Elizabeth May: Speech? Speech?

Splinter parties are fun. Splinter parties are interesting. Sometimes, splinter parties are like yeast in the dough: not necessarily appreciated, except for the effect they have. Things rise.

The Green Party, and Elizabeth May, are imho much of the yeast in the (sour) dough of Canadian federal politics.

Here you will find Ms. May’s comments on our involvement in Iraq and Syria.

Read it. Read it and weep. We (Canada) are extending a mission about which we have been lied (scope, etc) from our Federal Government, especially our Prime Minister, from the beginning. Now it gets bigger and deeper.

I have never voted Green, and am not likely to. Yet, as with the Libertarians, I might donate cash while not voting. Splinter parties are more than fun. They are the stirring that keeps everything from being clear-cut. They ask cutting questions.

As for Elizabeth May, she has always been a ‘person of interest.’

Now for the dumb questions:

– why was it OK for her to be shouted down?

– why was it OK for her to be heckled?

– why don’t we write our MPs and chastise them for this egregious behaviour?

– why do we let our PM run this side-show called Parliament?

They are dumb questions, as they are being put to a dumb voting populace. Cynical enough, eh?

On Stephen Harper, by Haroon Siddiqui

We have a new favourite Star columnist. Here’s why.

Siddiqui’s column (can’t believe I can access today‘s column online today, but I did) is about our Prime Minister and his machinations.

James Travers was, imho, irreplaceable. Maybe I was wrong. This is a well-researched, well-written, wake-up call to all of us. Thank you, Haroon.

For those too lazy to click on the link above, I will provide a few quotes. You really should click through and read Siddiqui’s column. All of it.

First, this:

Governor-General David Johnston’s term is extended for two years by Stephen Harper. He who owes his job to the prime minister will be deciding the prime minister’s fate in the event of a hung Parliament the morning after the Oct. 19 election.

Granted, extensions are not unusual. Also, a replacement would have been a Harper appointee as well. Still, there’s some history here.

Johnston — a well-respected academic, former president of the University of Waterloo — was named GG in 2010 soon after he helped defuse a potential embarrassment for the ruling Conservatives. Asked to help write the terms of reference of an inquiry, he recommended against reopening the infamous Airbus affair, Air Canada’s 1988 purchase of the French planes, and former prime minister Brian Mulroney’s role in it. Johnston dismissed that as “well-tilled ground.” That suited Harper just fine.

Then this:

Two years earlier, Johnston’s predecessor Michaëlle Jean had been rolled over by Harper who asked her to prorogue Parliament, to save his then minority government from certain defeat in the Commons. She caved in, instead of insisting that he go to Parliament to prove that he still had the confidence of the House. The rest is history. She went on to become UNESCO’s special envoy for her native Haiti, and last year was elected — with a major push by Harper — as Secretary-General of the Francophonie, the 57-member organization for the French-speaking world.

Then this:

In keeping with the Conservative penchant for saying one thing and doing another, the government is positing the war plan as non-partisan — after having brazenly used the war as a partisan wedge issue to whip up fear, paint critics as terrorist sympathizers (even possibly “a national security threat,” as Greenpeace has been told), and raise funds for the ruling party.

And in conclusion, this:

The Harperites gutted the gun registry against the advice of police chiefs across the country. Now they have a bill before Parliament to rob the RCMP of the power to prohibit certain kinds of weapons, to let the minister of public safety allow more semi-automatic rifles.

True to form, this flight from common sense is wrapped up as the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act — like the Fair Elections Act that made elections unfair; Access to Information Act that made information inaccessible; Privacy Act that invaded your privacy; and the non-combat mission in Iraq that placed Canadian troops in combat, just 200 metres from the firing line which, Defence Minister Jason Kenney said, was not the front line.

The Harperites want us to be terrified of terrorists, niqabis, criminals, thieves, etc. Time for us, in fact, to be terrified of the Harperite bigots, bullies and ideologues.

