Lissajous’s figures, Wheatstone apparatus for compounding two orthogonal oscillations

‘Betrayed!’ – a book by Connie Fournier

“F” stands for “Free Dominion”.

That is what Dr. Michael Geist wrote in his ‘internet freedom countdown’.

“F” could just as easily could have stood for “Fournier” – as in Connie and Mark Fournier, who have done more for the freedom of speech and freedom on the Internet than any other Canadians.  And this time, I am not using hyperbole!

20 years to the day and in the very building I had signed my marriage license, I came to observe and blog about a court case involving Free Dominion:  Connie and Mark Fournier.  It was a civil case involving anonymity on the internet and both the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Dr. Geist’s Electronic Frontier Foundation were intervenors in the case.  Having heard of the latter two and considering any court case they both thought important enough to intervene in to definitely have a significant impact on my own internet and speech freedoms, I came to spectate.  (OK – I have to admit – I am a Geist ‘acolyte’.)

While following this particular case and many, many more, I came to deeply admire Connie and Mark.  Over the years, they have made significant impact on the evolution of our speech and internet rights, always from a deeply principled perspective.

Now, before you get the idea that I agree with Connie and Mark’s political views, let me stop you right there.  They are social conservatives who come from a Christian perspective.  I am a libertarian, just this side of turning into an-cap. And a militant ignostic as well as a registered Kopimist.

Despite the greatly different views we hold on a myriad of topics, I came to like and deeply respect the Fourniers.  Even when we discussed topics we disagreed on, they were respectful and principled and debating things with them has always been a pleasure.

Full disclosure:  the one principle both the Fourniers and I completely and totally agree on – and it is perhaps the most important principle of them all – is the importance of freedom of speech.

I came to understanding the true and essential need for freedom of speech as the cornerstone of our civilization and the internet as the vehicle through which it is anonymously and effectively delivered because I was not only born on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, I was also born the daughter of a political dissident.  Perhaps because of this, I learned early on that without the freedom to criticize and ridicule political and religious ideologies and figures, you lose the means of defending all your other rights and freedoms. And while I don’t know the route that brought Connie and Mark to the same conclusions, it is a demonstrated fact that they have not only lived by that principle, they have sacrificed all to preserve freedom of speech in Canada (and, by extension, all Magna Carta countries) and have put their financial and physical security – their very well being on the line to protect anonymous speech (in their case, on the internet), which is so very crucial in preventing the abrogation of free speech in public spaces.

OK – I have now sketched in the background so that you, my dear reader, are aware of what I know, think and whatever prejudices I may have regarding  my review of Connie Fournier’s new book:  ‘Betrayed!  Stephen Harper’s War on Principled Conservatism’.

One more thing before I start:  here is a most excellent review of the book by Jay Currie (and, no, I did not read his review before I had made my own mind up).  The comments are excellent!

The Review:

‘Betrayed!  Stephen Harper’s War on Principled Conservatism’ by Connie Fournier is a truly scary book.

Connie Fournier is both intelligent and eloquent and has the skill to line the little pearls up, one by one, till they form a brilliant necklace – or an effective noose…

Yes, I saw a part of the journey that Connie so accurately describes in her book – but I truly only saw a small part.  Yet, step by step, event by event, convoluted happening by convoluted happening, she lights the path and puts forward some very convincing evidence that points not just to the corruption of our ‘progressive’ leaning bureaucracy but also demonstrated how the Harper ‘iron fist’ is affecting things behind the scenes (whether through direct action or through carefully selective inaction).  Limited by the legal rulings still muzzling her, she succeeds in getting the important points across in a logical, accurate and believable manner.

This book has bought into focus the consistency with which the Harper government has sought to control, regulate and stifle internet communication.  The book stops before the Trans Pacific Trade Treaty  –  again, a Harper government ‘baby’, the leaks about which prove the veracity of everything else written in the book.

Yes, I would recommend it as a read – even though I disagree with Connie’s conclusion that the Green Party would be the natural place to cast a protest vote for.  No – I think the Pirate Party of Canada is a much better candidate, as their abid opposition to Bill C-51 is coupled with opposition to copyright consumer right abuses that the TPTT imposes as a supra-national law.  If there is no Pirate Party candidate in your riding, please, do consider running for them.  If my health were better, I most certainly would do my best to try to run for them!

But, again, I digress…

This is an important book to read for everyone who understands the crucial role freedom of speech plays and who would like help navigating the legal jungle of bills and attempts to deny it to us, the citizens – especially as it relates to the electronic medium.

Whether neo-Con or not, this book will open your eyes to the systematic process that is already in place to persecute political foes of the party in power and is written in such an accessible way that even non-techies will understand the implications of the proposed muzzling legislation coming from Harper’s ‘Conservative’ government.

