Blog of Mass Distraction

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Moral Compass

Over the last few years, and especially since the heated debates over the war in Iraq and the US elections, celebrities seem to have become more and more politically involved. Many celebrities have become outspoken in expressing their political affiliations and opinions. I think that's just fine because I certainly support expressing opinions, political or otherwise. Even still, I don't think they necessarily make the best spokespersons since most wouldn't have a serious background in politics.
So it's fine that they can express their opinion. What I think is a little disappointing however is that so much weight is given to their opinions. As I mentioned, most would not have a serious understanding of international or even national politics. They may have the same or slightly more understanding than the average Joe, which perhaps gives them appeal since they are laymen in the subject area, but this means they certainly are not pundits or leaders. So it seems like they're just jumping on the bandwagon and others who think "Boy that's good enough for celebrity X, then it's good enough for me." really aren't giving much thought to the real issue. Perhaps it's all about visibility, but pop culturizing (as opposed to conventional mainstreaming) serious movements seems to be a little cheap.

I haven't posted in some time... I've been busy and spent some time away from the city. In that time a few things worth noting have happened: gay marriage was legalized, Karla Homolka was released from prison, a US Supreme Court Judge retired (and President Bush promised to replace her with a conservative), the Live 8 Concert went on in some 8 or 9 cities across the world, and the G8 summit has started.
I've also heard some rumours that the leaders of the G8 were considering allowing India into their discussions.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Changing Architecture

So the big news is that the G8 have decided to give total debt relief to 18 heavily indebted nations.1 This includes removing all IMF and World Bank debts and loans that are owed by the countries (which include South Africa). The relief, however, hinges upon the country meeting certain democratic standards and removing corruption. Also, it does not include money for development and aid. But since these countries likely spend most of their revenue on debt servicing it will release more funds for spending on social programs (or for purchasing of G8 exports... whatever).

Following in that vein, Thabo Mbeki has sacked his deputy leader Jacob Zuma amid a corruption scandal. One of Zuma's close associates was implicated in some misdealings and though Mbeki said he has confidence in his friend and deputy leader he must, as President, remove him from office. This throws a bit of uncertainty into South Africa since it was thought that Zuma would be Mbeki's successor to the ANC leadership upon his departure.

Steve Jobs has shocked many mac users by announcing that Apple will be switching to Intel chips in the coming year.2 They will leave behind their PowerPC partnership with IBM (which produced their G5 chips) to go with Intel chips. There are several reasons for the switch including disagreements with IBM. Big Blue apparently wanted more money from Apple to fund research on improving the PPC chips which IBM couldn't or wouldn't increase greatly in speed in the short term. Moreover, Apple isn't really a huge portion of IBM's business so I don't think they mind the loss all that much. Intel, however, is very happy to pick up the new customer. But if Apple moves to x86 based architecture, it will not only mean major code changes to their core applications, but the necessity of protecting their hardware from being used for devious means such as installation of Microsoft operatings systems (Aaaaagh! The horror!) As a person that uses Windows, Mac and Linux regularly, I don't think it's such a huge thing for users (yet), but I do wonder or worry how switching CISC chips will affect performance and stability of OS X and its concomitent applications.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Nous non plus

Bernard Landry has decided to resign as leader of the PQ. This surprising move comes after he won 75% support in a confidence motion against his leadership. Unlike Martin, who only won the slimmest of majorities for the budget vote, Landry felt this wasn't enough to stay on as leader. That is, however, very low in comparison to the amount of support other PQ leaders have had. This deals a blow to the separatist movement which was so recently boosted by the Gomery inquiry's scandalous revelations. Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe asked Landry to reconsider his decision. Pauline Marois, who had been advocating Landry's removal, has announced she will run to replace him.

The Netherlands also soundly defeated the EU constitution vote in their referendum shortly after the French populace did the same.