The Rants of Issachar

Friday, July 29, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Cheers to J.K. Rowling for a fantastic book.

Jeers to the long wait for the next one...



I loved it. I think it's possibly the best so far, but I'll have to re-read the Goblet of Fire to be sure.


:: posted by issachar, 12:44 PM | Permalink | 8 comments | Links to this post

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Whitecaps Vs. Sunderland

Since I'm posting diary stuff today, here's a shot from the Vancouver Whitecaps game against Sunderland on Saturday. Whitecaps won, 3-0. Alanna, Jeremy and I went. Good times. Especially good were the singing Sunderland fans behind us. Jeremy didn't bring his Newcastle shirt, which is too bad. It would have been great to have him wearing it in front of the large tattooed men who were singing "If you hate Newcastle clap your hands". (Plus another slightly more deragotory one).

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Sunderland
Ack.. must leave office. Work ended at 4:30 and it's time to leave... Will update this post later.

Update: 7:40pm

Sitting on the end of the dock.
Thank you Alanna for the reminder... "Pluck the duck". Well they did say "pluck" on one occaision... :P No photos of "Winger" the mascot though. Who decided to make the mascot a duck anyway? It's like parents who name their child "Dick". I suppose like the beaver, the duck is a fierce and noble creature...

Here's two more photos. These are from the Whitecaps site. That's Jeremy, Alanna and me two rows down from the Sunderland fans. (And Jeremy's standing up in the second picture).

Sunderland fans and our group below them

If you can't see us, here's a closeup. Alanna's nicely framed between the people switching seats and blocking Jeremy and I.

Closeup


Sunderland fans and our group below them

I had a great time at the game. I think I'll go to more Whitecaps matches.

Update: July 22nd
I've got some higher resolution photos courtesy of Nathan Vanstone. I also added a closeup of the first picture. Photography credit goes to Kim Stallknecht. Thanks Kim!


:: posted by issachar, 4:45 PM | Permalink | 1 comments | Links to this post

My view at the office...

Here are some pictures as promised...

Here's the view from my cubicle. Isn't the Okanagan great?


The View from my Window at the Office


The View from my Window at the Office

Oh, and I thought my cubicle was small, so I removed the wall in front of me.

My Cubicle

Not a bad place to work. :)


:: posted by issachar, 4:41 PM | Permalink | 5 comments | Links to this post

Posting at lunch...

It's been a few days since I've posted. The net access at the cabin is intermittent at best, so I'm only consistently online at work. I haven't been completely out of it though. Thanks to everyone for the discussion here and here.

But since lunch time is over, it's time to get back to work.

I've got some more pictures to post soon.


:: posted by issachar, 12:57 PM | Permalink | 0 comments | Links to this post

Which Family Guy character are you?

Thanks to Sarah for this. Apparently I'm Brian...


Which Family Guy character are you?



:: posted by issachar, 12:54 PM | Permalink | 3 comments | Links to this post

Anonymous Comments.

I just noticed that a friend's blog doesn't allow anonymous comments. I always have, but then no one's abused the privilege. I hear about people getting harassed online, so I can see why some people would choose to remain anonymous. Still, it would be nice if everyone who visited were logged in so discussions could continue. Some interesting strangers have posted here, and I would have liked to get in touch with some of them...

So if you're anonymous, why are you so?


:: posted by issachar, 12:52 PM | Permalink | 0 comments | Links to this post

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Wage Slaves:

It's a typical Saturday morning at my place in Langley. We've got some very good coffee and we're watching A&E's Investigative Reports: Wage Slaves: Not Getting By In America. Interesting and vaguely depressing.

Basically the show interviews a few economists and authors of books on poverty in America, but mostly unskilled workers in the US making $5 to $7 per hour. Supporting kids off that income in a city is extremely difficult to say the least. The economists point out that a high minimum wage simply increases unemployment. That's hardly a solution. Someone's making a terrible wage, so you take away the small income they have. Raising the minimum wage is an obvious and simple solution, but it brings up unintended consequences. Interestingly when it came to the welfare reform / minimum wage issue, the people interviewed were mostly the academics and advocates. I don't know if they chose not to interview the working poor on this issue, but they weren't the ones talking about this.