Everyone of my relatives and friends will be getting a copy from me!

A week’s holiday

That time has come around for my family holiday up North.  No internet, no phone.

As this summer has been so busy, I have not had the chance to pre-prepare posts the way I usually do – my apologies.

I will be back a week Monday.

In the meantime, ACT for Canada! has some awesome news!

They’ll be bringing Stephen Coughlin up to Canada.

He will be speaking in Montreal on Wednesday, September 16th and in Ottawa on Thursday, September 17th.  Mark those days in your calendar – more details will be coming soon!

Caroline Glick: The Iran Deal – Implications for International Security

Clinton-Petreaus Double Standard

Aspergers: phrasing a question really, really matters!

It has been a while since I have written about Aspergers – even though my posts on Aspergers are, by far, the most popular ones.  This, methinks, speaks to a need for understanding between how the Aspie and neurotypical brains function and for a metaphorical bridge between their functioning.

Hence, this post.

When my older son was assigned the chore of putting away groceries, I had to learn the way his brain classified things in order to find them.  Yet, my older son tended to reason somewhat analogously to me, so it was not that far a stretch for my brain to figure out the underlying rules behind his ‘classifications’ and thus his grouping;putting away of ‘stuff’.

Now that my younger son has reached the age to inherit these chores, my job if figuring out where he would put things is a lot more difficult.

This is not because he is any less or more Aspie than I am:  rather, he tends to organize things in a slightly different way than my own brain does (and, frankly, more similarly to how my Aspie husband’s brain does).  This is not due to any lack of organization, but due to different aspects of objects being seen as their defining quality – if you excuse that turn of phrase.

The upshot of this is that it is much more difficult for me to find things now.

Example:

My older son was very eager to learn my baking skills.  If I bought a package of sugar, it would inevitably be put away with flour and other baking materials.  My younger son ‘earned his stripes’ by making his daddy’s morning coffee – therefore, he associates – and puts away – sugar with coffee/tea supplies and not baking stuff, which holds no interest for him.

To be honest, it took me a few weeks – and a few weekly shopping trips – to figure out this change:  I could not find the sugar, and assumed I had forgotten to purchase it, and kept buying more every week – until my younger son asked where to store the overflow, since the coffee/tea section was just jammed up with sugar…

OK, being an Aspie myself, it takes me a while to adapt to this kind of ‘philosophical’ and organisational change.  This means that I have trouble finding stuff in my own pantry…

However, whenever I would ask my younger son where a particular item would be, he would honestly draw a blank and say he did not know.  Because memory is worse in Aspies than non-Aspies when it comes to rote memory, like where they had put stuff, etc, this actually makes perfect sense:  he had reasoned where the item should go, put it there, and gave it no further thought and thus did not create a memory of where said item was actually stored.

Soon enough, I learned my lesson!

Instead of asking where ‘X’ was, I asked:  “If I were ‘X’, where would you put me?”

This was met with a 100% success rate!

For neurotypicals, this result might be confusing:  How are the two questions so different?  They both ask about the location of a particular item!!!

But, for Aspies, the two questions could not be more different.

As in, they asked the Aspie to use different parts of their brain to answer the question.

“Where is ‘X’?” queries the rote memory of the Aspie – a weak system at best, yet the Aspie will try to remember the act itself of putting it away…with not likely to have effective results.

However, asking an Aspie to recreate the decision-making process that would have them classify the object and, based on the results of this classification, have them choose the proper place to put it – that is a completely different thing!

And, the Aspie will re-create the classification system in their mind (no memory required) and reliably come up with the same place to put said object ‘X’, time after time!

This may seem trivial for non-Aspies – but it makes a world f difference to us as it requires us to use a completely different part of our brain to arrive at the answer:  memory (poor) versus reasoning (strong and replicable).

I hope that explaining this distinction will make sense to you, neurotypicals who read my blog, and that it will help you understand and interact more positively with the Aspies in your life!!!

Venezuela: the shocking state of its health service

As someone who had lived the experience of a hospital on my own skin, this shows the inevitable evolution of health car under a communist system:

H/T:  Vlad Tepes

OK, the hospitals I experienced were not quite this dilapidated – but well on the way there.

When my grandmother (1970’s) got breast cancer, it took 8 months for the surgery.  There was no chemo for follow up because there were no chemo drugs.  And the radiation machine in her local hospital was broken – and going to a hospital outside of your district was not permitted.

When her cancer had metastasized into her bones, pain killers where the only treatment option.

The problem was that my grandmother was over 60 – and with the rationing of drugs, people over sixty were the first ones to be denied medication.  You know, like in the UK now.

So, my mother worked hard, bribed everyone she could, used her influence as a very popular teacher with all her students’ parents that she could, and managed to buy some pain meds on the black market which she then brought to my grandma’s doctor to administer to her, to ease the horrible pain.

