29 October 2007

U.S. annexes Canadian landmark

“The Bush administration appears to have annexed a major Canadian landmark as part of a slick new campaign to promote U.S. tourism and welcome foreign visitors to America.

A Disney-produced promotional video released last week by the departments of State and Homeland Security highlights majestic American landscapes, […] About four minutes into the seven-minute production, viewers are treated to the impressive sight and sound of water roaring over Niagara Falls […] In showing the natural wonder, Disney's filmmakers, however, chose the Horseshoe Falls, the only one of Niagara's three waterfalls to lie on the Canadian side of the border separating western New York state from southern Ontario province.

Making matters worse, a visitor to the U.S. would not even be able to get the same view of the falls in the video because the scene was shot from a vantage point in Canada […] the video leaves out the two cascades that actually are on U.S. territory, the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls […]" -- cbc.ca
Bold face is mine.

On the Net:

Video available at Discover America: www.discoveramerica.com

Video available at State Department: www.travel.state.gov

20 October 2007

Telecoms give out customer records

Does anyone actually have good feelings towards telecoms? I think they're more in the category of necessary evils.

Bold and italics are mine.
Verizon admitted that it had provided the telephone records of its customers to federal authorities on hundreds of occasions since 2005 and did so without having received any court orders.

From January 2005 to September 2007, Verizon gave personal data to federal authorities, without legal cover, 720 times. That works out to at least once every working day. [...] The company also said it turned over information to authorities armed with court orders or subpoenas a total of 94,000 times during that same two-year period.

Verizon said police and intelligence agencies also asked not only for information about the person making the call, but on all the people that person called and the names of all the people these recipients called as well. [...]

The country's largest carrier, AT&T, also replied to the committee's requests. The telephone giant provided no detail of its surveillance activities but it agreed with Verizon that telephone companies were not equipped nor prepared to determine the legitimacy of federal requests for customer information [...] Legal experts say that is nonsense since, if lives are at stake, there is a provision in the law that gives the feds the ability to get a legal tap as quickly as they want. [...]

An executive of Qwest, another American telecom provider, has charged that his company was punished by the Bush administration after it questioned the legality of some requests being made of it by the National Security Agency. The NSA is the country's electronic spymaster. [...] In 2006, the newspaper USA Today reported that the NSA was collecting the phone records of tens of millions of Americans with the co-operation of the telephone companies. It reported that Qwest refused to go along with these efforts and expressed concern that the activity was illegal. [...]

On Wednesday, in the op-ed pages of the Washington Post, a column written by the presidents of NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Christian Coalition of America — two unlikely colleagues — set out a mutual complaint.

Both were objecting to an initial Verizon decision to deny the pro-choice group a text-message service that would allow those who wished to receive news updates from NARAL (an acronym of National Abortion Rights Action League) after typing in a five-digit code.

This censorship was exposed in the New York Times and Verizon eventually backed down. But the two presidents, NARAL's Nancy Keenan and Christian Coalition's Roberta Combs wrote, "We are on the opposite sides of almost every issue. But when it comes to the fundamental right of citizens to participate in the political process, we're united and very, very worried." -- CBC News.
Me too. Next year's presidential election can't come soon enough.

19 October 2007

Comcast vs. Net Neutrality?

I read in the news that Comcast is blocking some internet traffic in what has been called "traffic shaping".

NEW YORK - Comcast Corp. actively interferes with attempts by some of its high-speed Internet subscribers to share files online, a move that runs counter to the tradition of treating all types of Net traffic equally.

The interference, which The Associated Press confirmed through nationwide tests, is the most drastic example yet of data discrimination by a U.S. Internet service provider. It involves company computers masquerading as those of its users.

If widely applied by other ISPs, the technology Comcast is using would be a crippling blow to the BitTorrent, eDonkey and Gnutella file-sharing networks. While these are mainly known as sources of copyright music, software and movies, BitTorrent in particular is emerging as a legitimate tool for quickly disseminating legal content.

The principle of equal treatment of traffic, called "Net Neutrality" by proponents, is not enshrined in law but supported by some regulations. Most of the debate around the issue has centered on tentative plans, now postponed, by large Internet carriers to offer preferential treatment of traffic from certain content providers for a fee.

Comcast's interference, on the other hand, appears to be an aggressive way of managing its network to keep file-sharing traffic from swallowing too much bandwidth and affecting the Internet speeds of other subscribers. [...]

