Thursday, February 24, 2011

SIMP Alert #2: "Concussions and the NHL"

That the star attraction of the fastest team sport in the world, arguably the best hockey player in the world,  Sidney Crosby, is felled by cheap head shots. It's a long list of players, both current and retired: Marc Savard, Michael Gravoski, Eric Lindros, etc.
That a small group of professionals, 600+ strong, and belonging to the same players' union, can't, or refuse, to follow a "warrior's" code of conduct (banning unnecessary head shots) that is in their best interests. Concussions not only are career-ending events; they also affect quality of life after retirement from the game, which , on average, could be from age 25-40.
That the National Hockey League seems to be not willing to do anything about this epidemic of concussions. A career ending hit may be penalized by either a major penalty or suspension from a few games. It's not exactly an equal trade-off.
That team owners fail to grasp the logic that almost 100% of their assets are made up of their players...
That a whole country (Canada) and a relative handful of Americans and Europeans look up to (by buying tickets and watching ad-driven televised games) these professionals who can't police themselves for their own good. Young players, juniors, adults in recreational and competitive leagues look up to the professionals.


iPhone Diaries #311: The Youth shall set us free! Matt Galloway, the CBC, and a podcast of a Libyan-Canadian teenager in Libya.

(The segment with Hadil runs from 0:20 to 7:25)
On today's Metro Morning, we hear the CBC's Joan Melanson talking to 18-year-old Hadil, a Libyan-Canadian from Mississauga whose family moved back to Libya in 2007 via Skype.
Matt Galloway's photo was taken Feb 24th. First we had Andy Barrie, broadcaster par excellence; now we have Matt Galloway who is fast approaching that lofty status! 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SIMP Alert #1: Canadian voter apathy

In a world where people are willing to shed blood  for the slim probability of having a say in their government (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain), we had a record low voter turnout in the 2008 Federal election. 
Voter turnout for 2008 was a record low 59.1% . The Conservatives garnered 37.63% of the popular vote, meaning that only 22.23% of eligible voters, less than 1/4(!), voted for Stephen Harper! Whether or not one likes Harper is besides the point: the National leader should be the choice of more than a quarter of eligible voters!

The SIMP Alert: A New Series

The SIMP Alert is an effort to point out items in the news and in popular culture that fall, in my view, into  one  of four categories (in descending order of "smartness" ): Stupid, Idiotic,  Moronic, and Pathetic.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

iPhone Diaries #310: "Corner of King and Queen, Kitchener"

Snow flurries on a blustery day. Feb 19th.

iPhone Diaries #309: "Socrates"

You can usually tell the intelligence quotient of a town by the contents of its used book stores. Found this place (the name escapes me at the moment) in Kitchener across from The Children's Museum. A more-than-decent selection of used books covering a wide spectrum of subjects. This page is from The Great Philosophers, Vol 1 by Karl Jaspers (1957). Feb 19th.

iPhone Diaries #308: "Coffee and a Tin Ceiling"

The ceiling of the Coffee Culture coffee shop at 1 King Street West in Kitchener. Feb 19th.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

$50M for Muskoka and (NOT) $7M for KAIROS

How is it that an affluent (but may be bought) Muskoka is bestowed (bestow: to confer or present, an honour, right, or gift) $50,000,000 (think curling rinks, sidewalks, better washrooms) for hosting the G8 Summit (over 3 days) whilst KAIROS is refused its annual grant of $7 million to finance programs that would promote human rights, justice and peace, viable human development, and ecological justice in places such as The Republic of Congo, Colombia, the Amazon Basin?

$50,000,000 : curling rinks, repaved roads, community centres

$7,000,000 : helping victims of rape and sexual violence in the Congo and other parts of Africa, helping displaced indigenous peoples in the Amazon,  the Nigerian oil fields and in Chiapas , fighting for women's rights in Colombia, raising public awareness of environmental rape in places such as Ecuador, just to mention a very few. In addition, it needs to be mentioned that $7M acts as seed money whereby this money helps launch initiatives that fund themselves.

Yes, so how does this happen? And why do we allow it to happen? What are you going to do about it? Citizens of Muskoka: where are you?

malODAr, malODArous

malodar (mal-ODA-r, mal-ODA-rous), a variation of malodour, malodorous:
a very bad smelling  stench, akin to rotting principles, and long-dead values.  The smell starts,  either rising up or oozing along clinging to the ground, when the senior member of a group defends the indefensible actions of a junior member, with the rationale that an attack on one is an attack on all (or somebody is not telling the whole story). This rotten smell gets stronger and begins to permeate the system when it becomes obvious that outright lies and deception were employed on several occasions. This mal-ODA-rous  stench may prove fatal to the integrity of governmental decision-making processes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

iPhone Diaries #307: "Fern frost"

Window frost (also called fern frost) forms when a glass pane is exposed to very cold air on the outside and moderately moist air on the inside. If the pane is not a good insulator (such as a single pane window), water vapour condenses on the glass forming patterns. 
The sun peeks out from over the silhoutte of roofs at 7 am as seen through the car. Feb 15th.