If James Travers is rolling in his grave, it’s to smile and give a big salute to Haroon Siddiqui.

Then it’s time to write: our prime minister, your federal representative, your newspaper, and any other possible source of resistance.

Oh yes, the dumb question. Will you do anything?

A Measly 100,000 Euros

Stefan Lanka is the hero of this post. Apparently some four years ago he promised to pay anyone, who could prove measles is a virus, a hundred thousand euros. He made this offer on his website.

Now Mr. Lanka will have to pay up. To summarize:

The reward was later claimed by German doctor David Barden, who gathered evidence from various medical studies. Mr Lanka dismissed the findings.

But the court in the town of Ravensburg ruled that the proof was sufficient.

Reacting to the verdict by the court in the southern town, Mr Lanka said he would appeal.

“It is a psychosomatic illness,” he told regional paper Suedkurier. “People become ill after traumatic separations.”

I am tempted to wonder if Mr. Lanka suffered a traumatic separation recently. I guess that’s a dumb question.

It seems sad that such a highly contagious disease is treated so cavalierly – unvaccinated children, absurd claims of causation.

Convince somebody today to get vaccinated. Make a difference.

Why would anyone say that?

Vascular surgeon Dr Gabrielle McMullin is the star of this post. She works in Australia.

Here you will find a BBC News page, which I will summarize.

What I tell my trainees is that, if you are approached for sex, probably the safest thing to do in terms of your career is to comply with the request.

Apparently many in the medical profession agree with this remark. To continue,

The worst thing you can possibly do is to complain to the supervising body because then, as in Caroline’s position, you can be sure that you will never be appointed to a major public hospital.

Why would anyone say that? Is there some personal history here? Is the medical profession that crass, in Australia in particular?

Am I nuts? That’s the dumb question.

Is Defence Spending Excessive?

Here you will find that Nato is expecting the UK to ‘lead’ by spending 2% of GDP on defence.

I recall the pyramids as being one percent of GDP at the time of construction. I also recall the moon landing as being one percent of GDP at that time. I remember these as it was then said that one percent was roughly what a culture could afford to put into a single project.

I did a trivial bit of research and found this estimate for building the pyramid today: about five billion dollars. So I asked myself, what was the population of Egypt recently and what was the average GDP per person? The answer is, $3,314.46 USD per person in 2013, and 82.06 million population, also in 2013. If you multiply those two numbers you get almost 272 Billion dollars of GDP. So five Billion is not a large percentage. Doubtless the methods of the past used less fossil energy and had higher overall costs.

My point: the American space program, and the pyramids, were probably of the order of one percent of the GDP of the state running the effort.

The pyramid project produced something – a pyramid. The moon shot produced some propaganda, velcro, and a lot of accidental science.

Defence spending (wonderful euphemism, that) produces bullets, rockets, bombs. Why is that worth twice the normal project of a civilization?

Yep, that’s the dumb question for this entry.

Fancy Pants Poetry vol. 2 Agostino Scafidi

Subtle, puzzling, an unusual style and an unusual work.

Three Stars

It is not clear that I am competent to review this work. It really is unusual, and if you are looking for this kind of poetry, your rating will likely be higher than mine. More on the stars, counting, and my rating challenges later. Let me describe this book for you.

Scafidi has provided us with some fifty-four poems. They are intellectual, puzzles. You will have to think, and perhaps invent, to appreciate this author. There is social commentary, as in Constant Temptation where we find this: “Even with the gift of memory, /We can’t always stave off temptation, /We love what hurts us.” If you’re looking for a bizarre experience, turn to Devil or Divine.

Pending disaster of an unnamed metaphorical sort is a recurring theme here, as in It’s Almost Here and I See the Tide Rolling In.

A favourite here is Protection. No spoilers, you’ll have to buy the book and turn to this one for yourself.

A mysterious relationship is explored in I Can Wait. A strange start-up occurs in Hello Ma’am.

Another riddle is They Say I’m Missing Out, which is about personal choice, with a fine metaphor at the end.

