Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Syrian Refugees - The Bigger Picture

Below is an excerpt from my book, Beach Buggy Safari. It was my first visit to Syria. The brief length of the chapter doesn't do my time there justice. I very much enjoyed my time in Syria, and thought the world of the Syrian people. It wasn't uncommon for another traveller to share stories of the kindness of the Syrians - how they would give them the shirts of their backs, feed them, invite them, and treat them as honoured guests - and these were complete strangers. This is only one of the factors that influences my desire to welcome Syrian refugees into Canada. I believe it takes a lot of fear, desperation, and bravery to abandon ones home and livelihood. I can only imagine what the feeling would be like to have lost everything. My loved ones, my belongings, my savings, my home, my community. 
It's sad to read the unwelcoming posts the internet, telling them to go back where they came from. Syrian refugees are terrified victims who have risked their lives, travelling by boat and truck and whatever to escape unspeakable terror.
I don't think people get that. I also honestly believe that refugees don't come to Canada as terrorists anymore than a person is born a terrorist. Our actions, as Canadians - the darkness of our xenophobia versus the light of our hospitality, will influence these people futures. How dark, or bright, these people's futures are depend as much on us as it does on them.

Excerpt from Syria

After the border post, my first vision in Syria was a massive welcoming billboard. On it, Syria’s dictator Bashar al Assad was dressed in military garb. He frowned down at newcomers with his thin moustache and angular nose. I then drove through the flat plains northwards before I arrived in Damascus.
Damascus, the oldest constantly inhabited city in the world, was confusing. It was like trying to navigate through spaghetti. There might have been one non-winding street in the city. Its uniqueness in the hairball formation of roads dates back to biblical times where it was known as, The Street called Straight. I quickly became so disoriented I didn’t know which direction I was travelling in.
I stopped where a group of teenagers had congregated outside of a billiards café and asked for directions to my hotel.
“I can show you the way,” one of them offered. “No, let me,” said his friend. The two of them climbed in, one on top of the other into the cramped passenger seat, and before long I was parked near my hotel, thanking them, and unloading my bags. They said no problem, and refused any compensation. "Our duty," they said.
            Damascus’s history is about as confusing as its winding streets. It had been built by empire after empire which had conquered the region, as though the central point in a multi-sided empirical tug of war.
            A remnant of the Roman and Turkish invasions is the numerous bath houses, known locally as Hammams. These ancient buildings, some more than a millennium old, could be found hidden in the cobbled alleyways that twisted through medieval two-and-three-storey neighbourhoods.
Throughout the Arab world, public bath houses play an important role in society. It’s where mothers go in search of potential daughters-in-law. A would-be-fiancée proves her domestic skills by offering to wash the older women. If she washed incompetently, not scrubbing enough, or going too slowly, it was a sign she wouldn’t be a good housewife.
The Hammam down the street from my basic hotel had a rounded doorway with the date 958 written on a plaque outside. I entered into its Persian-carpeted lounge. Elaborate, plush cushions and couches lined the walls. Stacks of towels were heaped behind the walnut service counter.
I paid for the full package, unsure of just what that entailed, and then stripped down. With one of my two towels around my waist, I pushed through a swinging door where a wave of cool, damp air greeted me. The smooth, grey stone walls had fist-sized holes like something out of the Flintstones. Other patrons sat on the floor, dumping jugs of water over their heads and lathering with their bars of soap. I copied them.
A wiry old man with strands of grey hair sticking out his ears opened a door and waved me into a separate room. I entered to see a high concrete table in the centre and two big bottles of green liquid soap on a chair.
This was my first such experience; being naked with another man that had the intention of touching me, and it was awkward. I lay face down on the table. The old man poured water and soap onto my back. Using course gloves, he scrubbed back and forth, everywhere, until my body was covered in lathering suds and my skin tingled. He then rinsed everything off with more buckets of warm water. The suds slid off the table and snaked down the drain. He repeated the same procedure two more time and then pointed toward the steam room. I took my towels, put my flip-flops back on and entered.
A middle-aged man with a dark moustache was perched high on a raised bench. He broke into a smile. “Welcome to Syria.”
His intense stare made me feel uneasy, as though a guy in the next urinal was trying to take a peek.
“Where are you from,” he asked, stretching his hand out in greeting. I hesitated before meeting it. “Canada.”
“I have a huge house here in Damascus,” he said, still holding the grip even though I tried to pull away.
“That’s nice.” I yanked my hand back and sat down opposite him.
“I prefer men,” he said.
“I prefer women.”
He continued as though I might change my mind. “Well, Westerners having open minds, right? You can come over to my place for dinner if you want?”
“No thanks.”
My only complaint about Damascus so far, aside from the overly forward homosexual in the Turkish bath, was the government. It felt as though a dark shadow lingered over the city. There was a sense that someone was constantly watching and listening, limiting where I could go and even what I could say. “Don’t talk about you know where,” other travellers warned me, referring to Israel.
The president’s picture was on the currency. His sinister face hung in every shop, and stared down from billboards. Some locals even had silhouette-like stickers on their car windows which showed the president wearing pimp-like sunglasses. Images of leaders hadn’t bothered me in other countries. Perhaps it was because they tried to appear regal and important. This president appeared menacing, like a coward empowered by the gun in his hand. With this in mind, I decided to move on to Lebanon.

