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9th May 2015

5:27am: An Open Letter to Bill Downe, CEO of the Bank of Montreal
Mr Downe, you are a liar.

I say so because your tellers regularly lie to your customers, any time your customers deposit a cheque. I assume that they do so in compliance with your bank's policies. As you are ultimately in charge of those policies, I hold you responsible. I refer to BMo's policy regarding holding cheques for a number of days after they are deposited to allow them to "clear." Your tellers tell your customers that the money they just deposited in their accounts will be available to them in four days. The money is actually not available for twice that long or more. Your bank's dishonesty lies in the way that you count those "four days," which is very different from the way a normal person would count them.
For a description, look under the fold.Collapse )
Last Thursday, Mr Downe, I received a long-overdue cheque from an insurance company. It wasn't a huge settlement, just $180; a dust speck in the pages of BMo's four-and-a-half billion dollar books. I deposited it in my chequing account the same day. I asked the teller if the money was available. She replied that the deposit went through. That's not what I asked. So I asked her again, when would the funds I'd just deposited be available. Again, she told me that the cheque had been accepted, that the deposit had been made; again, not what I asked! So I asked her a third time, directly this time, was there any hold on the deposit? I pointed out to her that the last time I deposited a cheque, it had been held for several days and doing so seemed to be BMo's policy. She then finally admited that there was a four day hold. I wasn't satisfied, of course. I asked her if the funds would be available on Monday. I counted the days off on my fingers; Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. That's when she explained that it was four business days; Saturday and Sunday didn't count. So I counted the four days for her again, skipping the weekend... Friday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday... and asked her if the money would be available to me on Wednesday. Thursday, she corrected. "So four equals seven," I said, (my charitable day-counting aimed at the poor teller rather than her employer.) Then I thanked her and left. You might guess that I was a little upset.

So in fact Mr Downe, the "four day hold" that you place on all cheques which customers deposit in their accounts actually lasts for at least a week, (eight days if you count the day the cheque was deposited), and can last as long as ten days. But your tellers are required to insist that it's only four days and resist revealing that there's any hold in the first place. I don't blame your tellers, sir, they're only doing what they're told to do. No, Mr Downe, I blame you! It's your bank, it's your policy and it's your lie!

Frankly, Mr Downe, I don't understand why there should need to be any hold on any cheques at any bank. As little as five years ago, you didn't put a hold on my paycheques every week, unless I deposited them in an Automated Teller Machine instead of through a human teller. Back in the early 1980s, I switched to BMo because you would let me deposit my paycheques through your ATMs and RBC would not. There was no hold put on them back then. Interbank and intrabank computing and communication has never been more sophisticated than it is today. A teller should merely need to enter any amounts in a cheque which are not machine readable, visually scan the signature and let her station read the rest. The cheque's validity should be confirmed in a matter of seconds! (For cheques deposited at ATMs, tellers in cublicle farms should be able to get the same thing done over-night.) Yet you put a "four day hold" on my deposit which will last for seven days; why? What Earthly purpose does it serve? And why do you make your tellers lie about how long it will actually last? How does BMo benefit from making their customers even more frustrated and angry?

If your goal is to put an end to paper cheques, you'll need to replace them with something that customers who aren't businesses can exchange between themselves! And you'll have to persuade huge, multinational corporations like insurance companies, (some nearly as big as banks), to give their customers alternatives, too.

With due regards,
-- A.D. Burrows
Current Mood: annoyed

11th February 2015

4:05pm: An Open Letter To Senator Stephen Greene re. Fixing The CBC
Dear Senator Greene:

On Wednesday, January 28, during a public hearing of the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications, you made the following comment to Alain Saulnier, a former executive at the CBC.

"Wouldn't you agree that the most important thing is the ability of Canadians, who provide a billion dollars a year to the CBC, to access information and stories about themselves? Whether it's Quebec, Atlantic Canada, the West or the North, they're interested in knowing more about their own country and in learning about their history, and to talk about their future and to understand each other. That's the primary reason for the CBC, I think.

"Isn't there another way you could deliver the same thing and maybe even better, which is that instead of providing the billion dollars to the CBC, you provide it to content providers, producers who make the stories, and then you mandate that private networks through content regulations or what have you carry those stories, so you wouldn't then need a CBC?”

I am writing this open letter to warn you that what you proposed to Mr Saulnier is a very bad idea. If you continue reading, I'll tell you why.

As you told Alain Saulnier, Canadians are interested in having their own stories told. Private broadcasters have no interest in telling Canadians' stories. They prefer to reflect America back to Canada by airing cheaper American-made programming. Such programming is emotionally compelling, it holds audience attention very strongly, even through excessive commercials. (As Newton Minow observed to the FCC back in 1961, commercials are the whole and only reason for television to be broadcast at all.) Private broadcasters would not buy or air content from Canadian creators unless it was like the American content that they are already airing.

I'm sure you would argue that private Canadian broadcasters could be forced by legislation to air content from Canadian creators. But Canadian content distribution companies of all media are familiar with the Canadian Content rules first passed into legislation under Pierre Trudeau. Many fine Canadian bands and performers were able to earn a place on stage and in history because of these rules, (The Guess Who and Rush come quickest to mind), and plenty of programming, too... and all of this content is indistinguishable from American programming, except on the CBC. The "CanCon" rules are still in place, as you know; every-so-often the CRTC waters them down a little more and private broadcasters have gotten much practice in getting around them.

Perhaps nearly as important as the preference of private broadcasters for American-style programming is their insistence that any programming they air have a neocon spin. And it is perfectly obvious to ordinary Canadians that private broadcasters are partisan, especially to Canadians who disagree with their preferred spin. That's why so many thousands of us told the CRTC not to require that the Sun news network, ("Fox News North"), be included in basic cable packages.

It really is a choice between local programming that reflects Canadian values and the neocon spin that private broadcasters insist upon. Neoconservatism has nothing to do with everyday Canadian life, except in the eyes of private broadcasters. Neoconservatism suits very well the needs of private broadcasters and other corporations, international corporations especially. To ordinary Canadians, living their everyday lives, it might as well have come from sentient lumps of coal from an alien planet.

