Cluster Bombs

I'm in a riled up mood this week because some countries think they're too big to promise to play nice. Neighbour to the South, why are cluster bombs so important to your National Security that you can't join with other nations to ban cluster bombs? Land mines, too, while you're at it. And, oh yeah, why do you have to plant long-term poisons from depleted uranium on your various battlefields? And yes, those are your allies not your enemies who are backing away from these various harvests of death and asking you to do the same.

Does "Yes We Can" apply to those things as well? Can't we (the citizens of Earth) abolish the ownerless slavery these things inflict on the people who live around the battlefields where this evil troika have been deployed? I hope so. I sincerely hope so.

If Programming Languages were...

Cars or Religions. The best use of a car metaphor in my view, was in Neal Stephenson's classic essay, "In the Beginning Was the Command Line" (wiki, Neal). And then there was the classic "If operating systems drove your car..." (which is getting hard to find, but not impossible).

I know. I know. It's all brain noise. But it amused me, even where I disagreed with the way he described his categories. For the record, I use C, C++ and python I've begun to play around a bit with erlang. I'm beginning to be surrounded by C#-of-borg minions but I was just as amused to see no entry in either list for Objective-C. Let me see if I can come up with one.

Objective-C as a religion would be whatever is believed by children of a couple where one is from a Jewish and the other from a Christian background. Neither is very religious, and only periodically remember that, "oh yeah. It's Passover. I was going to stay away from the ham for Passover."

Objective-C as a car would be like a Fiero. Nice sporty exterior and sometimes it can run really, really fast. It's not so great on the corners, though and if you park it in one place for too long, there are oil stains on the ground.


John Nash on the Economy

I was intrigued to read this critique of the structure that the economy has used in developing over the last few decades. I wonder if it's worth wishing that we take these steps back from insanity? What would it do to my house debt? I've always scratched my head as to why it was to my overall benefit to live in an economy where I had to re-negotiate my mortgage every few years. And now John Nash (of A Beautiful Mind fame) says the same thing. Is that "Great Minds"? or "Fools"?

That said, if there's going to be a 30 year mortgage, I'd rather it got counted back from when I first bought a house and not from now. John Maynard Keynes' economic theory always reminded me of William Aeberhardt's (in how they matched with common sense, not in their details, you understand). It's nice to see someone who's earned the right to say so out loud agreeing with me.


I thought I was dreaming

The evening was winding down and I saw something so ridiculous that I thought I must have been dreaming. I thought I was seeing a youtube-quality doctored video on my (not connected to the internet) TV of someone throwing shoes at George W. Bush. I was only sure that it wasn't a figment of a tired imagination this morning when I saw it mentioned on multiple news sites. So I guess I wasn't dreaming.

Who would have thought that anyone would want to throw perfectly good shoes at a duck? I mean, how do you retrieve them? And what effect would the water have on really goo shoes (mixing the metaphor here)? And isn't "the target" lucky that it wasn't (a more competent) Richard Reid in that press corps! But there's a more serious side: the level of contempt displayed by throwing shoes (and I didn't realize this until I saw the main page at the BBC this AM) is pretty high. The rest of the world have been in a much bigger hurry to say good-bye to the 43rd and greet the 44th president of the US. I wonder if B. H. Obama would get flying shoes if he happened to go to Iraq? I suspect not now. It will be interesting to see if it turns out to be likely as his term in office proceeds.


Gwynne Dyer on The Future of Tibet

The latest article on Tibet (part of which is known as Xizang Autonomous Region) from Gwynne Dyer finishes with a question:

Or do you think I am being too cynical?

Gwynne, I'm very much afraid that the answer is no.

You shouldn't have lowered the GST... No, wait! Lower it some more!

In the continuing drama of economists critiquing Canadian government economic policy in the midst of economic turmoil, it's amusing to hear the contradictions. Earlier this week, and for months past, various economists have called the lowering of our Goods And Services Tax (what many other countries call a VAT, but it's unfortunately not included in sale prices) irresponsible on the part of the government. Suddenly, yesterday, some economist was reported as saying just the opposite. In the face of our tough economic times it's felt that lowering the GST will help us spend our way out of a recession. Me, I'm not so sure either way. But I chuckled to hear the dissonant voices, not even sure that it isn't the same voice giving a different message.


Michael Ignatieff: Not Canadian Enough

Send Dr. Ignatieff to the UN, back him in a bid to become Secretary-General, let Harper co-opt him as Secretary of State for External Affairs or Minister of Finance. He's bright and accomplished, pragmatic and shrewd. But he's not Canadian enough to be Prime Minister. Shortly after his undergrad years in Toronto, he left the country and largely stayed away until it was time to pull out the knives on Paul Martin's political career.

He never had to live through the near-dissolution of confederation and deficits spawned by Trudeau. He didn't have to struggle through the interest rate spike in the 80s and the economic turmoil it caused here in Canada. He wasn't here for the recession of the early 90s and he hasn't experienced the changes (good or bad) that were wrought here by the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement or the later NAFTA.

If you want a Prime Minister whose academic record is prestigious and impeccable, Dr. Ignatieff is your man. But why not be concerned that he is gut-familiar with what it means to be Canadian today, and how we got here -- familiarity that can only come through living through it at first hand. Dr. Ignatieff's record has qualified him for many things, president of the IMF for example, but I don't believe it's the kind of background we need in a Canadian Prime Minister.