In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall

Category: int'l affairs Page 2 of 6

Passport address

Since I have moved, I’ve been all about letting the appropriate organizations know of my new address. The latest thing I realize that I need to update is my passport. To find out how to do this, I search Google for “canada passport” and then search for “address change” on the Passport Canada web site.

I eventually made my way to an FAQ that answers my question. I quote:

A change of address does not invalidate a passport. Please cross out the old address on page 4 and write the new one in the space above the old address. Do not use correction fluid. If the space in the passport is insufficient, write the new information on a separate piece of paper and insert it into the passport.

Simple enough! Wait. What? Cross out my old address and write the new one? Seriously? It sounds like I could have just made my passport myself. Jeez.

Hearing

At one point, he clambered on to the rubble of what is now a mass grave and, with one arm around a fireman’s shoulders, addressed the crowd of rescue workers through a loud hailer.

He said: “I want you all to know that America today is on bended knee in prayer for the people whose lives were lost here, and for the workers who work here, for the families who mourn.”

One fireman shouted from the back of the crowd: “We can’t hear you”. The President replied: “Well, I can hear you.”

As the laughter subsided, Mr Bush added: “I hear you, the rest of the world hears you and the people who knocked these building down will hear all of us soon.”

By Philip Delves Broughton
The Telegraph, “The Rest of the World Hears You
September 15, 2001

There…I fixed it.

I read about the latest Special 301 Report issued by the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Briefly, the report puts Canada on the Priority Watch List, alongside other countries like China and Russia. The priority watch list is for the worst of the worst copyright offenders. But despite this report being issued by a government body, you can bet it’s merely a bullying tactic and the U.S. entertainment industry is behind it. Analysis comparing reality to their claims will show as much.

But they’re missing a blatantly obvious solution to the problem. I wrote to the Office of the United States Trade Representative in hopes that he’ll pass my idea along to the entertainment industry in his country:

Mr. Kirk, United States Trade Representative,

I read with interest that Canada has again made the Special 301 Report watch list as one of the worst of the worst offenders. I’m not entirely surprised given the process involved in generating the report and what information is considered … and what information is not.

You may be making this far more complicated than it needs to be, however. I sympathize with how governmental rules and procedures sometimes makes it difficult to see the forest with all those pesky trees in the way. With this in mind, I come to you with a suggestion.

If Canada is so bad, and piracy so rampant, it sounds as if the U.S entertainment industry isn’t making enough money here to bother with Canada at all. My thought is that you might suggest to the entertainment industry in your country that perhaps the easiest, simplest, and best solution would be to stop trying to sell their wares in Canada. Stop the CDs, movies, TV shows, books … all of it.

If it’s so bad for them, why keep trying when it’s such a headache? Their huge problem would instantly evaporate and everyone would be happy. And don’t worry about us. Although the withdrawal symptoms will be intense, they will fade. We will somehow manage to do without Friends repeats and that dreamy Adam Lambert. Somehow.

Your friend from up north,

Rick.

See? Easy-peasy!

Biggest dick

Yes, you heard me.

The story is that the Pakistani government is having difficulty with their ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Akbar Zib. The problem is that the Saudis refuse to accept him as the Pakistani ambassador. Why? Because his name translates to “biggest dick” in Arabic.

The Pakistani politico in question certainly is a real person. His last station was Pakistan High Commissioner to Canada. But did Saudi Arabia really reject him as Pakistani ambassador? I don’t know. There are plenty of articles around the web on the topic, but they all link back to the same Salem News article, and it provides no links or background information. I’ve found no official corroboration, in English anyway. My old stand-by, Snopes.com, is also currently silent on the issue.


Hat tip: Boing Boing.

Rights and wrongs

I tell you, sometimes the UN really bugs me.

Some will claim that there are two types of people: those who see the world as it is, and those who see it as it ought to be. Happily, most people have both of these aspects within them at the same time. The latter trait gives people vision and the former trait provides ideas on how they might make their vision a reality.

I would expect an organization like the UN to always have an eye on the way things could be, with a foot firmly grounded in the way things are.

This brings me to WHO’s document, The Right to Water. According to the document, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights recognized water as a human right in 2002. They wrote,

the right to water clearly falls within the category of guarantees essential for securing an adequate standard of living, particularly since it is one of the most fundamental conditions for survival.

While the statement itself is factual, it is given as the reason they deem water a human right. I cannot tell you how strongly I disagree with this pronouncement. If water is a human right, and governments buy into this idea, things are going to get much worse, not better. There isn’t enough clean water to go around, so much of it has to be processed in some way before it can be used. Who pays? And if it’s freely provided, it will also be freely wasted, making it even more expensive and more scarce.

My vehement disagreement is exacerbated by sloppy wording within the document. There’s discussion of water being a human right, but sometimes access to water is cited as the issue. While the wording is similar, the difference is very significant. I would readily agree that everyone should have access to clean water. Removing the ‘access’ part of the statement puts the idea well into the ‘world that ought to be’ territory without any acknowledgment of the way the world is.

A section of the document called “Why does defining water as a human right make a difference?” explains the effects of making water a right. The very first bullet point is:

fresh water is a legal entitlement, rather than a commodity or service provided on a charitable basis

If this is true, why do we pay for water? If it’s a legal entitlement and not a commodity, those of us who pay for water deserve a hefty refund, thank you very much.

It’s amazing to me that some parts of the UN are taken seriously. I can just imagine someone saying, “Hey, everyone needs water. Let’s make it a human right,” and other agreeing, without anyone considering how the idea might suffer contact with the real world. It sounds like a good idea, but the smallest bit of thought about the consequences makes it clear that it will mean nothing at all.

The UN does have some clout on the world stage, but if they keep making pronouncements like this, they’ll squander what influence they currently enjoy.

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