The Alberta Windfall

Well, here we are again. The difference? Paul Martin surprisingly enough.

Alberta, lucky as we are in having a whack of oil under the ground, has
a almost obscene surplus this year. And a lot of that cash is going into
the infrastructure of the province, as well as $400 cheques to every
resident of Alberta. Wow. I’ll admit it, we’re pretty lucky.

But now the “majority of Canadians” as our media puts it, wants a piece.
As many Canadians know, that means Ontario and Quebec want a piece of it
primarily, as that’s the majority of the population. The difference is
that Paul Martin, unlike Pierre Trudeau, has a sense of fairness. The
NEP was supposed to balance, in that cheap energy went east, cheap
manufactured goods went west. Well, nice idea. Only implemented the
first part and flipped the west the bird while he was at it. Paul
Martin knows the division of responsibility, cost and revenue, and
respects that, rather than rewriting the priniciples of federalism to go
with the commodity prices. Thanks Mr. Martin. But there’s more to it.

Hold the phone fellow Canucks. You already get a piece. You get the fed
transfer payments which none of us complain about in Alberta, we’re
happy to help out and be a big part of Confederation. Unlike a chunk of
Quebec, who would as soon take the money and make a new nation. Also,
the oil that’s pulled out of the ground isn’t just in Alberta, but the
Feds DO get a cut of the pie. As does the nation as a result. All the
money the oil companies earn gets taxed, the gas and oil they sell gets
taxed, and the whack of oil off the coast of Newfoundland (which has a
debate separate from this entirely) is mainly Federal profit. So you’re
getting your share. Before you get more than that, lets take a look at
what we’ve also put up with over the last decade before this windfall

Major cuts in infrastructure for schools, health care, roads, transport
and services. We told our government, get rid of the debt, and they did
exactly that, and every single Albertan took it in the teeth for that,
and as a result, we’re out of debt. We got out quickly thanks to higher
oil prices, but we got out because we stopped spending a lot of money.
Now we get to rebuild the infrastructure in a hopefully responsible way.
This is the reward for the sacrifices we made to have responsible
budgets. We’re still lucky, but the luck was also coupled with fiscal

I don’t judge all the benefits Quebec residents get via the very
different government system they have at the provincial level. I don’t
begrudge (too much) all the Federal contracts and handouts that go to
the big population provinces where the majority of the votes are. We
deal with it, and know that this country is a lot more than money and
porkbarrelling. Apparently some people think that all the profit should
be shared regardless of law, rights or earning it.

Tell you what. Put a plan together for a national fund that benefits all
the citizens equally, and is forward thinking, and is based on science
and industry. We have enough cultural programs and cash flowing there
for now at the national level thanks, and it’s mostly in the east. Make
a plan for bulking up the centres of excellence in our universities, get
a plan for diversifying us off of oil so we can export it as well as
more sustainable technologies.

Then we’ll talk about each province investing in our future. Not
just adding cash to unbalanced deficit-ridden budgets.

And on that note, Mr. Klein, thanks for the cheque, but we should look
to that renewable diversification ourselves, so we can lead the next
wave of energy supply and technology as well as the current one. Using
oil to fund the next generation seeds of that industry is just a great
and lucky coincidence waiting to be taken advantage of.

Perfect…. They Don’t Suspect a Thing

A friend of mine forwarded me a bunch of interesting research around
global warming and solar activity correlation over the years. Much of it
appears to have decent science and legitimate correlation behind it. He
then also forwarded me an
interesting link
to what can best be described as a far right-wing
American blog.

Let’s be clear. I’m not a left-wing activist. But I have kids, and I’d
like them to live in and experience a healthier world than the one I’ve
grown up in, and here in Canada, that world is pretty good to begin
with. But our modern society is still rooted in some pretty bizarre
ideas of what progress is.

So essentially, this blog (this post by Timothy Birdnow) dismisses
global warming as unrelated to CO2 levels being released into
the atmosphere. And then he extrapolates, from his limited frame of
reference and perception, that the Kyoto accord is designed to cripple
and limit the US economy. Uhhh….. ok. Sure. Whatever you say.

Let me propose an… alternate reasoning for Kyoto. Let me, in my
naive and optimistic way suggest it’s rooted in sustainable development,
and perhaps in the thinking from the very, very excellent book,
Cradle to Cradle.
So if you think along the lines that perhaps global
warming is not the reason, but simply being more efficient, effective,
and causing less of an impact through our industrialized society might
be the core reason, then you arrive at an alternate situation.

