2007-07-30

Article of Interest: Business: Entrepreneurs

Here's an interesting link to a global report about entrepreneurs - the pulse of many economies.

www.gemconsortium.org/about.aspx?page=pub_gem_global_reports

2007-07-29

This Cuckoo Flew Right Into a Window

This excerpt comes courtesy of Gay and Right. One of the all-time great lines I have ever heard is in bold. I wonder (not really) how the socialist Trudeau boys (I forget which one) would feel about this.

The passage italicized is from a book by Ronald Radosh called Commies.

In the 70s, Radosh and a group of lefties go to Cuba for one-month long visit, and they go visit a mental hospital:

As the tour progressed, we couldn't help but notice the obvious glazed and drugged-out expression on the faces of most of the patients. Clearly they had been given massive does of tranquilizers, but when we asked the doctor in charge about it, we heard an even more shocking answer. "We are proud," he told us, "that in our institution, we have a larger proportion of hospital inmates who have been lobotomized than any other mental hospital in the world." Lobotomy, he assured us, did wonders for their behavior and state of well-being. Indeed, he told us that a huge percentage of those incarcerated were in fact recipients of these lobotomies.

We were flabbergasted, particularly a young man named Larry, a radical therapist who taught at a New Jersey college. "This stinks!" Larry screamed to our group as we got back on our bus. "Lobotomy is a horror. We must do something to stop this. It's exactly what we're working against at home." Castro loyalist Suzanne Ross glared at Larry, shot us all a contemptuous look, and said harshly, "We have to understand that there are differences between capitalist lobotomies and socialist lobotomies."






Classic.

2007-07-28

The U.S. Trade Deficit: Legitimate Concern or Fundamentally Misunderstood?

The U.S. trade deficit is a leitmotif for newspapers in need of possible doomsday scenarios. Economics is an inexact art that is governed by the impulses and psychology of man. In this way, logic is absent in the way the deficit is described these days - that is it's black and white. It's more a political and partisan debate than anything else.

It's not suggested that it be ignored but there are ways to deal with it.

The Montreal Canadiens are more likey to win a Stanley Cup than the U.S. falling to its economic knees for trade imbalances. As for those who overtly (or covertly) hope that the American economy falters: beware of what you wish for.

The U.S. economy has other more important issues to contend with before the trade deficit.

www.mises.org/story/2029
www.cato.org/testimony/ct-dg061198.html

Take the Mises quiz here.

As for my results I unashamedly present mine:

Your score is: 93 / 100.

Each question is followed by an Austrian School answer (4 points), a Chicago School answer (2 points), a Keynesian-Neoclassical School answer (1 point), and a Socialist answer (no points)

2007-07-26

Article of Interest: With citizens like these


http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/editorial/story.html?id=ffc8aee5-0c5b-4751-a3c6-a67e649cd799

Let me ask this: at what point does a person or society cross the line from being nice to plain naive?

I remember this episode and I too found it appaling at how many of the people rescued complained. It was a remarkable act of humanity what Canada did and for this the country presented the world a model on how to behave with honor and civility.

The article reminds me of debates we used to have in class in junior high about whether we'd cheer for Canada or the country of our ethnic heritage. Just by asking the question we discover that multiculturalism is not defining Canada for Canadians. Canada will usually take second spot when push comes to show. In theory, we can be tied to two nations but in reality you can only be a part of one. Divided loyalties leads to mercernary citizens.

In the end, the intrisic value of the Canadian passport lies exactly in what is described here. That is, not very much however good the intentions of our land.

Cartoon courtesy of caglecartoons.com

2007-07-25

New Comic Strip

Beckham and Jeter. The immigrant and the Native. Together for the first time as they - with the help with Aquaman of course - will take on the terrorists.

Jeter (suddenly appears): "I am Jeter. Jeter, Derek. Derek Jeter. I play short stop for the New York Yankees."

Terrorist: "N-n- no! Have mercy on me infidel pig!"

Jeter: No can do, criminal. That would be an intentional walk and I just can't allow that. I'm all wicked clutch! WHACK!"

Beckham (enters from another galaxy - get it? Heh.): "Anyone seen my hair mousse?"

