My thoughts, for Earth Day 2007


Happy birthday Earth! That's right, the earth was born 4.57 billion years ago on this day. The environmental topic for the media these days seems to be global warming, so I'll talk about it too. A couple weeks back I found this great "right wing" t-shirt stop global whining. I liked it, both because of the irony of me wearing it, and because I was already starting to get pissed off with all the global warming BS. Not because I don't think it's an issue, but because there are so many other issues getting swept under the carpet because of it. Apparently everything negative is caused by global warming now, too hot, too cold, rain storms, wind storms, earthquakes, hurricanes, car accidents, obesity, seal hunting, etc. (and no, I have no references to backup my claims :)). Sure, the earth warming up a few degrees is bound to cause problems, and reducing green house gasses is probably a Good Thing. But you know what, dumping raw and toxic sewage in our oceans, lakes, and rivers, clear cutting tropical rain forests, over fishing, GMO food, pesticides, lacing everything we use and wear with poisonous chemicals such as fire retardant and Teflon, nuclear waste, and filling up our landfills with toxins and materials that won't degrade for thousands of years aren't so great either. Most of those things can be much more easily fixed than global warming and may possibly have a much greater long term impact (did you know that half of Earth's oxygen comes from plankton, you thought the polar ice caps melting was bad news... wait until we run out of oxygen).

In addition to everything being caused by global warming, apparently everything is also a solution to global warming. From emitting more green house gasses to dumping iron in the oceans to urban planning (imagine, not commuting 100km to work everyday, I can't!). Don't even get me started on hybrids (dang! you just did). Honestly, you think a car that gets you 10 more miles to the gallon in city driving is going to save the environment? And who's buying the hybrid SUVs? Are you serious? Hey, I just bought an SUV, I'm saving the environment! How about considering the harmful effects of building and disposing of batteries used in hybrids (oh, but that doesn't cause global warming, so it must be ok). Buy a second hand fuel efficient car if you want to help. The Real Cost (tm) is in production and disposal anyway. So, in summary, stop whining about global warming and do something about it (buying a new hybrid and watching an inconvenient truth don't count, sorry).

Now, onto another topic... tupperware! FUN! I was eating out with Ariane the other night (someone who ALWAYS takes home a doggy bag :-p) and we've talked about bringing our own tupperware to bring home restaurant leftovers before, but this time I got a wicked idea. First, think of the benefits:

  1. reusable containers to reduce waste
  2. you don't have to wait for your server to bring your food back to the kitchen
  3. if you had someone who may have been rude to your server, you can be sure that nothing will happen to your food when it goes back to the kitchen (cause it won't be going back :)).

Out in the 'burbs it may not have been so embarrassing to take some tupperwares to dinner... however, in Yaletown, I've noticed that some people can be a bit snobby (or at least that's the stereo type, which is good enough for me ;)), and may give you dirty looks for bringing in 15 year old tupperwares to pack your food in. So... wait for it... stylish tupperwares! That's right, tupperwares that even a classic Yaletown yuppie would be seen walking around with.

I don't know if they exist already, but if someone's going to buy an SUV to help save the environment, someone will surely buy stylish tupperware (like me!).

Random crap

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I was bored a couple weekends ago and decided to see what facebook was all about. Is it just me, or is that site growing like crazy? I just found this funny group on it today that I thought I'd share with you guys, cause I know most of you have been to the foggy dew in the Coq.  http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2232660619&ref=mf
On a completely unrelated note, but since I'm bored and don't feel like doing work tonight... I've been watching mtv canada since it started last summer, and I must say, Jessi is definitely the hottest person there. But what the hell is with the mtv.ca website. Doesn't work with any mac browser, or linux browser, even with the appropriate plugins. Those guys seriously need to hire some real web designers.

Hmm... anything else random? I guess I'm really digging that new "Young Folks" song right now by Peter Bjorn and John and the Arcade Fire... and Death Cab for Cutie.

Northern Voice in one week. w00t!!!11.

The textbook monopoly


Yup. Looks like I'm a student again. Already starting to feel the burn too (but that could be due to kind of a crazy first week). Of all the ways students get screwed, I think textbooks piss me off the most. Every once in a while, a textbook that you have to buy is a gem and you end up being able to use it for more than just a semester. Funny how those ones are always reasonably priced.

This semester I only needed to buy one book, which was nice. What wasn't nice was that this book costs almost $160 from the SFU bookstore (after taxes). This is an absolutely rediculous price. I wouldn't pay that much for any book, let alone a book that I'm only going to use for 3.5 months. In addition, this particular textbook comes out with a new revision every single year. That way you, oh so conveniently, can't sell the book back after the semester ends, your 2005 copy is already out of date.

