Spying on my Backyard

26 September 2022: In a previous blog post, Sunflowers in 2022, I mentioned that I had purchased a game camera to catch the miscreant that was destroying my sunflowers.

Mini-review: I had purchased the least expensive generic game camera I could find, the Hawkray Cam ($68.99 on Amazon. Canadian dollars!), because I know that I rarely correctly predict the important features of anything that I buy for the first time. It worked out fine but if I ever buy another one I’ll probably go for the Wi-Fi option so that I can see the field of view after I have set it up.

Unfortunately it didn’t provide any value for that problem (Aside: I serendipitously saw a black squirrel breaking one of my few remaining plants and even though the game camera was aimed directly at the scene of the crime, it didn’t record any video. Oh well.). But during that investigation I did capture a random video of a random raccoon in the middle of my yard.

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Sunflowers in 2022

16 September 2022: This summer marked my second foray into growing sunflowers in Ottawa. It was an unmitigated disaster 😦 . I had hoped to better the record of my rookie season during which my tallest sunflower reached 10 and a half feet but I wasn’t even close. And certainly nowhere near the world record height of over 25 feet (link).

It started out badly and went downhill from there.

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06 September 2022: Trudeau has a bad habit of telling us what we think:

Leaving aside his unwarranted presumption that he was elected to opine on our behalf, who exactly are these Canadians of whom he speaks? All Canadians? The majority of Canadians? Some Canadians? A few Canadians? Two Canadians? It certainly can’t be all Canadians because I personally haven’t lost confidence in Hockey Canada (Aside: Although I am shocked that there’s a Canadian scandal in which Trudeau isn’t playing a central role!). I’m not angry with the unvaccinated. I’m not deeply saddened by American politics. I find the evidence for climate change unconvincing.

Continue reading #AdjectivesMatter

Laith Marouf + $600M + CBC = @jonkay

29 August 2022: The August 2022 kerfuffle about Laith Marouf is an interesting case study of the too-cozy relationship between the MainStream Media and our government. The context is pretty straightforward: Laith Marouf is an anti-Semite who has been tweeting vile and offensive tweets pretty much continuously for at least the last twenty years. Here’s a relatively mild example from July 2021:


Continue reading Laith Marouf + $600M + CBC = @jonkay

Alternatives to the CBC – Introduction

19 August 2022: It’s an article of faith for me that the CBC is a dreadful source of news. It’s not that they’re biased; by necessity everyone is.

Digression: It seems reasonable that an event that affects more than a million people is noteworthy. And with eight billion people in the world that means that there are probably hundreds of ongoing stories and dozens of new events each day that meet that criteria. It would be impossible for any news organization to report on them all. So the CBC does what everyone does; they make subjective decisions about the relative importance of those stories and only report on a couple of dozen of them. That’s bias and it’s unavoidable. It’s reasonable to criticize their choices but not that they do choose.

They’re dreadful for different reasons:

Continue reading Alternatives to the CBC – Introduction

Gelato in Croatia

09 August 2022: A couple of months ago I mentioned to my son that I had sampled a lot of gelato during my cycling trip to Croatia (link). So much that I considered it one of the memes of the trip. My son disagreed; themes aren’t memes. Social media is more complicated than that. And since I only had only a vague notion about memes I could hardly disagree with his disagreement.

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Cycling in Ottawa

31 July 2022: According to the City of Ottawa (link), there are over 800 kilometers (!) of bicycle paths in the area (specifically in Ottawa-Gatineau and the Outaouais). And even though I’ve been cycling here for years, I doubt that I’ve cycled more than 200 kilometers of them. I have three or four familiar routes and I usually stick to them.

But earlier this year I thought “Why not cycle all 800 kilometers this summer?” That sounds like a great project: not that difficult, builds on what I was going to do anyway, provides a topic for my blog, contains a well-defined goal, and has a high coolness factor. What’s not to like?

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Invoking the Emergencies Act

10 March 2022: The Emergencies Act is the nuclear weapon of the Canadian government’s legislative arsenal; it is designed for use in “an urgent and critical situation of a temporary nature that (a) seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians and is of such proportions or nature as to exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it, or (b) seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada and that cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada“.

There’s a lot of ambiguity in that text: “urgent and critical“, “seriously endangers“, “of such proportions“, “seriously threatens“, “cannot be effectively dealt with“, are all loopholes that the enforcers of an authoritarian-inclined government could ride horses through 😦 . To me such an Act is meant for situations like an invasion of Canada, an asteroid wiping out a major city, a pandemic decimating the population, a widespread armed insurrection, etc. Situations where Canada’s continued existence as a viable political entity is at risk.

Aside: Whether the Trucker Convoy protest in downtown Ottawa exceeds that threshold is a topic for another day. Spoiler: It doesn’t.

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Ukraine and the MSM

03 March 2022: Full disclosure: I know almost nothing about Ukraine let alone the Ukraine-Russia relationship but that’s okay because this post isn’t really about Ukraine (Aside: I do know that Stalin killed millions of Kulaks in Ukraine in the 1930s but I have no idea why I know that. Maybe it’s one of the many benefits of the Canadian education system).

Before yesterday I could not have identified Ukraine on a map; Until then I thought that the Ukraine in the board game Risk that I used to play as a teen-ager was pretty accurate (below on the left). Comparing that with its actual size and location (below on the right) highlights my abysmal knowledge about this particular topic 😦 .

Left: Risk board. Right: Actual map.
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Crunching the Numbers of the 2021 Election

24 February 2022: When I analyzed the results of Canadian elections in the past (2015-Fed, 1984-Fed, 2018-Ontario and 2019-Fed) I focused on the ridings with the closest races, marveling that a few thousand votes could have changed the outcome of an election in a country of 38 million people. For example, in the 2019 federal election an additional ~21000 votes distributed in thirteen specific ridings would have resulted in a Liberal majority instead of the Liberal minority that actually happened. And the potential knock-on effects would have been huge! A Liberal majority in 2019 would have meant that there would have been no 2021 election and that we would maybe still be subject to the Emergencies Act! Canada certainly dodged a bullet 31 months ago! 21000 Thank Yous, whoever you are!

Continue reading Crunching the Numbers of the 2021 Election