Saturday, January 28, 2006

Harping on Canada

I realize that last post might not be clear to some.

To clarify (mostly for our foreign guests): below is a map showing which party won power in each Canadian electoral riding in our recent January 23rd federal election.

The comments are, I imagine, from an Albertan's perspective (that ALL blue province in the west).

My home province Alberta is where money comes from (it's the oil dummy - see
here, here, and here). With money seems to come the opinion that you deserve it, and we do dammit.

Alberta is so rich that anyone can make money, and most do. It's so rich that any fool could successfully govern the place, and one does.

But back to the map.

Blue represents the
Conservatives - formally progressive, now turned populist. Call them the Republicans of the Great White North. They definitely aren't into gun control, and are not too happy about gay marriage (or homosexuals) either. Throw universal health care into that basket too. They are also the kind of boys who would have us in Iraq if they could.

Green are the New Democratic Party. The NDP
is as far left as the mainstream dares to tread. My money is with them because the Green Party aren't going to be influencing Canadian policy any time soon. They are, in my opinion, trying to keep Canada honest to some of the principals that Canada was built on. I like to think that they stand up for human interests, as opposed to corporate interests. You know, instead of selling off the whole show to make a quick buck.

Purple is the
Bloc Quebecois. Their mandate is to protect Quebec interests and leave Canada someday. Fair enough. You might think that only Quebec wants to leave the federation... if only we were so lucky. Western Separatists (read: indignantly bitter old men in Alberta who foam at the mouth when they hear words like "federal transfer payments" or "equalization") form a small part of our political rainbow too. Read more about these patriots here or here.

Red are the
Liberals. They held power for a long time now, but lost their grip on the 23rd. Apparently we've never been a big fans over (t)here in Alberta. We had two Liberal MP's up in Edmonton, but they're gone now. Albertans generally feel that Ottawa has been ripping us off (federal transfer payments to eastern provinces) for a long time now, and I guess that enough of Canada agrees (the sponsorship scandal) that they lost control.

So it is.

Satire is the word of the day.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Canadian Election Results

Thanks to The Canadian Cartographic Association for making this beautiful map that I ripped off and modified for my own editorial purposes. All views expressed in this post are not really my own, but definately do not represent the views of the CCA. Please don't sue me.

Darker colour indicates a stronger degree of hate!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Grandma's got game

On the way back to Taiwan this New Years I stopped off in the lower mainland for a visit with Grandma and the extended family. It was a nice few days during which I spent a good chunk of time with Grandma telling and listening to stories, and totally SCHOOLING her at 9 ball.

She says it was the first time she ever played, but I don't believe that for a second. Not a single game in 87 years? Nice try Grandma.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Good reading for the morning over coffee

There is an interesting story going on in Taiwan right now that I've been following in the blogsphere. I'll try to quickly summarize the main point here.

It's a story of great political importance. Kind of.

China wants to give Taiwan a couple pandas... and what's wrong with that?

It's a pretty interesting story, and another spectacular strike by China in an internation media war that only China seems to understand how to play.

I imagine that, to the average Joe watching the 24 hour news cycle somewheres in North America, this seems like a sweet gesture from China.

There is, of course, a catch.

BeiJing won't deal with the government of Taiwan, you know, because the government in Taipei doesn't really exist anyway. This is a domestic issue they say. And so, the necessary documents that must be filled out under Taiwanese law would need to be sidestepped with the consent of the Taiwan's government.

The government of Taiwan would need to intentionally break it's own laws to accept the panadas.

In doing so it could be argued that the government of Taiwan would render itself meaningless.

On the lighter side,
Wandering to Tamshui linked me to this article.

An Angry Panda on New America Media writes...

Recently, I've been sneaking into this lab at night, where there's a phone and an Internet connection. I can usually get around the Great Firewall for a few hours and surf the Western websites, where I've learned English. What do I get from the New York Times? That the Chinese press lies routinely and the United States thinks it's the best country in the world. Both things depress me immensely.

and he goes on to say...

