so BC is getting a new Premier

The big news in BC yesterday was that Gordon Campbell stepped down as Premier. Some were loudly proclaiming victory, or expressing happiness of his departure.

As he put it in his statement: When public debate becomes focused on one person, instead of what is in the best interest of British Columbians, we have lost sight about what is important. When that happens, it’s time for a change.

Cause let’s look at the mess he left BC in:

  • One of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada.
  • third highest average hourly wage in Canada
  • lowest tax rate for low-income (0%) and middle-income families in Canada.
  • up to a 70% tax reduction for low income families
  • opened 80 new schools, increased education funding every year, more seats in universities, highest per-pupil funding in Canada
  • Balanced budgets for 9 years until the biggest recession in half a century.
  • 42% reduction in provincial budgets before service cuts
  • A provincial credit rating that has been upgraded 7 times in a row to AAA (the highest possible)
  • biggest real GDP growth in Canada
  • $195 million in new Arts grants
  • $80 million in new permanent sport grants and funding
  • 20% increase in the amount paid per person by income assistance
  • Low-income support program spending up by more than 4x
  • Reduced carbon and greenhouse gas emissions – the most aggressive targets set in Canada, with legal enforcement in place
  • (ganked from voice_of_experience on reddit)

    Oh wait, that’s the good stuff.

    And yet, there’s a downside.. apparently some people don’t like the HST (which, when you look at what else the province gives, is actually a reasonable measure..) or they didn’t like the Olympics (what are you going to do about that now? it worked out fine. Sure it cost a lot of money..) or that the Canada Line doesn’t have enough capacity (it grew faster than expected, that’s success isn’t it?), or that he once got arrested for drink driving (let me tell you about Ralph…)

    I’m confident of history’s view of this period in politics. Also, has anyone seen Idiocracy? No? Never mind, seems like it’s playing out in politics right now, what with this and the Tea Party..

    Australian food

    We went to a place called Moose’s Downunder for lunch on Sunday, who bill themselves as providing a little bit of home and a unique Australian experience in Vancouver.

    Well it’s certainly as described on box. It seems to be staffed entirely by Australians, many of whom are from Perth like the owner. I had an Aussie Burger, with Beetroot + Fried Egg + Pineapple. It did indeed remind me of home. Also the chairs were EXACTLY the same as the ones that KK’s/The Last Drop in Crawley used to have before it turned upmarket. Down to the varnish on the arms turning gooey and coming off.

    On the downsides, just like home they charge for drink refills and extra sauces. So just like home, you don’t have to tip, right? :P I kid, I kid. I did tip, as is the local custom.

    Boeing Aviation Geek Fest 2010

    Today was the 2010 Boeing Aviation Geek Fest.

    Let me begin by saying, going on the Boeing tour at the best of times is pretty geeky. This on the other hand, is a once a year tour they don’t promote heavily, but the aviation geeks find out about one way or another.. It’s slightly more expensive than the regular tour, but it’s really for the hardcore fans.

    We started off the day.. well, first, getting here from Canada. We left home and drove to Sumas. Took about 1.75 hours to get across the border.. first a 60 minute lineup to get to the border, then another 45 minutes in with the good people of Immigration to get our I-94 waiver forms (mostly waiting in lines – despite it not being the usual “tourist” border, they were still very nice), then zooming down the highway and getting to the Future of Flight and “checking in” for 1330 hours.

    The AGF day started with a session from Boeing’s professional aviation geek, Michael Lombardi, who is employed as an aviation historian. He went through the last 40 years of Boeing, and gave some fun insights and back stories, then a bit of a Q+A, then some chatting with each other over free candy (yay halloween), then the tour.

    Let me step back.. the regular Boeing tour is pretty cool, you walk on high level platforms and look out over a sight which is similar to the construction of the USSS Enterprise in the most recent Star Trek movie. This tour, on the other hand, is at ground level, walking on the actual factory floor, and through, around and on planes in various stages of production. Sweeet. You have to wear eye protection, just in case, and watch your step through and around cables. It’s an amazing facility up close.

    Inside the factory we saw 777 LN903 for Turkish Airlines up close and personal, getting to kick the tires, almost literally, in addition to actually walking in and around the pieces that would make up LN908 for Air Egypt. As well as that, we saw the first 747-8i in final body join, a bunch of 787s (including the first 3 for Air India) and the 787 static test article.

    Then, they dragged us out of the factory, with some difficulty and back onto the bus. Which did a tour of the KPAE flightline parking lot. I believe a record for the loudest cheer for doing a left-hand turn was set this day when this was announced. We went up and around all the planes waiting for final fit-out and delivery (this site has pictures of them from a-far). Saw 777s for V Australia and Air New Zealand, as well as all the 787s for ANA, and a bunch of 787-8f’s for Cargolux, Korean Airlines and Cathay Pacific Cargo.