The world will move to sustainable development with or without the US,
despite what they may believe. Already, Europe is arguably ahead in some
ways for renewable energy. What Kyoto is doing is pushing everyone to
make a leap forward, and like it or not, we are very, very good at
creating and using oil and gas. So moving over to any other source will
take time, and to get started, you do need a fairly solid nudge. Global
warming may or may not be a factor, but there’s acid rain, oil prices,
air quality, energy security, and a large number of other aspects that
Kyoto actually assists. The point is that it reduces the consumption and
consequently the reliance on fossil fuels.

So let’s say it’s a really blundering attempt to cripple the US economy.
I for one can’t think of a single reason to even want to do that,
but let’s just assume that’s because I’m Canadian, and I like a lot of
the people down there. So let’s say the US doesn’t follow Kyoto. What is
likely to happen?

Well, some of the US is still pushing forward (a million solar roofs in
California) and such, so it’s not like they won’t have some capability
in new energy. But the expertise, the core competency and the best
capabilities in the production, generation, and manufacturing of these
systems will be in those Kyoto adherents, and in the countries that
manufacture for them. Those countries will enjoy less smog, less acid
rain (well, in areas not close to the US and others), and a lower cost
of energy over time than the US will. Let’s face it, if we get more
efficient fuels, and specifically fuel that has lower initial cost like
wind, solar, tidal and others, the cost of the energy will eventually
get below the cost of today’s fossil fuels. At that point, the Kyoto
adherents will be in a better economic position and likely have a higher
quality of life than the US will at that time.

Now this is based on some big assumptions, some fairly major
extrapolations, and a bit of thinking. So by no means is this a solid
prediction, just a possible scenario. So think what you want. I like
the idea of Kyoto, as there’s a small chance of that wish for my kids
coming true.

Mighty Mouse Enhanced iTunes 5?

Mucking about with the Mighty Mouse and the latest release of iTunes while
listening to “A Northern Chorus” – cool Canadian artist if you’re into a
bit more of an ambient rock idea. In doing so, I noticed what I can only
describe as “enhanced for Mighty Mouse” behaviour. If iTunes 5 is the
active application, the scroll bars in the music/track display area
function just fine in 2d with the scroll ball. What I didn’t expect
exactly was the volume slider also acts like a scroll bar, and the active
region is location dependent.

Thus, if the pointer is over the table region, those scroll bars are
active and controlled via the the scroll bar, but moving the pointer
over the volume slider area, and the tracking region is slightly larger
than the volume slider graphic, enables the horizontal direction of the
scroll ball to control the volume slider. It’s actually quite intuitive,
but pleasantly so, and honestly given the bulk of apps out ther,
somewhat unexpected. -)

I would venture it’s exactly what should happen, but it does
represent a bit more coding and behaviour in the controls, changing
active regions properly. Although I haven’t delved deep enough into
Cocoa to know if that’s an almost-freebie. It could be via attaching
events in the nib, but I haven’t dabbled with components that much.

A good example of doing the right thing™.

Well if it’s patent infringement, it’s environmental destruction as well….

Alright, that’s it. According to this
, the state of today has changed such that you can’t refill an
ink cartridge (in the US) if it is marked as “single use”. Doing so puts
you in breach of contract and…. patent law?!?!?

Well, let’s assume that the wonderous special interest protecting court
system has this down, and that this law sticks. If that’s the case, then
I would contest that putting such a restriction on a product, by
forbidding it from being reused/recycled, imposes a deliberate
environmental impact. It’s one thing to design something to be
disposable, and assume that it won’t be recycled or reused, but this is
forbidding the product from being reused or recycled. In essence, using
the law to create a product that must be fired into the recycle

With all the computer manufacturers getting mangled with recycling and
disposal fees, I think this makes it pretty clear that printer
manufacturers need to be levied with the same, if not a heftier,
penalty. There are circuit boards in these print heads, and all sorts of
mini-controllers, and I’m sure with them some hazardous waste and heavy
metals as well. I personally feel the practice is moderately
reprehensible due to this legal lockdown on both economy and limiting
the crap we throw away.

I will stick with the Canon printer I have for a few reasons. Quality,
double-sided printing, and the fact that the ink is cheaper due to the
print head being separate, and not getting a new one with each print
cartridge. As well as all separate inks. For reference, I use a Canon
Pixma 5000 printer. Nice printer, great resolution and all that. I don’t
use it enough to worry about the ink cost, this tirade is purely about
the almost monopolistic protection these companies are after. Rubbish.
Compete or file for bankruptcy. This is utter nonsense, and I’m quite
disappointed in the US courts on this one. Hopefully it won’t get across
the 49th parallel, but then Canada might have a new trade fight on it’s
hands with our southern neighbours, being a gray market ink cartridge
trade. ;-)