How different is China from Taiwan from New York, anyway? You want this bear's critique? I say we're seeing capitalist democracies, dictatorships and communism meet somewhere in the dismal middle, in a kind of free-market authoritarianism. Call it corporatism.

"Whoa, panda, slow down, you're losing me," you say. Look, I'll put it simply, so even a hairless ape can understand: From where I sit, all your political systems and philosophies are corrupt. They all promote destruction of the natural world.

Invisible Hand, Great Leap Forward -- it's all the same to me.

Oh, you crazy pandas will never learn.

Anyway, I you wan to read more about this issue, check out these links:
Beijing Slaps Taiwan In The Face While Offering Olive Branch
Pandas for Taiwan: Much Ado About Nothing?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Bike Details

This is a posting to quell the critics of my past entry, in which not enough information was given...

I think David is right that a lot of Taiwanese factories have been moved to China in recent years, but I maintain that most of the best stuff is still made in Taiwan. This is yet to be confirmed by those in the know, but I do know that my frame, as well as all the AVID, SRAM, TRUVATIV (all one company) stuff is still manufactured in Taiwan.

Here is pic, as requested, showing a profile view of my bicycle. Both these pics were taken this afternoon on a ride that Brett did up to the Fu Shan Botantical Gardens (to which I was denied entrance to for the third time... but it's my fault), about 20 km west of Ilan. Beautiful weather today, and a beautiful ride.

And now for a components listing for my bicycle.

- 20 inch VOODOO BOKOR aluminum frame

- Shimano XT front and rear derailers

- Shimano Deore Rapid Fire Shifters

- Avid FR 5 aluminum brake levers.... I love these. Sooo strong. Sooo light. Sooo handsome.

- Avid Single Digit 7 brakes.

- Truvativ FireX Cranks

- Alex Rims Ace18

- Continental TravelContact Tires - the globetrotter. Sooo smooth.

- Novatec Hubs

- Wellgo aluminum pedals.

- Fuji adjustable stem

- FSA headset

- UNA ultralight aluminum seat post

- MONOLITH aluminum riser bar

- SRAM PorwerGlide II PG 970 9 speed Cassette

- Shimano Chain

- Saddle TBA. I'm riding this phat touring saddle I bought in Canada that has two big steel springs, as recommended by some touring websites... thing is I hate it. It's squirrely and heavy (700 grams). I will change it soon.

- Some kind of a bottom braket... I will find out

- RST Omega SL Fork.

I know this brand has a bad rap in Canada, but this fork fairly legit... it's an oil fork made of aluminum with a magnesium outer leg just like the rest of them. Basically a money saver. No need to tour around with 400 dollars holding my front wheel to my bike. But, it does have a push button hydraulic lock-out, which will come in handy for touring.

As you can see I'm a little embarrassed about it. I ripped off the stickers!

Did I miss anything?

As it stands, my bike weighs 13 kg because the seat, the front fork, the adjustable stem, and the tires are HEAVY.

We can play "guess the price" on it if you like.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

To make a bicycle...

So, after months of hedging - trying to modify and improve my current bicycle, then deciding to bring my bike from Canada back to Taiwan, then discovering that it was too small for touring and trying to sell it - I have finally bought a nice new bike.

The thing about bicycles is that every top of the line bike part in the world is made in Taiwan. China is making more and more bicycles for the west, but all those bikes are going straight to Walmart.

Anyway, at the end of the year a few of these parts are still sitting in warehouses in Taiwan, and if you meet the right bike guy (see ALian above and below), he can throw together a custom bike for you for a low low price. As an added benefit, you can watch him build your bike from scratch.
For example the frame... this is a superlight all aluminum frame from Voodoo called Bokor. The cheapest you can find it on the internet is about 370 American plus shipping, while I paid about 180 for it...

Anyway, there it is.
If you want, I can get you one and mail it to you. Super cheap. email me.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Went biking today on... my new bike. Mine's on the left. It's white. This bike will take me many places soon. March 7th give or take a day. I'm out. I've decided.

Here we are taking a break in a little temple from our ride today up to 1000 meters in the mountains on the road to Taoyuan, which has left me totally wasted. As such, I will write about all that more tomorrow.