Quebec, Palestine and Israel

The gazette and news channels have reported language issues in hospitals here in Quebec. The idea comes from complaints of not being served in French by, obviously, French speaking Quebecois. The issue has forced Health Ministers as well as Office de la langue Francaise representatives to comment on the so called issue. To make matters worst, reports from the Office show that the language is on the decline.

The facts are that 15 complaints have been placed last year concerning language issues. Of those complaints, several were due to hearing impaired issues where no one able to use sign languages were present. After analysing the complaints, one can tell that the amounts of complaints are virtually insignificant and what's more is the complaints aren't explained by which region they were found in.

I've been skimming through Letters to the editor sections of newspapers and reading comments from citizens on the subject. It seems some people are taking the issue rather seriously. Some say they live in fear of not being able to be helped when needed. On television, debates come around dismissing the facts that, although they weren't served in French, they were well taken care of. They argue that results are worthless if non-English speaking patients are taken advantage of this way.

This led me to re-evaluate a few parts of the Quebec system. Including l'Office de la Langue Francaise and how much money is spent on the French language here in Quebec. Looking at how much infrastructure is terribly maintained, how urban planning is in terrible shape and how rural planning is even worst, I can't help but wonder if Quebec couldn't attract more people towards its culture if it had more money to spend on these problems rather then on fighting the downhill battle.

I don't believe this is an uphill battle because I don't believe their is a summit to reach. I simply believe this is a fight until the bottom is reached and where the avalanche will finish the fight. The Office de la Langue Francaise operates almost like the Catholic church did while it was in power. It's goal is to create strict sets of rules, make the penalties so that no one dare oppose, and keep control.

When looking at this video of Richard Dawkins in the Gaza strip interviewing a Muslim converted from Judaism, Quebec similarities couldn't help be surface. The situation sounds the same, we have an isolated area of people with different beliefs who are sure of what the problem is and will refuse to see otherwise.

It can be said that Quebec isn't as violent, obviously, but one has to ask if history truely tells the same?


The 700mhz spectrum and why it matters to you

In January 2008, there will be a huge event going on behind closed doors. In the US, the FCC will be holding an auction for the 700mhz spectrum band, and it is expected to be a hard-fought battle of money, interests, and power. The 700mhz band is currently occupied by analogue television channels. Since the US Congress has legislated that analogue television signals can no longer be broadcasted starting in 2009, this prime radio frequency real estate will become available for other uses.

This is very significant in part because of the spectrum band itself. The 700mhz band has the unique properties of being able to travel great distances with low interference, and it can travel effortlessly through obstacles such as walls. This means that it is a perfect replacement for existing wireless networks (think of the cell phone PCS network) or even enabling new applications (continent-wide broadband internet access... anywhere, anytime!).

There are a number of important players involved. For one, the major telecoms, as you might expect, want to gain control of the spectrum so that they can continue their rape and pillage of consumers' pocketbooks. On the other hand, Google is also fighting for control of the spectrum. They have made it quite clear that their intentions are to develop a network of country-wide broadband internet access. It would be relatively inexpensive to deploy (a few billion dollars, or about the cost of the latrines in Iraq), and it would open the doors to a whole variety of new devices and applications. Think of the innovative iPhone. Now imagine the iPhone being unencumbered by expensive service contracts, coverage issues, speed concerns, etc. Your voice would be transmitted using something akin to the already existing Voice-over-IP (VoIP) protocol which digitizes audio signals and sends it across existing internet infrastructure. Imagine access to the Internet on your mobile device without having to hunt around for an open hot spot, or pay for minute-by-minute access to one. There is a world of possibilities.

The 700mhz spectrum, as I mentioned, is inexpensive to deploy. A single tower would be able to cover the same range that it currently takes 4 PCS (cellphone) towers to cover, and it would be able to do so at a much greater speed, and with much less interference and signal loss issues. For reference, the 2.4ghz spectrum that WiFi-based technologies use, would take 9 towers to cover the same area, at a much greater cost.

The telecoms such as Verizon have not been very receptive to this idea. They prefer that the spectrum remain a closed system, such as current cellular networks are. Google's appeal to the FCC was to make it open, and allow the winning bidder to easily license access to the network to any developer. This opens up HUGE doors to innovative applications and mutually-beneficial competition. The FCC agreed with Google, and Verizon subsequently sued the FCC claiming that their decision was unfair and violated the US constitution (don't ask me how or why, that puzzles me too). Google has been secretly working on some type of mobile device for some time now. It is unclear as yet whether it will be a phone or it will be a mobile platform and operating system similar to the Palm OS or Windows Mobile.

