What the &#*$ happened to Canada

I'm visiting Ottawa with my family today. And we thought it would be a great idea to tour the Parliament Buildings. Turns out, however. that it was just the wrong day for me to do that.

As a way to "combat" the pride parade, a group of evangelicals booked the lawn for their big event, "The Cry". In effect, they held a revival meeting in front of the seat of Canadian government. And they were loud, and they pissed me right off.

We walked around to find the tour, ignoring them. And then we passed somebody who was taking photos from the back, so I decided to ask him exactly what was going on. And we had a moderately pleasant conversation, or, rather I tried to listen to him and, every time I pressed him on a point, he changed his story.

Because, it turns out, gay marriage is going to destroy us. He knows. He lived "the gay lifestyle" for two years, as a dancer in New York and some touring companies. So he knows, see, how being gay is really bad, and all about sex and drugs. Because he was there.

I called him on this, about how he was in a sex and drug culture that happened to be gay, and that the two concepts are orthogonal. I tried to listen, and to have a reasonable conversation with him.

And them we left, and two minutes later he walked up to the mic and began a 15 minute rant on how evil is is to be gay, and how the Pride parade was going on somewhere else in Ottawa, and this was a war. And he was declaring victory for Jesus.

Fucking prick.

He also had the gall to tell us that, as a Christian, he expects to see increased persecution. He says that, in five years, he doubts they'll be able to speak in public, and that the fact that their sound guy was late was proof that the government was against them. I pointed out that, as an atheist, there are many places in the US where I couldn't even serve in public office, and that evangelicals have been saying they expect to be in jail in 5-10 years for at least 30 years now. And he just couldn't believe that i couldn't see how persecuted he was.

He's speaking in public, telling every non-evangelical in a public place that our beliefs are wrong, with full support of the police, the capital services, and the constitution. He's saying that his religious opinion should be law, and they are praying that the government will impose "God's Will", which is to say their exact interpretation of a cryptic political text, on all of us. And they are the ones who are being persecuted? If he had is way, I'd not be allowed to express belief.

The only bright side was that there were only a couple of hundred people there. But when calls for Jesus to return and impose his will on the people of Canada are bouncing off of the nation's parliament, it just makes me sick. I'm livid. These people piss me off.

Basically, they took a fantastic day and I let them fuck it up for me. I just want to go back there and tell them how stupid they sound. And I know that they think I'm "confused by Satan", and that they think it's the best thing they could ever do to help me understand how their insane fiction of a saviour, and help me join their adoption of mystical doublespeak as a source of guidance.

Right now, this very minute, I wish there were some way I could help these people see just how stupid evangelical Christianity appears from the outside, and how fucked up their values are. And I want to stop thinking about these assholes and just enjoy a nice city with my family. I kind of expect this shit in the USA. But I thought I'd escape this stupidity in Canada. I guess I was wrong.

Too damn ironic for words.....

This is a straight cut from CNN/AP...

MOSCOW, Russia (AP) -- The Russian government under Vladimir Putin has amassed so much central authority that the power-grab may undermine Moscow's commitment to democracy, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday.

"In any country, if you don't have countervailing institutions, the power of any one president is problematic for democratic development," Rice told reporters after meeting with human-rights activists.

"I think there is too much concentration of power in the Kremlin. I have told the Russians that. Everybody has doubts about the full independence of the judiciary. There are clearly questions about the independence of the electronic media and there are, I think, questions about the strength of the Duma," said Rice, referring to the Russian parliament.

Continues at http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/europe/10/13/rice.russia.ap/index.html?iref=topnews

(no subject)

Meme from hiker_chick:
(1) Go to http://www.careercruising.com/.
(2) Put in Username: nycareers, Password: landmark.
(3) Take their "Career Matchmaker" questions.
(4) Post the top ten results.

Well, duh!

1.Computer Support Person
2.Computer Programmer
3.Computer Engineer
4.Multimedia Developer
5.Business Systems Analyst
6.Web Developer
7.Database Developer
8.Video Game Developer
10.Electrical Engineering Tech

But then, well, not so much:


Is there an atheist church ;-)

I did one of these in high school. My top 3 were:
1) Computer Programmer
2) University Professor
3) Farmer

As soon as I read 3, after answers like "do you like gardening? NO!", I knew the test was, well, lacking in perfection.