Monday, February 14, 2011

(Valentines Day and) Chocolates... a mental exercise, Part 1.

This being Valentine's Day, our thoughts turn to overpriced flowers, cards dripping with syrupy bon mots, and of course, the food of the Aztec gods, Theobroma cacao, more commonly known as chocolate. This blog entry, in several parts, will discuss the potential viability of Cacao as a major cash crop in my home island of Negros in the  Philippines. The economic and environmental implications in cacao as a crop are worth delving into.
All my thoughts and "ideas" on this possibility are derived from readings on the subject with my sources ranging from wikipedia, The Globe and Mail, Carol Off's amazing book: Bitter Chocolate websites for The Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines, and The World Cocoa Foundation, to mention a few. I have combined these readings with what I know of my home island, its people, its economy, and its geography. 
I am neither an agriculturist nor a social scientist. I could be wrong and I may be right. These entries are meant as a catalyst for a conversation to take place. 
Comments and critiques are most welcome!
Stay tuned, or should I say, logged on.

iPhone Diaries #306: "Multi-ethnicity"

Yellow, green, and red borne by a Red Pepper. Reminds me of my kids, and the shape of things to come. Happy Valentines!  Feb 14th.

iPhone Diaries #305: "Sunday morning crepes"

Side-lit by a bright mid-February sun. Feb 13th.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Explained: The proposed merger of the Toronto Stock EX and the London Stock EX (using the old Farmers' Market Analogy)

clever, I think.

CETA: be very afraid!

Have you heard of CETA? Acronym for Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. I just heard about it a few hours ago over dinner while having a family discussion about  a recent talk by Maude Barlow at the University of Guelph.
The first thing that popped into my head upon hearing the word CETA was "CETAcean", the order of mammals consisting of whales and dolphins. Well, CETA is a whale of a trade agreement which, if implemented, would, in the words of Terry Boehm of the National Farmers Union, "be more draconian than WTO or NAFTA." Negotiations have been behind closed doors and the national media hasn't placed this in the news spotlight on a consistent basis.
I thought I was up on my current events but this flew in under my radar. Trade agreements are more in the domain of bureaucrats and technocrats, bland, boring and uninteresting. This proposed agreement would have a more significant impact on the lives of all Canadians than hot-button and glamorous topics like the proposed purchase of F-35 fighter jets, corporate tax cuts,  economic stimulus packages, or tainted food that may have affected scores of people.
Herewith are direct quotes from Ish Theilheimer of

"The intellectual property chapter would virtually eliminate the rights of farmers to save, reuse and sell seed, providing biotech, pharmaceutical, pesticide, seed and grain companies powerful new tools to essentially decide who should farm and how. What this will mean for farmers is, say they found their crops contaminated with a protected variety, they could be accused of infringing, they could have their equpment, their cropss, their farms seized and their bank accounts frozen in order to ensure these monopolistic biotech and grain companies are adequately compensated."

Denis Lemelin of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers said deregulation and privatization of postal services is likely under the deal. "What they want with this agreement is full access to all postal services. This will just open the door. They want to dergegulate international mail. You open the market and big corporations will come and and take the service."

"The proposed deal would have an adverse impact on public services, such as waste, drinking water, and public transit. The proposed rules would entrench commercialization, especially public-private partnerships; prohibit governments from obliging foreign investors to purchase locally, transfer technology or train local workers; and make it far harder for governments to reverse failed privatizations."

It behooves us therefore, to be aware of these developments and to bring and voice out our concerns to the policy-makers and our elected officials. Our future well-being depends on our involvement!

iPhone Diaries #304: "French apples... and why we are doomed as a specie"

You know we are in big trouble when we have to have the year-round availability of food products that have to be trucked-in/flown-in/shipped-in from sources thousands of miles away from us. The carbon footprint of the banana and the pineapple available at our local grocery is stomping the life off of future generations.
You know we are beyond big trouble... we are doomed, when we are not satisfied with 6-10 varieties of apples. We have to have this Honey Crisp apple, grown in France!!! We grow a heck of a lot of apples in Ontario and in the rest of Canada... why do we need apples from France?
This apple was bought at the local Zehr's in Guelph. Feb 10th.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Who let the dogs out?

The Philippine National Football Team, also known as the Askals (Filipino for street dogs), has just won their game against Mongolia 2-0 (a few hours ago, in the city of Bacolod, Negros Occidental). For a team that was ranked 171st by FIFA in 2007, the team is undergoing a minor renaissance. Notably, it beat defending champion Vietnam, 2-0, in the group stage of the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup. It also tied heavily-favoured Singapore before bowing out in the semis to the eventual champions, Indonesia.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

iPhone Diaries #303: "The Sentinels"

They take up space, they kick, they cough, they sneeze, they fart, and one walks all over you. Also known as the Sleep Disturbers. Missing from the photo is the third member of the triad, The Boy. Feb 8th.

iPhone Diaries #302: "More backyard fun"

After a good snowfall, temperature hovering around 0 Celsius. Ideal backyard fun conditions. Feb 5th.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The U.S. of A rocks...and thank goodness for that!