Also of note is the fact that the FCC plans to reserve a portion of the spectrum as a personal emergency frequency. This would be of a huge benefit to outdoor enthusiasts such as myself, as it would enable the development of more effective personal distress beacons for all types of applications (aircraft, boating, backpacking, etc.).

It is in our best interests that the technocrats and visionaries win out this war for the beachfront property that the 700mhz spectrum represents. A backlash against the disgusting racketeering that the telecom companies currently engage in is ultimately beneficial for consumers, and would open the doors to a whole new world of interconnectedness, interoperability, innovation, and communication. It is a sad reality that such an important decision will be decided behind closed doors by the bidder that has the most friends and the most money-filled briefcases.


Register your loved ones today!

Flipping through the Gazette today something odd came to mind. I realized two entire pages were dedicated to articles dealing with marriage in Canada and its status over the years. It seems that married people are now part of the minority. Coincidentally, a thought crept its way into my mind earlier, before I got to these articles. I asked myself, why was it that when I was a child I thought it to be an odd thing for my parents to get divorced.

As I grew older, I must have encountered several children who went through his or hers parents' divorce. I think I can count two, one being only a separation. What of the rest? Several people have divorced parents. I take a look at people I currently speak to regularly, and I notice they don't have divorced parents (this being limited to people my age). Is there something that differs in character from people with divorced parents and none divorced parents? Even more interesting, as a coincidence of course, I happened to read through someones research this morning and her subject was how divorced affected the behavior of children. It wasn't advanced enough to elaborate any information, so here I am still thinking on the subject.

Another question came up; why is it important to register ourselves as a couple? We can have affairs, short relationships, casual friends, fuck friends, and all other nuanced relationship labels without having them registered. I highly doubt a prostitute would write up a bill for her services and declare it to the government as a revenue, and yet if she was to couple up, tradition would lure her towards the legal registration process (not to mention religious one if chosen).

Then answers come to mind: What about children? Ah-ha! Children, how is a mother to pay if she can't work? Now there's a macho question, women, so feminism tells me, aren't helpless. So I there are ways. Economics? Of course! It may be an economical decision! Then I wonder why the government would bother to give advantages to registered couples. This section requires a lot more research then anticipated.

So why did I think, as a child, that my parents separating could mean something odd? I wasn't afraid of it, maybe I thought the union of the two allowed advantages on my end and the break of that political union might mean my downfall. After all, isn't it a children's job to figure out the weakness of their parents to take great advantage? Then, of course, the frightening idea that all of the sudden both of them might feel a certain obligation to be nicer to me and cover the truth. How awkward would it be to see them separately? Or how about having to deal with any sadness or crying? Eek...

The answer must be more animalistic then this. Were we apes who enjoyed being together before being civilized?


What's In A Name?

A very interesting and random thought crossed my mind the other night as I was fixing up my typical late-night snack. It occurred to me that Quebec society especially values family honor through the form of surnames, much in the same way that Japanese society does. There are so many businesses, especially in small towns, which are named after the owner. "Godbout et Fils Réparation" or something along that line of thinking. I was eating something, though I can't recall what, but I noticed that the product was branded with the family name of those who made it, and it was specifically stated that this was made in the same manner that this family has traditionally made it for generations. Another one I recently saw were cheese curds from Quebec. Again, the emphasis was put on trust and honesty in the making of the cheese, as well as the faithfulness to the quality one has come to expect from this family.

Eric and I have discussed at length in the past a number of questions that emerged as we reflected on the honesty of family businesses. His father once raised the issue of a specific mechanic who was very trustworthy and who always did a good job. It was sort of a friend-of-a-friend type of thing, and I think there was the implication that this guy was very honest in his work because his family had been around for a long time. Much more honest than the "big guys" who are just out to rip you off. THIS guy would fix you up in no time, and you could place all your trust in his hands.


"I like it when I'm entertained by a movie."

That's the usual response I get from people with whom I discuss films. If I try discussing a film that has strong themes and no gun totting action, that is the universally accepted response. I wonder when this happened. Did some people come together, have a meeting one night, and decided this was an acceptable and vague enough response to give when questioned about film taste? The funny part is I'm wondering if I ever used that excuse myself (...this is somewhat a question I'm asking Eric).

I was scrolling through IMDB message board discussing the original Dawn of the Dead and someone posted that answer. The person was calling the film boring, slow and uninteresting. His response to others who commented that he lacked proper taste was "I watch a movie to get entertained...to lose myself."

