48 hour internet outage plunges nation into productivity

BOSTON—An Internet worm that disabled networks across the U.S. Monday and Tuesday temporarily thrust the nation into its most severe maelstrom of productivity since 1992.


What the hell is wrong with my computer?

You know how, on Windows XP, if you don't use a shortcut for a while, it disappears from the start bar until you hold your mouse over it to bring it back up?

Well on my computer recently, if I don't use programs for a few weeks, they somehow get uninstalled or something. All by themselves.
The files are still there, but when I run them I get a black box pop up on my screen for a few seconds, not long enough to see what it says though. And no program. Currently I have lost about half of my Office XP applications, so don't send me any Excel documents. I tried to reinstall, but first I got a message saying that I am running Windows 2000 (my computer lies!), then I got one saying that I don't have administrative privileges. Well apparently I do, since I literally built the god-damn thing, put all the all the hardware and pirated software together, and nobody else uses it.

It all started in May when I installed a driver update for my super-expensive sound card. Since then my computer just freezes whenever it wants to. And now this is happening. I'm thinking of just tossing the fucking thing out the window just about now.

I thought it was just me, but here's a testimonial from a computer user, who realizes her computer is out to get her too.
The election isn't going very well for the Tories. I've been avoiding reading Warren Kinsella's blog (see side panel) because I guess I'd rather not know, if you know what I mean.
End of the first week of the election campaign. This campaign has been pretty routine so far. The Liberals went in with a huge lead in the polls and blew it within days.

And now they are in phase 2 of the traditional liberal election campaign, the bluster phase. They are in this weird phase right now where they are slapping each other on the back, bragging and congratulating themselves on their win.

At the same time, they are moving early into phase 3 of the campaign. Usually it's not until the third or fourth week that the Liberals start to desperately retool their campaign platform. This time, it's the end of week 1 that suddenly they are claiming that they don't plan to raise taxes.

Someone should have told their webmaster though, because the old platform is still available for download. Here's a quote from their document on health:

"We will establish a Community Transition Fund, also with
increased tobacco tax revenue, to help farmers
move away from growing tobacco. "

Now perhaps I am misinterpreting the word "increased". Or perhaps they plan to increase their tobacco tax revenue by encouraging more people to smoke. But it sure looks to me like this is a tax increase.

Read the whole document here.
In defense of Vancouver Scrum's right to go on Hiatus

Every now and then, an issue or a moment comes up in this country that touches each of us. There was the Kennedy assassination, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and 9/11. This year was no different from any other year that was like this year.

This year, we all held our breaths between July 30th and September 4th, as one of our leading lights, a man we have all come to depend on for inspiration, Ian King, took a hiatus from his blog.

At least we weren't completely unprepared. We'd witnessed this sort of thing as recently as this spring when the Baghdad blogger took a time out to reflect during late March and into April. We all learned that panicking and sending e-mails around the world were not appropriate responses.

When a man takes his manly hiatus, he disappears into another world for a while, one with streets and buildings, and other people. Those of us left behind have to hold onto our memories and the gifts that the departed one gave to each of us, and hope that he doesn't get crushed under a train.

And while none of us particularly cared, the latest Paul Martin hiatus, from July 14 to August 25th also helped prepare us for the loss of Vancouver Scrum. The loss of Paul Martin this summer sort of marked a turning point in the blogging world. It was a moment when old made way for new, and although he has returned to us, things just won't be the same. However he spent his manly hiatus, whether he was sitting on a mountaintop in Nepal meditating on the world, or on some Ralph-Klein-esque drinking binge...
Actually the drinking binge thing is probably more likely since he says in his August 25th blog entry that he thinks he spent his month with the UN secretary General and a former Mexican president...
But that's OK. Maybe he learned something from his time away, maybe the imaginary meetings with the UN Secretary General were a sign that he should try to improve himself, try to become something more than he currently is.

All of these moments however, helped to prepare us all in our hearts for the long days without our Brother Ian. I personally, used the time to make room in my life for other things. I'm moving at the end of October into Toronto proper, and that's something that I might not have been able to do without the strength that I've received from Vancouver Scrum over the past half year.

Anyway, to conclude, because I have to go shopping and because this is the stupidest thing I've written in a long time... well actually that's it.
Smokers, and there are still a large number of them in this province, will be disappointed to hear about McGuinty's tax hike on cigarettes. His plan is to raise the cost of a carton of cigarettes by $10.

This amounts to $1.25 for each pack (before GST). Those of us who smoke are paying anywhere from $8.25 to $9.00 already, after Mcguinty a pack of cigarettes would cost $10 or more.

Think about that. Those who don't smoke are probably wondering what all the deal is, but what you may not realize is that 3 or 4 years ago a pack of cigarettes cost $3.50.

