Tag Archives: canada

How to write a good history essay

Pat is taking a course in Canadian history and has to hand in a final essay. She has read all the textbook and all the reference papers, but she still have no clue how to write a good essay. She summarized all points from different historians, but she could not figure out how to meet the essay requirement, assess and contrasts the points from those historians.

I think writing an history essay is just like writing a philosophy paper, probably all undergrad level academic papers come from the same mold. For a history essay, first you give a brief summary of the historical event, what had happened and what is the result. Then you quote different historians to offer different explanations on why it happened and what is the consequences of the result. Usually the easy way out is pick the perspective from the historian you like, cite some minor events to backup his theory, and cite some other minor events to go against other theories. At the end of the essay, you conclude by saying historian A is right, historian B and C are wrong, and that’s it. I know nothing about the Riel Revolution, but after reading just Pat’s summary, I manage to BS an outline for an A grade essay (I think).

The historical event in the essay is about some European and native Indian mix-blood decedents rebel against the Canadian federal government seizing their land and the Hudson Bay Company (HBC) has a monopoly in fur trade. At the end the federal government gave in and respect their properties rights. Historian A uses Marxism theory, the revolution is a typical class struggle. The government and the HBC are capitalist exploiting poor rural farmers and hunters. Historian B claims there are two groups of mix-blood decedents, those mixed with English and those mixed with French. The revolution is just the extension of the England-France war with the French mix-blood rebel against government while the English mix-blood wants to assimilate with the government. Historian C gives a toned down version of Historian A’s view, instead of claiming class different is the problem, he claims cultural different causes the problem. Historian D does not offer any theory, he just record some anecdote of certain English mix-blood family. It really does not matter which theory you choose to defense, I am sure you can find reference in D’s material to support or against any of A,B,C’s view points.

I think besides becoming a philosopher, I also have the potential to become a historian. Writing history essay seems pretty easy, it’s like ordering fast food, combo A + B + C. First pick a historical event, then pick a social theory and link them up by citing minor events. You just need to claim your theory is better than any other theory in explaining why the event happened and twist some facts to make them fit your theory.

Another stupid and useless law

Canadian government is proposing a new legislation against internet child porn. The new law requires service provider report offending website. I believe the government make the law out of good intention, but the law itself is plain stupid and totally not enforceable. The law make it a criminal offense if an ISP fail to report child porn sites to the police, if and only if the ISP happen to come across it or someone notify them.

The law does not require the ISP actively scan their hosting website for child porn and they are not responsible for hosting contents. The law only comes in effective if they happen to come across child porn they are hosting. Since no ISP would actively scan their hosting website, first it is against customer’s privacy and second scanning cost a lot computer power hence money, it is almost pretty sure ISP won’t come across any child porn. Even they come across it in regular maintenance, there is not record to prove they really come across it. The first clause in new law is toothless.

The second part of the law require the ISP report to the police if someone notify there are child porn sites in their server. It would be too time consuming for the ISP to verify every complain. The most cost efficient approach is simply forward the report to the police and let the police determine whether the complained site hosts child porn. Since their is no punishment for sending false-positive report the police, there is no harm forward every single complains to the police and let them deal with it. If the ISP acts as a forwarder, why don’t the complainer send email to the police in the first place?

The new law does not cause any harm per se, it only gives us a false sense of security. The government makes lots of noise and the media think they did a good job fighting child porn, but at the end it just a show which won’t have much effect. I rather the government spend their effort wisely else where to protect our children than making a stupid and useless law. I suggest we tighten up the law to give those child molesters the one punishment they truly deserves, castration. For serious offenders, we should castrate them with no pain killer.

News clip From the Vancouver Sun

The federal government plans to introduce new legislation Tuesday forcing Internet providers to alert police if they encounter any host sites linked to child pornography, The Vancouver Sun has learned.

The federal government plans to introduce new legislation Tuesday forcing Internet providers to alert police if they encounter any host sites linked to child pornography, The Vancouver Sun has learned.
Photograph by: Nicky Loh, REUTERS

The federal government plans to introduce new legislation Tuesday forcing Internet providers to alert police if they encounter any host sites linked to child pornography, The Vancouver Sun has learned.