Comcast's interference affects all types of content, meaning that, for instance, an independent movie producer who wanted to distribute his work using BitTorrent and his Comcast connection could find that difficult or impossible — as would someone pirating music. [...]

The practice of managing the flow of Internet data is known as "traffic shaping," and is already widespread among Internet service providers. It usually involves slowing down some forms of traffic, like file-sharing, while giving others priority. Other ISPs have attempted to block some file-sharing application by so-called "port filtering," but that method is easily circumvented and now largely ineffective.

Comcast's approach to traffic shaping is different because of the drastic effect it has on one type of traffic — in some cases blocking it rather than slowing it down — and the method used, which is difficult to circumvent and involves the company falsifying network traffic. [...]

Free Press, a Washington-based public interest group that advocates Net Neutrality, opposes the kind of filtering applied by Comcast.

"We don't believe that any Internet provider should be able to discriminate, block or impair their consumers ability to send or receive legal content over the Internet," said Free Press spokeswoman Jen Howard.

Paul "Tony" Watson, a network security engineer at Google Inc. who has previously studied ways hackers could disrupt Internet traffic in manner similar to the method Comcast is using, said the cable company was probably acting within its legal rights.

"It's their network and they can do what they want," said Watson. "My concern is the precedent. In the past, when people got an ISP connection, they were getting a connection to the Internet. The only determination was price and bandwidth. Now they're going to have to make much more complicated decisions such as price, bandwidth, and what services I can get over the Internet." [...]--AP

Anywhoo, if you're interested in some specifics of what exactly Comcast is doing, and how, you can follow this link. Apparently, Comcast is using Sandvine traffic shaping hardware. Here's an excerpt from the link:

"The Sandvine application reads packets that are traversing the network boundary. If the application senses that outbound P2P traffic is higher than a threshold determined by Comcast, Sandvine begins to interrupt P2P protocol sequences that would initiate a new transfer from within the Comcast network to a peer outside of the Comcast network. The interruption is accomplished by sending a perfectly forged TCP packet (correct peer, port, and sequence numbering) with the RST (reset) flag set. This packet is obeyed by the network stack or operating system which drops the connection."

VWoA MkV R32 sales report

I found a link to the Volkswagen of America sales report for September 2007. What interested me was to see that in September 2007, 299 MkV R32s were sold, and for the year-to-date 992 out of a total of 5000 MkV R32s have been sold.

---VW Gazette

I wish I could compare this to the sales report for the MkIV R32, but the closest thing I could find is the following, which combined Golf, GTI, and R32 sales in to a single category. :o(

VW-US Snapshot

Sep-05 Actual

Sep-04 Actual

Yr/Yr % change

Sepl-05 YTD Actual

Sep-04 YTD Actual

Yr/Yr % change

New Beetle - Coupe







- Convertible







Total New Beetle







Jetta Sdn














Total Jetta





















Passat Sdn














Total Passat



































---VW Gazette

18 October 2007

Movie Moments

I was flipping channels and by chance saw Spider-man 2 being broadcast. In the midst of my internal debate as to whether or not to watch the remainder of the movie, I sadly noted to myself -- not for the first time -- that each of the Spider-man sequels did not live up to the high bar set by the original.

I enjoyed all three Spider-man movies and would recommend all of them, but as implied above I give the sequels progressively lower ratings. In my original post regarding Spider-man 3 I gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars. With this as a marker, I'd give Spider-man 2 four stars, and the original Spider-man 5 out of 5 stars.

Anywhoo, as I sat waxing nostalgic about the excellence that was Spider-man, I recalled my favourite scene of the entire movie. The cemetery scene, where Peter Parker kisses, rejects and then walks away from Mary Jane is simply awesome. Throughout and afterwards all I could think was, 'wow'. The acting, music, setting, voice-over, everything in that scene just melded together in to one seamless, wondrous character-defining moment. They got it. Director Sam Raimi, the writers, everyone... all of them helped capture the essence of one of the all-time greatest comic book heroes, Peter Parker.

This is one of my Movie Moments. :o)

17 October 2007

The Ethics of Erasing a Bad Memory

I read this article on time.com, by Dr. S. Haig:

“She was worried about the lump and worried about the children who were worrying about her. She was, however, most worried about the anesthesia. "What if I don't wake up?" just wasn't a question I could answer sufficiently for her…. So I warned her that there might be a little pain and agreed to do her biopsy under a local anesthetic — but only if she would allow an anesthesiologist in the room, just in case.