In short, if private content providers made content that actually reflected the lives and stories of Canadians in their local regions, they would be wasting their time and our tax money, because private broadcasters would not accept it. The only broadcaster in Canada which can reasonably be required to accept and use such content, especially if that content is non-partisan, is the CBC.

And that is why the CBC is indispensable.

There is another reason why the CBC is needed in Canada; efficiency. Let us say that you gave all the CBC's funding to private content providers. They would then have to assemble production facilities and teams; buildings, equipment, materials, engineers, operators, talent, management and so forth. All of that takes money, sir, and time. Assembling all of this for each new piece of content would take much more money than if the facilities and teams were already there. The CBC has such facilities in centres across Canada, centres which can be used again and again for different projects. Each facility already has equipment, materials, talent and so forth. Because the CBC does not have to recreate its facilities for each new project, it is much more efficient and creates more content than giving the money to private providers.

Finally, let me directly address your idea to fund private content providers so that they can create content from various regions and locales across Canada, reflecting local stories and local culture. The idea has merit. In fact, it has been done before. It's called the National Film Board/Office National du Film. Again, the only broadcaster in Canada that makes any regular use of NFB content is the CBC! (and occasionally some provincial educational broadcasters) This is probably because NFB content is non-partisan, for reasons that I've already described.

In conclusion Senator Greene, the CBC is doing its job. The only thing broken about it is a severe lack of funds, especially compared to the lavish budgets that private broadcasters enjoy. If you want to fix the CBC, give it a source of regular, independent funding with which the party in power cannot interfere. And if you don't like the way the CBC portrays your party, then fix your party!

With due regards,
Allan D. Burrows
Current Mood: annoyed

5th October 2014

11:22pm: Two Linux Distros To Avoid
I used to be an Amiga user. Then Comodore went under and my old Amiga A1200/B1260 slowly got older and older. It couldn't be upgraded as vendors went under or turned to other platforms. At last I got an old PC, installed Ubuntu and I've been a Linux fan ever since. I was happy for a long time with Ubuntu's performance using KDE as my window manager. Then Canonical came up with Unity and stopped supporting KDE, CDE, XFCE or even Gnome, (which had been their standard.) So I backed-up my home directory, (and some other directories I though I might need), and installed another distro that used XFCE instead, (since my desktop was a little underpowered by this point.) From there I went from distro to distro for a while, trying this window manager and that. Then a friend gave me his old computer, which was not as powerful as he wanted, but more than good enough for writing stories and watching Youtube. He'd loaded Linux Mint 16 on my new machine to start it with. I made the mistake of not replacing it.

I've never had trouble with Linux crashing randomly until Mint 16. It didn't matter what app I was using. (It was usually Firefox, but that's the app I use the most.) Every-so-often the system would freeze and a minute later the loader screen would come up. It would progress through shutdown stuff and then restart. I'd have to hope whatever I'd been working on had saved recently when I got control back. I put up with it for a while, but last Tuesday I got sick and tired of it.

So I copied my home directory, (and a few other directories that I thought I might need later), to an external HD that I used for back-ups.

Then I installed Fedora 20 over it. It works, but it's restrictive in ways I didn't even know an OS had! For instance, I had to tell it my admin account is eligible to override permissions, (ie. sudo.) It flatly refuses to read standard .mp3 files, even to convert them to something else. There seems to be a way of installing codecs, but not the few that everybody uses! And even after installing a flash player, Firefox can't play flash files. It won't let me install new software or even run a terminal window! I've lost all respect for Red Hat Linux, Fedora is an almighty pain in the butt!

Later today or tomorrow I'm backing up my home directory again. Once I've zipped the whole home directory to a file and uploaded it to Dropbox, so I have an extra back-up, and saved my bookmarks to an email or two, (just in case), I'm going to reformat my HD and install Ubuntu. I'm not terribly fond of Unity, but at least I know I can work with it! Or install Gnome or KDE beside it.

BTW, I'm having even more trouble with the change-over than that, but it's not Fedora's fault, I think. When I went to copy my old home directory back, my external HD had a corrupted partition. A million thanks to shiver_raccoon for all the help he's been trying to rescue my data. I hope you at least learn something new from this by the time you're through, one way or another. You're a wonderful friend to this little otter.

PS. Nobody even suggest that I switch to Windoze. I don't care what you think of 'Doze or M$ or Linux or me, it ain't gonna happen! I didn't go to 'Doze from Amiga because I did not want the kind of performance I got from Mint. And don't tell about Mac, either; if I could've afforded Apple anything, that's where I'd've gone.
Current Mood: bouncy

2nd February 2014

6:32pm: Groundhog Day Report 2014
It's Groundhog Day and here's the run-down. First the Canadian groundhogs.

Wiarton Willie of Wiarton, ON predicted six more weeks of winter.

Balzac Billy of Balzac, AB predicted an early spring.

Snewsie the Gopher of Moosejaw, SK predicted an early spring.

Manitoba Merv of Winnipeg, MB predicted an early spring.

Winnipeg Willow of The Forks, MB predicted an early spring.

There was no accessible report from Fenwick Flossie of Welland, ON at time of publication. (I could only find last year's prediction.)

Fred la Marmotte of Val d'Espoir, QC predicted an early spring.

And Shubenacadie Sam of Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park, NS predicted an early spring.

Next, the American groundhogs.

Punxsutawney Phil of Gobler's Knob, PA predicted six more weeks of winter.

Dunkirk Dave of Dunkirk, NY predicted an early spring.

Holtsville Hal of Holtsville, NY predicted an early spring.

Malverne Mel of Malverne, NY predicted an early spring.

Charles G "Staten Island Chuck" Hogg of Staten Island, NY predicted six more weeks of winter.

Woodstock Willie of Woodstock, IL predicted six more weeks of winter.

Buckeye Chuck of Marion, OH predicted an early spring.

Wynter of the Milwaukee County Zoo, Milwaukee, WI  predicted six more weeks of winter.

