Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Cloud - with privacy goes freedom


The “Cloud”, once a term of nature, is now a term that means the aggregation of the world’s data into a central database. As a means to share data, to make data available to people, the internet has been a wonderful addition to the world. The challenge that is arising, is that personal data, every aspect of our lives is being aggregated and tabulated in a manner that puts our private lives in the hands of a few, and most concerning, in the hands of government. Once you commit a piece of data to the cloud, an email, a telephone conversation, your calendar entries – it is in effect in the public sphere. We need to find a way, across platforms to isolate that which we want the world to see, from that which we want private.
The first incursion into my private space via the internet was in 1994, it was three in the morning. I went into my home office to do some work, I had left my computer on and I noticed the curser moving around my computer screen. I sat and watched as someone remotely accessed my personal data, they opened files, accessed my browser data – I used Netscape at the time. To this day I have no idea who it was, that is a violation of most obscene kind.

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Facebook Artifact - Privacy Still has Relevance  



The cloud facilitates this type of incursion into the private lives of people, the challenge has been the insidious advance of the capacity to be monitored – if in 1950 you said to my father the government was going to read every letter he wrote in route, he would have screamed blue murder – we all have in effect acquiesced to this very reality in 2015. There is no means in any of the instruments developed in the modern technological sphere to patrician inherently private information from the public.
If you have a digital device that plugs in, it can be hacked. People hack into washing machines and change cycles or effect “malfunctions”. The list is endless, and very few people have the capacity to protect themselves and government seems content to permit this to go on, government is more than complicit in this incursion, it is a willing co-conspirator. Government seeks wherever possible to collect data regarding our person – the Canadian Long Census Form for example – even asks what your sexual orientation is, or government tabulates your personal income and foreign entities hack Revenue Canada’s database.

Privacy is one of the keystones of democracy. The capacity to function as a free agent is dependent on anonymity, absent anonymity the capacity for centralized control grows. The cloud has much promise; somehow we have to find a means by which to have control of our private data - I had someone hack my blog and take down a NATO article I wrote AND delete it from my hard drive in the last 30 days, my cellphone was hacked and data lost last week. My personal experience from 1994 until now illustrates to me, and I hope you, just how vulnerable we are.        

Saturday, October 24, 2015

So the Liberals are back - Please keep us on track



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Liberal governments can be good, they can do something other than tax and spend – the thing that is scaring me a little right now, this one has promised to spend, so taxing is sure to follow. Mr. Martin, with the reform party as cheer leaders fixed the Canadian fiscal picture. Mr. Martin spoke to us “hicks” in the west and forged relations with us. Mr. Martin did the Kelowna accord. Mr. Martin debt financed Canadian Steamship Company to the tune of $30 million and built a company of renown. Justin is a different cut of cloth than Paul Martin, I wonder if he will have the courage to draw on Mr. Martin’s experience.

The other concern I have is whether or not we are going to be exposed to another round of the central Canadian academics, some true liberals and some silk stocking socialist, attempting to engineer Canadian Society again. The last time they had their way we got, MASSIVE DEBT, pork barrel and more pork barrel, frivolous grant programs – all adding up to a fiscal train wreck and the advancement of a wishy washy ill-defined cultural soup that generated a single worthwhile cultural artifact – canoeing is good.

Cultural Identity Series 

The last thing that Canada needs and most importantly, the last thing Canadian children need, is a National Institution that takes them from the care of their fathers and mothers – Factory Daycare scares me, the last bastion of cultural diversity, the family is under attack by this proposal. We want to encourage family, we want parents’ love to guide childrearing as opposed to the stark white interior of a government daycare – the latest vehicle for building national group think – “give me a child for four years and I’ll give you a Bolshevik forever” says Mr. Lennon. The last thing I want is 1970 style “central Canada cultural imperatives” lodged in the minds of my grandchildren. The family needs support; parents should be lobbying for support, for more time with children, as opposed to less. Quebec spends about $9000 / year on a daycare seat, give that to the family – two children, $18,000 / year will let a father that is marginally employed choose to stay home – or give an extended family member the ability to care for children or facilitate a group of parents to work together to do childcare in a way that is agreeable to them – give the money to parents, say no to Factory Daycare.
Childcare Series 

Will we see the end of the fear mongering that brought C 51 into being absent sufficient civilian oversight, I truly hope so. Mr. Trudeau promises to let facts talk, to be rational about risk and response – to let reason rule. I will support him eagerly in this endeavor, most eagerly if he reopens the gun registry debate again.

