radio. I'm pleased the whole spectacle is over since now I can hear about some actual news stories. Like cookies. 
Even Alberta's main source of income is recycled dinosaurs.
 The only place we really fail is with the arena; rather than try to revitalize the current Rexall place, we'd rather dump a bunch of money into building a whole new one. I can really only support this if they fill Rexall with water and have naval battles (Is this on the agenda? We should look into this.)

On a personal front, I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to alter my eating habits over the last little while to resemble a 100-mile diet, or at least more local fare, but up to this point it's been almost impossible to get out to the farmer's market for such avails. I'm pleased to read on the Avenue Homesteader website (read her post about washing garden vegetables in the washing machine with fluffy towels; funny and good advice) about the Alberta Avenue farmer's market on 93 street and 118th ave, which is apparently open year-round, so here's hoping for some local produce! I hear chard and garlic are both locally grown here in Edmonton.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Say Cheese

When I was a student the first time, there was a lucrative job opening working for the University of Alberta that I applied for, and gleefully obtained. For $14 an hour, I took my clothes off.
The university needed nude models for their art classes, and apparently there weren't enough people with mid-life crises that needed the positive reinforcement, so they hired me. What this means, that I periodically think about in varying degrees of embarrassment and pride, is that somewhere, in the world, there are nude paintings of me. Conceivably even in some student's portfolio.
Should the case ever occur where someone took a photo of me through my living room window in the same state of undress as the paintings, however, I'm not saying they wouldn't find a body just that the chalk outline would need to be done with spray-paint.

A couple of ladies who needed the money (Or hell, just liked doing it; why shouldn't they?) were working at a strip club in Toronto, but while taking their breaks on the roof that they believed was private, in costume, their photos were taken and, as with everything photographic now-a-days, was posted online with an accompanying piece. Many of the women have quit in response, especially since one girl is a student at a next-door university (although how she worked NEXT DOOR to the university and never expected any fellow students to come in is beyond me).

Apparently a copyright lawyer has voiced that in public no one has the right to privacy, but the nature of the roof is up for debate (seems there was a wall hiding most of the roof from the windows where the pictures were taken from). A pretty rough reading of the report seems to indicate that the case will be declared in favor of the photographer, who was "Stunned and embarrassed" by the article that ran with the pictures. Yes. Because he sat through an entire interview with a journalist but then did not expect them to publish it. Sure.

At the very least, I think the photographer should be charged with theft. Not to open the floodgate that anyone on the street who makes eye-contact with the ladies should pay a fee, but I  think if the girls are in "costume" since people pay a door fee to watch the show  it is a form of theft to enjoy the ladies in costume without paying anything. If Lime-wire is going to be shut down so people don't circulate the same music that is available for free on the radio, the parables seem comparable to me. It's all about the control of your "artistic creation", which for strippers includes their bodies.

As a professional photographer, I think the gentleman should have been better aware of the laws regarding picture usage, and consent. Plus, he's sitting in his office taking pictures of young ladies having a quiet smoke? Didn't feel the need to wander on over one day and say "Hi ladies! I'd like to take some pictures of you relaxing on the roof-top; anybody interested?" Perhaps the ones he wanted to see would have balked, but I'm willing to bet at least a couple would be up the stairs babbling about their "best side" so fast, there would just be the lingering smell of sequins in the air. To me, although it might be a minor point, it just smacks of that old notion that since they are "bad" or "loose" women, they don't have the right to control what happens to their bodies or visage. If this man was taking secret pictures of women in business suits having a smoke, the pictures would probably just develop as restraining orders, right there in the pan. ("Huh. Guess this one's overexposed..."). He defends himself by saying they were beautiful pictures, but this again just smells of a notion that I have run into a few times or more...

Ladies, put your hands up if you've even been walking around the street and a man, well-meaning I'm sure, has ordered you, with a dopey grin on his face, to "Smile!". Let's get all the rhetoric about how he means no harm, blah blah, out of the way and address the initial problem: No-one ever tells a man randomly to smile; it is an order reserved for women (I flatter myself by thinking attractive women), but no one knows why it is a woman's job to beautify the area with her smile. If I wanted to, and boy do I want to, I could certainly connect this to the notion of the Hajib. I cannot help but wonder if the notion that we have "the right" to view attractive women's faces compels bill 94 in some way. Let me put it this way: attractive women are not Geisha; they are not trained and should not be required to be living artwork just for the general public's viewing pleasure.

