Justin Trudeau as a Prime Minister?

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I have no idea what to think of this yet. I plan to read up on his opinions over the next while.

All I know so far is that he’s already brought energy to the very boring political scene. All else being equal I would normally tend to lean towards a Liberal vote, although this hasn’t been true the last few times out. I want to be excited about someone, whoever that ends up being.

Banking sick days and public sector unions

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I’ve written previously about the idea of banking sick days, and getting a payout for them later.  Now the Ontario government has passed Bill 115, which “freezes their wages, bans strikes for two years and ends their ability to bank sick days” for teachers.

I don’t agree at all with banning strikes, I’m not sure on the wage freeze in that I’d normally be opposed to it but I’m not clear on all the details of why they think it’s needed, but I’m pretty OK with ending the banking of sick days.

I have discussed this with teachers and I know part of the reasoning for banking is because teachers get so few official sick days, so they can basically bank up some equivalent of short term disability.  That’s fine, and banking seems reasonable for that purpose.  But banking sick days and getting paid out for them later seems ludicrous to me.  These are sick days, not vacation days.  They are supposed to be used when needed, they’re not an entitlement.  How did anyone first have the idea “Hey, I didn’t get sick as much as I’m allowed to this year, that means I get a fat paycheck!”

On another interesting note, I read some discussion about how unions can’t work very effectively in the public sector.  The argument being that in the private sector, the company has a huge incentive to settle immediately because their production stops and are losing money.  In the public sector, taxes are still coming in, and the government has little incentive to settle.  In fact, the longer they wait, the angrier people get at the union.  And now, even further, it’s becoming common practice for governments to just legislate an end to the strike.  So, it’s always a win-win for the government.

I think there’s some truth to this, but I’m not sure what a solution is.  Maybe we should get tax rebates to compensate us for lost services while there’s a public union strike?  At least that way the government has a penalty.  I’m not sure if public workers still get paid while on strike, but if they don’t, then at least both sides have an incentive to settle early.

Global warming in 30s

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This video has been floating around: VIDEO: The Warming World in Less Than 30 Seconds.

Alright, here’s what I don’t get: let’s say someone hasn’t believed all the evidence so far that human activity is having a major effect on climate.  They claim “it’s natural climate variation.”  Ok, we all know that large global shifts in climate happen over long periods of time.  How can you look at that video, which covers only 130 years (a blink of an eye in planetary terms), and not at least suspect that human emission of greenhouse gases is a possible cause?

Is WiFi harmful? More junk science

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I just had to purchase a new WiFi router for home, so the safety of wireless signals was in the back of my mind recently again.  Not in that I am terribly concerned, but since there’s no “conclusive” answer yet I do tend to use wired Ethernet when possible/convenient, just to be safe.  For example, now that the router is much faster, I was considering whether to switch our Boxee Box (media center) to WiFi and get rid of the ugly network cable running across the floor.

Anyway, I’ve previously written about my frustration with the literature on cell phones and radiation many times, and the quick little search I did for WiFi was no different.  I really am willing to believe the majority of scientific evidence that non-ionizing radiation has shown no harmful effect to humans, but do have the slightest pause because of the small, but persistent, claims of counter evidence.

But, it’s stuff like this that drives me crazy, from article Is Wifi Safe?, a quote from a professor and supposed expert on the subject:

“I read a heck of a lot of research, and it does show that some people have electrosensitivity to this frequency. We are about to publish a study that is not statistically relevant but nevertheless shows that some people are irrefutably affected by this frequency.”

The bold highlight is mine.

A few problems with this:

  • WHY THE HELL ARE YOU PUBLISHING A STUDY THAT’S NOT STATISTICALLY RELEVANT???????   (Sorry for the all-caps, but I really do want to scream that)
  • How can you possibly claim that someone is irrefutably affected by something when your sample size is admittedly so small that it’s not relevant?  Some of the major studies have found small statistical correlation to feeling unwell around WiFi, but they concluded it was likely psychosomatic.
  • What’s the point of publishing a study that’s not relevant?  I have to assume there’s an agenda and an attempt to scare people.  Many people will infer a level of authority as soon as they hear “study”, and I’m sure this person won’t always introduce their study as “I have done a study on the safety of Wifi, although it wasn’t statistically relevant.”

So, my quest for real data on WiFi safety left me in the same place I started, I guess.  WiFi does concern me less than cell signals just because of the lower signal power.