Let Reason Rule - Say NO to Fear Politics 

Perrier Trudeau, when faced with tyrants in the form of the FLQ jabbed at “weak kneed liberals” when they objected to the War Measures Act.. Mr. Trudeau Senior stood up to violence, he said NO, sent in the army and took control – that was leadership.  Already Justin is watering down our NATO commitments, failing to stay the course in Syria. Canada was a proud member of the United Nations and was instrumental in forwarding as an imperative the obligation to protect people subjected to oppressive government or circumstance – so now we’re going to leave children in harm’s way and direct resources toward housing the ones fortunate enough to get away – with many perishing in the attempt to escape – we must do better.
There is one entity ensuring world stability at the moment, NATO, absent NATO as a hegemon, the world is in a pre WW1 circumstance, unstable and volatile. To take actions that make NATO look like a paper tiger, only serves to embolden the likes of Isis. Discontinuing Canadian military participation in the action in Syria, is irresponsible in the extreme and should be reconsidered.

Weak Kneed Foreign Policy 

So we are going to run up some debt, for what is the question. Money is cheap right now, so investing in assets with long term value makes sense. We do need infrastructure, so investing in infrastructure that facilitates economy is good – no to frivolous cultural extravaganzas please – build transportation, build out fiber optic, restructure, fix Canada’s crumbling urban centers and build out education. For those of us that lived through the 1970s and saw people getting $25,000 grants for the word “shit” black on white, well we’re once stung, now we are twice shy – please god deliver us from a repeat of that CRAP.

Fiscal Policy 

Perrier Trudeau never bought a quart of milk in his life, he was detached from economic reality and Canada paid the price. It took that detachment however, to give us the Charter of Rights and Freedoms – a most worthy document, with some 300 years of blood spilled in the enlightenment as equity. Save the absence of property rights, it is pure poetry. I can take some more of that, a document that makes Liberalism equal Freedom, the challenge is that somehow, the 1970 “liberal” government forfeited “Freedom” for a nannystateism. The legacy of 1970 “liberal” government’s “culture” and policy are still at play, it resulted in a decrease in choice and a namby pambism that gags me. I wonder if political pragmatism will prevent this type of boldness from Mr. Trudeau Jr. and push him so far over to youthful enthusiasm that our economy ends up in a heap, with so many hopes and dreams with it.  
We need to access the full value of our resources, prudent use of the oilsands should be part and parcel of our way forward – we need pipelines to market. Will Mr. Trudeau have the fortitude to forge ahead or will our prosperity machine wither on the vine; the prosperity machine that will finance the transition to an eco-friendly economy. 

Oilsands & Pipe Lines

Granted, Mr. Harper managed to alienate the Maritime Provinces, this fact came through loud and clear this election. It rocked us all out west when Mr. Trudeau Jr. whispered National Energy Plan, the insensitivity Mr. Trudeau Sn. to the west and our way of living spurred the whole Western Concept movement, which morphed in to the Western Separatist movement. Then we’ve had Quebec threatening to go for decades now. The derision toward the west, exacerbated by pandering to Quebec and the rest of central Canada put our federation in peril – Mr. Martin built bridges as Prime Minister, so liberals can do it, the party has the bench strength for it, will this one put much effort into it. I’ve seen Mr. Trudeau Jr. cozy with “vote rich Ontario”, in spite of the fact Ms. Wynne has been running up debt funding operations, rather than investing – lets hope that Mr. Trudeau Jr. takes his fiscal lead from elsewhere. Mr. Trudeau’s recent invitation to the provinces for a powwow is encouraging; I hope he has the good sense to give Mr. Wall his ear.   

