Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I've moved!

Hey out there! I've moved 4000 Volts to wordpress now, a shwanky new hosting site. So long blogger, and thanks for all the fish!

New Address:

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

4000 Volts is Moving!

Hello devoted readers,

I've decided to move the blog from blogspot to wordpress. It seems that wordpress has many more style options to choose from, allowing greater creativity and stylistic options. And I'm all about style. I'll probably keep this blog for a few months, but then I might shut it down. I'll post the new address here as soon as I have it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


A beaver swims through the bog with a branch in his teeth. His eyes are bright black with the sheen of the sunrise. His tail goes to work on the house that is never finished, making the usual clapping noise heard here every morning at dawn. Tall snow-capped mountains cast shadows on either side.

The sky of red turns to a sea of gold, and on the adjacent shimmering trout can be seen jumping at the insects that come out to eat in the mornings. They look dark on one side because of the still steep angle from the rising orb in the sky.

A shadowy figure can be seen in a boat on the lake. He wears a green fisherman's hat with the vest to match, sipping his rich coffee from an old stainless steel mug. He flicks a line or two with a practiced hand out to the trout, fixing to catch dinner for this particular evening of the vacation.

Ripples edge outwards from the far opposite bank. A madam moose has come for breakfast by the water's edge, and the local wildlife serves her up fine cuisine. She munches quietly with her deep black eyes always looking calmly for any sign of disturbance. A picture of contentedness, one feels relaxed just watching her.

The lake flows slowly and lazily out the east end to a river, carrying with it the last dried leaves left over from autumn, and some of the new spring ones too. Maple, pine, spruce, and oak watch from the riverbanks, sheltering the river, soaking up it's clear nectar, basking in the sun that turns the sky from orange to blue. Canadian geese fly overhead in formation, returning home now that winter's grip has thawed.

The river winds lazily along, growing it's speed and power as it's depth diminishes. White water bubbles with furious glee over granite, shale, and limestone, glittering with sunshine and slippery scales with the slowly rising sun. A shaggy brown grizzly bear stares with a calm focus at the rapids, ankle-deep and hoping to catch some breakfast of its own. A single paw flashes again and again, and success is slow to arrive. But the bear knows it's patience will be rewarded.

Streams and creeks add their bounties to the rapids, and the river becomes strong and mighty as it chisels its way towards the sea. Flashes of white, grey and brown from either side either bank accompany the silent roar of the water as packs of wolves hunt deer, elk and moose. A howl pierces the night, electrifying the soul with the success of the kill, catching of the scent, the thrill of the chase.

The river makes a sudden drop, roaring down into a moss-covered rock pool. Cedar trees grow tall here, while squirrels, cougars and rabbits take shelter under the cool rain forest canopy. The silence is deafening, yet comforting in a lost sort of way. Only the whisper of the wind can be heard here, and individual things tangible and intangible are lost under the ferns.

Slowly the slippery silky water slides silently down the gentle rock bed to the ocean's edge. Vast, deep and blue it gently roars its supremacy while the whitecaps roll in the dying sun. The sky orb glitters while seagulls continue their incessant search for food. Eagles swoop in and gracefully pluck silver salmon from the sea's surface. The sandy beach is dotted with slabs of rock, while the bay streches in barely a curve for kilometers in each direction. And in the distance, a majestic Orca breaches the surface and crashes back with white fireworks.

Back on the lake the sun is setting. The beaver throws in the towel for the day. The fisherman is back, he's out for the second catch of trout. A pair of loons solidify the peace with a calming call over the bronze surfaced lake in the mountains.

Then a maple leaf, red on its tree, waves then drifts down to brush the water's surface before settling on a white patch of unmelted snow. The fisherman replaces his hat, running his fingers over the Union Jack that adorns the left side. In the dark silence of the forest, a white lily stands out against the saffron pool of churning water at the base of the waterfall. Over the ocean, an eagle feather drifts down from the sky and drifts to shore.