The Internet companies would also be forced to safeguard evidence if they believe a child-pornography offence has been committed using a server they provide, a senior government official confirmed Sunday.

The new bill also makes it mandatory that any tip received by Internet companies about potential child-porn sites be reported to a designated agency.

The legislation allows for fines to Internet providers who do not comply of up to $100,000 for corporations, and up to $10,000 and six months in jail for companies owned by a sole proprietor.

At present, Internet providers are not obligated by law to pass on information to law enforcement agencies, though many do so voluntarily.

Three provinces — Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia — have made it mandatory under child protection laws for Internet companies to call police if they suspect or have knowledge of online child porn.

The proposed law comes just days after the release of a study that found Canada is one of the leading countries in the world for hosting child-porn sites.

The report, released by Cybertip.ca, examined more than 15,000 child-porn websites worldwide and found Canada ranked second behind the U.S. in terms of the number of commercial porn sites featuring children.

Canada was found to host eight per cent of the sites — far behind the U.S., which hosts 65 per cent of the commercial child-porn sites worldwide.

“As strong as our laws are within Canada, no country is really free from this type of material existing on websites,” Cybertip director Signy Arnason said. “We have 60 countries . . . that were hosting child-sexual abuse content.”

The report also details how child-pornography websites cover their tracks. In one 48-hour period, Cybertip.ca watched a website cycle through 212 unique IP addresses in 16 different countries — making the specific location of the information very difficult for law enforcement to track.

And a recent report by the federal ombudsman for victims titled Every Image, Every Child, said the number of Internet images of “serious child abuse” quadrupled between 2003 and 2007 and that the images are getting more violent and depicting younger and younger children.

The new bill – called “An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service” — is considered to be complementary to two other bills. Those bills — C-46 and C-47 — were introduced last June and are still at the committee stage.

Bill C-46 — the Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act — provides police with additional tools to obtain information from Internet providers related to any criminal investigation. The tools include preservation orders to freeze data for up to 21 days, production orders compelling a company to provide a customer’s e-mail or IP address, and tracking orders to require a cellphone company to use its network to assist police in finding a particular cellphone or BlackBerry user.

Bill C-47 — the Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act — allows police to obtain information about clients from Internet providers and forces those companies to have the technical ability to allow police to intercept information.

BC election

Today I fulfilled my duty as a citizen, I cast my vote to elect the BC provincial government. The candidate I voted for in my riding lost, but the party I voted for won the election. The Liberal party is able to formed a majority government winning 47 out of 85 seats in the parliament. The best of all is the outcome of the referendum on the election system. The good old simple majority vote scheme defeated the new multiple transferable vote scheme that is so complex that no one really understand how it works.

I was away taking a vacation last week and I did not follow the election news closely. Actually I don’t have to get news to decide my vote. I hardly know the candidate I vote for and I just found out his name on my drive to the voting station. I don’t vote for the person, I vote for the party. I am not really a support of the Liberal, in fact I think they are far from a good government. My concern is the alternative is far much worse. The NDP is a left leaning party. If they win the election, it is guarantee they will raise tax and screw up the economy. The Green Party is even worse, their are policy is so extreme that you start to question their sanity.

It is quite interesting to see a few odd parties shows up in the ballot. There are the libertarian, the communist party, the conservatives and some party support BC independent. Too bad the race in my riding is very tight between Liberal and NDP, I can’t afford to waste my vote. If the Liberal is leading a comfort margin, I may give my vote to the communist party. Communist party of Canada, that’s cool!

The two extreme of children

I read two news article about children today. One talks about children in Canada, the other talks about children in India. One talks about the problem of having too much, the other talks about the problem of having next to nothing. The article on Globe and Mail is about Why are children starving in a booming India?. The article on National Post is about The Perfect Child. It is quite unsettling to read the extreme contrast to the fate of children in two places.

The problem for Canadian parent is how to raise a perfect children. The dilemma is having the life of the child too well planned so he cannot learn from trail and error or his own mistake. On the other side of the world, the Indian children are struggling to stay alive. Children malnutrition in India is twice worse than in Africa and five times worse than in China. The problem of teaching children to read and write in China seems like a piece of cake.