The job market in America has changed significantly. Low paying, unskilled service sector jobs have replaced higher skilled jobs. One place that has happened is in the food sector. The assembly line system came to the kitchen. It boosted production signficantly, and lowered costs, but it replaced skilled cooks with assembly style cooking. (Think fast food).

The other thing that happened is that housing went through the roof. Interestingly the definition of "poverty" in the US came from the 1950's. What they did was look at average expenses. At the time, roughly a third of income was spent on food. So they took a recommended food budget, multiplied it by three and called it the minimum. The catch is that while food expenses remained mostly stable since the 50's. Other costs, (notably housing) went through the roof. Normally when demand for something goes up, supply goes up. For some reason not explained, the housing market doesn't work that way according to the show.

Two people were interviewed repeatedly and their stories alone make the show worth watching.

The first was Ronald Rooney. He's working as an in-home care provider for the department of social services. He makes $6.75 per hour. Wear & tear on his vehicle, gas costs all come out of his pocket. He has a good family. He supports his wife, 3 kids and looks after his niece as well. He speaks simply, but has a very clear and dogged determination to keep working to support his wife and family. Good man. He never said he wanted a handout, he simply wants to support his family. When he said what would make his life a sucess, it was if he made enough to send his children to college. Not that if his children went to college, but that if he put them there. Everything he said showed a clear pride in his work. He said he had a checkered past, some past lawbreaking, but that he was on the straight and narrow now. There's no background of that, but it's definitely a success story.

Sandra Hurst in Alabama has two kids and works two jobs. One as a school cafeteria lady in the mornings and another in a day care. Her son also attends that day care. She's a single mother and there's no word on what happened to her husband, but the implication was that he left. She also took pride in her work and in working. She wasn't wanting a handout and said that she doesn't like people looking for handouts. She doesn't take the government help. She doesn't see why the government should pay for her. She spoke against people in her situation wearing name brands while complaining. At the same time, she was very honest about the problems she faces. Her daughter had just had a birthday, and the party had thrown her finances into a problem. That was $12 for the cake and $12 for a present. Not exactly crazy money to spend on an eight year old girl's birthday. Like Ronald Rooney, Sandra took pride in how she dealt with her situation.

Listening to these people reinforced the idea that work is the answer. There just has to be good work. There was a lot more to the show, and I'd really recommend it, but Ronald and Sandra were particularly telling.


:: posted by issachar, 10:13 AM | Permalink | 12 comments | Links to this post

Friday, July 15, 2005

Friends of the Donut

I'm now listed as a "Friend of the Donut". So I thought I'd repost another two photos I really liked from Miserable Donuts. Thanks again to Major Tammes for the photos.


Dogabad

That's a view of a place called Dogabad. I think it's beautiful.


Afghani Moviestar
Looks like some pretty normal guys. Apparently the guy in the middle is a movie star.


:: posted by issachar, 10:55 PM | Permalink | 1 comments | Links to this post

Back on the coast...

I'm back on the coast for the weekend. The city has knocked down every single tree in the tiny little forest behind the house. They're building a park back there, so the first thing they needed to do was knock down every tree. :P

Actually I'm sure it will look nice when they're done and in the meantime, there's much more light in the kitchen.

I'm down for the Whitecaps vs. Sunderland game on Saturday, and it's nice to be back in Langley. The Okanagan is great, but I was missing my place. (And my friends).


:: posted by issachar, 10:19 PM | Permalink | 0 comments | Links to this post

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Photos from Thursday.

This is a retroactive post. It's really Friday, but all these photos were taken yesterday, so that's what the entry date says. Kazi was very tired when we took him down to the lake that afternoon. Of course after he cooled off in the water, he was much more lively. He'll go swimming a bit now, but he won't jump off the dock or swim more than half the length of the dock. Give him time...

Kazi samples the breeze

Mum, Dad and Kazi

A very cute retriever...


:: posted by issachar, 8:00 PM | Permalink | 3 comments | Links to this post

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

More thoughts on Islam...

I got a response to Monday's entry that got me thinking again. Please ead Shabayek's comment at the bottom of that link before reading the rest of this entry please.

...

In regards to the respect issue... Voluntarily putting on the veil when visiting mosques just falls in the category of being polite. I'd say it's common courtesy. I wore long pants when I visited Cathedrals in Rome and I wore a yarmulke when I went to a synagogue, but those are all visits to private property. It's perfectly reasonable for Muslims to require women to wear veils in Mosques. That's not imposing a state religion, that's just imposing rules for your own building. Still, I think that common courtesy goes a long way.