Jeter (leaning on bat over corpse): "Hey, where's AQ? I know he's useless on land but this is ridiculous."

blogcritics.org/archives/2007/07/24/145324.php

All rights reserved The Commentator

The Ruination of Grammar Means Future Profits for Writers?

"how r u 2 day (Insert emicon smiley face) lets lunch"

The duo force of text messaging and messenger is leading the charge in the demise of our writing civilization.

Punctuation? What's that? Fully spell out words? That's for suckers. I have no time for that. Abbreviation is the way to go.

Where there's a negative there has to be a positve right? Writers have always had to struggle to find sustainable work thanks in part to the perceived notion that writing is not really important.

However, if society does sink further in its ability to function and communicate properly, perhaps we may see a Golden Age for writers where they will become valued and necessary members of society.

Modern Renaissance Humanists shall rule the world once more!

Ka-ching!

2007-07-22

Articles of Interest: It all comes down to...Iraq: Some thoughts across the political spectrum

It can be (as it has been) argued that it makes little sense to ask for a prescribed withdrawal without a plan to secure Iraq - no matter how low the prospect for success may be. No doubt that at some point the U.S. may have to take drastic measures such as pulling out if the Iraqi government continues to struggle along with fragmentation and little power. An international body should be considered if anything on a humanitarian basis to save Iraq. Alas, to do so means that compromise and cooperation need to prevail in a region not exactly known for this.

Many of the proposals I have read miss the mark and lack a certain point of sophistication if not an outright inability to grasp how the Middle-East - both culturally and politically - functions. I fear too much of the arguing stems strictly from a domestic and American point of view and with little international perspective on how to deal with Iraq. I am not at all impressed with the Democrats. I hope their logic and ideas are not soley based on short term considerations - first among them to simply defeat Bush.

If so, this kind of politics serves no one.

Question: If the removal of the troops leads to a humanitarian disaster will those who demanded it face the error of their own ways? Or will they simply dismiss it by saying "we should not have been there in the first place"? How would this (leaving) invalidate invading in the first place? In other words, perhaps invading was and is seen as a mistake for the cost - both financially and with lives - it has incurred but it does not sound as though leaving is any better as an alternative option at this point.

www.reason.com/news/show/121398.html

www.thenation.com/doc/20070730/editors

article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZmI1M2EwZmU3OGQ2ZTFkZGVlYmE5ZWJiZGY0NmQzMzY=

The Brookings Institute publishes its Iraq Index on its site. Follow the link to it here:

www.brookings.edu/views/op-ed/ohanlon/20070713.htm

Articles of Interest: Read with an Espresso and Biscotti

We've heard many comparisons between Washington and Rome. Here's another courtesy of The Atlantic:

www.theatlantic.com/doc/200706u/are-we-rome

Fraction within the Republicans. Foreign Policy interviews former advisor to George W. Bush Matthew Dowd:

www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3908

World's dumbest criminals? Ideas are sometimes over rated:

www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3906

Failed States Index:

www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3865

Study of American Intelligence (no IQ tests here) in Foreign Affairs:

www.foreignaffairs.org/20070701faessay86404/mike-mcconnell/overhauling-intelligence.html

Yeah but are they smarter than a fifth grader?

www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/28490/

Ah-ha! I knew it! The French are not that smart.

www.iht.com/articles/2007/07/22/europe/22france.php

I hope it has nothing to do with the above article.

But the French, as a matter of record, do tend to over think. It's not a bad thing at all but only if it leads to quarrels for its own sake- which they are famed for. A nation must never stop thinking but in France it's "paralysis by analysis" it seems.

2007-07-19

Canada a Model Host for FIFA: Article of Interest for fans of the Azzurri

If anything positive is to come of a people "sans memoire de l'histoire" it's in what we've witnessed at the FIFA U-20 tournament held in Canada.

Odd for me to defend being ignorant (or at the very least disinterested) of history but in this case it may be a reason worth presenting.

Canada is not a place that carries a heavy historical baggage and for the most part it has not had to bear the responsibility of a Great Power since its inception.

In most places on the planet, opposing fans of club teams lie at opposite ends of a stadium lest they come into contact with one another. The same goes for international matches. Soccer holds a strange power over people. It's as if thousands of years of cultural glory and humiliation culminate into one 90 minute powder keg.

