Tuesday, July 28, 2009

T.O. garbage strike over

The Toronto garbage/city services strike is over, only the BIG clean-up remains. How did Mayor Miller, formerly of the NDP do? Well, the simple fact that this entire farce lasted as long as it did tells you something of Mr. Miller's allegiance's. Miller claims that the agreement falls within Toronto's budget restraints. For me, "budget restraints" when set high, define the term oxymoron.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Where is Global Warming?

Where I live we are having one of the coolest July's in my memory. But one cool summer does not make a trend. But is there a trend? Are you certain? The issue of Climate Change/Global Warming or whatever you like to call it seems to be settled as far as the the G8 Summit 2009 Leaders are concerned. To them the trend is apparent and world-wide action is required right now, whether you like it or not its for your own good. But there are dissenting views and these views are worthy of your time. Maybe the issue is not yet settled, see what you think, check this out.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Enough with this union monopoly of the public sector: Time to contract out

The headline of this blog is from the Globe and Mail Report on Business section of July 21, 2009. The article was written by Gwyn Morgan, and it gives me great hope that things like the garbage crisis in Toronto may result in a brighter future for all of us. Click on the title to view the article, it's well worth your time.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Toronto Garbage & Services Strike - Day 30

Its been a coolish summer so far in the heart of the Great White North. Not much sign of global warming here. That's the good news, the bad news is that garbage is still piling up in Toronto and if it ever warms up this summer the smell ought to be interesting. Driving through most parts of town the effect is surprisingly minor, but it could get worse quickly.
This is what its like being held hostage by a union, CUPE, while the municipal government allows the union to run roughshod over the rights of its citizens. Pickets are preventing citizens from bringing their garbage to transfer/holding stations and temporary dumps.
Rumours are that many of the non-garbage workers are returning to work. The government looks like its out to break the union, not a bad idea, but governments at at fault here. Past contracts that were poorly negotiated by civic leaders are coming back to haunt everyone. The only good coming out of this, is the discussion around private garbage collection and allowing municipalities to divest themselves of responsibilities they should not have taken on.

July 20, 1969

"Ambivalence" is the only word that comes to mind when I recall the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. I'm a space junkie from the days of Sputnik 1 when I was just ten years old. By the time of the moon landings I was a young adult and I understood the global politics around the space race and the enormous costs involved. The night of the landing, those first steps, the wall-to-wall television coverage, that was amazing. But the reality was that the race was over, America had won and there was nothing more to prove. To underline the propaganda aspect of the whole thing, the US Congress began to scrutinize the expense, eventually cancelling one "science" mission and by the end of 1972 (Apollo 17) manned exploration of the moon was over never to return again.
You can imagine my delight when the X Prize was announced in 1996 inviting private enterprise to enter their own space race and even greater delight when the prize was won only 8 years later with an interesting libertarian twist. So lets hear it for to tourists in space without government subsidy!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Walter Cronkite 1916 - 2009

Growing up in the sixties, my views of religion and politics were being formed. By the end of the sixties I realized that religion was ridiculous and politics was corrupt. But there was Walter Cronkite whom I trusted and admired even as a Canadian boy. He was the journalist's journalist and maybe the last of his kind. His nightly newscasts cultivated in me a hunger for news - that I still have. His obvious delight of space exploration and science in general reinforced in me the same feelings. Very few of my actual teachers had the same influence. So I was very sad to hear this and be reminded of mortality.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Human Evolution in 5 minutes

This is very cool video. Using "morphing software" the people (person?) that posted this on YouTube show the presumed evolution of humans from "Australopithecus to Homo sapiens in 5 minutes, following five fossils in and around our lineage in this artistic rendition." The rate of change is about 500 generations every second. Of course this presumes that all the information about human ancestry, that is, all transitional fossils in our direct line have been discovered. This may not be true as evidenced by the recent controversy following the discovery of an extinct, diminutive people known as "hobbits" from the Indonesian island of Flores and thought to be a new species of primitive humans (Homo floresiensis) and not just modern pygmies. But whether the morphing video is the final answer to the story is not the point. As indicated in the YouTube information the authors suggest that evolution is ongoing, there is no such thing as fixed species as supposed in the Creation myths. There is variation and selection based on suitability to environmental conditions, evolution is ongoing and continuous and not goal oriented. Enjoy the video, but you may want to turn down the sound as I think the music a little off putting.

Friday, July 10, 2009

GM out of bankruptcy - Take one!

It only took 40 days and 40 nights (almost biblical) for General Motors to exit from bankruptcy (but parts of the former company are still in bankruptcy liquidation which may take years to settle). The GM CFO, Ray Young, says that a lot of hard work and planning went into the bankruptcy to help speed it along. I'm sure some of the creditors that were stiffed wish that GM had planned as well when they were a real car company and not just a branch of government as it is now. So now there are just four different models, its leaner and meaner and ready to sell cars and compete with those nasty Japanese auto makers. By the way I have a Honda, its one of the best cars I've ever owned. GM stills owes $11 billion not to mention the $50 odd billion it owes the governments. Its going to be a very very tough road for them. Didn't Chrysler go bankrupt back in the '80s? Its done really well since eh?

