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Cameron's House of Fun

Fatherhood, politics, education, random thoughts (heavy on the random thoughts) and stuff (always stuff).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


What is it about Adobe Acrobat that it must take over my whole computer when it does anything? 

I'm converting some Word docs (Faculty CVs) into PDF format, so I'm using the little add on toolbar dealie in Word. 

The Acrobat progress bar pops up, the Word doc comes to front, whatever else I'm doing is pushed to back.

It has the feel, overall, of a scary pop up from a not so very nice part of the web. 

Friday, July 06, 2007

ARRGGHHH! or I despair for the Canadian Left

This is what I sent to Jack Layton yesterday:

Mr. Jack Layton,

On your biography page it says that you believe in practical solutions for problems. And yet you keep saying things like "The strategy being followed by NATO right now is producing the precise opposite effect to the one that the promoters of this mission are suggesting should be the goal," Layton said. "In other words, growth of support for the Taliban because of these air strikes."

Only a comprehensive peace process — not armed conflict — can resolve the crisis in Afghanistan, he argued, noting that "students of history will know that all major conflicts are resolved ultimately through peace-oriented discussions.""

Actually history shows us that peace happens when several conditions exist, not the least of which being that one side feels like they've lost, so your argument, respectfully, is utter crap.

I'm being quite serious, "peace-oriented discussions" (also known as peace negotiations or talks - who writes for you? They should be fired.) require that 1) everyone wants peace 2) there is a central authority to negotiate with 3) that the end of conflict will not immediately be replaced with some new, different kind of conflict (like, say, a series of genocidal massacres based on, say, supporting democracy and western style ideals of same).

So your thesis fails on point one horribly, on point two it's laughable, and on point three you're displaying a callousness towards human life that makes me want to vomit.

The reality is that there is no peace to keep, no peace to negotiate for, no one to negotiate with and no secure area to negotiate within. Pretending that these conditions exist is a fantasy.

Once the left was populated by people like my Uncles who fought in WW2, by people like Orwell and Trumbo, who could tell wrong from right and could figure out that something had to be done about it.

Now it's populated by people like you who believe in a pacifist unilateralism that appears to me to be suicidal. Certainly we don't get to negotiate peace with allies, but suggesting that the way forward in Afghanistan is via a policy of unidimensional " peace-oriented discussions" (still thinking that someone should loose their job over that..) ignores the reality and the complexity of the situation. This knee jerk reaction towards anything involving the US (and increasingly, NATO) is, frankly, childish and simplistic.

I think the current regime in the US are a pack of corrupt, right wing demagogues, most of whom need a good sending to bed without dinner (and/or jail time) but in my read, that has bugger all to do with the fact that the Canadian Forces presence in the reconstruction and (horrors) combat operations in Afghanistan is accomplishing good.

Additionally sir, the tying of Canadian troops, even tangentially, to what you seem to believe is a NATO policy of bombing civilians for sport is disgusting. It does your position utterly no good at all. It's wrong.

I know that journalists seek you out every time a Canadian is killed in Afghanistan and why not? You give good clip. But the constant sight of you scoring cheap political points with the deaths of our military personal? It wears sir. A suggestion, one that would ratchet up many peoples respect for you by something like 100%, would be to tell the journalists a variation on "There will be time to discuss the mission later, today our thoughts are with our brave soldiers and their families." Trite? Maybe. Lacking in the fun oomph of scoring cheap shots? Oh yes. Respectful and classy? Indeed.

I come from a family who's political views range from red Tory all the way to charter members of the CCF, with stops along the way in trade unionism, full on communists and just about every other colour of the socially progressive rainbow. I've voted for your party in the past (and in the absence of your party running a viable candidate in my riding, for M. Duceppe), so it pains me to say this: I will never vote for the NDP while you are at it's helm.


I'll vote for a fringe party, the Monarchists, the Communist party, whatever local looney has managed to get together the deposit by borrowing the money from his friend, but never ever again the NDP.

I expect no response to this letter, I expect that you won't even see it or have it read to you (Hello, by the way, to the intern reading this. I hope you're having a great summer, my jobs always sucked and involved lifting boxes or digging holes, good on you for scoring a good one. Enjoy it, and good luck next semester. Stay in school.), I know that democracy no longer works that way but it felt like the least I could do.

With great regret,

Cameron Campbell

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Oh Apple..

While I'm not a fan boy by any extent*, I love Apple products. I've never bought any other kind of computer, I prefer to work on them, I currently have six (in various states of repair) around our house. I like how the OS works, I like the hardware, I like the industrial design (hmm. MB I am a fan boy).

All of this to say that I have used tons of Macs, both personally and professionally. I've owned at least 15, I've worked with and done simple upgrades on just about every Mac since the LCII. So it is with this experience that I say this: The mighty mouse's track ball? It sucks.

Oh, when it works it's amazing. It's wonderful. The side to side and diagonal tracking? Cool beyond all measure. The up and down? Crisp.

It's just that it is flaky as all get out.

Look, I don't wash my hands before I use my computer. I've been known to snack at my desk. This is probably bad. It breaks rules of computing. But if this were a jailable offense, we'd have to build really, really big jails.

The mechanism is located under the ball. It's enclosed. There is no way at it. So food particles, body grease, cat hair, whatever gets in there. It gets between the ball and the mechanism. The ball stops working. Or it skids. Or it goes up by not down. Or down but not up.

Apple's solution. Hold the mouse upside down and rub it back and forth vigorously.

What. The. Hell?

This is one time that hte design failed.

*Jobs is about as god like as any other CEO of a major company, the constant sniping at the corporate uses of the PC, while amusing, are probably off putting, plus IT'S A COMPANY PEOPLE.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Free at last!

This makes me profoundly happy.

Like a bit misty happy.

I don't know the man, I'm no longer even tangentially a journalist, but I have been following this story very, very closely.

That it ended with no death is just icing on the cake (to be honest, a bit of dead, of any variety, for the people who captured him wouldn't have bothered me tons...).

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