Critical thinking in statistical analysis

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Thanks to lifetime subscriber Terra Andromeda for this look at some
startling statistics:

1. More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread users.

2. Fully HALF of all children who grow up in bread-consuming
households score below average on standardized tests.

Are you sure it's not Monday??

People are being confused by the printer... "It says Powersave, but I want to print something."

Others are complaining that their desks are too loud. Well, their desks aren't what is loud, that would be scary, the area around their desks is loud. However, THEY chose that desk and are frequently the noisiest person in here. Geez... The joys of working in the basement. I maintain we are not technical services, we are occupational therapy. Seriously. Why else would we have an Oprah cutout dressed as a jailbird Martha Stewart? (I wish I had a picture to show you guys)

low-key day, I hope

I'm hoping for a low key day today. I still am not feeling the greatest. The support staff was calling me Typhoid Mary yesterday. My husband is trying to make me go to the doctor. The fact of the matter is I am a lousy patient and won't see the doctor unless I'm on death's door.

It's the age old conundrum... do I risk making everyone at work sick, or do I go in and make a show of it? I usually opt to go in and make a show of it.

I was looking at the filtering software. I hope they let us decide the parameters for it. Pornography can go, IM can go, games can go. I feel like it gets way too intrusive when you start blocking certain emails though, which alledgedly this can. I guess I'd like to know more the nuts and bolts of how it works. Keywords, I would think. I know when I'm in one of my more, er, colorful moods I use a lot of words that would probably cause a filter to pop up. They're not necessarily pornographic emails though.

I guess I just don't like the limits on language. Would the filter block the infamous Rolling Stone piece where John Kerry uses the f-word?

But blocking the images (which we've had problems with in the past, and I really don't want on my watch, thank you) and blocking certain "recreational" activities I am all for. As to whether the computers should be just blocked to library databases -- which is possible -- well, maybe for the catalog terminals. I would never limit the internet terminals to just InfoTrac and the online papers and the catalog. There are too many people who use them legitimately for other things, even if it is just checking email.

I guess the possibility is there to also filter out attachments in emails. As much as I'd love to do this for the safety of the computers, I realize that sometimes, many times, you're spinning into the library for a quick look at the attachment your colleague sent you. It happens at least on a weekly basis at my library.

I want to give people the benefit of the doubt. I just hope we get some say in the parameters we get to set up. I'd like our current set up, which doesn't block much, with some added features.

The systems librarian's wish list....

Critiquing a linguist's writing style

Oliver Kamm is one of the smarter bloggers I've read. He seems to be a pro-war English "New Labour" supporter in the free-trade-cum-nanny-state mold of Tony Blair (n.b.: it's not necessarily his views on these matters that make him smart in my mind).

In an April 2 posting, he ventures to criticize the writing style of one of this century's most eminent linguists:

I am constantly surprised that an MIT Professor of Linguistics should produce such consistently execrable English prose. Redundant phrases, clichés and solecisms pile up, one damn thing on top of another. Witness the embarrassing attempt at dramatic elision with the single-word sentence. Embarrassing. So is the construction of sentences without verbs. Most extraordinary is his complaint about a ‘truism’ that is ‘systematically ignored’. Chomsky is plainly unaware that a truism by definition ought to be ignored: rather than being a posh synonym for ‘truth’, it in fact denotes something that is trivially true - not an axiom, but a banality. (Those whose reading matter is indiscriminate in quality will be unsurprised periodically to stumble across the same clueless and pretentious use of 'truism' in the writings of Chomsky's disciple John Pilger.)

Somewhere I recall reading a letter or essay by Christopher Hitchens in which he wrote that Chomsky's prose had declined from its earlier halcyon days into a rather mechanical, formulaic grinding out of phrases. Unfortunately I can't find that piece now. Of course, there's the Chomskybot, a toy which emits linguistic (not political) pronouncements with computational aplomb. It will serve as a placeholder until I can dig up the Hitchens piece.

