Archive for October, 2010

Comment for today.

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

It’s Halloween and the goblins are out,

But what is this they shout:  Shell Out?


Comment for today.

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Expect an upheaval in Ontario in the coming year,

The political situation’s going to be turned on ear.

Ignatieff’s Liberals are gonna get their act in gear,

But we will lose McGinty’s provincials later, I fear.


#96– Surviving the communications age, part 3.

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Frankly, some people would be best to stay away from technology.  It is like the problems in Babel with municipal voting.  It is not the computerized voting machines that are wrong.  It is the people responsible for the machines that cause the problems.

Babel is not exactly technology ready.  Babel is a small town with aspirations.  City hall staffers want to act like they think a large and sophisticated city staff might act but they have never had a role model to show them how.  This tends to make many of the staff carry out their duties in an insufferably bureaucratic manner.  What they do not know, they bluff.  And they do not know a great deal.  Babel is a bluffer’s paradise.

Their first problem with the voting machines is that the city employees responsible for them have no experience in elections.  Unlike provincial and federal elections that are run by highly experienced political appointees in each constituency, municipal elections are run by people who have no clue as to what the political process is all about.  They take pride in their lack of knowledge.  They equate cluelessness with neutrality.

This cluelessness leaves them wide open for manipulation.  Politically savvy people running campaigns for local politicians see this vulnerability and they use the city employees unmercifully in carrying out their objectives.  More favourable rulings are easily obtained from people who do not understand the rules in the first place.  The only balancing of this is when competing politicos find rulings are unfair to their candidates.

But the people who really suffer in this situation are the voters.  Nobody seems to care about them.   Voting machines are supposed to speed the process.  There is no other excuse for their use.  Babel civic employees seem to use them to impede the process.  Imagine how efficient the damn things might be if people had an opportunity to learn how they work, before having to use them.  Instead, a city employee has to stand there and give every voter instructions to help them to vote.

What happens is that the city does not buy enough voting machines and discourages people from voting because of impossibly long line-ups at too few voting places.  They have brief four-hour advance polls at large apartment buildings but, on the scheduled election day, the nearest poll is several kilometres away.  They have actually reversed the advance poll problems.  Instead of making the advance polls difficult to find, they have made the regular polls less convenient.

The bureaucratic people running the election also have no concept of why politicos working for candidates need their information, in a useable form and on time.  They will offer the lists of voters who have already voted in the election and then rescind their offer without understanding the costs of that change to the candidates.

Maybe part of the fault is the confusing language of the Municipal Election Act of 1996 from the Ontario Government.  You would have thought those people knew something about elections.

But, until Babel’s civil servants move more effectively into the communications era, they should go back to using paper ballots and pencils.

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Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Michael Ignatieff doesn’t like the F35,

Hope for a federal election can revive,

One, the Harper regime won’t survive.


#95– The hijacking of caring No. 2 — A continuing saga.

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Most people think of Zamboni as a wheeled vehicle that repairs the ice between periods in hockey games. Since 2009, people involved with multiple sclerosis have become aware of Professor Dr. Paolo Zamboni, a vascular surgeon in Ferrarra, Italy who has claimed success in treating MS patients.  In publicizing his findings and in his interviews with the news media, Dr. Zamboni has been hijacking the caring.

It little matters at this stage whether Dr. Zamboni is right or wrong in his hypothesis.  If he is right, it will be a major breakthrough.  His first responsibility is to find a way to prove his hypothesis to his scientific peers.

Dr. Zamboni has yet to prove his theory and the procedure that he is promoting.  His fellow scientists are not kicking sand in his face.  They really want to find out if he is right.  There are hundreds of millions of many currencies ready to support the procedure and offer the treatment to MS patients—if it can be scientifically authenticated.  Responsible scientists do not try to prove their theories with anecdotal evidence.

And that is the problem.  Does Dr. Zamboni expect to be beatified by his church because he can say to an MS patient “Take up your bed and walk”?

What happens to the patient when five months from now, he or she realizes that they are not any better?  The placebo effect is rife in MS patients.  Vitamin B12 can also make you feel better—for a while.  Teenagers have told us that popping a few ecstasy tabs is supposed to make you feel you are king of the world.  And maybe it will—before a bad mix of that garbage in some thug’s kitchen kills you.