    Then it was back to the Future of Flight center for Pizza and networking with other geeks before heading off to our hotel.

    Everyone knows planes are big, even “small” planes like the 737, but the size of the 747 and 777s are pretty amazing. I gush on the regular factory tour, and it’s probably more interesting for most people than the one we did, but the fact is that almost every international airliner in service today was made in either this factory, or Airbus’s in Toulouse.

    What Boeing makes here is pretty much the pinnacle of humankind’s knowledge of technology and ability to build machines, and it’s amazing privilege to get up close and personal on the factory floor. Future of Flight is an amazing center at the best of times, and I have to say, today was an amazing day. I feel so lucky to have been able to attend. Very few members of the public get to do factory floor tours, with this years and last years, there was some overlap, so it’s probably under 75 people have done this one.

    So thank you very much to Future of Flight, Boeing Commercial Aircraft and Airline Reporter for organising the day! Look forward to next year’s!

    See also: Photos from the Stratodeck

    Dear Cisco, wtf are you thinking?

    As an expatriated person, I find myself thinking of home sometimes. Video conferencing with people from the old country is fun, so I thought I’d have a look at the details on Cisco’s new Umi video conferencing unit.

    Let me say, I have no idea what they’re thinking here. It’s for home use. It costs $599. Then, you have to pay $24/month for a plan to use it. To call other people who have a Umi.

    Because it doesn’t work with Skype, or FaceTime. Or anything other than Google Video chat (which is itself free for non PSTN calls).

    So basically, you’re charging as much as a computer + webcam (which you could hook up to a TV), you can’t connect to Skype, and you’re charging a monthly fee for something everyone else is giving away for free.

    Let me know how that works out for you…

    The Greens vs The Australian Sex Party – The policies

    So what’s the difference between the Greens and the Australian Sex Party? (hereafter ASP). A question was asked by a friend. Without a doubt, the Greens have a much more broad spectrum platform. ASP is basically libertarian on social issues, without significant comment on other areas. So to make this easy, I’m going to talk about the policies of ASP and then specify where they differ with The Greens.

    The tl;dr of this is that the ASP generally holds a much more left-wing perspective on every policy The Greens do, but that their policy spectrum generally comprises a much smaller aegis than that of The Greens and agrees with them in pretty much every area where there is overlap.


    • Bring about the establishment of a truly national classification scheme which includes a uniform non-violent erotica rating for explicit adult material for all jurisdictions and through all media including the Internet and computer games. (Greens: Make OFLC more transparent)
    • To overturn mandatory ISP filtering of the Internet and return Internet censorship to parents and individuals. (Greens: “ensure that regulation of the internet is transparent, accountable and protects freedom of speech, expression and access to information”, and have made numerous public statements against internet censorship in Australia)
    • We oppose the mandatory retention of all Australian users’ internet browsing history and emails by ISPs for at-will inspection by law enforcement agencies, and support strong judicial oversight over the ability of law enforcement to access individuals’ internet and email data. (Greens: No specific policy comment on data retention, but they have expressed cautious public skepticism of the need for OzLog)


    • To bring about the development of a national sex education curriculum as a first step in preventing the sexualisation of children (Greens: “the education system to provide age-appropriate information about the diversity of sexuality”)
    • Development of a national internet education scheme for parents (Greens: No specific policy comment on Internet education for parents)


    • To enact national anti discrimination laws which make it illegal to unfairly discriminate against people or companies on the basis of job, occupation, profession or calling (The Greens will “legislate to remove sources of discrimination against women” and “end the criminalisation of consensual adult sex work”)
    • To bring about equal numbers of women in the Parliament through enabling the Federal Discrimination Act to have jurisdiction extending to political parties. (The Greens: “legislate to remove sources of discrimination against women”, no specific reference to political parties)
    • To create total equal rights in all areas of the law including same sex marriage (The Greens: “the legalisation of marriage between two consenting adults regardless of sexuality or gender identity.”)
    • Overturn racist laws that ban adults living in and visiting aboriginal communities in the NT from possessing erotic and sexual media (The Greens have a broad statement on: “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should have the same life expectancy and living standards as other Australians”)
    • Ensure the sexual rights and freedoms of people with a disability and the elderly (The Greens “remove GST and import duty from specialist aids, devices, appliances and services for people with disability” and are generally pro-disability rights)


    • To enact national pregnancy termination laws along the same lines as divorce law — which allow for legal, no-fault and guilt-free processes for women seeking termination (The Greens: “ensure that all women have access to legal, free and safe pregnancy termination services including unbiased counselling.”)
    • The listing of Viagra, Cialis and other drugs used to treat sexual dysfunction, on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (The Greens have no comment)
    • Overturn restrictions on aid to overseas family planning organisations that reference abortion. (As above, The Greens: “ensure that all women have access to legal, free and safe pregnancy termination services including unbiased counselling.”)

