2012-10-31

Ezra Levant and Sun Media Commit a Hate Crime

The Nazis compared Jews to Rats. Ezra Levant says being a Gypsy is like being a member of the Hells Angels. Unlike the Nazis, however, Levant hasn't murdered a million of them, yet.



Hat tip Paul Wells.

By the way, I do think Eastern European members of the Roma community that want to immigrate to Canada, escaping obvious predjudice and discrimination in the Czech Republic, Hungry and Romania, should be allowed to do so. Last time we turned away a Europen minority group seeking refuge, it didn't work out so good. We should learn from our mistakes.

Further Reading
-The Economist: the Plight of the Roma



Canada Should Ban Immigrant Smokers

Canada has socialized healthcare. Canada also has a very restrictive immigration system. 

Problem
Canada allows foreigners, addicted to nicotine, to immigrate to Canada and kill Canadian citizens by allowing them to smoke in Canada. Even when they smoke alone in their igloos, immigrants who smoke are costly to other Canadians. Non-smoking immigrants cost less. In fact, because immigrants have lower pensions then the rest of us, immigrants should especially be targeted for non-smoking. 

Solution
Ban nicotine addicted immigration candidates from immigrating to Canada. To prove they are not addicted, immigrants would have to agree not to smoke until they become citizens. If they are caught smoking, they would be deported. 

Why Now?
Under the point system, Canada has traditionally privilege over-educated immigrants. They may not be particularly useful, but they generally don't smoke. The Harper Conservatives have changed the system. Now, less educated people are coming to Canada, to take care of our children, build our day care centres and fry our food. These people are more likely to smoke.

Stop them before they kill us.

2012-10-29

Canada Should Have Open Skies For Atlantic Canada

Hundreds of planes fly over Atlantic Canada each day. Number of jobs that generates? Pretty close to zero (there is some air traffic control). Why not let these airlines stopover in Atlantic Canada? By allowing them to use Atlantic Canada as a stopover, they would create ground support jobs and dramatically increase the number of international destinations reachable from places like St. John's, Halifax and even Moncton.

Even better, by allowing these airlines to use Atlantic Canada as a hub to service the US and Canada, we would not only create Atlantic Canada jobs, but potentially also increase demand for Bombardier planes, creating jobs in Montreal, Mirabel and Toronto.

The idea isn't fool proof. Nothing would stop airlines from buying Brazilian Embraer regional jets, for example. And Air Canada would most likely loose some passengers to foreign carriers, particularly on lucrative international routes.

And there is also the risk that airlines would continue to fly over Atlantic Canada, without stopping.

If open skies works for Atlantic Canada, we could also allow it in Northern Canada, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

It would be fundamentally unfair to Canadian airlines, as it would not increase their access to foreign markets. However, if it is better for Canadians...




2012-10-23

To Mini or Not to Mini, that is the iPad Question

I ordered the iPod touch the day Steve Jobs announced it September 2007. I payed $329 and it was worth every penny.

5 years later and you can buy the bigger, better, 2 camera iPad Mini for exactly the same price (in Canada). 

Portability 
The iPod touch is portable. The full size iPad is not. You need a bag. The iPad mini will fit in a jacket pocket.

Retina Display
The iPod touch and the full size iPad have retina display. The mini does not. Once you go retina (or an ereader like the Kobo on Kindle), you really notice those little squares.

Decisions Decisions
So, should you get the $300 iPod touch, the the $330 iPad mini or the $500 iPad with Retina Display (aka 4th generation). Or should you get one of the junkers made by the competition.

Movies
If you will be using your tablet to watch movies, there is a lot of wasted real-estate. So smaller 7 inch tablets would do just fine (unfortunately, no Netflix on the cheap Blackberry Playbook). Unfortunately, the iPad mini keeps the same ratio as the iPad full size, so those black bars will still be visible, defeating, in a sense, the whole point of smaller tablets.