Struck Out

Last week, during a rush-hour trip near Northgate mall, I found myself in some seriously bad stop-and-go traffic. So I stopped, and then I went. And stopped. And went. And then the traffic picked up, and I went up to about 40. And then the car in front stopped. And, being the careful driver I am, leaving lots of room in front of me, I used my brakes to stop my car. And then the driver behind me decided to stop his car. Only instead of using his brakes, he decided to use my rear bumper to slow him down.

Short version is that my car needs a new bumper, but appears to be otherwise okay. I'm pretty stiff in the neck and back, and I've had a bit of a headache, but no danger to life or limb. His car, on the other hand, made good use of its front crumple zones.

The guy who hit me took complete responsibility, and was very nice about giving me his data and getting his insurance company to call me. So all that remains are a few aches and pains and a couple of days with a rental car when mine goes in to the shop. But that did not exactly put me in the best of moods last week.

Of horses and men

This weekend, Barbaro was put to sleep. This is a wonderful horse which broke a leg last year, and spent eight months trying to recover. Eventually, the recovery failed, and he was euthanized. You can read the story on ESPN.

THe thing that bothers me, however, is the absolute double standard that many people have when they view this story against a story as a human being. Change the name to "Barbara", make it about breast cancer rather than a broken leg, and I would bet that 80% of the American public would find the story ghastly....

The famous jockey know as "Barbara" was euthanized Monday after complications from breast cancer, found after last year's Preakness, ending an eight-month ordeal that made her even more of a hero than he was as a champion on the track.... A series of ailments -- including an abscess in the right rear leg, as well as new tumors in both lungs -- proved too much for the gallant rider. Barbara was given a heavy dose of a tranquilizer and an overdose of an anesthetic and put down at 10:30 a.m.

"I really didn't think it was appropriate to continue treatment because the probability of getting better was so poor," said Dr. Dean Richardson, chief of surgery at the New Bolton Center. Richardson, fighting back tears, added: "Barbara had many, many good days."

... On Sunday, a day after Barbara's fight for survival had reached a critical point, Richardson compared the various tumors to a "house of cards." One part falls, and the rest start to crumble.
In this case, it was the reduction in lung function that made her vulnerable.

... The disease affected her personality, too. The eyes that had been so bright and full of life were darker Monday morning. Barbara clearly was in distress.

"You could see she was upset," Richardson said. "That was the difference. It was more than we wanted to put her through."

Roy and Gretchen Jackson, her parents, were with Barbara on Monday morning and made the decision in consultation with Richardson.

"We just reached a point where it was going to be difficult for her to go on without pain," Roy Jackson said. "It was the right decision, it was the right thing to do. We said all along if there was a situation where it would become more difficult for her, then it would be time."

I personally can't see the difference between putting an animal out of its misery and allowing a dying human being to choose to end their own life. Well, actually, I can. In Barbaro's case, the horse had absolutely no choice in the matter. When a patient decides to end their own life, they are making a decision for themselves, and one I believe we should respect. Who are we to deny a dying person the right to die before they end up in agony? Especially when we apply the exact opposite logic to our pets and animals.

The only possible reason I could see for treating humans differently is somehow feeling that humans are "worth more" than animals. I definitely love humans more than I love animals, and I'd kill an animal to protect my family while I wouldn't kill a person to save a pet. But by the same token, I don't feel that humans have any more right to live than animals. An animal would probably kill us to save its family. And I see no difference here. I don't place human beings above the animals, at least in the abstract.

So this kind of double standard makes me wince, and makes me wonder if my view of the world is so different from that of others. I am an athiest, though I believe I am a spiritual person. I believe in the scientific method, but also know that it has its limits (thanks to Mr. Godel). And I can't see the world in a way where it's not only okay but humane to euthanize our pets, but not our sick relatives who may be ready to shuffle off of their mortal coil. I find myself wondering if my world view is an uncommon one, or if many people agree with me but we are conditioned by our society to think that this is wrong.
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Meet the New Job (Something like the old job...)

I'm back at work again, for the first time since my surgery in 2005. And so far it feels pretty good. I'm working full-time hours, but on a contract basis. The main difficultly for me is getting used to the number of hours, and trying to figure out the "work/life balance" when I'm not so used to the "work' part of the equation.