Americans value science, but not all of it

This was an interesting survey on a quiet news day. While showing that 90% of scientists (didn't say what kind of scientists) support Evolution by natural selection, only 33% of the American public does. At the same time 84% of scientists say the Earth is warming due to human activity and less than 50% of the American public agrees.
What likely wasn't asked in this survey was why these these beliefs exist. Apparently objective evidence has very little to do with the "thinking" of respondents from the public in this survey. Evidence for Evolution is overwhelming and yet only 33% believe it. Evidence for Global Warming due to human activity.......really not so much. Mostly its very indirect evidence not cause-effect-type evidence. Yet just under 50% believe it. All this shows is that climate change environmental activists have a stronger lobby than the evolutionists. So science has more to do with American Idol than with reality.

"Charity in Truth" - another view.

This morning in the Globe and Mail's Report on Business Neil Reynolds takes a whack at the latest Papal Encyclical (see below). Mr. Reynolds gives a more thoughtful analysis of the Pope's message and its implications. Its a must read!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pope knows how to fix Global Economy etc.

The Pope issued his latest encyclical today - Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth). In it he suggests that there is urgent need for a true world political authority..........oh what the hell, here is part of what he said:

"To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago.
Such an authority would need to be regulated by law, to observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, to seek to establish the common good, and to make a commitment to securing authentic integral human development inspired by the values of charity in truth.

Furthermore, such an authority would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights.
Obviously it would have to have the authority to ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties, and also with the coordinated measures adopted in various international forums. Without this, despite the great progress accomplished in various sectors, international law would risk being conditioned by the balance of power among the strongest nations."

What is stunning to me is the naivety that underlies this kind of message. Lets put aside the assumption that this is a good idea (which it most definitely is not). Short of invasion from another planet (see Will Smith in Independence Day) what would cause world leaders to submit to any global authority? Is there unanimity at the United Nations - ever? Not that I can remember, and why should there be? Like everything else that is true of the Pope and his church its only the needs and aspirations of ordinary people (just about everyone) that are ignored. Remember the Pope is a celibate priest that frowns upon birth control and advises his constituency not to use condoms even if it might prevent HIV-AIDS. Whose side is he on? Not yours.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Garbage Strike

Toronto is still in the throes of a garbage strike by CUPE workers (see Government Monopoly). A letter today on the Comment page of The Globe and Mail from a former Torontonian shows that municipalities can shed many responsibilities like garbage collection. The writer states that he pays $21.50 per month for twice weekly pickup. He can choose from a number of other providers so competition exists, costs are low and the threat of strike is slim. When households are forced to use government supplied and union controlled services, strikes are inevitable. Do you know how much your monthly garbage bill is? I know I don't because its hidden in my real estate tax bill, like yours. Its time for a change.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Canada Day and Independence Day

This is the week where the wealthiest parts of North America celebrate their creation. In Canada July 1st is Canada Day; once more accurately called Dominion Day for the federation of the remaining British North American colonies into the Dominion of Canada (1867)and remaining under limited control by Britain until 1982. In the United States July 4th is Independence Day (1776) signifying the day that the Declaration of Independence was finally approved by that first Congress of thirteen British colonies. Its likely that the Canadian birth was hastened by the Americans. At the end if the American Civil War in 1865, the Union Army was victorious, exhausted, but still the strongest military force on the continent. Politicians in the Canadian colonies probably thought that a unified country (Charlottetown Conference 1864) was better than individual colonies if the Americans had designs on a northern acquisition.

On July 1st each year Canadian media outlets attempt to define what it means to be Canadian. All the lame inventions Canadians are "famous" for are trotted out: the zipper, the Blackberry etc....etc.... Mostly attempts are made to distinguish us from Americans; outwardly and culturally we are very similar. Toronto is so similar in appearance to Chicago and New York that it is often used to stand in for those cities in Hollywood movies. Its true the culture is similar but equally true the differences are great. Canada began as a union of two cultures (French and English) and two languages. Canada's bilingual nature, entrenched in government policy, led to multiculturalism which eventually became policy. Canada is not the melting pot that is America. In Canada immigration and acceptance over the past 50 years has led to a diverse multicultural (especially in the major cities) and uniquely secular nation. Not so in US; despite the First Amendment to the US Constitution which says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .", American governments past and present have a distinctly religious tone. The strong affiliation between government politicians and the Christian religion in the States would not be tolerated in Canada. That makes Canada different in very many ways and it could make the US as dangerous as any nation that claims some special relationship with a god.

Peace and Liberty