Autonomous Source

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December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

The lameness will continue until moral improves...

December 27, 2005

Filler

Do these stoopid things really count as a post?

I am Rickets. Hear your bones go boing.
Which Horrible Affliction are you?
A Rum and Monkey disease.

December 25, 2005

Hurricane Santa strikes!

Hurricane Santa landed in our household today at full category 5 strength. There was advance warming of its approach, but many were still caught off guard by its ferocity.

The government response has been criminally inadequate. Clean-up operations will be underway for some time, but it is clear some lives will never be the same again.

December 23, 2005

The Rescue Vehicle Run-Around

There's been a shortage of toddler-related material on this blog for a little while. Hopefully this little video will help to make up that deficit. Here are Max and Talia playing a game I call 'rescue vehicle run-around'. It involves them pretending to be paramedic trucks caught in a whirlpool. Or something. I haven't quite worked out what's going on.

This is a bit of an experiment for me. I may be playing around with this a bit to try to make it work better over the next couple of days. You can download the video by right-clicking here and selecting 'save as'. It's 37 seconds long and 2.8 Megs.

December 21, 2005

Real treachery in a virtual world

One of my guilty pleasures is buying a computer games magazine once in a while. My interest in the games is fading, but I'm always interested in the business and how the games are evolving.

This month's issue of PC Gamer has a fascinating story about a massive and treacherous attack by one faction on another in a MMORPG game called EVE Online. Now, I play World of Warcraft, and it's MMORPG too. But it's more like a virtual playground than anything resembling reality. You can fight other players, but the most you can lose is a couple of minutes of your time. Which suits me fine -- I don't feel like playing a game where you have to watch your back all the time. But EVE Online seems to have been designed with an clear libertarian point of view. It's a space game where anything goes, and you're well advised to join a faction for your own protection.

This attack that I read about took 12 months to plan and involved placing moles in the targeted faction (called a corporation in the game) and gaining the leader's trust. Once everything was in place, a coordinated attack took out all the defences and seized the corporation's assets. Apparently, the real world market prices for the virtual goods stolen was over US$16,500.

As I said, it's a fascinating story, and you can read it all here.

EVE Online has a free 14-day trial available. I might have to try it out.

Harper gains sente in Quebec

In go, a game I'm not very good at, having sente means you have the advantage of momentum. Your opponent must answer your last move or risk danger to his position. It robs your opponent of the ability to build and forces him to defend what he has.

In a short series of moves, Stephen Harper has moved into this interesting strategic position in Quebec, a province most observers had written off for him. First, he released a policy platform that was generally well received in Quebec. Then he noted that the Liberals have been clearly been antagonizing the separatist sentiment in order to present themselves as the saviors of Canada. And finally he capitalized neatly on a truly bone-headed strategic error by Paul Martin.

Martin had said in the debates that he would debate Gilles Duceppe on every street corner in every Quebec town. But when he was challenged to a 1-on-1 debate with the Bloc leader on TV, he refused. Harper slipped in neatly and said he will debate Duceppe, since Martin obviously hasn't got the stones to do it.

Martin looks as if he has been taking his support in Quebec for granted, and so must respond to the Tory's incursion into the province. But responding to it also gives it life, and it's hard to tell what that might develop into. Duceppe must also respond. And while at first it looks like debating Harper and giving him room to expand might split the anti-separatist vote and give the Bloc more territory, it will also split the anti-Liberal vote, which is really where the Bloc's strength is concentrated. It's going to be fun to see how this will play out.

It's highly unlikely that the Conservatives will make a huge incursion into Quebec, but this might be enough to give them a couple of pockets of life. And that would be a huge victory.

UPDATE: Duceppe has backed down, admitting he's terrified of facing Harper's talking points.

Election predictions

During the last election, Colby Cosh collected various predictions of the outcome into a neat little table. I was way off, but I console myself by noting that the only two to score worse than me were Mark Steyn and Cosh himself.

This year, Cosh has his prediction out early, and it looks like he's learned his lesson. He's predicting minimal change, with the Liberals once again in charge of a minority government. It must be terrible to lose faith in your fellow citizens.