I think there is hope for Mr. Trudeau Jr.’s liberals; there are some good people there. Maybe I’m too much a westerner, but when I hear the echoes 1970s central Canada’s academia’s arrogance bouncing of the walls of the recently dusted off press gallery, I am screaming blue murder – they can store that in a dark and in accessible place from my perspective – let culture emerge from the strong Canadian people, from the land and the actions we take on it to live each day – leave the social engineers at home Mr. Trudeau, we’ve all seen their handy work before.   

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ON CANADA'S CULTURE

Friday, October 23, 2015

What to do with the most pristine marine ecosystem in the world ... enjoy it

Imagine a “slow” vacation, on the water in the midst of British Columbia’s most pristine wilderness, you can because you know, there is no better place to rest than on a small wilderness lake in British Columbia - it is a quiet, inherently gentle and healing place to be. The craft you’re on, an easy handling 20’ catamaran with all the comforts – shower, hammock – the smell of coffee brewing, sun coming up and a lazy sail lofting. This is the Tom Sawyer experience, drifting, swimming, fishing, sipping wine, little hiking. This is more than accommodation, more than a boat – it is a complete experience. 
Success in tourism is a process of attracting people to a compelling experience and garnering revenue as a result. There are a number of factors that come to play in developing an offering, the key however, is to have an offering that is widely appealing and is perceived by the targeted clientele as valuable – comparatively so. This concept offers all the ingredients for success in this regard, an offering that is accessible to most and tailorable to the most discerning, with the relative remuneration as a ready opportunity.

Having been involved in the wilderness tourism trade in British Colombia for many years it has become apparent to me that asset utilisation is always challenging in this space. Challenging mainly because assets are targeted to a single activity, in a single region and seasonality comes to play – think ski resort. Like ski resorts, the various offerings at play in the market now; traditional accommodations, recreational vehicles, wilderness lodges, house  rental companies, hut to hut etc., tend to attach an asset to a given location or experience – given that most of the wilderness tourism sector has a seasonal occupancy rate of under 45%, asset utilisation is poor. Because asset utilisation is challenging it is important to do one or all of the following, reduce the cost of the asset commensurate with income generation and or provision for various uses and or provision for multi region application of assets.
The wilderness tourism space is being accessed by a larger cohort of the population interested in the “nature vacation” which is characterised by being a more secularised, multi-channel market space. Given this reality, in designing a business model, one needs to provision for the access to the full scope of the market; in doing so access is gained to a broader market and you provide for migration from one market segment to the other.

Most opportunities related to enjoying the outdoors have a narrow window, a high alpine lake for example is only open for a few months and really only viable for enjoyment for a perhaps six weeks. So mobile accommodation that is absent the requirement of crown lease or fee simple land and that can be deployed at the optimal time and to the optimal location is the answer. British Columbia has as and asset, an abundance of many waterways that provide access to scenic landscapes and the related activities, this provisions an opportunity to offer on water accommodation, accommodation that contributes to the overall experience. The proponent has drawn on several years in the business, experience in shelter design, a general interest in design and a familiarity with heli-transport to develop a business concept having three designs that satisfy various marine recreation opportunities, yet appeal to the growing appreciation for the gentle use of natural systems. These crafts are accommodation, they are in of themselves recreational, they are transport, they are the base to wilderness interaction, they are deployable to the right place at the right time for the maximal exploitation to varied recreational opportunities AND they can be offered at widely varied value offerings to suit a family vacation or to the most discerning fly fishing experience.   



Sunday, October 18, 2015

Examining the Continuum - Asceticism to Hedonism

Enlightenment is a process that occurs through exposure to ideas and the extended contemplation of said ideas; until such time as one develops a clear sense of a life modality. To be enlightened it is necessary to expose one’s self to a multitude of philosophical perspectives, to be able to hold up in juxtaposition each one against the other and to choose which finds accord with your present phenotypical circumstance. All circumstances have a philosophical mate; the goal needs to be, to have a broad enough exposure to life philosophies so as to permit the application of the right one in the right circumstance.

