Monday, September 19, 2005

Brother can you spare change for parking?

In Edmonton, one of the booming cities in Alberta, there are many people attracted by the opportunities that await those willing to work. But there is also a social network for those that come here and can't find work for whatever reason, unlike what we saw in the southern United States recently.

It's not a perfect system, but there but for grace of god go I. So once in a while I do offer a handout of spare change or the subway card that is filled out and can be used for a free 6" sub.


For the third time in the last couple months, I was approached for "spare change" in the parking lot as I was getting into my truck. Yes, it is an expensive vehicle and yes, I could probably find spare change in the centre console. BUT I do not wish to condone approaching somebody just as they opened the door to their car, keys in hand.

True, Edmonton is not known for it's muggings and/or carjacking - but it just makes me too nervous. I don't wish to play the odds and chances are that there is 1 out of a 100 of the scruffy guys that would approach me in this circumstance that just 'may' be willing to take that chance.

Who knows and I'm not willing to take that chance. I'd rather risk the WTF stare from a homeless guy as I just pull away and do that "sorry no time" shrug or the jump into the vehicle and roll the window down enough to ask "what can I do for you?" The former seems more convincing and less fear mongering to me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

More quotes I enjoy

Managers are essentially secretaries who can fire you.
--Theophile Escargot

If it smells like a CR, sounds like a CR and causes a change to the code that is "done", isn't it a Change Request and not a "design clarification?"
-- That's My Stapler at his day job (two weeks to go before Integrated Testing, we hope)

RUDY ? (Are You Done Yet?)
-- That's My Stapler co-worker (A greeting between developers in response to the constant questioning from our phbs)

If our system did such a poor job when there was no enemy, how would the federal, state and local governments have coped with a terrorist attack that provided no advance warning and that was intent on causing as much death and destruction as possible?
--Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine

The fact that in the .Net market there is no competition because there is only one supplier means that it is an inherently unhealthy market. If you are a purchasing agent, the thing that you hate the most is to go into a single supplier situation. And the Java world doesn't have that problem. There is competition because there are multiple suppliers.
--James Gosling

Why in the world would you think your phone would work in your house?
-- Ivan Seidenberg, CEO, Verizon

The crux of (at least) my belief in open source licensing is that one should be ready to make money on services, not on license sales. Services reserve the right for customers to give you money when they want you, not when they have to. I find it infinitely easier to deal with things people actually want.
--Steven Noels

From the opinion of someone coming from the PC world, having a Windows box is like owning a pet. If you want to feed it, walk it, give it baths, and take it to the vet regularly, then Windows is for you.
--Brad O'Hearne

I can't tell you to how many reporters I've said, "Where do you get this stuff?" And they say, "Well, it was in a State Department press release," as if that's an acceptable source.
--Greg Palast : Anybody Using This First Amendment?

Some people criticize the relative transparency of experiments in open source--it's like watching a goose land on a frozen lake, but I like that about Sun--the organic way they try earnestly to get it right, the balance between making a profit and being an open-source company
--Danese Cooper

A working product, with fewer features, is definitely better than one that promises the moon in two centuries.
--Joseph Ottinger

I think, fundamentally, open source does tend to be more stable software. It's the right way to do things. I compare it to science vs. witchcraft. In science, the whole system builds on people looking at other people's results and building on top of them. In witchcraft, somebody had a small secret and guarded it -- but never allowed others to really understand it and build on it.

Traditional software is like witchcraft. In history, witchcraft just died out. The same will happen in software. When problems get serious enough, you can't have one person or one company guarding their secrets. You have to have everybody share in knowledge.
--Linus Torvalds

Sun is as obsessed with IBM now as they were with Microsoft over the last decade. I suspect that said obsession will be every bit as useful for them.
--James Robertson

Here's a wrenching fact: If the U.S. had an infant mortality rate as good as Cuba's, we would save an additional 2,212 American babies a year.

Yes, Cuba's. Babies are less likely to survive in America, with a health care system that we think is the best in the world, than in impoverished and autocratic Cuba. According to the latest C.I.A. World Factbook, Cuba is one of 41 countries that have better infant mortality rates than the U.S.
--Nicholas D. Kristof

Contrary to what many Europeans believe, you can fool some of the Americans all of the time, and all of the Americans some of the time, but you can't fool most Americans most of the time - even with the help of Fox News.
--Timothy Garton Ash

So that would be the philosophical difference between Microsoft and what Google is up to at this point?
Gates: Well, we don't know everything they are up to, but we do know their slogan and we disagree with that.