I haven't quite reached that point yet. I see Liberal support as weak and fading, while resistance to the Tories is crumbling due to their well-run campaign of middle-of-the-road, inoffensive pronouncements. I think Stephen Harper will be our next Prime Minister. Here's my numbers, ripped from the newspapers of the future:

Conservatives: 130
Liberals: 103
Bloc: 54
NDP: 21
It would take a long time to explain the methods I have used to come to this conclusion, but be assured they are well-grounded in the very latest in statistical analysis and probability theory. Really. You can take these numbers to the bank.

December 20, 2005

Quote of the day

On the topic of U.S. ambassador David Wilkins' complaints about anti-American rhetoric:

"Let me be very clear, as the Canadian Prime Minister I am not going to be dictated to by anyone, unless they are a Premier, or they live in a city, or they are a lobbyist, or happen to sing for a popular Irish rock band, or are otherwise able to sway public opinion."

(not) Prime Minister Paul Martin

More funny stuff to be found on the Derision 2006 website. Plenty of poke-funnery for everyone, no matter your politcal leanings.

December 17, 2005

Braindead

Me, that is.

The past few weeks have been pretty hectic around here and blogging has really moved down the priority list. And when the day is at its end, and I have a bit of free time, my mind is in such a fog that writing anything clever is pretty much an impossiblity. It may be a combination of the winter blahs and the Christmastime rush, but personally I blame those blasted kids. Hey look! I managed to take a photo of them when they weren't moving (with my new camera, after Max broke my last one).

I've frequently contemplated closing down the site and giving up the blog. But I think that eventually I'll get out of this rut and will want to get back into it. So consider Autonomous Source to be in a holding pattern until that day.

December 11, 2005

Income trusts kerfuffle heats up again

When it was announced that the RCMP was 'starting an investigation' over the allegations of insider trading in the income trust fiasco, I was concerned that the Liberals had successfully swept the issue under the rug. From then on, they had a pat answer to tell reporters who might have raised the issue. "We cannot comment on an ongoing investigation. Next question?"

But luckily some reporters have decided to help out the RCMP and do some investigating of their own:

In the hours before the official announcement, there was heavier-than-usual trading in income trusts and dividend-paying stocks. That has fuelled speculation that some investors profited from an early warning.

"The day they made the announcement they phoned us and said something is going to be said," Gleberzon, told CTV News Wednesday night.

Gleberzon said the call came from a senior policy advisor in the finance minister's office, someone his group had been dealing with all along.

However, on Thursday morning, Gleberzon and CARP issued a news release denying any advance knowledge of Goodale's announcement.

"At no time was CARP given an indication by the Minister's office of when the announcement would be made or what it would say," the release said.

CTV's Kathy Tomlinson talked to Gleberzon after the release was issued. He confirmed what he had said in the previous interview, but now maintained he had misspoken.

At first, Gleberzon said no one from the finance minister's office had contacted him about the interview.

When told that the finance ministry's communications director, John Embury, had already admitted to calling Gleberzon Wednesday night, he explained:

"I did speak to him …. I shouldn't have said that I didn't, but I did," Gleberzon told Tomlinson.

"They phoned me and they asked -- they found out about the interview. He asked me what was going on, I told him, but it's when we were talking about the timing issue that I realized how important it was."

Gleberzon said Embury told him: "We don't want to coach you, we don't want to tell you what to say, we just want to know what to prepare for."

Embury was aware of the story earlier in the day, and sent an email to CTV Wednesday night, before the newscast aired, saying of Gleberzon: "He denies saying what he is supposed to have said to your reporter."

In a phone call later, Embury told CTV's Robert Fife that Gleberzon was old and confused.

The Liberals and their allies are attempting to shut down and erase this behind-the-scenes look at how they work. Yesterday I heard a CBC Radio news report quoting 'market experts' as saying the pre-announcement flurry of activity was 'normal speculation', and today nothing can be found on their or the Globe's website. It's big news I would think, but hey, what do I know? But maybe the cat's out of the bag, and we'll start to hear more about what these guys have been up to. I can hope.