Recommendation
Not knowing your needs or resources, here is my recommendation: Get an iPhone. For kids, a 4 inch retina display iPod touch. If you can afford it, for home use, an iPad retina display (for reading in bed or on the can). The iPad mini fills a niche because it will fit in your jacket pocket. In the fall, winter and spring, you can take it everywhere, just in case. You can use it to show off pictures, for example. The competition has better 7 inchers for less money, but they lack software (aka games). 

If the iPad Mini had retina display, it would be a much tougher decision. But it doesn't. That said, I own an iPad first generation and use if every day (ditto for my iPhone 4s). However, I'm totally counting my pennies to buy the new iPad with retina display. Those little squares are getting annoying.


 

2012-10-21

Bellingham (Vancouver) to Honolulu, Fall or Winter: $309, return, taxes included

Bellingham to Honolulu: $309, return, taxes included. Ironically, on a direct flight with Alaska Airlines. Most of the dates available are in November and December, but there are a few in January and February. In case you were wondering, going to Alaska would be $515.

These people chose to swim:



Needles Highway

I was nervous going thru this tunnel in Google Street View. Imagine driving a bus!


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Try this one.

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Will he make it?


Will he make it?


Needles Highway.

2012-10-20

Plattsburgh (Montreal) to Bogota, Colombia: $365

If you leave all your bags at home it is even more impressive: $305 from Plattsburgh, New York, 1 hour south of Montreal, to Bogota, Colombia, and back, for $305, all in. Unfortunately, Spirit is one of two US airlines that charges for carry-on (the other being Allegiant). So total with a bag: $365.

You will need coupon code 50OFF for that price. Example of dates: Saturday February 2 to Friday February 8th. You will be flying via Fort Lauderdale (middle of the night to and from Plattsburgh). If you only want to go as far as Fort Lauderdale, Spirit will let you do it for $268, including the bag. 

Coupon expires October 22 at 23:59.

PS. Parking at Plattsburgh airport is no longer free. From the Plattsburgh bus station, a cab will run you $15 each way. Greyhound.com is the company that does the Montreal-Plattsburgh route (and onwards to New York City). By bus, please allow an hour buffer for border delays above what is scheduled as Greyhound actually waits for stragglers. Plattsburgh airport has free wifi.

 




From Montreal, Cancun is More Expensive then flying Anywhere Else: $398, return, taxes in.

Flying to Florida, Cuba and even Puerto Rico is cheaper, but they don't have pyramids.

Montreal (YUL) to Cancun (CUN): $400, return, all taxes included. (At time of writing, only US Airways via Phili). That's cheaper than from Toronto or New York!

Hotels can be quite expensive in Cancun. To save money, consider staying downtown (buses leave from this mall (great second floor foodcourt) down Tulum, past the intercity (to airport and pyramid) bus terminal), or perhaps have a shorter trip. There are only half a dozen beach access points, which is seriously annoying, but OK if you know where they are (the bus is frequent, 24 hours, and cheap). Once you are adjacent to the water, the entire beach is public.

Beach access at the Plaza Forum (Coco Bongo sign):

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Public beaches/access points:
In the South:


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Further North:

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Playa Marlin, adjacent a luxury mall:

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-Next to the big Xcaret sign: Playa Carcacol.
-Playa Tortuga : Loud, obnoxious bungy jumping come-ons. Odly popular amongst locals for the adjacent cliffs with shade.
-Embarcadero. Access to the beach. At high tide, the beach can be rather narrow.
-The kids beach. Great for swimming (even for adults). You will wish all of Cancun was like this public beach. Public toilets.
-South of Puerto Juarez. Those condos are only $250,000, but you can pluck your towel in front for free.
-North of the port of Juarez:

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The port of Juarez exists because of Isla Mujeres (the Isle of Women).

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Travel Deals, Brought to You by Google Flights

Dear Readers, my name is Altavistagoogle, and I'm addicted to shopping for travel.

My actual travel addiction was mitigated by my bank account and inability to borrow money. However, nothing stops me from shopping for travel and then sharing my finds here, on my blog.