The question is what you do when people aren't courteous or are deliberately rude. I find Piss Christ, the so called "art" by Andres Serrano, offensive. I don't think it should have been made, I want no part of my tax dollars funding art like that, and I choose not to knowingly support organizations that buy art like that. But I will insist that if Serrano wants to make things like that, he must be allowed to do so without fear of violence or legal consequence.

Are Muslims willing to allow similar things to be done to a copy of the Quran? (I know Islam doesn't do images of Mohammed so a direct comparison isn't possible). I'm not asking them to be happy about it, only that you stand up and defend the legal right of an "artist" to desecrate things that Islam believes are holy.

About Salman Rushdie, I'm not surprised that Muslims are angry with what he wrote, but are they willing to stand up and defend his legal right to write anything he wants to? To have it published? To live without fear of reprisal?

If you happen to read this Shabayek, I'd love to read what you have to say.


:: posted by issachar, 1:30 PM | Permalink | 26 comments | Links to this post

Monday, July 11, 2005

Islam & Terrorism...

David Frum has an interesting article on Islamic terrorism. I'm not going to try summarizing the whole article, but he states that Muslims have a special obligation to deal with terrorism. I'm paraphrasing here, but here's a few that struck me as essential.
  1. Condemn violent Jihad. Full stop. No exceptions. This means that so-called martyrdom is wrong. Period.
  2. Isolate and condemn extremists. This means that Hamas is bad and supporting Hamas in any way is wrong. Preach it from the pulpit that Hamas is bad.
  3. Accept Islam’s status as one religion among equals.
Breaking it down a bit

The first point... I say "so-called martyrdom" because the "martyrs of Islam" these days are nothing of the kind. A martyr is one who chooses to suffer death rather than renounce religious principles. Martyrs don't kill people. They die.

The second point... Perhaps a comparison for North Americans. Most Christians don't like abortion. Many consider it murder. Many would like to see abortions stopped. But we don't provide any support to someone who murders abortion doctors. Hamas, Hezbollah and the rest are actually well received in much of the Islamic world.

To quote Frum: "Israel is a special challenge to Muslim communities in the West. It’s very hard to take a principled stand against al Qaeda if you privately support Hamas and Hezbollah. "

Accept Islam’s status as one religion among equals.
To clarify the third point, I don't expect Muslims to say that "all religions are equal" in any sort of transcendent meaning of that phrase. That's soft-headed drivel. I mean that all religions are equal under the law and that freedom of religion is foundational to the law.

What is required is to accept that Islam is among equals in this present physical world. Unfortunately, while it fits easily with the Christian separation between "that which belongs to Caesar" and "that which belongs to God", it's difficult to reconcile in Islam. Islam makes no separation between the mosque and state. Apostasy against Islam is penalized with death. This needs to change. Islam has to accept the that participation in the modern world requires freedom of belief.

To quote Frum once again:
Islam will have made itself at home in the West when Western Muslims can express dislike for The Satanic Verses while defending Salman Rushdie’s right to publish it; when they accept the right of Muslims to leave Islam as cordially as they encourage non-Muslims to embrace it; and when they welcome Christian and Jewish worship in Saudi Arabia in the same free and tolerant spirit that Islam has been welcomed in the West.


:: posted by issachar, 9:07 PM | Permalink | 2 comments | Links to this post

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Photos from Afghanistan...

If you haven't seen Miserable Donuts, you really should check it out. I find the photos of Afghanistan the most interesting. This from Father's Day really touched me. It's a boy and his Dad in Deh-e Hazara.

Father & Son in Deh-e Hazara

I find sites like this give a much more human picture of the war than the traditional news. A very normal father in what is to me a very different place. Different places...

Thanks to Major Tammes for letting me repost the picture and for sharing his experiences.


:: posted by issachar, 11:19 PM | Permalink | 2 comments | Links to this post

Friday, July 08, 2005

London...

Union Jack at Half Mast (c) FreeFoto.com

One ought never to turn one's back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half.
Sir Winston Churchill

Image supplied by FreeFoto.com


:: posted by issachar, 3:03 PM | Permalink | 1 comments | Links to this post

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London Bombed...