    Protection of Children

    • Convene a Royal Commission into child sex abuse in the nation’s religious institutions (The Greens will: “support and fund high quality services for child survivors of abuse and neglect”, but no specifically call for a Royal Commission)
    • Develop global approaches to tackling child pornography which focus on detection and apprehension of the producers of the material (The Greens believe that “children and young people have a right to a loving and nurturing environment which is free of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, neglect, exploitation and discrimination”, but don’t have specific views on enforcement and investigation)

    Workplace Relations

    • Ensure that the introduction of paid parental leave is fair and equitable for small businesses (The Greens will “fully fund paid parental leave”)
    • Abolish sex slavery and sexual servitude by introducing non morality-based immigration policies that allow bona-fide sex workers to work legally in Australia (The Greens: “ensure that potential immigrants are not unfairly discriminated against on any grounds” and “immigration must be non-discriminatory on the grounds of nationality, ethnic origin, religion, language, gender, disability, sexuality, age or socioeconomic background”)

    Religion / Ethical Issues

    • Establishment of a Royal Commission into child sex abuse in religious institutions (The Greens will: “support and fund high quality services for child survivors of abuse and neglect”)
    • The public education system should be secular in nature and not provide for any religious instruction whatsoever (The Greens: “teachers, academics, student unions and parent organisations should have a significant role in setting directions, priorities, and curricula and in the administration of the public education system.”)
    • An Ethics course along the lines of the current NSW trial, developed by the St James Ethics Centre, to be incorporated into the national curriculum (The Greens: “promote the inclusion of corporate ethics and responsibilities in all business and commerce course curricula at secondary and tertiary institutions.”)
    • Ending the tax exempt status for religions (The Greens have no comment on this)
    • Cessation of tax-exempt status on all but the charitable work of religious institutions (The Greens have no comment on this)
    • Supports stem cell research, including embryonic stem cell research, and maintains it is a vital medical issue, not a religious issue. (The Greens: “increase funding to the Australian Research Council and abolish the capacity for the Minister to veto board decisions.”)
    • Supports women’s rights to have an abortion if they so choose (As above, The Greens: “ensure that all women have access to legal, free and safe pregnancy termination services including unbiased counselling.”)
    • Calls for uniform state abortion laws and amendments to the Therapeutic Goods Act to allow milepristone (RU486) to be imported and distributed widely in place of the highly restrictive and cumbersome Authorised Prescriber process which resulted from the “Harradine Amendments” to the Therapeutic Goods Amendment Bill 1996 (As above, The Greens: “ensure that all women have access to legal, free and safe pregnancy termination services including unbiased counselling.”)
    • Opposes a blanket ban on women wearing the burqa conditional upon it being the woman’s choice (The Greens want “women to be able to live their lives free from violence”, but have no specific comment on a speculative Burqa ban)


    • Decriminalisation, not legalisation, of purchase, possession and consumption of all drugs for personal use, such quantity to be defined as an amount equal or less than 14 day’s supply for one person (The Greens want “the regulation of personal use of currently illegal drugs is best addressed primarily within a health and social framework, with legal support” and “imprisonment for personal use of illicit drugs, when not associated with other crimes, is not an appropriate solution to drug dependence.”)
    • Infractions are to be treated in an administrative framework and not in the criminal justice system (As above, The Greens do acknowledge a minor place for the legal system in dealing with this issue)
    • Immediate cessation of the use of drug sniffer dogs in public (The Greens have no comment on this specific issue)
    • Legalise and regulate cannabis for specified medical uses (The Greens want to “introduce the regulated use of cannabis for specified medical purposes, such as intractable pain.”)
    • Trafficking and dealing in drugs to remain a criminal offence (The Greens “support criminal penalties for drug dealers.”)
    • Supply of any drugs to a minor is to be a criminal offence (The Greens “support criminal penalties for drug dealers.”)
    • Laboratory quality drug testing stations to be provided at all music festivals and the like. (The Greens: “a harm minimisation approach is the best way to reduce the negative effects of drug use and drug regulation.”)
    • Subsidised and high quality drug testing kits to be made available through pharmacies, age restricted premises and mobile distribution centre (The Greens: “a harm minimisation approach is the best way to reduce the negative effects of drug use and drug regulation.”)
    • Legalise and increase the number of medically supervised injecting rooms (The Greens will “increase the availability of harm reduction programs, including needle and syringe exchanges and medically supervised injecting rooms and implement a rigorous scientific trial of prescribed heroin to registered users in line with the proposed 1996 ACT government heroin trial.”)
    • Legalise the prescription of heroin to registered and habitual users (The Greens will: “make drug substitution treatments available under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and compensate pharmacists for costs of dispensing treatment” .. so not 100%)


