Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Tonight I am back at home, enjoying the roar of the fire and the cacophony of family. I hope everybody has the same. Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it and Happy Holidays to everyone.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tokamak, Polywell, and focused IEC

Completely unrelated to usual posts, but I have found some exciting material as of late.

I had believed that fusion power was at least a hundred years away. In BC we have great hydroelectric power production, and capacity for many more dams. While there are many problems with large scale hydro electric, it is still the best utility scale method for environmental performance. But what about Ontario? What about Israel? What about Australia? What about France?

These places do not have the natural surroundings for dams, and are relying on coal or nuclear fission for electricity. Fusion is the sort of holy grail of clean electricity production.

Up until last week, I had thought the only real alternative for fusion was the upcoming ITER, a massive multi billion dollar international collaboration to build a Deuterium Tritium Tokamak Fusion reactor. It turns out there are people working on a few different, much cheaper, and maybe just feasible designs. Its got me excited that I may see fusion power in my lifetime.

If you are a clean energy geek like me, you may find the following rather interesting.

Bussard's Polywell

Focus Fusion

PS - I love everything Google.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Why I hate politics

Today there is an article in the Globe about Michael Burns and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. It looks like Michael Burns was appointed as chair of AECL for purely partisan reasons, and in a similar fashion to Michael Brown of FEMA fame, was probably not the most appropriate choice for this position.

No political party that has been in power in Canada has not committed this error to one degree or another. The question I ask, is why are there so often people appointed to important positions in government that are not qualified to be there, and what can we do about it.

Why - During an election, those wishing to get elected have to build a team of volunteers and staff to run the campaign. The politicians are truly in the hands of those working on your campaign, and so you have to trust those in important campaign positions. If the politician is elected and forms government, they are now in the hands of the public service. The politicians rely on the public service to get the things done that they were elected to do. So what do the politicians do? They get rid of the people the people they don't trust, and hire the people that helped them win, people they already trust.

So what is the outcome? Every time we change governments, we end up with a bunch of people in key positions that are really not qualified to be in those positions. While these people may be great people, they are put in over their heads until they can learn how to fill the role properly. As citizens we like to ignore this learning processes unless it is a key position that really needs to have a qualified person, such as Chair of the Bank of Canada, or Chair of AECL.

So what do we do about it? I'm not sure there is much we can do about, outside of getting involved. This is what I have done. I'm not willing to let some dough heads make the important decisions for our riding. I am supporting a party I believe has the right values, and will do everything within my capability to make sure they don't commit the same patronage mistakes that seem to plague our governmental system.

If anyone has a better idea on how to fix the system, please let me know.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Article on the Importance of Market Forces and Innovation

A friend of mine recently sent me an article that outlines some good economic principles when looking at the challenge of fighting climate change, including explaining why large companies are do not have an incentive to invest in major energy R & D.

This is why I really like BC's intent to monitor the governments emissions and buy "virtual offsets" which go into a research fund for clean energy. Its a bit misleading as they are not buying actual offsets and so won't be offsetting their emissions, but may in the long run be creating a more important outcome: clean technology.

I'd like to see a national carbon tax replacing the lowest bracket of the income tax. However, this tax must NOT go into general revenue. It should be used for education and research, preferably run like a large venture capital fund. This also creates a challenge, as we do not want the government to crowd out people doing good work in the Venture Capital field. It would have to be structured to only fund the technology that is too risky or too early for Venture Capital funds to be involved with.

This is good for the environment and good for the economy. Mr. Baird, Mr. Prentice, Mr. Flaherty, could you please get together and propose this to Mr. Harper? Or can you not find time in your busy schedules to deal with the most important issue of our life times?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Google Goofiness

I put a google adsense ad on this sight down a bit on the right hand side, really just so I can use their excellent tracking information. I was quite surprised to find an ad for a Taser.

Friday, December 14, 2007

One more item before I get back to work,

If you get a chance, check out Jordan Bateman's Langley2020 site. Jordan and I disagree on some issues, but we both agree that Langley, really the whole area south of the Fraser, is woefully under served by public transit. Please check out his ideas and leave some comments if you like them, don't like them, have questions, or have some more ideas of your own.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately) all of the comments, including mine, are very supportive. In order to make really cogent presentations and arguments, us pro-transit folks need to be aware of the counterarguments and be able to address them. So please, be critical!

Merry Christmas for those who celebrate it, and Happy Holidays for all,


Idea for the next post

I'm thinking Why Jim Flaherty is a terrible choice for Minister of Finance? The problem is there is simply too much material for posts like this.

Why John Baird is a Terrible Choice for Minister of Environment

I had written a post that I vetted through some trusted friends, and though they agree with what I wrote, several recommended against posting it. I'm generally level headed, but I am happy to have some friends to tell me when I need to tone it down. So instead I have written a point by point explanation of why I think Steven Harper made a very poor choice in appointing John Baird as the Conservative Minister of Environment.

John Baird lacks experience and knowledge of the subject matter.

Baird's undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Baird has been a politico all his professional life. Prior to being appointed by Steven Harper as Minister for the Environment, he had never worked in an industry that has to manage environmental affairs, nor had he ever been part of an environmental NGO, nor had he ever worked in an environmental regulatory capacity. Link.