The definition of entertainment, from dictionary.com:
1. the act of entertaining; agreeable occupation for the mind; diversion; amusement: Solving the daily crossword puzzle is an entertainment for many.
2. something affording pleasure, diversion, or amusement, esp. a performance of some kind: The highlight of the ball was an elaborate entertainment.

I guess the word 'diversion' is what charms many people into using the phrase to avoid being looked down upon when question about art. But Dawn of the Dead is obviously an entertaining movie. It diverts attention, it amuses, it's art and unless one wants to avoid anything in the horror department, then it also affords pleasure when it develops its complicated social themes.

So what diverts pleasure from these films? Its hard to think of something more pleasing visually and auditory then 2001: A space Odyssey but some tend to say "I want to watch a movie to escape.". What a better escape then 2001! It's nothing like one sees everyday! I'm confused...

The last phrase I hear is: "It's just a question of opinion."
I'll leave it at that...

The problems with tasers

Tasers are interesting tools. They don't serve any purpose beyond electrocuting a target at what is hopefully a safe distance. They're effective tools and do what they do well, I've yet to hear of a case of a failed taser ending in the death of it's user. I've also yet to read about a case where a taser failed, the situation got out of hand and the user ended up being on the short end the sword. I'd like to read about them if anyone finds an article.

The taser shares similarities with another tool: The Flamethrower. The flamethrower's purpose, like the taser, is to fire something potentially lethal at something that's at a distance. On the one hand, I can think of more then one use for the flamethrower where I'm having a hard time figuring out what else to do with a taser other then electrocute someone. A flamethrower throws flames, this is an interesting tool, a taser electrocutes anything it touches when the handler presses the button.

So the sole purpose I can think of when it comes to this tool is to tame whoever, or whatever, is in front of me at a physically dangerous distance. I would take out the taser and stun them. What would follow is the person's lost of mobility. He would fall to the floor and might jerk a bit as his or her muscles would tighten up from the electrical discharge. So now I get it! I would use a taser to stun my opponent and render him unable to fight back for a short period. He would be on the floor, unable to move until he regains his senses fully. That sounds reasonable. It sounds like a great tool!

The problem is what to do with the man (let's assume it's a man) on the floor. Now that I've rendered him immobile for what I believe is a few seconds, it's possible the man is screaming and in less of a good mood. Probably a little less willing to fight back physically. Search Youtube stunning videos where officers use a taser, I haven't yet found one where the stunned individual gets back up and continues his attempts at physical harm. So he's a little less happy, a little more in pain, and in shock trying to comprehend what the hell just happened. What do I do with this guy now? He's stunned, on the floor, screaming (because at this point, that's all he can do) and definitely less comfortable. Do I try to move him? The intelligent thing to do is to cuff him if I want to assure my security, the sensible thing to do is to give him time to understand what just happened and slowly repeat my demands to make sure he gets it this time.

The problem now is that it's probably difficult to move the man. He's on the floor with muscles that just gave away on him. Even cuffed, this guy might be a difficult task to handle. Nonetheless, I've somewhat managed to protect myself and lucky me, with this stunning tool, I don't really need to workout if I need to physically protect myself. So what do I do to move him? This is where physical training would come in handy. If the man refuses to stand up and walk with me, which he probably won't want to do until he fully grasps what happened to his use-to-be-reliable muscles, what do I do for a little cooperation? If I stun him again, he'll be back on the floor and in even less of a shape to physically cooperate.

The stun gun, taser or baton doesn't feel like such a great tool anymore. I've managed to make the situation a lot less dangerous and I've cuffed the guy without so much as a scratch, but now I have to carry the heavy bastard. I can't simply leave him there. What if more people like him come? I've just picked up dead weight!

It's interesting how certain officers decided that stunning the person might give them incentive to physically cooperate. These Youtube videos demonstrate how physically cooperative individuals become once stunned:

The first one shows officers not willing to carry dead weight, so they feel a bit of shock would make him move faster: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5g7zlJx9u2E

The second one shows a woman already in cuffs and custody, not to mention already inside the police station, stunned by an officer who is first only seen by his stun gun and hand sticky out of the door frame: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWaCD6jIH5Q

This third one shows that someone would be able to actually move seconds after the charge has been given, but doesn't actually get all the way up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACUjnJBHIZc

This Marine Corp seems impressed but expresses how he believes the taser completely stuns someone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhkE3VTuPhk



I've always had problems with toothbrushes. Something about them always annoyed me to death. For one thing, I don't enjoy brushing my teeth. I don't find the activity pleasing in any fashion (and don't get me started on flossing). Something about inserting something in my mouth and playing around with it for no purpose then to scrub doesn't adhere to me. Also, I can't seem to find a fast, efficient way to do so. I always end up having moussed up toothpaste all over my mouth. I'm always impressed when I see a friend (usually turns out to be a woman) brushing her teeth with no spill, no mouss and no problems. I usually end up questioning the cleanliness of their mouths afterwards but never vocalise it.