Jimmy the Groundhog of Sun Prairie, WI predicted six more weeks of winter.

There was no accessible report from Bowman Bill of Winchester, VA at time of publication. (I found reports that he would make a prediction, but no reports of his prediction.)

And General Beauregard Lee of Lilburn, GA predicted an early spring.

So the over-all score stands:
Early Spring - 11
Six More Weeks Of Winter - 6
No Show - 2
...and the North American majority opinion is an early spring.

(The Canadian majority opinion is an early spring; 6/1.)

And that's your Groundhog Prognostications for another year.

UPDATE -- deleted some extraneous text; sorry, folks
Current Mood: accomplished

14th January 2014

1:48pm: Africa Against LGBT Rights
On Friday, December 20th, Uganda's government passed a law which made LGBT sex a crime.

Malawi, too has laws against LGBT sexuality.

On Tuesday, January 14th, Nigeria's government passed a law which not only banned LGBT sex, but made it a crime even so much as for LGBT people to meet.

Thirty seven African countries out of fifty five have anti-LGBT laws. Only one, South Africa, has laws that protect LGBT citizens and even there, those laws are not universally enforced; there are places in SA where gays dare not go.

Commenting on Nigeria's new anti-LGBT law, Canadian Conservative MP John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said:
"We call on Nigeria to repeal this law and to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Nigerians regardless of their sexual orientation...

"Canada has clearly spoken out against human rights violations committed against people on the basis of their sexuality, and we will continue to do so."

Well Mr Baird, here's a thought. You and Mr Harper's tories worry about government spending, you mean to cut it over the next couple of years.
Here's a map that shows which African countries have laws that oppress their LGBT communities.
And here's a map that shows which African countries receive foreign aid from Canada.
Overlap the two and stop giving foreign aid to African countries that oppress their LGBT communities. That should save the Canadian tax payer several hundred million dollars every year. And you wouldn't look like such a hypocrite for on the one hand condemning African countries for their maladaptive "traditions," (mostly imported from American evangelical churches with "gay cures" for sale), then giving them free money with the other. If you consider what a bunch of tools and hypocrites you and Mr Harper's party look like now, you could use a good example or two to point to in your history, especially if you're planning on a spring election.

BTW, wouldn't forcing an early election violate one of Mr Harper's previous election promises to hold elections only at regular intervals?

UPDATE -- Here's a better map of gay persecution in Africa. -- http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/72350000/gif/_72350907_gay_africa464.gif

Current Mood: angry

31st August 2013

10:45pm: An Open Letter To Stephen Harper
There is a site where Canadians can send a letter to the Prime Minister asking him to recall Parliament and discuss whether or not to join America in joining the rebels in the Syrian civil war. I made significant changes to the letter before i sent it. I want to share it openly.

BEHIND THE CUT -- My Open LetterCollapse )

For the record, I am shocked and disgusted by the chemical attack and the napalm attack which followed it against civilian targets which Bashar al-Assad launched. If he'd been able to insire that only rebel fighters had been harmed by them -- and he could not have, nobody could -- I would still have been horrified and disgusted that such agents had been used at all. Assuming that investigation proves that these attacks were real and that they were indeed launched by the government as the rebels claim, (and al-Assad's counter claims don't make sense -- Where would the rebels get such weapons?), it would be right for the rest of the world to launch a reprimand with corporal force against him and his army. My sympathies are mainly with the innocent civilians of Syria.

However, and for the record, Canada is not in a good position to be a part of this reprimand. We have an enormous deb! As of writing, each of us owe more than $17,500! And under the Right Honourable Prime Minister of Alberta, it's only getting worse. As for our military, we can't even afford to replace our aging Sea King helicopters, never mind our CF18 fighters or those dodgy Oberon submarines Mother England stuck us with. And Stephen Harper wants so badly to push us into yet another shooting war that not only is he not calling an emergency session of parliament to discuss the matter, he's proroguing parliament yet again to make sure that such a discussion never happens! (The only time when our Parlaiment was prorogued before Mr Harper was in 1873, when Sir John A tried to kill The Pacific Scandal hearings. The Governor General did allow the prorogation, but limited it to ten weeks and appointed a commission to continue the hearings anyway. When Parliament reconvened, Sir John A was censured and forced to resign. This will be the third time Mr Harper has prorogued parliament.) Given our financial situation, we should at least discuss the matter in open parliament.

You help those in need if you can. In this little otter's opinion, we can't.

PS. Here's a site were you can donate to UNICEF. :)
Current Mood: annoyed

26th July 2013

12:57am: Verizon Wants Into Canada... Big Deal.
According to this article, the big three Canadian telecom providers, Rogers, Bell and Telus, are crying real tears to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, because the US telecom giant, Verizon wants to buy a couple of Canadian cell-phone start-ups, Mobilicity and Wind Mobile, and bid in the next round of spectrum auctions for space for their service in Canada. Rogers, Bell and Telus think it's not fair that Verizon can buy their competition when they're not allowed. (Wind, Mobilicity, Public Mobile, Koodo and Virgin have been offering lower prices and better contracts for years! It's been a royal pain for Rogers, Bell and Telus to keep their customers without doing the same.) Rogers, Bell and Telus think it's not fair that Verizon, as a new-comer to Canada, can bid for several blocks of spectrum when they're only allowed to bid for one a-piece. And they certainly don't like it that a giant American telecom company, which is big and rich enough to actually compete with them, wants to get in on their lucrative, little fiefdom!

To me, this means nothing. Verizon is an American "premium carrier." Their prices in America are no cheaper than Rogers, Bell and Telus here. Their contracts in America are no less restrictive than Rogers, Bell and Telus here. Their service in America is neither clearer nor more reliable than Rogers, Bell or Telus here. Their customer support in America is no more useful or "friendly" than Rogers, Bell and Telus here. Competition from other giant American telecoms forces Verizon to offer Americans better deals on mobile data speed, reliability and price than Rogers, Bell and Telus offer here, but that doesn't mean Verizon will have to offer the same better deals to Canadians, even if we're roaming in the US.

