Sunday, January 30, 2005

Even more wedding pics

I have updated the wedding photo blog, this time with high-quality shots from the wedding photographer.

Rumor has it that there's one picture out there capturing my father crying. When it arrives, I'll be sure to post it for your amusement.

Friday, January 28, 2005

I used to work here

Before I changed my career to what it is about to become, I worked as a corporate drone for a company called Celestica. I must admit that I did enjoy my first years of employment at that company, but during my final 18 months, I was praying - nay, pleading - to be laid off.

It didn't happen, and if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself. So I quit.

Ever since, though, Celestica has been laying off everybody (and their dog).

Let me summarize article for you: blah blah cutting workforce blah blah 5,500 people blah blah blah "high-cost geography" blah blah blah jobs in North America blah.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Ready for some outrage?

This is a little late, but better late than never, I suppose.

From, the top 10 most outrageous statements of 2004:


Rush Limbaugh on the Abu Ghraib photos: "I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of need to blow some steam off?"

Ann Coulter: "[Senator John] Kerry will improve the economy in the emergency services and body bag industry."

Tony Blankley called philanthropist George Soros "a Jew who figured out a way to survive the Holocaust."

Michael Savage: "When you hear 'human rights,' think gays. ... [T]hink only one thing: someone who wants to rape your son."

Oliver North: "Every terrorist out there is hoping John Kerry is the next president of the United States."

Pat Robertson on gays and lesbians: "[S]elf-absorbed hedonists ... that want to impose their particular sexuality on the rest of America."

Pat Buchanan: "[H]omosexuality is an affliction, like alcoholism."

Bill O'Reilly to Jewish caller: "[I]f you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel."

Bill Cunningham (Clear Channel radio host who appeared as a guest on The Sean Hannity Show): The election is over because "Elizabeth Edwards has now sung."

Jerry Falwell: "And we're going to invite PETA [to "wild game night"] as our special guest, P-E-T-A -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. We want you to come, we're going to give you a top seat there, so you can sit there and suffer. This is one of my special groups, another one's the ACLU, another is the NOW -- the National Order of Witches [sic]. We've got -- I've got a lot of special groups."

Monday, January 24, 2005

Pet cat comes back ... 15 months later

On a much lighter note than this blog is accustomed to, check out this story.

(I sorta stole it from the Toronto Star, who probably stole if from the Halifax Herald)

Pet cat comes back ... 15 months later

TRURO, N.S.—A young girl, who never gave up on the pet cat she lost shortly after Hurricane Juan tore through Nova Scotia in 2003, has been rewarded for her faith.

Breanne Muise's cat, a grey feline named Nature, disappeared 15 months ago, bolting from the girl's household after being startled in a storm.

The 9-year-old Truro girl said she prayed for the cat's safe return, or at the very least, that a caring family would take her in.

"Everyone said she's probably dead," Breanne said recently. "I kept my spirits up because I knew if I thought that, it'd probably happen."

Breanne even attached a bell to her coat zipper that Nature had worn on its collar.

Where Nature spent the first year of its time away isn't know. But, last October, one year after it disappeared, the prodigal cat turned up at the door of the Westen family, two kilometres away.

The family agreed to keep the animal for their own daughter, 10-year-old Grace, who had long been wishing for a cat.

However, when the family brought the cat to the local veterinary hospital for spaying, the vet found a tattoo identifying the cat and its real owner.

Grace quickly agreed to give Nature back to its original owner.

"I just said right away we should give it back," the girl said.

When the two girls' mothers talked for the first time about exchanging the cat, they realized they attended the same church and worked at the same Sunday school together.

"It's almost as if God sent her to our house so she could get home," said Grace's mother, Nova Westen.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Primo Levi's book Posted by Hello

Hair from the shaved heads at Auschwitz Posted by Hello


They came, bundled and crammed, on train cars. The sign on the gate - if they could read German - said "Work Makes One Free." When they finally pushed their way out of the train cars and onto the platform, they deposited their suitcases, had their gold teeth removed, their heads shaved, and their clothes stripped from them.

Then they were examined and selected - selected to either go to work, or go to the gas chambers.

Somtimes, when the Germans were too lazy to evaluate their prisoners, they would allow the prisoners to unknowingly select themselves: as they exited the train, they could choose, left or right. If one chose the left side, he lived; the right side, he died and was incinerated.

This was Auschwitz-Birkenau. It was conceived and designed by the Germans as the prototypical Utopian city - once it was conquered, of course - and it resided in Western Poland. The city eventually was transformed solely into a death camp. In 1942, Jews began arriving at Auschwitz by the tens of thousands, where they were either put to death or put to work until the work killed them.