It's worth reproducing Hitchens's list of questions on Iraq deemed by Chomsky to be "completely irrelevant" [bulleting for emphasis mine--ChuckB]:

I debate with the opponents of the Iraq intervention almost every day. I always have the same questions for them, which never seem to get answered.

  • Do you believe that a confrontation with Saddam Hussein's regime was inevitable or not?
  • Do you believe that a confrontation with an Uday/Qusay regime would have been better?
  • Do you know that Saddam's envoys were trying to buy a weapons production line off the shelf from North Korea (vide the Kay report) as late as last March?
  • Why do you think Saddam offered "succor" (Mr. [Richard] Clarke's word) to the man most wanted in the 1993 bombings in New York?
  • Would you have been in favor of lifting the "no fly zones" over northern and southern Iraq; a 10-year prolongation of the original "Gulf War"?
  • Were you content to have Kurdish and Shiite resistance fighters do all the fighting for us?
  • Do you think that the timing of a confrontation should have been left, as it was in the past, for Baghdad to choose?

ALA out of (or into?) Cuba!

Ian Hamnet blogging on Matthew Hoy blogging on a counter-anti-war protest organized by Lt. Smash:

Book in Spanish (Help)

I need to find the book, Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam in spanish. I went to the spanish section of Amazon and had no luck. They may have the book but I am very poor at navigating webpages in spanish and could have missed the book. If you have experience buying books in spanish could you let me know where I can buy this book in spanish. I went to the author's website and he indicated that the book was in spanish and gave a link to Amazon. If you have any guidance feel free to email me at [email protected]

Instapundit on the importance of bad news

If you've frequented the political end of the blogosphere for very long, you have probably heard of Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit. He's a law professor at the University of Tennessee, and an omnivorous and incredibly prolific blogger. Politically I would characterize him as rather independent but either at the conservative end of libertarianism or at the libertarian end of conservatism. He would probably prefer to be characterized as a "dynamist" in Virginia Postrel's use of the word: pro-market, pro-technology, pro-liberty. He has also spoken out strongly in favor of the war on terror and of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

He has not, however, been an uncritical supporter of these actions. For instance, when an Iraqi blogger posted an account of alleged misconduct by U.S. forces, Reynolds linked to the account and posted a followup, despite criticism from readers. It appears that the investigation of the incident has not concluded, but the battalion commander of the unit involved has been punished for impeding the investigation. In posting this most recent update on the matter, Reynolds also reflects on the importance of bad news:

This leads to a bigger point on the Iraq reporting. Neither I, nor, I think, anyone who wants the Iraq effort to succeed, wants the press only to report good news. This is bad news, and it deserves to be reported. In fact, it needs to be reported, because it's only by finding out what's wrong that we have a chance to fix it. It's the cheap-shot faux-bad news, the lazy hotel-bar reporting, etc., that I object to. If a Western journalist had dug out this story, it would have been good journalism.
[emphasis mine--ChuckB]

This is a point that many in the pro-war camp would do well to heed. I include his mention of cheap-shot journalism because the contrast of it with "good" bad news is crucial to Reynold's point.

My 2004 AkLA Experience: Part I

I think I will write about my conference experience a day at a time so there's not so much to read at one time. Throughout these postings, AkLA stands for “Alaska Library Association.�

So, Let's start with Thursday, March 25, when I arrived in Fairbanks without incident around 11am. It was cold! Temps around zero degrees F and this was in the middle of the day late in March. It's not always like this in Fairbanks. Last time I attended AkLA in 2000, temps were around 35-40 deg F. It's a gamble.

Conference this time was held at the Fairbanks Princess Resort on the banks of the Chena river. The river was mostly frozen, but surprisingly did have some open patches of water. It was a lovely sight.

Thursday was a day for preconferences. I didn't attend any since I only flew in Thursday owing to morning events on Friday. I did make myself useful by volunteering with the equipment committee to help set up vendor technology. Normally out of town conference attendees are not expected to help with setup and operation of the conference, but I was asked to help because I've arranged equipment at conferences in Juneau. Something I hope to avoid being in charge of the next time conference comes to town in 2007.

