Monthly Archives: June 2014

Go Kurds, GO!

If there is any glimmer of light in the Iraq debacle it is that the Kurt are well on their way to sovereignty. The crazed Arabs and equally insane Persians will fight it all out. The Kurt will hold their borders, straighten their lines, and be recognised as a state. One which will prosper and ignore the idiotic of the sale fists and the Khomanists.


Bye Car

Well, actually, I have not owned a car for 15 years and miss having one about once a month. But here is an interesting thought about Uber the car app: “New York Times article this morning, technology columnist Farhad Manjoo suggests that Uber could one-day lead to the end of personal cars. Especially in densely populated areas served by Uber and competitors such as Lyft, relying on such on-demand, cost-competitive transport networks can be cheaper than buying, insuring, maintaining and parking a car.” yahoo

The argument is purely cost based – why have the cost of a car which you use, at most, 5% of the time? Why indeed? Walking, bikes, the bus and taxis work well for our family most of the time.

Uber is, however, a stop gap until the driverless car as a utility arrives. I’d say it will take about a decade before ubiquitous little autonomous cars will arrive at your door and drop you where you want to go. They will, of course, also pick up your groceries without you actually having to go to the store.

All of which is a function of the falling costs of computing, transactions and communications. It is also a function of a change in the way in which people define who they are. For a long time you were what you drove – now, increasingly it simply does not matter. I mean, seriously, at 100 feet can you really tell the difference between the 20k utility box and the 50k? It is not until you get up over 100k that there is any style to cars at all.

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The Reality Deficit

Newly elected Premier Wynne is about to run into the fact the bond raters don’t think much of the most progressive budget in Ontario history.

It turns out that the Sunni Triangle never went away and the jihad is are taking full advantage.

The IRS has “lost” two critical year of email communications with external agencies on its targeting of Tea Party groups.

Surface temperatures are the wrong way to measure the effects of global warming/climate change (possibly because they don’t show any for the last 17 years).

The promise of amnesty, or even its discussion, leads to waves of illegal migrants.

Humans, especially well meaning, sincere, progressive humans, like to be optimistic believing that an appeal to our better angels will somehow change facts so as to fit the preferred narrative. They hope that human nature, and indeed mother nature, will see the justice of their cause and adjust itself accordingly.

Suggesting otherwise makes one a racist or a denier or an islamophobe or some sort of xenophobe. The bond raters and climate scientists and policy analysts rude enough to pay attention to reality are excluded, attacked and marginalised.

Which creates what I would describe as a reality deficit. It is very difficult to get big questions exactly right. Every answer to a big question will be a little bit wrong in its details. It will be an approximation subject to revision as more information and data is brought to bear on the question. Sensible people understand this.

However, when new information or data is ignored, suppressed or filtered through an ideological lens understanding is undermined. The narrative begins to depart from its underlying reality.

As the reality deficit grows the ability of policy makers to reach good decisions is diminished. In the long run this is a self correcting problem. But the cost and pain of adjustment back to reality is huge and grows with every decision made on faulty data or flawed premise.

Whether it is government spending, climate policy, the legal morass of the IRS or a pragmatic response to the jihad is the bigger the reality deficit the nastier the adjustment shock.

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As I write this I suspect some other poor Shi’ite bastard is having his head hacked off by the charming men of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams continue their march on Baghdad. Where, apparently they will run into the equally charming hard men of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Two groups who deserve each other.

One hopes the jihadi/Guard fight lasts a long time with many, many casualties on both sides. But, when they have exhausted each other lets also hope that Obama is bright enough to send serious air strikes at the jihadi rear. And not just fighters. Send the B-2s with cluster munitions and by all means the AC-130s.

There is a kill zone which stretches from Syria to Iraq. The Kurds will hold the Western flank and the Shi’ites should be able to bottle up the jihadis to the South. American, Jordanian and Saudi forces should be able to hold the borders of those countries.

If Obama had the will he could kill or assist in the killing of the flower of the jihadi movement. In every crisis there is opportunity and the opportunity here is scorched earth in an area pretty much built for bombing, strafing and cluster munitions.

