Rolling Into The Future

Twin-Wheeled PMDThere is so much talk about Uber setting our transportation world on its head, and it is and will continue to, however there is also another disruptive technology that is about infiltrate our cities, challenging citizens and lawmakers to accommodate its arrival.

Actually, it is already here as I’ve seen it in use on a CTrain platform this week.  Personal Mobility Devices are poised to radically transform how we get around.  Right now they are in the enthusiast – early adopter realm, however that may now be over as you can pick one up at your local Staples store.  A quick check on YouTube reveals that this is a strong and burgeoning industry, with Chinese manufacturers leading the way.

Low Profile PMD

There are a lot of very innovative designs and some really goofy looking ones as well.

Mars Rover anyone?

The only problem is that these devices are really only designed to work in summertime weather.  Snow and ice are not their friends.

I guess Canadians can hope for something cool and innovative like the DTV Shredder to get us through our long, cold winters.


Cool Stealth Security

WeMo SwitchI’ve never understood the need to plaster security company stickers on all the windows throughout one’s house. Its tacky and generally of very little use. If a thief has determined that he’s going to to rob you, all you’ve done is give him notice that the clock is ticking just a little faster against him.

Friends of ours had a rather disturbing break-in a few days ago, where the thieves gained access to the house through the garage door via a remote control grabbed from an unlocked vehicle outside. Its one thing to have your car rifled, it is totally another to give a scumbag thief electronic key access to your garage and home in the middle of the night.

I began to think about how to counter such an event, and it struck me that to simply power-off the garage door opener at night and when you’re not around is an effective, inexpensive, automatic and easy solution.  A bit of research online returned a large number of options, some elegant, others less so.  There was one, however that stood out from the crowd…

Belkin makes a line of home automation controls under the WeMo brand. For garage door openers that have a wall switch that controls the power to the device, a simple WeMo light switch can be installed to replace the switch and volia!  Your garage door can now be set once to automatically power off when you’re never going to use it.  The best part is that you retain the ability to simply turn on the opener with a flick of the switch itself, or a tap on your Android or Apple mobile device.

Many other home automation devices require the purchase of a central control unit, this one doesn’t.  Yes, you need WiFi, but with that this incredible $50 switch takes it from there and makes controlling your garage door, or any other switch-based electric device a breeze.

The best part is that you don’t need to put those dumb stickers all over your windows, but your security is there – quietly and automatically shutting down unwelcome access day and night, no monthly fee necessary.

De mortuis nil nisi bonum

Thanks for my life, mom.  There will be no more sunsets to interrupt your play in the Lord’s garden.


The Perfect Palestinian Homeland

Israeli-solder-Palestinian-man arguingSeven decades on and the war continues between Israelis and Palestinians as they fight what has clearly become an unresolvable issue; peaceful co-existence of two nations on the same land. (Thanks Abraham.)

How many more people must die, how many more mothers must bury their children and fathers their families on both sides before a peaceful resolution is achieved? Like so many key inventions from the 20th Century (nuclear power, tailing ponds and fracking are other examples), the creation of modern Israel was done in haste with an attitude that we would figure out how to deal with the ancillary ‘mess’ later. Well, every chicken eventually comes home to roost, and of course when we wake up noticing that dumb bird staring at us with a mix of amusement and befuddlement,  we discover that we really haven’t found a fix.


I certainly don’t have a solution for all of the world’s problems, but when it comes to the Palestinian Homeland problem, I’d like to seriously suggest one that I believe can succeed.  It is one that Canada and Canada alone can propose and it is one of the greatest gifts that Canadians can give to the world.  The solution to the Palestinian homeland problem clearly won’t exist in the granting of bits of land in Palestine.  Thousands of years of fighting (not just the last 70) has proven that there is no stable peace to be had here.


The modern nation of Israel has a legitimate claim on Palestine too and Israelis have certainly worked extraordinarily hard for more than a century to establish the rebuilt nation firmly on the soil it controls.  It is foolishness to assume or hope that Israel could be dismantled.  Palestinians, on the other hand have clearly been dispossessed of this very same dirt and both sides continue the eternal battle to control the entire land through the destruction of the lives of the other.  How many more generations of needless pain, suffering and loss of life on both sides must pass before a better solution comes along?