The challenge I've faced in interface with societal entities-from bikers to Baptists, is the entrenchment one encounters in their modalities of interface. There is an irrationality in the acquisition of life modalities, people tend to just believe what they are conditioned to believe, you might say they take it as gospel, rather than really making a study of what is the foundation of being, one’s sense of appropriate conduct.
What is truly frightening to me is the degree of militancy one encounters from some quarters, there is a willingness to breach all things, from dignity to the fundamentals of our ostensible society – it seems an action to chisel out a place for themselves or to effect control over others. They are absent a commitment to allowing their means of existence to stand the rigours of disruption, where disruption is present there is renewal, where disruption is absent there is decadence and or stagnation. It is a wonder as to what exactly fuels this conduct, perhaps fear, perhaps greed, perhaps the desire for control, perhaps to allow one modality of life to “outcompete” the other, perhaps tribalism, perhaps spite, perhaps envy or perhaps an overwhelming need to stuff their view of the world down other’s throat. Dogmas are like stray cats, it seems at some point in everyone’s life you’re affected by one.

I’ve encountered in people the finest intent, love, support, tenderness, honour, integrity – what is of concern is that those people stand by while other’s inflict pain and bully. What permits this to occur in such close quarters as a town or our country, Canada? We need to find a means by which to effect some degree of friendliness, or in the absence of that, agree to respect the boundaries other’s set. Without the ability to function as an autonomous agent in society at large, people are then forced into camps – fissures form and grow, and from there the irrationality of tribalism takes hold. As Bill Clinton said “for reason to prevail all we have to do is accept other’s truths to be as valid as our own. “ Philosophies take many forms, from religions to stoicism to political concerns. The important thing to remember is that all philosophies are abstractions, to attempt to reify them or to apply them in a literal way most frequently meets with error at best and pain at worst.

The most societal resolution comes in examining the continuum that has at one end asceticism and hedonism at the other. All people choose their place on this continuum, it is rare they arrive there with the rational mind however. In the Anatomy of Power, John Kenneth Galbraith asserts “conditioning” to be the most powerful of the “powers”, conditioning is what happens to us as we are exposed to societal activities, starting with our parent’s influences with regard to morality and gender, and then, as we move through all the various civil and government structures to adulthood, conditioning subconsciously affects our choice as to where we lite on this continuum. People normally find their place on this continuum as a product of the uncomfortable confluence of their tacit and actuated desires and the explicit requirements as defined by their culture and peerage, in league with the moral complex that arrived in their psych with their mother’s milk or perhaps their father’s cane. The point here is that, inherent in this reality, the suppression of desire, moral obligations, peerage observation and conditioning, people find it necessary to engage in what they want covertly, so that they are ostensibly maintaining continuity with the explicit assertions of the culture at large. This creates a life that is absent integrity, integrity in interface with peers is the place where words and actions meet, integrity internally, is the actuation of self so that beliefs and actions are in accord. In circumstances of orthodoxy or the ridged enforcement of dogma greater distance develops between the tacit aspects of life and the explicit aspects of life, hypocrisy in no longer a failing, but a necessity.

Tolerance is absent a requirement to forfeit personnel principle or belief, it is only a commitment to accept first, and teach second – and to then accept some will make choices that conflict with your principles and beliefs – at that point tolerance dictates a goal of benign coexistence, rather that violent rebuke or attack. A priest and a strip club owner can pass each other on the street unaffected, which should be the worst outcome from moral discord. 

Stephen Covey, after a review of hundreds of years of success literature suggests we should first seek to understand and then to be understood. A prerequisite for understanding is to converse, with an open heart and mind, to prepare yourself to allow your beliefs to be challenged and in the process to find a better way. Understanding always begins with a question, edicts and ultimatums begin with an assertion. Force feeding your view absent discourse, costs you the opportunity to learn and narrows the prospects of the subject of your intervention.