Not far outside Damascus, cedar-forested mountains dominated the Lebanese landscape ahead. In the Syrian immigration office, I made sure to ask about the double-entry visa. “I don’t want to pay another seventy dollars. Can you make sure this is a double-entry visa?”

“Yes, yes, no problem.” said the uniformed official. “That’s fine. You don’t need another visa to get back into Syria.”

Final Note:

Other versions of this chapter talked about the amazing food I had in Damascus. Something that was very unexpected coming from Egypt and Jordan. Their international cuisine was a reflection of the numerous cultures that had invaded, occupied, or influenced the city over the millennia. 
The season approaches where the nativity scene is displayed in churches across North America. In case you forgot, it is about a Middle Eastern family desperate for shelter.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Terror Attacks - Let's Make Up Stuff and Blame it on the most Vulnerable, Downtrodden People in the World!

It's only been one day since the heinous terrorist attacks in Paris. Rumours of a Syrian passport found on or near one of the terrorists has sparked the xenophobic, anti-immigration rants blowing up around the internet. A convenient group to blame, some of the weakest, most downtrodden people in the world right now.

I have a problem with this.

The first question I ask myself is, is it plausible that Syrian Terrorists have infiltrated France?

Yes, it is possible that one or more of these terrorists are from Syria. They may also be from Canada, or Germany, or Belgion, or China for all I know.

Is it likely that they would blow themselves up and be carrying their passport so as to give the authorities a clue?

Hrmm, I don't know. I'm a little skeptical, but maybe.

Is it likely that the authorities would be sharing potential key evidence with the general public, such as a Syrian Passport found near one of the dead suspects at this early stage of the investigation.

Maybe, who knows.

Is it likely that anti-immigration, conspiracy nuts are floating around bullshit meant to stoke people's xenophobic fears.

I think this is very likely.

I've blogged intermittently on Syria since before the war began. There are plenty of great articles out there outlining how ISIS began, and it's modern roots. Trying to remember it all is like trying to remember every move you made in a Chess game.

I agree with Canada's Liberal government that our new role should be as a peacemaker in the region. A peacemaker between the Rebels and the Assad Regime, while playing a covert role to infiltrate, undermine, divide, weaken, and decimate ISIS.

By pulling out of the overt war, we can focus on being humanitarians, heroes, and helpers. We can focus on hope, and on doing the right thing. We can be something more.

Syrians are proud, good people. The time to bring them over to Canada is now. Before their desperation turns their souls darker. Before stealing out of desperation to live becomes second nature. Before the violence that their youth have been exposed to becomes part of their normal - the sad, criminal normal that afflicts too many refugees coming to Canada today.

