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December 2004
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February 2005


I was out with some friends the other night at a local bar (Griffins) for dinner/drinks. We were in the midst of a one day warm spell of plus 13C (that's 286K) in the afternoon The place is a nice but quiet yuppie after work hangout, good food, and a pleasant waitress with a nice sway.

But later on the focus seems to change. One evening in the fall, as the evening wore on the new waitresses had a more hoochie look and a sort of upscale biker crowd started to roll in  Literally - the patio doors were all open and there were a couple of bikes parked inside. So we were speculating if one night there was designated as "cougar night". Not the Wild Kingdom type, or the singer, the other kind. After we explained to the younger people of our group what we meant, and assured them we were not joking, we investigated further. Turned out that down the street, above Maxwell's, is where they prowl. Not sure if it's the same night as Johnny Vegas plays. At any rate, not being a young lad - I know where NOT to go to meet women.

Canadian DART misses the mark

Well, after over two weeks of indecision and delays, our Disaster Assistance Reluctant Response Team has finally responded. The team has started to arrive in Ampara (Sri Lanka), ready to supply clean water and set up a field hospital. Unfortunately, according to both a CTV report by Lisa Laflamme, and a CBC radio story today, by now the area has drinkable water, warehouses of medical supplies, and doctors standing idle. The local needs are more long term now, as in houses and roads. The DART's mandate includes not only fresh water and  medical aid, but also infrastructure re-building, and communications. They are a dedicated and enthusiastic team, I assume they brought hammers as well as scalpels, and can quickly refocus without another round of political discussions.

The team was created in 1996 to be a quick response team, after we saw international response to the cholera epidemic in Rwanda in 1994 arrive too late to be of much help. Since then they have been sent to two areas, Turkey and Honduras - but perhaps should be sent even more often. And more quickly. Besides the political issues of where and when to send the team, the big issue is of course cost, Turkey for example cost $15 million. My only concern would be - did we get $15 million worth out of the relief effort to Turkey? How do you measure the lives saved, or the efficiency of the response team? Does all the money for DART get funneled by the Liberals through a Montreal ad agency? Hopefully DART gets the support and autonomy needed to respond faster, and doesn't end up with its wing's clipped through "cost management", like the Arrow did.

User pay - for wiretaps

CBC had an interview a few days ago with Chief Terry McLaren of Peterborough/Lakefield Police, on a proposal by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. With increasingly complex communication technologies, such as cell phones, text messaging, VoIP, "wiretapping" is also becoming more complex, and expensive. The costs of a wiretap is typically passed on to the individual police department asking for it, which can be a big cost, and he argues a deterrent to running the surveillance they need.

Their proposal is that the phone company add a flat charge onto everyone's monthly phone bill to cover these costs, less than a dollar, similar to what most of us pay for 911.