It is my hope that the end of this battle can be achieved today.  Yes, what I am proposing will require sacrifice and the giving up of cherished desires and goals, but it will also provide the opportunity for permanent peace and new prosperity that has been denied the Palestinian people for 70 years.  The only solution that will give us all the permanent peace we all want is to find a new homeland for the Palestinian people.  Given that high quality empty spaces on the planet are not all that common, this doesn’t sound like a very viable option, however, I do believe that Canada can be the provider of just such a homeland, and no, this doesn’t require the Palestinian people to become a high-arctic people, and it doesn’t require the carving up of segments of rural Canada.  What I am proposing is that Canada gift Anticosti Island to the Palestinian people as a new permanent national homeland.


Anticosti Island is that enormous island in the mouth of the St. Lawrence, currently home to no long-term residents other than 300 federal civil servants who maintain the lighthouses on the island.  There is ample land and natural resources to supply the building and farming needs of a large population and the recent discovery of over 30,000,000,000 barrels of oil can ensure a solid economic start for those who chose this future.  The Island is a part of North America and is closely located to key population and economic centres in the American Northeast.

Satellite Image of Anticosti Island

There will be those who reject this idea out of hand, suggesting that there is no home but actual Palestine.  Others will cry foul for having to leave behind ancestral land and even others will suggest that it is Israel that should be asked to relocate to Anticosti Island, not the Palestinian people.  Those who reject out of hand this proposal without giving it consideration or even a democratic vote are not likely the ones who have had to suffer four generations of life in temporary refugee tent camps, and they are not likely those who’ve lost loved ones to this eternal violence  It is the peacemakers and those who want a prosperous future for their children who should be given a voice in response to this opportunity.


Canada’s modern history is the story of the creation of a young nation through the deliberate choice of people from all around the world who decide to take the difficult step and leave behind all they know and love to embrace a new land for all of its opportunity and promise.   Canada offers a better future for all who dare to take on the Great White North challenge.  I’m certain that, given the opportunity, Palestinians will embrace the opportunity of establishing their own independent nation on this pristine and welcoming island, one that offers them political, economic and territorial independence and security.


So often Canada is criticized for its tendency to speak boldly against injustice and international crimes without the backing of any real military threat.  We will never be the United States, and the role of global cop isn’t ours.  Our path has been well established in a different direction; that of peacemaker.  Lester B. Pearson gave us the great example in the 20th Century with his innovative push to establish United Nations Peace Keepers.  It is now our generation’s turn to take a bold, world-changing step and propose the creation of the world’s newest nation from the great surplus wealth of land Canada is blessed with.


It is now time for another Canadian Prime Minister to rise before the United Nations and once again show the world the Canadian way, not one of war, not one of bitter separations, or revenge, but one of peaceful coexistence.  We have a most rare opportunity here to transform the world, showing it that peace is a realistic possibility and that the future doesn’t have to be a repeat of the past for those bold enough to try.



The Nunavut Bomb

Nunavut SymbolHow much did you pay in Income Tax last year? $10,000 or perhaps $22,000? or are you so fortunate to have earned enough to be paying $39,000?  Well, if you find yourself in that top category, by my figuring that would put you in the top 3% of earners in Canada.  Congratulations, your contribution to the Federal Government still falls short of the amount of money spent in 2012 to support just ONE person in Nunavut.

I suspect that there will be those who don’t believe me, so take a moment and check it out for yourself because this information is all public and on the Internet for all to see here.

Of course the amount of transfers to each province and territory is all there on the same page.  For example, the transfer amount for each resident of Alberta is less than a thousand dollars, or about 1/40 of the amount sent to our precious north.  In 2012 the 33,000 residents of Nunavut pulled in over $1,300,000,000 in federal financial transfers or $39,028 for every person.

This $1.3+ billion is about $40 that every Canadian sends to the residents of Nunavut every year just so that they can live there.  The $40 works out to 82% of all the income for the territory, which means the people of Nunavut are earning some income, about $8.75 for each $40.00 we each send.