I say this because Syrians, before being decimated by war, were some of the most generous, welcoming people in the world. They were generous to a fault. Now they are desperate and in need of help. Now that they are victims of ISIS, it saddens me to hear that they find themselves being treated with suspicion and racism because they come from the same place as the monsters do.

ISIS isn't trying to send their Jihadists dressed as refugees to cause terror elsewhere. They need all hands on deck in the Leviathin just to survive. Their media wing and propoganda is what inspires feeble, angry, foolish young men to commit terror acts inside their own countries. That's what we have to keep an eye on.

As much as seeing ISIS being blown into tiny, little smithereens would give us satisfaction. I know that dropping bombs and blowing them to hell will not eliminate them. It will just make us poorer, and if history is any indication, it may even make them stronger.

The best way to eliminate ISIS, or any hideous ideology, is to expose their lies and hypocrocy through peace and a better alternative. It's by telling the stories of the people hurt by their evil. The widows. The orphans. The injured, and the dead.

It's by showing how their victims are better than they are. How the victims fleeing their evil were saved by good people who do good things.

Canada can do better. Canada must do better.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Doug Ford Slams Trudeau's as Drama Teacher

I turned on the news today and found myself absorbed once again in the Canada Leadership Race.

Doug Ford gave an interview putting Stephen Harper's resume up against Justin Trudeau, saying Trudeau couldn't even be a floor sweeper in a major company that would hire Stephen Harper in a heartbeat.

How do their resume's stack up?

Liberal leader Trudeau spent a year as a drama teacher. According to Mr. Ford, that is a huge knock against him. He goes on to say that it makes him incompetent.

Let me go back to my grade ten Drama class. Who takes Drama class?

For me, in grade ten, it was every hooligan, shit disturber, troublemaker, and problem child in the highschool.

Each class was like an experiment in seeing how far they could push the teacher toward a mental breakdown, and on supply teacher day, it was like that but on steroids.

We were in a windowless, high-roofed room that was the remnants of a defunct metal-shop program. A fence blocked off a section - about half of the classroom - where big, clunky metal working machines sat and collected dust.

Almost every class, someone would sneak over to the lightswitch and turn off the light when the teacher wasn't looking.

Pitch darkness would ensue, and inevitably, a chair, or two, or three, would be tossed over the fence and ping-pong clatter around the metal machines.

When particularly mean spirited, a recycling bin, a garbage can, or some other clunky object would be pushed into the path between the sight-deprived supply teacher and the lightswitch, and you could hear the poor, blithering teacher stumbling and crashing his way from his desk to the lightswitch. Once turned on, the teacher would be met by a crowd of blank, innocent, bewildered stares.

So, who are drama teachers in my opinion? How would being a drama teacher impact someone's ability to lead?

Drama teachers inspire the imagination. They understand the importance of fun in education. They can deal with the most difficult students, and change their paths for the better. They can control a crowd of hyper, excited, difficult children (an important skill in parliamentary debates).

I could go on.

So Doug Ford's snide remark, Trudeau spent a year as a drama teacher and is therefore incompetent and should not lead the country is an insult.

An insult to everyone who admires an actor, an actor at some stage of his life likely inspired by a drama teacher.

An insult to everyone in the education industry who puts their heart and soul into teaching our children.

I understand that leaders can't choose their supporters. I think it shows just how stupid the Ford's are. Supporting Stephen Harper so loudly and arrogantly will likely do no justice to Harper's campaign.

It's a bit like gaining a few buffoon votes in exchange for a hundred voters running away from your party.

And then there's the comment that Stephen Harper's resume would be snapped up in a heartbeat to lead a major company.

I'm sure there's a lineup of companies waiting to hire someone who lost money in nine consecutive years after inheriting a surplus. They can't wait to put someone in charge who oversaw his country through two recessions. They are excited about his record of hiring competent, trustworthy people like Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau. They know he surrounds himself with bright, highly qualified people that aren't smart enough to talk for themselves or express their own opinions. They are excited about hiring somone who chopped the forward momentum of women in society, neutered scientific research, castrated the national media, created a tax-haven system inside Canada that encourages stock market manipulation. Who wouldn't want to be led by someone labelled a racist embarassment by numerous media outlets throughout the world.