In the past, the way you had to do it was by reverse engineering, and we got into kind of a pickle, because for open source projects, like Samba and OpenOffice, the only way to get the information is by reverse engineering. And for pretty much all the countries in the world, reverse engineering has been a perfectly fine thing to do. In the United States, this really vile law got passed some years ago called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. One of the little nasties in the DMCA is that reverse engineering of some Digital Rights Management software is illegal.
--James Gosling

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Revising Natural History

If you go the Museum of Earth History in Eureka Springs - Arkansas, you will walk through exhibits depicting Eden and learn that all life on Earth was created about 10,000 years ago. Dinosaurs and humans walked the earth at the same time, but they perished because of hunting and habitat loss.

The museum's "exhibit fact sheet" lists the details of their dinosaur exhibit. They claim that the bones of Edmontosaurus Annectens, found near Edmonton, Alberta have a 'Biblical History Dating' of : 10,000 years BCE (Before Christian Era) and a 'Natural History Dating' of the Cretaceous period (which was 65 million years ago, give or take a few million years).

A recent press release of the museum claims that “There is no place in the U.S. where the Biblical view of Earth history is presented in this manner.”

There is no mention of evolution or any commonly accepted scientific facts to balance the "creationistic" views presented. Creationism holds that the Earth is just a few thousand years old and the biblical account of Genesis is fact.

The museum is riding a wave of creationist influence in America. A poll by CBS News in November 2004 revealed that 55% of those that responded believe that 'God created humans in present form' and 37 percent want evolutionism replaced outright in the curriculum at their childrens' school. The poll also reveals that: "support for evolution is more heavily concentrated among those with more education and among those who attend religious services rarely or not at all."

U.S. President George Bush has also spoken on the subject: 'The jury is still out on evolution.' It seems that it will only be a matter of time before some court decides that creationism and evolution should be taught at schools with equal parity.

Why do so many many oppose teaching evolution ? It includes the explanation of humanity's origins and therefore some people view the acceptance of evolution as a rejection of the Biblical teachings of a special creation of humans.

Evolution is a change in the traits of living organisms over generations, including the emergence of new species. Theories of evolution have themselves evolved, driven by the sharing of facts and thoughts. The idea of evolution has existed since ancient times (concepts appeared in some early Greek writings) but the modern theory wasn't established until the 18th and 19th centuries, when scientists began to question whether the literal interpretation of our creation in the Bible could be reconciled with reality.

Darwin presented his theories of natural selection involving survival of the fittest because of variations in their physical abilities that were passed onto siblings. In his publication of "Origin of Species", he was able to convince biologists through many examples - but people also rejected Darwin's theory that humans and great apes shared the same ancestor.

Mutation and DNA
Darwin did not know the source of variations, but observed that it seemed to be by chance. Mutation in genes is now accepted by most biologists as a fundamental concept in evolutionary theory, as opposed to the slight, cumulative changes theorized by Darwin.

So, the science of genetics (originating at the beginning of the 20th century) and recent revelations in our lifetime of how heredity works via DNA has more exactly explained the mechanisms of the theory of evolution.

Roman Catholic Theology
In an October 22, 1996, address to the Pontifical Academy of Science, Pope John Paul II updated the Roman Catholic Church's position on evolution (my emphasis added) :
"In his encyclical Humani Generis, my predecessor Pius XII has already affirmed that there is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of the faith regarding man and his vocation… Today, more than a half-century after the appearance of that encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than an hypothesis. In fact it is remarkable that this theory has had progressively greater influence on the spirit of researchers, following a series of discoveries in different scholarly disciplines."
Free Thought
Why does the museum in Arkansas claim the earth is less than 10,000 years old and that dinosaurs and humans lived together ? Evolution theory rests on the fact that a large amount of time is required so changes could take place so slowly that it could not be observed among living creatures. I guess the easiest way to discount the theory is to consistently state that the millions of years in our Earth's timeline did not occur.

