Sunday, October 31, 2004

What is it about the United Nations?!!!

Why doesn’t the United Nations stop sticking its nose in other people’s business? Other people just want to live their own lives their own way, without the United Nations forcing their beliefs on others. The United Nations should just go home when they aren’t wanted. You would think they would get the message, but no they don’t seem to understand. Now some freedom loving patriots in Afghanistan (who just want to be left alone without the United Nations imposing their ideas about free elections) have kidnapped some United Nations election observers. Well, it serves them right!

Of course, the paragraph above is absolute nonsense. And everyone would agree that it is absolute nonsense. But a surprising number of people would think it quite reasonable and acceptable, provided the word “Nations” was replaced in every instance with the word “States”. The fact is, the United States gets criticized for helping bring peace and stability when the United Nations gets lauded for the exact same behavior. Again, the fact is, there are nations and peoples who need a helping hand to throw off the shackles of corruption and violence. It would be naïve to think that every nation is ready for our style of democracy, but I’m thankful for those countries whose core beliefs allow them to help the oppressed. Also, I do hope these U.N. election observers are released.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

An Abigail Weekend

Well, lets see. I’ve been editing the punctuation in my Dad’s life story, “Little House in the Flour Mill”. I think it’s really good! I suppose I’ll have to do something similar at some point.

Tomorrow I have my Sunday School class again. The kids are really great, but things do tend to get a bit chatty! I plan to show them the video, “Icons of Evolution”. It is an interesting video that points out that most of the “evidence” for evolution that is shown in High School textbooks has in fact, been disproved by scientists that believe in evolution. I can attest to this at the university level, when a second year genetics professor tried to tell us that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”. What nonsense. No embryologist would put up with such a statement! But it must be admitted that this particular professor wasn’t exactly at the high end of the curve.

Our new computer comes next. I’m really excited because it has been a long time since I’ve had a new computer. Today I bought an 802.11g wireless LAN, which means I will be able to connect both computers together and both computers to the Internet. Most importantly, it has built-in encryption and a firewall (though I plan to continue using a personal firewall!). The new computer will be hooked up to my current monitor, and the old computer will be in the kitchen connected to a flat panel display.

Last night we had over a friend from work and his family. We had a really nice time. Karen did this really great chocolate cake. Of course, with a total of 7 children in the house (including a very tired and crabby Hannah), it was busy!

Hannah didn’t sleep this afternoon, then fell sleep early, then woke up, and we are currently trying to get her back down. Plus the clocks change tonight. Oh joy!

Today we made our obligatory Saturday visit to the library, and paid our regular fine. Bethany took out a dozen books, including one of the Moffat books that she hadn’t seen before. Joel polished off one of the Bobbsey Twins books this afternoon.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

The perils of efficiency

It is only natural in a free market economy to have a small number of companies that do one thing and do it very well. But there needs to be a balance. A case in point is the shortage of flu vaccine. One factory has problems, and half the flu vaccine for the United States doesn't get delivered.

Another case of efficiency shooting us in the foot is the closing of hospitals. Yes, having a smaller number of larger hospitals is more efficient. But what happens when a hospital gets quarantined because of SARS or some other disease. All of a sudden, a significant percentage of your hospital beds disappear.

Interestingly enough, as society forgets these lessons, computer scientists and engineers are learning these lessons. Rather than one computer, the Space Shuttle has five. Likewise, Canada's new frigates have about 30 different computers all over the ship. If a couple get destroyed, the rest still function. Sure, we lose efficiency, but the more mission critical a function, the less you can tolerate a single point of failure.


We took a vacation last weekend, to visit my parents in Sudbury. While it was great to see them, Hannah didn’t sleep very well and we ended up coming home a day early. The van handled great, and the cruise control made it really nice.

We let Hannah scream it out for a couple of nights, which in truth is harder on us than on her. But now she’s sleeping better.

My Dad has worked on a short autobiography about his days growing up in the Flour Mill area of Sudbury. I think it is really good, and I’m sure the kids will enjoy it.
Today I took Joel on a nature walk as part of his AWANA children’s program. He really enjoyed it, but I think it tired him out.

By the way, I did an update a couple of days ago, but Blogger ate it. 8-(

Monday, October 18, 2004


I took Friday and Monday as vacation days, and we went to visit my parents in Sudbury. It was great seeing them again, and the van handled nicely on the road (and the cruise control makes it nice to travel). Unfortunately Hannah is going through a phase where she won't go to sleep and she won't stay asleep. If you pick her up and rock her, she's fine. As soon as you put her down, she screams. As hard as this is to deal with in our own home, it is harder when you are visiting. Anyway, we cut our visit short by a day and left for home on Sunday morning. We didn't get a chance to see my Aunt and Uncle, and I only got a chance to see my friend Jamie because he stopped by my parents house before church. So, the vacation didn't go as we had hoped.