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The Ontario Problem

My friend Blazing Catfur was pessimistic about yesterday’s Ontario elections. Too many government workers and low information immigrant voters combined with HUDAK’s lack of appeal added up to a Liberal victory. I haven’t lived in Ontario for 30 years but that made sense to me. I hoped for a better outcome but it was not to be.

I don’t think the outcome is good for Ontario but that is their business. For the rest of Canada the election of a full blooded tax and spend Liberal is potentially a Godsend.

The creaking engine of Canadian Confederation, transfer payments, is sixty years old. For a long time they were justified as necessary to keep Quebec in Canada. A priority for Ontario if not the West. We largely ignored the issue because Ontario was the largest contributor to the scheme.

Now Ontario is a have not province in its own right and likely to become all the more so under the Liberals. As Whynn pays off her public service union buddies and expands the Ontario government she is no longer doing it from a position of economic strength.

Ontario’s fiscal recklessness is being paid for by the rest of Canada. That will not last long unless there are some signs Ontario is willing to put its house in order.

The election of profligate Liberals is Ontario’s priviledge; but there is no reason why the rest of Canada should continue to pay Ontario’s bar tab.

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To My Friends in Ontario

Tomorrow you are going to the polls. The choices are, to be kind, unappealing. But the analysis could not be clearer.

Two parties, the Liberals and the NDP, propose to continue as Ontario has been going. One, the Conservatives, to a limited extent, has realized “business as usual” will not work.

Years of Liberal mis-government have turned Ontario into a have not province with an unsustainable public debt. While the world economic events which have hollowed out Ontario manufacturing were largely beyond the Liberals’ control, the idiocies of wind power, gas plant cancellations and public sector growth and expense are the Liberals’ fault. They could, and should, have said no. They didn’t and now Ontario is in the soup.

The NDP, having supported Liberal minority government, shares some of the blame and certainly has been a negative policy influence as it agitated for more government spending and more public “servants”. However, ultimately the NDP’s culpability is dwarfed by the Liberals’. Supporting a minority government does not give you the ability to actually make policy.

The Conservative Party has, at least, noticed that there is a problem. Ontario cannot afford the government it has. Worse, the tax costs of trying to support that government are directly hurting the Ontario economy.

“Never change a winning game, always change a losing one.” is sports advice Ontario voters need to take to heart.

Economists point out that Ontario’s per capita debt is larger than California’s. That debt is being created to pay for unsustainable government services. Services which are not contributing to the productivity of the Ontario economy. To pay for those services and the debt, Ontario taxes will have to rise. And, so long as the government is kept at its current levels, there will be no end to those tax rises. At some point the economically productive will begin to leave the province. Viable businesses will relocate.

There is no particular reason why Canada’s banks, investment firms, insurance companies, innovators and ever leaner manufacturers need to be in Ontario. The Bank of Montreal moved its head office to Toronto years ago, and the Bank of Nova Scotia long before that. There is no reason why they cannot move again as it becomes more and more difficult to attract world class talent to a high tax environment.

The situation is made all the more dire because of the impending collapse of the one industry which has been booming (at least in Toronto) over the last decade: real estate. You don’t have to be Garth Turner to understand that a significant correction is in the offing for the real estate market. A correction which will have a direct impact on the construction industry as well as the banks, lawyers, designers, home appliance salesmen and real estate agents. And, as real estate slows down, the government’s revenues from transfer taxes will take a hit.

The reason real estate will slow is also bad news for a heavily indebted province: interest rates will almost certainly rise and with them the cost of servicing Ontario’s debt.

You don’t have to especially like the Conservatives or their leader to realize that they are the only party which shows even a hint of acknowledging that Ontario’s business cannot continue as usual. While I don’t think the Conservatives are nearly realistic enough, they show signs of comprehension.

For most of Canada’s history Ontario has been effortlessly and annoyingly dominant. Having a big population, most of the economy and a lot of the money meant that Ontario was the key province in Confederation. Its economic weight was, to a degree, offset with Quebec’s political heft.

The world has shifted. Quebec has elected a government of apparent economic realists. The West has pulled even economically on a per capita basis and, unlike Ontario, the West has growing economies and fiscally prudent leadership.

Tomorrow, when my friends in Ontario vote, they are making a choice between a gradual and unstoppable descent into bankruptcy on the order of some of the rust belt US states or an attempt to stop and reverse the rot.