Those were the two realities.

Before World War II, an estimated 3.5 million Polish Jews existed. Today, an estimated 5,000 Jews still live in Poland.

This week marks the 60th Anniversary of the liberation by Soviet forces of the Auschwitz -Birkenau death camp.

Here's a poem, from a good friend of mine:

by Tadeusz Rozewicz
When all the women in the transport
had their heads shaved
four workmen with brooms made of birch twigs
swept up
and gathered up the hair

Behind clean glass
the stiff hair lies
of those suffocated in gas chambers
there are pins and side combs
in this hair

The hair is not shot through with light
is not parted by the breeze
is not touched by any hand
or rain or lips

In huge chests
clouds of dry hair
of those suffocated
and a faded plait
a pigtail with a ribbon
pulled at school
by naughty boys
(see picture above of hair)

A different, but close, friend lent me his copy of Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz, which is as stark, detatched, and horrifiying an account of the death camps as I could ever imagine.

Finally, for a very brief summary of the events, go here.

Friday, January 21, 2005

My wife has the most beautiful smile. Posted by Hello

"It's important to know what our enemy is thinking."

Next year, book publisher Doubleday will release English translations of Al-Qaeda writings - pieces from Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri.

Their reason for this? "It's important to know what our enemy is thinking," according to Doubleday spokesperson Suzanne Herz.

And the motivation for this? Perhaps money, fear-mongering, or hate-mongering?

Can't help but wonder if - at a time when what we really need is to step back and have some intelligent thought about our differences - this will only result in a further polarization of the cultures.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Missing the Toronto Star

I lived in Toronto for 4 years, and while I don't miss living in that city much, there are two things I do miss:

1) my friends and family who live there
2) the Toronto Star

As far as newspapers go, the Star is the best in Canada. It's equivalent to - although not quite of the same quality as - the New York Times. I think one of the reasons that the paper is so good is that it remains independent; the Star has yet to be swallowed up by a mass-media conglomerate. Let's hope it remains independent.

Ottawa - where we now live - is a beatiful city, but the only daily papers we get here are the awful, horrible Ottawa Sun and the Ottawa Citizen (which, I swear, has an editorial guideline to - evey issue - print the word "terrorist" at least twice on the front page and above the fold).

As an interesting aside, here's a good page showing you who owns the Citizen (CanWest Global), and what else they own. Notice, also, that Global is affiliated with Fox, which is owned in part by ultra-right Aussie Rupert Murdoch. Anyway, all of Global's media outlets have a certain - ahem - editorial slant to them. And it's a particular slant that I find distasteful.

Back to the original point, this week Star writer Tim Harper (and others) is running a special 6 part series on Bush's America - who the people are that voted for him, what the issues are, the culture that defines today's republicans. Take this quote, from part 3, for example:

"...last week, a school board in tiny Dover, Pa., ordered its high-school science teachers to tell students Darwin's theory (of evolution) is not a fact. When they refused, administrators made the announcement. The case is headed to court."

Hard to believe that that sort of thing actually happens.

If you're interested, you can get to the series directly from here:

Part 1: The roots of right-think and the pressure on W. to deliver

P2: Natalism: Raising Republicans in small-town America

P3: Abstinence and creationism in America’s schools

P4: NASCAR culture: The centrality of sport in American life

P5: The conservative fight on the broadcast battlefront

P6: The inaugural: How Bush is expected to frame the future

I read Harper's weekly blog on the US election last fall, and I love his style. He's also a thorough researcher. If you've got the time to read, enjoy.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Powers of ten

This is perhaps the coolest thing you'll ever seen on the web.

You'll need Java scripts running, though.

More on Sgro

Another gem from Mark G, this one on my post about Sgro:

I checked out your blog on Sgro and tried to reply, but... Linux. So I'll reply presonally; thanks to the magic of, "copy" and "paste", here it is:

If integrity was involved, neither Sgro, or Bush would be in these situations. This isn't the first, "shady deal", that Sgro was responsible for. There is also the matter of a Romanian stripper who was granted some sort of imigrant status because, apparently, there is a need for exotic entertainers in Canada (tell that to the hard-working, Canadian girls who selflessly take
their clothes off for our veiwing pleasure). If she displayed integrity in the first place, odds are she wouldn't have had to step down from her position. Plus; it's more likely the reason she stepped down, was not because of her integrity, but rather the pressure from her political affiliations, who, after two such incidents, would want to do without the negative press. So if Sgro has integrity, I have yet to see it. We shouldn't applaud her for resigning from a
position that she mishandled in the first place.