Because they won't have to. In Canada, Verizon won't be competing with AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. They'll be "competing" with Rogers, Bell and Telus, who all offer almost exactly the same level of price, service, reliability and customer support. Verizon will merely have to offer us the same thing we get from Rogers, Bell and Telus and expect to cut themselves a piece of the Canadian pie... the highest prices and most restrictive contracts in the civilized world for mediocre service and reliability with customer support from Bangladesh!

So if Verizon gets to enter rhe Canadian market, what will happen is that they'll vaccuum up Wind and Mobilicity... and maybe Public Mobile, Koodo and Vrigin, too... then use advertising that's just on the legal side of deceptive to pull customers away from Rogers, Bell and Telus, (just as Rogers, Bell and Telus themselves do.) What little real competition we have in the telecom market will be swept away and the Big Three will become the Big Four. And for Canadian cellular users, nothing in particular will change. So yippity-skippity, hoppity-hippity, dancing, rejoicing and glee! Hip-hip-hurrah for Verizon entering the Canadian cellular market. Too much fun for one little otter. Big deal.

CORRECTION -- Virgin Mobile is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bell Canada Enterprises. Koodo is a subsidiary of Telus. Wind, Mobilicity and Public Mobile are independent... so far.
Current Mood: irritated

2nd February 2013

5:19pm: Groundhog Day Report 2013
It's Groundhog Day and here's the run-down. First the Canadian groundhogs.

Wiarton Willie of Wiarton, ON predicted an early spring.

Balzac Billy of Balzac, AB predicted an early spring.

Snewsie the Gopher of Moosejaw, SK had not yet posted a prediction as I checked.

Manitoba Merv of Winnipeg, MB predicted six more weeks of winter.

Winnipeg Willow of The Forks, MB predicted an early spring.

Fenwick Flossie of Welland, ON predicted an early spring.

Fred la Marmotte of Val d'Espoir, QC predicted six more weeks of winter.

And Shubenacadie Sam of Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park, NS predicted six more weeks of winter.

Next, the American groundhogs.

Punxsutawney Phil of Gobler's Knob, PA predicted an early spring.

Dunkirk Dave of Dunkirk, NY predicted an early spring.

Holtsville Hal of Holtsville, NY predicted six more weeks of winter.

Malverne Mel of Malverne, NY predicted six more weeks of winter.

Charles G "Staten Island Chuck" Hogg of Staten Island, NY predicted an early spring.

Woodstock Willie of Woodstock, IL predicted an early spring.

Buckeye Chuck of Marion, OH predicted an early spring.

Wynter of the Milwaukee County Zoo, Milwaukee, WI  predicted an early spring.

Jimmy the Groundhog of Sun Prairie, WI predicted an early spring.

Bowman Bill of Winchester, VA had not yet posted a prediction as I checked.

And General Beauregard Lee of Lilburn, GA predicted six more weeks of winter.

So the over-all score stands:
Early Spring - 11
Six More Weeks Of Winter - 6
No Show - 2
...and the North American over-all consensus is An Early Spring.

Congratulations and thanks to our prognosticating rodent cousins.
Current Mood: accomplished

16th January 2013

2:43pm: Bicycle Drivers
So last Tuesday I was walking along the street to the grocery store to get some salad veggies. I was minding my own business, not really thinking of anything, when I got near a parking lot entrance. Before I crossed it, I looked over my shoulder to make sure no cars were about to turn into it. There were no cars, but this dork on a bicycle was driving down the sidewalk towards me. (Keep in mind, this was two days ago, the middle of winter. Because of a warm snap the sidewalk was clear, but so were the roads. If you didn't know, it's the law in Ontario that bicycles are road vehicles, they should not be driven on the sidewalk.) So I ducked out of his way and watched him pass.

And the dork took offense to that. "What're you lookin' at!" he screamed. "You don't look at me! What're you movin' away from me for!" He had this muck-eating grin on his face as he wheeled his bicycle around in the parking lot entrance and came back at me. "What do you think you're lookin' at! You think you can look at me?" He lifted his bicycle's front wheel at me, as if he was going to use his vehicle as a weapon, then parked it against the fence between the lot and the building next to it. I crossed the lot entrance while he was yelling, but I stopped at the far side. I didn't want to give hm an excuse to get back on his bicycle and drive me down! He, of course, came and stood in the middle of the lot entrance; luckily, there was no traffic wanting to use it at that moment. "You do not look at me when I'm ridin'!" he screamed, pointing at me like a truant school boy. "You don't ever do that! You understand?"

I reminded the dork that he was driving his bicycle in the middle of winter. I reminded him that he'd been on the sidewalk, right behind me. I told him, (since it didn't seem to have occurred to him), that this was dangerous.

"You got a lot of nerve for someone..." and here he paused to assess me for the first time, "...with glasses on!" he continued, momentarily. "When you hit someone with glasses, it really hurts! Especially with these!" he added, shaking a fist at me.

I didn't reply to that. He was moving back towards his vehicle and I could tell that he'd decided he'd gone far enough. I didn't want to escalate the confrontation further either, angry though I was. He got back on his bicycle and drove away through the parking lot. I watched him to be sure he didn't decide to come back and escalate things himself, especially from behind me. (Bicycles are nearly silent, especially compared to city traffic. Had I continued on and he decided to come back and "teach me a lesson," I wouldn't have heard him until he was upon me. Unfortunately I don't have eyes like a chameleon, I can't look over my shoulder and where I'm going at the same time.) He glanced back at me as he drove away, noticing that I was watching him. "And you're still lookin' at me!" he yelled. He had a few more choice words for me, but they were lost under the noise of traffic.