Robert Heinlein once pointed out that you may not have any political party you want to vote for, but you almost certainly have a party you must vote against. In Ontario voting against the Liberals is critical and the only way to do that is voting for the Conservatives.

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We will Never Forget


‘Terrified?’ he laughed afterwards. ‘I’ve never been terrified in my life. I’m just a vicious little Scotsman!’
Our eyes did not deceive us. A D-Day veteran really had chosen to return to Normandy in the same way that he arrived the first time round, 70 years ago this morning. daily mail

I’d be far too old to have gone across now. But my eldest son would have been prime D-Day fodder.

We lost a lot of good men 70 years ago.

Good for our leaders, all of them, lead by our Queen, for going to commemorate the beginning of the end of the Nazi evil


Prostitution: Canada = Sweden

Canadian prostitution law
Made in Canada prostitution law?

As if.

New legislation would criminalize the purchase of sexual services, crack down on those who benefit from prostitution and outlaw the sale of sex near schools and other places where children gather.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay says the “made-in-Canada” model targets johns and pimps while protecting the vulnerable. vancouver sun

The DOJ newser is a bit more explicit. Peter MacKay wants to criminalize speech as much as he wants to “reduce demand” for prostitute’s services. I quote at length as the actual legislation has not been tabled.

The proposed new prostitution-related offences are aimed at reducing demand for sexual services, protecting those who sell those services from exploitation, and protecting children and our communities from exposure to prostitution.

Purchasing sexual services – This new offence would prohibit the purchase of sexual services and communicating in any place for that purpose. Maximum penalties for purchasing sexual services would be 18 months imprisonment on summary conviction and 5 years imprisonment on indictment. Escalating mandatory minimum fines for first and subsequent offences would also apply. There would be a $500 fine for a first offence and a $1,000 fine for a subsequent offence on summary conviction. These fines would be doubled if the offence were committed near parks, schools, religious institutions or other places where children could reasonably be expected to be present.

Receiving a financial or material benefit – This new offence would prohibit profiting from the prostitution of others, including through businesses that sell the sexual services of others online or out of venues such as escort agencies, massage parlours, or strip clubs that also provide sexual services. It would carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. Exceptions would be made for non-exploitative relationships.

Advertising the sale of sexual services – This new offence would prohibit advertising the sale of others’ sexual services in print media or on the Internet. It would give courts the power to authorize the seizure of materials containing such advertisements, to order an advertisement to be removed from the Internet, and to require the provision of information that would identify and locate the person who posted it. Maximum penalties for advertising the sale of sexual services would be 18 months imprisonment on summary conviction and 5 years imprisonment on indictment.

Communicating for the purpose of selling sexual services in public places where a child could reasonably be expected to be present – This new offence would prohibit anyone from communicating for the purpose of selling sexual services in public places where a child could reasonably be expected to be present. The maximum penalty for this offence would be 6 months imprisonment.

This is pretty much the Nordic model with a few bits of censorship tossed in for good measure. It does not work very well in the Scandinavian countries.

First problem is that the effect of criminalizing the purchase of sex will tend to drive the trade underground. That might be the intention behind MacKay’s action but, oddly enough, a trade driven underground is a criminalized trade. Now, the logic underlying the SCC decision to strike down existing prostitution laws was that they put women at risk. It is difficult to see how criminalizing the purchase of sex will reduce that risk and, in fact, by criminalizing the purchase of a legal service the chances are that the purchasers will be extremely wary. In turn this is likely to increase the risk to prostitutes because the encounters will be far more furtive, customers will be less likely to be willing to be vetted, customers will use blocked numbers and customers will demand proof that a prostitute is not a police officer before money changes hands.

The entire question of what the actual transaction is will be a criminal defence lawyer’s playground. “sexual services” hmmm. A man goes to keep company with a woman in her apartment and things get a little heated. He receives a “service”. He is so grateful he gives her a gift. Has he “purchased” the service? Sigh.

Then there is the entertaining “communicating” provision. Vancouver went through this in, what, the early 1990’s where the girls were the ones not allowed to “communicate”. It is a futile task to criminalize “communication” when a nod is as good as a wink.