That's my rant on that topic. It's always a pleasure disagreeing
with you.


Can't argue with any of that. But I will stand by my statement that resigning from a position that was mishandled requires integrity - even if the act is only moral in comparison to typical political immorality.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Updated the wedding pics page

Friday, January 14, 2005

Shady deals and integrity

Yesterday, federal Immigration Minister Judy Sgro resigned from her post in cabinet. The resignation resulted from allegations made by a Toronto pizzeria owner - The man claims Sgro promised him political asylum and Canadian citizenship in return for providing her campain with food and workers during the Canadian election last summer. The man also claims that when the arrangment became known, Sgro ordered his deportation to save her own job.

Sgro maintains her innocence, but doesn't feel that it is right to keep her cabinet post while fighting to clear her name. She - in an astonishing display of integrity - therefore left her job.

Only days earlier in the US, it was discovered that a conservative fellow by the name of Armstrong Williams recieved $240,000 over a period of months in clandestine transactions. Williams, apparently, was paid to back the Bush administration both in print and on TV, all the while posing as an unbiased journalist.

Although an investigation is pending, and both Williams and the Bush folks deny any wrongdoing, it isn't really surprising to those of us embittered with the state of US politics.

I don't know if either Sgro or Bush made shady deals. Perhaps they both did. I think it neat, however, that Sgro stepped aside while dealing with controversy - such integrity! If only integrity wasn't such a foreign concept, an archaic word. If only Bush would vacate his post while fighting to clear his name.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Take a break from rearranging the Penske File

I know that some of you out there really appreciate great blogs, blogs that are interesting.

If your job consists of rearranging the Penske File, then I highly recommend checking out Michael Johnston's blog.

He's a photographer and photography writer, but his blog is more politically focussed. And he's just good at what he does.

Anyway, here it is:

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Livestock Connection

This little piece is taken from The numbers indicate research notes and sources, which I did not include.


The UN Water Assessment Programme states: "At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Earth, with its diverse and abundant life forms, including over six billion humans, is facing a serious water crisis." [1]

We all know that ours is a Blue Planet, mostly made up of water, so it can be difficult to believe that this most precious of natural resources could ever become so scarce as to endanger future food production and general planetary health. However, only 2.53% of the earth's water is fresh and most of this is inaccessible - some two-thirds being captured in glaciers and permanent snow. [2] The remaining fresh water is almost entirely made up of groundwater.

According to Sandra Postel, Director of the Global Water Policy Project, the world overdraws 200 km3 of its global groundwater 'bank account' every year. [3] This over-exploitation has serious consequences for future food production and global health. In fact, the WorldWatch Institute rates aquifer depletion, alongside HIV and shrinking cropland area per person, as one of the three most potentially devastating problems facing our species. [4]

Water pollution serves to compound the problem, with global wastewater estimated to be in the region of 1,500 km3. The UN suggests that 1 litre of wastewater pollutes, on average, 8 litres of freshwater, which would result in a freshwater pollution burden of around 12,000 km3 worldwide. [5]

Estimates suggest that climate change could cause a 20% increase in global water scarcity. [6]

In their 'Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment 2000' UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate that at present 1.1 billion people have no access to safe water supplies. 2.4 billion people have no access to any form of improved sanitation.
"As a consequence, 2.2 million people in developing countries, most of them children, die every year from diseases associated with lack of safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene" - Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General, WHO and Carol Bellamy, Executive Director, UNICEF. [7]

The situation is predicted to worsen as population expands and consumption per capita increases as more and more people adopt resource-intensive Western-style lifestyles.
The UN's 2003 Water Development Report predicts that "by the middle of this century, at worst 7 billion people in sixty countries will be water-scarce, at best 2 billion people in forty-eight countries." [8] In fact, the problem is so serious that many environmental and political commentators predict that the resource wars of the future will be fought over water rather than oil.

To ensure our basic needs, we all need 20 to 50 litres of water free from harmful contaminants each day. [9]


Worldwide, agriculture uses up 70% of fresh water resources. [10] This is largely because a lot of cropland has to be irrigated to make it agriculturally viable and to increase and improve crop yields.

As has been shown, much of this land is entirely wasted by being used to grow feed crops for livestock rather than food for people. The water used on this land - as well as that consumed directly by livestock - represents yet another wasted resource.