The lump was growing near — maybe on — the inner end of Ellen's collarbone, meaning that during the biopsy I might have to use a tool that goes, "crunch." It's pretty hard to numb-up bone with a local anesthetic so I was glad to have Frank, the anesthesiologist, there at the head of the table with some IV sedatives, in case Ellen got panicky or was in too much pain. She was adamant about not going under, but agreed to "some sedation" if we thought it was necessary….

Ellen's procedure got off to a fine start. She was O.K. with the needle-sticks for the lidocaine and she stayed calm and collected under the layers of paper and plastic that we used to drape-off the surgical site….

I ordered up a touch prep — a quick microscopic look at the cells of the specimen. We would know in 15 minutes if there were cancer in the lump. While the specimen was in the pathology lab…. I made small talk with Ellen and the nurses. Ellen was O.K. but nervous. She talked about her kids, about how much driving she did everyday shuttling them around. The topic of the tumor, and what it had looked like, was given wide berth by all of us. I finished stitching, but I had to stay scrubbed — we couldn't take off the drapes until pathology told us they had a sufficient specimen. There wasn't much else to discuss; it was real quiet and, rare for the OR, a little bit awkward.

"Dr. Haig?" A voice over the intercom, harsh and loud.

"Yes," I said. "Is this path lab?"

"Yes, can I put on Dr. Morales?" the voice replied, referring to the pathologist looking at the microscope slides of Ellen's specimen.

"Have him call in on the phone," I said. The drill, which everyone knew, was that the circulating nurse would hold the phone to my ear while the pathologist told me what he saw.

But instead of an "O.K." there was silence, and then, "Scott, this is Jorge, can you hear me?"

"Yes, but hold on, we're under local in here," I said. "You'd better call the desk and have them put you through to the phone in the room."

"Scott, I can barely hear you but, listen, this is a wildly pleomorphic tumor, very anaplastic. I can't tell..."

"Hold on, Jorge — let me use the..." But he couldn't hear me and kept on talking.

"...what the cell type is, but it's a really, really, bad..."

The circulator was moving toward the intercom on the wall, but she wasn't going to make it.


Ellen's shuddering gasp, then shrieks came from under the drapes: "Oh, my God. Oh, my God. My kids. Oh, my... my arm..."

The burning pain in Ellen's arm was due to the rapid application of propofol, a paper-white liquid medication, which the perceptive Dr. Frank had plugged into Ellen's IV the second he heard the c-word. When he saw her reaction, he pushed. The drug, sometimes called "milk of amnesia," stings some patients sharply in the veins, but what it also does is erase your last few minutes. (Think of the "neuralyzer" from the Men in Black movies.) Oh, and it puts you to sleep. An amazing molecule, a great anesthesiologist and a great save.

Not everyone agreed. I looked up at three sets of eyes, the nurses' eyes, that bored into Frank and me accusingly. How can you do that? They demanded to know. Don't you need consent or at least fill out some kind of form before you steal a patient's last 10 minutes? But all I could say was, "Awesome job, Frank." Somehow with that, and with the calm sleep on their patient's face, we were given not forgiveness, but a reprieve.

Ten minutes later Ellen woke up, happy and even-keeled, not even knowing she'd been asleep. From the recovery room she was home in time for dinner. "The procedure went smoothly, but we'll have to wait for the final pathology reports," I said, which was not exactly the whole truth, but it let me get the oncology people cued up, a proper diagnosis, and Ellen herself emotionally prepared. I would give her the bad news at a more appropriate time.

The ending was not quite happy; it was a recurrence of the cancer she'd had years before — fairly rare for that type of tumor. Ellen died of it about six years later. I confess I never told her about the incident with the intercom.

Over a decade later, I'm still not sure that was right.