The leaf, flag, lily, and feather are illuminated in pale moonshine when Luna comes to chase the stars. When the day comes again, maybe the stars will be brighter.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Let's Talk Money: Canadian Budget 2009

When parliament returned on January 26th and Michelle Jean delivered the new throne speech, there was only one thing on every ones mind: Will Steven Harper's new budget be good enough for Michael Ignatieff?

I would submit that there was never a question of whether Ignatieff would support the budget, but how big of a price he would exact from the Conservatives for his support. And that variable was dependent on how good Jim Flaherty's work was, not the variable that decided on Liberal support.

Let's rewind to the events of early December. Jack Layton, Gilles Duceppe and Stephane Dion initiate proceedings for a preemptive coalition after the Conservatives unveil their politically disastrous Economic and Fiscal Update. When Stephane presents the agreement to his party for consent, Michael Ignatieff is one of the last MPs to sign his name. Then Harper issues a brief statement using that emergency broadcast thing, Stephane Dion gives a shoddy reply, and finally Harper prorogues parliament.

So most of that was review, but the key thing to notice is that Ignatieff was never keen on this coalition to begin with. So, when Bob Rae and Dominic Leblanc bowed out of the leadership race to give Iggy his coronation, that was the moment when the coalition began to slowly die inside. Not when Ignatieff decided to support the Harper budget.

I suppose there was always the possibility of Ignatieff tearing up the Coalition agreement but voting down the budget, but I just can't see that making sense in the eyes of the public, his actions would be viewed through the lens of December 2008.

So, that brings us to why Ignatieff doesn't like the idea of a coalition, and how he came to his final decision on the budget January 28th.

Firstly, Ignatieff has always been a bit more centrist than his party's current leftist affiliation would seem to suggest. There was his extremely controversial support of the war in Iraq and his comments during the leadership race of December 2006 on the events in Israel, both of which solidified this assertion. This is one possible reason that he had qualms about a coalition with the NDP, supported by the Bloc.

The second factor that I would hope was the deciding factor in his decision is the conditionality of the coalition's viability by an alliance with the Bloc Quebecois. As soon as the coalition was announced, Gilles Duceppe immediately came out and said something to the effect of, "This is good for Québec." Which, taken in context, translates to: "This is good for the Bloc Quebecois." Allowing a separatist party to hold the balance of power threatens national unity, and could be disastrous in a time of economic uncertainty when Québec has a tendency to ask Ottawa for money.

The party has no concerns about the rest of Canada, which in my own view, any legitimate federal party should be. I completely support the notion of a separatist party at the provincial level, as any province which has an overwhelming majority of people who want to separate from Canada should have the right to do so. But the purpose of the House of Commons is to look out for the best interests of all of Canada, not just one province.

Giving a separatist party the potential power to dictate the policy of our country would a mistake. Which makes me glad that Ignatieff choose not to do that.

What he chose to do instead is, in his own words, "Put Stephen Harper on probation." This was a smart choice in my view. Not voting for this budget would either had the consequence of giving power to the Bloc as suggested before, but it may have instead driven the nation into a constitutional crisis centered around Michelle Jean as she would have had to engage in a rare exercise of her authority.

Had she chosen to pick up the idea of a coalition government, her authority as an appointed official representing a foreign monarch would be questioned as to its legitimacy, prolonging political turmoil in a time of economic crisis.

Had she chosen to call another election, not only would Ignatieff have been crucified for refusing to give the stimulus to Canadians that they expected (not to mention spending another $300 million dollars on an election), but again the role of the Governor General would have been questioned as necessary if she is simply an extension of the Prime Minister's will.

Instead what Mr. Ignatieff did was buy himself time. What he lacks at the moment is national support for both himself and his party, and funding. These tend to be tied together, as we can see from the brilliant success of Harper's attack ad's on Stephane Dion leading to his success in the 2008 election.

Once the Liberals recover their fiscal robustness as a party by building support, and recover their political robustness by building a new financial base, Ignatieff can choose at any one of three times during the next year to throw down the gauntlet and force an election.