My task was to help vendors set up connections to the wireless network that the hotel promised us. A few vendors (to remain unnamed) came with dial-up modems or cards with Ethernet connections and expected wireless access. I forgave the straight book vendors more than the one guy expecting to show off databases for his company.

Most people got set up ok after various amounts of fiddling, and then all of us doing technology got our first nasty surprise of the conference. The wireless network the hotel promised us was unstable and cut out for significant periods of time. Signal strength was unpredictable throughout the conference and the database vendors were understandably upset. The hotel did not have an actual network tech on the scene until Friday afternoon. As we did not have access to the actual wireless equipment, we were reduced to apologies and a few dialup connections here and there. I REALLY wished the hotel had had a backup Ethernet network for us to plug into.

Since I had two Internet-dependent, hands on workshops scheduled for Friday and Saturday, I spent most of Thursday afternoon, night and Friday worrying about my workshops. I was already unhappy about my Friday session because it was scheduled for 9 – 10:30PM Friday night.

After I finished with my volunteer time, I think I spent most of the rest of Thursday in my room with a visit to dinner because I was still recovering from an ear infection and strep throat. Praise God for antibiotics! After dinner I did manage to spend some time listening to a barbershop quartet who had excellent music, but terrible jokes.

And so the first day of my AkLA experience ended.

strange requests

A patron came in asking for a picture book of dead people. I didn't find any listings under the title he gave me. I had no idea what an appropriate subject heading for that would be. I tried doing a subject search-- death photographs? death pictures? That just got me (of course) movies. Then he asked me if I'd seen Faces of Death which I actually have seen bits of. Not my cup of tea.

I suggested books on war, thinking there were probably some pictures of dead people in there, but he wanted, er, one stop shopping. As one patron said to me once, "I want pictures, I don't need all them words!" (Honest to pete, she did.)

My little Horizon problem turned out to be a Horizon problem, not a telecom problem at all. No comment.

You should hear me. I sound like the frog princess. It was quite a feat answering the phones on information. I croaked out some renewal information, I held a book for some one, croak croak croak. This cold is really a bummer, although I feel better than I did Saturday, when sitting upright was a chore.

New fun filtering software for me! I don't want to change so much what it filters content-wise. Honestly, I like for people to have as free range as possible. But it has the ability to stop java based games (I managed to stop most Flash based things myself, har har) and IM stuff. If it could only filter out Google images of sneakers, I'd be the happiest woman alive. I don't know why it irks me so much, that these kids spend what seems like hours on the internet (though less now with the timed access software) staring at pictures of sneakers.

The timed access software is going great. I love this stuff. It doesn't help the congregating around the terminals too much (we have problems with kids gathering to look at --what else-- sneakers. Or scantily clad women) but it does help limit how long they congregate. And about fights about who gets on next. No number, no turn. No exceptions.

I really expected more complaints. I really, really did. My supervisor always tells me to knock on wood... It's only been a week. But most people are adjusting, and the regulars (who would be the ones to complain) have either buckled down, got cards, and learned to make the most of their hour, or gone elsewhere. Those were the squatters. Since then, we've had people get on that have actually been using the facilities the way they were designed... They do research, look for jobs, homes, schools, do general betterment stuff by using the computers, something they wouldn't have gotten the chance to, necessarily, two weeks ago.

It was that bad a situation two weeks ago. Honestly. It's that much better this week. I need to have my direct supervisor come out and behold it periodically. She's still unconvinced, but I think she'll come around. Everyone else is in love.

Here's hoping the love affair gets to continue.

To PIX or not to PIX; that is the question

I'm talking firewalls! Sheesh, some people...

PIX is a type of Cisco firewall. You'd think that there'd be something super inteligent in an entry level firewall from Cisco that cost $1,500. Just to satisfy your curiosity, check out this link.