Beyond the parking lot was a street, on the far side of which was the entrance to another parking lot, this one for the supermarket where I was going. I lost track of him as he drove through that. When I reached the store, however, I found his vehicle parked just inside the door. I recognized it by the seat; there was no cover on it, just bare springs. I took a moment to examine it further. It was late in the afternoon and getting dark out, yet this dork was driving a bicycle with neither a front white headlight nor even a front white reflector, no red rear reflector and no reflective side tape. It did not have a front basket or a rear holder to hold his groceries; I don't know how he got them home on it, but I doubt that it was legally. It didn't have a horn, bell or buzzer. It didn't even have fenders over the wheels to keep it from splashing him on wet roads, just a chain to lock it with. It was in rather sad shape generally, but I'd watched him make it go fast enough that if he'd hit me, I'd have been badly injured. Everything I'd seen of this guy and his vehicle were things Traffic Officer Yakachuck had warned me against in kindergarten! I didn't see the dork inside the store and the vehicle was gone as I left, thank goodness.

So this is what I have to expect of bicycle drivers; mouthy, arrogant, self-important, violent offenders who don't give a rat's bum about the law or anybody's safety, including their own, yet feel entitled to respect because they drive a bicycle instead of a car. And you wonder why I'm always looking over my shoulder as I walk along the sidewalk?

And you wonder why I have no respect for bicycle drivers? I see them down on the road where they belong so seldom that I notice it. Bicycle drivers don't even think of it as driving. They say they ride their bicycles, as if bicycles were horses with brains that had some sense and some say in what they did. Perhaps that's part of the problem with bicycles; a badly diminished sense of responsibility.

Back in September 2012, a 38 year old Toronto woman, an experienced bicycle driver, was killed when a truck ran over her. They'd both been about to turn from a side street onto a main street... at the same time, in the same direction! The woman was right beside the truck, turned at the same time it did and was brushed by the side of the truck. It pushed her down and she fell under its rear wheels. According to the local bicycle lobby, the solution to keep this from happening again is to force truck owners to install side guards on their vehicles. If a bicycle driver does something stupid, these guards would prevent them from being killed. Nobody seems to have offered a more obvious solution; bicycle drivers, (and smaller cars), should keep clear of a truck's blind spots and wait their turn behind, not try to get ahead of the truck as it turns. Had this woman waited for the truck to turn, she would not have been in harm's way in the first place.

Oh, but that would make bicycle drivers responsible for their own actions! We can't have that! Bicycle drivers think that because they ride goody-dommy bicycles, not baddy-daddy cars which are polution, they have the right to do anything they want and all the bad people who don't ride the bicycle have to look out for them! I take it back; irresponsibility isn't part of the problem with bicycles, it's the whole problem. Up yours, dork! I'll be looking over my shoulder for you and your kind... and dodging out of the way when I see you... because I know you won't be looking out for me.
Current Mood: angry

3rd February 2012

1:58pm: Ground Hog Day Report
(nearly forgot about this)

Yesterday was Ground Hog Day and here's the run-down. First, the Canadian ground hogs.

Wiarton Willie of Wiarton, ON predicted an early spring.

Balzac Billy of Balzac, AB predicted six more weeks of winter.

Snewsie the Gopher of Moosejaw, SK predicted an early spring.

Manitoba Merv of Winnipeg, MB predicted an early spring.*

Winnipeg Willow of The Forks, MB predicted six more weeks of winter.*

Fenwick Flossie of Welland, ON predicted an early spring.

Fred la Marmotte of Val d'Espoir, PQ predicted six more weeks of winter.

Mactacaddy of Mactaquac Park, NB did yearly reports up to 2009, but no report from him has been available this year as of posting.

Shubenacadie Sam of Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park, NS  predicted an early spring.

Next, American ground hogs.

Punxsutawney Phil of Gobler's Knob, PA predicted six more weeks of winter.

Dunkirk Dave of Dunkirk, NY predicted an early spring.

Holtsville Hal of Holtsville, NY predicted an early spring.

Malverne Mel of Malverne, NY predicted six more weeks of winter.

Charles G "Chuck" Hogg of Staten Island, NY predicted an early spring.

Buckeye Chuck of Marion, OH predicted an early spring.

Jimmy the Groundhog of Sun Prairie, WI predicted an early spring.

General Beauregard Lee of Lilburn, GA predicted an early spring.

So the over-all score stands:
Early Spring - 11
Six More Weeks Of Winter - 5
No Show - 1
And the consensus is an early spring this year!

...mind you, it's still a 50/50 chance that any of them are right. But this is all in fun, no?

*(It's curious that The Forks should have different weather from the rest of Winnipeg.)
Current Mood: chipper

1st January 2012

5:43pm: I Had This Crazy Idea
I've been thinking. I spent some effort last year trying to help fellow Furry fans who've been down on their luck. I've passed the word, (since I've had no bucks to pass), about sick dogs and cats, broken transmissions, sudden rises in rent and so on. I've mentioned emergency commissions, sales, loans and outright begging. I hope I've done some good.

My journals haven't gathered many replies, but I didn't expect them to. Sometimes I've gotten comments from well-meaning friends who have tried to discourage those whom I've been trying to encourage. They seem to feel that anybody who claims to be in trouble before a furcon must really intend to use the money to finance their convention trip. Personally, I think of this as cynicism, perhaps self-involvement. Maybe they're right, but you can't just assume such things, it's not fair.

BEHIND THE CUT -- something we might do about itCollapse )

TL:DR - Happy 2012, let's help poor furries get to conventions, it'll solve some problems.
Current Mood: amused

22nd November 2011

5:06am: To The Occupy Movement
All over the world cities and universities are declaring they've had enough of the protest. They're passing legislation to put limits on what you're allowed to do in public parks and sending in the police to evict the protesters. So far, most of the evictions have been non-violent; I'm actually shocked at the restraint which most police departments have shown. Occupy Toronto actually got a stay of eviction by challenging it in court, but the court upheld city hall; most of the protesters are leaving quietly, some might give the Toronto Police Department an excuse to G20 them after all. Face it, protests don't work. They didn't change anything in the 60s and they're not changing anything today. No, if the Occupy Movement started anything, it's going to be underground, person-to-person, where hopefully the Corporatii can't corrupt it.