Caring people, MS people, are now being enticed to fly-by-night clinics in India and Poland and other countries with lax rules to have what is called “the Liberation treatment’ for which the operators liberate the caring of much money.  The operators are sending patients back to Canada without adequate post-operative information and a dangerous stent in a vein, ready to move to the heart and death.

It is hardly the caring people who are at fault.  They are desperate for a cure.  Dr. Zamboni is selling hope.

It is not really the fault of the grasping politicians who jump on the Liberation bandwagon to show their affinity, concern and need for votes.  They see it as a cause that they can appear to be supporting to keep them in the public eye.  They use it briefly and then go on to the next photo-op.

If there is a fault to be laid at someone’s door, in this country, it has to be laid at the door of the MS Society of Canada.  This is a failure in leadership.  Speaking to the key people of the Society the other day, the point was made: “That is our mob out there.  They are conflicted. They are caught between hope and science.  Hope trumps science anytime.

“Please take this opportunity to lead,” they were asked.

Whether they will or not, we do not know.  We can only hope.

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Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Our cup runneth over in Babel,

Our foes returned to the stable.

Jeff’s the Mayor-elect in Babel.

(Note: Our election predictions,

Suffered from some restrictions,

Nobody was allowed vacations.)


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Monday, October 25th, 2010

Election Day in Babel dawns wet and dreary,

It’s been a long campaign and we are weary.


#94– Surviving the communications age, part 2.

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Being an early adaptor of technologies can be its own curse.  You should always wait until the technology is at least out of the initial testing stage.  The early automated teller machines (ATM) were an excellent case in point.  The Bank of Commerce should have paid its customers who were willing to put their trust in the darn things when first tried.

Being much more progressive than its main rival, Royal Bank of Canada, Commerce was always among the first to offer new technologies.  If you were crazy enough to trust these people, banking there was fun.  And you could be the first on your block to have a special card that gave you access to your money both day and night.

Mind you, day and night was not always the case.  Those test machines were never supplied with very much cash.  At that early stage, the machines did not have cathode ray tube advisories.  Instead they used a wheel of prepared responses that appeared in a small window. The most common response was that you had no money.  Annoyed customers gradually learned that what that really meant was that the machine had no money left in its innards to dole out to them or else it had a paper jam caused by old crumpled bills.

Today, it seems that all $20 bills start their life cycle in ATMs, before a short life in circulation, before heading back to the Bank of Canada incinerators.

One of the lessons learned by the bank in those first tests is that all branches had to have them.  One very frustrated customer once went into a branch manager’s office to announce that he would never bank with Commerce again because he could not find the slot to stick his access card.  Since the branch did not have one of the new ATMs, the manager was finally able to deduce that the customer was trying to stick his card into the night deposit.

Today, ATMs are everywhere.  They save banks millions in payroll costs as they replace human tellers.  ATMs have also become a profit centre for companies that prey on the unwary.  These no-name ATM suppliers, who will place their machines in any convenience store or other location, that will take them, have been forced to inform people using their fly-by-night machines of their direct (and outrageous) charges for using their machines.  What they do not tell you is there is an additional charge from the bank that guarantees the ATM company that you have the funds on deposit.

Your bank blames it on the ATM operator and the ATM operator blames it on your bank.  The blame game is annoying but you have found that you have been charged up to $7 for needing less than $100 in cash.  Your bank tells you there is no charge for using their ATMs but they will not help in resolving problems with ATMs belonging to others.

And for goodness sakes, if you go to casinos, never ever play the ATMs there.  They give the poorest return of any slot machines in the house.

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Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

The election is almost over in Babel,

We’re waiting for votes on the table.

Here are guesses as close as I’m able:

Just give the three amigo a thousand,

Incumbent Dave could get 500 more,

Our loser Rob is down to about 6100,

Churlish Mike at 5500 for being sore,

Joe hasn’t earned more than 11 thou,

And Jeff wins  —  his 12,000 will wow!


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Friday, October 22nd, 2010

I think we should often bring to our readers’ attention,

That what I write in this blog has copyright protection.

© Copyright Peter Lowry 2008, 2009, 2010