Saturday, May 05, 2007

The other shoe drops!

Well, I have just heard the death knell of computer people being a profession, or a "white collar" class in western society. Yesterday, IBM announced that it may be laying off up to 150,000 people from it's Global Services division. Add to that the spin-off effects, and you may see up to half a million computer professionals looking for a job by the end of the year.

This will have the same effect on the US computer field that Nortel's crash had on Canada's...a flood of highly qualified computer professionals looking for whatever computer job they can get. This means that companies who need computer people will be able to cherry pick what they need, and get over-qualified people to fill even the "joe jobs".

What does that mean? Well, if you are not highly specialized or have degrees up the wahzoo, you are no longer going to be able to make a wage that is significantly better than a McJob. If you are lucky, you will be able to make $30K. You might even get benefits, but don't count on them. And if you don't kiss-ass all the time, you will find yourself on the street PDQ, because there were 5,000+ resumes submitted for the job when you got it, and when they advertise to replace you, they will get 20,000. I base these numbers on the numbers I have heard for what happens today in Canada, where Canada population is 10% of the US's.

If there was a time for Computer People to unionize, the time is here...but it may already be too late. Good Unions didn't help the manufacturing sector of either Canada or the US, although it has managed to keep trades people gainfully employed. In fact that may be the model that computer people should look at...being tradespeople.

Computer tradespeople will no longer wear dress pants and shirt...but maybe work pants, and polo shirt with their first name, or their company's embroidered on them. That will not appeal to those who got into the field because it was high paying, or that it wasn't a trade, but to those who love computers, it won't matter, as long as they are working on computers, and they can make enough to survive on.

There is a bright side to this..sorta. Again, based upon what has happened in Canada, the vast numbers of people looking for jobs with computer skills will make it cheap enough again to start to operate tech-support call centers in the US again. That's something... I guess.

Monday, November 13, 2006

More thoughts surrounding Remembrance Day

I saw "The Longest Day" again on TV, and I was amazed at the number of stars in it. It included Jeffery Hunter, who portrayed Christopher Pike in Star Trek, the captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise before Kirk. This led my train of thought about D-Day to the fact that one of the brave heros who stormed Juno Beach that day was Captain James Montgomery Doohan, who would later be known to most of the world as Scotty, the best engineer of the best ship in Starfleet. So, I did a bit of research...

From Wikipedia:

"His first combat assignment was the invasion of Normandy at Juno Beach on D-Day. Shooting two snipers along the way, Doohan led his unit to higher ground through a field of anti-tank mines and took defensive positions for the night. Crossing between command posts at 11:30 that night, Doohan took six hits from a Bren gun fired by a nervous sentry: four in his leg, one in the chest, and one through his right middle finger. The chest bullet was stopped by his silver cigarette case, and the shot finger was amputated (during his later screen acting career he would generally conceal this).

Despite his wounds, Doohan remained in the military, trained as a pilot and flew an artillery observation plane. He flew Taylorcraft Auster Mark V aircraft for 666 (AOP) Squadron, RCAF, as a Royal Canadian Artillery officer in a flying role in support of #1 Canadian AGRA (Army Groups Royal Artillery). All three Canadian (AOP) RCAF Squadrons were manned by Artillery Officer-pilots and 'aircrewed' by Artillery personnel serving as observers. Though never actually a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, he was once labeled the "craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Forces"."

At one point I was looking how to recommend Mr. Doohan for the Order of Canada, but it turns out that you cannot be made a member after you have died, although if you have been named to the Order, but not invested in it, it can be done so posthumously. There should be a way to honour him, as he was a great Canadian, and most people in Canada don't know him as a Canadian.

Another thing that I found interesting is that so many people were inspired by his character, Scotty, and went into Engineering. In fact, one year, more than half of the people in engineering at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) said that they had gone into that program because they wanted to be like Scotty. In 1993, the school gave him an honorary engineering degree!