Here's my toast to the Occupy Movement. If I could play guitar, it might be on Youtube instead, but I can't, so here are the lyrics.
I Ain't A-Marchin' Anymore (3rd Millenium Edition)
(Tune by Phil Ochs)

Oh we marched in London and we marched in Cologne
In Seattle we let our voices roar
But then they met our calls to God
By sending in the riot squad
And I ain't a-marchin' anymore

We had injuries in Vancouver and in Salzburg we had dead
In Montreal they made the tear gas soar
While riots stirred-up by the Blues
Just kept the issues off the news
And I ain't a-marchin' anymore

    Well must we press facts
    Through violent acts
    Or blow something up one day
    If you look at me son
    Down the barrel of a gun
    At least you'll see what I say

But the cops beat us bloody and the media call us fools
And the meetings find us easy to ignore
So go be Martin Luther King
You won't achieve a God-damned thing
And I ain't a-marchin' anymore
No, I ain't a-marchin' anymore
Current Mood: sad

1st November 2011

12:05am: My Halloween Light Show Favourites Collection
Here are some of my favourites from YouTube.

Riverside, CA, -- Party Rock Anthem, LMFAO, ft Lauren Bennett, Goonrock
I swear, this house speaks cuttlefish!

Riverside, CA, -- This Is Halloween, Danny Elfman

Riverside, CA -- This Is Halloween, cover by Marilyn Manson
...for those who don't like the original version.

Odessa, TX -- Thriller, Michael Jackson
I guess we had to have Michael in there, one last time.

Odessa, TX -- Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen
I'm impressed that they even tried this monstrosity!

Odessa, TX -- Go To Hell, Alice Cooper
Good ol' Alice! I didn't find anybody else doing his music! I like the eyes when Alice sings "Hell!"

Valley Center, CA -- Ghostbusters Advert, Ray Parker Jr.
Everybody does this one, but this house fits it nicely.

Valley Center, CA -- The Time Warp, Richard O'Brien
...yeah, everybody does this one, too...

Valley Center, CA -- (Don't Fear) The Reaper, Blue Oyster Cult
The song doesn't work that well with this house, but nobody else did it! (I like the song.)

Kimball, NE -- Ghostbusters Advert, Ray Parker Jr.
I'd rather have used another of the songs this house did, but it was this or a song I didn't like or close-ups on details of the displays... This was the best video they made.

Kumbaric (somewhere) -- Hyperactive, Thomas Dolby
Another song that nobody does. They make good use of the dancing skeleton for this song.

Kumbaric (somewhere) -- Freezeframe, The J. Geils Band
It's an old song, but the sheer innovation in this one is astounding!

RJ Nitto (somewhere) -- Boom Boom Pow, The Black Eyed Peas
I do not like this song, but I do like the skull face!

Loyd Bonifide (somewhere) -- No One Lives Forever, Oingo Boingo
                          -- Beetlejuice Theme, Danny Elfman
                          -- Tainted Love, Soft Cell
(This person's YT channel was unavailable for some reason. I like his house for using music I don't find everywhere else. It makes a good finale.)


Riverside, CA
Odessa West
Valley Center, CA
Kimball, NE
RJ Nitto
Current Mood: amused

27th October 2011

Holy Mackinaw, just look at this thing, it's incredible! When I say it speaks in cuttlefish, check it at about 1:10 and again at 2:27 and 3:26 and you'll see what I mean. Here's a cuttlefish hunting for comparison.

WARNING: Party Rock Anthem -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htYlycJEZvY
Current Mood: bouncy

19th October 2011

4:18am: Mississippi Personhood Amendment
Originally posted by gabrielleabelle</lj> at Mississippi Personhood Amendment
Follow up post to address common questions/concerns is here.

Okay, so I don't usually do this, but this is an issue near and dear to me and this is getting very little no attention in the mainstream media.

Mississippi is voting on November 8th on whether to pass Amendment 26, the "Personhood Amendment". This amendment would grant fertilized eggs and fetuses personhood status.

Putting aside the contentious issue of abortion, this would effectively outlaw birth control and criminalize women who have miscarriages. This is not a good thing.

Jackson Women's Health Organization is the only place women can get abortions in the entire state, and they are trying to launch a grassroots movement against this amendment. This doesn't just apply to Mississippi, though, as Personhood USA, the group that introduced this amendment, is trying to introduce identical amendments in all 50 states.

What's more, in Mississippi, this amendment is expected to pass. It even has Mississippi Democrats, including the Attorney General, Jim Hood, backing it.

The reason I'm posting this here is because I made a meager donation to the Jackson Women's Health Organization this morning, and I received a personal email back hours later - on a Sunday - thanking me and noting that I'm one of the first "outside" people to contribute.

So if you sometimes pass on political action because you figure that enough other people will do something to make a difference, make an exception on this one. My RSS reader is near silent on this amendment. I only found out about it through a feminist blog. The mainstream media is not reporting on it.

If there is ever a time to donate or send a letter in protest, this would be it.

What to do?

- Read up on it. Wake Up, Mississippi is the home of the grassroots effort to fight this amendment. Daily Kos also has a thorough story on it.

- If you can afford it, you can donate at the site's link.

- You can contact the Democratic National Committee to see why more of our representatives aren't speaking out against this.

- Like this Facebook page to help spread awareness.

Follow up post to address common questions/concerns is here.
Current Mood: indescribable

7th October 2011

11:30pm: On The October Ontario Election
Yesterday was a long day working a polling location in the Ontario Provincial elections. I got maybe four hours of sleep the night before. I was up at six to walk to work by eight. I spent the day fueled by bologna and cheese sandwiches, cherry-pomegranate NutriGrain bars, apples and only four cans Coke Zero. We finally finished reporting results and hauling in ballots and stuff at eleven at night and the other supervisor was in even worse shape. I slept until two today!

The polls went pretty smoothly. we really only had one woman who insisted on being a pain and it was our fault really for sending her to the wrong poll. (Or maybe it was hers for forgetting her Notice of Registration card and maybe for not listening when told which poll to go to. You don't argue with customers, though; like trolls, the easiest thing is to lose on purpose and shut up until they leave.) The other supervisor spent a good bit of the day commenting on how light the turn-out was. We never did get very busy, even during "rush hour." We even had nice weather for it!