The news presents a typical poor Indian family with malnourished child. The dad in the family makes merely US$5 a month, but he spent half of what he earn in cigarette instead of buying food for the children. The family income cannot support a big family but they are having six children. Babies are not breastfeed once he is born, the mother ask the astrologer to pick an auspicious day to start breastfeeding, sometimes the baby is not fed for days or even weeks. Foreign aids agency wants to provide vitamin pills to the poor children, but the Hindu fundamentalist protest the capsule is made of gelatin, a product made of cows.

I feel sorry for the children in India, but their misfortune cannot blame anyone but their own stupid culture. If a culture don’t treasure their next generation, this culture has no future. If a culture treasure cows more than the life of their children, this culture should simply go extinct. It can go extinct naturally with its population die slowly and painfully. Alteratively we can help the culture extinct sooner and better by liberating its people. We should help them move on to a more enlightened culture, even we have to force the liberation. People with a stupid culture has no rights to cling on their culture.

The greatest Indian + Japanese + Canadian fusion idea.

We were talking about single engineers at work are having a hard timing finding girlfriends. They are distracted from work for looking for a mate, so they are not performing at their peak productivity. Here we come up with a great idea to solve this problem. Arranged marriage is popular in India. Most of my colleagues in the India office met their wives through arranged marriage. It is obvious that arrange marriage is benefits boring engineers who lacks dating skills but somewhat appealing to the parents. On other hand, Japan does not have arranged marriage, but it is common for Japanese companies match making their employees.

Maybe we can combine the two systems, the company can simply arrange marriage its single employees randomly. Now, the single guys has found their other half, they don’t have to worry about finding a wife, so they can concentrate on work. However, gay marriage is legal in Canada. In order not to discriminate against the homosexual, the company should ignore the gender difference when arranging the marriage. After all, we are an engineer firm with more male than female, we don’t have enough single female for the single male, so some guy will end up pairing up with a male wife.

Indian arranged marriage + Japanese corporate match-making + Canadian legalized gay marriage + a company full of single male engineers = ?

The Liberal-NDP-Bloc coup

Canada has a very weird political system. We just had an election 2 months ago, we elected a minority government and the voters are still happy about the Conservative Prime Minister. Then suddenly the other three losing parties try to form a coalition and take over the government with majority seats in the parliament. The coup has became one of the most talked topics in our office. We all puzzled by this weird three parties coalition. The NDP and Liberals has totally different political platforms and they were criticizing each other like crazy in the past election. Yesterday’s enemies become today’s friends, yet the we have no clue what kind of policy their will bring forth. Just the Liberal and NDP is messy enough, then bring in the Bloc Quebecois can only make it messier. Bloc Quebecois is another weirdo political party does not exist in provinces other than Quebec. They have only one agenda, separation of Quebec from Canada. In the parliament, they don’t care about any policies for national good, all they care about is bringing more beef to Quebec. How can we trust the Bloc with power? We feel like cheated by the coalition, we did not vote for this screwed up government.

If the coalition really want to take the power, maybe they should do it fairly and call for election on a common convincing political platform and let the voters decide. I would rather have a Conservative majority government than another government with the leftist NDP and the separatist Bloc. I don’t mind a minority Liberal government if they can win it on their own power though. On a second though, Canada is still part of the common wealth and still ruled by the Queen. Maybe we should just reinstate full monarchy and ask the Queen to be our head of state with real power. I am sure she is more popular and nicer than all of the political party leaders. I may even go so low that I am willing to accept Prince Charles as our King than having the coalition government.

Election debate

On my way home tonight, I listened to the election debate on CBC radio.  This is my first time listen to any election debate live.  My first impression is we have too many political parties in Canada.  The debate is too crowed with all five leaders trying to talk or yell at the same time.  I don’t think debate help the voters at all.  The candidate simply restating their policy in the debate, voters already know those information from newspaper.  It seems the candidates of all the opposite parties only know how to attack the party in control of the government.  Occasionally they present some bits and pieces of their own policy, but somehow you sense their math do not add up and some of the policies are even contradicting with each other.  The current prime minister is not much better.  He never response to those attack directly, just restating what the government had done in that area.