December 10, 2005

Paul Martin is a major contributor to global warming

He's so full of hot air:

If there is a single reason why the fortnight has passed with so little solid result, it is because of the obsession among Kyoto signatories with trying to forge another global pact — and with berating those who won’t join.

They might do better to work out what to do about Kyoto itself, given how many countries are way off course. Spain’s emissions in 2003 were up by nearly 42 per cent on 1990 levels; Portugal’s by 37 per cent; and Greece’s and Ireland’s by 26 per cent.

Canada, whose Prime Minister, Paul Martin, made a rare attack on the US for failing to share "the global conscience", has increased its emissions by more than 24 per cent in that period. Emissions in the US were up by only 13 per cent in that time.

December 09, 2005

Something's gone wrong again

And again, and again, and again...

Blogging has been light non-existent this past week because I've been working on the website for Lawrence Cannon, the Conservative candidate in the Pontiac. If you are reading this soon after I write it (or perhaps even days after I write it, God forbid) you will get a FILE NOT FOUND message. This is because I foolishly chose CYBERUS ONLINE to host the site. They are also know by their other name, THE WORST INTERNET HOST IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.

Let me back up. Last week, after much indecision, I was given the chance to work on the website. Before that, it had been a static -- though slickly designed -- site, but it was understood that we would need to be able to update the site with news as it came in. I planned to install Movable Type, and build the site around English and French 'news' pages.

So the first thing that went wrong was that the site was already hosted on a Windows server. Getting the software to work on it was possible, but only with cooperation from the host administrators. After many tugs on their chin, they decided not to help, because they didn't want to risk their other customers sites by installing some software they had not tested.

Fair enough. A setback, but not devastating. Time had been wasted, but it was possible to recover. I decided to move the site to a Linux based host. And I foolishly chose THE WORST INTERNET HOST IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.

Here was my reasoning. I figured they're local and small. I had never transfered a domain before and I wanted to be able to talk to someone if something went wrong. They were charging far more than the big internet hosting companies were, but I was willing to pay that if I could get some hand-holding if I needed it.

I had my account quickly. I set up the site and waited until late at night on Wednesday to tell the internet gods that lawrencecannon.com has a new home. I had heard that sometimes there are little glitches in the process and wanted them to happen when there were as few witnesses as possible.

So. Thursday morning. I call up the site and see an Apache error message saying, 'File not found at www.partypigs.com port 80'.

Huh?

I call Cyberus (THE WORST INTERNET HOST IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD), and after finally getting someone to talk to, tell him what I see. He gives me the whole song and dance about how it sometimes takes awhile for DNS to propagate throughout the internet. "I know, I know, but what about this partypigs thing?"

"Well, sometimes weird stuff happens," he said in a knowing voice. "I'm checking your site and it's working here. Give it an hour or two, and I'm sure it will be working where you are." And then he went back to his solitaire game.

He was lying. It was NOT working where he was because they messed the set-up of their name server. It was not working anywhere. He lied because he was working for THE WORST INTERNET HOST IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD, and that, apparently, is their policy. In the afternoon I called again and asked what was going on. "It's in the queue." "It's been escalated." "Your call is important to us." "It's our top priority." Finally, I gave up at 10:00 last night, fuming.

This morning, more of the same. I won't bore you with all the details, but in the numerous calls I made I found new and clever ways to use basic curse words that I'd never considered before. I also tried to be reasonable and understanding. (It could work, couldn't it?) But still nothing has happened. I see this as a simple problem that is entirely their fault, but they seem to feel it's something to stick in a 'queue' to be tended to by their 'skilled technicians' only when they're good and ready. That's because Cyberus Online (and by extension, their parent company Cybersurf Corporation) is THE WORST INTERNET HOST IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.

It's almost 4:00 now. I'm going to call them again. What are the odds that this stoopid, stoopid problem will spill into the weekend?

UPDATE: So I'm talking to poor-hapless-help-desk-geek number 8, when I get an email. Oh, it's from THE WORST INTERNET HOST IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD! What can it say?

It's an invoice for hosting charges. That part of the company still works.

Number 8 tells me he sat in on a phone call to the Cybersurf office in Calgary and that they will get to work on the problem. Ten minutes later, the site is up. Hooray!