So back on toothbrushes, I realized this morning I left my toothbrush in the other bathroom because that's where I took my shower yesterday. Someone happened to be in there taking their shower so I was stuck waiting for the person to come out. Meanwhile, I have to move the car in front, so I do so. When I get back inside, someone new took over the other bathroom and is taking a bath. This sort of thing happens all the time! I take a shower here, but forgot my toothbrush in the other bathroom and vice versa. What's worst is when someone finished going to the bathroom and the smell isn't very pleasant, and the idea of having to get my toothbrush and use it after it's been exposed to such...unpleasant smells isn't very appealing.

Another problem with toothbrushes: They're useless when wet! Absolutely annoyed when I travel and happen to have to pack my damn toothbrush. Early morning flight, just finished brushing up and nearly puking from the activity and now I have to find a way to dry my toothbrush. How do I go about it? I have to carefully choose what surface to use! Can't use the hand towel, too dirty, can't use toilet paper, it'll cram up and end up all over the brushes...I know, how about a new-fresh-towel? Yes, but what a waste of a towel for that!

I also can't have more then one toothbrush. If I was to put one in each bathroom, surely I'd end up comfortable with only one, or carry one around and I'm back to ground zero. Also, if I have to many, they all look-alike I won't be able to tell apart which ones are mine and which are not! I always remember being pissed off when I noticed somebody else using my toothbrush. Who the fuck would be comfortable enough to do that? They all look alike...

Teeth brushing is even more difficult when you extend the activity. Veterinarians say you should brush your pet's teeth. Well never mind you that, why would I want to have a rubbery toothbrush at the end of my finger and risk loosing it as I nearly choke my pet? Something isn't right here.

Toothbrushes, and tooth brushing doesn't work very well. It isn't pleasant and it certainly isn't efficient as an activity. Yet, if I am to take a long shower but don't brush my teeth, I feel very dirty still.


How blunt is honesty? (Or how honesty is blunt?)

An incident happened yesterday while Eric and I were gassing up in a small town north-west of Montreal. A younger crowd gathered at the counter in front of us holding cases of 24 and bags of ice in the attempt to purchase a few items. As Eric mentioned, their rudeness wasn't limited on the amount of space they took for themselves, but how they made their demands afterwards.

They demanded to tally up the cost of everything there, and argued in the meantime whether the quantities on the counter were alright or they should get more, divide the cost by three and put them on separate bills, and then added items to their own individual bills such as cigarettes, cellphone calling cards and gum. This incident must have taken almost 15 good minutes out of everyone at the convenient store's time. What's more, one decided keeping his sunglasses inside was really important for his looks. His anonymity too important to compromise. After having shown ID, the kids left having done their purchases.

I sort of brushed it off when it happened yesterday. Feeling some sort of sympathy for their idiocies; They could have simply gone up the road to the reserve (not even 5minutes away) and bought native cigarettes without any questioning and a cheaper price. Today, on the other hand, because of a completely unrelated reason, I started to think about the incident again.

Eric convinced me to watch Curb your Enthusiasm. So I got the first season and watched it for the first time today, it's the pacing of the show that got me thinking about yesterday's incident.

Is it impolite to ask a client to remove his sunglasses when he speaks to you? Is it blunt to have to explain why it isn't a pleasant experience to talk with three quarters of a face? How much bluntness is there in honesty and how much honesty is there in bluntness?

When it comes to work, it's always a bit of a dodgy situation because any form of honesty sort of becomes skewed. Again, as Eric mentioned, when a man walks into a camera store and speaks first with "I'm looking for a camera!" is it honest or blunt to reply "You aren't explaining yourself well." I guess the answer patrons are looking for is "You've come to the right place!" but then again, everyone knows that. Would it be blunt if a clerk replies "So you've seen our display and read our signs." or simply said "Obviously!"?

Between clients, all bluntness becomes honesty. If a client comes around and says "Dear lord, where the fuck do you think you are?" in reply to the above inquiry it becomes acceptable somehow.

Larry David is blunt when he points out the logical obviousness of situations in Curb, or is it honesty?