Each party claim they have a platform, but the platforms are just some empty slogans.  Voters don’t get much information how things will turn out.  All we know is when they are elected, they promise to spend how much money on this or on that, tax cut or tax raise here and there.  Never mind those are just election promises that never intended to keep.  Even if the elected keep their promise, no one knows whether the maths adds up, whether or not those promises feasible at all?  No wonder the public don’t feel much interest in politics, no one is addressing any real issues.  They are not even debating, there is no communication, they are just talking their own stuff.  Maybe we should change the format of the debate.  Instead of having a round table debate, we should have a series of round robin debate, putting the leaders head to head with each other.  Allow them to focus their attack and give them enough time to unmask the bullshit of the other party.

Elizabeth May of the Green Party and Layton of NDP seems to be the best talker in the debate.  It is much easier to irresponsible policy that appeals to everyone than a sound policy that actually works.  Harper of the Conservative may not be the best speaker in the debate, but he is the only one quote real statistic to back up his policy.  Other candidates rely on stories or anecdote to sell their ideas.  I think using number alone worth giving Harper some credits over the other candidates.

Fantasy hockey 2008

Every year, we have a fantasy hockey pool at work.  Last year, I use pure statistic to select my players and I end up having the lowest score.  I guess performance of hockey players just like stocks, past result does not always imply future growth.  Some of my friends really into hockey.  They are a walking hockey database.  Not only that they know all the players and their teams by heart, they also keep track of who is injured, who has been traded or even who had just become a dad.  Crying baby at night probably affect the game performance.  I believe they hockey knowledge give them an advantage in the hockey pool.  Anyways, I am too busy and lazy to do my own research, so I end up using statistic again this year.  It is much easier to look at numbers than find out everything about the players from sports news website.  Here is my team this year:

Henrik Zetterberg (Det – F)
Ryan Getzlaf (Anh – F)
Olli Jokinen (Pho – F)
Shane Doan (Pho – F)
Rick Nash (Cls – F)
Alexander Frolov (LA – F)
Nathan Horton (Fla – F)
Patrick Marleau (SJ – F)
Mark Streit (NYI – D)
Lubomir Visnovsky (Edm – D)
Jay Bouwmeester (Fla – D)
Bryan McCabe (Fla – D)
Henrik Lundqvist (NYR – G)
Marc-Andre Fleury (Pit – G)

This time we are more prepared than last year when we are drafting the players.  All of us bring our laptop to search the players on line when it is our turn to pick the player.  We have 9 teams in total, it took us almost 1.5 hours to finish the drafting.  The hockey season is starting this week, following our fantasy hockey team and bragging on who is winning would be a regular feature in our lunch coversations.


No, I am not talking about the US election.  I am talking about the Canadian election.  Something I like about the Canadian political system is the election will not drag on too long.  From the moment the government announce the election, there is only one month before it actually take place.  So we will not bored by the ever lasting election campaign like in the US.  I wonder what’s the point of having pro-long election campaign?  Isn’t that most voter already make up their mind?  The political view of a party won’t change over night, voters should be well aware of what they expect to get from each party.  The candidate themselves are irrelevant, all politicians cannot be trust anyways.  Whatever they promise you in the campaign are lip service.  As long as there the politicians do not make any stupid mistake or involve in any scandals, the voters are pretty much voting for the party.

I used to vote for the Liberal in the past elections.  This time, I will switch to the Conservative, since it is the only party that is not anti-gun.  If I want to keep my toys, I better vote for them.  Other than this factor, the agenda of the other parties are pretty much loads of shit.  The Green Party is a joke, their policy does not make any economical sense.  The Quebecois is really a provincial party, their sole agenda is the independence of Quebec.  Only stupid Quebec people will vote for them.  There are three major party, Conservative on the right, New Democratic Party on the left and Liberal in the middle.  I never buy policy from the left, they always want to raise tax.  The Liberal suppose to be ok, but this time they dig themselves in a big hole by proposing carbon tax.  Tax increase is bad, period.  The Conservative seems to have the best policy with the usual small government and tax cut agenda.  I really admire the Conservative refuse to please the arts and culture group by denying them more money.  The reason is very libertariain, arts and culture are personal perference, the government should not spend tax payers’ money activities that most citizens don’t really care.  They make a very good point stating that those who really care about arts and culture, should just donate to their favorate arts or culture group.  It is unfair asking the general public to pay for their perference.  This kind of sound fiancial policy really win me over as a support for the Conservative Party.