Plans to attack Iran

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Continuing the Iran theme…

Ran into this Neocon commentary piece: Getting Serious About Iran: A Military Option.

In summary, the neocon suggests the US should begin an air and special forces campaign to “keep the oil flowing” with the side-effect of crippling their nuclear program. The argument is based on the idea that Iran is trying to gain control of shipping access to 40% of the worlds oil. Therefore, since the most important US mandate is to keep the economy going, it should destroy Iran, seize it’s oil assets, and impose a new government. Oh, and this will all be possible without a ground campaign. Even better, this will in fact increase US prestige in the middle east.

Some light analysis of the commentary is here: A Glorious War Plan for Iran.

Merry Christmas from Iran

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Merry Christmas to everyone from Irans President.

The usual stuff we’ve come to expect from him, but this stood out for me:

Frankly, if Jesus Christ – the Messiah (peace be upon Him) was present today, how would He react? And whom would He stand with and against

I can’t claim to know exactly how a person who lived 2,000 years ago would have reacted, but the most obvious things we can take from his teachings would be:

  • He was a messenger of peace, not a symbol to claim as “on your side” to justify acts of violence.
  • The whole “love and forgiveness” thing would kind of imply he wouldn’t “pick a side,” at least not for the purposes of destroying the other.

I do think it is effective in some cases to pose the question of what decision Jesus might have made. Specifically in cases like decisions for war, helping the poor and discrimination. But, there are limits to this, and using it in a case to further a confrontation between countries is invalid because it supposes he’d want to align with either side.

Photographers in Waterloo

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I know a few excellent photographers in Waterloo, and people might find their sites interesting. Lots of great photos.

J.thier Photography

Alex Black Wedding Photography

Enjoy

Can we be proud yet?

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Last Thursday Parliament voted on whether or not to re-open the debate on same-sex marriage. The vote was “no”. Harper got his wish for a free vote and was defeated, although I’m sure that was expected.

House votes not to reopen same-sex marriage issue

So, the “democractic process” has worked it’s magic, right? Well, not quite:

“But opponents of gay and lesbian marriage said on Wednesday that rejection of the motion would not end their bid to have the legislation overturned.”

Well, Canadians have spoken, so I think they’re wasting their time. But, if they’re wasting effort on a losing cause, at least they’re not trying to destroy other minorities rights: Same Sex Thursday!

Are financial advisors worthwhile?

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Do-it-yourself investors win the race

Interesting studies. I’ve always been torn on this myself. Talking purely about managing investments I don’t think I could ever pay an FA for that service. Especially not as a percentage of assets. Paying fixed fees for advice per visit seems better because there should be less chance of an FA pushing you towards certain funds they get good commission on.

Personally, I have the interest in the subject and don’t think it’s that hard to do a decent job with a little effort. There are some basic, easy, rules to follow so you don’t end up losing your shirt. Diversification, low fees and index funds (or ETFs) are a good starting point, IMHO.
That said, I completely understand that some people want to use an FA to manage their money. Not everyone is interested in doing the research, or has the time, etc.

Equality rises as wages drop

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I thought I would be happy to find out that the wage gap between men and women in North America has shrunk to a record low, albeit still formidable, 18.3%. Unfortunately, women’s wage aren’t rising. Men’s wages are dropping!

While there is still a disparity in wages for high end professions, wages for most white collar jobs have dropped more sharply for men than for women, whose earnings have remained somewhat flat.

This is partially the effect of globalization. The pro-outsourcing policies that have encouraged companies to seek cheaper, tax free labor overseas have implicitly underplayed the value of local labor. Since they popped the Dotcom bubble and sent skilled jobs overseas, there is less and less work being done here that couldn’t be done cheaper elsewhere. In order to stay competitive in this decade of outsourcing and downsizing, employees must be willing to accept less pay for the same jobs they were doing in 2000.

And that’s just the tech jobs. Six years of haphazard management have ravaged the US economy and put a long term halt to the upward momentum Americans were used to in the 80′s and 90′s. Projections indicate that the trend of flat or shrinking wages will continue into the near future. Add to that the continuing weakness of US dollars and consumer confidence and it’s no wonder average workers have seen their pay shrink.

The War on… Catnip?

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What does an outgoing political party do with it’s remaining time in power? Quietly rubberstamp every piece of ill-conceived legislation they’ve got lying around, it would seem. Here’s a great example of what’s wrong with the Republicans.

“Drug warriors scored a virtual victory after the 2006 U.S. elections when they hurriedly extended the War on Drugs to a psychoactive substance previously exempt: nepetalactone, the main psychoactive ingredient in catnip.”

What harm is there in catnip? Here comes the science: “This psychosexual reaction lasts for 5-15 minutes and cannot be evoked again for an hour or more after exposure.” Were there humans who were somehow abusing catnip? The feline receptors that react strongly to catnip lie in an organ exclusive to cats, yet the chemists say catnip may affect humans like a mild herbal sedative akin to valerian root.

I’m not sure how this is considered a victory for anyone, considering that the War on Drugs has been about as successful as the War on Terror. I guess they believe that passing more laws makes us safer, regardless of the merit of any particular law. It’s hard to justify calling catnip a dangerous drug, and the supporters of the act don’t even try. They seem to be saying anything “psychoactive” is automatically their jurisdiction and their right to regulate.

And let’s face it, the only thing Republicans were ever hesitant to regulate was themselves.

The new Liberal leader

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I don’t know much about Stephane Dion yet, but I’m looking forward to finding out. The one thing I’m immediately excited about is that he was formerly the Environment Minister during part of the Chretien era. Some might say they didn’t do great on the environment during that time, which is true. However, I would normally assume the Environment Minister is committed to those issues even though their superior puts constraints on them.

The other thing I like about him is explained very well here: Good for the Grits; Good for Canada?. Dion strikes me, on the surface, as an “intellectual” that has been brought into politics, rather than a pure politician. Harper does seem the same way. So, it will be interesting to see how both of these politicians fare in the next election.
Short Stephane Dion biography