But nooo, what you're looking at right there is likely a 350MHz P2 box with a customized OS and almost no memory. You can get the general idea from here and here.

So why pay $1,000 to $1,500 specially budget'd dollars to yer library for that retired doorstop? I don't know, you tell me! Since I can get this system for under $300cdn. Ok, I give, it has no floppy or monitor. But then, why buy new when that retired P2 is doing nothing but collecting dust on your shelf?

All you need to do is pay for a top quality, security conscious O/S and a couple of decent network cards (Intel NICs are highly recommended), a little time and viola, you have yourself a high quality vpn/ipsec and lets not forget redundancy capable firewall.

A great comedic spoof has been written and preformed in honour of OpenBSD's next release, 3.5. I encourage all those individuals that are fans of the great Monty Python troupe please visit this web page for a hilarious out-take on how and why redundancy was built into OpenBSD.

Yes. You caught me. I'm done plugging OpenBSD (for now, anyway :). A little evangelism never hurt anybody, right?

Librarian Action Figure Flying off the Shelves

An article in the April 4 Baltimore Sun talks about the popularity of the recently introduced librarian action figure. The article revits some of the debate about the look of the doll and "shushing" action reinforcing stereotypes, but the news is that the item is selling very well and has become one of Accoutrements best sellers.

G-string mail and underwire browser supporters

Doesn't a supported browser sort of sound like a type of undergarment? Kind of like "blog" makes me think of running noses.

So Google is aiming for a week or three to have gmail go live. I will forgive them if it doesn't happen. I am hoping I can hosey the name "shoe." If not, I'll settle for my old Yahoo-esque user name -- yeah, with a gig of storage! I went to the ol' gmail site to check it out, and it tells me...

You are using an unsupported browser

at the end of the day

When it comes down to it, I really do like my job.

Even if... even if I'm a little peeved at this whole ILS issue right now. I am interested to hear what happened and see if it's working Monday morning. My schedule got switched and I'm working Monday morning, which is just fine with me. I am most indubitably a morning person.

I like the challenge of dealing with the public. The times you have a kid say, "InfoTrack is cool!" makes up for all the people that get rather surly over ten cent fines. I like playing with computers. I like finding books for people.

Bioethics my ASS!

This Being Human: Readings from the President's Council on Bioethics doesn't have anything to do with ethics that I can see at first glance. I fact I didn't see any science during the quick look I took at it, just philosophy. The opening paragraph to Chapter One is:

Best Books from Tempe library

I've always liked lists. I like making them. Computers make lists even better - because one can very easily sort them in various orders. Well, they're easy to sort if one sets them up correctly. I like figuring out ways to make them better - more fun or more utilitarian or whatever. I like marking things off - "look what I've accomplished!". But in the long run, I never seem to keep a list for long. My attention span is probably too short. Sigh.

Anyway, I’m currently on a kick of looking at lists of "best books" on the internet. Not books on the internet, but lists of books on the internet. Geez, I can already feel my attention wandering . . . .

Anyway, I stumbled across a list of best books from Tempe library at

It is an interesting list because it is annotated and because the contributors are diverse. I’ve included extremely arbitrary selected portions of the list. I’m including only those select portions about which I have something to say – and I’ve deleted all the comments by Tempe people.

