France beats England in Euro 2004 Opener; Schumacher Lucky #7

What a game. What a devastating loss for England. After scoring just before half time, England led until right near the end when Beckham failed to convert a penalty kick. Shortly after, Zidane scored on a free kick and in extra time, scored on a penalty kick awarded after a horrible English error.

The only saving grace I suppose was that I picked up some points for the pool I am in. All is not lost however, still enough games for England to make it through. For more, keep an eye on SportsGuru’s blog.

The other sporting event of the day was the Canadian Grand Prix, which Michael Schumacher won. He has now set a record as the first driver ever to win a race seven times. Go Schumi!

Why I like IMDB!

If you have read my movie posts, you probably know that I link to the Internet Movie Database a lot. I have always liked this site, ever since the days of “riddler.com” (anyone remember that? probably back in like 1996). It has tons of information, is accurate, fast and clean. It is also owned by Amazon.

Another reason I like it is because I can do stuff like this: I saw the MTV movie awards tonight, and one pair of presenters was Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx who were promoting their new movie Collateral. What is Tom up to after this movie? Mission: Impossible 3 opens in 2005, and he is also in a new Steven Spielberg movie called War of the Worlds slated for 2006. One of the writers for the movie is David Koepp, who is also in the process of writing Spider-Man 3, slated for 2007!

So there you have it, I just found out that Spider-Man 3 has already been announced. Cool site, eh?!

Congratulations Kimmi!

Tonight was my sister’s graduation…from high school! I can’t believe how time flies. It seems like only yesterday that I graduated and she was just going into grade 10.

This was a big year for graduation in Inuvik, 22 students made it! Imagine graduating with only 21 other kids…kinda scary isn’t it? Hopefully I’ll have some pictures later, but here is my sister’s grad photo!

Well Kim, congrats from me 🙂 Now its on to bigger and better things!

Computers in 2034

I came across this very interesting article on News.com entitled “Thirty years with computers” by Jakob Nielsen. In the article Nielsen describes what he expects computers to look like in the year 2034 based on his experiences in the last thirty years:

Futurist Jakob Nielsen asserts that home computers will have microprocessors running at 3 petahertz (300,000 gigahertz) that have a petabyte’s worth of memory, a billion gigabytes of storage and a 250-gigabit broadband connection.

Sounds pretty good hey? There is a follow-up comment to the story that says Nielsen gets it wrong, and really, this will be how we define the future:

More importantly, Nielsen is stuck on the PC box paradigm. Looking back at the last 30 years of change in computers, I find it hard to believe that the computers of 30 years from now will even be describable within the paradigm of today’s machines. Chip speed? Gigabytes?

I am kind of in the middle of these two perspectives. Surely computers in thirty years will have some concept of speed, it probably just won’t be called petahertz. Already Intel and AMD are moving away from the GHz naming scheme. At the same time, I don’t think computers are going to get THAT much smaller. There reaches a point where too small becomes unusable by our clumsy human fingers.

We’ll probably get bigger displays and storage like Nielsen predicts, and computers will probably get smaller (slightly) and cheaper. However I think the biggest differences will come in interface. Handwriting, speech, and image recognition will be the dominant technologies. Your computer will recognize your signature, voice and face.

The two places I think we most need a revolution? Easy! Power and materials. Battery power today is absolutely terrible compared with the rest of technology, and it will more than likely undergo a breakthrough in the next 30 years. The second area that needs to drastically change are the materials used for building computers. Silicon? Copper? How about DNA and other nanomolecules! Infinitely more powerful, and most importantly, infinitely cheaper.

Election 2004: Foreign AIDS Spending

I have finished my second entry in the Election 2004 mini-series. This one covers the somewhat touchy topic of spending money on AIDS relief overseas. Leave a comment and let me know what you think! Here’s a small excerpt:

Instead of stealing from the average (Canadian taxpayers) to give to the poor, why not have the rich donate to the poor? I can tell you with complete honesty that I would rather see the Canadian government spend money on hospitals in my city than on poor countries around the world.