Maybe the problem was political. There's no Liberals in Calgary.

December 02, 2005

Harper might as well give up

Brilliant political strategist Kim Campbell has turned her razor-sharp mind to the task of predicting who will win the upcoming election. She has determined that the Conservatives can't do it because -- and here's the kind of insight we don't often see in Canada -- they're scary.

One day she might use her flawless political instincts to run for office. She'd be unstoppable, I think.

(via Nealenews)

December 01, 2005

199 reason not to vote Liberal

Len Kutchma has compiled a list of 199 Liberal scandals over the past few years. Here's just a random sample:

131. Federal government has lost track of $587 million a year in EI overpayments and underpayments at the Department of Human Resources. (Ottawa Citizen, October 12, 2004). However, the government defends itself by stating that in fact it has only lost track of $25 million a year and collects the other overpayments. (Ottawa Citizen, October 13, 2004)
132. $133,000 grant to a Toronto film company that used classified ads to search for the "perfect" penis. (National Post, October 14, 2004).
133. Man convicted of fraud against government hired to teach ethics course to public servants (National Post, October 20, 2004).
134. Public Works selling confiscated grow-op equipment to drug traffickers. (National Post, October 21, 2004).
135. Pressure by Liberal MPs and ministers on ACOA to make funding decisions based on politics (New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 25, 2004).
136. Paul Martin's Director of Communications Scott Reid insulting Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador (Toronto Star, October 28, 2004)
137. The Martin government spent $127,223 on a poll last February testing ways to diffuse negative reaction to the bombshell auditor-general's report -- which included the finding the Liberals ignored their own rules prohibiting the use of tax dollars on partisan polls (Vancouver Sun, November 8, 2004).
138. Judy Sgro's campaign volunteer (a stripper) getting ministerial permit

Only 199? I think Len has to try a little harder...

UPDATE: Credit should be given to the Libscam wiki by Johnny Pockets for these items. Thanks to The Last Amazon for the tip.

UPDATE II: Johnny Pockets -- no doubt fearing reprisals after the election -- has pointed his finger shakily to the Blue Blogging Soapbox as the source of the list. "It was HIM! Not ME! Not ME-he-he-he-heeeee...."

The Sheila Copps of the Conservatives

Last year I rolled my eyes at Jason Kenney's faux outrage over the hurt he suffered as a Roman Catholic over some stupid statement by Joe Volpe. Yesterday he was trying to play this game again and had the whole thing blow up in his face:

Conservative MP Kenney stepped up to the podium and informed reporters about a disturbing thing the Conservatives discovered in a blog kept by Scott Feschuk, a Martin speechwriter who is blogging while following the PM around the campaign trail.

Feschuk is a humorist who once edited the National Post's very funny Post-Mortem page.

According to Kenney, Feschuk "exposed his true feelings for Canada's cultural diversity by referring to Omni Television subscribers as 'socially awkward people who believe in UFOs'" in his blog.

Omni Television is a multicultural television channel based in Toronto.

"Omni subscribers represent the tremendous diversity of Canada's ethnic communities and they would be rightfully concerned and insulted by these kinds of pejorative remarks coming from the prime minister's own speech writer," Kenney said.

"What's he saying? That ethnic minorities who are the television viewers of Omni are paranoid, abnormal, are ungrounded in reality? What's he saying?"

Reporters rushed back to their offices to check out whether the Liberals had lifted Feschuk's controversial and rather bizarre comments about multicultural communities.

When they arrived at their desks they were shocked to see Feschuk was already addressing Kenney's criticisms.

"It wasn't a joke, Jason," Feschuk blogged. "I was being serious. Of course, I was referring to subscribers to Omni, the magazine for science buffs and those who believe they've visited Alpha Centuri, not viewers of Omni television.

"In the spirit of interstellar goodwill, I make this offer: if Jason apologizes, I'll send him a free subscription to Omni and a tin foil hat."

What a dolt. If Kenney or his equally doltish hangers-on had maybe stopped and thought for a second whether the scrap of text that got them so excited made any sense when interpreted the way they had, they might not have made fools of themselves in front of a crowd of reporters.

Seriously, Kenney belongs in the NDP.