Anderson, Robert. I Never Sang for My Father
I saw the movie when I was in college and read the book much later. Both are good.
Bach, Richard. Jonathan Livingston Seagull
I’m rather embarrassed to admit I read this (long, long ago), even more embarrassed to admit I liked it.
Baum, L. Frank. Wizard of Oz
I’ve never read the book, not wild about the movie.
Canfield, Jack [et al]. Chicken Soup for the Soul
A little goes a very, very long way.
Cannell, Dorothy. The Thin Woman
Fun mystery series for those who like light mysteries. Popcorn for the mind.
Dorris, Michael. Yellow Raft in Blue Water
I haven’t read this book by Dorris, but really liked The Broken Cord
Esquivel, Laura Like Water for Chocolate
I hated the movie.
Frank, Ann. The Diary of a Young Girl
Great book
Frost, Robert. The Road Not Taken
Great poem
Fulgham, Robert. All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten
It didn’t take long to read . . .
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird
Great book
Lewis, C.S. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
I’ve read quite a few of his non-fiction books, but I somehow just don’t get the fantasy genre.
Lindbergh, Anne Morrow. Gift From the Sea
I haven’t read everything she has written, but nearly. This is probably her best.
McCullers, Carson. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
The movie is really good and really depressing. I tried to read the book, but got sidetracked.
MacKay, Harvey. Swim with the Sharks without being eaten Alive
I liked the book when I read it, but I certainly wasn’t very successful at applying lessons.
Milne, A. A. Winnie the Pooh
Even when I was a kid I didn’t understand books that had talking animals.
Mitchell, Margaret. Gone with the Wind
Don’t particularly like the movie, I’ve never tried the book.
Neville, Katherine. The Eight
I really liked this book. I read another book by Neville which seemed awfully similar. Started a third book by her and it seemed that she had one really good book and clones, so I quit.
Orwell, George. Animal Farm
Orwell, George. 1984
Two of the first classics that I read in high school.
Plath, Sylvia . The Bell Jar
Many years ago this was my favorite book. Misery loves company.
Reader’s Digest Condensed Books
Hmmm . . .
Ritter, Thomas . Say No to Circumcision! 40 Compelling Reasons Why You Should Respect His Birthright and Keep Your Son Whole
Interesting entry. Haven’t read it, ain’t gonna read it.
Sayers, Dorothy L. Gaudy Night
Good book, good mystery.
Silverstein, Shel. Where the Sidewalk Ends
I like his books. Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book: A Primer for Adults Only is particularly funny.
Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club
Took me quite a while, but it was worth it.
Tolkien, J. R.R. The Hobbit
I really tried to read this, I stuck through it when the animals were talking, but when the trees started talking, it was over for me.
Waller, Robert James. Bridges of Madison County
I hated it – not the whole book, there were a few good lines, but definitely not worth it.

I think one of the most interesting question to ask people is "What is your favorite book?" The answer is often surprising.

the ol' back and forth

As of late this afternoon, Horizon appears to be working, and fully functional, albeit slow. Interesting. I fear it's because the old systems guy fixed something I missed... though I would assume he would tell me if he did. (that's my insecurity talking) There was no reason to touch the print server today, as it, and all the terminals, were completely shut down.

Flight Not Fight

Now here's something interesting. Even though Iraqi survivors are being touted as happy to be alive (so far), some Americans living in the U.S. are thorougly unsatisified with the state of their country. So much so that they are willing to cut and run. There are no solid numbers in this one, alas, since it would be an invasion of privacy (and not really relevant) to require that prospective immigrants divulge their political reasons for ditching a purportedly fine and upstanding country like the U.S. (listed as approximately 32nd in a world ranking by press freedom, but only within the confines of the U.S.).

Nice of Lanzendorfer to give us recognition for being a refuge for those escaping political repression in the U.S. Of course, it has always been that way. We took in the Loyalists after the American Revolution, uppity nigger run-aways during the abolitionist years before the Civil War, Native Americans during the genocide of the Indian Wars, Viet Nam, as mentioned, and now we're taking in those who'd rather send themselves into exile than die on the altar of George Bush's overweaning arrogance and worship of God or the Almighty Dollar (depending on who he is speaking to at any given moment).

Glad to be of service.

Now that I've read this I wonder if I shouldn't have done something about pressuring our own government into declaring Canada a safe haven for American political refugees when I thought of it about a year ago.