For those who are wondering, yes, I am back at my previous employer. But things are a bit different. First off, I think I'm in a much better position to deal with the day-to-day workload, given that my heart isn't struggling as much to feed me oxygen. Add a CPAP machine letting me sleep, and it's a hell of a lot easier than it used to be. The other change is that I've completely switched my development environment. Yes, ladies and germs, now I'm officially a Mac programmer.

So the time I spent learning OS X, writing a bunch of code, and playing around with a new system has paid off. With not only a new job, but also a somewhat different corporate culture. When, on my second day, our dev manager told us that we might have some overtime this year, but that it would be in small chunks because death marches just don't work, I was pleased. And I've been told to not work overtime at all. I think I can deal with that.

So right now I'm working on one of the most use Mac code-bases in the world, fixing bugs, and having fun. I'm also tired when I get home, but I'm working on ways to get more exercise and do more creative stuff in the spaces. And get more sleep. So far, 2007 is going pretty well. And having a regular paycheck isn't a bad thing either.

Gaia Consort Rocks the House

Last night I went to a most excellent house concert featuring Sooj Tucker and Gaia Consort. Once again, GC rocked the house (quite literally). And the great thing about a Gaia Consort show is the way the crowd really connect with the music and with each other. That may have something to do with this being a home-town show, and an intimate (well, 50+ people) house concert, but I think the music and the energy of the band allow that to happen.

Once again, after going to a live show, I am itching to make music and do art. This happens every time I see a great show, either music or theater. And it doesn't usually happen at the larger venues (except perhaps for a truly tight band like Rush or System of a Down), but at small concerts and fringe theater. I just get so stoked up that I want to create and perform.

Typically, I then run out of steam for these ideas soon after. I now know that my heart problems were a big reason for this, since a sustained output of energy would just leave me wrecked. At this point, however, I think I've recovered from surgery enough that this may not be as much of a problem. Now the thing to overcome is the 'muscle memory' of 'knowing' that my energy will ebb. I'm so used to this pattern that it's hard for me to believe that it might be over.

And given that I'm now working full time hours for the first time in years (more on that later), i think I need to give myself the ability to go slowly, one step at a time. But, as of today, I am really jones-ing to make some music. It was a force of will to avoid buying an acoustic guitar today. I've got an electric (though not one I'd want to play live, since string changing is a real pain and I'd want a different guitar without a floating bridge for that), and I can practice on that. Drums are harder to practice, since my only time to play right now is pretty much in the time slot I've reserved to spend with my daughter after work (or after she goes to bed). And while i think the drums are "my instrument", the guitar is much more useful for solo playing and song writing. So I guess I'll have to work on both of them ;-)
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Alternate strategies

I was planning on doing NaNoWriMo this month, but it's already the 13th and I haven't written a single word. So I was working hard on not being self critical on the first part, when this morning I suddenly figured out the book I should be writing. And, to be fair, it isn't a novel. It's a multi-part DIY guide. And since it's easily pulled into pieces, it struck me as the ideal candidate for a web site. I can post sections as they are written, and get feedback.

I've secured the domain name, and I'm just waiting on the DNS to resolve so I can get it hosted. Then I'll install Drupal and get writing. I'll let you know when there is some content up there.

Productivity apps

I'm currently trying out a few interesting productivity applications on OS X. I'm much enamored of Yojimbo, which is a data storage and retrieval application. I'm moving my task lists, information lists, and pretty much all the information that I've been collecting for the past few years into this. And since it syncs with .Mac, it also makes it easy to have the same data on both my laptop and my desktop, and use it offline as well. I think the "holy grail" of applications are going to be online apps with offline access and syncing, and this is a decent start.

The other is Journaler. I was actually writing my own application like Journaler when I discovered it. I may continue development on that, but for now I want to spend a bit more time actually writing in my journal rather than writing journaling software.

In fact, this is one of the big problems of being a software developer. It is often so much easier to think about the software you could write to accomplish tasks than it is to actually do the tasks you want to do. Especially when there are apps that are over 50% of the way towards what you need already, and the advanced features you want to write would still require you to write that 50% of program function before you could implement it.
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