Sounds like someone I'd hire - NOT.

I'd sooner hire a drama teacher.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Is Citizenship Revocation Right for Convicted Terrorists.

Terrorism offends me as it does most sensible people.

When I first heard about revoking citizenship, my angry self cheered, "Yeehaw, stick it to the bad guy."

The more I thought about it, though, the more I came to the conclusion that Trudeau is right. We can't revoke the citizenship of a terrorist anymore than we can revoke the citizenship of a pedophile, or a murderer, or any other person whose behaviour offends mainstream society.

Why not?

Putting our hateful sentiments aside. What happens when you revoke someones citizenship and send them back to their home country?

1) The person heads back to their home country and remains a threat to their society, and potentially our society too. Borders aren't impervious to infiltration. Their infatuation with revenge and violence is now exported elsewhere and threatens other people, potentially us as well. We cannot check it. We cannot watch them. We cannot forgive them and encourage them lead healthy and productive lives, seeing the error of their ways. We are overcome with revenge and anger, and we let these feelings dictate our actions. In this case, we potentially make them martyrs and heroes, looked up to by other would-be terrorists as someone who tried, but failed, to attack the people they blindly hate. They are praised as someone who did hard time for "the cause." They are elevated in their circles of evil and potentially more dangerous than ever.

2) Our sensibilities over the last half century have seen us abolish the death penalty, torture, and abide by a doctrine that eliminates cruel-and-unusual punishment. As was witnessed in the Arar case, handing someone over to another country can have dire consequences. There is no guarantee the convicted terrorist would not be rearrested, tortured, or put to death after serving their time in Canada and being extradited to a country with a different moral code. In doing so, we are breaching their human rights.

To conclude. As much as terrorism and those who incorporate it into their belief system offends us, we must take the higher ground. That is the road that Trudeau took in the debate of citizenship revocation, even if he did not articulate it as best he could. It shows he can look beyond hate and revenge and choose the right path.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Six Dangers of Tax Free Savings Accounts

Tax Free Savings Accounts should be scrapped, indefinitely. Here's why.

1) A Tax break for the wealthy

A Tax Free Savings Account is a tax break for the wealthy. It encourages a smart wealthy person to spread their wealth, slowly, among their family members. If increased to $10,000 per year, a wealthy family of four would stow away $40,000 per year. (More if you include Registered Educational Savings Plans)

As someone who has to budget to make their monthly mortgage and car payments, saving $40,000 per year is a pipe dream. Even if I paid off my mortgage, stowing away $40,000 per year on my salary is $20,000 away from what I can ever afford - post-debt.

2) Pump and dump.

The ability to create tax bubbles, essentially blowing up someone's tax free accounts while draining their regular investment accounts encourage people to manipulate the stock market.

Someone experienced in stock market manipulation could effectively do this on a large scale for a group of clients. While there should be checks and balances in place to prevent such manipulations, it's hard to prosecute when there is a massive claw back in law enforcement to investigate or prosecute such transgressions.

What we have is a perfect recipe for mass tax evasion.

Here's how.

An investor gathers millions, even billions of dollars in clients accounts. They get their clients to invest in particular stocks in their TFSA. The investor then manipulates the people's non-TFSA accounts to buy the stocks at an inflated price from their TFSA accounts.

What starts out as a $10,000 in stock X in their TFSA and $10,000 cash in their taxable trading account becomes $10,000 + (manipulated sell price increase) in their TFSA and ($10,000 - planned loss) in their non-TFSA account.

To put it simply, it's like taking air out of one balloon to put it into another balloon. In this case, a tax free balloon.

But it doesn't end there. The perpetrator can now claim a "Tax loss," in their regular investment account, decreasing their real income taxes.