Oh yes, it's a complicated world out there, filled with photo-lenses; more and more we find ourselves in the public eye, on our best behavior. The ladies but also the photographer as we all point our microscopes at him to say, "Was that right?". It is really a tragedy that when we have achieved our greatest level of public photography and circulation, we have also hit the greatest low with regards to manners and etiquette.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

When we used to play "Bang Bang"

I have sat on this post for a while, because I was doing it for a Political Science paper, but I have the green light from my Professor to post it online.
An issue that has been getting a fair share of press time in Canada recently is the bill to eradicate the long-gun registry. The precise thrust of the debate that has raged, most recently coming to a head in a vote that was put to the House of Commons September 22nd, 2010, is whether the long-gun registry represents a substantial enough benefit to Canada to justify the rising cost of upkeep. This issue has particular import for Canadians not only because many Canadians own long-guns and many others believe it to be an invaluable tool for the police, both in crime prevention and investigation, but also because the annual net cost of the program is between $1 million and $3.6 million, not including the amount that is financed by gun-owners who are forced to pay fees simply to keep their personal guns. The other aspect of this debate is whether it actually provides personal security through the control of firearms, or whether it simply creates the illusion of such, by appealing to people’s emotions, rather than their rational sides. The final point that people raise when arguing the issue is whether or not it is actually an effective tool for the police to use; most police chiefs tend to support it (74% of officers reported a benefit from query searches prior to major operations; Canadian firearms program - survey, Canada Firearms Office, May 8, 2008), while the majority of rural citizens disagree (72% of Canadians responded to a survey that they did not believe the registry prevented crime; Canadian Firearms registry, Wikipedia, November 3, 2010).

    I do not support the gun registry because I believe it is a band-aid solution that lulls people into a false sense of security without considering the ramifications of the financial investment, when the same cost could provide the police with better tools to keep law and order, such as more strict gun legislation, better education for gun owners and handlers, or by simply being put into police forces across Canada to encourage hiring and promotions. Three things are necessary for a crime; motive, weapon, and opportunity. Since the registry does not do anything to deter the motivation, and the opportunity is variable depending on external factors, such as weather or location, the weapon becomes a factor dependant on opportunity and personal preference. In other words, if we outlawed guns, we would simply see an increase in knife violence, as is the case in Great Britain where guns are illegal except for police officers’ weapons, but people still commit violent crimes with knives, pipes, and even screwdrivers. This dissemination of the policy surrounding the long-gun registry demonstrates clearly how it is essentially unable to prevent crime.
    One of the arguments illustrating the ineffectiveness of the long-gun registry is the Mayerthorpe incident, the tragedy in the town of the same name where James Roszko took the lives of  four young mounties with rifles he had hidden on his premises.  The Police and townspeople were aware, in that small community, that the man possessed firearms, and this fact did not assist the mounties.  Mr. Roszko had been prohibited from legally possessing firearms, but this did not stop him from stock-piling weapons. One of the weapons that he used was registered to the grandfather of  Mr. Roszko’s accomplices, and it is often brought up that the registry brought police to the men that were later charged as accessories to the murders, but since the weapon had been reported stolen to the police, it could also have been traced through the usual police method of investigation.(Mayerthorpe Incident, Wikipedia, November 16, 2010). If the registry cannot be found to have a use in such a large, wide-scale investigation as Mayerthorpe, it is unlikely to assist in smaller, more variable situations. It is simply the nature of the registry that it cannot inherently prevent violent firearm crime.

    I  believe that the long-gun registry is only detracting money and attention away from initiatives that could be more effective. For example, the $3.5 million annual could, if spent on the police forces, create around 344 more officers, based on the average total cost of training, salary, and benefits per year, $101 742. (Crime control and Public Expenditure, The John Howard society,  September, 1995). Once the current “amnesty” for citizens who do not register their guns ends on May 2011, the registry will become an even bigger burden for the officers who are forced to waste their time on people who have failed to register their long-guns but present minimal threat to public safety.  These people might also become disgruntled if forced to give up their means of defence against robbers and wild animals.

     On the subject of police support,  a former president of the association of police chiefs went on record saying that the system was expensive but has proven itself to be an asset in police forces (Police chief issues statement on long-gun registry, Sudbury star, Frank J. Elsner, September 15, 2010). He continued on to say that officers relied on the registry to tell them whether or  not there were guns present  in the house before entering a domestic dispute situation. One of the most common examples cited by supporters of the long-gun registry is that the registry has decreased the rate of domestic homicides in Canada, but in fact it has been dropping since 1970, years before the registry was introduced, and only approximately 26% of spousal homicides (30% for female victims) involve a firearm (Statscan, August 21, 2009); 72% of the incidents involving a firearm involved a long-gun, (Statscan

     It is precisely these situations which reveal the danger in the registry. If officers become complacent when going into situations, believing there are no guns present, they run the risk of being blind-sided by a man with a gun. This could result in a much more harmful situation. Many people respond to this by pointing out that officers always assume there are firearms present, in which case we are left to wonder what good the registry does if the officers are alert equally at all times. There is also, given the two recent officer shootings in Alberta (Police kill Driftpile man, Edmonton Journal, Conal Pierse, November 21, 2010; Alberta serious incident response team investigating reserve shooting, Edmonton Journal, Conal Pierse and Mariam Ibrahim, November 17, 2010),the suggestion that officers entering a situation where they know guns are present, might be overly inclined to respond with higher levels of force than they would otherwise because they have been “psychologically primed” for a more serious incident . In fact, when one begins to look for statistics on officer support of the bill, completely contradictory numbers are indicated and backed by evidence, (Officer's survey finds 92% of police want gun registry scrapped, CSSA, Tony Bernardo, August 19, 2010; Canadian firearms program - survey, Canada Firearms Office, May 8, 2008)  so it is hard to say whether or not officers are in support of it at all.