To put this in perspective, the Federal government sent $3.8 billion to the 3,700,000 residents of Alberta in 2012, which is about $1,027 per person or $11.69 for every Canadian.

Canada’s Arctic is a financial sink-hole that we continue to dump our hard-earned tax dollars in to with absolutely no hope of ever seeing a return.  Given that the population can no longer be supported by the natural food resources in the Arctic and that the vast majority of the citizens in the Arctic are reliant upon financial subsidy to maintain their current lifestyle, I believe that it is time for Canada to convert the entire land mass of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut in to National Parks.  This would have many positive benefits for Canadians, current residents of the Territories, the animals and plant life there and for future generations of Canadians.

First, this would ensure that Canadian sovereignty over the land would be enshrined in existing international agreements that recognize National Parks as part of a national boundary.

Second, National Parks exist to preserve, protect and present their spaces for all and future Canadians to enjoy.  By converting these lands in to  such a protected space would help to ensure that the ever-dwindling populations of Caribou, Bare land Grizzlies, Muskox and Polar Bears would be preserved for all future generations of Canadians to experience and enjoy.

Third, the monumental financial drain that the Arctic communities are today and will continue to be can be eliminated.  By ensuring that the need to reside policy of National Parks is respected, we can ensure that only those who have an active role in protecting, preserving and presenting these lands will live there.  The remaining populations should be given fair and reasonable relocation to wherever else in Canada they wish to live.

Fourth, establishing new National Parks will be a boon for employment, as this does not mean the end of all traditional hunting or lifestyle there, but rather it will create an unprecedented opportunity to establish new and novel tourism experiences across the vast and varied Arctic ecosystems, giving Canadians and a global population the opportunity to experience a unique ecosystem and lifestyle that will forever disappear if we do nothing to divert from our current course of inaction.

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The Coming Arctic Ecosystem Collapse

I’m sure that many of you will hate this politically incorrect observation that the Arctic lifestyle that is supported with all of our money is simply not sustainable and unless our leaders grow the courage to stand up to the bias and bigotry of culture, history and white guilt we will very shortly find ourselves with a repeat of the cod collapse of the East Coast Fishery of the early 1990s, except this time it will be the final decimation of our populations of Polar Bears, Caribou, Barren Land Grizzlies and Muskox.

The vast majority of hunters in the Arctic no longer practice traditional hunting methods, which called for the use of hand weapons and walking as the means by which one would track down and kill one’s prey.  During my years living in Canada’s Arctic, I met many interesting and inspiring First Nation people, like David Aglukark the younger bother of the famous singer Susan Aglukark.  David once told me a story of how his elderly grandmother would put him to shame by continuing to hunt in the traditional manner, walking out on the land by herself for two weeks at a time and returning with a fully butchered Caribou.  David said that he simply did not have in him the strength of his grandmother, as he relied on his quad and rifle to hunt and return his kill home by days end.  David’s candor with me is an example of his personal integrity and natural leadership and even he recognizes the looming human and animal population crisis, yet nothing changes.

The fishing culture of Eastern Canada and Newfoundland in particular was as strongly established as any Arctic First Nations practice of living off the land.  For more than 400 years European settlers have been extracting a hard-earned life out of the cold North Atlantic waters and despite years of clear and persistent evidence that the fish stocks were declining, our leaders failed to take the brave stand of calling for the addressing of this issue before the collapse was complete.  Here we are almost a quarter-century after the 1992 fishing moratorium  and the fishery has not recovered.  Must we repeat the same mistakes in the Arctic?  With a birth rate of more than 3 children per woman (more than double the Canadian average) the problem of natural food resources being exhausted by the local population is a real potential.

It is well past the time for the leaders of the Arctic to do the right thing to ensure that there can be a traditional culture to pass on to coming generations.  This will take great courage, honesty and determination to face down the ubiquitous calls that will come against any effort to make the difficult changes necessary to ensure that there is a tomorrow for ‘traditional’ hunting and living in Canada’s Arctic, otherwise we will soon be hearing of how Canada’s barrens became truly barren of even the marginal populations they have historically supported.  To stand by and take no action in the face of this clear and obvious genocide of so many species would be a crime against the planet and all generations to come.

