Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Climate change:Con or Catastrophe?

After thousands of scientists who specialise in meteorology, geology and other aspects of our climate weighed in, and then thousands more such experts analysed and reviewed the data...
we're getting warmer. It wont be pretty, it might actually benefit Canada's economy(and thrash much of Asia and Africa), but it is as real as that computer screen you're staring at.

Here are two summations
The British Royal Society of Science(PDF file)
The US National Academies of Science
I haven't included any of the purported climate change deniers, because the opinions of non-specialist academics(philosophers, economists, literary critics) have little more value than the opinion of some ignoramous with a internet connection, or a journalist, who often as not have no significant knowledge of modern science.

Giving a platform to a paranoic is not balance- it is stupidity.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Blu-ray or HD DVD=FAT ASS

Screw hi-def, 52" 1080i Dolby5.1 surround sound- I'm fixing up my bike. If you want big screen glory, go to the cinema, and stop hiding from other human FAT ASS!!!!!!!!

If you want to dull your exhausted nerves, stick to martini's. Anything over $25 or 25" in a TV is directly proportional to ...a big Fat ASS!!!
HD-dvd or Blu-ray who cares?

Not another evening of watching satellite disseminated, digitised stultifying crap while feeling an adipose ocean spreading across the couch beneath my...FAT ASS!

Later, I'm taking the kid for a walk to the café.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Where is authenticity in the Olympics?

I just finished reading this article The Pharmacy of the Future and You which raised the question of how we would deal with pharmaceuticals that changed our social behavior. The article goes on to question the notion of 'authenticity' and so argue that it will become normal for people to reconstruct their behavior.

This lead me to think about the Olympics where athletes use, or not, performance enhancing drugs. From the start let me say I oppose the use of these drugs because they improve performance at the expense of health. However, it did raise the issue of why we find a competition between pharmaceutical lab results unsatisfying and a competiton by the scientifically monitored, calipered, sports -psychologised athlete acceptable. In several sports, gymanastics and distance bicycling, the training and competition regimes are deleterious to the health of the athletes. Tour de France cyclists are the only group of endurance athletes that I know of that actually shorten their lifespans by participating in their sport; the dietary restrictions on young female gymnasts has been linked to osteoporosis and endochrine-related illnesses. On those grounds, why is drug-use singled out for censure?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Conservative support sinking

Despite reportage of anomalous spikes in polls as accurate representations of the popularity of Canada's Federal parties, the actual popularity of the various parties has been fairly stable. This week for example Harris/Decima reported the harper conservatives at 37% popularity- however Harris/Decima's own research indicates this was an anomaly in a three week period where the Conservatives consistently polled 34%.

I suppose the anomalous stuff makes for more interesting press releases.

On the other hand, the Conservatives have been unable to expand beyond their base of 29% diehards and 5% who still want to punish the liberals. And the figures seem to indicate that 5% is shrinking. Pooling the results of the major polling firms over time shows this.

A vote of confidence over the Budget, or Aghanistan is now very likely, triggering a general election. My prediction as to its outcome still stands, except that the Conservatives will probably poll even lower than I've predicted.
At this time Between Adam's Ears is suggesting the next General Election's results will be:

Bloc Québecois 9%
Green 7%
NDP 16%

The press releases and the detailed data is available online at:
Angus Reid
Strategic Council

Monday, January 21, 2008

Again with the dinosaurs

A new alliance has sprung up to ostensibly protect creative types from copyright infringement. This assumes that these groups have copyrighted material folks would want to steal. Good Cop/Bon Cop never seems to appear on bittorrent- i wonder why?

Always with the stick

The Parti Quebecois has issued a press release advocating the public daycare system(know as CPEs) be used as a method of francization. The desire to legislate, punish and control seems intrinsic to the PQ's dna.

This policy seems unnecessary given that the vast majority of CPEs use french as their language of care and instruction. indeed, most parents are glad to get any daycare spaces they can. And the majority of parents of whose first language is not french recognise that the daycare provides a painless way for their children to learn french. Expanding the Centre de Petit enfance system would probably guarantee all children in Quebec would speak french by age 5. Thus the French language would be strongly supported with out much further effort. This would result in eliminating much of the drive to sovereignty.