In the above way, a savvy, wealthy investor could gradually transfer their earnings into a TFSA to the point where they never have to pay a dime in taxes again.

3) Laissez-Faire turns to manipulation

The traditional theory of market forces is to leave it be. It's illegal to manipulate markets in any way. But that is exactly what Tax Free Savings Accounts do. They artificially encourage people to invest in the stock market. The result artificially boosts the stock market beyond what it's intrinsic value should be.

This is a dangerous precedent and goes against the principles investment economics.

4) Good bye tax revenues.

The wealthy and the upper middle class are the people who can afford to be taxed at a higher rate. In a country that runs deficit after deficit, creating tax havens for the people who can afford to pay a little more tax is bad.
Taxes on investment income are historically pretty low. You divide the capital gains by two and add it to your annual income. With the generous amount people can stow away in their TFSA's, what's being created is a future where such taxable investment income will shrivel more and more.

5) It's the people struggling to get ahead who need a break, not the people who are already ahead. Who will pay the difference? The poor and the people struggling to get ahead are the one's who will pay a bigger share in the end to make up the difference, while the wealthy enjoy their tax-free earnings.

6) It will be tricky to undo this mess.

When the government realizes that allowing people to have tax free havens isn't sustainable and they actually need to tax it, what happens to the TFSA's? People invested in good faith, thinking their money would be safe from the government's touch.

What Should We do?

Do we simply cap it? Whatever is in your account can be kept tax free, but nothing else. No more annual additions.

Do we scrap it? Tax Free Savings accounts are no longer tax free. They are regular accounts.

Those are really the only viable options. Any hybrid of partial taxation becomes too confusing.

I say scrap it.

I can't afford it anyway.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Should the RCMP get a 10% wage increase?

In a recent Globe and Mail Article, the RCMP pay council put it to the Federal Government that RCMP members should get a 10% wage increase to recruit and retain the best employees.

They are wrong.

They are wrong because...

It should be 20%.

Here's why.

The RCMP need people. They need good people, very good people!

Let's take an RCMP member in Alberta. Most members in Alberta are from out of province.

The only province who consistently pays it's police forces less than the RCMP is Quebec.

The Ontario Provincial Police pay more. Most big city police forces pay more.

What's to stop an RCMP officer outside of Calgary, or Vancouver, or Edmonton, or Saskatoon, or Regina from walking away from the RCMP, joining the city force, and getting an automatic 10-15 % raise just for showing up to a different location to work.

What's to stop someone from Ontario from taking a raise so they can go back home and be closer to their friends and families.

Conversely, what police force wouldn't want someone with police training and policing experience to join them? They don't have to train the person, much. They get a prepared employee ready to work. All the benefits, and the only cost being their regular police salary.

If I ran a local police force, I'd be poaching such people. What they pay extra in salary, they save in training costs.

An RCMP officer might think twice about the move if they knew they were the best paid. If they knew they worked with the best people because they were the best paid.

Beyond what I've outlined above, the RCMP as an organization are responsible for a lot more than a typical police force. They spearhead the bigger projects, the nation-wide policing and law-enforcement initiatives. Anti-terrorism, anti-fraud, child exploitation, organized crime.

That's where the RCMP comes in. They need the smartest, the best, the leaders who can gel with the other police forces and be the link-up to help solve the complicated, national and international crimes.

If you want second rate recruits, go ahead, keep paying them like they are. If you want to create an organized, competent, specialized, and multi-faceted National Police Force, cough up the money to recruit, and just as importantly, retain them.

Friday, June 26, 2015


It's fascinating what tidbits of information people grasp onto and accept as fact.

The NDP opposition, as I've watched them for years, oppose everything the sitting government does with zealous overreaction. Red face, smoke coming out their ears, oppose, oppose, oppose.

It doesn't matter if it's good policy or not. It doesn't matter if deep down they agree with it or not. Oppose, oppose, oppose.

This red-faced, smoke-from-the-ears opposition to Bill C-51 seems to have struck a note with the public. It's killing the Liberal Party.