Flight Not Fight By Joy Lanzendorfer, AlterNet April 1, 2004

Joanna Harmon is considering whether to leave the United States for Canada. Nik and Nancy Phelps practically have visas in hand to set up business in Belgium. Joan Magit and her husband are eyeing Vancouver. Amy Gertz moved to the United States from Canada two and a half years ago -- she's now moving back.

These are scary times for the liberally minded American. Many liberals feel isolated and embarrassed by the actions of our government. Some are downright terrified at what will happen if Bush is re-elected in November. When politics get too bleak, it's comforting to remind ourselves that we can always move to another country. But how many of us are serious about it?

A recent letter to the AlterNet columnist Auntie Establishment generated quite a buzz. The letter, from a reader identified as 'Packing My Bags in Pennsylvania,' asked Auntie what she thought about people abandoning the United States for more politically prosperous horizons. 'Packing' said, "I'm seriously considering escaping across the border and moving to Mexico or Canada."

E-mails came pouring in from people who are also seriously considering leaving the United States for Canada or other parts of the world in an effort to escape the claw-like grip of the Bush administration. While Auntie urged people to stay and fight, some felt that was asking too much. Things were going to get worse before they got better, many seemed to feel. Why stay on a sinking ship?

News sources from CNN to to The Daily Show have run pieces about Americans supposedly leaving the United States for other parts of the world. Even our celebrities were rumored to be leaving the U.S. Johnny Depp did it -- he lives in France. Alec Baldwin, Robert Altman, and Eddie Vedder allegedly threatened to leave if Bush was elected in 2000, (though Baldwin later denied ever saying any such thing).

There certainly has been a lot of talk. But is that all it is -- talk?

Oh Canada!

If Americans are leaving the United States, Canada is certainly one of the most convenient places to go. It may be a little cold, but it's right across the border and most Canadians speak English. Many of the major issues that divide the Left and the Right in the U.S. seem resolved in Canada. They have a lower crime rate, universal health care, and reportedly better education. Their medical doctors can dispense marijuana and last year they decided to officially recognize same-sex marriages.
And, on top of all that, the rest of the world isn't mad at them.

Americans have fled to Canada before. In 1970, during the Vietnam War, roughly 23,000 Americans legally moved to Canada, according to the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Since then, the number of people who move to Canada every year has dropped steadily, even through the Reagan and Bush Senior administrations. In the 1990s, the number of people moving to Canada every year leveled out and since then has hovered in the 4,000s and 5,000s.

Which brings us to recent events. According to Canada's Citizenship and Immigration Department, the numbers of American foreign nationals awarded permanent residence in Canada were:

Year: Number 1997: 5,028 1998: 4,768 1999: 5,528 2000: 5,815 2001: 5,902 2002: 5,288

The numbers indicate a slight peak in immigration around 2,000 and 2001, during the election year and the first year of Bush's term, with another slight dip in 2002, after September 11 (when U.S. patriotism was running high and Canada was tightening its immigration laws). However, there's no way to know for sure whether that spike has anything to do with politics. A peak in immigration in 2000 and 2001 could just as easily have to do with the sluggish U.S. economy as it could with people
wanting to flee the Bush administration.

Obviously, the Canadian government doesn't track whether people are coming into Canada because of disgruntled political philosophies. And the Canadians I talked to who deal with immigration seemed skeptical that anyone would move to Canada to get away from a dominant party. But others have noticed a slight change.

"I don't think you could say we've seen a marked increase in Americans interested in moving to Canada," says Colin Singer, a Montreal attorney who specializes in immigration law. "But you could say there has been a slight increase in same-sex couples and Americans under common-law marriage looking at Canada as a place to take up residence."

But whether a few or a lot of people are leaving the United States for another country, some people are definitely doing it. Take Nancy and Nik Phelps of San Francisco -- who are moving to Belgium later this year. Nancy says their reasons for leaving the United States are 80 percent about politics and 20 percent about lifestyle change.

"There was a time I felt that we should stay in the U.S. and fight," she says. "Then again, there was a time to get out of Germany during World War II, too. This is that time here. I think the oppression is just going to get worse here. If Bush stole one election, why wouldn't he steal the next one?"

