mlbright's shared items

M-L's occasional ramblings.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Movember, a fundraiser to fight prostate cancer. I'm participating this year and have been faithfully growing what I can since November 1st. I didn't think it would be worth it to put up my pic here, but I've raised $90 already. Please propel me over the edge to get a free Gala Parté ticket. This is a serious charity with a funny face.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

the best show... ever?

I've watched the first season of Mad Men. I think it's better than Six Feet Under. It's better than The Sopranos. Maybe.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

more democracy

I don't know how peeps can justify staying with the First-Past-The-Post system we currently "enjoy" in Ontario. With that in mind, the upcoming referendum is much more important than the actual election. We need more democracy before we start forgetting what it really is.

I attended the Great Referendum Debate last week, held at the great MaRS facility, and Christina Blizzard from the Sun was embarrassed by Andrew Coyne. The quality of her arguments was woeful, and to makes things worse, she was offended on a personal level when the audience laughed. Repeatedly, she was dared to suggest that the current system always ended up reflecting the will of the people. Even if this claim had a modicum of truth, there wouldn't be any way to prove it. (We vote for a reason.) At one point she used the sports metaphor of winner-takes-all: if the Leafs and the Canadiens faced off in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Montreal won 7-6, the winner is still Montreal and it doesn't matter how close the Leafs were. No one responded to this idiocy, but it was an opportunity missed: the winning team, freshly victorious, would not have the match score adjusted to 9-1 after being crowned champions. She partially made up for herself when she blasted Marilyn Churley for reducing MMP to a kind of affirmative action plan for female politicians.

As for Andrew Coyne, mad props.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

wise lessons learned from software development

Greg Wilson, from the University of Toronto, compiled the following list of maxims accumulated from years of experience writing software. I recently found them stuffed in the confines of my archive folders and I thought I'd post them here. Just so I don't get accused of plagiarism or some other IP violation, I emphasize that this is his compilation, not mine.  When I was still in school (years ago), I remember him going over the fine points of some of these ideas. What he had to say was very enlightening: he was the first professor that stressed to me the importance of the more practical aspects of software development. The following is worth more than any clever algorithm or mathematical technique. I include them here because they apply to more than just software development. Also, you may find yourself editing some code at some point in your life.  (Did you ever think you would need to use Excel? Look where you are now.)

  • A week of hard work can sometimes save you an hour of thought.

  • Anything worth repeating is worth automating.

  • Anything repeated in two or more places will eventually be wrong in at least one.

  • The three chief virtues of a programmer are laziness, impatience, and hubris.

  • It's not what you know, it's what you can.

  • The deadline isn't when you're supposed to finish; the deadline is when it starts to be late.

  • Never debug standing up.

  • Tools are signposts, not destinations.

  • Not everything worth doing is worth doing well.

  • Code unto others as you would have others code unto you.

  • Every complex file format eventually turns into a badly-designed programming language.

  • Tools are amplifiers: they allow good programmers to be better, and bad ones to be worse.

  • They call it computer science because it's experimental.

  • Programs come and go; data is forever.

  • There's no such thing as one program.

  • Discipline matters more than genius; reality matters more than rulebooks.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens is the modern day Voltaire.  Check him out.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Avi Lewis: ass

I can't believe Avi Lewis is taken seriously. Here he makes a fool of himself interviewing Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Face it, Avi, you're simply ... out in left field: Islamists are a bigger problem than America. And if you take your head out of your ass, you'll realise that America is not what is wrong with the world.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

liberals, pork

Liberals eat more pork than Convervatives and NDPers, apparently.  Interesting, the article shies away from the party members' religious affiliations or lifestyle choices.  Maybe those weren't deemed to be statistically significant.  Are the number of vegetarians who are on the left, and the number of orthodox Jews and devout Muslims on the right not a factor?  I ask the question.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Iraq wins Asian Cup

Sectarian violence in Iraq is not inevitable: the Iraqi national soccer team won the Asian Cup this weekend. The team is composed of Shias, Sunnis, Arabs and Kurds. Under Saddam's rule, this team would have been tortured by Saddam Hussein's son Uday should they have produced unsatisfactory performances. There is no way the team would have competed successfully under Saddam's rule. Now, when Iraq is one of the most unstable nations in the world, they won it all. FIFA President Sepp Blatter praised the players on Saturday.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

perspective, scale

This is a cool, nerdy and old video. I'm the only nerd who had not seen it until now.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

quality goods

I don't want to pick on Chinese companies exclusively, but this post makes me worried.  Sane, accountable, transparent and enforced government regulations save lives: this doesn't seem to be working in China right now.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

death of a blog....