The fact that Trudeau voted for it seems to have pushed the NDP into the lead, and NDP momentum is a dangerous thing, just ask the Alberta Conservatives.

The NDP is still enjoying their honeymoon with Alberta, a fact in itself which raises their popularity country wide. It's too bad the election is looming. Give the NDP a few years, and that shine will start to be coated in the soot churned out by the oil sands, coupled with the fact that a body of complete unknowns, and likely more than a few nincompoops ended up in power.

So how can Mr. Trudeau recover from his faux pas?

Whether Bill C-51 is right or wrong, in fickle voters minds, he took the wrong side.

Here is what I would do.

I would justify my vote for Bill C51 because I believe in exigent circumstances. I believe that imminent terrorist threats require a collaborative, concerted effort to thwart them.

In the same way that police can kick down a door down if someone is screaming, "Don't kill me," or, "Help," or shouting, "I'm going to kill you." Police can kick down the same doors when terrorist threats come upon their radar.

This means that police don't have to have someone guarding the front and back door, while another member rushes back to the detachment, spends two hours drafting a warrant, taking that warrant to a judge, who reads the warrant, signs it, and finally gives the police permission to enter.

Applying that logic to Bill C51. What Trudeau was effectively voting for was to extend exigent circumstances to encompass imminent and potential terrorist threats.

Just like police having the authority to kick down that door down to stop a violent offence from happening, bill C-51 provides law enforcement and national security with the tools to take on terrorists.

When it is believed that someone is plotting terrorist activities, and their detention is necessary to thwart those activities, and sharing private information between government agencies can disrupt that threat, they can act.

When these powers are exercised they should be scrutinized afterwards. There should be oversight. There should be a process for dealing with complaints and possible abuses of this authority. These are things that need to be worked out.

There is another reason we need bill C-51 though. It's the opposite to what the NDP are crying foul with Big Brother communism knocking on our doorstep.

The RCMP has been gutted by the Harper government. Their manpower is way below where it  needs to be to fight crime. The RCMP are overworked and underpaid. Good candidates, smart candidates, even good RCMP members are joining other police forces.

The RCMP was just charged under the Canada Labour Code, in part for being dangerously undermanned and dangerously overworked.

The fact is, the RCMP needs shortcuts. They barely have time to tie their shoes, let alone write up production orders and spend hundreds of hours on each potential threat that crosses their radar.

Plain and simple, with too few members to take on the crime out there, it's impossible, despite what the NDP would have you believe, to become a big-brother state.

The national security forces need a break. They need these shortcuts. They need this life-preserving legislation, to go from drowning in bureaucracy, to just gasping for air.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Should Canada Abolish the Senate?

What is the Senate anyways? 

Before looking it up, this is what I think it is.

A group of government appointed people, from a broad swathe of society, to debate legislature and provide sober second thought.

I looked it up, and that's pretty much what it is supposed to be.

The big criticism is that sometimes it gets filled with rubber-stamp government lackeys. It is a reward to people loyal to the government of the day. An easy ride, if you will.

I like to think the Senate should be made up of people of influence from inside and outside the public service. 

Some former judges, ex-police commissioners, military men, doctors, politicians from various levels. Ex-mayors, counsellors, well-regarded independent politicians.

Some heroes, ex-star athletes. 

Well regarded businessmen, if we can deem their hearts in the right place.

There should be rules for one to become a senator. Be debt free. Be of good standing. No criminal record. Pass a drug test and be prepared for random drug testing.

There should be a list of criteria, as passed by parliament, that the Senate should strive to attain in order to be diverse, just, and responsible.

In other words...

Not Mike Duffy, or Patrick Brazeau. 

Looking at these two, one has to wonder if Stephen Harper had some master plan to fill the senate with nincompoops in order to have fodder for it's abolishment.

It's abolishment would provide one less layer of government oversight. For those up in arms over bill C51 - less oversight is the greater evil if you ask me. Greater than letting our security services detain suspected terrorists.