Excellent article by Neil Reynolds of the Globe and Mail. His piece talks about supercomputers but he may as well have written about the American superiority in other fields. (see attached below). There's a lot of talk about the decline of the American Empire, about the ascendance of China,  the rise of India, and the emergence of such middle powers such as Brazil.
As a goodfella would say, "foget about it". 
China will never be a world power; as a matter of fact, it will have a difficult time maintaining its status as a regional power.  A one party state will exhaust its energy looking over its shoulder and engaging in rear guard action (watching its ass?) with brush fires set off by the restless natives. Besides, China's economy has to be turbocharged and revved to the red line constantly; any let-up and the whole mahjong-tiled house comes tumbling down.
India doesn't have the infrastructure (in literacy, transportation, democratic tradition amongst the masses, equitable wealth distribution)  to maintain a hold on the label: emerging superpower. India as a superpower is a state of mind amongst the Indian middle class: a tiny percentage of the Indian population.
Brazil is much like India. It is an emerging economic superpower, for now...but that's about it.
And as for the European Community, with its aspirations to match the USA, superpower status was always just a dream. The individual European countries, with the possible exception of Germany, were only as powerful as their hold on their colonies were.  Wealth that financed  socialist experiments  flowed in from the colonies; half a century after the last African colony became free, these socialist experiments are unraveling... the ill-begotten money is gone. Mind you, multi-nationals have taken over governments in plundering the former colonies... it is in the interests of these groups to maintain corrupt regimes in Nigeria and the Middle East, wars in equatorial Africa, etc.

The United States of America is the only genuine world power that exists right now. Sure, it has its share of wackos: the ayatollahs of the extreme right such as the Palins and the Becks. It is also currently going through a painful economic restructuring. But this is the price of democracy; an imperfect experiment maybe but still the best game in town. The USS DEMOCRACY is the best ship to be on to ride out any storm, economic or whatever. It is the only country in the world that balances (or at least tries to) self-interest with altruism. It has rock-solid foundation in science and technology, in the arts, and in education. It believes in the equality of all people and in the equality of the sexes. Most importantly, Americans are culturally conditioned to be optimistic in the future. America needs to heed Barack Obama's call to once again believe in themselves!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Notes from a parallel universe... a unique view

Hersley-Ven Casero is a Filipino photographer from the Philippine island of my birth, Negros. Have a look at his view, his take, on the creatures that are  brought to life through the visions of local artists. We are indeed privileged to have folks who have an enhanced view of a world beyond our five senses!

"Desiderata - Words to live by"

To the artists and poets out there torn between their artistic impulses and the realities of making a living... and to everyone else trying to make some sense of their existence in a world seemingly gone mad with aggression and acquisition, this is dedicated to you:

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble,
it's a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann was an attorney turned philosopher-poet who lived in Terre Haute, Ind. He spent his life wrestling with the realities of making a living and following his personal calling to a life of poetry, literature, and thought. He wrote A Prayer, which became a message of hope for thousands, but he is best known for Desiderata, which he wrote for himself, "because it counsels those virtues I felt myself most in need of." Max included this work as part of a personal Christmas greeting in 1933, and Desiderata's power and appeal have continued to reach out to and significantly affect readers ever since. 
He died in 1945.

iPhone Diaries - a description

A back-to-basics, less-is-more, photographic project. As photographers, we are inundated (and jaded) by the plethora of digital devices, the latest ones promising (but not delivering the goods) more megapixels and the latest super-ultra-extreme-XLT processor to (potentially) allow everyone to be the best photographer that they could be.

The most popular camera used by Flickr uploaders is the cameraphone (the Canon Rebel Series comes in second). For me, using my cameraphone is an exercise in purging the mind of clutter, as well as in actually shooting on a regular basis, as opposed to "binge" shooting (1600+ clicks on a typical wedding). The limitations imposed by the cameraphone (low resolution, fixed lens, severely reduced dynamic range) forces me to work within these parameters. For example, I have to use my feet to compose the image; I don't have a zoom lens. I am now a slave to how the camera thinks; I can't adjust the exposure to suit my needs. This is the digital Polaroid.

The best camera in the world is the camera that you have with you and that you actually use. The best advise for the "artist" is to practice their craft on a consistent basis. Sketch if you're a painter, sculpt if you're a sculptor, shoot if you're a photographer.

So I leave the 21MP FF Canon with the L lenses at home; I use my iPhone whenever I can.