Soccer is nuts on so many levels.

But not in Canada or the United States. If one observed the attendance in Burnaby, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal, they would have noticed that fans of all nationalities sat side by side in a spirit of civility and peace. Myself I was a witness to this when I attended the Chile Nigeria quarter final match. Right in front of me a Nigerian supporter spoke to a Chilean about - what else? Soccer.

The game ended. The Nigerians were disappointed and everyone went home.

As for the charge that racism played a role in the loss for Nigeria all I will say is that while it's impossible for me to know what motivated the Nigerians to claim this, but on the field they failed to execute and were guilty of tough fouls as well as poor decision making. Chile deserved the victory. That excuse rings hollow. In fact, that particular referee was one of the better ones I've seen in a long time. He let the two sides play a physical brand of soccer and for the most part made the right calls.

All this to say that there was no violence that erupted. For FIFA, it can only wish that more countries in this world were like Canada.

Note: I must confess disappointment in the attendance in Edmonton. While Western Canada is the training hub for Canadian players the passion for the game is absent. British Columbia fared much better but the stadium in Burnaby is tiny. Naturally, Toronto and Montreal boast the largest ethnic communities and both did well as did Ottawa.

-If you know the history of Renaissance Italy and Ancient Rome , then understanding the essentials of Italian soccer will make some sense - it's that convoluted and complex in a typical Italian way - if not keep walking. Makes you wonder how this country accomplished anything for 2000 years. This is an interesting piece and lends some thoughts as to why Italy does not dominate like it should. They are stunningly successful but Italian soccer sometimes leaves you salivating with too many ïfs." It almost mirrors Italian history itself since its unification in 1861. They have all the tools to be a dominant force but short term (corrupt) considerations tend to prevent Italy from reaching greater heights.

soccernet.espn.go.com/columns/story?id=445560&root=europe&cc=5901

Comment on Chile and Argentina FIFA U-20 Semi-Final


As I write this post, I am in front of the telly-vision with my laptop (the only thing it can't do is dance) watching Argentina square off against Chile in the semi finals of the FIFA U-20 tournament.

Not that too many people care.


Still, to those who do, what was to be a classic match up between two highly skilled teams degraded into a farce thanks to the officiating. Ever hear stories about how cosmetic surgeons butcher clients? Well, this is what the German referee has done this evening. It was frustrating and embarrassing to watch.

We've seen this all too often in the past with soccer: incompetence. The official conducted his on field business as though he had a quota to meet. Is FIFA paying my yellow card commission now?

We often hear in sports "let the players decide"and that the best officials are the ones least heard or seen. Well, the referee did not let the players decide the game instead choosing to book fouls that were harmless. In fact, he fell for every Argentinean embellishment. Granted, Chile did not keep their cool in spots but these are teenagers we are talking about here.

If there is one thing the referee can be excused for is to be found in a cultural reality. Notably, it's notoriously difficult to officiate matches that involve South American teams. Some call it passion others call it a lack of discipline. Whatever it is, they come with sometimes unsurpassed technical genius and skill but impetuousness (that can turn violent) accompanies it. The scenes we saw tonight where coaching staffs and players storm the field are rarely seen in Europe.

For those who hope one day bad behaviour is curbed, the fact that Zidane did not face outright scorn suggests that we may have to wait.

Instant replay needs to be considered. Or at the very least linesmen need to have more power. Refs should consider their interpretations more.

With two players sent off, Chile was not able to overcome Argentina and fell 3-0. Argentina is a brilliant soccer team. The world's best. Chances are they probably would have won regardless of the referee. Chile, for their part, dazzled the world soccer community. Coming into this game they had not conceded a goal. It was to be a great game between two continental rivals for all fans.

Rather, the referee chose to, unwittingly of course, influence the outcome of this game.

And that's a bloody shame.

2007-07-15

Technology Corner

It's a good thing onlinemediacultist exists or this blog would be without important technology content.

onlinemediacultist.com/2007/07/13/this-whole-internet-thing-is-still-just-beginning/#comments

The Internet: The Ninth Wonder of the World.

Imagine at what stage blogging is in.