So here goes. For more (and future) content, click on the label "travel" at the bottom of this post. 



Flying to Puerto Rico is cheap!



If the prices are higher when you click on the link, try changing the dates. However, it is also very likely the prices have gone up. You don't need to book directly from the airline. Your favourite travel site/agent is fine. Keep in mind, you probably need a place to stay: hotels can look very expensive when your flight is cheap. For future postings, click on the "travel" label at the bottom of this post. 

These prices are very cheap and will not last long (especially from Moncton). Take some time and shop hotels, however, as they can get pricey. Lonely Planet list some guest houses for the financially challenged. 
 
-Moncton to San Juan, Puerto Rico, return, taxes included: In the Fall: $365 . In the Winter: $550.

-Halifax to San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the Fall: $405, in the Winter: $451 
 
-Montreal to San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the Fall: $332, in the Winter: $332

-Burlington, Vermont, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the Fall: $308

-Ottawa to San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the Fall: $354, in the Winter: $404

-Syracuse to San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the Fall: $314, in the Winter: $308

-Toronto to San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the Fall: $327, in the Winter: $357

-Buffalo to San Juan, Puerto Rico in the Fall: $255, in the Winter: $275

-Detroit to San Juan: Fall: $297 , in the Winter: $340
 
-Fargo to San Juan, in the Fall: $367, in the Winter: $367

-Seattle to San Juan, Puerto Rico in the Fall: $314, in the Winter: $417

-From Calgary in the Fall: $446 , in the Winter: $484

-From New York in the Fall: $214. in the Winter: $224

Inflight Magazines of the World

The problem with in-flight magazines is they generally talk about stuff you are not interested in at the time you are travelling: travel. When you are in a cramped seat, being bossed around, you want to pretend you are not travelling.

When you are not travelling, when you are stuck at home on a rainy day, baby sitting the kids, on the bus or metro on the way to work, that is when escaping to the other side of the country, continent or world, is eminently appealing.

So I bring you In-flight magazines of the world (in English). You can enjoy these when you are not travelling.

-Quantas: They have an iPad app. But you can also enjoy the html version.
-United: They also have an iPad app. But you can also enjoy the html version.
-CNN Go: Not an inflght magazine, but they have a somewhat pointless review of inflight magazines. 

Alright, so much for this time wasting exercise. Someone has beat me to it: Inflight Magazine Directory

CNN's Go say AirCanada's En Route magazine is the best (all about travel), however, so far, my favourite is Suluk, the inflight for Greenland air. Trilingual (The Greenland version of Inuktituk, Danish and English), it is the only inflight magazine that will explain how a hole in an iceberg is formed. Also, check out the ads for luxury hotels featuring plastic chairs. More importantly, sound like PEOPLE ACTUALLY LIVE IN GREENLAND! :)

Paywal! Guess what, paywalls aren't just for the Economist. Lufthansa would be happy for you to read their iPad app, but no web or pdf version. So go buy an iPad. It's cheaper than flying Lufthansa!
 

2012-10-19

Fidel Castro is Dead (is What You Will Soon Read, maybe)

María Valverde
I went to the Miami Herald's web site for confirmation that Fidel Castro was almost dead and got seriously distracted by the news that María Valverde is starting in a new movie called Madrid 1987. She spends most of the movie locked in a bathroom, naked, with an elderly man. You have already seen her naked in Cracks and Melissa P. The 1987 of Madrid 1987 is the year she was born. It also makes an anagram of the beginning of Spanish democracy in 1978.

Anyway, an hour later I got a tweet confirming that the Miami Herald was ready to confirm that there is a rumour that 86 year old Fidel Castro is almost dead.

I was going to write how the youthful population of Cuba was caught naked in a bathroom with an elderly man and was about the be liberated. Unfortunately the population of Cuba isn't exactly youthful. And its not exactly naked either. Most Cubans have access to the basics of cloths, a roof and sustainable food.

But no freedom.