The PQ seems more interested in refighting the only battle they ever won. It's unfortunate that rest of the population has moved on to the 21st century and multilingualism. The majority of my friends speak at least two if not three languages, and make sure their children are as fluent in french as in English. But having only the issue of intercultural threats as a viable policy direction, the PQ has embraced a pallid ethno-nationalism as their raison d'etre.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Happy Birthday to me

I'm 44 years old. Lucky to have so many caring people around me. Unlucky to have such a head full of bad wiring. C'est la vie.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Why do you want to do what you do? the Intentionality of snacktime

"It's time for a an orange" I said.
"Why's it time fo' an orange?" said Anton.
"because I assert that I want an orange."
"Why do you want an orange?"
A good question. I had just stirred the soup and hadn't been thinking about oranges. But there were a small basket of clementines. Why did I want one?

Where did my intention come from?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New World Symphony and Discord

In the article New World Symphony and Discord Joseph Horowitz discusses the Czech composer Dvorak's discovery of 'black music' and how he became a proponent of it in the social and ethnic strata of the 'gilded age' of the USA.

A great story that made me want to play piano,again and think about how identity and expression is negotiated in our own age.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Chalk River Nuclear Fiasco

Dear Minister Lunn,

The treatment of Linda Keen, especially in the wake of the Chalk River fiasco, is appalling. I read the following articles in the National Post and Canada,com;
Tories ready to fire nuclear watchdog

Nuclear watchdog stands ground

When it comes to nuclear safety, I WANT an uncompromising advocate. Sacking Keen because you and Minister Clement can't manage your portfolios is at best shoddy, but in this case borders on misfeance.

Perhaps it is time this government faced the voters.

Best regards,
Adam van Sertima

Professionalism: A con in search of a definition

The expression "Professional" is often used to imply competence, effectiveness and superior capability. A profession, such as law or medecine requires years of study and on-the-job training. A professional is thought to be one who can best meet the requirements of a client.

Three criticisms of the term , and hence the notion of professionalism spring to mind;

1. A professional is by definition practicing in a given field for money. So the imperative to meet a client's needs is always subject to the potential profit. While a professional doesn't want to develop a bad reputation, this amounts to balancing damage to their personal brand versus losing money(or time and energy) on a unprofitable relationship with a given client. Caveat emptor.

2. Professionalism creates a pack-mentality among it's practitioners. This in turn causes "best practices" to ossify. This is particularly true in the pseudo- professional fields such as restaurents, crafts and creative /media fields. The following is an example:

"You can make anyone sound professional," says Mitchell Froom, a producer who's worked with Elvis Costello and Los Lobos, among others. "But the problem is that you have something that's professional, but it's not distinctive. I was talking to a session drummer, and I said, 'When's the last time you could tell who the drummer is?' You can tell Keith Moon or John Bonham, but now they all sound the same."
-ROBERT LEVINE 'The Death of High Fidelity: In the age of MP3s, sound quality is worse than ever' Posted Dec 26, 2007 1:27 PM in Rolling Stone

Again, this issue reflects on the intrinsically commercial imperative of the professional ethic. In this case the calibre of sound recording reflects commercial demands, rather than other aesthetic concerns. A pro in this case(although I would argue it is always the case) is a prostitute.

3. The term professionalism is used in it's negative form, to mean "the professional failed to satisfy my requirements" hence they were 'unprofessional'. This is roughly analogous to those who describe an elected government as un-democratic because it doesn't enact a policy that reflects what some fragment of the polity desires. In another case, it is used to chastise behavior of groups who do not have the position of a true professional;that is to say, those who can set their own terms of labour amongst themselves. A professional journalist is a misnomer, as there is no corporation of journalists, handing down guidelines for working in the field. The few states where journalists have to be licensed can hardly be considered as having what we would consider professionals in journalism. I have been described as professional because I show up for work(teaching) in a timely fashion. By this standard, most Walmart 'associates' are professionals. But how many parents want their children to grow up to work the floor at Walmart? In another case, someone described their underling as 'not professional', because they wore sandals to work. Since the subordinate in question was working as a backroom copywriter in a government PR office, I wonder what core-competency was being undermined, and what professional body had determined the appropriate footwear required for editing press releases. Ultimately, the term professionalism is stripped of meaning, because it is used so broadly, vaguely and contradictorily.

While I don't want to slander the many competent, well-meaning people working in many fields, I would like to see the notion of professionalism limited, and its obsfuscatory uses abandoned.

"If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country."
-E.M. Forster