Read Episode #2

Election 2004: Foreign AIDS Spending (Episode #2)

Welcome to the second episode. I know this one is likely to be a touchy subject for many of you, but here are my thoughts on government and spending money on AIDS drugs and treatment in poor countries.

Basically, my opinion boils down to this – don’t waste money on AIDS overseas. Now I agree that some money should be spent on AIDS research, that is, finding a cure or proper treatment. However, I think that money only needs to be spent at home. Pay our doctors and scientists to work on finding a cure. It is beyond me how spending taxpayers money on AIDS overseas delivers any benefit back to us. Lets say we cure them of AIDS, then what? They are still poor. They still live in dirty, inadequate housing. They still don’t have clean water. (1) If they don’t die from AIDS, they will likely die from something else anyways. That’s harsh, but that’s reality.

Instead of government spending all this money in poor countries, why not lobby to create more organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation? They are rich people, who will never be able to spend all the money they have. In their short four year history (founded January 2000), the foundation has awarded grants totaling $3,648,344,041 USD on Global Health alone (2). They also donate to Education, a Global Library Program, and more. There are MANY more people who could do something similar (albeit in smaller amounts).

When we talk about giving back to society, that’s the example I think we need to follow. I know the world isn’t perfect, and not all the wealthy want to share, but its something to strive for. Instead of stealing from the average (Canadian taxpayers) to give to the poor, why not have the rich donate to the poor? I can tell you with complete honesty that I would rather see the Canadian government spend money on hospitals in my city than on poor countries around the world. Screw our “international position” for once. Look out for #1!

With that, let’s see how our political parties fare:

Liberal Partyhttp://www.liberal.ca
According to Martin’s announced platform, his Liberal government would “dedicate $100 million – fully half the funding required by the World Health Organization” for the WHO’s plan to ensure 3 million people suffering from AIDS receive treatment by 2005. Additionally, the Liberals plan to increase their contribution to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria by $70 million. Total cost? $170 million dollars. Why do we have to contribute half? Are the other 190 countries in the UN not capable of doing their part?

Let’s compare that to Martin’s plan for health care at home. The platform website includes eleven paragraphs about health care in Canada, yet only the last one offers any sort of financial figures (granted they have a graph showing that health care spending has gone up over time – duh it should as we grow in numbers and the population ages). The Liberals say they “have already committed $37 billion in new money over five years from 2003-04.” They go on to say that they will “do more”. How about taking even HALF of that astronomical amount being spent on AIDS elsewhere and putting it into our health care system? Comparatively, $170 million is nothing against $37 billion, but when benefit is already so hard to come by, why spend any of it elsewhere?
Awarded: 1 Point

Conservative Partyhttp://www.conservative.ca/
Harper’s platform is very similar to the Liberals in terms of health care spending at home. The party is committed to implementing the Health Accord which consists of $36.8 billion in new funding. One thing I noticed that I find interesting is that the Conservatives plan to clear the drug approval backlog and bring drug approval times in line with the US. I think that is good for everyone.

Their platform does not mention spending on AIDS anywhere. The only reference I was able to find is that the Conservatives will support “patent reform to allow low-cost generic drugs to be sold in Africa for the relief of AIDS and other epidemics.” Sounds good to me as long as the Canadian government doesn’t make up the difference.
Awarded: 3 Points

NDPhttp://www.ndp.ca/
The NDP platform for health care at home is a little different than the first two. Layton’s NDP plans to implement the Romanow plan and pay 25% of provincial health care costs within two years. Another interesting part of the platform is that they plan to outlaw the practice of “evergreening” prescription drugs that delay the availability of cheaper, generic drugs. No where in the platform is the Health Accord mentioned.

On the AIDS front, the NDP plan to, like the Conservatives, make generic drugs available to Africa and developing countries. Like the Liberals, the NDP platform calls for a tripling of existing funding for the Global Fund for AIDS. That will bring spending for the fund to roughly $105 million.
Awarded: 1 Points

Bloc Québécoishttp://www.bloc.org/
Okay as you probably know, I don’t speak French fluently, let alone read or write it. Armed with a translator however, searching their PDF platform, I was able to determine no references to either the Health Accord or the Romanow Report.