John Baird's history of statements and actions show he does not take environmental issues seriously.

"We have already seen the impacts of climate change in the north with melting
permafrost, schools shifting off foundations, and the spread of the pine beetle."
This from the man that as President of the Treasury board cut Federal spending
to beetle kill programs in BC at a time when the federal surplus was a record
13 billion dollars.

John Baird is regarded as having killed (for political vendetta reasons) an
already approved light rail plan for the City of Ottawa. Link.

"We've had unusually warm weather in parts of the country and
unusually harsh weather in other parts of the country and I wanted to
come out first hand and see it," he said. "It's demonstrably worse than
anything you can see on television and it's a wake-up call." So the decades
of science won't convince you, but trees blown over in Stanley Park will?

Interaction of John Baird and Dr. David Suzuki at the Green Living Consumer show,
April 27th, 2007

"It's a disappointment, John," Suzuki said.
Baird countered: "This is more action than any government in Canadian history has
ever taken."
Suzuki was unmoved by the minister's words and replied, "It's not enough John,
you know there's a lot of opportunity. Please come and see us."
Baird replied, "we're very happy to," before walking away.
He hasn't been to see Suzuki yet.
A quote from the Financial Post, a typically conservative supporting paper, "Meanwhile, in an apparent effort to fend off international attacks over its climate change policies, the Harper government began a series of multimillion-dollar environmental announcements. Mr. Baird insisted the funds are proof that the government is taking real action to stop global warming. But he was unable to say whether his main announcement of the day, a pledge to spend $85.9 million over four years on climate change adaptation and research, is any different from a Natural Resources Canada climate change adaptation program that his government shut down last summer. The now-defunct federal climate research network conducted studies to help various communities and economic sectors cope with the impacts of a changing climate, such as severe weather, the pine beetle infestations in western Canada, and crumbling infrastructure."

From Environmental Defense - "For far too long they have found themselves on the receiving end of promises that packaged a whole lot of punch but delivered little more than a pinch - what you call empty promises. Unlike our predecessors we are doing more than just talking, we're taking real action." But environmentalists were not impressed. "I'm actually shocked at how little it is," said John Bennett of Climate for Change. "What is industry's target? How many megatonnes will industry do? "

John Baird is implicated in a scandal regarding the past Ottawa Municipal Elections

There are no charges against Minister Baird yet, but there is a public investigation by the OPP into allegations that the current Ottawa Mayor tried to bribe one of the opponents into dropping out by offering him an appointment. The appointment would be made by Minister Baird. It may be nothing but a smear, but give it a bit of time. The truth will out. Link.

I could go on for days. John Baird, like so many of the Conservative Ministers, is simply ill equipped, inexperienced, and way over his head.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

I wish I better understand the legal ins and outs of libel, or it is my personal opinion that John Baird may be mentally defficient

I wrote a few paragraphs about John Baird, but I'm worried that if I post it, it may be libel. Are there any lawyers I can send this to for a free opinion before I post? I'm happy to preface every sentence with something like "It is my opinion that . . . "

It's so hard to write about what the guy is doing without descending into a complete rant.

I will try and remove the nasty parts this afternoon, and form a cogent, non-malicious explanation of why I think John Baird is a complete turd. Oops, this is hard!


Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I'm not anti-Taser, I'm pro very defined Taser use policy. I'm of the opinion it should be located right before a firearm on the continuum of force. I believe an officer would be warranted in using a Taser in a situation that if they did not have the Taser, they would have used their fire arm.

Unfortunately for the members on the street, the guidelines for Taser use have been hazy at best and absent at worst.

Competing Taser Headlines, or Why You Have to Get News From More Than One Place

Here are two different headlines for the same news piece.

National Post: No ban on Tasers needed now, watchdog report says

Globe and Mail: RCMP should restrict taser use immediately: report

Both of these articles refer to the same report, just published by the RCMP Public Complaints Commission. The first headline suggests that all is fine, however if you go through and read both the articles, you will discover that the report does not suggest all is honky dory. I wish the newspapers would provide a link to the actual report, but they don't, so here it is. What it says is that Tasers have not been used correctly, and more disturbingly, the RCMP has not tracked how tasers have been used or what the outcome from their use has been;

"there exists no empirical data generated by the RCMP as to the benefits, or detriments, of using the weapon. The CEW has been deployed in push stun or probe mode over 3,000 times since its introduction in December 2001, yet not one annual report has been produced and the information captured on the Conducted Energy Weapon Usage Form has not been thoroughly examined nor utilized in the development of current CEW policy."

These findings are very close to the discussion at our last Electoral District Association. Usually discussions at these meetings have individuals that have drastically different view points, however on this issue, the discussion was quite unified. We talked about how the RCMP were using the Taser as if it was not harmful to the person being subdued. Interestingly though, nobody argued that the Taser should be banned, just that the guidelines for its use were likely not in line with the potential harm of the device.