... birth of another. I've had the domain for a while now and, being the stubborn, dogmatic person I am, refused to look at canned solutions for blog/CMS/publishing software. I thought I'd design and implement my own to be able to cut my teeth on the latest and greatest web technologies. Well, after reading up on the latest web programming frameworks, i.e. waffling, I've finally uploaded Wordpress. It took me literally 15 minutes to figure out how it works, install it and import all my blogger posts.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


This creeps me out. I don't want to be uncritically anti-Chinese products, but there's some serious accountability problems going on over there. Needless to say, I don't think it's just Chinese products that we need to worry about. I don't drink water from local streams, so I guess I should be skeptical about ALL products. Thanks to this article, I am now paranoid.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Today, I think one of the grossest environmental problems is the amount of electronic gadgets we dump into landfills. That stuff is nasty: electronics are full of lead, mercury and other toxic substances. This week's Technology Quarterly in the Globe (how boring am I) is all about the "greening" of the information technology industry. Very substantially, the issue largely avoids the oh so tired flower-power politics of the environment and instead focuses on health, energy saving and the financial benefits of going green.

Anyway, if you're looking to get rid of e-quipment without poisoning land and water for future generations here are some urls for recycling your computer.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


The domain was silently dropped from 2 minutes ago (intentionally) and will be used for other purposes... This blog is simply reverting back to If you didn't even know I was in possession of, don't worry about it.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

fat idiot

It's amazing how some people are taken seriously despite being complete morons: people like Moqtada "Eric Cartman of Iraq" Sadr do not give me hope for peace in the middle east.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

kids and guns

Laugh before you cry:
Never mind the gun: it should be a crime to name your kid Bubba.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


I went to New York City last weekend with Lemon. We had a blast. The weather was beautiful, we saw an excellent play (Talk Radio), we went to the Museum of Natural History. We also went to the Museaum of the City of New York where we saw an exhibit on Robert Moses, and another on the Spanish civil war. We walked around a lot: Central Park, Tribeca, the lower east side, the upper west side, Little Italy, Chinatown. We saw a public debate at the New York Public Library between Al Sharpton and Christopher Hitchens. The topic was "God Is Not Great", the title of Hitchens' new book. Sharpton was lame while Hitchens was his usual sarcastic and contrarian self... We did a harbour tour, passed by Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We also watched HBO live, went to a comedy club, had a few drinks, and I met some co-workers I'd only called, e-mailed or IM'ed.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

élections présidentielles

Participation has reached exceptional levels: French peeps are voting en masse for the presidential elections.

Yesterday, I cast my vote and the lineup was insane. I waited an hour and a half to vote. A lady ahead of me in line had her 2 kids with her. This was not a walk in the park: the 4 year old was getting cranky and she breastfed the 6 month old on site in order not lose her spot. That's patriotism.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

not the brightest solution

When Lemon pointed out to me that Ontario was banning incandescent light bulbs, I was wondering what our provincial government was smoking. I thought the city's "upgrade your toilet" campaign was weird, but it was voluntary and sort of made sense.

I think I know why this bulb thing is going down.

It has become impossible for politicians to even suggest that electricity should stop being subsidized at current levels. Everyone knows that we're all paying substantially less for electricity than what it really costs: why would we change our consumption habits or buy new technology to limit it? This, despite the August 2003 blackout.

Faced with a difficult political dilemma, what does our government do? Brainwash us and outlaw perfectly good technology. This is completely backwards and idiotic. What they should do is make people pay more for what they use, and let economizing technologies take hold. No brainwashing, no guilt trips, no wasted advertising money.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

90 years ago...

Whoever thinks Canada has a history of neutrality and international impotence, check yourself. Today marks the 90th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge, considered to be a turning point in WWI and Canadian history. After that event, the international community looked at Canada in a different light. The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is very eerie and beautiful. It's located in France on the site of the former battle field, and it is officially Canadian territory. The mortar shells have so warped the soil that it now looks like huge grassy mogul hills.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Recently, a Muslim girl was ejected from a soccer match because she was playing with her hijab. I'm not a fan of the hijab, but preventing hijab wearing girls from playing a sport seems excessive. Many Muslim (and non-muslim) parents take strong issue with their girls playing any sport at all: I think the fact that she's playing, with or without a hijab, is something to be encouraged. The hijab doesn't put any of the other players in danger, which was the rationale for the FIFA anti-headgear rule. I'm not sure if I still agree with the anti-hijab ruling in schools in France.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

civet coffee

I bought a paper copy of the Globe and Mail last week. All I really wanted was the Dell advertisement to hopefully get a discount code on a computer for my parents. That didn't work out and today, as a sad consolation, I flipped through Report On Business Magazine. A short paragraph on Indonesian Kopi Luwak coffee caught my eye. Apparently, this variety of coffee is the most expensive in the world. Its production is rather peculiar...

The process is as follows. Our good old friend the Asian Palm Civet (remember S.A.R.S.?), a beast local to where the coffee is grown, eats coffee berries as part of its natural diet and passes the beans through its digestive tract, excreting them partially digested onto the jungle floor. The beans are gathered by locals who sell them at $600 USD per pound. Available at Pusateri's.