Questions of withholding bad news, wiping out bad memories — plastering-over wayward cracks in our minds with chemicals — are answered thousands of times everyday, without ever being asked. Ethics committees and experts exist in our hospitals, but what they have to say counts precious little down in the trenches, where intercoms fail and human minds treat human minds, in real time. You would think, by now, that the distinction between treatments using words (or ideas) and chemicals (or electric currents) is starting to blur. (If an hour of psychotherapy accomplishes the same thing as 20 mg of Prozac — that is, a boost in mood and serotonin levels — is there a difference?) But it is not. Everyone I know who deals with medicines that affect minds seems to operate with a very clear functional distinction between personhood — the realm of virtue, vice, responsibility and creativity — and brain chemistry. That distinction was clear in the eyes of my nurses that day. Something more important than a chemical balance in Ellen's brain had been violated — only a little and, obviously, with benevolent intent. But it hadn't been as simple as pushing a rewind button. Something there had borne the unmistakable quality of wrong….

Time.com--Dr. Scott Haig is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He has a private practice in the New York City area.”
Was it ethical to have given Ellen propofol? Did Ellen’s panic place sufficient physical risk to herself or others to warrant its use? I think only the people present that day can answer that. Ellen was certainly experiencing a great deal of acute emotional pain—was administering propofol the correct course of action?

The doctors were clearly acting with compassion and with their patient’s best interests in mind. Wouldn’t it be better for Ellen if she only learned of her cancer after being mentally prepared, and only after a final, complete pathology report? On the other hand, looking at the bare facts, I can’t get over the lack of informed consent. Ellen had clearly expressed her wishes against the use of general anesthesia, and I can only guess how she would have felt about unknowingly losing 10 minutes of her memory.

The rational part of me thinks the doctors should have let Ellen deal with the consequences of her choice, for better or for worse.

What about the irrational part of me? Well, that brings up something else in this article that caught my attention:

“If an hour of psychotherapy accomplishes the same thing as 20 mg of Prozac — that is, a boost in mood and serotonin levels — is there a difference?

The irrational part of me says ‘yes’, there is a difference, while the rational part says, ‘no’, they’re both doing the same thing. The best analogy I can think of involves exercise, muscle, and electrical stimulation. I’ve heard that applying electrical pulses can tone muscle and mimic the effect of exercise on muscle—assuming this is true, that exercise accomplishes the same thing as electrical stimulation, is there a difference? Rationally, I’d again say ‘no’ (ignoring for the sake of argument the other benefits of exercise). Having said that, for the question of psychotherapy and Prozac, I have to say the irrational part of me takes the lead and I’m not sure why. I guess that’s why it’s irrational. :o)

12 October 2007

National Geographic tree

Ancient Cedar falls in Vancouver’s Stanley Park:

“A red cedar tree believed to be almost 1,000 years old and reputedly the largest of its kind in the world uprooted and toppled from natural causes in Vancouver's Stanley Park….

The top of the tree lies so deep in the forest it can't be seen….

"The first photographs we have of it in our archives are 1890…”

Before it fell, the mighty tree… was 13 metres around at the base and 40 metres tall. It became famous after it was featured in a 1978 National Geographic article, with scores of tourists coming to see it each day….”
What struck me most about this news was the fact that this tree was almost 1000 years old. Imagine living for one… thousand… years. Incredible.

So, what was happening a millennium ago? The Song Dynasty was ruling in China; Western Europe was in the midst of the Middle Ages; the Byzantine Empire was thriving in Eastern Europe; Viking Leif Ericcson landed in what is now called Newfoundland.

Imagine being witness to events spanning a 1000 years. If only trees could talk, eh? :o)

11 October 2007

Right brain versus left brain

I followed an interesting link to the Herald Sun….

The Right brain versus Left brain test: do you see the spinning lady turning clockwise or counter-clockwise?

“If clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain and vice versa.

Most of us would see the dancer turning anti-clockwise though you can try to focus and change the direction; see if you can do it.”

The very first time I looked I saw the dancer turning counter-clockwise, so I guess I mostly use the left side of my brain, which didn’t surprise me. I was able to get the dancer to turn the other way fairly easily, though haphazardly, by looking away, visualizing which way I wanted it to turn, and then looking back. I say haphazardly because this method only worked for me about 50% of the time. I could probably improve that if I worked at it.

Now when I look at the spinning lady without visualizing I have no idea whether it will be turning clockwise or counter-clockwise. Weird.

Anywhoo, here are some attributes associated with the left and right brain:

uses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies

uses feeling
"big picture" oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy and religion
can "get it" (i.e. meaning)
spatial perception
knows object function
fantasy based
presents possibilities
risk taking

Take this for what it's worth. :o)

06 October 2007

VW advertisements

I found some more Volkswagen advertisements:

"The Golf TDI. Unbelievable Acceleration."