Now an average smoker (pack a day), is paying more than $60 bucks a week (almost all taxes) to do something that is completely legal. Depending on the province, approximately 65-80% of the cost of a pack of cigarettes is tax. The tobacco companies sell their product for a little over $2.00. A tax increase of $1.25 amounts to 60% of the cost of a package of cigarettes before tax. That's a pretty hefty tax increase.

The June 2001 figures for the number of smokers (among people over 15 years of age) in this country are 5.7 million people, or 23% of the population. Essentially one in four Canadians smoke. Assuming that the numbers are fairly similar for Ontario, that's a lot of people who by default are not even going to consider the Ontario Liberal party's message in this election.
Rising Tories catching up to Liberals
Race tightens as 42 per cent back Conservatives

Liberals still lead at 43.5 per cent, NDP at 13 per cent

I don't know how I could have missed this story yesterday. The Toronto Star reports an EKOS poll has the Tories and the Liberals tied for support here in Ontario. Interesting how peole's opinions change when they have to stop picking theoretical premiers, and start considering who they really want to run the province for the next 5 years. Here's a link to this story: link.

This is a situation in which I should just shut up and let the story speak for itself. Enjoy.
Is it a sin to gloat over something I was going to write, but didn't?

T'other day when I wrote my little rah-rah about the premier, I was thinking of writing that like the past several elections in Ontario, we would soon see the Tories overtake the Libs in the polls. But prudence won the day and I held my tongue (figuratively speaking).

Soooo, imagine my complete surprise at today's newspaper headlines. The Globe and Mail had a headline about Liberal numbers slipping. The Sun had a headline suggesting that Ottawa boy Dalton McGuinty, is anti-Toronto.


Ontario Liberals' lead shrinking, polls find

From Saturday's Globe and Mail

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This could be risky, Ernie
Electoral history suggests that Ontario's party leaders will soon wade into the muck
Pay hike for Ontario politicians deemed unappropriate

True to history's ruthless pattern of the past three Ontario election campaigns, the provincial Liberals are watching their initial lead in the polls melt away.

At the end of the first week of the 2003 campaign, the party's own polling showed a seven-point lead over the governing Progressive Conservatives, about half the advantage polls gave to the party in late August.

A news media poll broadcast yesterday, conducted by Compas Opinion and Market Research, fixed the Liberal lead at five points, suggesting the Ontario election will be much closer than anticipated.

The Compas poll gave 46 per cent support to the Liberals, 41 per cent to the Conservatives and 12 per cent to the NDP, with a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

And although the Compas poll's survey sample is small and therefore its margin of error is large, its findings are mirrored by a second media poll, conducted by Ekos Research Associates, also showing a significant shift in voter support away from the Liberals.

Conservative officials say their own polling shows they are just slightly behind the Liberals.

A precampaign poll done by Ipsos-Reid last month for The Globe and Mail and CTV found 49-per-cent support for the Liberals, 36 per cent for the Conservatives and 12 per cent for the New Democrats.

During a campaign stop in Toronto yesterday, Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty told reporters he had anticipated that the gap between his party and the Conservatives would narrow once the campaign got under way.

"I've told the caucus this all along," he said. "I fully expected that the gap would close with the Tories. I never believed that lead. We're going to have a very hard-fought campaign."

A good performance in the leaders' debate can often boost a party's standing. The leaders of the three main parties will face off on Sept. 23, a week later than usual to avoid scheduling conflicts with series finales of popular reality TV shows Canadian Idol and Survivor, and the Genie Awards.

Political scientists and senior executives of polling firms said in interviews that they still felt the "fundamentals" of the campaign favoured the Liberals — more so than in the elections of 1990, 1995 and 1999 when they came snorting out of the starting gate only to see their campaign momentum go limp within a few days.

But as John Wright, senior vice-president of Ipsos-Reid which polls for The Globe and Mail, cautioned, "It's not going to be over until it's over."

In part, the erosion in the Liberals' lead was expected by academics and poll-takers because of what is known as the Liberal default factor in Canadian political behaviour.

Canadians, when they are not paying attention to politics, tend to say they support the Liberals — both provincially and federally, in the case of Ontarians. When they do start noticing what's going on, some of that Liberal default support breaks loose.

Mr. Wright suggested the evaporation of the Liberals' lead also could stem from shrinkage of the undecided vote, which was abnormally large in August at 21 per cent.

But at the same time, Mr. Wright and other analysts thought Premier Ernie Eves and his strategists had campaigned flawlessly in the first few days, stiffening the backbones of the party's tepid supporters and keeping attention away from the substantive issues of education and health, where voters are so upset with the Tories.

