Monday, January 30, 2006

Making it easy to hate Microsoft

Microsoft has some products available for download for people who have purchased "Genuine Microsoft Advantage" products (i.e. those who did not pirate Windows XP). I am trying to install PhotoStory 3.0. Unfortunately my PC (purchased from Dell with XP pre-installed) is giving me activation errors so the software won't install. Both Dell and Microsoft want to charge me for support. So much for offering me a bonus for purchasing XP!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Political Participation

One of the comments on complains that Andrew doesn't understand the separation of church and state, and is really no different than Hamas. Here is my response:

I am reminded of the statement by Richard John Neuhaus, the Catholic social commentator, that he believes in the separation of church and state, but he doesn't believe in mutual ignorance. The more militantly secularist among us will be satisfied by nothing less than mutual ignorance and the complete exclusion of people of faith from the political process. They would have us to believe that a militantly secularist, materialistic and atheistic worldview is the default, and anyone with a different worldview is a threat and a dangerous extremist.

Within Canada, you will not find too many Christians who want to set up a religious state and impose it on others. Most of us understand that real change in our nation will come through a change in people's hearts (i.e religious conversion), not in a new government. However the Christians I know cannot be schizophrenic about our faith. We cannot be one type of person in church and another type of person in public. Our religious faith is an integral part of who we are. And so we react to certain issues in a certain way, not because we have been told by religious leaders to act in a certain way, but because we are expressing what we really believe.

I believe it is acceptable for Christians to be involved in the political process, and that our influence should be no greater and no less than the sum total of ballots we can deliver. We will support the candidates whose basic belief systems we agree with, because what a person believes will define how a person acts (unless he is a hypocrite). As for those on the political left who are campaigning for proportional representation, please remember that this would open up the door for religious political parties to play the kingmaker in Canadian elections. There’s a reason why the elevators in Israel don’t run on the Sabbath, and it’s not because the majority of Israelis want it that way.

Finally, thanks for the comments on Hamas. The fact that you cannot distinguish between democratic participation in Canadian government by plain humble Christians, and the wild AK-47 ravings of a recognized terrorist organization demonstrates the logical strength of your argument.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Many Thanks to the American Ambassador

The American Ambassador today stated that he isn't happy with the Harper government's plans to build armed icebreakers to assert Canadian sovereignty in northern waters. America doesn't recognize Canadian sovereignty up north. Anyway, many thanks to the Ambassador. Harper has been accused of being too friendly with America, too much like George Bush and (this one is the most crazy) of wanting to sell Canada to the United States. And so 3 days after the election, the Ambassador gives Harper a chance to wrap himself in the Canadian flag and assert Canadian sovereignty. Perhaps the Ambassador could say something negative about Quebec so Harper can defend Quebec and boost federalism by a couple of points!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Canadian Election

The Canadian election is over, and Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada were the winners. With 124 seats (out of 308) they have won a decent Minority government. Governing may be a challenge because the NDP + Conservatives do not have enough votes to guarantee any bills be passed. But I don't think the Liberal Party will be anxious to defeat the government. They need a new leader, they are broke, and the Canadian people will punish them if they bring us a third election in 5 years!

Thursday, January 19, 2006


The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees rights of religion, conscience and belief. We have a pretty good idea of what freedom of religion means, but I'm wondering what freedom of conscience and freedom of belief mean? Particularly, what do they mean in the context of special rights for homosexuals (such as same sex marriage)? When conscience and belief come up against the freedom of same sex couples to marry, just what do these constitutionally guarenteed rights mean? Or are they just feel good words in our constitution?

In further news, a government funded study by university professors in Canada has concluded Canada should allow polygamy. After all the study notes, we are a permissive society that allows adultery, so why wouldn't we allow polygamy. A year ago, Christians raised the concern that same sex marriage laws would open the flood gates to polygamy. We were told that we are insane, fear mongering and that this could never happen in Canada. Now a government funded study by respectable scholars is recommending it. Wish I didn't have to say "I told you so". But something else is coming that's even worse...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

We've Arrived!