2007-07-11

Perspective and Context is King

In a recent conversation with my doctor (pediatrician to be exact) friend he made the following remark, "...the problem with lay people trying to look at things in the absence of experience and common sense, and without perspective. It's one of the big downsides of the Internet."

Aside that he is normally a mild-mannered and cultured gent, this somewhat blunt response was accurate.

Might I add this applies to politics and history.

In this light and as a side question, did the internet kill (or at least contribute to the manslaughter of) America's image?

Crash and Burn? This Baby Never Took Off

A recent topic of discussion on CBC's Cross Country Checkup - for you Americans out there interested in Canadian affairs between 4-6pm on Sunday's this is a great program - covered soccer. As hosts of the FIFA U-20 tournament, the question was whether Canada will ever be a soccer power in the sport.

Dream on. It was a silly question to ponder for reasons I'd rather not get into lest the piece becomes a long-winded soliloquy.

The media, who barely pay attention to soccer, has taken a sudden interest in the misfortune of the Canadian team. Those unfortunate youngsters bowed out with the whimper of a dying loonie losing all three of its matches. Not to mention they could not score a goal. The usual (and not entirely unjustified) calls for vision, restructuring, better development and coaching and so on followed.

Speaking of media, the CBC decided to show games on an affiliate channel most people have to pay to view. Great way to sell the game, eh? Most - if not all - of the games should have been on the CBC main feed. End of story.

Anyhow, the reasons for Canada's continued poor performances at the international level are many and not the point of this post. Remember, I'm trying to avoid rambling rants here.

Suffice to say the the Canadian Soccer Association deserves every criticism hurled its way. I don't blame the players. I blame the CSA. The players do what they can with what they have. We tend to do this in Canada. That is, send our athletes into the lion's den against better oppostion. It was no different with the under- 20 men's soccer side.

The recent debacle surrounding prospect Daniel Fernandes showed things don't look as though they will around any time soon at the CSA. As current CSA president Colin Linford put it. “We’re not obviously recognizing a lot of these players.”

You think?

It's never a good thing when other countries spot your talent before you do. Worse, it makes us look second-rate when we try to get them back. If Canada is not busy failing to spot talent, they make that up by not being able to retain its world class athletes. Think Alex Baumann, Greg Rusedski and Lennox Lewis - to name a few.

As for Fernandes, it's Owen Hargreaves redux.

So Canadian.

For years, we in the soccer community wondered why we never saw any CSA officials snooping around trying to sniff out some soccer super kid. There was such a gap (though it has closed somewhat) between the grass root talent available and the roster selection of the Canadian side. I remember years ago one guy saying that he could put together a soccer team that would give Team Canada a run for its money. Maybe even defeat them. I must admit, that wasn't an exaggeration.

Canada is a place of misspent soccer opportunities.

In 1986, I was 14 years old when Canada qualified for the World Cup for the first and only time.The feeling of promise we had in the soccer community surrounding the success of that team was met with unbridled Canadian pride. We thought it was going to be the momentum finally needed to propel the sport forward. To make it all the more memorable was that I was given the MVP by Team Canada Bruce Wilson following a game at a tournament. It seemed like we were all on our way to soccer glory.

Our boys nearly became sports gods. I'm sure many of you will remember Ian Bridges feverishly hitting the cross bar in the opening moments of their first game against tournament favorites France. France managed to eke out a 1-0 and Canada went on to lose the next two mathes against the Soviet Union and Hungary. Oh, and they too failed to score a goal.

Just as quickly Canada qualified for the 1986 World Cup they fell into soccer obscurity soon after. Our ranking and stature has been in steady and perpetual decline ever since.

By 1987, we were becoming frozen soccer tundra while the United States - a country Canada used to perform very well against - began its ascent. Canada hasn't even begun to reverse that trend.

Time for the CSA to regroup, refocus, commit and deliver.

2007-07-06

Terrorism in the Modern Age

I am certain that when opinions are free, either in matters of government or religion, truth will finally and powerfully prevail.”

Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, 1794.

Interesting article at Online Media Cultist.

Yes, I copy pasted.

"I spend a lot of my writing time cheering on the Internet, defending and promoting bloggers and the blogosphere, and generally expressing awe about the incredible online age we’re living in.

But there’s another side to it of course – better and easier and cheaper and more accessible communication and collaboration tools means that agendas of all kinds – good, bad, and evil – can be better and more efficiently executed.