A museum is definded as a building, place, or institution devoted to the acquisition, conservation, study, exhibition, and educational interpretation of objects having scientific, historical, or artistic value. I don't see how the exhibits built to support Creationism in Arkansas fits into that definition. But the museum is unlikely to be seen as a major threat to mainstream science, as it's in the heart of an area where 'Christian attractions' are a mainstay of the local economy.

Religion, science and free thought ?
I guess you could say I don't see religion and free thought co-existing in my life, especially when you consider the choice I made when I turned 13. When asked by my parents, I decided that I no longer needed/wanted to attent weekly catechism meetings, the daily preachings at a Catholic School and Sunday morning convocation. But I do believe that the Bible should be read and left up to our own interpretations. I also enjoy reading about (and discussing) science, new technology and seeking out How Stuff Works.

If we only listen to one person's opinion or one side of the discussion, we'll never get any farther in our own 'evolution' will we ?

Sunday, September 11, 2005


This week's post is a re-post in honour of my friend that just turned 40....

A number that's all. Like thirty or twenty. But a milestone none the less. This week I "turned 40" and entered midlife.

We all should be so lucky to reach 80 !? But it doesn't seem like a promising future with the aging population and the ever increasing burden on health care services. The bozos in government seem so self-serving lately that we all wonder if they ever get around to letting us vote out the corrupt governing party and let the government get back to budgeting money for health care instead of some inane, unnecessary and expensive child care program. But I digress.

Retire at 65 ?! My kids are 3 and 8. When my dad was 40, I was (almost) out of the house and finishing college. I doubt mine will be out of the house if/when I retire. However, my oldest daughter has more money saved than her parents - in her education (RESP) fund. We planned on that as we didn't want the burden of student loans on her like my wife and I had after school. $750/month in loan payments and KD for dinner each day is not always a good character building experience.

The obligatory reunion

Last summer we had the 20 year anniversary of my high school basketball team's provincial championship win. Quite the event and it was fun to see how everybody "turned out."

Several teammates noted that some of us haven't changed that much in appearance and personality. My favourite moment was when I asked my oldest to "come over and meet my coach." She just shook her head to my first request and to the terse "now" command that followed. "Yup - that's your kid" was my coach's observation.

We played a few games of half court scrimmage and thankfully there were no heart attacks or major injuries. The festivities were held at our acreage and I have to mention that my wife organized it all - a special thanks goes to her (I don't think I'm allowed anymore to mention my first wife directly in my blog anymore except for comments like that).

Hold my drink and watch this

I've had a few moments that I reflect on now and wonder how I (we) survived. They say men don't make friends easily - especially after 35 and that becomes even more apparent when you realize that you have to part with the ones that you "use to" get in the most trouble with during and shortly after high school ("remember that time you...).

And once you are married with kids you have to become the responsible dad - the one that doesn't get to go to Vegas with the boys - especially after his wife reads about how much fun his bachelor friends have there.

Winston Churchill did not become prime minister of England until he was 62

What's next ? Who knows. I'm sure I will bounce around from contract to contract as a computer programmer. Maybe focus (follow through) on a MDI (Million Dollar Idea). One goal (before 50) is to do some traveling, show my oldest where she was born in Virginia, the important sites in OKC (but not the drunk tank, yet) and take them all to snorkel in Florida.

BTW, Otto Frederick Rohwedder was 48 when he finally perfected his machine for sliced bread. But he never got rich or famous as the crash of 1929 and subsequent Depression forced Rohwedder to sell his invention.

Wear Sunscreen

I don't have any advice today to give to the next generation. Oh, I'm sure I will gladly give my personal anecdote as events pass by or history repeats itself in current events (why can't we have 300+ independents in the house of commons !?). But we all know the next generation isn't listening.

I'm sure I wasn't listening when I was young, but I would sure like to know how "my dad got smarter as I got older."

Thursday, September 01, 2005


These go to 11 pointed out to us that the tragedy in the U.S. gulf coast is not completely comparable to the Tsunami devastation.

All too true, but New Orleans is sinking ... into the depths of hell and anarchy ?

Last night an ABC news reporter asked a man who was obviously looting : "Do you think this is okay/right to steal these things?!"

He answered with the fact that there were no police to stop him.

They should have followed that interview with a post Tsunami vignette of the CBC news crew's local guide that had to stop and help some fisherman push his boat back into the water in South East Asia...

The news crew asked him if he knew that guy that owned the boat.

"No, he just looked like he needed my help."

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