On to “receiving a benefit” for the sale of the sexual services of others. Easy to say, hard to draft, next to impossible to fairly enforce. There are girls who use Facebook, Linked-in and, for all I know, Twitter to advertise their services. Each of these internet entities make money. Will they be charged? And for outfits that are a bit more explicit, MacKay is offering a grand loophole “Exceptions would be made for non-exploitative relationships.” Snort. Prove that an escort agency “exploits” its escorts. I am not saying it doesn’t, what I am saying is that at a criminal level of proof the “receipt of benefit” is going to be tough to prove, but with the added requirement that the Crown has to demonstrate “exploitation” there will be no convictions of anything other than Richmond rub and tugs run by tongs using undocumented, forced, labour.

Finally, for extra laughs, we have this “This new offence would prohibit advertising the sale of others’ sexual services in print media or on the Internet.” On its face, and we’ll have to see the poor draughtsmens’ efforts, this is a rule against running ads for blowjobs. Now I know the poor, exploited women in the sex trade are universally abused highschool dropouts but, dumb as MacKay apparently assumes them to be, they will clue into the idea that “I’ll suck the chrome off your trailer hitch” should not appear in an ad. (Actually, I speak too soon, metaphor is not, apparently, banned as yet…no doubt in the regulations there will be a list of forbidden words and images.) This is a feckless idea which will do nothing at all to improve the safety of Canada’s fallen doves.

And, as the idiotic icing on a steaming turd cake, we have the “not in front of the children” provision. I suspect this is designed to prevent…what? Copycat behaviour? Mental anguish amidst the sexting 14 year old crowd. Mothers having to explain to their six year olds what that lady on the corner in the really short, shorts is doing. This is just moral posturing.

Like any stupid law the net effect of MacKay’s prostitution idiocy will be to bring the law into further disrepute. It will keep criminal lawyers busy, bring up lots of interesting constitutional issues, I mean can you criminalize metaphor?, and leave no one the least better off.

The Cons’ narrative is that women who are prostitutes are all, to some degree, victims of some sort of exploitation. This proposed law will not change that alleged fact one iota. But what it will do – as any good economist will tell you – is decrease demand at the margins which will, in turn, reduce price. The hundred dollar girl will have fewer dates at a maximum of $80 with the added cost of having to flash her tits to prove she’s not a cop. Now she will be an exploited victim with a little less money and much less dignity.

This is a tired Government. MacKay should go and get a job.

UPDATE: Michael Den Tandt thinks MaKay has made a mess of the prostitution law. But he attributes it to politics rather than stupidity.

The answer, likely, is that it creates a wedge, in an area where public opinion is mixed, between the Conservatives and opposition, in particular the Trudeau Liberals. The Grits really have no option but to oppose this. When they do, the Tories will portray them as a pack of drug-legalizing, prostitution-loving libertines, bent on transforming Canada’s placid, tree-lined playgrounds into havens of iniquity, debauchery and vice. Game of Thrones meets Don Mills.

It is, in sum, the Conservative party’s first big foray back towards the social conservatism of its Reform party roots, and away from the libertarian-leaning model that has worked for it for a decade. montreal gazette

UPPER DATE: I should think that under the terms of MacKay’s proposed Act, St. Jack of the Rub and Tug would certainly have been charged criminally…The Layton cock was not being tugged for free.

UPPITY DATE: In case you think I am late to the brothel, I wrote about this idiocy earlier here.

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Smart Healthcare Delivery

Rather than hitting the walk-in clinic to see a doctor or a counsellor, Victoria Counsellor Dawn Cox.

The system is called and it’s as easy as a few clicks to get started. You simply log in as a patient and fill in what your concern or problem is and you will be set up with an appointment on the spot or for a time that suits you. They can evaluate your problem, write you a prescription or set up a referral all online.

This makes total sense to me. Especially on routine things like prescription refills. At the same time online consultations could, potentially, eliminate unnecessary office visit for the description of symptoms which will have to have tests run before the doctor has any real way of dealing with a problem.

Finally, an online system would let nurse practitioners take on a bit of the screening and refilling load. And, in some cases, could lead to timely referrals to people like Dawn who might be able head off psychological issues before they escalated to a level needing medical intervention.

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