Well, we've arrived at that point parents dream about. This morning I heard Hannah laughing and making noises, so I got up out of bed to get up with her and I found... Bethany had gotten up with Hannah, got her out of her crib, changed her and together with Joel was playing with Hannah downstairs.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Political Debate

Thursday night I attended the local all candidates debate for the upcoming January 23rd election. Going beyond the platforms of the various parties, Gordon O’Connor, the Conservative candidate was clearly the strongest. His answers were great (whether you agree with his party’s views or not).

The NDP candidate, Tasha Bridgen (the wife of a fellow I work with) came in second, IMHO. She is a political newcomer, but I thought she expressed herself well.

The representatives of the Progressive Canada party (i.e. some Progressive Conservatives who can face the fact that their old party no longer exists) and the Green Party did OK.

The surprise was how weak the Liberal candidate did. There were 3 times that the crowd gasped at something she said (saying you would not want new Canadians looking after your children, referring favourably to the National Energy Plan as an achievement of her party, and saying nobody wanted new constitutional debate when her leader is promising to change the Charter of Rights and Freedoms). I’m sure the Liberal candidate is a nice person with lots of good experiences, but she came off as extremely weak, which was a huge surprise for me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Thankfully my tooth is now fixed. The cusp came off one of the molars. My dentist told me it is fairly common. After plenty of freezing, he drilled out the amalgam filling that was there, then replaced the filling and the cusp with a composite filling. No pain, and most of the cost covered by my benefits plan at work.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Surprise Announcement

There was a surprise announcement in tonights federal leadership debate. Paul Martin said he would remove the notwithstanding clause from our constitution. Perhaps this is not all that surprising; after all they have what they want with regards to same sex marriage, so now is the time to remove an important check-and-balance in our constitution. It seems crazy to me to promise to modify the constitution just to score some points in a debate! Anyway, here is a little blurb from the Global and Mail:
When it was pointed out to [Paul Martin] after the debates that he had once said he would use the notwithstanding clause to protect churches' rights to refuse to perform same-sex marriages, Mr. Martin said his position had changed.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

An Odd Little City

Ottawa is an odd little city. It's odd because it is filled with real people who live real lives. This is something that's hard to believe for those who don't live in Ottawa. For example, the other day Karen's sister saw Stephen Harper picking up some items in the grocery store. Yes, he's running to become Prime Minister of the country, but he needs to eat, right?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Chronicles of Narnia

Some people say Christians should go to these types of films to show support for Hollywood when they make acceptable entertainment. After all, if we don't support them with our money, they will only make films we disagree with. Others say Christians should stay away from everything Hollywood produces. I choose to reject both positions.

I took my children to see the Chronicles of Narnia today simply because I wanted to see it. The film itself was quite spectacular. While not precisely following the book (I've got to re-read the book to double check some points), the film was essentially faithful to Lewis's story and had clear Christian symbolism. Others have said the children were the heros of the film, not Aslan, but I didn't see it this way at all. The victory was Aslan's. Without Aslan, the children would have been defeated. It was well done and I enjoyed it greatly. One word of caution: some of the White Witch's monsters were overdone for younger audiences.

About C.S. Lewis, I read something funny the other day. When he was 4 years old, he said to his Dad, "I have a prejudice against the French". When asked why he had a prejudice he replied, "If I knew why, it wouldn't be a prejudice." It must be wonderful to be smarter than everyone else.

Was it a good Saturday?

This morning I downloaded the "Lego Digital Designer", which is a computer program that lets children design their own Lego kits. If they like it, and if Dad provides a credit card number, the creation gets uploaded to Lego and they mail you a kit for building this new creation. Joel got to play on that for a while. Then I took the older 2 children sliding. They had a blast, and then we went to a friend's house for hot chocolate. After lunch I took the older children to see the Chronicles of Narnia. They enjoyed it, and got to have popcorn and pop. After we got home, I let the children go play outside with one of their friends, and eventually the friends came over to our house to play. After the friends left, Joel asked me if I would play Lego with him. I said no, and he started whining at me. Dispassionately I realize I'm not the worst father in the world, but why is it that after a full day of great activities, Joel can make me feel like a terrible Dad for not playing Lego with him?