News out of London over the weekend tells us that men linked to al Qaeda are using the web to promote the killing of non-Muslims. Pretty scary stuff in light of the very real world series of planned bombings throughout the United Kingdom that was uncovered in recent days.

It’s one of the biggest questions of our age, what can be done to combat extremist propaganda and prevent it from winning over those vulnerable to its sway. There’s no easy answer, of course, least of all coming from one person, and particularly when that one person is me!

I suspect that it can only be a fire-versus-fire kind of thing, but (mainly) of the non-militaristic kind. Better education, more communication, more outreach, more diplomacy, more multilateralism backed by competence and strength and wisdom."

Let common sense prevail indeed. It's useless to fight madness without inner strength and wisdom.

Of course, this has had an impact on any one who writes about this subject. Even in the most subtle ways we are affected and we may not be aware of it. For example, how many of us have not had second thoughts about posting certain pieces about terrorism? I know I have.

And that's disturbing. It's the first step in subjectively denying our rights. Worst of all, it's self-imposed. There is something to be said of the the "terrorists win" angle. They can "win" on so many levels. Liberty is a scarce and precious commodity. Mine it well.

Don't let it begin with our minds. Or else freedom will truly be on the run.


There is a Light!

ca.news.yahoo.com/s/afp/070705/entertainment/entertainment_music_climate_warming_arcticmonkeys

Some refreshing thoughts courtesy of the Arctic Monkeys.

These are brave lads I must admit. What will happen to them now? I mean, they challenged the chosen one.

2007-07-05

Did you know that....

Canada is officially a bilingual country but only one province officially honours this grand idea - take a bow New Brunswick.

I'm filled with fun stuff like this.

How about another?

We have a "Free Trade Agreement" with the United States combined with "NAFTA" to include Mexico as well as recently signing a treaty with Chile. Yet....

We still have inter-provincial barriers. We still have trade "wars" with each other.

While we're at it a word on the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Did you know Canada is participating? If you didn't you can be excused. Here in Canada we make multiculturalism a matter of policy. What this does is allow people to pay allegiance to every other culture except Canada. Or at the very least make Canada a second choice or an after thought.

Case in point are soccer fans. If given the choice of cheering between Canada or the heritage of a person would Canada prevail? Sadly, my suspicion is that it wouldn't.

Poor Canada so far from God, too far from the Sun, too close to the United States, a single mother to Quebec, a whore to all incoming nationalities and alone to defend its interests.

At least they exceeded ticket sale expectations. Attendance is expected to pass one million. Thus further lending proof that soccer is enormously popular here. We just haven't come up with the right recipe and proper commitment. Hopefully, the MLS sets the continent as a whole on the right path. But this is another story altogether.

2007-07-02

Quebec and Canada don't do enough to Encourage Entrepreneurs: Part Deux

Philosophically, we don't handle the special mind of an entrepreneur all that well in this country.

Just by casual observation one can easily detect that our society does not value entrepreneurs as much as it should. How could it with its entire economic construct stagnantly dependent on public sector workers and unionized labour?

The lifeline of a successful, innovative and healthy economy is one where entrepreneurs thrive. In order for this to happen, people need to have access to capital to usher in their ideas.

In our current environment, the institutions and organizations that hold the purse strings – notably banks and the government – do not go far enough in helping to foster a dynamic entrepreneurial class. They bog us down with endless red tape demanding we meet all sorts of counter-productive conditions that often make little sense - especially considering the paltry amounts that are offered.

The system is set up best for those who need the capital the least. The prospect of an enterprising individual receiving any form of lending (loan or grant) for an idea is remote – if not impossible.

As mentioned, the conditions hurled at a budding entrepreneur make little sense. For example, organizations will ask for a business plan with financial figures. If the company is still in its infant stages, how can it have reliable financial numbers?

When we asked about this when we put our business model together we were told to estimate. However, how we estimated those figures had to be proven. Get it? Neither do we.

Another odd practice is the notion that for every dollar given, the person receiving the money must match it. In other words, an entrepreneur has to come up with collateral - depending on the organization - equivalent to the dollar amount. So, why do I need the money exactly?