One of the reasons people are thinking of leaving the U.S. is because of a fear of fascism. Whether or not that fear is realistic is debatable, but recent changes like the Patriot Act restricting our rights and dissent being criticized as unpatriotic has weighed heavily on many minds. Joanna Harmon is an archivist for the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Though she hasn't made up her mind, some of her reasons for considering the move are based in history.

"I specialized in history for my degree," she said. "And I see a lot of parallels between our society and what happened when the Republic became a dictatorship in Ancient Rome. I don't want to stay here if it turns into that."

A lot of people who are thinking of moving out of the United States, to Canada or otherwise, are waiting to see what will happen in the November 2004 election. If Bush is re-elected, many plan to start the relocation process. Joan Magit, who lives in Northridge, California, says she and her husband will most likely move to Vancouver if Bush gets in.

"The damage that has been done by this administration, especially in the court system, is a lot worse than people comprehend," she says. "I don't think I will want to live in a country that is so right wing."

Approximately 20,000 Canadians move to the United States a year, but at least some of them are turning around and moving right back. Amy Gertz was born in the United States but moved to Canada when she was five years old. She spent most of her adult life in Canada, but two and a half years ago, she moved back to the United States with her husband. Now at age 50, she has decided to return to Canada, where she will stay for good.

Though she says she would be considered conservative in Canada, Gertz says she's horrified by the differences between the two countries.

"What the heck happened to the U.S. while I was gone?" she said. "I had no idea that I was moving to a corporate dictatorship. I don't want to get caught in the inevitable global backlash, and I feel guilty even just being here."

As someone who knows first hand, Gertz agrees with many of the things you hear about Canada: It has better schools and stronger health care, does a better job separating church and state, and is more globally minded than the U.S. She also points out that the U.S. is not a "post modern" country, i.e. it isn't open to a variety of perspectives, recognizing them all as valid.

"America is more extremist, both on the left and the right," Gertz says. "Americans seem unable to manage much compromise. I believe this is one of the reasons we are in the state we are in."

Gathering Points

Not everyone automatically qualifies for permanent legal residence in Canada. Canadians have an immigration system based on points. Applicants take a test that assesses whether they meet minimum immigration qualifications. You have to score 67 points or better to get into Canada. Among other things, an individual moving to Canada has to have a bachelors degree or equivalent education, be fluent in English or French, have a minimum of four years' work experience, and have sufficient financial
resources to settle in Canada for six months. The system limits likely immigrants to a middle-class, educated group.

"There can be additional factors of assessment that can make it easier," said Singer. "Having an educated spouse or family ties in Canada can lessen the burden for you."

You can take a test assessing your immigration status at

But whether you qualify or not, think hard before abandoning the U.S. As Auntie said, "Unpack your bags, my flighty friend, and gear up for a long, dirty struggle for the soul and spirit of your country."

ILS ills

Horizon was acting up yesterday. I was so in the mood for it too. I have the head cold from hell (my dad says I now sound like Stevie Nicks). Anyway, head cold aside, there's a lot of pointing going on as to what the problem is. I am willing to look at the possibility that it could be on our end, but with the behavior of the system in general, I don't think it is. Still, I will do the virus scans and I took down all the computers that were, er, superfluous.

Star Wars DVD

The first three Star Wars movies are being released on DVD. They are going to be released in September of this year. Currently it is the #1 selling DVD at Amazon. The box set list for $60 but Amazon is selling them for $42 (DVD at AMZN)
That is only $14 per movie, not bad!

Two weeks...two conferences...

Two weeks have now seen two conferences come and go. At the first one I acted as my faculty member's Parliamentary Private Secretary (Westminster style) in taking care of some things. At the second one I had to stand and present much akin to what a sitting in Westminster Hall as part of the proceedings of the House of Commons might be like. Sadly I wound up talking to the walls instead of being heard by any attendees...


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