All I was able to understand from their section on International Aid, excuse me, L’aide internationale, is that the Bloc plans to increase the percentage of GDP spent on foreign aid. Specifically they mention nutrition, child welfare, and AIDS.
Awarded: 0 Points

Green Partyhttp://www.greenparty.ca/
Similar to the NDP, the Green Party health plan includes implementing the Romanow Report. They also have the best platform site in my opinion, as it includes a handy search box! The NDP uses PDF so you can search it, but PDF is too slow for my tastes. Another interesting aspect of their health care plan is that they plan to fund public pharmaceutical research.

Using the wonderful search feature, I found no references to AIDS. Assuming they are more like to tell you if they are spending money on something rather than NOT spending money on something, I think we can assume the Green Party won’t waste money on AIDS overseas.
Awarded: 3 Points

So there you have it! This second episode is more in-depth than the first one, and covers a topic that has always been a sticking point for me. I just don’t know why Canada has to be the country that looks after the rest of the world. Until the next episode, here are the current standings:

  1. Green Party – 6 points
  2. Conservatives – 5 points
  3. Liberal Party – 4 points
  4. NDP – 1 point
  5. Bloc Québécois – 0 points

SOURCES
1: Impact of Poverty on AIDS in Africa
2: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
3: Information under each party heading found from their respective websites.

To see my other articles in this series, look here.

The Simpsons: 742 Evergreen Terrace!

Have you ever wondered what a map of Springfield looks like? Well today I came across this very large and extremely detailed map! Don’t you think the Kiwk-E-Mart seems lonely? Lots of good stuff, like the “Three Seasons Motel” and the “Pay & Park & Pay”. Enjoy 🙂

If the image doesn’t appear, you can get to it here.

Read: Scott Hanselman’s Weblog

REVIEW: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

I just finished reading The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown the other day, and it was excellent. It’s also #1 in the Amazon.ca Sales Ranking! Anyway, this is my quick review of the book, no real spoilers so feel free to read. First, here is what the book is about (from Amazon.ca):

A murder in the silent after-hour halls of the Louvre museum reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected by a clandestine society since the days of Christ. The victim is a high-ranking agent of this ancient society who, in the moments before his death, manages to leave gruesome clues at the scene that only his daughter, noted cryptographer Sophie Neveu, and Robert Langdon, a famed symbologist, can untangle. The duo become both suspects and detectives searching for not only Neveu’s father’s murderer but also the stunning secret of the ages he was charged to protect. Mere steps ahead of the authorities and the deadly competition, the mystery leads Neveu and Langdon on a breathless flight through France, England, and history itself.

Now I know what you’re thinking, what is Mack doing reading a book about religion! Well, seems I really DO read a variety of things and am not totally ignorant about the topic. This book was a superb read, very entertaining. Yet at the same time, quite educational! Brown succeeds in blending fact and fiction to make history enjoyable.

And there are a lot of facts in this book! On his website, Dan Brown explains how much of the novel is true – namely, the artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals. That is what made the book most interesting to me; that so much of it was true! It was definitely interesting to read about an actual ancient secret society that actually performed the rituals described and followed the beliefs explored in the book. I suppose I would be lying if I said I liked the theory about our modern day religions and where they came from.

I definitely suggest you read this book – its wonderful! And if you are really keen, Brown has even posted a partial bibliography of titles on the topic. Anyone else read this book yet? I want to discuss it with someone 🙂

The Thin Blue Line

Not to take anything away from Tampa winning the cup, but I had an MRI today (for Brock‘s job). It was an interesting experience! I called this post the thin blue line, because there is one that runs up the center of the inside of the machine. That and the fact that at times it sounds like machine guns going off 🙂

It was painless, not too long, and really not that uncomfortable (unless you are afraid of enclosed places). It was also neat because there is a little mirror inside so that you can see out. Good job Brock 🙂

Check out the pictures!