If you hadn't heard, the Liberals Party retain power, but with a minority this time. (They're just one seat short!) The Progressive Conservative Party hold the balance of power, but the New Democratic Party have more than enough seats to influence things; the Liberals can go to them for support and the NDP can demand policy changes in return. The other supervisor thinks we'll have another election in about a year, but I'm guessing we'll have a do-nothing parliament for the next four years. That's actually pretty good; we know that what we have now is going to be what we'll have for a while. Businesses like that.

I had all kinds of trouble finding out who won in my riding. For some reason, even the CBC, (which is usually pretty thorough), only announced the over-all results and not the riding-by-riding results. This web page finally told me that I'm represented by a Liberal.


Here's a web page that will tell you which riding you're in.


I see that the Green Party was pretty well shut out this time. They got no ridings and only 2.9% of the vote. They're going to need to work much harder to get themselves known in Ontario... but that would only further split the Not-Conservative vote. IMHO, to help restore the balance of democracy in Ontario and in Canada, we need another right-wing party to split the Conservative vote.
Current Mood: accomplished

4th October 2011

7:21pm: Lawful Access
The Canadian Federal government announced an initiative after winning their majority last May. They wanted to force Canadian citizens to pay their Internet Service Providers to set up equipment to record their every online transaction. Any police officer would be able to stroll into any ISP of an afternoon and demand to see this data, without a warrant, because he suspects some citizen might be up to something. The Tories call this initiative "Lawful Access."

Last week, this totalitarian legislation was removed from the "Omnibus Crime Bill." As I'd feared, however, "Lawful Access" was simply moved to its own bill, which will be put before Parliament later in the year. This sort of thing is why I don't trust the Tories and feared for Canada and myself when they won a majority!

OpenMedia.ca have a video on the subject.
You can view it here, on this news site... -- http://www.themarknews.com/articles/6930-un-lawful-access
...or on its own website, which has further information about the interviewees... -- http://www.unlawfulaccess.net/
...or here on YouTube.  -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyHnOCDewuQ

And here's a shorter video on the subject. -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwqIYHwRcxY
...or this one... -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaEEm7tj-tk
...or this one. -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=rp9xy9wtZwc

Please, if you are a Canadian citizen and you haven't signed the petition yet, please go here and sign it. -- http://www.stopspying.ca/

You can also go here to send an email to your MP.  -- http://openmedia.ca/myMP#message

If you don't like that message, you can go here to find your MP.'s email... -- http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Compilations/HouseOfCommons/MemberByPostalCode.aspx?Menu=HOC ...and send her or him your own message.

I don't know about you, but I don't look forward to encrypting all my emails, in or out, with PGP just so the police don't casually discover that I like Furry porn. It might not be against the law, but it really is none of their GD business!
Current Mood: annoyed

27th September 2011

12:15am: Terra Nova
Well, I saw the first episode of Terra Nova. The dinosaurs are up to Jurassic Park standards. The plot is Speilburg meets Ozy & Harriot. I'll try to avoid spoilers, but here's the basics.

BEHIND THE CUT -- a lack of spoilers (I hope)Collapse )
So to sum up, Terra Nova is about average for American TV. There are no big surprises. The two-hour premiere episode hung together reasonably well. I probably won't bother about future episodes, though. Even nifty dinosaurs can't save it for this little otter.
Current Mood: cynical

21st August 2011

11:46pm: Quick Update to What A Day
When last we left... um... me, I was having trouble with the plumbing and my printer had failed. The shower has more-or-less behaved itself since then and I found out what was wrong with the printer.

My problem as such is that I'm using Linux and HP is the only printer company that really supports it. That's not a big deal, since I have an HP printer... except that I thought it was failing. So finding a new one was a little more complicated than it would be for Windows or Mac. Now HP publish a program called "hplip" which handles printer drivers for Linux. To be sure I had the best chance to find a printer for which I had a driver, I tried to download the latest version... and ran straight into dependency hell. That's the main disadvantage to Linux; to install this you need that, to install that you need those things, to install a couple of them you need the latest version of something else... There are installer programs for Linux that are supposed to take care of that automagically, but they don't always work. I like to use one called KPackageKit because it has a graphical interface, (unlike apt-get or Aptitude which require you to muck about in command line mode.) It could only show me the version of hplip that I already had. However, it also showed me a few extra bits and pieces for hplip, so I installed them anyway.

One of those bits and pieces turned out to be a graphic interface for my current printer driver, which told me there was a problem with one of my inkjet cartridges. I swapped out the colour cartridge first; almost immediately the paper jam light stopped blinking and the printer reported itself ready to go! So the problem was a dodgy ink cartridge all along! Now I just wish I'd had that HP Device Manager installed earlier, it would have saved me grief.

Unfortunately, I still can't print. Both my black and colour ink cartridges are short of ink. I'll have to find a source of cheap HP#15 and #17 cartridges. Or at least #15 so I can print text, like my resume and weekly shopping list. And that's the other thing; those two cartridges are getting hard to find. Future Shop has an HP Deskjet 3050 on sale for $49.99, which is about what I'd pay for the two cartridges for my old Deskjet 842C, if I can find them. I've already had my old cartridges refilled two or three times. So I'm thinking that, when I can, it's time for a new printer anyway for this little otter.
Current Mood: chipper

16th August 2011

4:30am: Oy! What a day!
 It started last night as I was talking to a friend until all hours. I kind of had to, he has no one else to talk to. He kept me up until about three in the morning; I kept myself up longer looking at stuff I couldn't concentrate on while chatting. It was after five when I got to bed, but I couldn't sleep at first.

Then I had to get up an hour earlier than usual to make an appointment for a telephone job interview. I think it went well, except that I need a Windows PC for the job and my computer is running under Linux. (It's probably not powerful enough for 7, even if I could afford it.) Apparently this is not a show-stopper, they can wait until I have a PC running 7 and I can start then. I don't have money for a new computer. Anyway, she'll email me her decision in a couple of days.