When safety figures have been quoted by law enforcement agencies, they are quoting figures from studies funded by the manufacturer of the devices. These studies only look at direct lethal effects, so they only count a death from a Taser if the shock stops a healthy and not on drugs subject's heart. However, there are many other potential sources of harm from a Taser shock. Falling and hitting the head, acidosis of lung muscles from repeated shocks preventing respiration, Cardiac arythmia, and the very strange and scary "post-shock lethal events."

One other thing, I wish the RCMP would not use the term Excited Delerium when talking about Robert Dziekanski. This is a term that has been invented by law enforcement agencies, has no formal medical recognition, and refers to people who are in a state that is usually brought on by the use of PCP or cocaine. In fact, several studies have shown that Taser use on subjects in this state is very dangerous as both PCP and cocaine can cause heart perturbations which can be than be turned fatal by the electrical discharge of the Taser.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Somethings I love about Canada.

When certain politicians attempt to do something really stupid, people raise up and tell them to their face that they are being stupid.
Link 1 Link 2
Now we just have to get some people in there that don't have to be told every day that they are being stupid.

Monday, December 10, 2007

What keeps me busy

I've been getting quite a few questions about what I am up to, so I thought I should let you all know what occupies the bulk of my time outside the campaign.

1. I am the regional manager for the Fraser Valley for the Rock Solid Business Development Program. We help small and medium businesses develop core business management skills to build solid, dependable enterprises that form the economic core of healthy communities. Part of what makes Langley a great place to live is it's economic success. Healthy businesses of all sizes are what allows us to afford good health care, child care programs, education systems, infrastructure projects and everything else that goes into making Canada one of the best countries in the world to live.

2. I'm a founding partner of Econic, an online retailer of low carbon impact products. Our mission is to help savvy customers find products that have lower carbon impacts than current alternatives, yet fit with our western lifestyles. There are a lot of products out there claiming to do this, but we are cutting through the chaff to find the products that actually make a difference. Consumers want to make a difference, are willing to pay a little extra to make that difference, but are having a tough time navigating through the marketing. We're trying to be the compass. The government is not taking action to reduce our carbon impact, so we are trying to take things in our own hands.

3. I'm studying to take the Project Management Professional designation exam. It's a bear of a test that barring an election, I will be taking in February. My mom keeps telling me that you can never have enough education, and you can never brush you teeth enough.

4. I'm trying to learn how to swim better. I'm going to enter a triathlon this spring, but my swimming is not good enough. If anyone uses the Walnut Grove Community Center and would like to give me some constructive criticism, let me know when you are free and I'll meet you there.

5. I try to keep up to date on all the going's on in the community, but it is hard. There are so many people doing many great things in Langley, that it becomes impossible to keep up with all of the great work. Go Langley!

6. I post to the intarweb. I'm getting used to the semi regular writing regime, however I have no idea if the people who read this enjoy it. I can tell I am getting hits, but I have yet to generate many comments. Perhaps I should be more controversial?

By the way I am going to start documenting the discussions we have in our Electoral District Association meetings. They can get quite heated and lively, and I humbly think our little group are some of the better informed folks out there. I hope it will generate just as heated discussion on here.


Next Fundraiser


We have booked the Clova Theater in downtown Cloverdale for an afternoon movie showing at 3:30 pm Sunday January 20th. There is some regulation that prevents us advertising the movie, but it is recent, funny and family oriented. (I can tell you when you buy a ticket) Ticket price will be $10. Get tickets early as we only have 235 seats. You can leave a comment, send me an email or call me if you need tickets. I will get up and speak before we play the movie, but I promise to keep it short.


Friday, December 7, 2007

The Ultimate Christmas Present

Special Interest Groups, Take a Lesson in Lobbying

A bill is set to be introduced in parliament that will lead the way to US style suings of kids with shared songs on their computers.

Its a good example of people who don't understand changes in the world lashing out in the wrong direction.

The internet is here.
It is not going away.
Suing children will not stop file sharing.
DRM controls will be hacked the day they are released.

They shut down Napster, and eMule, Gnutella and Bit-Torrent were born. Faster, more anonymous and larger catalogs of pirated material.

Mr. Prentice, please, do not listen to the recording industry. Listen to the artists. Listen to the Bare-naked Ladies, Avril Lavigne, and Sarah MacLachlan. They don't need or want American style DMCA copyright control. You will risk sounding like the now laughing stock Doug Morris, CEO of Universal Music Group.

Please check out these links.

A list of questions from CBC listeners that Industry Minister Jim Prentice refuses to answer

Michael Geist, professor of Internet Law

Boing Boing, a Repository for weird and wonderful things, and proponents of Free Speech and Privacy

These copyright laws being proposed were written by people that do not understand the Internet or how to use it. It is being sold and implemented by people who don't understand the implications of what they are doing. It is not a series of tubes.

I believe in Free Speech.
I believe that free flows of information lead to greater innovation.
I believe no corporation has the right to invade my privacy.

One of the big problems with our government system, is those that are most affected by decisions made today are the least represented in government. Those who are in there 20's and 30's today are going to have to live with the decisions our government makes today, and yet there are very few people under 40 or even under 50 in government.

Time to change that.