The appropriateness of delivering any given philosophy in any given circumstance, is best assessed by outcome and or the accumulation of opportunity forgone. In the immortal words of Gerry McGuire “show me the money” or perhaps “where’s the beef”, do its subjects possess a sense of place, has the philosophy I’ve imposed delivered the uncontrollable desire for its subject to kick up their heals, has love found them, has another’s warmth been near them. Life can be a feast for the senses, that’s certainly my pursuit. Feasting senses is in no way mutually exclusive to doing good, being good or effecting a better solution. Here is my accountability question when I put my head on the pillow at night; if everyone did what I did today would the world be a better or worse place. Or as Winston Churchill says “it is important to have a grand strategy but every now and again you've got to check the results.”              

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Ajax - More than Possible Mr. Rothenburger - Thank You





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One can understand that being deprived of appies might actuate disgruntlement, I would be happy to buy Mr. Rothenburger a beer and appies for the opportunity to speak reason to the appy excluded. Mr. Rothenburger said “I’m keenly interested in what the City finds out in its consultation process and in what the application for the mine reveals, but none of it will make me feel differently.” – well one loves an open mind. Evidently Mr. Rothenburger has had opportunity to pole several other British Columbia communities, I must confess, I have not; what I am sure of is that I could care a less what other communities think – we can manage our own backyard - take that provincial and federal governments.

I love when the likes of Mr. Rothenburger out of hand just dismiss 400 primary jobs and related spin off – none of the Kamloops youth displaced by the “Kamloops can’t do spirit” are likely to share his view. They have no interest in being suddenly rich; they are interested in the opportunity to enjoy what Mr. Rothernburger has enjoyed here in Kamloops, employment.
“I know I don’t have a lot of company among local media on this. “ Mr. Rothenburger has plenty and they are as adhered to the politically correct as Mr. Rothenburger, here he is passing himself off as the “rebel”, when in fact it is the comfy and established that is trying to close the door behind them.  Mr. Rothenburger says, “But to the ass kissers and fence sitters out there in media land, I offer this challenge — snap out of it. Stand up for your community.” No one has ever accused me of “kissing asses”, I just want to make Kamloops is as prosperous as possible; I would ask the people to “snap out” of NIMBism, and scaredycatism.

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“To some people, maybe many, my viewpoint is narrow-minded and stupid. “Wait for the science.”” Why Sir, you already said nothing is going to change your mind, besides, science can say anything, it can facilitate or obstruct – it seems clear the kind of science Mr. Confirmation Bias is looking for – the point is we can figure out what to do. The key is to establish a long term operating agreement with the mine, so the City can assert our interests.

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I love to reminisce all the generations before me in Canada too, but one asks why it is relevant in this instance; I am most concerned about the generation that is here now, a generation that is under-served by the NIMBism, the generation that wastes away their lives with under employment.
There has been an open pit mine outside Kamloops since I arrived in Kamloops in 1984, the first 10 or 20 years I hardly knew it was here. Ajax will change things here, growth, young people employed here rather than somewhere else and the opportunity to build a premium residential development.
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Rather than screaming NO, perhaps we could attempt to take the opportunity to think about how to do it, do it in a way that is constructive and considers that health and wellbeing of the citizens of Kamloops. So rather than say NO, say faster – narrow the mineral extraction time, if they can do it in 25 years, they can do it in 15. Rather than say look at the big hole that's going to be there, say imagine a new lake, a sculpted community. Rather than setting your hair on fire over dust, realize that it can be managed. Rather than screaming that death and destruction will ensue, as some of our less scrupulous “professionals” have done, realize there are thousands of old miners who have worked right in mines and related mills their whole life. Rather than scream that they have refused to say no to smelter, realize that if we cultivate an extended term operating agreement with the mine we can manage these things. I could go on, you get the picture, we need a little can do spirit, rather than ad nauseam rhetoric from the naysayers. Leadership should quell the hysteria, potential negative impacts are manageable, it will be fine – we just need to take charge and manage the opportunity.


