Arms exports

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A graph of the worlds top arms exporters and importers: Big Guns.

Interesting how Greece appears in 3 of the top 5 lists as an importer.  Also interesting that the top 5 importers from the US are all smaller countries, I wonder if that’s due to a foreign policy directive to not sell to larger ones?

Hypocrite Conservative Pundits

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Let’s use Bill Kristol as an example: Be Afraid. Please..

Do they have no better talking point about Obamas trip than whining about “the American people are the ones who vote here, it’s a slap in their face to go overseas.”

Ok, first of all, why do they think he’s asking anyone but Americans for votes?  A member of the Senate cannot go on foreign trips?  Or are they just whining because this Senators trip happens to also work out so well for his presidential campaign?

Secondly, where were these hypocrites back in March when McCain took a trip through Britain and France?  They definitely weren’t criticizing him for it.

The whiners should just accept they’ve lost the presidency and start looking for their candidate for 2012.

When a headline has little relevance to the story

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First of all, I’ve never understood the fascination with celebrities, but this one is doubly stupid.

The story title sounds like it actually might have a grain of newsworthiness for celebrity buffs: Connery accused of withholding funds

But, read the article.  The reddit link put it very well:

“Sean Connery faces accusations he “stopped giving his son money to force him to make his own way in life.” Wait, you can be accused of that? Like it’s a bad thing? And people will write about it?”

Stephen Hawking may be coming to Waterloo?


Wow: Stephen Hawking may settle in Canada.

How cool would that be?

This is also interesting given what may draw him here is is basically a private institute rather than a public university.  Actually, I’m not sure of the exact definition for the Perimiter Institute, since its funding is about half private and half public.

Trains in North America

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Good article on a journey from coast to coast in the US by train: Train in vain.

I enjoyed traveling by train in Europe and India, and really wish we had a decent passenger rail system here.  As I mentioned previously, I have to travel to NYC periodically.  If we had trains up to France’s standards it would only take 3 or 4 hours from Toronto.  I’d much prefer that to flying, considering the hassles at airports and the difference in fuel consumption.  Unfortunately the train ride to NY would take at least 13 hours.

Half by 2050


G-8 leaders pledge to cut emissions in half by 2050

Translation: “Great, I don’t have to do anything about this while I’m still in office.”

Screw you, Stephen Harper


Harper is heading to the G8 summit with a message of “There’s no point in reaching an agreement on climate change until all the biggest polluters agree”: No deal unless big polluters in, PMO says

The world has learned (as shown by global reaction to his stance last time around) that this is a very weak argument transparently intended to stall action against climate change.  He wouldn’t want to cause any trouble for his oil buddies back in Alberta.  How blasphemous would it be if his oil lobbyists had to spend perhaps a few percent of their profits to clean up the mess they make?

Further, he, and most other fervent climate change action blockers, are missing the obvious point that the best way to elicit change is to lead by example.  This is normally considered a desirable trait, yet severely lacking in seemingly most areas of modern conservative policy.

I’m also a bit baffled by the political reasoning for this position.  This positions most powerful side-effect, I believe, is to energize everyone who cares about this issue to work as hard as possible to get rid of him.  There isn’t any new climate change agreement on the horizon yet, unfortunately, so I’m not sure why he doesn’t just stay quiet and save his torpedoes for later.

Why is everyone so happy?


Study: World Gets Happier

That’s interesting considering how gloomy things look if you pay attention to the media.  According to them the end of the world is upon us thanks to the mortgage crisis and terrorism.  It’s nice to see the realities are a bit different.

The article does note that Zimbabwe ranks last for happiness, which is especially prescient considering the recent craziness there.  Finding a good solution for Zimbabwe will obviously be difficult.  On the one hand I’m generally not in favour of outsiders messing with the internal political establishment of a country.  However, with such a clear abuse of power something needs to be done.  The international community needs a way to force Mugabe into a new vote.

Yet, even with Zimbabwe as an example, deciding when action is called for is a massive grey area.  Mugabe hasn’t done anything different than most dictatorships have to maintain power.  Couldn’t the same argument be made against China?  The only difference I see is that in China there isn’t a massive (> 50% of population) uprising against the dictatorship, although that’s at least partially due to fear.