Ensuring that our natural resources and habitats remain for future generations should always trump the desires and expectations of tradition and traditional societies.  Here’s hoping such wisdom and action will soon be found in our leaders.

Putting Me Out of Your Misery

I read an interesting blog post by Jon Bateman.  I invite you to take a look at it as it will put more context around what I have to say.  As a child Jon was clearly at peace with his physical circumstance, much more than those who encountered him were.  What Jon doesn’t seem to square in his observation is the fact of the discomfort of those who encountered him.

It seems apparent that Jon was a joyful child who revelled in doing all that he could, pushing hard at the boundaries of his disability, yet he repeatedly encountered the words of those around him who would assure him of an afterlife physical perfection.  Instead of engaging a child on the basis of what and where he is and accepting the current state as reality, these people chose to look beyond what they clearly see as a ruined present towards an anticipated future perfection.  Jon is right in his response to this experience – that to abandon our reality and our lives today in exchange for the hope of a far-away afterlife is a poor idea.

Unfortunately, Canadian society has not learned this lesson, or at least not in a way that is beneficial for those of us who bear any notable imperfection, be it our legs, limbs, mind or sex.  About 100,000 Canadian children are murdered every year because they were not deemed perfect enough to deserve to live.  Had Jon been conceived in 2013 instead of the 1970s he would more likely than not be murdered before birth.  Once his congenital Spina Bifida is discovered, his mother would face a barrage of tests and ‘conversations’ where she would be given repeated encouragements to murder her son because it would be ‘for the best’.  Depending on the skill of the doctor, these conversations could be presented as the most logical and compassionate act, after all, who would want to live with such a horrible life-long disability?

If you doubt my words, take a moment to reflect on when the last time was that you saw a young child in a wheelchair, or walking with a form of crutches, the clear owner of some significant physical ailment?  How long has it been since you perhaps encountered the drooling face and contorted limbs and shuffling gate of a body entrapped by Cerebral Palsy?  (Do you have a sense of revulsion right now at what your mind is conjuring at the mention of these states?)  Canadian society is murdering the equivalent of a Thunder Bay or Red Deer of children every year, yet nobody dares to stop it.  You can cause the death of a child as she is being born in Canada, and as long as any part of her body (even just a toe) is still inside her mother, the Supreme Court of Canada says that this brutal act is not murder.

Child Sacrifice PosterCanada is one of the few nations on earth without any form of legal protection for the unborn and our national ‘leaders’ continue to refuse to lift even a finger to provide even the slightest protection for these children.  Some may say that this is because the dead don’t vote, or that to take on this issue is to welcome nothing but criticism from anyone with an opinion on the matter.  While there is a nugget of truth there, I think that the real reason, the deep down dark soul fact of why nothing has been done in two decades is because the healthy would rather not see us in their midst.  The disabled are a cost on society and often never return any net economic benefit above what society has had to spend on them.  We are hard to look at sometimes and clearly make those with a perfect physique uncomfortable as their minds and bodies form a reaction of revulsion or fear.

This type of response is nothing new – many societies throughout history have practised infanticide as an expedient way to eliminate the imperfect runts of humanity.  It is ironic that Jon’s post takes place in the environment of a church – the very place where the collision of human revulsion and divine requirement meet.  If it were not for the enlightenment sweeping Europe and the wide-spread adoption of the three primary monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Islam and Christianity across most modern societies, we could have a rich and long history of infanticide.  Unfortunately, infanticide is back, but few wish to even acknowledge it.

The great faiths call upon us to value and protect life, and this has helped to create a historic western culture that, outside of war, has honoured and embraced the dignity of every human life, no matter how damaged or diminished it may be.  Unfortunately, like most lies, western society has adopted the belief  that to pursue perfection on this earth and in this life is a virtue, and therefore to dare to beset another innocent human being with the scourge of life with a known physical or mental disability from the outset is very subtly presented as a sin.  How dare a loving parent do such an evil to a child!  So Satan has sold us the lie that it is better to murder our children before they draw their own breath because their lives would never be what we’d want for them.  Moloch eats another meal.

