Archive for the 'canada' Category

Speak out against the Canadian uber-DMCA

Posted by mikedaum on June 13th, 2008

Seems the Tories have yet again proposed their horrible, horrible copyright legislation.  What’s being proposed is very similar to the disastrous DMCA in the US, but goes even farther.  Good for Hollywood, good for the RIAA, bad for people.  Very bad.

Boing Boing today has a post which links to this excellent site which is set up to make it easy to voice your opinion to your MP.  Takes about 20 seconds, and could make a big difference.  So please go send the letter.

MegaMan parody illustrates RCMP’s tasing acumen

Posted by mikedaum on January 4th, 2008

I was outraged last month by the brutal murder of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski by agents of the RCMP.  I watched the entire video of the event, which showed Dziekanski lost and confused in the Vancouver airport.  He was performing mildly aggressive actions, such as throwing a computer and yelling.  That might have been because he had been stuck alone in the baggage claim area for several hours.  He spoke no English and had never been outside of Poland.  The RCMP arrived and murdered him within 25 seconds, despite the fact that he posed no threat to them ( they were 4 trained, armed men and he was alone and unarmed ).

It still makes me furious to think that this happened here.  The RCMP should be disbanded, or relegated to shows and parades where they can wear their Dudley Dooright outfits to the delight of the crowd.  Worse still is the fact that the story has completely disappeared, despite the 300 or so groups promising full inquiries at the time.  So it was refreshing to me to see Wired post this nice parody of the events.  In the video below, you can see the MegaMan version of the violence.  I’d be tempted to say that it trivializes the events, but it actually does a very good job of capturing the outrageous situation.  And the presentation actually works well to show the cartoonish and thoughtless approach which the RCMP bring to the job.


Global Warming Solved !

Posted by mikedaum on June 27th, 2007


Turns out while all of us have been sitting on our hands and fretting about climate change, somebody’s actually gone out and found a solution. That’s right, the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association has been working overtime on this problem and has come up with a groundbreaking plan. It seems that everything is going to be alright if we just BUY MORE CARS. That’s right. It’s the old cars which pollute…the new ones are squeaky clean! So if you love the planet, you need a shiny new car.

On the CVMA website you can read “Driving for Clean Air”, where you’ll learn that “a vehicle produced today is 12 times cleaner than one produced in 1993, and 37 times cleaner than one produced in 1983”. A look under the hood (sorry) shows, however, that what is being compared are not emissions, but the legal emissions standards….which of course are more lax for cars which have been on the road for 14 and 24 years than for new cars.

The website also features plan details under the heading “An Auto Green Plan”. The bold strategy laid out here features:

  • New Green Technologies

    (hybrids, fuel cells, government grants for R&D

  • Cleaner Fuel Choices For Canadians

    (mainly ethanol — shores up the Western support I suppose)

  • Getting old polluting vehicles off the road

    (sweet, sweet profit)

  • Greening the Government Fleets

    (delicious new public sector contracts)

  • Changing Our Own Driving Behaviour

    (This one is really the best one. I can’t really do it justice, so I beg you to go read it yourself. Suffice it to say that less driving is not part of the plan. Think “accelerate more slowly” and “maintain correct tire pressure”)

As the CVMA says: “Believe or not, we can reduce emissions with every new car.”

General Science Knowledge in Canada vs. U.S.

Posted by mikedaum on June 19th, 2007

After reading my posts on the startlingly low occurrence of heliocentrism in the U.S., several folks have asked me what the corresponding numbers are in Canada.  I’ve done a bit of searching, and have so far unable to find a Canadian data set which directly addresses this question.  My sense though, was that the spirit of the question does not demand a direct answer as such, but is rather intended to knock this admittedly smug Canada-dweller off his high horse (otherwise, they could have asked me about Italy, or the Sudan).

Accordingly, I searched for studies which featured direct comparisons of different types of literacy between countries.  The best I’ve found so far is the “Findings from the Condition of Education 2006: U.S. Student and Adult Performance on International Assessments of Educational Achievement“, a roundup prepared by the U.S. Department of Education which summarizes results from a great number of international literacy comparisons.  Anyone who’s interested in this topic should have a look at the document…it’s a great read.

The two studies quoted are the TIMSS and PISA.  TIMSS is a great series of studies which were run in 1995, 1999 and 2003 which looked at cross-country scientific knowledge.  Unfortunately, Canada did not participate in the 2003 run, so I won’t include the data here.  TIMSS 2007 is currently underway, so we’ll have to wait until December 2008 to see what the results are.  TIMSS 1999 featured a comparison of math and science literacy in 8th graders in which Canada scored 531 — “significantly higher” than the U.S. score of 515.

Table 9 in the FCE document shows the results of the science literacy data gathered as part of PISA 2003.  Here Canada scores 519 — “measurably higher” than the U.S. score of 491.  This data quantifies the scientific knowledge of 15 year olds.

The FCE’s Table 10 shows a very interesting summary of the results.  Looking at Math and Science, it seems that the U.S. remains competitive through the 8th grade, and more or less collapses thereafter.

So the nutshell answer seems to be yes, Canadians know more about science than people in the U.S.  We also have Universal health care and don’t start wars.