With this particular book, if I were to pick it up off a book givaways shelf, and read the first chapter, I'd want the time it took me to read it back. I wouldn't take this book if it were given to me for free. It's not worth the space on my bookshelf. The quality of writing is so poor, it's almost uncomparable to any other book I've read. And Parveen can verify that (he had the pleasure of reading a brief part of the book).

I really wonder why so many students just bend over and take this. For a demographic that is probably the most likely to be involved in a protest you'd think the bullshit textbook monopoly would have been taken care of long ago. I guess it's just not that big of an issue in the grand scheme of things.

Smokey and Non-Smoking

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As anyone within about 100 miles of burns bog could tell you, it's damn
smokey. Depending on the wind direction the smokiness comes and goes, but
I seem to have had a perma-sore throat since Monday.

On a semi-but-not-really-related note, I was just reading an article on
the CBC, Montreal bar owners to challenge
Quebec smoking ban
. From the article:

Two bar owners in Montreal are launching a legal battle against
Quebec's anti-smoking legislation. They say the law will cause job
losses because more patrons will stay home.

Talk about Deja Vu. Do these people honestly think it will hurt their
business? There are plenty of real world examples proving just the opposite. If
someone wants to smoke, they don't go to a restaurant or bar to do it. They
go to restaurants or bars when they want to eat or drink, and that ain't about
to change.

Piracy Hurts


A couple of weeks ago I was thinking about the reality of piracy (for
whatever reason). Anyway, the conclusion I drew was that piracy does
hurt, but not in the sense that most companies would have you believe.

Microsoft claims that they lose billions of dollars every year due to piracy,
the RIAA and MPAA both have relatively identical claims. These claims are
obviously rediculous, because a company only loses money if the pirate
would have purchased the product had they not pirated it. Do you think even a
fraction of those pirated version of Windows in developing countries would have
been purchased if not pirated? With the cost of Windows being far more than the
average monthly salery of many of those developing countries, I highly doubt it.

(Of course, that idea does fall apart in a certain sense, because it basically
implies that someone who is poor should have a "morally" free reign to

Now, all that aside, let's imagine for a moment that we live in a world that
piracy doesn't exist, or that Microsoft, the RIAA, and the MPAA, suddenly
divised a method to completely stop piracy. Is your version of Windows or
MS Office pirated? If so, would you go out and buy office for $500? How about
Windows for $300? Or would you download
OpenOffice for free, which contains
99% of the functionality that you use in MS Office?

You might still purchase Windows instead of switching to Linux or another
free alternative. Switching OS's is magnitudes more difficult than switching
office suites. But eventually you'd start asking
yourself, "why am I shelling out $300 every two years for software that is
less reliable and secure than a free alternative!?".

Piracy is actually helping Microsoft maintain market share, without it they
lose their monopoly. Without their monopoly they lose all of their control.
In my eyes, right now piracy is the only major roadblock in Linux's and
open source software's way.

Now, let's extrapolate this a little futher, onto the RIAA. That's right, all
you evil "file sharers", no more sharing for you! At least not of the
"signed" artists song variety (we're still imagining here). You've now got to
shell out a few bucks to get your Britney Spears fix. Sure, you'll still do
it, but only because you really love to piss off your room mates.

The free sharing of pirated songs ends. This paves the
way for an easy to access venue for independant artists. Sure, those artists
have online venues for sharing music right now, but the RIAA still has a
stronghold over what you listen to because those venues are minimal and
not popularised. "Why should I download some Indy band's song (that might suck)
when I could just download the latest Nickelback song (which follows a proven
formula of a standard sound and simple lyrics)?"

If the only free music you could get was from unsigned artists, you'd probably
listen to a lot more indy bands. Any musician with a grasp of reality knows
that a career in music will only last maybe two albums if they're really
lucky. It's not a viable living. They do it because they love music and they
want other people to hear their music.

(Note, by "career in music", I'm referring only to writing and performing

Basically what I'm getting at, is that the line between RIAA controlled music
and indy music becomes a lot more obvious. The RIAA losing a monopoly in the
music industry means that they will no longer have ultimate control over
what gets played on the radio or sold in the store. Just as Microsoft losing
their monopoly means that you no longer have to pay an additional $80 for
your computer because their OS comes preinstalled and you've got no say in the

In conclusion, don't stop pirating because it hurts a multi-billion dollar
multi-national corporation, stop pirating because it hinders the people who
are trying to give you something that's even better than the very thing
that corporation is trying to sell you. Software pirating hurts open
source, and music pirating hurts the independant band.