This one puzzles me. Does Volkswagen really want to say VWs are ugly?

Umm, can't say much about this one for the VW Caddy. Not sure if I want to. :o)

Out of this bunch I like this VW Polo ad the best. In case you're wondering, "Aus Liebe zum Automobil" translates to "For the love of automobiles".

I'm thinking the Volkswagen LT isn't sold in the United States. I could be wrong, but I don't remember seeing one.

This one is pretty funny, too.

I have more VW ads, both R32 and non-R32 related, on my website (VW advertisements). I also have both official and non-official VW commercials and/or videos.

05 October 2007

The Kingdom

Tonight I watched The Kingdom. This movie is about a small team of FBI investigators, led by Jamie Foxx, in Saudi Arabia tracking down terrorists who had attacked one of the compounds housing foreign workers and their families.

I would categorize The Kingdom as an action flick. The action sequences during the climax was quite well done; there were several tense and suspenseful moments in the movie where I couldn't make a better than 50/50 guess as to how a scene would turn out.

I thought all the actors' performances were well done. I particularly enjoyed Ashraf Barhom's performance, and both Foxx and Jennifer Garner were good, too.

I'm of mixed mind of the denouement. It was either a case of the director using a sledgehammer to bludgeon his point across to the audience or a case of something that needed to be said to balance the film's message--I can't decide. Don't expect to come out laughing and smiling after the credits roll.

Unfortunately, the many positives of this film were overshadowed by the camera direction. I can understand what the director was trying to achieve--it's just too bad it was done so poorly. I sat through the last three quarters of the movie with a headache because of the camera's quick, jerky movements and extreme closeups. It's not like I was sitting in the first row, either (I did that once, and NEVER again). I was roughly in the middle of the theater; moving further back wouldn't have helped me.

I'd have probably rated this film three and a half stars, but due to the headache-inducing camera direction I'm giving The Kingdom...

1.5 out of 5 stars.

04 October 2007

For Whom the Bell Tolls

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

--Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, XVII (1623), by John Donne.

Volkswagen Touareg R50

Wow. Volkswagen is coming out with the 3rd model in their sporty R line-up, following the original 2004 Volkswagen Golf R32, and the Passat R36. The Touareg R50 is to be officially announced in Sydney, Australia, on 11th October.

"In another world premiere for the Australian International Motor Show, Volkswagen has announced it will unveil its new Touareg R50 in Sydney next week (11 October). Developed by a team of specialists at Volkswagen Individual GmbH, the Touareg R50 is one of the most powerful SUVs in the world. While Volkswagen has yet to announce detailed specifications, it promises the R50 boasts "generous" increases on the 230kW of power and 750Nm of torque produced by the current V10 TDi model on which it is based. Bigger wheels and tyres and tweaked suspension complete the high-performance package. Volkswagen Individual GmbH has also designed new exterior and interior features to reflect the R philosophy.

The R50 is the third model to appear under Volkswagen's sporty R label, following in the footsteps of the Golf R32 and the new Passat R36 - which was launched last month at the Frankfurt motor show. All three models have 4MOTION all-wheel drive to guarantee optimal traction."--VWvortex.com

Politics loves a myth

From cbc.ca:

Canada's nasty reputation
October 3, 2007

Charles Schumer is the senior U.S. senator from New York, and one of the most accomplished self-promoters in Washington, which says a great deal about his powers of self-promotion. He's a busy fellow.

When he showed up last week at a televised Senate committee hearing, he wasn't interested in the expert witnesses testifying about security along the Canada-U.S. border. Schumer sat down just long enough to get some face time on the live cameras and to put some remarks on the record.

"It's extremely troubling, extremely troubling," he said. "We have seen, crossing the Buffalo border on occasion, terrorists …"

Congress, said Schumer, must do something about it. His fellow senators nodded gravely, and Senator Max Baucus from Montana started talking about how easy it might be for someone in Canada to build a dirty bomb. Schumer hurried off.

In the audience, a Canadian official jotted down the remark, which was examined from all angles later at the Canadian embassy just down the road from the Capitol.

No one had the faintest idea what Schumer was talking about. Nor did anyone in the Canadian Consulate General in Buffalo, which was quickly brought into the inquiry. Schumer himself hadn't provided any details.

It turned out Schumer didn't know what he was talking about either. After repeated calls to his office, one of his press secretaries told CBC "perhaps the senator misspoke."