    When considering the financial aspect of the registry we must consider that the initial cost of the gun registry was heavily over budget compared to any expectations, and the result is that most people feel it would be a waste of money to abandon it without seeing some fruition of the cost. This phenomenon where people feel they can glean some good out of lost resources if they just add a little more resources (Digging yourself out of a hole you’ve dug) is common in psychology but does not necessarily imply that it is correct; sometimes money spent is simply money wasted. The constant upkeep of the program is almost $4 million a year and during these times of economic hardship, every spare tax dollar must be carefully considered to maximize good. Consider the statistics behind the registry: it is accessed around 14,000 times a day (bringing the cost to a little over seventy five cents a search), but of those 14,000, only 530 are genuine searches (or about $414 worth of real concern) , the rest are automatic searches whenever a name or address is run (Canadian Firearms registry, Wikipedia, November 3, 2010). Within that 530 intentional searches, however, whenever a firearm sale is completed, it results in three separate searches: one for the buyer, the seller, and the registration number of the gun itself. Thus the complete traffic on the registry could be accounted for by 175 gun sales, and five genuine officers. Although this situation is unlikely, it does outline the absurdity of running a massive program for $4 million a year when the amortized benefit is equivalent to about $151 000.

    There is also the possibility that this illusion of public safety created by the long-gun registry is being brought up to entice voters to cast their ballot for the Liberals next election, the Liberals being the strongest supporters of the registry; implying  the conservatives care less about women, who are the supposed victims in most long-gun crimes, is a powerful fear tactic. The supporters of the long-gun registry have not been subtle in their manipulation of human emotions, pushing supporters such as an École Polytechnique massacre survivor into the limelight (the registry was the Liberal government’s response to the massacre), and allowing a Liberal MP from Newfoundland to tell the story of how his father committed suicide with a gun (Long-gun registry survives tight commons vote, Ottawa Bureau, Campion-Smith and Les Whittington, September 22, 2010). But people who do not support the long-gun have no such similar heart-wrenching stories. Their motivation is to ensure taxpayer’s money goes to an initiative that will work towards actually preventing crimes, in the fashion the registry claims to do, but in fact cannot. (Interestingly, the United States used Canada’s log-gun registry as an example of why it should not adopt a gun registering program, although its decision not to is widely attributed to the fact that the U.S. has more guns. (Canadian Firearms registry, Wikipedia, November 3, 2010) )
     The registry claims to prevent violence against battered women, but since there is no actual restriction on who can acquire a gun, this means that it will simply prevent a murderer from having a license, which does not intrinsically prevent them from having a gun or, indeed, any form of weapon. Rough estimates put the number of confiscated guns that are illegal and smuggled in through the United States between 70% and 97%, depending on the region of Canada the statistics are obtained from (The long-gun registry: Costs and crime statistics, Public Safety Canada, December 5, 2008). Many people argue that police could use the database to see if spouses involved in domestic disputes possess firearms, then go in and confiscate them, but Canadian officers have had the power to search property and seize weaponry that they believe may pose a threat to public safety since 1969, and this power is granted without regards to the gun registry. Even the Auditor General has said the registry seemed more concerned with filling licenses and registrations, and that:
“The Centre does not show how these activities help minimize risks to public safety with evidence-based outcomes such as reduced deaths, injuries and threats from firearms.”
(Bungled gun registry focus of Fraser’s report, Canwest News service,, May 17th, 2006)

    One further uncomfortable fact that we learn from the Mayerthrope incident is that Mr. Roszko possessed a list including the names, call signs, and cell-phone numbers of mounties working in several townships in Alberta. There is no suggestion that Mr. Roszko obtained the list from the registry but it raises questions about what he could have done with such information, and how dangerous knowledge can be in this society.  A noted computer consultant in fact proved to the Federal government that he could break into the registry system in under thirty minutes, and gained information such as names, addresses, and various details about the firearms contained therein. (Canadian Firearms registry, Wikipedia, November 3, 2010) It is one thing to keep firearms in one’s home, but it is quite another for the government to make a detailed list containing many convenient locations for criminals to acquire guns from, which are both inherently useful as well as valuable. There has already been one documented case of home invasion where it appears the house was “targeted” because it contained firearms, and people are concerned about more cases. If the registry cannot be properly secured, and the information cannot even be properly verified, so anyone with a basic understanding of computer hacking could wreck mischief and undermine the integrity of they system, then the registry becomes a source of harm for the government, and puts the lives of responsible gun-owners at risk.

    With these considerations in mind, its inability to prevent crime, irrelevance to domestic homicide cases, exorbitant cost, and privacy issues, it becomes clear that the long-gun registry, although well meaning, was a bad idea, and should be abandoned in favour of more effective crime prevention measures as soon as possible. Although doing so will likely cause a political backlash in the form of uninformed people who see only specific incidents rather than trends in crime statistics, sometimes it is necessary to do things that may seem unpleasant to make the right decision.