Who said Tim Horton's tastes like shit? Really? What KIND of shit?



Monday, February 26, 2007


There are 2 songs that never cease to be played in elevators, shops and malls all over Toronto:

"Bad Day" by Daniel Powter
"Closing Time" by Semisonic

I absolutely hate these 2 songs and I wish I would never hear them again. That is, however, an impossibility. Have I put unpleasant sounds into your head? Sorry: go and listen to your favorite music to save yourself from meltdown. If you can't remember the songs (because there's no way you haven't heard them), consider yourself lucky.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


I'm watching the Oscars: I'm in a pool this year and so far I'm doing very well. Ellen DeGeneres is hilarious.


According to this study, I've got the IQ (or attention span) of a total stoner. I've read about another study that came to a similar conclusion, I think. It was slashdotted.

Le Penis presents his plan

The Martyloo writing process is as follows: 1) Martyloo gets an idea that might bloggable or thinks of a story worth telling. 2) Martyloo imagines how he might write this on a blog. 3) Martyloo fails to string two words together on his expensive computer and wallows in his abject failure to a) express himself and b) use and contribute to the hinterweb he so loves.

Well time to cut the crap and just point to the story, when it can't be created.

I've been following the French presidential race in some detail for a long time. Some find it intolerable but I find the Sarko vs. Ségo battle to be fascinating. More so than in Canada, it seems like politics is a more passionate and meaningful activity in France, probably because the state has a more important role in society than in the overwhelming majority of the anglophone world.

Ségo and Sarko are 2 candidates that are popular in a rock star sort of way. Populist and/or popular depending your point of view, I suppose. I've read Sarkozy's book, Ségolène Royal's Paris-Match interview, discussed politics with a highly ranked French civil servant (my aunt, who worked for Ségo a few years ago), read countless articles on,, blogs. I've come to some important conclusions for myself , and I will share them with you.

There is an economic crisis in France. The current social safety net is completely unsustainable, and it is degrading. Whatever cash Ségolène Royal pulls out of her ass isn't going to save it. In fact, I think Ségo doesn't have cash up her ass: it's her head. She hasn't even costed her grand plans to alleviate the suffering of the masses. When I was in France a couple of months ago, I saw trailer parks so appalling they made Sunnyvale look like the Jardin du Luxembourg. Ségo will do nothing to change this. Nicolas Sarkozy is much more honest about the severity of the problem, and is much more realistic about its solutions. This is difficult for die-hard socialists to swallow, just like it's difficult for them to accept that France is part of a global capitalist trade system that still provides livelihood for most of its citizens.

Then there is Le Pen, who recently explained his presidential campaign platform. He is a disgrace, an embarrassment and would be a disaster for France. Why is he still on the scene? It has been well argued, and it makes complete sense to me, that the huge dick that is Le Pen could only garner so many votes in France if right-wing reforms have had absolutely no chance of being implemented. Let me explain.

France is a socialist country. For Canadians, imagine Jack Layton being the leader of Canada: that's an appropriate parallel. For Americans, there's simply no possible comparison. On a global political spectrum, Sarko is economically a red liberal. If he were to be elected, there is no way that the social safety net would be dismantled, as his opponents want everyone to believe. That's like saying that Hilary Clinton would nationalize the American automotive industry: it's not going to happen. Similarly, Le Pen will never get elected.

What has happened is that all the financial and economic reforms that occurred during the 1990s in the rest of Europe and in Canada (remember the Liberals balancing the budget?) never happened in France. The socialist promise of happiness for all was never delivered, and sensible economic reforms were systematically buried. This is the kind of environment where Le Pen and extremists thrive: they present themselves as a radical departure from a paralyzed and broken system.

Luckily, more sensible politicians exist on the right today: Nicolas Sarkozy and François Bayrou. Unfortunately, if you are a leftist, the options are awful.

That's it in a nutshell. You heard it here. Not first, but still here.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The new Kevin Costner

Nicholas Cage has become the new Kevin Costner: everything he does is crap.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Shins

I didn't post in the entire month of January 2007. This is a record low, even though my three readers probably haven't noticed since I don't post frequently anyway.

Much has happened since 2006. I went to France before Christmas with Lemon. We had a smashing time. I hoped to post about our adventures, but so far I only have pictures, a few notes and a old Michelin map with our Parisian touristic footprint. Something to Google map.

Most of my blog post ideas fall by the wayside as I daydream at work: I can't access Blogger and quickly upload them as any serious blogger would.


As you know, I'm not up to date on most things pop culture these days, but
I've listened to the new album by The Shins, entitled "Wincing the
night away". It's quite smashing. Think of The Smiths, slightly more
pop, much less self-indulgent.

If there's anything better out there right now, I welcome your recommendations.