Imperfect as the Senate may be. Incompetent as our current politicians have made it, it is a reflection of these politicians and their hiring decisions. Don't abolish the Senate. Reform the selection process.

I would like to see a healthy senate. Not some coke-head, strip-joint manager who beats up his wife. Nor some greedy, debt-laden journalist who gave soft soundbites to his conservative friends over the course of his journalistic career.

I want to see an ex-pro hockey player. I want to see the former head of an international charity. I want to see an ex-city police commissioner. A former mayor still held in high regard. A university professor, a former surgeon, an agriculturist, an environmentalist.

I'm sure we have some of those. Lets see what pieces are missing and put those people in the senate.

Not Harper's buddies. 

The second last word.

Did Don Meredith commit a crime?

The last word.

If you were to appoint someone to help oversee the biggest decisions being made in the country, who would you choose?

Thursday, April 09, 2015

The Orphans of Syria

BBC Beirut shared a heart-wrenching article on the refugees of Syria currently in Lebanon.

I was there twelve years ago, and the tricks are the same. Back then they were described as "Kurdish,"children. 

Back then, I didn't have children of my own. To me, the poor kids of Syria were what the locals of Beirut described them as, a nuisance.

As they were in Nairobi, and Addis Ababa, and Rabat, etc, etc.

Begging is a racket. But the writer of this article precludes some important questions. Has the war blown the problem of begging youth into new proportion? Is their a better way? Whether these children are war orphans or opportunists, children should have a youth. They should play, and have fun, and learn, and be children!

Perhaps if we documented the victims, if we showed their lives, their shattered childhoods of beatings and perpetual filth, their desperation. If we showed exactly how they got there. Maybe their suffering might leak into the conscience of would-be Jihadists. Maybe the results, not the bullshit heaven-with-forty-virgins results, but the real hell with forty-thousand orphans results, might sink in.


Just maybe.

A good propaganda video can take someone's zest for martyrdom...

And turn it into a zest to replace the maternal and paternal losses caused by such "Martyrs."

Instead of militant Jihadists, maybe we'll find some real heroes emerging.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Apple Watch - One Critical Fault and How to Overcome it.

I predict the Apple Watch will not do well, unless they can overcome its critical fault.

The primary reason - daily charging. I currently own a Pebble Smart Watch. I've had it since they were first made available for order, about two years ago.

I paid $150 for it. At first it worked okay.

It eventually became clunky. Disconnecting frequently, not transferring data, and most recently, it's had battery life issues. I have to charge it every day if I leave the Bluetooth on. About every 3-4 days otherwise. Originally, in the first year or so, a charge lasted about four days with regular Bluetooth use.

Quite frankly, charging a watch every day is a pain.

The good things about the Pebble - when it's working.

1) I can read text messages.
2) The open source platform - thousands of developers made simple life hack programs to communicate through Bluetooth. From Golf Course distance apps, to running apps, to anything people could think up that one might want to share data and piggyback off the capabilities of their smartphone.
3) At first, the charge lasted about 4 days. A little longer would be perfect - a five day work week so one could charge it on the weekend.

Yes, the apple watch will pack in a few extras. Neat health apps like pulse rates and blood pressure. But the bare bones will remain the same. A device that communicates with your phone or other Apple devices.

The updates of stocks, or news, or text messages will certainly more robust and reliable than the inconsistent Pebble as Apple should communicate with Apple. A billion dollar company should ensure billion dollar programming.

But the one major problem remains.

Battery life. A watch should be affixed to the wrist. With all the chargeable devices needed nowadays, the Apple Watch becomes a boon to always be charging it.

The solution?

An external juice battery. Merely pop on a juice ring/band/cover for an hour or so, and charge it. Have a juice ring, pack, etc, for the office and for home.

Kickstarter anyone?

Since I have no engineering experience, I'll let the geniuses at Kickstarter, Indigogo et al piggy back off my creative epiphany. Perhaps you can send me a thank you card.