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Earlier Thinking

Response to Mr. Walsh’s OpEd in Kamloops This Week
http://nthomson2.blogspot.ca/2015/06/ajax-mine-kamloops-have-courage-prosper.html  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

President Obama’s Anti-Gun Tirade


When there is a dramatic event like a mass shooting, emotions run high – that’s permitted; in fact one can take comfort that Mr. Obama demonstrates such a high degree of compassion. Unfortunately, that is where my appreciation for his dialog on the issue of gun control ends.  As the head of state he has an obligation to express empathy for people affected AND reflect reality in his discourse, to be responsible in representing the facts. What we witnessed in is post Roseburg talk was a demonstration in politicking and a lack of understanding OR willful blindness, to what the second amendment is all about.

Mr. Obama mentions the routine response to mass shootings in the United States and yet makes no effort at going after the cultural underpinnings of the challenge. Switzerland has as many handguns per capita and people go there for safe holidays, so it is clear the there is a cultural driver here. It may be the celebrity culture colliding with gun access or some other phenomena. The press’s inclination to sensationalize these events, their willingness to deliver the 15 minutes of fame (infamy) to the “shooter” maybe effecting a contagion.  

Mr. Obama seemed to indicate an escalation in gun violence, there is, in fact a reduction – the trend has been downward since 1981.


Mr. Obama failed to contextualize the risk related to gun ownership, 11,078 or 3.6 gun homicides per 100,000 is a lower risk than taking 80mgs of aspirin daily, which kills 8 in 100,000. The very same year, over 100,000 Americans died of preventable medical accidents – This article in Forbs suggests an even higher number of deaths from preventable medical accidents http://www.forbes.com/sites/leahbinder/2013/09/23/stunning-news-on-preventable-deaths-in-hospitals/ some 440,000.  

Mr. Obama indicates that public opinion is supporting his call for gun control, Pew Research disagrees.



http://www.people-press.org/category/publications/

Mr. Obama it seems, is looking to England for direction on gun control, a 180 degree turn from the founders of the United States. Mr. Obama, of all people, has forgotten that the founders were eager to protect people from oppression. The primary consideration for including the second amendment in the constitution, is the ongoing assurance that people can mass, armed, to uphold their rights in the face of tyranny. Mr. Obama it seems, despite his heritage, has forgotten the lessons the founding fathers had learned so painfully from European history – by way of example, the English were able to quell Scottish independence for generations by disarming them. The founders of the United States knew, from experience, that tyranny happens when the populous has no means to enforce their will. The United States is one of the freest jurisdictions in the world, its very founding happened because people armed themselves to enforce their will. Mr. Obama extended consideration for firearm use in Hunting, Sport and self-protection – he failed to recognize the primary element for the 2nd amendment's inclusion in the constitution. It is a unique cultural and structural element of the United States government, that it retains the right of the citizenry to oppose government miss direction – and what a success it has been.

Mr. Obama sites Australia as the bastion of reason for gun control; they eventually got to central storage of long guns. Mr. Obama sites England as an example, during IRA crime activity, England had nearly as high firearm related crime. Who wants to live in a country that is so risk adverse that a 3.5 chance in 100,000 is too great – no one will be skiing any more, let alone driving a car.

Availability Heuristic Salient is a useful concept by which to understand some of the public's fear and how politicians exploit that fear. In these instances, like a mass shooting, the ease of imagining an example or the vividness and emotional impact of that example, becomes more credible than actual statistical probability. Because an example is easily brought to mind or mentally "available", the single example is considered as representative of the whole, rather than as just a single example in a range of data. Salient events tend to distort the judgement of risk.

I would urge the United States to resist the temptation to embrace nouveau social engineering, over the time tested constitution and the mass of wisdom that was brought to it by the founders of the United States; or, if you’re going to think about changing, let reason guide you.