"In fact, science fiction - especially Star Trek - generated so much interest in engineering amongst young people in the United States, that in 1993 MSOE presented an honorary degree to James Doohan, who portrayed "Scotty" in the original Star Trek series." - MSOE NEWS SERVICES

In fact, a lot could be made out of Mr. Doohan's life for both it's inspiration of people to go into engineering, and for the fact that like a lot of young people today who have served in both the Canadian and American armed forces, that they can then go on after their service and become an inspiration to millions of people, even after being wounded, and disfigured.

William Shatner can't same the same.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Remembrance Day remembrance for those who have given their lives, and one who also gave me a name.

In the US, kids may learn the Pledge of Allegiance in grade Canada, we tend to learn "In Flanders's Fields".

When I was in Air Cadets, every year we would be down at the Cenotaph, Ottawa's War Memorial near Parliament Hill, and stand at attention for what seemed like hours on end (was really only minutes, of course), but to see people that would have been my grandfather's age crying, and smiling at the same time was a strange sight that will always stick with me.

Some years, I attend a Remembrance Day Ceremony at St. Patrick's HS, which inherited the tradition from St Pats Collage before it was swallowed by one of the bigger local Universities. My namesake died in WWII, and it's really something to hear your name, the name of a man I never knew, and to see hundreds of people pause momentarily after his name to honour him. It's a very powerful moment for me.

If things had been slightly different, I would have gone into the Canadian Air Force, studied geophysics with the aim of becoming a Canadian Astronaut...but that reality never was...I probably would have participated in the first Iraq War, and put my life on the line there.

So I honour my namesake, Farrell James McGovern, who died on his way over to Europe like many brave souls, knowing that every lost ship in the Atlantic, like the one my grandfather went down on, The SS Nerissa, enabled another to complete her journey and bring men and materials to fight the Nazis.

And every year, I tend to go through two or three poppies, as they do tend to fall off after a while. I'm actually on my fourth this year, and I have started using a Canadian Flag pin to replace the bent straight pin that is usually used to hold them on.

Unfortunately, I am too sick this year to attend any of the ceremonies, but I will probably be watching the one at the Cenotaph, like millions of other Canadians do each year.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Those *stupid* yellow ribbon magnets

Across America, many people have been putting these yellow magnetic ribbons on the back of their cars, supposedly to support the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan...but in reality they are making a very different comment than the one they intended. You see, the whole "Yellow Ribbon" thing comes from a song from the 1970's that has the chorus:

"Tie a yellow ribbon 'round the old oak tree
It's been three long years. Do you still want me?
If I don't see a ribbon round the old oak tree
I'll stay on the bus, forget about us, put the blame on me.
If I don't see a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree"
- "Tie A Yellow Ribbon" by Tony Orlando,
performed by Tony Orlando and Dawn

Which is fine as it goes, but it is patently obvious that the people have not listened to the whole song. It is actually about criminal who has just been released after serving 3 years in jail!

Here are the complete lyrics (emphasis mine):

"I'm comin' home, I've done my time. Now I've got to know what is and isn't mine.
If you received my letter tellin' you I'd soon be free
Then you'll know just what to do if you still want me. If you still want me

Tie a yellow ribbon 'round the old oak tree
It's been three long years. Do you still want me?
If I don't see a ribbon round the old oak tree
I'll stay on the bus, forget about us, put the blame on me.
If I don't see a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree

Bus driver, please look for me, 'cause I couldn't bear to see what I might see
I'm really still in prison, and my love she holds the key
A simple yellow ribbon's what I need to set me free I wrote and told her please


Now the whole damn bus is cheering and I can't believe I see
A hundred yellow ribbons 'round the old oak tree I'm comin' home"

(c) Copyright 1972 by Tridem Music. (c) Copyright assigned 1973 Five Arts Music.
(c) Copyright assigned 1973 Levine & Brown Music, Inc.

By placing one of those yellow ribbon magnets on your car, you are saying that the soldiers who are putting their lives on the line are criminals. Whether you agree with the reason they are there or not, we owe it to them to READ THE FRIGGING LYRICS of a song before we try to associate it with something to show our support for them! Further...what do you want to bet that those magnetic ribbons have a label that says "Make in China"?