Karen made turkey soup today. She boiled down the turkey carcass from Christmas dinner (which had been frozen) and added vegetables and rice. Needed a little more pepper, but hey, when does soup ever have enough pepper? Anyway, I thought it was really good. I hope she makes soup every time we have a turkey!

A friend sent me a newpaper clipping about the upcoming election. According to a poll, 25% of Canadians think Stephen Harper has a secret agenda. However 35% think Paul Martin does. Interesting!

Friday, January 06, 2006

It was a good day until...

I was having a good day. I received several very encouraging emails. I had a good day at work and managed to resolve something that had concerned me for a while. I was doing some writing tonight (an activity I greatly enjoy). Then while munching some popcorn I broke one of my teeth. No real pain at this point, but I'm not really happy about it. Rats.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

For those who are curious...

... Bethany woke up with morning feeling fine. Great big smile, good appetite and all ready for school.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Still can't slow her down. Well...

Bethany made cinnamon buns last Saturday. That recipe book may have been the best Christmas present we ever got her.

On the other hand, she had a headache this afternoon. So she's laying on the couch crying "Help me Daddy" and Joel is crying "I don't want Bethany to die. She's so good to me" and Hannah is fussy. Karen is stressed and I really don't know what to do. So I wolfed down my supper (while listening to Bethany call for me) and took Bethany upstairs. She laid down in our room and I read to her. Finally I put on some quiet music. She had a couple bites of supper and drifted off to sleep. Finally I carried her to her own bed. What a night!

When you're good you're good!

Ok, now for a small blurb about my work. We've been producing our software product for a long time. For many years it was "the death march to Egghead" (to quote a famous book. Essentially it means it was a real struggle to get the product out the door. It was always late and there were always surprises at the end of the release with functionality not working, etc). We produced a world leading product, but it wasn't easy.

A couple years ago we made a concerted effort to improve quality and our development processes. We purchased a real Requirements Management System, which is now the center-piece of our process documentation. We took the steps necessary to achieve CMM Level 3. And now it is paying off.

For the last several releases we have hit our ship dates. We rarely have "gotcha" issues come up at the end of the release. We can predict how many defects we will find during the development cycle. We know when in the development cycle we will need to focus people on defect fixing, and we know how many people we'll need. We're doing real requirements traceability and our reports are adding value. In short, we're firing on all cylinders.

How well are we doing? Consider this. Our Project Manager phoned up the Project Manager from the hardware group and bet him a round of golf at the best course in town (i.e. $200) that the difference between our planned ship date and our actual ship date would be less than the difference for his product. The hardware guys have also made considerable improvement in quality, process and schedule, but our Project Manager is so confident that we are so good that he's willing to bet $200 of his own money. He literally put his money where his mouth is. I would say that shows confidence!

At What Age Can You Make an Important Decision?

At what age can you make an important decision. To make a real, life affecting decision, you must be 18 years of age. This applys to life and death decisions, but also to any sort of important decision. Until you are 18 years of age, you are not mature enough to vote. You cannot get married without parental permission. You can't enlist in the army. You can't serve on a jury. In fact, for the most part, you can't even be held responsible for crimes you commit. Let me repeat myself for the sake of emphasis: until you are 18 years of age, you are not qualified to make any real decision of importance for yourself. So one might wonder why a child under the age of 18 can make the decision to have an abortion without parental consent? The answer is clear; once you permit any restriction at all over abortions, you open up the possibility that in the future there will be additional restrictions. Because abortion is one of the two supreme rights in North America (running roughshod over all other rights), any sort of restriction on abortion "rights" is absolutely unacceptable and must be fought with any means available.