So our society seems to flourish, freed from most of the avoidable taxes on our personal liberty and pocket book that attend with the arrival of a child with a feeble mind or body.  The rise of Christianity helped to crush the practice of infanticide, but the rise of the Eugenics movement a century ago, married with modern prenatal diagnostic measurements along with the legalization of abortion has once again brought us full circle to where the healthy are once again destroying those who fail to meet their standard for life.

One may think that the eugenic-based pursuit of perfection died with Adolf  Hitler and the Nazi party in 1945, but it is now clear that the lull in practice and spoken silence of this attitude was but a speed-bump that is now quickly fading as the eye-witnesses to that raw horror fade away.  While we haven’t yet reinstated the open and blatant eugenic practices or promotions of the 1920s, the practice itself has returned and has become all that was envisioned a century ago and more as it has been enhanced, becoming absolutely personal as it is now delivered in a custom measurement of the contents of each and every womb.  Today in Canada, every pregnant mother is subjected to mandatory and necessary scans and readings of her child in utero ‘for her safety’.  Should the measurements of the child prove to be less than perfect, an active and helpful intervention can be cleanly and discretely performed, and the neighbours will never know that this murder was anything but an unfortunate miscarriage.

The practice of murdering our imperfect children has now had a full generation to take hold in Canada, and the ever rising number of abortions proves out both our improved diagnostic tools and our declining tolerance for the imperfect.  It is only a matter of time before the thoughts of eliminating those around us who are deemed defective become spoken words.  Yes there will be a proper initial response of revulsion and horror, after all we’re civilized!  However, the seed will be sown; there it will lie, waiting for the ground around it to slowly warm.  If we are not careful, it will only take the slightest action of a talented gardener to sprinkle the needed drops of water necessary to sprout this weed in the minds of millions.

If we ever reach that point, I for one will be happy to be put out of their misery because such a world will be one of pure Darwinian terror of the survival of those deemed worthy, a category in which I’m sure those like Jon and myself are not included.

Thanks Jon for your thought-inspiring blog entry, I was also moved to write this in response to this news article


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CHEAT! You’ll be Better Off if You Do.

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong - Cheater

There is a very troubling trend in our society happening and from what I can tell, nobody really cares. The news is full of damning accounts of a very sophisticated cheating scheme that Lance Armstrong and others engaged in to give themselves an unfair advantage that clearly helped him win The Tour de France and dominate the cycling world for most of the last decade. Mr. Armstrong has become a very wealthy man as a result of these wins and the fame-based merchandising that comes from finishing with the yellow jersey.

Some people say that Lance has been punished enough by having his name disgraced and loosing title to his seven Tour de France wins, but I disagree. Mr. Armstrong has stolen far more than just victories and ill-gotten lucre; he’s stolen from whoever was racing clean in the Tour the opportunity to experience the reward for being honest. Whomever it is that didn’t cheat his way in to the race may sleep like the angels, and even if he is eventually handed the trophy in a belated recognition of his integrity, he will have been robbed of so much, like the experience of hearing his name cheered on from the streets across France, from being able to have his name become one of fame and to have lived all these years as the true Tour de France winner. Plus he would likely be far wealthier than he is today.

In the long run, it looks like Lance remains the ultimate winner. Sure he got caught, but he’ll forever be LANCE ARMSTRONG and because he continues to proclaim his innocence, there will always be those who doubt his guilt. History books will continue to mention his name and few will ever shine the spotlight on any of the seven men who were cheated out of their victories. Is it any wonder this cheating continues? There are no real consequences.


Brian Nilsson - CEO of XL Foods

Brian Nilsson, XL Foods CEO - Cheater

The papers are also full news of an ever-expanding recall of beef products from XL Foods. Here is an international company that dominates our world of beef processing, yet it feels compelled to ignore the rules and in essence cheat its way to economic victory. XL Food’s behavior reveals a significant shortcoming in our legal system. If you are caught committing a crime in Alberta (say you’ve set up a grow-op in a house, or are found to have contraband in your vehicle) the law dictates that not only are you subject to fines and prison terms, but your property involved in committing that crime will also be confiscated.