Terrorists attacked civilians on the London transit system today. Three bombs exploded on the underground and a fourth blew up a bus. According to the BBC, at least 37 people were killed and 700 people were injured. Such evil people in the world...


:: posted by issachar, 10:44 PM | Permalink | 0 comments | Links to this post

First page on google again...

How does this happen exactly? I've now got two posts in two days on a three month old blog entry that no one commented on when I first posted it. A quick check on google shows that I'm now the first site listed on a google search for "Kelly Ellard". (Third if you leave out the quotes). This is the second time this has happened.

Considering the effort people put into climbing the google rankings, I'd have thought it wouldn't happen by accident on a rarely seen page. It's not quite like a google search for "Canada", but it's not exactly unknown either.

Update: 6:10 PM

It turns out that Kelly Ellard was sentenced today. Life in prison with no parole for seven years.


:: posted by issachar, 5:39 PM | Permalink | 1 comments | Links to this post

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A different picture of Palestian-Israeli relations

I found this picture a long time ago, and I've been wanting to write something about it for a while now.


The Arab kids like to hang out with Dana

That's an IDF soldier with three decidedly non-angry Arab boys. It was taken by a IDF soldier serving at a checkpoint between the Palestinians and the Israeli's. His whole collection of photos struck me as a snapshot of "daily life" in the area. There aren't always explosions and bombings. Sometimes people just cross the border. And apparently, no matter where you go in the world, boys like to hang around girls in their 20's.

I find it touching in a way. Particularly the little boy in the navy coloured hat. It's a welcome contrast to the usual photos I see of organized protests.

I'd recommend checking out his other photos too. IDFIsrael.com is the photographer's site and it's worth reading as well.

I'm a bit reluctant to write more. The photo alone said a lot to me, so I'm not sure if I should add anything. But of course I will. I hope I don't take anything away from the photo...

Normally when I read about the IDF, they're not portrayed in a positive light at all. Quite often they're seemingly equated with the Hamas or another of the armed Palestinian groups. This probably isn't vindictive most of the time, but more of a side effect of the general trend to "deplore violence on both sides". But the IDF isn't comparable to Hamas or the others. It's a professional military that adheres to civilized behaviour. Taking pains to avoid killing civilians is the most obvious difference. This is not to say that the IDF has not killed civilians. Of course they have. Every single military has, but there is a world of difference between deliberately targetting civilians going about their daily lives in cafes and on buses and accidents in war.

The IDF is fighting a war against an opponent that uses uncivilized and reprehensible tactics. They do their job as well as can be expected.


:: posted by issachar, 7:41 PM | Permalink | 1 comments | Links to this post

I filled out a survey...

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Thanks to Claire for piquing my curosity. Apparently I'm a lot more offline than I thought.


:: posted by issachar, 7:02 PM | Permalink | 1 comments | Links to this post

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Weekend photos

I got a USB cable for the camera. Here's a couple of photos of the lake from our cabin over the weekend.





It's the last evening here until Sunday though. Our neighbour's daughter is getting married and we've lent out the place for the festivities. The couple's is actually tying the knot on the end of the dock I believe.



:: posted by issachar, 8:58 PM | Permalink | 2 comments | Links to this post

Monday, July 04, 2005

Crying wolf...

Have you seen that Dairy Queen advertisement that features two scientists and a killer bee? If you haven't that's unfortunate, but here's a synopsis... Two scientists are doing some sort of research on bees. One scientist is examining the bee and the other is eating a DQ Blizzard. The one with the bee announces that he's learned the language of the bees and the other mocks him for such useless knowledge. The one with the bee makes some buzzing sound, the bee attacks, the mocking scientist drops dead and the bee speaking scientist eats the blizzard. Like most humour, it dies when explained, but I laughed out lound when I first saw it.

But according the today's National Post, some people have decided that it's racist. Apparently the actors are indo-Canadian, people are really just laughing at their thick accents, and that's bad. These people seriously need to get a sense of humour and stop looking for something that isn't there. Racism has NOTHING to do with the joke. I don't remember what race the actors were and I doubt that anyone else laughing at the joke did either. It's got nothing to with accents, the joke is the ludicrous idea that someone would kill a colleague for a DQ Blizzard. That's it. Dark and unexpected. Therefore funny.