Then I was up working on my computer, feeling pretty tired. I made a pot of tea and kept myself going, but about three I faded out; I dozed off in my computer chair until about four. I gave up; I finished up what I was doing, then shut down my computer and went and took a nap. I set the clock on my cell phone to alarm at about five thirty.

I don't bathe during the weekend because my brother has a habit of turning on the taps in other parts of the house and changing the temperature of the shower on me. On Monday, I need a bath. At five thirty I got up, put my soap on the shower ledge and my towel on the rack, set a new pair of slippers by the tub, (my old ones were worn out), stepped into the shower...

And then I noticed that the bath tub drain was stopped-up. From what I could tell, it had been clogged since yesterday. I tried flushing the toilet and thank goodness the water in the bathtub didn't move. (I got out into my old slippers, they were worn out anyway.) I washed the dishes so that I could pour drain cleaner down the kitchen sink; sure enough, the water in the bathtub rose. This was no surprise, it had happened many times before. I bailed-out the tub, (into the toilet), then poured half a bottle of drain cleaner into the kitchen sink and the other half into the tub drain. I left it for a full half hour, then poured water down the kitchen sink; it still backed-up into the tub.

By this time my brother was home. I don't like it when my brother helps me with dirty stuff like this, he never washes his hands. He observed the situation. I told him what I'd done that far and that I was going to go after dinner and get more drain cleaner. If a second attempt didn't get the drain to run freely, we'd just have to get a plumber to snake it out. He showed me that we had Draino crystals, something I hadn't known. But to use those, the standing water had to be removed. So I started bailing out the tub again, into the toilet, which caused it to flush. Suddenly, the tub drained!

I hate plumbing. Really, I truly hate it.

I used the crystals anyway, just to make sure. The tub drain was still a bit slow. Then I sprayed it with Fantastik and hosed off loose whonk with the shower head. Much to my annoyance, my brother had left the tub controls set to shower; I got my head soaked when I turned the water on. Next I scrubbed it with Vim, the kind with bleach, and rinsed that off, too. The tub continued to drain pretty well, (which is the best we really hope for with it.) Then I washed my hands -- thoroughly -- and made dinner. Afterwards, I advised my brother to use the bathroom just in case, then took a long shower to get the weekend's stink off and finally clean my feet. Feeling clean at last, I went and booted my computer; sure enough, I'd hardly gotten it going when my long-winded friend called...

Sleeping in tomorrow seems like the best option for this little otter!

UPDATE -- I didn't get the job. Darn! (17/AU/2011)
Current Mood: tired

12th August 2011

4:39pm: Another Personality Test Thingy
I admit I was curious. It's a simple enough thing, it reminds me of Myers-Briggs tests I've taken.
You can find the test here. http://www.signalpatterns.com/psych_central/
Here are my results. (My comments are in italics, (like this.) I don't know, does this sound like me to you?
BEHIND THE CUT -- My Test ResultsCollapse )
They also had a visual display of this "information." You can find my copy of the graph here. -- http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n245/dotter_can/PersonalityRadar.jpg

...and for fifteen bucks they offered a "detailed report." (I passed on that.) So some of this seems right to me, some not so much. What do you guys think?
Current Mood: amused

6th August 2011

1:48am: Two New Shows On FOX-TV (Angels and ministers of grace, defend us.)
For the 2011-2012 season, FOX-TV have a new Sci-Fi series called Terra Nova. The Earth is dying; an ordinary family from 2149 is sent back 85 million years in time, (about three quarters through the Cretaceous), to live in a colony where humanity can have a "second chance" at civilization among the T-Rexes and V-Raptors. (Pity they didn't go back 65.5 million years; the Terra Nova colony could have been responsible for the K-T Extinction Event.) So Terra Nova is a mash-up of the ST:TOS episode "All Our Yesterdays" and "Jurassic Park," only a whole season long. Hollywood Is Out Of Ideas!

For the 2013-2014 season, FOX-TV is adding 13 new episodes to Carl Sagan's old 1980 PBS documentary series Cosmos. The producer will be Seth (Family Guy) MacFarlane. Replacing Sagan as host, Family Guy regular Cleveland will be voiced by astrophysicist and PBS Nova: Science Now host Neil deGrasse Tyson. By The Lord, this has fail written all over it! Let's hope they kill it before any episodes reach the public.
Click For More Information
Click For Still More Information
Current Mood: scared

31st July 2011

8:42pm: One Million Robots
I found the news through Slashdot and spent an hour getting this fairly close to good. For details on the actual story, see below.


One Million Robots
(tune: "Twenty One Guns," Green Day)

We at Foxconn know how to screw
Sony Apple Nokia too
Farm their work out to us to do
The assembly of their laptops and cell phones
Million workers (at) our Chinese plants
If they strike we beat on their pants
Kill themselves when they get the chance
It's a problem

One million robots
They never strike they never die
One million robots
Work day and night where can we buy
Profits high

China wants us to raise our pay
And give workers time off each day
We bought them to work not to play
And assemble all those laptops and cell phones
So we'll throw chinks out of the door
And use robots for more and more
Robots are much cheaper for sure
And efficient

One million robots
They never strike they never die
One million robots
Work day and night where can we buy
Profits high

Robots never injure or bleed
They don't grumble argue or plead
They just do whatever we need
And they never want to know when their pay cheques will come in

Foxconn fights (to) stay competitive
So we can continue to live
Chewing fat not gnawing on bones
Making cell phones

One million robots
They never strike they never die
One million robots
Work day and night where can we buy

One million robots
They never strike they never die
One million robots
Work day and night where can we buy

Profits high

Words Copyright © 2011 by A.D. Burrows, All Rights Reserved
Music by Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day), Copyright © 2011 by  Reprise Records, Warner Music Group


For more information about Foxconn and their million robots, see -- http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-07/30/c_131018764.htm


Green Day's original
Current Mood: aggravated
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