Why does XL Foods continue to own and operate its Brooks facility? Why hasn’t this property which was used to commit a heinous crime against a global customer base been seized? This property should be forfeit and sold in a public auction, with the proceeds directed to supporting enhanced policing of this industry.

If the consequences of breaking these human health laws were as significant as what is practiced against other social ills, we would never hear of any problems in meat packing plants. I can’t imagine that any citizen would suggest that it is fine to seize the cars of Johns while letting companies who knowingly ship contaminated food to store shelves go Scott free.

In the end, the workers in the XL foods plant have lost their employment; millions of Canadians have lost countless hours of sleep worrying about the risk to their health and free time as they deal with suspect meat products in their homes. Tens of thousands of Canadian beef farmers are needlessly suffering the economic loss as a result of the drop in cattle prices caused by XL Food’s cheating behavior. As well, millions of kilograms of beef have gone to waste in response to this completely avoidable disaster. Our society has disrespected the life of the tens of thousands of animals who have now been needlessly killed, with the benefit they could give humanity discarded.

And ultimately there are those who’ve suffered permanent physical harm because XL Foods decided to cheat its way to business victory. There are mostly losers in this story, yet the guilty party in all of this seems (just like Lance) to suffer relatively little from getting caught. It is ironic as well to see that both Mr. Armstrong and the leadership of XL Foods don’t really seem to be all that upset at being caught, and I think that this is because long ago they learned that getting caught wasn’t going to be any terrible thing.



I Have Seen The Light (Field) – This Will Transform Photography

Light Field CameraYou may not have heard or read about it yet, but a new camera has been born.  This little device will transform both how you see photos, and also how you take them!

This device is called the Lytro Field Camera ( and what is so revolutionary about the camera is that it is a completely new way of taking photographs.  Historically, photography was all about capturing light on a flat plane, initially a plate of glass and then strips of film.  When digital cameras were first developed, they sought to mimic the functionality of film with a flat rectangle of light sensors called a Charge Coupled Device (CCD).

About 15 years ago research began at Stanford University in to capturing images in a new way.  Researchers began trying to capture light fields, which back then required a room full of cameras and a supercomputer to process the results.  There has been a lot of work going on over those 15 years and on October 20, 2011 that room full of equipment was replaced by the world’s first commercial Light Field Camera.  I think that the two most significant aspects of this camera are the elimination of focus as we’ve come to understand it and the capability to choose to create either a 2D or 3D image from the same data.

It seems that the fundamental difference is in the Light Field Sensor, which is key to the camera, as it captures information on the colour and intensity of the light hitting it, but also the vector of where the light is coming from.  It is this vector information, along with some customized software, that enables the new capabilities.  The elimination of the focus point of a photograph reminds me of those movies where some grainy security camera image is manipulated by some actor to suddenly reveal stunning clarity where none existed before.  This camera does that, but only with the images that it captures – your brand new $7000 Canon 1D X won’t give you what this $399 shooter will.

The finish and design of this camera almost makes you think it was designed by Apple – sweet, simple design with almost no protection of the lens from what I can tell.  Like I said, this technology will transform photography, what I’m wondering is how the technology will transform video.  Since the output is capable of rendering in 2D or 3D from the same source image data, perhaps in a few short years we’ll have HD3D TV where the image displayed will be 3D if the user wants to see it that way, leaving the viewing mode decision to the watcher rather than the producer.  Consider the consequences of shipping a television show where users can decide for themselves which part of a show to keep in focus? I’m a fan of the Zucker, Abrahams, Zucker movies and TV shows of the 1980s like Airplane!, Top Secret!, Police Squad!, The Naked Gun, where there was often more than one thing happening in the scene at a time…imagine what this technology could empower in terms of gags that can only be seen if you focus on the far point of a scene, or the foreground?

One thing that is certain, this is technology that will transform our lives and culture in a way similar to the smartphone, as its capability, ease of use and profound change in how we see and experience the world around through our media devices us will impact television, movies, and the photos and videos we create at home.


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Thanks Steve

Steve Jobs

While we may have enriched you with our purchases of your products,
your products gave us all a far richer life.


Rest in Peace, Steve.

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