At the end of the day, money is available to businesses that are already operating. Funds are essentially used for expansion or other purposes. No money is available for an idea that should be launched.

So where does this leave the lemonade stand pioneers? It leaves them knocking up for cash from family members and anyone else willing to listen, that’s where. Or, to follow a more old fashioned way, save your money.

Another obstacle is the widening generational gap between those who hold the funds and those who seek it. The baby boomers have total control over the destiny of younger generations and this makes us feel antsy.

We recently witnessed this generational business gulf when we tried to receive a grant for an Internet business through a governmental agency.

When all was said and done, we weighed our options (risk versus reward, so to speak) and felt they were asking far too much for too little money - in our case, $9 400. As business people who have a company already in operation we had little time or patience to waste wallowing in governmental red tape.

Governments can wait to disperse funds, while start up companies trying to survive don’t have luxury of time. Needless to say, these experiences only serve to discourage. It may even foster us against them mentality. It is unfortunate because it doesn’t have to be this way.

Ultimately, our decision was to try and survive on our own until a more reasonable opportunity came along. It’s not what we wanted but what other choices did we have?

In my opinion, Quebec is an individualist society that is naturally positioned to create and enhance a vibrant entrepreneurial class. We need to bring it forward and nurture it. We’ve conditioned people to become too dependent on the government and the public sector to solve all our problems as well as drive our economy.

Time to shift part of the responsibility onto the shoulders of the private sector.

When people ask me the difference between the United States and Canada I tend to answer, “In America they try to solve a problem by saying ‘I, should.’ In Canada, the response usually leans towards, ‘The government should.’”

This is a sure one-way ticket to mediocrity. Why not take a chance on entrepreneurs and give the lemonade stand a break.

It’ll be refreshing.

2007-07-01

From Knights to Mounties in the Age of Terrorism

I know I'm late on this one but I've been meaning to get to it. Even after a couple of weeks the core of its message remains relevant.

Readers may recall the announcement of author Salmon Rushdie's knighting in England. And like a reliable Ford pick up, the outrage among Muslims was predictable. By outrage, I don't mean the violent absurdity we usually see.

Read more about Rushdie here: www.reason.com/news/show/33120.html

Nope. I point to a more local variety. The Montreal Gazette's Letters to the Editor to be exact.

One person's opinion left many readers stunned - myself included. To get to the point, the writer essentially equated the knighting of Rushdie as an insult to Muslims everywhere and that he could understand (read: condone) why people turn to suicide bombing in the face of Western arrogance.

If this note came from some cave in the Mid-East or by a foreign diplomat toeing the dictatorship line it's one thing. For it to come from a local, fellow citizen is quite another ball game. I am assuming that he was a Canadian.

In any event, think of it. Here's a person who lives in Canada and managed to draw the line between knighthood as a symbolic gesture to terrorism.

All is game among Muslims at the slightest perceived injustice? This was not a misquote or a journalist misrepresenting facts. This came from the direct pen of an individual expressing and revealing his thoughts. How many more are like him? Why can't he more like this guy?

Surely this is madness. How can one even find the courage to write such things?

In England, the terror in the idea of terrorism is the reality that many who perpetuate evil acts of barbarity are increasingly British citizens. In Canada, I suspect (and I hope I am wrong), more of this type of lunacy will be on the rise as Muslim immigration increases.

For now, Canada is not thought to be in imminent danger - despite being mentioned and targeted often by Al-Queda.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't be attentive. Quantifying the terrorist threat takes sober and realistic reflection. This sort of pragmatic debate has not happened enough here. In the worse scenario, Canada does not seem ready to respond to an attack either physically or psychologically.

I worry about the latter more. This country has grown somewhat disconnected from the reality of international politics by comforting itself - like many countries - with the notion that most of the world's problems are created by Americans. Of course, nothing can be further from the truth. How can this be in places where sectoral and religious violence and degradation has been taking place long before the arrival of the Americans? They are merely the most recent convenient scapegoats.

There's something happening that operates independent and outside the long arm of Uncle Sam and its limited impact in the region.

If Canada were to be attacked tomorrow, I'm not so sure what would happen. I know that the United States army would be on standby. So much for independence.

What would be the reaction of Canadians?

Oh, Happy Canada Day.