2012-10-18

Killing Ben Laden


His book No Easy Day is not exactly a page turner, but Mark Owen's 60 Minutes exposé is quite compelling.





2012-10-16

TV2012

Update: Amended for February 2013 TV.

You should read: House of Cards is a Hit! for my pay TV suggestions.

My Canadian Hulu, Fall 2012. As I did last year, this is my list of links, so I can easily view TV with one click. Links will be updated as I discover more shows. Links work in Canada.

Short URL: j.mp/tvcan

Create your own list: CBC (right click to copy link when in shows list), CTV, City, Global, SRC, TVO, Showcase, MTV. If you can't find your favourite show, it is possibly because Rogers is hording it on their cable only FX Canada channel. Although setting up a blog is easy, you can save your links in your Gmail if you don't have one. CBC, City, Global, SRC (tou.tv) and TVO have excellend iPad apps. Rogersondemand.com is iPad compatible.

For the 2012 TV season.

News
-TMZ (scroll down and click on "full episodes")

Drama
-Arctic Air CBC

Docudrama
-Edge of War City

Funny
-Mr. D (CBC)
-1600 Penn City
-Malibu Country City
-Last Man Standing City
-Suburgatory City
-Modern Family City
-The Office Global
-The Daily Show CTV
-Parks and Recreation City
-The Big Band Theory CTV
-Seed City
-Whitney CTV

Funny in French
-Infoman SRC

Documentary and Public Affairs
-The Passionate Eye CBC
-60 Minutes CBS
-Frontline PBS (some episodes not viewable in Canada)
-Nova  PBS (some episodes not viewable in Canada)

Reality TV
-The Amazing Race

Travel
-Departures City
-Wild Things City

Sports
-Hockey Night in Canada (CBC, some games are streemed live)
-NHL ($50 subscription; only the out of market games are live)

When you start to feel stupid, you can read a bit:
-Free news

In February 2013, added Arctic Air, Departures, Edge of War, Wild Things, Whiteney and Seed. Removed Last Resort and 30 Rock.  2013-02-06: Don't trust the bitch in Apartment 23 was canceled. :(

2012-10-15

Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling


From 101 Places Not to See Before You Die came the information that there is a festival in England where people run down a hill, chasing cheese, seriously injuring themselves in the process. Surely that can't be true. The author made that up! Well, Youtube to the rescue.





The Littlest Kobo, Traveling Light is Kobo Style: A Kobo Mini Review

The Kobo Mini is the littlest Kobo. And like the Littlest Hobo theme song says, traveling light is hobo style.

Hat tip Chris Tindal for the Littlest Kobo idea.


I bought a $80 Kobo Mini last week. Here is my review:

The good
-It is pocket size (including jeans pocket)
-At only 134g, it feels very lite in your hand (although, factually, it is heavier than the smaller iPod touch 88g or iPhone5 112g, but less than the iPhone4S at 140g or iPhone4 at 137g) 
-Cost: $80
-You can read in direct sunlight. If you can read a glossy magazine in direct sunlight, you will have no problem reading on the Kobo Mini
-Wifi. You can buy books from Kobo wirelesly.
-The battery. I've had the Kobo Mini for over a week and I haven't charged it yet. At all (I set it up wirelessly). In fact, I almost threw out the usb power charging cable by mistake. 
-Reduction of distractions. Reading a book requires concentration. Even in a very good book, some passages will be painfully boring. When Twitter (or this blog ;-) ) is only a thumb press away, you are doomed. The Kobo Mini is for book reading and buying. Nothing else.
-Ease of use and responsiveness. Apparently ebook readers slow down when hot. But in the October Canadian sun, that wasn't an issue. 
-Won't keep you awake. The iPod and iPad screens apparently will interfere with your sleeping. You could easily fall asleep reading a Kobo Mini. 