As a sidenote, I mentioned the possibility of Ignatieff being crucified in an election because of the size of the Conservative stimulus package. It may be possible that this stimulus package will end up doing nothing. Not being an expert on the economy, I have little opinion to offer on that point. But in the eyes of the public I know that all they see is the words "$65 billion" and "stimulus" and immediately assume that the budget will be good for them. The majority of voters don't have degree's in economics or finance. All that they know is that they don't have enough money right now, and the government is giving them money.

It's as simple as that. And for that reason alone, it would have been unwise for Ignatieff to vote down the budget.

I've digressed quite a bit in this post, so let's sum up.

Ignatieff wouldn't have gone with a coalition because Harper's not stupid enough to give him a reason to. The real wonder was exactly how much Ignatieff would demand for his party's support. And it seems to me that he worked out for himself, and for Canadians, a fair price. Regardless of what Harper is or isn't going to actually accomplish for the country.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Isreal in Gaza

The past week saw an invasion into the Gaza strip by the nation of Israel, who cited several hundred attacks on Israeli soil as their cause of action. These attacks were apparently made by Hamas, a political party that is currently the leader of the Palestinian National Authority. Hamas is, however, considered by the nation of Israel to be a terrorist organization. So, on Saturday December 27th, Israel launched an air strike on the Gaza strip, killing hundreds of innocent civilians as a precursor to the current incursion by ground troops.

The ownership of the region of Israel has been in contention for nearly all of written history. Since long before the Roman Empire rose to power, the nation between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River has been disputed, from the time that Abraham walked into it's borders on the promise of his God to the Crusades of the Middle Ages. From the promise by Britain that their Arab colonies would become self governing to the creation of the Jewish state of Israel in 1947 by the United Nations, this region of the world has been contested on mainly religious grounds by Islamic, Christian, and Jewish groups as it is considered to be the birthplace of all the aforementioned religions.

And I would hope that someday, all of these religions and countries could someday find a way to bring about a lasting peace in the region that would allow members of all faiths in and out of the holy places and sacred grounds that make Israel so sacred.

It escapes me what exactly the beef that various people have with Israel or it's neighbours is. Maybe those of Muslim faith are angry because Britain broke their promise to them after both the First and Second World Wars, the promise that promised the Arabians self-governing Independence. Maybe those of Jewish faith are concerned that if they lose the homeland that they have been given, they will be in danger of another anti-Semitic tragedy like the holocaust. And maybe those of Christian faith in the Western World are simply too proud or too worried about their oil stocks in the middle east to give up any ground to further the cause of peace.

But the waters of the Mediterranean and the sands of Galilee are soaked with the blood of Jew, Muslim, and Christian alike. It is the responsibility of all parties involved, especially those with the power to make a difference, to find out what the concerns of the other parties are and try to reach a compromise so that the fighting can come to an end. Even a conflict of epic religious proportions can be stopped, and anyone who says otherwise better take a close look at how Canada has lived in peace with two different predominant religions for so long. Every day that there is inaction there is more suffering. Call me naive, but it is not beyond two or more groups of grown leaders to come together and say sorry to each other. The United States and the U.S.S.R. did it after the Cold War, and those two countries were about as black and white as you can get.

We have been fighting for too long over this region of the world. It must stop. Because if we don't, another child tomorrow in Israel will wake up without a sibling or parent. Because if we don't, another angry, confused, and scared kid is going to be convinced to strap a bomb to his chest and blow up anything that has the American flag on it. Because if we don't, that parent of the soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan is going to break down in tears as the officer comes to his or her door with the news that their child is dead. Because if we don't, another citizen of the United States, Canada, or any given country that is considered to be "the Western World", is going to end up prejudiced, bigoted, and angry against the radical Islamics that did that to that family's child. Because if we don't, that dead child's younger sibling beats up a Muslim student at school. Because if we don't, that incident gets reported to the media who then paints all the Islamic people in the world with the same brush. Because if we don't, the radical Islamics in Hamas launch rocket attacks against Israel.

Because if we don't, another child tomorrow in Israel wakes up without a sibling or parent.

The cycle continues, dividing the world at a time when we need to be worrying about bigger problems, like how to feed Africa, China, and India, and how to stop global warming from flooding all of Manhattan. If we cannot unite, then we cannot solve our biggest problems. The problems that threaten to consume us all.