There is the odd surprise metaphor, as in Waiting on You, where we find this: “But the stone on your shoulder, /Makes any transition harder. //Let’s say you’d deal with the few pebbles, /Currently in your load,”

If you’re looking for introspection in relationships, turn to So Many, and then to Why Are You Still Here?

If you’re scrolling for the tiny carps, forget it. There might be the odd excessive comma. Not even a typo.

Given all the above comments, how does this curmudgeon come up with three stars? I try hard to be consistent across many reviews. My personal guidelines, when doing any review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. This is easily worth three stars, and your personal taste may rate it higher.

(Note: this reviewer received a free copy of this book for an independent review. He is not associated with the author.)

Telephone / Computer Scam – a warning

This telephone scam is really active right now. I’ve had several calls in just a couple of days.

I will include a few hotlinks so you can check out the facts for yourself:

This one is from Microsoft.

This one is a tech support forum answer regarding the website they’ll ask you to visit, during the scam phone call.

This is a Wikipedia article on LOGMEIN. It appears that the website above is hosted there. I found this out by using IDServe (from Gibson Research Corp, where it is a freebee) on the website url, and then using an IP address lookup on the IP I got via IDServe.

Now for the scam and its variations.

The phone call begins by asking how you are, then explaining what company is calling (which varies, sometimes Microsoft, sometimes Computer Support, once a government agency which regulates something.) Then you are told that over the past few days your computer has been generating a lot of complaints and error messages.

Asked how the telephone number was found, various answers are given. One caller told me they had a database linking IP addresses to phone numbers. Perhaps because I said that was impossible (my phone is independent of my internet provider) they stopped using this one. Another answer is, that some ID on your operating system is visible to them and clearly identifies your phone number. It’s all balderdash, of course.

(They do not know your IP address. It’s pretty hard to trace anything without the source IP address, unless you eMail or send information in a text file.)

They will then attempt to get you to give them access to your computer, remotely, using the support.me website.

Sometimes they start by having you hit the Windows key and r and running eventvwr. This program is part of windows and will show you a lot of recorded events. They hope this will panic you.

Sometimes they try to get you to use the Run command on an IP address.

Sometimes they try to get you to go to the website support.me and log in. If you do this, you will be asked to give them remote access to your computer.

Do not do this.   (of course.)

Several years ago, a relative (who must have been dog-tired to make such a move) allowed a scam like this. He was then shown a virus on his computer, and had to pay them by credit card to get it taken off.

Sometimes you are passed to a ‘senior technician’ whose English accent is a bit closer to mine. This is supposed to impress you. Don’t let it.

Sometimes they tell you they are in your city (Toronto) despite having blocked caller ID.

When there is a phone number, I have reported it to our do-not-call list. I have been contacted back and passed on to Canada’s phone fraud team, who ensure me that the fraud is well-known. I am supposed to infer that they are doing something about it. I’m not sure that is the case.

I am a b..t..d with respect to these callers. I waste as much of their time as possible, as they are paid by calls-per-hour and by sucker count. (I think all call centres pay in this way; my daughter once worked for one that argued, successfully, for reduced business property taxes in areas where they were pretty sure MPAC had over-assessed.)

Sometimes they want you to hit the windows key. They are so patronizing: look at the lower left corner of your keyboard. Do you see a key marked C T R L? what key is next to that? (When I tell them, Alt, they have had a number of responses. There is no windows key on my old, PS2, IBM keyboard. Windows key = Ctrl-Esc. I have been accused of lying at this point). Sometimes they want you to use the start menu.

Sometimes I ask them, how much of their time must I waste before they give up on this call. One persistent individual refused to hear this question about six times. Then the profanity started. I implied that the call, all my calls, were monitored by the police. I suspect that this is actually the case due to my multiple reports of this fraud.

Handle the call as you see fit. If you’re on a do-not-call list, complain to your regulator. But don’t give anyone remote access to your machine.

Have a nice day.