The bad (aka less good)
-The cost. Even at $80, if you are not a bookworm  it is going to take a while before you pay it off with the relative savings of ebooks (generally $5 to $10 a book less than a paperback).
-Turning pages. For epub formatted books, a small screen is fine (unless you somehow read more than one sentence at a time). However, the smaller the screen, the more page turns. And I haven't gotten the hang of changing pages with one hand yet.
-You need a light. If you have been spoiled by an iPad or iPhone/touch, you will notice this.
-On a plane, you need to turn it off on departure/landing. "There are currently 15 planes ahead of us" is a horrible sentence when joined with "all electronics must be off". That lasted 90 minutes on my last flight out of Newark (because of the rain!).
-You can only read books. The Kobo Mini is a single use device.
-In theory you can transfer books from any estore to the Kobo Mini compatible epub format with software like Calibre. In practice, you won't. So you are stuck wirelessly shopping from one store: Kobo. But the same can be said for Chapters-Indigo monopoly on paper books, unless you like the selection at Walmart. 
-Selection: There is very little cost to stock a virtual ebook for estores like Kobo. So there are duds a plenty out there. Beware.
-Does the screen scratch? I haven't seen one of those keys on screen Youtube videos for Kobo Mini yet, so I'm still wary of having my Kobo Mini in the same pocket as keys or even loose change.

Conclusions:
I would cry if my iPhone was lost/stolen/damaged at the beach. People, apparently, also tend to drop their smartphone in the toilet. So for that, Kobo Mini wins. I can absorb an $80 loss. $700? Not so much. Still, nobody in the history of time has ever had their paperback stolen at the beach. But if you finish your paperback, or it turns out to be terrible, you are screwed. With a Kobo, you probably have half a dozen books already downloaded and you are just a wifi hotspot away from many thousand more.

If you don't carry a purse, the Kobo Mini will fit in your front pocket. So the mini wins over the regular size Kobo Glo. The mini is smaller than the Glo, but that is a reasonable compromise for non-purse portability. A mini glo would be perfect. But it doesn't exist. Reading in the dark on a Kobo Mini is out of the question. You need a good light source.

If you can't decide between a $130 Kobo Glo and a $80Kobo Mini, buy both! The Kobo Glo for home use in less than ideal lighting, a device that won't interfere with your sleep like an iPad. The Kobo Mini for going to the park or beach, where you know there will be sunlight and you want to preserve your iPhone battery for important emails and, well, phone use.

If you don't already have a smartphone, the new iPod touch Retina display is only $300 and 88 grams. With a touch, you could easily buy from 3 stores: Apple, Kobo and Kindle-Amazon. I'd recommend the iPod touch.

But if you already have a smartphone, and your iPad is keeping you up at night, the Kobo Mini is worth the $80. Still, I just wish it had the Glo light feature.

Update: Turns out you can surf the web with the Kobo Mini. Not that you'd want to, as web pages are barely readeable. Hat tip GoodReader.com . More importanly, by playing with the settings, I was able to change the turn page settings: one hand book reading! My nose and but are greatfull. :)

Global Warming is Going to Happen

I think it is clear that the vast majority of people are aware that global warming is real. The problem is most people aren't willing to do anything about it. Put a filter on plants, plant some trees. OK. Smaller house? Nope. Closer /fewer vacations? Nope. One car instead of two? Nope.
People are willing to pay more for organic or bio food, because they perceive a value, but they don't see a value in paying more to curb global warming.

Don't get me wrong, government global warming decisions can effect behaviour. It is now more expensive to fly via the UK because of the new global warming tax. So what do people do? Not fly to the UK, obviously. But also fly inefficient direct flights (on smaller planes) directly to their non-UK destination. Or decide to go to Asia instead, now that it is a similar price. And if they don't fly at all? Well, they are doing something with the money. Almost everything you buy contributes to global warming, including bio and organically grown food.

My previous musings on the subject of global warming:
-Canada should ban pets.
-Parking caused global warming
-Ban pets to combat global warming
-Stop Global Warming: Move to a Greem Metropolis
-Save the Plannet: Ban Puppies
-Planting a tree will not reduce global warming
-Fundamental Flaw in Liberal Carbon Tax Proposal
 
 

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