It's the same thing with the complaints over that "Splice Boys" graphic put out to mock the Conservatives over the Grewal incident. Some people were whining that that was racist against Indo-Canadians because of which Spice Girl they compared Grewal too. The Libranos poster was racist against Italians apparently too.

I'm sick of all these people crying wolf. Canadian society is overwhelmingly not racist. Trying to play the racism issue like something kind of universal trump card is pathetic. If you really think those things are racist then you need to beat yourself senseless with a clue bat.

I'm retaliating with a "this cracker don't care" attitude. I will continue watching Eddie Murphy's hilarious "kill the white people" sketch on SNL and listening to almost anything by Chris Rock.

Update: July 22 2005
I got permission from the Liberal Underground and the Western Standard to repost their images. Thank you...




Libranos

Spliceboys


:: posted by issachar, 10:39 PM | Permalink | 2 comments | Links to this post

First day working at the mill...

It was strange working in the office. I've worked summers at the mill before, but it always involved early starts and usually heavy lifting. I'm a cubicle for the first time, but I do have a window. This is going to be fun.

After work I drove back down to Summerland to spend the night at the cabin. Kirsten & Shona are staying home tonight, so it was just Dad, Mum and myself for dinner. Dinner followed by waterskiing at dusk. I am out of shape. It'd be embarassed if anyone but my parents knew how quickly I let go of the rope.

I want to write something less diary-ish, but I haven't actually mulled anything over sufficiently. I read a few more chapters of Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz, but I don't think it's as good as his second book. Far more meandering and less substance. Isn't the first book usually better?


:: posted by issachar, 9:07 PM | Permalink | 0 comments | Links to this post

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Another day in the sun.

It's almost too nice up here. We had appetizers for dinner last night. Smoked Salmon, French bread, some cheese including my current favourite Port Salut and crab cakes with lemon garlic dill. It's a very tough life...

I've spent most of the day swimming, diving off the dock and reading on the water trampoline. I'm still sore from the run I went for on Friday, so that's my excuse. I've been doing absolutely nothing physical for months, and going off on a long run felt good, but it's left me a little sore. I really want to do some more running though. Everyone else around here seems stuck on bike rides, but I still prefer using my feet.

I still haven't been back out on the boat. I got one quick ski in on Friday before the water pump got destroyed by something sucked into the intake. Fortunately Kirsten noticed the engine temperature spiking and shut the engine off. Grant took the pump apart and it was pretty obvious that the impeller was gone. (Little bits of rubber gravel where an impeller used to be is rarely good). But it's all fixed now.

Actually Grant gave me a bit of a lesson in car maintenance today too. The heat shield of my exhaust has been loose for a while and makes a very annoying rattle. Apparently this happens to a lot of Honda's and it's not actually a problem, just an annoyance. Honda also charges a nice bit of coin to fix it. Grant took it off with me learning as he went along. As helpless as I am with cars, I think I learned something. There are some things you can just pry off the car and drive away. Well I also learned a few other things when he was working with Kirsten's brakes.

We also had a slew of vistors at the cabin. David & Ethel left this morning, Auntie Chrissie & Grant left sometime in the afternoon. Dan, Kristina, Matthew, Steven & Mark Scott all came down as well. I hadn't seen Dan & Kristina since Christmas I think... It's nice to have everyone down here even if Mark can thow me in the lake with way too little effort...

Still no pictures of the lake I'm afraid. (No USB cable to get the photos off the camera).

So the summer job starts tomorow. I'm looking forward to it.


:: posted by issachar, 8:02 PM | Permalink | 1 comments | Links to this post

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Unsecured wireless connections...

The only downside to staying at the lake has been the lack of internet access. It's no big deal during the day when it's nice and sunny, but reading online has become such a part of my routine, that getting cut off from blogs, e-mail and the outsourced portion of my memory is a little irritating. But it isn't much of a problem this year.

Someone down on the lake has a wireless network. The signal's not that strong and I can't really pick it up properly inside the house, but it works just fine when I'm sitting on the dock. So I've got some irregular internet access down here. How nice for me.

So would the person who set up this network be happy with me piggy-backing on their access? Most networks are unsecured because people either don't care or don't know. Some are deliberately open, but I suspect that most aren't.

I think this is fine.


:: posted by issachar, 3:35 PM | Permalink | 3 comments | Links to this post