If you really want to spend additional money, other than the taxes you, your children and grandchildren will be paying for just the interest on the trillion dollar debt Bush Jr. has rung up, then go and donate at Operation Helmet, which is using private funds to help upgrade the padding in troops helmets to help prevent serious brain that *should* have been supplied by the government! That will support the troops in a way that makes their lives over there a little bit safer.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

US entertainment industry buys Canadian MP


I'm sure all of you have heard about the horror stories from down in the States where grandmothers and dead people are being sued by the music companies for supposedly downloading music on the internet. Or the various incidents where someone finds a flaw in a software package, and gets threatened with going to jail if they disclose that vulnerability so that you can avoid it? There are just some of the things that people have suffered due to the Digital Millenium Copyright Acts (DMCA) in the US. It is a nasty piece of legislation that was passed in the United States after over a millions and millions (Some have estimated over a billion) dollars in lobbying and "perks" the US entertainment industry lavished upon those in the US Federal Government.

Well, guess what....they are doing the same here in Canada.

Sam Bulte, the former Liberal Party MP for Parkdale/High Park, and here is a quick summary from WIkipedia:

"2006 federal election, Bulte was criticized by University of Ottawa Law professor Michael Geist, historian Jack Granatstein and blogger Cory Doctorow among others. The criticism centred around an apparent conflict of interest relating to her position as "one of the leading people on copyright policy, possibly even the future Canadian heritage minister" [3] and her stance in favour of stricter copyright laws in the face of substantial campaign contributions from Canadian and American entertainment industries. Geist's colleague David Fewer noted that Bulte did not originally have much interest in copyright law, but has become increasingly vocal on the topic since she started to receive money from the copyright lobbies."

Since they were not able to get Ms. Bulte into office, due to the general malaise of the Liberal Party, and the number of people like Dr. Geist blowing her cover, they have done the same thing with the Conservative Party.

Today, Bev Oda is the Minister of Culture, the post Ms. Bulte was hoping to occupy. A funny thing happened on the way to the election...when it became apparent that Conservative Party was going to win, and that Oda was the heir elective to the Culture Ministry, the floodgates of money poured into her coffers from the entertainment industry. Here is what Dr. Geist says:

"Presumably much of this support came from a May 2005 Oda fundraiser when corporate donations were lawful and Oda was the Heritage critic rather than the Heritage Minister. Even so, the significant financial support does little to instill confidence in the fairness of the copyright reform process. Given that many of the donors did not provide financial support to any other riding association in Canada (with the possible exception of Sam Bulte, whose riding association has yet to file its report), there is little doubt about the motivations behind the decision to back Bev at a time when it looked like the Liberals' fall was imminent." Quoteed from here

So, one way, or another, the entertainment industry has bought an MP, who is willing to do their bidding. The fact that until it looked like Ms. Bulte wasn't going to win that they started pouring money into Ms. Oda's campaign shows that any changes in the copyright laws was bought.

Now, I don't know about you, but I don't like it when big companies influence the way that our country works. And what is worse, most of the companies are AMERICAN. They are seeking to import American culture into Canada by buying Members of Parliament to implement American style laws. And if they are successful in changing Canadian culture by buying Members of Parliament, what will be next?

So, what can I do, some of you are hopefully are a few that are quoted on

  • Write to your local Member of Parliament. Letters (which are better than email) from just a handful of constituents is enough to get the attention of your local MP. Contact information for all MPs is available here. Online Rights Canada also provides an easy way to write to your local MP.
  • Write to the Prime Minister of Canada. Contact information here.
  • Write to Bev Oda, the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Minister Oda is one of the two ministers responsible for copyright policy in Canada. Prior Canadian Heritage Ministers have been perceived to be close to U.S. copyright lobby groups and copyright collectives. Ministry contact information here. Minister Oda's contact information here.
  • Write to Maxime Bernier, the Minister of Industry. Minister Bernier is responsible for the Copyright Act in Canada. Despite the fact that Minister Bernier is viewed as a strong advocate of reduced government intervention, the rumour mill suggests that he supports DMCA-style reforms. Minister Bernier's contact information here.
  • Ask each political party where it stands on copyright. Copyright policy could prove to be a divisive issue in the months ahead - ask each political party for their views on the issue.
  • Write to Canadian Heritage's Copyright Policy Branch. The Copyright Policy Branch is home to a large contingent of bureaucrats focused on copyright matters. Contact information here.
  • Write to Industry Canada's Intellectual Property Policy Directorate. The IPPD is Industry Canada's counterpart on copyright policy, though it addresses a broader range of IP issues. Contact information here (scroll to the bottom).