Jane Armstrong, senior vice-president of Environics Research Group, said most Ontario voters were bunching up in the "somewhat satisfied with the government" group, meaning they're not wildly committed to any party. "The Liberals need to focus on the substantive issues, like health, for example, which is where the Tories get the lowest mark from the electorate."

In any event, Mr. Eves has problems of his own, which should remind him of the immortal declaration of Walt Kelly's cartoon character Pogo: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

What the polling numbers for the Conservatives don't show is that the Tories' biggest threat on voting day, Oct. 2, is likely to come from their own supporters.

Mr. Wright said the percentage of committed Conservative supporters who actually intend to vote has plummeted since the 1999 election from 74 per cent to 61 per cent.

The percentage of committed New Democrats who are certain they will vote has also dropped, from 64 per cent to 59 per cent. But the figure for the Liberals has crept marginally upwards, from 58 to 59 per cent.

The point is, Conservatives are expected to vote: They belong to the voting cohorts; they're by and large older and richer than other Ontarians and more likely to own property than rent. When they indicate they don't intend to vote, their party has got difficulties.

"They're saying, 'I just can't make myself vote for anyone other than the Tories, but they're not executing the policies I want,' " University of Windsor political scientist Heather MacIvor said.

It explains why Mr. Eves has been musing aloud about not liking homosexual marriage and bringing back the hangman's noose, two areas of public policy outside provincial constitutional jurisdiction but dear to the hearts of Mr. Eves's true conservative supporters.

At this point in the campaign, not a lot of what might be called off-stage survey data looks good for the Tories. The primary reason? Mr. Wright said the Conservatives are suffering from fuzzy-brand.

The party's own supporters are not sure what it stands for, resulting in support going soft in traditional Conservative groups such as well-educated men earning more than $60,000. Support is even melting in the Tory Valhalla of suburban 905.

Half of all Ontario voters believe it is time for a change in government, an important index for pollsters. (Which doesn't mean that half of Ontario voters believe it's not time for a change; a lot don't know or don't care.)

Environics's Jane Armstrong said that three times as many Ontarians declare themselves "not at all satisfied" with the Conservative government as "very satisfied."

In 1999, when voters were asked who would make the best premier, former Conservative leader Mike Harris had a 15-point lead over Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty. In leader preference in 2003, said Mr. Wright, there's a level playing field.

This is the first election where voters are seeing Mr. McGuinty as a seasoned leader, said political scientist Sylvia Bashevkin, director of University of Toronto's Canadian studies program.

"It's also the first time we're seeing issues that can damage the Tories about to be taken quite seriously."

In sum, said Mr. Wright, "the fundamentals have shifted significantly. The Tories are facing big headwinds.

But he also recalled the 1997 Toronto mayoralty election when Barbara Hall led Mel Lastman in decided votes, but Mr. Lastman won. Why? Because property-owners turned out in bigger numbers to vote than renters did. "That's the same constitutency [property-owners] the Tories are after," he said.

yup, here we go. Election 2003 in Ontario. I mean, all the other provinnces have had elections this year, we don't want to be left out.

So, while there were times over the past few years when I was doubting the Ontario Tories, I have to admit that Ernie Eves did a bang-up job during the blackout. Real leadership. Normally provinces don't end up in the sort of urgent crises where that sort of leadership is even required. It's usually the sort of thing that the federal gov't has to deal with.

In the past our crises have been dealt with by the feds. The FLQ crisis.

But leadership does not always have to come during times of crisis. Sometimes leadership shows in a man's ability to build. The patriation of the constitution.

I'm not going to go on and on, because this is already getting pretty corny. And I'm aware that both of the examples that I have given are examples of Liberal leadership. But the common denominator, the thing that connects these moments, is that during these times we were led not by Pierre Trudeau, or Ernie Eves, but by the Prime Minister and the Premier.

During the week after the blackout, when the province of Ontario was living on the edge of a crisis (corny, I know), we were not led by a Tory leader. We were led by "the Premier". Here in Toronto I know that we were all "Ready Aye Ready" to follow him out of the mess that was left in the blackout's aftermath.
A little story. On the Monday night after the blackout, when the Premier was asking everyone to conserve energy, I was working late in my office well after dark. Normally I have a great view of the downtown core from my window, but that night there was no downtown. Just a black void where the skyscrapers of downtown Toronto usually light up the night.

When you vote for Ontario premier this time, forget about parties. The 3 major parties have all had a shot at power in the past 15 years, and none of them destroyed the province.
Instead, this time consider which of these three men, Dalton McGuinty, Howard Hampton, or Ernie Eves, you would be prepared to stand "Ready Aye Ready" for if he needed you the way Ernie Eves needed you during the third week of August.