Promptly, the doctor stole the meds and sold them on the black market…probably to someone else using their best connections to try to relieve pain of their loved one.

Of course, I had my own encounters…

From childhood, I suffered crippling migraine headaches.  The doctors told my mom ‘unofficially’ that that is what it was, but that they were not permitted to diagnose or treat migraines because ‘the officials’ had ruled that ‘migraines are not a medical condition but something that pampered capitalist ladies with not enough to do pretend. to have to get attention’.

And then there was the first time I got appendicitis:  I was admitted to a children’s ward, where there were 54 of us in one room.  No visits on any children’s wards, because children might cry when the parents leave.  We were fed in the middle of the room, in shifts, because only 8 could fit at the table at one time.

Having appendicitis, I was put on a strict diet of tea and toast, so as not to irritate my intestines.  However, there was only 1 type of food served per meal – and the kitchen could not worry about all the special diets.  I was laughed at when I questioned why I was being fed food that the doctors said I was not allowed…

After 3-4 days of strict bedrest (no books or anything), I got ‘walking status’ which meant I qualified for ‘play-room visits.  2 kids at a time were permitted there for 10 minutes per visit, 1 visit per day.

Oh, those were fun times!

Then I got appendicitis the second time.  This time, (grade 5) I went to the emergency room at the children’s hospital.  It was open Monday to Friday, 8 am to 12 noon.  When I did not get in the first day, I got up extra early the next day and got there before they opened.  Still did not make to be seen.

You see, when the doors opened and you got in, you would write down your name in the notebook in the middle of the room in the order in which you arrived.  The nurse would come out, read and call out the next name on the list and cross it off.  That way, first come, first serve – right?

Except that people who wanted their kids to be seen would stand by the door – and when the nurse would come out, they would give her a bribe to let their kid in.  Then, on the way out, they’d cross their name off the list…

My mother did not want to pay a bribe, so, we waited, and waited, and waited.

Just before noon of the third day, I got sick and tired of this.  OK, I may only have been a kid, but I was pretty sure that I would not make it in the next day…  So, I elbowed my way to the door through the throng of adults – which elicited some very loud protests and shoves.  The doctor herself  came out to see what the hubub was all about.  Of course, I did not know she was the doctor – and the head of pediatric surgery…

When she opened the door, I started shouting about the corrupt system – ok, I used smaller words, saying how people were cheating and they were doing nothing to stop it and really sick kids like I would die before they saw us.

Everyone hushed and stared – authorities were not used to getting yelled at – and especially not by a grubby little kid!!!  The only sound to be heard were jaws hitting the ground…

Then the doctor spoke:  “OK, little girl, you think you are so special – you are next!”  And she dragged me in.  The door closed behind me before my mother could make her way through the crowded room to me.

After the examination, the doctor got a serious look on her face and barked – “Her first!”

Not 30 minutes later, I was being operated on, because, apparently, my appendix was beyond burst – it was seriously decomposing and another 2-3 hours without surgery would have seen me dead.

They put me ‘under’ so fast, they did not get the dosage quite right and, trying hard to wake me up afterwards, they knocked 3 of my teeth out.  Apparently it scared the other 5 kids in my 4-bed room.  Yeah, the smaller ones had to double up in beds – that was common practice.

Funny story.  About 6 months later, I had fallen and gotten some rocks and dirt stuck in the palm of my hand.  I cleaned it as best I could, yet, it did get infected because I did not get it all. Still, usually, these things worked their way out, eventually.  Yet, a few weeks later, a thin red line started spreading up my arm, so I knew to go back to the children’s emergency room again.  Having been there before, my parents let me take the bus and go by myself.

Just as I got seated in the waiting room, the very same doctor was walking in to start her shift.  She recognized me right away.  “Oh, our little big-mouthed girl is back – come on in!”  She had a dangerous smile on her face, even though I handed her a package of coffee I had bought with my allowance.  (Coffee was one of the most common bribes, but it was usually ‘good’ coffee while as a kid, I could only get the cheap supermarket brand…)  Or was that an amused smile?

One look at my hand, she took out a scalpel and got started.

OK – I was an ungrateful little big-mouthed girl.  Yes, this doctor had, very literally, saved my life.  But, she resented my bitching and was obviously asserting herself over me.  So, I did the only thing a reasonable person would do…

I did not wince!

I did not gasp!

I gave absolutely no sign of experiencing pain, keeping my face a neutral, slightly smiling mask – even though the cold sweat was running down my back.  Her expectant gaze changing to a look of surprise, and, eventually, respect, was very, very much worth it!!!

Yes, I was an obstinate little child….

Good thing I grew out of it!

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