    For more info, go here

  • Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    Terrorism in Quebec

    When most people think about Terrorism in Quebec, their minds turn to the FLQ, the October Crisis, and Pierre Trudeau. A few might think about the Biker Gang wars...but there is a new terrorist threat in Quebec that may have world wide reverberations.

    According to a story by CBC News, a Carol Montreuil's vehicle exploded last Thursday, but was attributed to an electrical malfunction. But the following day, a number of news media outlets started recieving emails from a group called Initiative de résistance internationaliste (IRI), claiming it had firebombed the car.

    It turns out that Carol Montreuil is Vice-President of the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute, in charge of Eastern Canada. According to the CBC story:

    "...the IRI e-mails blame oil companies for holding consumers hostage while making enormous profits, damaging the environment and financing "an imperialist army which is committing barbarous acts" in places such as Iraq."

    This is not the first time that the group has acted. Sometime in November of 2004, they bombed a Hydro Quebec transmission tower on the eve of George W. Bush's visit to Canada.

    In an email sent to both the Quebec French Media, and to al-Jazeera, the IRI stated:

    "We refuse to allow all the weight of resistance to fall on the noble Iraqi people, who are being massacred because they were an obstacle to the American energy hegemony, or to the Bolivian peasants courageously mobilizing against the pillage of their gas resources, even risking their lives," the note said.

    "We also refuse to let the Colombian and Palestinian people confront the imperial army alone, whether or not it is hidden behind a national banner." (translation by CTV news)

    The IRI seems to be against what they percieve is the US's attempt at energy imperialism through armed conflict.

    Who they are, how big, and how long they have been around is currently unknown.

    Thursday, July 27, 2006

    Long Live the New Flesh...NOT!

    I frequent a wonderful website called, and it's another place like where interesting stories get pointed at, and people can comment on them. I was commenting on a story about how Peter Doran, a scientist whose work has been misrepresented by many Global Warming Denier to prove that scientists have not reached a consensus on the subject. Well, Mr Doran has published a note in both the Amerst Times and the New York Times stating that he is does feel that the data supports Global Warming.

    But that is not what prompted me to write about this. It was a comment by one of the other users who claimed to be a Canadian on that bothered me.

    "Yeah. Wow. Half a degree. Awesome. Man the lifeboats."

    As a fellow Canadian, comments like yours make me wince.

    But then again, the Neo-Cons have taken over the Canadian Parliament. Most Neo-Cons, both in Canada and the US, are members of a Fundamentalist Christian Church. They are best described as The Religious Reich, and they have a hard-on for anything that can help bring about "The End Times". That is why most of them are Climate Change Deniers. Global warming means that the Earth is becoming more like the Christian's Hell. It's also why they support war in the Middle East. If they can get "The Rapture" going, they all get beamed off Earth by an old guy in a beard, and get to live in a place with limitless amounts of Philly Cream Cheese.

    As Prime Minister Harper is a Neo-Con, a Fundamentalist, and Climate Change Denier, could be why the Canadian Government website that covers Climate Change and Canada's response has be removed by the government:

    Go to and you will see a missing website...luckily, the Internet Archive's Way Back Machine has a copy of

    It contains a great number of "inconvenient truths" that the Canadian flavour of Neo-Cons dislike, especially as it would affect their "Preciouss", the Oil Patch. What is it with Neo-Cons and oil? Maybe it's like the Black Oil in The X-Files...or worse, like the video tapes in that Canadian classic, Videodrome by David Cronenberg Oil gets into their bodies and creates "The New Flesh"...I have this scary image of PM Harper standing up in Parliament yelling "Long Live The New Flesh!" Then the Black Oil starts shooting out of his mouth...and covers the entire House of Commons in that Black Oil.

    That's an image that kepts me awake at night....