Karen and I did get some time walking around the shopping mall in Sudbury, with Hannah happy in a stroller (those who are parents will understand that a chance to walk around a mall and drive around a bit after is the ultimate date idea). The children went with Popa (my Dad) to the Burger King in the Flour Mill area of Sudbury. This is the area he lived in as a boy. Dad is working on some reminisences, which should be very interesting when they are done. The kids also got to pick apples from the apple tree in Popa's back yard. So, on the whole it was stressful and it wasn't the vacation we had hoped for, but there were a couple of good memories built.

Saturday, October 09, 2004


I just bought a book at Chapters entitled "Empire". It is an examination of how and why Britain built it's Empire, and what the long lasting effects are. This is a topic I have been interested in for many years, but never had the opportunity to examine. I'm looking forward to reading this book! Hopefully it can avoid much of the politically correct analysis so common over the last 30 years, and present a balanced view of the good and the bad which was the British Empire.


One of Canada's "new" submarines has been disabled by an electrical fire, and is now being towed back to port. These submarines were purchased second-hand from the British, who built them and then immediately decided to go with an all-nuclear fleet. Now there is much second guessing about the value of these submarines, both in the House of Commons and at the lunch table. Whether these subs were a good deal or not remains to be seen. But here are a few facts to consider:

1) Canada was operating 3 1960's era submarines. Purchasing the "Upholder" class boats allowed us to retire the older subs.

2) the cost was 1/3 the cost of building new subs. You don't buy a used car for one third the price of a new one, and then express shock when everything isn't perfect. Besides, the "age" of a submarine is defined by the number of dives to maximum depth, rather than simply the number of years since it was constructed. These boats hardly have any "time on the hull".

3) the "Upholder" boats are considered by Naval Analysts to be the best diesel-electric submarines in the world. The sonar is the equivalent of a block 1 Trafalgar class SSN!

4) submarines have value because they are unseen. For example, Britain started a blockade of the Falkland Islands by simply putting out a press release implying that British submarines were in the area.

5) having submarines is a part of having a balanced military force. People will often ask, "What does Canada need with X", where X is any particular piece of military equipment. But an independent nation needs a balanced military force in order to be able to conduct any operations the government deems necessary.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Little House on the Prairie

I'm reading the Little House on the Prairie books. It seems to me they lived a precarious existance. Every year it was a struggle to put aside enough food for the winter. If they didn't put aside enough food, they starved. On the other hand, they probably would have felt that we live a precarious existance. After all, if the trucks don't show up at the supermarket for 3 days running, a city of a million people will go hungry.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Down but not out, part 3

I still have my cold. Or maybe it's another cold. Anyway, I'm really tired. I took Bethany to the library today and bought an "Exersaucer" for Hannah, but that's about it. Hannah has the cold and didn't sleep well last night. In the end, we put Hannah in bed beside Karen and I slept on the couch. It wasn't the greatest night. I did get a nap this afternoon.

I finished studying for some upcoming sermons on 1 John. I am running behind schedule in my preparations, due to my cold. So I am now trying to push myself a bit when all I feel like doing is laying in bed. I have some really great books I want to read, but I am so wiped that intellectual stimulation is the last thing I want. As a result, I am reading some of Bethany's "Little House on the Prairie" books.

I got a letter from Sympatico the other day, telling me that had forgotten to apply a discount for which I was eligible. Anyway, they credited my account for more than $70. This was a nice surprise.

Nortel is continuing to implode (yes, that's really a word). They announced more layoffs, 750 in the Ottawa area. Two thirds will be done between now and Christmas, and the last third by June 2005. So, basically they have found a way to kill morale until June 2005. The survival of the company was no longer in doubt, but the profit margins were not good enough. Not sure the people in the trenches will be able to swallow this one. They have cut 2/3 of their employees over the last 4 years, and now someone decides the cutting was done in a way that ignored profit margins. Brilliant. Honestly, I think Nortel will be out of business by June 2005. Their is nothing wrong with their business, they have some great products and people, but I think it will be impossible to keep morale going. And when morale is gone, people just will not do what it takes to execute on management's business plan. It's a sad story, and I wish it was different. All along I have had no doubt they would survive, until now...