Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hotel Celtic

To swear in a language not one's own is less incisive than swearing in your mother tongue. But tabernac! That nice quebecois juron referring to religious icons, tabernacles, just about captures my surprise at learning that one of the alleged perpetrators of the Rue Copernic terrorist bombing in Paris in 1980 is a professor at the University of Ottawa. And his wife is on staff too. At that time France was the target of numerous attentats. It was the age of the PLO, Red Brigades, Baader-Meinhof and airplane hijacks. The bombing of the synagogue killed several people and was one of the incidents of the age that most stays with me, probably because a Swiss friend told me his parents were only a block away returning to their hotel when they heard the explosion. They narrowly missed being implicated. I would have read all about it in Paris Match. So now Canada has arrested this person. The hand writing on a motorcycle rental agreement, the bike which carried the explosives, has been matched to him. Wow, twenty nine years later. Bet you he swore (English, French or Arabic, who knows). A nice twist was he stayed at the Hotel Celtic in the centre of Paris. And the hotel at Motherwell cross would have been happy to put him up. Do you like the way I mix in religion and football to almost any platitudes I write?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

A Day in the Life

Vancouver Under Siege

I'm afraid to visit my mother in Vancouver. The past few months have seen dozens of shootings, especially in the suburb of Surrey through which I pass and even stay at times. Gang violence is apparently directly related to the Mexican drug cartel wars. As sources of cocaine dry up so the gangs internecine warfare up and down the West Coast intensifies. Of course British Columbia is now a multi-billion dollar marijuana grow-op so it seems rather facile to blame the Mexicans. My post of three or four months ago picked up on the incessant violence though. Some parts of Mexico are under travel advisories because of the violence. Ciudad Juarez gets 200 drug related corpses through its new morgue every month. It is already looking to expand.

Google Searches As Bad As Flying

For several years it has worried me about the mindless way in which we keep computers purring by continually firing off queries and searches into cyberspace. What is the environmental cost of these seemingly banal actions? Well to-day Offsetters which keeps track of unsustainable practices gives this assessment which confirms my fears. Google searches i.e. any computer searches, contribute as much to carbon emissions as the airline industry. YARGH! Here is the short e-mail item which addressed the issue;

"CBC Radio recently interviewed our sourcing director, Morgan McDonald, for his thoughts on a report by a Harvard physicist claiming that each individual Google search is responsible for about 7 grams of carbon dioxide emissions. According to this report, if you conduct two Google searches your emissions are roughly the same as boiling a kettle. This report went 'viral' online (ironically) and has understandably caused some controversy. Morgan pointed out that whether or not these figures are accurate, it is important to realize that using computers and having a so-called 'paperless' office isn't necessarily emissions free. The popularity of this article has played an important role in making people think about the emissions associated with computing, which by some estimates are the same as those from the entire aviation industry."
Source; Offsetters Newsletter, February 2009