Who's toughest?

Perhaps. Or perhaps, as Canadian Senator Jerry Grafstein puts it, there's an election coming in the United States, and "it's above the radar screen because the Democrats are trying to demonstrate they're tougher on terrorists than the Republicans," and don't particularly care who they sideswipe in the process.

Whatever the reason, politics loves a myth, and the myth about Canada that's lodged in the heads of some of America's most powerful politicians is as resistant to truth as a virus is to antibiotics.

According to Canadian officials who track such things, six Washington lawmakers have so far this year stated that Sept. 11 hijackers entered the United States through Canada.

For the record: the hijackers all entered the U.S. directly, most of them on visas granted by the American government, presumably after security checks by the vigilant security services of the U.S. Most of them were also citizens of another close U.S. ally, Saudi Arabia.

But that didn't matter to high officials like Utah Senator Bob Bennett, who made the Sept. 11-hijackers-from-Canada accusation to some visiting Canadian MPs earlier this year.

Or to Democrat Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas, who said this to a House subcommittee last July: "If you want to look at the 9/11 terrorists, they didn't come from the southern border. They came from the northern part of the border."

Cuellar's fellow Texan, Congressman Al Green, couched it as a broad hint last month. "Much is said about the southern border, but much also should be said about the northern border. The 9/11 hijackers did not come through the southern border…" (Green corrected himself, though not the official record, after calls from CBC).

Look north

Politicians in the United States reinforce the Canada-as-a-terrorist-haven myth for different reasons, says one Canadian official who watches the issue — and the reasons usually have nothing to do with Canada.

Some Republicans "want to stimulate constant fear," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "They depend on people being very scared in order to win office."

He also pointed out that politicians from southern states appear determined to divert attention from the southern border, where many millions of illegal immigrants have crossed into the United States.

"They perceive an elemental racism to the complaints about the southern border, so they are anxious to point out that white folks up north were the source of the 9/11 terrorism," the official said.

The fact that Canada co-operates eagerly with American security officials, as one of the expert witnesses Schumer ignored was trying to explain, is immaterial.

The fact that Canada, in its eagerness, has handed over (sometimes erroneous) information about its own citizens doesn't matter. The fact that Canadian authorities have actually intercepted security targets crossing the border from the U.S. with American guns makes no impression at all.

But these utterances certainly have consequences. Frank McKenna, who spent much of his time as Canadian ambassador to the United States from 2005 to 2006 chasing and dousing the Sept. 11 myth, says Canadian travellers "are paying the price right now."

"It's thickened the border," says McKenna. The longer lines at U.S. Customs, the traffic jams at international bridges in Buffalo and Detroit, the slowing of trade: "It is creating arteriosclerosis in the arteries between our countries."

Canada's Grafstein, who co-chairs a group of Canadian MPs and senators (the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group) that pursues private discussions with their American counterparts, says the "haven for terrorists" myth occupies most of the meetings.

"It's like hitting a stone with water," he says. "I can't deal with the irrationality."

Of course, Grafstein has been in politics for most of his adult life. He probably should have learned about irrationality by now.--Neil MacDonald

Emphasis is mine.

03 October 2007

Backpack shield

I thought this (Backpack shield) was pretty depressing, not because some parents may and this company feels there's a need for it per se, but because of the thought they might be right.

"Stronger than a sewn in level II liner, the BACKPACKSHIELD tm is N.I.J. Level IIIA & stops hardened higher velocity 9 mm Full Metal Jacket (copper) and 44 Magnum (SWC) rounds flat in their tracks. The patented DupontTM Kevlar® multilayer ballistic composite BACKPACKSHIELD tm weighs less than a text book, measures 17" high by 12 " wide, is less than 1/2" thick, and fits inside 1000's of standard size (High School & Collegiate) backpacks. It's available in a variety of school colors, optional personalized photo (i.e. favorite athlete, pet, team, mascot etc.)"
I'm not advocating either way for or against armoring children with Kevlar, but I think it's more a matter of when, not if, there's going to be another school shooting. Wangos. There has to be a better way to protect school children.

01 October 2007

Visitors in September 2007

The top 5 visitors in September 2007, listed by country, were:

1) United States,
2) Canada,
3) Great Britain,
4) an European country,
5) Australia.

The full list for September 2007

Visitors in previous months.