October 24, 2005

Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years

Finally, a refreshingly honest opinion about how long it takes to really learn something:

Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years

October 12, 2005

The Big Ideas Lead to Each Other...

This is a followup to this post: http://ejohnlove.blogspot.com/2005/07/grokking-einsteins-big-idea-legacy-of.html

I just watched "Einstein's Big idea" on PBS. This is an episode of the "Nova" science program which shows (dramatically as well as factually) how Einstein's famous equation E=mc2 came to be discovered, and the historical developments and personalities in physics which led up to it.

The historical development of physics seems to follow the concept of integration: ideas previously thought to be incompatible and unrelated (such as electricity and magnetism) were eventually found to share something in common or to be different sides of something else.

From my meager study of the ideals of monotheistic religions, I see a similar goal: a oneness with God and others in your society by internalizing and integrating examples of compassion, cooperation and self-sacrifice into one's personal approach to everyday life.

Buddhism, a non-theistic religion that's does not have a god, teaches that all people and things are interconnected and interdependent, and that ultimately, the very concept of one's ego (a personal concept of "me", and how it is separate from "you") is an illusion, an artificial division.

I also have seen an integration between religions and science. Eminent physicists such as Albert Einstein and Steven Hawking have often compared physics' search for a Grand Unified Theory with knowing the mind of God. Religion has likewise absorbed ideas of science, such as how some progressive Christians might claim that God created the Big Bang.

It's a shame that while this gradual compatibility of life philosophies is ocurring, old divisive (human) tendencies such as greed, selfishness or "me first" attitudes towards individuality seem to continue to undermine what we could otherwise have in common.

October 09, 2005

A Scientific Explanation of Government...

From thetyee.ca: 'Is Jinny Sims Going to Jail?'

Quoting a poster named 'Professor', who said:

"A major research institution has announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet know to science - "governmentium." It has 1 neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons and 111 assistant deputy neutrons for an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons that are further surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like sub particles called peons.

Governmentium has no electrons and is therefore inert. It can be detected however since it impedes every reaction it comes into contact with. A tiny amount of governmentium can take a reaction that normally occurs in seconds and slow it to the point where it take days.

Governmentium has a normal half life of three years. It doesn't decay but "re- organizes", a process where assistant deputy neutrons and deputy neutrons change places. This process actually causes it to grow as in the confusion some morons become neutrons, thereby forming isodopes.

This phenomenon of "moron promotion" has led to some speculation that governmentium forms whenever sufficient morons meet in concentration forming critical morass. Researches believe that in Governmentium, the more you re- organize, the morass you cover."

October 08, 2005

Does Beaver's Bark Have Bite?

Does the Beaver's bark have bite?

The other day, I read about Prime Minister Paul Martin's recent address to the Economic Club of New York. His language has become more blunt, (finally) echoing the feelings of many Canadian citizens who, since May of 2002, have been negatively affected by the imposition of $5 billion of tariffs on Canadian softwood by the U.S.

"Forgive my sudden departure from the safe language of diplomacy, but this is nonsense," said Martin. "More than that, it's a breach of faith. Countries must live up to their agreements. The duties must be refunded. Free trade must be fair trade."

"It's not because Canada wants it. It's because there's a small group of [people with] narrow interests in the United States, who essentially want to keep the lumber out to keep the prices up..."

The "small group of narrow interests" to which Mr. Martin refers are U.S. lumber lobbyists.

The statement from this address that stood out for me (and apparently had an impact on Martin's conservative audiences in New York) went as follows:
"He later noted in his speech that removing the tariffs on Canadian lumber would lower the cost of each new American home by $1,000 on average -- and make about 300,000 more Americans eligible for mortgages."

Full story here...

On CNN, Mr. Martin said:
"The American people who have got to pay $1,000 more per home or the American people who can't get a mortgage because their home prices are up, obviously are suffering from lumber costs which are artificial."

Full transcript here...

Martin sent a similar message in an interview for The Wall Street Journal.

In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the idea of getting more lumber into the American market to benefit construction efforts and lower material costs takes on serious significance. The idea of rescinding the tariffs to ease domestic reconstruction efforts is now beginning to stick with some American officials,

"Officials say the notion of lowering duties on softwood to increase the flows for reconstruction following the devastation from hurricane Katrina is being seriously discussed in Washington.

Not only would that help in the shorter-term crisis but could move along stalled talks to resolve the softwood lumber trade dispute that threatens to poison relations between the two countries, says U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins.

"Obviously, that's an idea that's being considered," he said in an interview Thursday.

"If this would help bring a resolution, I want to help bring a solution" to the long-running battle that threatens a $10-billion annual industry.

Mr. Wilkins said he's been working hard to keep top White House officials informed of Canada's position.

For three years, duties averaging more than 20 per cent on Canadian softwood exports have been collected by Washington, totaling more than $5 billion -- money the industry wants back.

The two countries have been battling at various trade tribunals over the penalties on Canadian softwood, which is used mainly in home construction.

Negotiations were going on at the same time, but broke down in early August after Washington shrugged off a major Canadian win under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"I understand Canada's frustration on this," said Mr. Wilkins, who has been Washington's envoy to Ottawa for just a few months."

Full story here...

So is progress being made? It seems so, but while Canada may take some hope that progress is being made in the softwood lumber dispute (with some opinions from Washington beginning to sound more moderate and open-minded), it's probably because the Eagle now needs to find a compromise with that pissed off Beaver up north, to avoid doing more damage to it's own nest.

Related Articles:

A History of Canada-U.S. Lumber Disputes (from CBC)
Should Canada Get Out of NAFTA? (The Blog of Love, Sept. 24. 2005)

October 06, 2005

Journal reveals Hitler's Dysfunctional Family

"Two historians on Wednesday acclaimed the discovery in Germany of a journal written by Adolf Hitler's sister, saying it offers remarkable insights into the dysfunctional nature of the Fhrer's family."

From a psychological and humanistic perspective, I continue to be fascinated by any early family factors that could contribute to later antisocial or psychotic actions. Hitler is one of the ultimate examples of this.