There has been much disagreement over precisely how much water is squandered in this way. Professor David Pimentel of Cornell University's Ecology Department has calculated that it takes 500 litres of water to produce 1kg of potatoes, 900 litres per kg of wheat, 3,500 litres per kg of digestible chicken flesh and a massive 100,000 litres for 1kg of beef. [11]

A more conservative estimate comes from Beckett and Oltjen of the University of California's Department of Animal Science. [12] In a study partly financed by the California Beef Council, they concluded that wheat production requires 120 litres per kg and beef 3,700 litres per kg. It is interesting to look a little more closely at these figures as they show that, even by the most conservative of estimates, beef production still represents a scandalous misuse of one of our most precious natural resources.

1 kg of meat yields about 2800 kcal and 174 g of protein. [13] 1 kg of wheat yields 3300 kcal and 110 g of protein (100g after adjustment for digestibility). According to Beckett and Oltjen, the kilogram of beef requires 3,700 litres of water and the kilogram of wheat requires 120 litres of water. If we put all of these figures together, we find that whilst wheat provides us with an average 27.5 kcal for each litre of water used, beef provides only 0.76 kcal per litre. This means that - based on the data presented to show that other figures were "overstated" - beef still requires 36 times as much water per calorie as wheat. When the same calculations are done for digestible protein, wheat comes out as 18 times more water efficient than beef. These figures are summarised in table 2.


By these figures, one kilogram of beef uses as much water as:
40 baths
300 toilet flushes
100 times the clean water needed by an individual according to UNESCO

Since a large percentage of the crops we feed to our farmed animals are grown on 'ghost acres' in developing countries, this wasted water is coming not just from our own reserves but from the very countries where drinking water is most scarce.

The Livestock Connection - Table 2 Posted by Hello

Monday, January 10, 2005

In appreciation of great songwriters

Catharsis? My arse is capable of more flush.
Exposure just for closure won't accomplish much.
-Gord Downie

I love songwriters who still care about meter, pattern, and their rhyme schemes. The above line by Gord is a fine example. The words just flow. Michael Stipe is another person who really cares about how the words fit together, how they operate as a unit.

The definitive songwriter - the Shakespeare of songwriting, really - is the great Paul Simon:

And I dreamed I was dying
I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
Looking back down at me
Smiled reassuringly
And I dreamed I was flying
And high up above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea
And I dreamed I was flying

That is an exerpt from one of his songs, American Tune. It is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. If you've never heard it, go and find it.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Your wedding photo fix


I have created a new blog just for wedding pictures.

Check it out -->

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

A few wedding pictures

As previously blogged, I got married over the holiday break. (Thanks goes to my friend Jason, who acknowledged the event in his blog.)

Some of my readers (and that makes it sound like I have a lot, which I don't) aren't interested in learning about the pending apocalypse and the ghastly degradation of our ecosystem.

Some just want to see pictures of the dog and other cute stuff.

I've got a whack of good pictures from friends already, so I'll try to get some up - or I'll create another blog of just pictures. Stay tuned.

Here are two to get you started, courtesy of Matt Burke. I like the sepia-toning.

The first dance.... with bubbles. Posted by Hello

My wife playing guitar Posted by Hello

Like a ghost in the night

an old friend re-appears. Mike Mulrooney and I used to be roommates, we used to eat donairs together, and we used to curse the shittiness of our apartment together.

When he graduated, he moved off to the Sierra Nevadas. Now he lives somewhere in Africa, and plunders the earth in some fashion.

He read one of my posts where mutual friend Jason and I discuss the US' addiction to fossil fuel. Now he wants to weigh in:

I agree that there is some merit to the power control and stockpiling of reserves issue, but America's greed for oil and gas is huge because they use more than the rest of us. To skew the issue and say that they don't need the reserves is false (sorry Jason).

Here are some staggering stats (get in touch with me re: sources if you want 'em):
April 2004

The world oil market daily produces and consumes 76 million barrels.

The United States, with 5% of the world's population, daily consumes 20 million barrels (840 million gallons) - - or 26% of world consumption. U.S. consumption is at a record high while U.S. oil production is at a 50-year low and declining, covering just 30% of our consumption needs - - a 71% gap, and reserves are declining.

Causing rising imports from other nations - a record high - - while reserves of prime import sources decline. Additionally, U.S. natural gas reserves are falling and imports rising. Natural gas is not in nearly the shape oil is, but we have not been producing and consuming it as long... give it some time.

OPEC throws another monkey into the cogs of this argument. The US can't TAKE oil from anyone. Production is metered and controlled to contol surplusses and deficits in the market.