    • In addition to the patient’s primary medical practitioner a second and independent practitioner would be required to confirm his / her agreement with the diagnosis and prognosis (Information available does not allow The Greens position on this to be analysed)
    • Information about palliative care options must be given to the patient and having been given this information the patient must confirm to the primary medical practitioner that all other options are not acceptable and that he or she wants assistance (Information available does not allow The Greens position on this to be analysed)
    • A seven day cooling off period must then be allowed for before assistance can be provided (Information available does not allow The Greens position on this to be analysed)


    • Uniform abortion laws across Australia (As above, The Greens: “ensure that all women have access to legal, free and safe pregnancy termination services including unbiased counselling.”)
    • Full decriminalisation of abortion – removal from criminal statutes (As above, The Greens: “ensure that all women have access to legal, free and safe pregnancy termination services including unbiased counselling.”)
    • Abortion to be treated as a medical matter not a criminal matter (As above, The Greens: “ensure that all women have access to legal, free and safe pregnancy termination services including unbiased counselling.”)
    • All abortion providers to have authority to prescribe Mifepristone (RU486) (The Greens have no specific policy on RU486, but want to “ensure that all women have access to legal, free and safe pregnancy termination services including unbiased counselling.”)
    • Medicare funding for abortion at all stages of pregnancy.
    • An abortion may be performed at any time with the consent of the woman and if a medical practitioner certifies that it is appropriate under the circumstances (As above, The Greens: “ensure that all women have access to legal, free and safe pregnancy termination services including unbiased counselling.”)
    • Minors (under the age of 16) may obtain an abortion without the consent of a parent/guardian.
    • Ensure abortion is a part of sex education in schools (The Greens want “the education system to provide age-appropriate information about the diversity of sexuality”)

    Abbotsford International Airshow

    Please forgive me in advance for the nerding..

    Went to the Abbotsford International Airshow yesterday while Liz was at Anime Evolution (I bought a ticket to that too, but haven’t been making as good use as her :)

    The drive there was incredibly slow in parts, despite being on the Trans-Canada highway, and I think that (and the associated return trip) make the longest drive I’ve ever done by myself. But my trusty steed, the Prius and my iPod kept me company.

    I slip’ed and slop’ed, but not slapped. I don’t think I got any permanent damage, and the sunscreen seems to have done the trick. Just for reference, spending 4 hours in 40 degree heat on a black runway is.. something to only do in situations like this, where there is planespotting joy to be had..

    So, first, the big list of what I went inside and oooed and aaahed at:

    • Canadian Forces CC-150 Polaris (Airbus A310) (15004)
    • Canadian Forces CC17 (702)
    • USAF C-17 Globemaster (06-6162)
    • USAF C-5 Galaxy (68-0216)
    • USAF KC10 Extender (DC-10) (86-0031)
    • USAF KC135R (Boeing 707) (62-3521)

    Also on display was one of ELINT KC135Rs, some C130s, some A10 Thunderbolts, a SH-3 Skyking and a Eurocopter. In support of the airshow, there were another 2 CC17s, and a USAF C-17 parked in the area.

    There were also displays setup from Canadian Forces, the Abbotsford Police and the RCMP Lower Mainland Hostage Rescue Team. Showing typical restraint, they had their guns on display for people to hold, with trigger and mag locks. So I got to hold a M-16, MP5, Remington Shotgun, Taser and a 9mm S&W 5946. I’m a boy. Also had a chat with a Mountie from their traffic safety division who had a daughter going to Curtin. Hah.

    Another impressive part of the airshow was actually the stuff in the air. Who would have thought! Like these guys:

    Abbotsford International Airshow

    More photos on my flickr. I’m glad I bought the 100-400mm lens. It’s good for stuff like this for sure :)


    Sunset has been pretty awesome lately, but it is really getting earlier. Setting at almost 9:30 at night, instead of 10:30.

    Sunset, 11 August 2010

    In somewhat sad news, it seems there is some dust inside my 100-400 lens. I have no idea where though, it’s not on the front or back elements. Apparently the trombone design sucks air+dust in and isn’t so great about blowing the dust back out. Thankfully it’s in a corner of the image (which would mean it would suck on a full frame camera.. hrms..) and it only shows up under certain situations.

    I tried taking some test photos at both ends of the range, and it wasn’t in some of them, and it was in some others. As cleaning the lens is $299 from Canon, I’ll wait till it becomes a real issue. Still happy with the lens, and I bought it in knowledge that this could happen to it, but I’m still annoyed it did, as I thought I was being really careful about it.

    Of course, the pic embedded is unrelated, and was taken with my 17-55 f/2.8IS lens, which takes awesomely sharp images.

    Also unrelated to a 400mm lens, my flash reflector arrived from China. Worth both dollars I paid for it, will have some fun on the weekend.